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Title: When All the Woods are Green - A Novel
Author: Mitchell, S. Weir (Silas Weir)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_. A bold font is
delimited with the ‘=’ character. Blackletter font in the front matter
are delimited with ‘~’.

The few footnotes have been positioned following the paragraph in which
they are referenced.

Please consult the note at the end of this text for a discussion of any
textual issues encountered in its preparation.



                      WHEN ALL THE WOODS ARE GREEN



                           ~Other Books by
                       Dr. S. Weir Mitchell.~

[Illustration]

                            ~Novels.~

HEPHZIBAH GUINNESS.
IN WAR TIME.
ROLAND BLAKE.
FAR IN THE FOREST.
CHARACTERISTICS.

                            ~Essays.~

DOCTOR AND PATIENT.
WEAR AND TEAR—HINTS FOR THE OVERWORKED.

                            ~Poems.~

THE HILL OF STONES.
THE MASQUE.
THE CUP OF YOUTH.
A PSALM OF DEATHS.

[Illustration: S. WEIR MITCHELL.]



                           WHEN ALL THE WOODS
                               ARE GREEN


                                A NOVEL

                                   BY

                            S. WEIR MITCHELL

                          M.D., LL.D., HARVARD

[Illustration]

                                NEW YORK

                            THE CENTURY CO.

                                  1894


                          Copyright, 1894, by
                            THE CENTURY CO.

                          THE DE VINNE PRESS.


                                   TO

                           JOHN L. CADWALADER

                     THE FRIEND OF MANY YEARS,—THE
                       COMPANION OF MANY SUMMERS



                      WHEN ALL THE WOODS ARE GREEN



                      WHEN ALL THE WOODS ARE GREEN



                               CHAPTER I


The night of summer comes late in this north land. Although it was
nearly nine o’clock, the shadows, long gathering in the valleys and the
woods, had but just now overflowed onto the broad levels of the river.
Above was hurry of low-lying clouds, through which swift star-gleams
seemed to flit, like the momentary beacons of the rare fireflies along
the shore. Far away the shriek of a departing train broke the general
stillness and rang fainter and more faint in wild variety of tones among
the farther hills.

On the bank of this wide Canadian river, a little above the margin,
stood under the yet dripping trees a group of diverse people, but all of
one household. Travel-weary and silent, for a time they looked down on
the dimly lit stream, and heard, as they waited, the murmur and hum of
its waters, or, with eyes as yet unused to the gloom, strove to see the
group of men about the boats on the beach below them.

“This way, Margaret,” said a man’s cheerful voice; “take care; there is
my arm, dear. How delightful to see the old river!”

The night was so dark that Lyndsay hesitated as he stood on the verge.

“What is it?” said his wife.

“I do not quite like to go up to-night in this depth of darkness. Do you
think it quite safe, Polycarp? Can you see?”

“Not very well,” said the guide, “but soon break and have heap moon.”

“I think we must risk it, my dear. You will go with me.” Then he said a
word of caution to the guides, and called to the boys, “Come, Dicky, and
you, Jackums.” They ran down the slope in haste and stood a little, made
quiet for once in their noisy lives, but interested, alert, and peering
through the darkness.

“Is that you, Tom and Ambrose? How are you all? and Pierre—have you kept
me a big salmon?”

He shook hands with each of the guides, having a gay word of kindly
remembrance for all in turn. Meanwhile the sister of the boys came down
to the canoes, made silent, like the children, by the night, the
pervasive stillness, and the novelty of the situation.

“Baggage gone up, Pierre?”

“Yes, Mr. Lyndsay; everything is right,—and the salmon thick as
pine-needles. The small traps are all in. We might be getting away.”

“Shall the women need their waterproofs, Tom?”—this to a huge form which
loomed large as it moved among the other men, who were busy adjusting
the small freight of hand baggage. The voice, when it broke out in
reply, was, even for a fellow of six feet two, of unproportioned
loudness.

“They won’t want none; it ’s a-goin’ to bust out clear.”

Miss Anne Lyndsay, the maiden aunt of the children, came down the bank
as Thunder Tom replied. Her steps, too feeble for health, were
thoughtfully aided by Edward, the youngest boy. To her turned Rose, the
niece, a woman of twenty years.

“Did you ever hear the like?”

She felt the queer impropriety of this terrible voice in the solemn
stillness which, somehow, adequately suggested the tribute of the bated
breath.

“Won’t need no wraps, Miss Lyndsay. Rain’s done. There fell a power of
water.”

“What a voice, Aunt Anne!” said Rose. “It ’s like the boom of the sea.”

“He explodes,—he doesn’t speak; a conversational cannonade.”

“Hush,” said Mrs. Lyndsay, the mother; “he is quite sensitive about it.
He was with us last year, and a very good man, too, as I know.”

“Canoe is ready, sir.”

“It is like a parting salute,” said Rose.

“Well, my dear,” whispered Miss Anne, “it will be a fine reminder for a
certain person; all things have their uses.”

“Thanks, Aunt Anne. A certain person has a not uncertain consciousness
that she doesn’t need it. Folks complain that we women speak too loud. I
am sure our men have lost their voices. As for the English women you
admire so much, I could hardly understand them at all, with their timid,
thin voices, and fat a’s.”

“Stuff!” said Miss Anne. “That is English.”

“I prefer Shakspere’s English,” said Rose. “I advise them to read
‘Love’s Labor’s Lost.’”

“That is our old battle-field, Rose. But you would have to be
consistent, and I do assure you, if you talked as Shakspere talked, you
would make a sensation.”

“Come, adjourn that skirmish,” said Archibald Lyndsay, who had been
rearranging the canoeloads.

Then the voice, to which others were as whispers, roared:

“Who’s for where, Mr. Lyndsay?”

“All right. Tom, your voice is really getting broken. Come,
Margaret,--this way dear.”

“It’s so,” said Tom. “I kin speak bigger if I try,”—this to Miss
Lyndsay, apologetically, as he aided her into the boat. “Fact is, Miss,
I was twins, like them boys, and Bill he died. He hadn’t no voice to
count on. It’s main useful when you’re drivin’ logs.”

“What a baby he must have been in a quiet family!” whispered Anne to
Rose and Ned. “Imagine it!”

“I didn’t understand what he said, Aunt Anne,” remarked the boy.

“I do not think he quite understood himself. Perhaps he had a vague
notion that he had to talk so as to represent the dead brother, ‘who
hadn’t no voice to count on.’”

“I like it,” remarked Rose. “Yes, papa.”

“This way,” said Lyndsay; “here, Margaret, in my canoe.”

“Could I have Ned with me, brother?” asked Miss Anne.

“Certainly. Here, in this canoe, not the birch. This one,—now, so, with
your face up the river, and you, Ned,—yes, on the cushion on the
bottom.”

“How comfortable!” said Anne, as she leaned back on a board set at a
slope against the seat.

“And now, Margaret,—you and I, together with Pierre and—Halloa there,
Gemini! Oh, you are in the birch already. No nonsense, now! No larking!
These birches turn over like tumbler-pigeons.”

“You, dear,”—to Rose,—“you are to go with Polycarp and Ambrose. By
yourself, my child? Yes.”

There was a special note of tenderness in his voice as he spoke.

“How is that, Rosy Posy?”

“Delightful! How well you know! And I did want to be alone,—just
to-night,—for a little while.”

“Yes.” As he released her hand he kissed her. “Now, away with you.” In a
few moments the little fleet was off, and the paddles were splashing
jets of white out of the deep blackness of the stream. By degrees the
canoes fell apart. Despite the parental warning, the twins had secured
paddles, and were more or less competently aiding their men, so that
soon they were far ahead.

Lyndsay chatted with his guides of the salmon, and of his luggage and
stores, sent up the day before. Aunt Anne and her favorite Ned were
silent for a time; but the boy’s glance roamed restlessly from sky to
stream, and up over the great dim hills. At last he said:

“Hark, Aunt Anne; how loud things sound at night!”

“Them’s the rapids,” said Tom, in tones that made Miss Lyndsay start.
“Them’s a mile away.”

“I suppose, Ned, that when all one’s other senses are more or less
unused, the ear may hear more distinctly; at all events, what you say is
true, I think. If I want to hear very plainly, I am apt to shut my
eyes—good music always makes me do that.”

“That’s so,” said John. He considered himself quite free to have his
share in the talk. “When I’m callin’ moose, I most allus shuts my eyes
to listen to them trumpetin’ back. Dory Maybrook was a-sayin’ that same
thing las’ Toosday a week. We was a-settin’ out by her wood-pile. An’
she sat there a-thinkin’. An’ says she, ‘It’s cur’ous how you can hear
things at night.’ Jus’ like you said. Hiram he was a-choppin’.”

“Who is Dory Maybrook?” said Ned.

“Well, she’s Dory Maybrook; she’s Hiram’s wife. Hiram’s her husband,”
and he laughed,—laughed as he talked, so that the noise of it boomed
across the wide waters.

Again for a while they were silent, asking no more questions. The aunt
was wondering what could have given big Tom his overpowering voice, and
how it would affect one to live with such an organ. She turned it over
in her mind in all its droller aspects, imagining Tom making love, or at
his sonorous devotions, for to Anne Lyndsay there were few things in
life remote from the possibility of humorous relation.

Twice the boy asked if she were comfortable, or warm enough, and,
reassured, fell back into the possession of the deepening night and the
black water, whence, suddenly, here and there, flashed something white
through the blackness, like, as the lad thought, the snowy wings of the
turning sea-gulls he had seen over the St. Lawrence at break of day.

In the other canoe, far behind and out of sight, Rose Lyndsay lay,
propped against the baggage, in delicious contentment of mind and body.
It was a vast and satisfying change from the completed civilizations of
the world of Europe, where for a year she had wandered with Anne
Lyndsay. Three weeks before the evening on which begins my tale, she was
in London, and now she was greeted with a sudden sense of emancipation
from the world of conventionalities. Neither father nor mother was
exclusively represented in this happily fashioned womanhood. And thus it
was that her inherited qualities so modified one another that people
missed the resemblances, and said only that she was like none of her
people.

Nevertheless, she had her father’s taste and capacity for seeing
accurately and enjoying the simple uses of observation, with also, in a
measure, what he somewhat lacked—the aunt’s unending joy in all humor;
sharing with her the privilege of finding a smile or a laugh where
others, who lack this magic, can only conjure sadness. She saw with
mental directness, and, where her affections were not concerned, acted
without the hesitations which perplex the inadequate thinker.

Her aunt, to whom she bore some resemblance in face, had learned much in
a life of nearly constant sickness, but never the power to restrain her
fatal incisiveness of speech. She could hurt herself with it as well as
annoy others, as she well knew. But in her niece, keenness of perception
and large sense of the ridiculous were put to no critical uses. The
simple kindliness of her mother was also hers.

At times in life permanent qualities of mind vary in the importance of
the use we make of them. Rose was now in the day of questions.
Everything interested her: an immense curiosity sharpened her naturally
acute mental vision; an eloquently imaginative nature kept her supplied
with endless queries. The hour of recognized limitations had not yet
struck for her. Now she set the broad sails of a willing mood, and gave
herself up to the influences of the time and place. Deep darkness was
about her. The sky seemed to be low above her. The dusky hills appeared
to be close at hand on each side. The water looked, as it rose to left
and right, as though the sky, the waves, the hills were crowding in upon
her, and she, sped by rhythmic paddles, was flitting through a lane of
narrowing gloom.

The impression I describe, of being walled in at night by water, hill,
and sky, is familiar to the more sensitive of those who are wise enough
to find their holiday by wood and stream. The newness of the sensation
charmed the girl. Then in turn came to her the noise of the greater
rapids, as, after two hours, the river became more swift.

Twice she had spoken; but twice the dark guide had made clear to her
that he needed all his wits about him, and once he had altogether failed
to answer her or, perhaps, to hear at all. But now the clouds began to
break, and the night became clear, so that all objects were more easily
discernible. “Is your name Polycarp?” she said, at last, turning as she
sat to look back at the impassive figure in the stern.

“I’m Polycarp,” said the Indian.

“What is that I hear? Of course I hear the rapids, but—it is like voices
and—and—laughter. Is it only the rapids? How strange! Could you—just
stop paddling a moment?”

The paddles were silent, and she listened. The sounds came and went,
mysteriously rising, falling, or changing, despite the absence of wind,
as they drifted downward when the paddles no longer moved. Mr. Lyndsay’s
canoe overtook them. “What is it?” he called. “Anything wrong?”

“No, no! I wanted to hear the rapids. They seem like voices.”

“Ask me about that to-morrow,” said her father, “but push on now. We
shall be late enough.”

Again the paddles fell, and her canoe slid away into the ever-deepening
night. Of a sudden her trance of thought was broken, and over the waters
from the twins came snatches of song, bits of Scotch ballads, familiar
in this household. At last she smiled and murmured, “The scamps!” They
were caroling the song with which they had been fond of mocking her in
her girlhood.

            “There are seven fair flowers in yon green wood,
              In a bush in the woods o’ Lyndsaye;
            There are seven braw flowers an’ ae bonny bud,
              Oh! the bonniest flower in Lyndsaye.
            An’ weel love I the bonny, bonny rose—
              The bonny, bonny Rose-a-Lyndsaye;
            An’ I’ll big my bower o’ the forest boughs,
              An’ I’ll dee in the green woods o’ Lyndsaye.

            “Her face is like the evenin’ lake,
              That the birk or the willow fringes,
            Whose peace the wild wind canna break,
              Or but its beauty changes.
            An’ she is aye my bonny, bonny rose,
              She’s the bonny young Rose-a-Lyndsaye;
            An’ ae blink of hor e’e wad be dearer to me
              Than the wale o’ the lands o’ Lyndsaye.”

The voices rang clear a moment, and then were lost, and heard anew,
without seeming cause for the break. Then came a fresh snatch of song:

                    “Come o’er the stream, Charlie,
                    Braw Charlie, brave Charlie;
                    Come o’er the stream, Charlie,
                    And dine with McClain.”

As she listened and caught the wilder notes of Burnieboozle, they fell
into the orchestral oppositions of the rapids, and died to the car amid
the cry and crash and hoarse noises of the broken waters.

Rose saw the men rise and take their poles, and felt amidst the
beautiful dim vision of white wave-crests how the frail canoe quivered
as it was driven up the watery way.

Then they kept to the shore under the trees, the poles monotonously
ringing, with ever around her, coming and going, that delicious odor of
the spruce, richest after rain, which to smell in the winter, amid the
roar of the city, brings to the wood-farer the homesickness of the
distant forest. Her dreamy mood once broken was again disturbed by that
rare speaker, the silent Polycarp.

“I smell camp.”

“What!” she said.

“Yes—very good smell—when bacon fry—smell him long away—two mile.”

“I smell it,” she said. “How strange!”

“Smell fry long way—smell baccy not so far. Smell Mr. Lyndsay pipe
little while back.”

And now far ahead she saw lights, and started as the Indian smote the
water with the flat of his paddle, making a loud sound, which came back
in altered notes from the hills about them.

“Make ’em hear at camp.”

Presently she was at the foot of a little cliff, where the twins were
already noisily busy.

“Halloa, Rose! Can you see?”

“Yes, Jack.”

“Isn’t it jolly? Give me a hand.”

“No, me.”

“This beats Columbus,” said the elder lad. “Take care, Spices”—this to
the younger twin, who, by reason of many freckles, was known in the
household, to his disgust, as the Cinnamon Bear, Cinnamon, Spices, or
Bruin, as caprice dictated.

“I’ll punch your red head, Rufus,” cried the lad. “You just wait, Ruby.”

“Boys! boys!” said Rose. “Now each of you give me a hand. Don’t begin
with a quarrel.”

“It isn’t a quarrel; it’s a row,” said Jack.

“A distinction not without a difference,” laughed Rose. “Oh, here is
everybody.” And with jest and laughter they climbed the steps cut in the
cliff, and gaily entered the cabin which was to be their home for some
weeks.

There was a large, low-raftered room, covered with birch-bark of many
tints. On each side were two chambers, for the elders. The boys, to
their joy, were to sleep in tents on the bluff, near to where the tents
of the guides were pitched, a little away from the cabin, and back of a
roaring camp-fire. Behind the house a smaller cabin sufficed for a
kitchen, and in the log-house, where also a fire blazed in ruddy
welcome, not ungrateful after the coolness of the river, the
supper-table was already set. As Rose got up from table, after the meal,
she missed her mother, and, taking a shawl, went out onto the porch
which surrounded the house on all sides.

For a moment, she saw only the upward flare of the northern lights, and
then, presently, Mrs. Lyndsay, standing silent on the bluff, with a hand
on Ned’s shoulder, looking across the river. Rose quietly laid the shawl
over her mother’s shoulders, and caught her hand. Mrs. Lyndsay said,
“Thank you, dear Rose, but I want to be alone a little. I shall come in
very soon.” They went without a word, meeting their father just within
the door. “Mother sent us in,” said Rose.

“I understand,” and he also turned back. “It is Harry! It is about
Harry.”

“Yes, it is Harry,” repeated Rose; for the year before Mrs. Lyndsay had
left a little weakly fellow, her youngest, in the rude burial-ground of
the small Methodist church, some miles away, up the stream. She had been
alone with Mr. Lyndsay and the child, and it had been her first summer
on the river. When, the next spring, she had proposed to take thither
the whole family, her husband had gladly consented.



                               CHAPTER II


Mrs. Lyndsay—comely, rosy, in the vigor of young middle-life—was the
first to welcome the sun, as it came over the hills beyond the river. In
the camps was stir of breakfast, and silent, inverted cones of smoke
from the fires. Soon Rose, on the edge of the cliff, cried “Good
morning!” and the mother saw the strong, well-built girl come toward
her, and had pride in her vigor and sweetness. They kissed, and the
mother went in, and Rose back to her maiden meditations.

She sat down on a camp-stool, and felt that for the first time she had
leisure to think. She and her aunt had been met by her father when their
steamer came, and amidst incessant questions they had been hurried off
into the wilds of New Brunswick. A year away had made for her new
possibilities of observation, and now, with surprised interest, she
found herself in the center of a household which, assuredly, even to the
more experienced, would have seemed peculiar. It was, in fact, more
peculiar than odd. There was no eccentricity, but much positive
character. This Rose Lyndsay saw as she had never seen it before. The
growth of definitely marked natures in the boys struck her, the fresh
air of a kind of family freedom rare elsewhere; the audacity of the
lads’ comments, and their easy relations with the father, were things
which now she saw anew with more thoughtfully observant eyes.

It were well to say, however, that it was a republic with sudden
probabilities of dictatorship, and that a stranger coming within its
circle rarely beheld much of the outspoken fashions and droll appearance
of equality which, at times, seemed to disregard the deference
ordinarily yielded to parental opinion. In fact, there was a comfortable
sense of comradeship all around, which had its values, and with it an
affection so strong that the wounds of all intellectual differences, and
of the somewhat rare physical contests of the boys, were easily healed
by its constancy, and by the father’s power to make each see in all the
rest their specifically valuable traits. Some things which in other
households are looked upon as serious were in this little
noticed,—while, as to certain lapses, punishment was apt to be severe
enough.

By and by Ned came out and sat down by Rose. He was the most silent of
them all.

“Well,” said Rose, as he kissed her, “isn’t it beautiful, Ned? Look at
the low meadows down below the elms, and the cliffs opposite, and the
wild water! Don’t you love it?”

“I think I—I like it,” he replied. “How black the water looks—how wilful
it looks—that was what I wanted to say. I _think_ I like it, Rose.
Sometimes I don’t like things other people like,—I mean grown-up people.
I suppose that’s very stupid.”

“No,—oh, no!” She was struck with the oddness of some aspects of his
mind. “Was that what troubled you yesterday, when we were all looking at
that great flare of red sunset light,—you wouldn’t speak?”

“It was beautiful, but—you won’t tell, Rose?—the Bear and Rufus would
laugh at me,—it was terrible!”

She looked aside at him, curious and interested. “I think I understand,
and I shall never, never laugh at you, Ned. You must tell me
everything.”

“Sometimes I can’t,” he said. “It is queer, but sometimes I don’t want
to.” He was truthful to a fault, and was of no mind to make
unconditional treaties.

“I understand that, too”; and then they fell into lighter chat of
friends and cousins, until Mr. Lyndsay called “breakfast,” from the
cabin-door, and they went in.

The twins were scarcely more than wide-awake enough to settle down to
serious work at bread and butter and porridge. The canned milk they
pronounced abominable, but soon learned that Mrs. Maybrook’s cows would
furnish a fair supply of their essential diet. Miss Anne came in a
little wearily, glad as she moved of the stay of a chair-back and the
boys’ help, for they all rose at once.

“Did you sleep well?” said Lyndsay.

“No; worse than usual.”

“I thought by your smiling you would have had a good night, but your
dear old face is a dreadful purveyor of fibs. Are you feeling badly
to-day?”

“Sh—sh—!” she cried, “don’t dose me with myself, Archy; as that
delightful Mrs. Maybrook said to Margaret, ‘I do hate to be babied.’ Is
that your tenth corncake, Jack?”

“Ninth, aunty,—I have to eat for you and me. I’m like Thunder Tom’s
voice.”

“That’s the good of being twins,—you can eat for two!” cried Ned.

“It’s my seventh,” said Dick, complacently. “I wouldn’t be such a G. I.
P. as Jack.”

“Sudden death is what he will get,” returned Dick.

“Your seventh,” said Anne. “But how can one die better than facing
fearful odds?” And then there was a little moment of laughter, and the
gay chatter went on. At last Mr. Lyndsay said:

“When you are through, boys, with this astounding breakfast, we will
talk of our plans. Your mother wants to go up the river. She shall have
the two Gaspé men. Rose, you will go with me for a first lesson in
salmon-fishing, and you three boys shall go with Polycarp after trout.
Lunch at one; and remember, boys, no nonsense in the canoe, mind. This
water is too cold and too swift to trifle with. You are a pretty bad
lot, but I should not like to have to choose which I would part with. As
Marcus Aurelius said, ‘Girls make existence difficult, but boys make it
impossible.’”

“Who? What?” cried Rose.

“That was because of Master Commodus,” said Ned.

“I’d like to have licked him,” remarked Jack, whose remedial measures
were always combative.

“He was not a nice boy, like me,” said Dick with a grin.

“Like who? I hope he spoke Latin with decent correctness. Out with you!”

“I had almost forgotten about Marc. Aurelius, aunt,” said Rose, aside.
“I was really taken in for a moment.”

It was a family fiction, and still a half belief, that Archibald Lyndsay
would some day publish a great commentary on the famous emperor’s
philosophy; meanwhile it served a variety of humorous purposes.

“_I_ shall provide myself with a book and sunshine,” said Miss Anne,
“and then with a good field-glass, I shall own the world,—mental and
physical.”

“But are the books unpacked?” said Rose.

“No, but I have all I want. I must go and see.”

Rose set out a lounging-chair on the porch, put beside it a foot-stool
and a rude little table, made by a guide, and following her aunt to her
room, came back laughing with an arm-load of books. Archibald Lyndsay
smiled.

“No wonder that man at St. Lambert’s groaned over Anne’s trunk.”

“That delightful man!” cried Rose, “who checked baggage, switched the
trains off and on, sold tickets, answered questions, and did the work of
three and laughed for six. He told papa ‘he guessed he wasn’t no
Canadian. Not much! Had to go down to York State once a year to eat
pumpkin-pie and get sot up—kind of.’”

“He was of the best type of our people,” said Lyndsay. “Come, Rose; Anne
appears to be reasonably supplied.”

“I should think so, papa. But I must see,—wait a bit.”

“Oh!” he exclaimed, picking the books up in turn, “‘Massillon,’
‘Feuchtersleben,’ what a name! ‘Dietetics of the Soul,’ what a droll
business! ‘The Mystery of Pain,’ my poor Anne! ‘History of the Council
of Trent,’ good gracious!”

At this moment his sister reappeared. “Are you supplied for the morning,
Anne? Past risk of famine, eh!”

“Not, too heavily,” she said. “You know what Marcus Aurelius says about
books. ‘There is nothing as economical as a bad memory, because then
there ariseth no need to buy many books.’ That is my case.”

“Then this is all,” laughed Lyndsay, pointing with his pipe-stem to the
table. “Hum! Well, well! Come, Rose.”

“Yes, go!” cried Anne, seating herself, “and take with you Epictetus.
‘If that which is of another’s life perplex thy judgment, go
a-fishing,—for there thou shall find more innocent uncertainties, and
will capture the whale wisdom, if thou takest nothing else.’ You may
recall the passage. Carp might have been the fish. Eh, Archie?”

“Stuff and nonsense!” cried her brother, as they turned away. “Anne gets
worse day by day, Rose. Come. Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, indeed!”

As they went down the steps to the bluff, Anne Lyndsay, her thin white
hands in her lap, looked after them. Her face was rarely without a
smile; but, as Rose said truly, “Aunt Anne wears her smiles with a
difference.” Just now her smile was delicately flavored with a look of
satisfied affection. As she looked over river and sun-lit hills, a sharp
twinge of pain crossed her face, and her hands shut tight a moment,
while the sweat of a brief but overpowering pang wrung from her lips an
exclamation. Her life had been physically narrowing for years. As she
became less and less able to go here and there, to do this or that, she
more and more resolutely broadened the horizon of her mental activities,
but, no matter what happened, she continued to smile at or with
everything, herself included. Now she wiped her forehead, and fell to
smiling again, looking sharply about her, for this woman immensely
disliked to be seen in the rare moments when pain was too emphatic for
absolute silence. “I wonder why I hate to be seen,” she said aloud,
being unusually given to soliloquizing; for, as she liked to explain, “I
have more respect for my own opinion if I say it out. It is easier to
disregard the unspoken. I like to think I have the good manners to
listen to myself. It does so trouble Archie, and that girl, for a day
when I break up. I wonder if that small Spartan had had the perpetual
company of his fox, how long he would have gone on without squealing. I
know he wriggled,” she said, and so fell to laughing, after which she
lay back in her chair, waved her handkerchief to Rose, and began to
read.

While the Gaspé canoe went away up the stream, urged by skilful arms,
Archibald Lyndsay and Rose talked merrily.

“I told those boys to keep their eyes open, and not to come back and
tell me they had seen nothing in particular. As for Ned, he is sure to
see certain things and not others. He is a dreamer,—oh, worse than ever,
my dear,—it grows on him.”

“But his dreams—”

“Yes, I know. There is always something in them. He seems to me, Rose,
too absent-minded for this world’s uses. At times he puzzles me. He is
the duck in my henbrood.”

“He is pure gold.”

“Yes, but when he comes to be put into current coin,—really, I don’t
know. As to Rufus,—Dick, I mean, I hate nicknames, and this family has
enough for a directory; you will have six a week,—as to Red-head—”

Rose laughed.

“I get no more respect in this household than—”

“Oh, was that a salmon?” A fish, some three feet long, leaped high in
air, dripping silver in the sun, and fell with a mighty swash into the
glowing waters.

“Yes; there’s another! As to Dick, he sees everything, and for
questions—you are nothing to him. I wanted to talk to you about them,
Rose.”

“And Jack?”

“Oh, Jack! Jack will do. He hates books, but he also hates defeat,—a
first-rate quality, Rose. He is one of the three people I have seen in
my life who honestly enjoy peril. That comes from his Uncle Robert. My
poor Robin used to laugh when he rode into the hottest fight!”

Rose, remembering how the major died at Antietam, was silent. Her father
was also quiet for a few moments.

“That boy must always be fighting somebody. Just now, he and Ned have a
standing difficulty about the Roundheads and Jacobites. I believe it has
cost two black eyes already.”

“How funny! What do you do about it?”

“I? Nothing. Ned is like a cat for activity, small as he is, and as to
an occasional black eye,—well, I don’t ask too many questions.”

“But doesn’t it distress mother?”

“Yes, yes, of course; but so long as they love one another, I find it
wise to say little. By and by, dear, when you are married, and have a
lot of boys of your own, you will understand the wisdom of knowing when
not to see,—when not to ask questions.”

This astounding improbability, of a sudden, struck Rose dumb. Then she
said, abruptly, “Who is that away up the river?”

“Two young Boston men. Are they from the island camp, Tom?”

“Yes, sir,” said Tom, in his great voice. “Mr. Ellett, and Mr.—I don’t
rightly mind me of the other man’s name. Think it’s Carington.”

“Rather a pretty name,” said Rose,—“Carington.”

“Not a New England name, I suspect. Probably Southern. How easily one
tells where most of our family names belong,—the older ones, I mean. Oh,
there is their camp. See how neat everything is about their tents. Above
this point, Rose, there are a few clearings, and the graveyard lies back
from the shore, where our Harry is buried. Poor little man! He was well
out of it, Rose, well out of it. We rarely talk of him. Your mother
dislikes it. For myself, I like better to speak of my dead—and they are
many—in a wholesome way, without the strange reserve which even the best
of folks have about their lost ones. However!”

“Shall we anchor to the head of the pool, sir?” said Tom.

“Yes, yes. And now, Rose, I want first to have you watch me
closely,—hand, rod, and line,—and to try to follow the fly on the water.
I promise you to talk enough about the trees and the waters next Sunday.
There are some dead forests above us, on the river, from which I want
sketches made; but now it is the more serious business of the salmon;
ask what you like.”

“Well, then, isn’t it late to fish? It is eight o’clock.”

“No; the salmon is an aristocrat, and rises late. If you want striped
bass, the break of day is none too early.”

“But will that thin line—what you call the casting-line—hold a great
thing like the fish I saw leap?”

“Yes, with the bend and give of this sixteen-foot rod, and the certainty
with which these matchless Vom Hoff reels work. Look, now, the day is
pleasantly cloudy, the water a little thick, riled,—roily, if you like.
I think a silver doctor—that’s a fly, see, Rose—will do. There, you can
look over my fly-book.”

“Well,” said Rose, “I am compelled to sympathize with the salmon. Are
not our Anglo-Saxon ideas of sport a little hard on birds and fish?”

“We will adjourn that discussion,” said her father, “until you see a
salmon. Then we shall know whether your store of pity will hold out.”

The canoe was now anchored in some four feet of strong, broken water.
The bowman, with his anchor-rope ready, the sternman, on the bottom of
the boat, with his face to the pool, his eye on every cast of the fly.
Mr. Lyndsay stood a little back from the center, a fine figure, Rose
thought, tall, strong, ruddy, with a face clean-shaven, except for
side-whiskers. At first he cast his fly near to the canoe, left and
right in succession, and giving the rod a slight motion, kept the fly
moving down-stream until directly astern of the boat. Then with a new
cast, adding two or more feet of line from the reel, he again let the
swift water run it out. Thus, casting each time a little farther, he
covered by degrees an increasing triangular area of water, of which the
stern of the boat was the apex. As he went on fishing, he chatted with
Rose, who sat in front of him, so that he cast over both the girl and
the burly figure of Tom.

“I am now casting about forty-five feet of line,” he said. “I _can_ cast
about sixty-five, from reel to fly. There are men who can cast one
hundred feet and more, but here it is needless. I could not do it if it
were needed.”

Rose began to think all this a little slow, for a pastime. At last
Lyndsay, saying, “Drop, Tom,” reeled up his line within a few feet from
the long silk leader. As he gave the word, the lump of lead used as an
anchor was lightly lifted and held well in hand, the sternman used his
paddle, and the boat dropped some forty feet farther down the pool, and
was gently anchored. The stream at this place was more broken, and was
what Tom called “strong water.”

The casting business began again, with no better result, so that Rose,
to whom it all looked easy enough, began to find it more pleasant to
watch the shadows of the hills and the heavy clouds moving overhead. Mr.
Lyndsay was now casting some fifty feet of line, and, as Rose turned,
trying to analyze for her own use the succession of movements, she was
struck with the grace and ease with which the line was recovered at the
end of the cast,—sent apparently without effort directly behind the
fisherman, and then without crack or snap impelled in a straight line to
right or left at an angle from the boat, so that the casting-line and
fly dropped or settled lightly on the water; the fly always maintaining
its place at the end of the cast. Then she heard, “You riz him!” “We
have tickled his fancy, Rose, or tempted his curiosity. Now we have a
little game to play. Sometimes we wait a few minutes. I rarely do so
unless the fish are scarce. Look sharp. Did you see him rise?”

“No.”

“That fish lies in a line with yonder dead pine. In this quick water the
fly buries itself, but as I follow it with the rod, you can guess its
place. Most commonly a salmon remains in one spot, with his nose
up-stream, and—”

“Oh!” cried Rose, as the fly reached the indicated spot and a swirl in
the water and a broad back caught her eye. “Oh! oh!”

“It has all the charm of gambling,” said Mr. Lyndsay, “without the
badness.”

“Will he rise again?”

“Perhaps. Ah, not this time”; and after a couple of casts, he said, “Put
on a black dose.”

“A what?”

“Our flies have all manner of queer names. This is a ‘dark fly,’ quite
unlike the bright doctor. It may tempt him.” And at the first cast, with
the same length of line, the peaceful scene was turned into one of
intense excitement.

“There!” cried Rose. “Oh!” for as the new fly reached the fated spot,
there was a sudden flash of white a dozen yards away. The reel ran out a
few feet, the rod was lifted and turned over to bring the winch to the
right hand, and the pressure on the entire length of the bending rod.
The angler sat down.

Tom meanwhile had called to the bowman as the fish struck, and the
anchor was instantly drawn up. For this brief interval of time the great
salmon stayed, pausing. “Thinking what’s wrong,” said Lyndsay. The next
instant the reel sang, and some two hundred feet of line ran out with
incredible swiftness. Far away across the stream a great white thing
leaped high out of the water, as Lyndsay dropped the tip of his rod to
relax the tension of the line.

“How exciting it is!” cried Rose, as the fish leaped again. “I don’t
sympathize with the salmon at all; I am intent on murdering him.”

“Fresh run and clean,” said Tom,—“a beauty!”

The canoe, urged by deft paddles, moved across the river. The tension
relaxing, Lindsay reeled up line. Then again there was a wild rush up
river.

“Tom, quick! After him!”

The next moment the line came back, slack.

“Oh!” cried Rose, “he is gone!”

“No! no!” shouted Tom. “Reel! reel, sir!” and presently the long, loose
line grew tight, for the salmon had turned and made straight for the
boat. Now, once more, he broke water, thirty feet away.

“Them long runs tires ’em,” said Tom, “and the jumps tires ’em more.
Showed his belly, sir.”

Lyndsay now slowly lifted his rod-tip, throwing it back of him, and then
lowering it as he recovered the line.

“Take care, sir!” cried Tom, for once more there was a fierce, short
dash across, and again a leap. This time the fish came in slowly, but
surely, and Tom took his gaff.

“Can you do it?”

“Yes, sir.” The gaff was in, and the great, flapping fish in the boat,
and Rose pretty well splashed with water as Tom cleverly lifted his prey
on the gaff-hook.

“A twenty-pounder, Mr. Lyndsay, sure!”

“Well, Rose, how do you like it?”

“Oh, papa, it is splendid!

“Where are we going?” she added, as the canoe was run ashore.

“The men will put the fish under a bush, to be out of the sun; and now,
what were you about to ask? I saw a question ready in your eyes.”

“I wish, papa—I wish I did not think the fish had a dreadful time. I
have to think of pleasure holding the rod and tragedy at the end of the
line.”

“Upon my word, Rose, you are emphatic. I can assure you, my dear, that
you may safely keep your emotional statements for another occasion.

“Let me tell you something. Once when fishing on the Nipigon, I saw an
odd-looking, very large trout. He rose every time I cast, and at last
took the fly. Now, why the salmon takes the fly, not Solomon could say,
because he eats nothing while in the rivers; but trout are pigs for
greediness. When I looked this hungry trout over, he was still bleeding
from a fish-hawk’s claws, and his intestines and liver were hanging in
the water. Such pain, or injury if you like, as this, does in man
utterly destroy appetite and cause inaction. The inference is plain
enough: fish cannot be said to suffer what we call pain. I once took a
striped bass which had been terribly torn by a gaff. On the whole, Rose,
I conclude that, as we go down the scale of life, there is less and less
of what we call pain, and at last, probably, only something nearer to
discomfort or inconvenience.”

“Is that so? Then we hold our higher place at the cost of suffering,
which must increase as we go on rising through the ages to come?”

“Yes,” said Lyndsay, looking aside with freshened curiosity at this
young logician. “Yes, the rule must work both ways. But man alone has
the power to limit, lessen, even annihilate pain. The amount of pain in
the civilized world must have been vastly diminished within forty years,
since we got ether and the like.”

“And will not that in time lessen our power to endure? But then,” she
added quickly, “that might be of less moment if we are always
increasingly able to diminish or stop pain.”

Lyndsay smiled. This alert grasp of a subject was a novel acquisition.
As he was adjusting a fly, and the boat was dropping to a new station,
she said:

“I hate pain. I don’t believe in its usefulness. Not for Rose Lyndsay,
at least. It only makes me cross.”

“Yet you would hesitate to make a world without it?”

“Yes. One can see the difficulties.”

“The more you think of them the more they multiply. It is, of course,
commonplace to say pain is protective, and in a sense educative. That
one may admit; and yet there will still be such a lot of torment which
is natural that one does keep on wondering why.”

“Do you remember, Pardy,”—this was her nursery name for her
father,—“when Mr. Caramel preached about the uses of pain, and said the
man who suffered was ignorantly rich: he had only to learn to use his
wealth?”

“Oh, very well I remember. As we came out Anne said she would be glad to
be generous with her over-competence, and wanted to send Mr. Caramel a
few of the crumbs to relieve his too comfortable poverty!”

“Yes, only one can’t repeat her bits of grim fun, Pardy; and when she
tells Dick a green-apple stomach-ache is only a joke which he don’t
understand, you must see her face and Dick’s grimace.—Oh, see how that
fish jumped!”

“North has a curious notion that pain, except for early protective
education, is, in a measure, useless. He declares that long bouts of it
make men bad.”

“Not Aunt Anne, Pardy.”

“Oh, a woman! That is different.”

“Nor that splendid fellow, Dr. Hall, now—”

“Bother, Rose! Don’t interrupt me. North says he has seen certain
hysterical women get well as to everything except loss of sense of pain.
He knows of two who are ignorant, at present, of the feeling of pain.
You cannot hurt them. One of them declares that she would on no account
resume the normal state.”

“I cannot imagine any one wanting to be so unnatural, and she must lose
all warnings as to burns and knocks.”

“No, she substitutes intelligent watchfulness for the sentinel pain.”

“I shall never get rid of pain by having hysterics,” said Rose,
confidently. “I can’t imagine that.”

“Occasion may assist imagination. Take care!”

“There is a scornful masculine note in that remark, sir! Why do not men
have hysterics?”

“Ask North; he will refer you to _Hamlet’s_ condition. Isn’t it in Act
I, Scene IV, where he gets what Jack calls ‘rattled’ about the ghost?
North says he was hysterical. Dr. Shakspere knew his business. But I
meant to add that North says there is one case on record of a man who,
in all his life, never knew what pain was,—had no pain; could not be
hurt in any way!”

“How strange!”

“Yes, but we are losing the shining hours. The busiest bee could not
improve them here.”

“No, indeed!”

“Oh, one word more, and then let us pitch the horrid thing overboard. I
was so puzzled once—I still am—about this passage in my Aurelius.”

“Real or fictitious, Pardy? You are not always above following Aunt
Anne’s wicked ways!”

“Oh, real. He says, ‘There is no dishonor in pain.’ I have remarked in
my commentary that this passage is not clear.”

“But is it not, papa? He must mean that dishonor is the worst anguish,
and that pain is only an evil to the body, and that an ache of the soul
is worst of all, and therefore—”

“Only an ill to our grossest part, if we so determine to limit its
effects. Is that it, my dear?”

“I suppose so,” said Rose, with some hesitation. “Yes, that is it.”

“But now you shall argue with a fish. You will be awkward at first. Here
is a lighter rod; we call it a grilse-rod. Tom shall coach you, and I
will grin at your failures!”

“I hate failure!”

“And I loathe it. But, as the Persian poet says, ‘Failure is the child
of doubt, and the grandfather of success.’”

“Pardy! Pardy!” Rose smiled. Those Oriental quotations were family
properties, and a source of some bewilderment to the educated stranger.

“Now, dear, see how I hold the rod—lightly. Yes, so, without tension.
Don’t make too much physical effort. Let the rod do its share. Don’t
insist on doing all, and too much yourself.”

Rose took the rod, and Tom began his lesson. But the gods were good,
and, after a few awkward casts, a salmon, more eager than his kind, made
a mad bolt for the fly, and was off like a crazy thing, across the
stream.

“Turn your rod! Down! Sit down! Tip up! Up! That is rare,” said Lyndsay.
“If that salmon were to keep on running, there would be no salmon for
you. Quick, boys!” for before the anchor was up, the wild fish had run
off two thirds of the reel. Now they were away after him at fullest
speed.

“Reel! reel!” cried Tom. “Reel up!”

“But I am tired! Oh, I shall lose him!”

However, after he had made another run, Rose began to get in the line,
then the fish stopped a moment, and again was away.

Meanwhile, the canoe, in crossing and recrossing, had come close to the
swift water below the pool.

“We have got to go down the rapids, sir.”

“Let her go, then. Steady, Rose, keep a strain on him.”

“But I am nearly dead!”

“You will come to. Quick! Drop the tip!” for as they fled down-stream,
the boat dancing, the water splashing in, the poles, now pushing, now
snubbing the canoe, the salmon made a leap high in air, and fell across
the taut line, which came back free, while Rose looked around in
disgusted amazement.

“He is gone!” she said.

“Yes. You should have lowered the tip when he jumped. But think how
pleased he is, my dear!”

“I hate him!”

“He has got half a leader and a good silver doctor,” said her father.
“You can quote Browning, dear, ‘The Last Leader.’”

“For shame! I knew those things must be weak. I would have a good, thick
rope.”

“You wouldn’t take many fish, miss,” said Tom, grinning.

“What are these wretched leaders made of?” said Rose.

“Silk. They drown the silkworm in vinegar, and then, cutting out the
silk sac, take the two ends, and pull them apart. The silk, for a whole
cocoon, is in a state of thick solution, and is thus pulled out into one
of the many lengths which we tie to make a nine-foot leader.”

“How curious!”

Meanwhile, another leader was well soaked and adjusted, and Rose began
anew. But, although she cast better, no more salmon rose, and, tired
out, she gave up the rod. Mr. Lyndsay had no better luck, and, as it was
close to lunch-time, they ran ashore to pick up their salmon, which Tom
laid in the canoe and covered with ferns. Soon again the little vessel
was in the strong current.

“There is no hurry, Tom,” said Lyndsay; and so the canoe, held straight
by a guiding paddle, glided swiftly onward.

“It is perfect motion, Pardy,—at most, it has the ease and grace of
flight.”

“It makes one envy the fish.”

“Ah, the dear things. I am so glad to be able to think it really does
not hurt them.”

“Hurt ’em?” said Tom. “They likes it, else why’d they want it. They
needn’t ’less they’re a mind to.”



                              CHAPTER III


As they floated quietly down the river, close to shore, under birch and
beech and pine and silky tamarack, the delight of open air, the
pleasantness of the shifting pictures, the delicate, changeful odors,
even the charm of the motion, were keenly felt by Rose. She was falling
under the subtle magic of this woodland life, and lazily accepting the
unobservant, half-languid joy it brought. At last she said:

“Papa, does it take you long to—well, to get away from your work, so
that you can fully enjoy all this?”

“Three or four days; not more. I like at once the feeling that I have
nothing I must do. After awhile the habit of using the mind in some way
reasserts its sway. At home I watch men. It is part of my stock in the
business of the law. Here I readjust my mind, and it is nature I have
learned to watch. I was not a born observer; I have made myself one.
After a day or two on the water, I begin to notice the life of the
woods; the birds, the insects. This grows on me day by day, and, I
think, year by year. It is a very mild form of mental industry, but it
suffices to fill the intervals of time when salmon will not rise.”

“It is so pleasant to drift!”

“Yes; that is the charm of the life. Nobody elbows you here; no rude
world jostles your moods. You may entertain the gentle melancholy of
Penseroso or the entire idleness of Adam before the apple tempted him.
You may be gay and noisy,—no one is shocked; and then, the noble freedom
of a flannel shirt and knickerbockers! Why do we ever go back?”

“There is a queer indefiniteness about it all to me,” said Rose. “I
cannot get into any full—I mean interested—relation with the life and
all there is in it. I don’t say just what I mean.”

“I see, Rose: from Rome to this is a long way,—‘a far cry,’ we say in
Scotland. Let yourself go. Drift, as you said.”

“Ah,” said Rose,

                “‘’Tis pleasant drifting, drifting,
                Where the shores are shifting, shifting,
                And the Dream God has the tiller,
                And Fancy plies the oar.’

It is not always easy to drift, and I am not yet enough at ease to
drift. I find, Pardy, that the changes at home are very great. I am
getting slowly used to them. The boys seem new creatures. You are just
the same. But mama! I am so sorry for her.”

“That will come right, dear. The mother-wounds heal slowly. As for me, I
own to no discontent about my boy’s death. Most people hold foolish
notions as to death. In my third chapter on Marcus Aurelius, I have
given a history of opinion about death. It has had strange variations.
Really, we are very stupid as to the matter. The old heathen is fine
about it: ‘Thou hast embarked. Thou hast made the voyage. Thou art come
to shore; leave the ship. There is no want of Gods even there.’”

“Yes, but—I did not embark,” said Rose. “I was put on as freight. I—”

“How horribly exact you are for a summer day! I won’t argue with you;
you love it. How quiet it is! Not a leaf stirs. How completely peaceful!
The drowsiness of noon.”

“Yes, it is like ‘the peace that is past understanding.’ I never think
of that phrase,” she added, after a pause, “without a little puzzle of
mind about it. Aunt Anne says it is so altogether nice after a mournful
length of sermon; but Aunt Anne is terrible at times. I often wonder
what people who do not know her well must think of her. What I mean
is—Well, it is hard to state, Pardy. Is the peace so great that we have
no earthly possibility of apprehending its relief from the unrest of
this life?—or that—Don’t you dislike to stumble in thinking? I—it does
not seem to me as if I wanted peace. Is that dreadful?”

“No, dear. But some day you may, and there are many kinds. I sometimes
crave relief from mere intellectual turmoil. Another yearns after the
day when his endless battle with the sensual shall cease. One could go
on. Perhaps for you, and for all, the indefiniteness of the promise is
part of the value of its mystery. That is widely true. You may one day
come to love some man, and to entirely believe in his promise of love.
Yet you will not fully know what that means,—you cannot; and yet you
trust it, for the inner life after all rests on a system of credits, as
business does. Do you follow me?”

“Yes,” she said, with a little doubt. “Yes, I think I do; and yet it is
not peace I want, if that means just merely rest.”

“Oh, no; surely not finality of action. Remember that with that promise
of peace is to come increase of knowledge of God, which means all
knowledge. We see and hear now the beautiful in nature, and are troubled
by its apparent discords. There the true harmonies of it all shall be
ours to know. It is like learning the reasons for the music we hear now
with only joy and wonder.”

“That may be so. To like or love a person, a friend, is pleasant; but to
love and also fully to understand a friend is better. Then one is at
ease, one has true peace, because we have then knowledge with love.”

“That was nicely put, my child, but one can’t talk out in full such
subjects as this. One can only sow seed and trust to the fertilization
of time. Where did you get your quotation about drifting?”

“I do not know; Aunt Anne would.”

“Oh, that, of course,” said Lyndsay; “she told us once that not to know
the name of the man you quote is a form of ingratitude: to take the gift
and forget the giver.”

“That is so like her: to label want of memory as intellectual
ingratitude.”

“When we laughed,” said Lyndsay, “she added that quotations were mean
admissions of our own incapacity of statement. Claiborne was dining with
us,—you should have heard his comments. You know how perplexingly droll
she is at times, and when she is in what the boys call a ‘gale’ of merry
mind-play.”

“It sounds familiar. Aunt Anne is not above repeating her jests. I
recall it now. She insisted gaily that it is bad manners to call up the
spirit of a man, and accept his contribution to your needs, and then to
say, ‘Sorry I forgot your name,’ and just show him to the door of your
mind. She is great fun, sometimes.”

“Yes, sometimes. The fun is not always honeyed, or—if it looks so—of a
sudden the bees crawl out of it and sting folks; but who can wonder? If
it helps Anne to clap an occasional mustard-plaster on me, dear lady,
she is welcome.”

“Once, Pardy, in Venice, she was in dreadful pain, and some women got in
by mistake. She was perfectly delightful to those people. When they went
away, I said, ‘Aunty, how much better you are!’ And what do you think
she replied? ‘You will never know, dear, whether you have good manners
or not until you have pain for one of your visitors,’ and then she
fainted. I never knew her to faint, and I was dreadfully scared.”

“She ought to have excused herself,” said Lyndsay. “It was heroic
foolishness.”

“I suppose it was.”

“You need not suppose,—it was! I hate to think of how she suffers. Look
at yonder lot of firs and spruce with the gray, green, drooping mosses
on them. After a rain that hillside looks like a great cascade. You see
the moss hangs in arrow-head shapes, like those of falling water. It is
so hard to set these simple things in words—you can describe them with
half a dozen pencil-marks. I envy you the power. I have to stick to my
old habit of word-sketches, about which our friend, the doctor, once
wrote, as you know. On Sunday we will have a run up-stream, and a big
wood-and-water chat.”

As he spoke the canoe slipped around a little headland, and was at once
close to the cliff camp.

“That doesn’t look very peaceful,” cried Rose. “Oh, they will be
killed!” and she started up.

“Keep still,” said her father; “you will upset us.” What she saw looked
grim enough: a tangle of three boys, rolling down some fifteen feet of
graveled slope; then the three afoot; two or three savage blows, fierce
cries, and a sudden pause, as Lyndsay called out:

“Hullo there!—quit that, Jack! Stop, Ned!”

Their faces were very red, their clothes covered with dirt. There was
silence and instant obedience. Mrs. Lyndsay stood imploring at the top
of the cliff, and Anne was standing by with a queer smile on her face,
and her fingers in a book.

“Who began it, boys? What is it all about?”

Jack spoke first: “Dick hit Ned, and he’s too small for him, and so I
hit Dick.”

“He might have let us alone. I’m as good as Dick any time,” said the
slightest of the lads, with no show of gratitude.

“He said I was a fool,” explained Dick. “Ned’s quite a match, but Jack
can’t keep out of a row.”

“And so it was two to one, was it? I can’t stand that: no more fishing
to-day or to-morrow, Master Jack.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And now, what was this war about?”

“Well, Ned he said Claverhouse was a bloody villain, and I said he was a
gallant gentleman, and Ned said I was a fool.”

“That was a difference of sentiment which has cost blood before,”
laughed Anne, from the bluff. Ned grinned as he wiped a bloody nose.

“Oh, do keep quiet, Anne,” said her brother; “this is my affair. How is
it, Ned, and you, Dick? Is it settled? If not, there is room back of the
house. This fighting before women is not to my taste. But is all this
just as Dick says, Ned?”

“Why, father, I—I said it.” And Dick’s face flushed.

“You are right, sir; I beg pardon. As you seem indisposed to have it
out, shake hands; but an honest shake. It must be peace or war; no
sullenness.”

“All right, sir. I’m sorry, Dick.”

“I’m not—very,” said Dick; but he put his hand on Ned’s shoulder, and
kindly offered a second handkerchief.

“Now, you mad Indians, go and make yourselves decent. It is time for
luncheon.”

Rose went up the cliff to where Miss Anne still stood. “I think it is
dreadful, most dreadful.”

“I used to, my dear, but on the whole it clears the air, and the boys
seem none the worse for it. Jack is usually the ferment; Dick is hot of
temper; and Ned, my dear Ned, would die on the rack for a sentiment.”

When the family sat down to the luncheon, a stranger would have detected
no evidence of the recent warfare. The mother, once or twice, cast an
anxious look at the slight enlargement of Ned’s nose, but, to the
surprise of Rose, what had seemed to her an angry contest made no kind
of alteration in the good humor of the lads. Ned was as usual silent;
but Dick and Jack were busily discussing the color of the trout they had
taken: some were dark, some brighter in tint.

It was the good habit of this old-fashioned household to invite the talk
and questions of the children.

“You got the blacker ones at Grime’s run, near the mouth,” said Mr.
Lyndsay; “the others in the river below. Well, what do you make of it?”

“Isn’t the bottom dark in the places where the fish are dark?” said
Dick.

“Put it backward,” replied his father, “and you will have a part of the
truth.”

“But how could that act?” said Dick.

“It must act somehow,” said Jack.

“Is it the light?” said Ned.

“But light blackens the skin, or heat does,” reasoned Dick.

“The true cause is curious. It is an action of light through the eyes,
and thence, by the brain pathways, on to the numberless little
pigment-cells of the skin, which are able to shrink or enlarge, and thus
change the hue of the whole outside of the fish. Blind fish do not
change their hue.”

“But that is not the way we get brown,” said Rose.

“No, not at all. Sun-tan is not caused by the sun’s heat; it is an
effect of the chemical rays.”

“A kind of photography, Pardy?”

“Yes, more complete than you can fancy; the sunlight falls nowhere
without leaving a record, only we cannot recover it as we can the
photograph of the camera. In fact, it is probable that every reflection
from everything and onto everything leaves positive records. It was
Professor Draper, I think, who played with this pretty idea, that, if we
had the means of development, we might thus win back pictures of every
event since the world was made.”

“I like that,” said Anne. “What would one desire to see if we could
recover these lost memorials?”

There was a little pause at this.

“Come, Ned.”

“Oh, I’d want to see old Cromwell when he was looking at Charles, just
lying there dead.”

“But he never did see him then,” said Jack. “You wouldn’t have wanted
to, Ned, if you had been that scoundrel.”

“Yes, I should,” cried Ned; “I’d have known then if I was right.”

Anne looked at him aside, with brief curiosity. He often puzzled her.

“Cromwell a scoundrel!” he murmured to himself.

“And you, Jack?”

“Oh, the cemetery hill at Gettysburg, just when the rebel line broke;
but”—and his face flushed—“just to have been there. That would have been
better.”

“And what would you like to see, Anne?” said Lyndsay.

“Oh, a hundred things!” and her eyes lit up. At last she said, “Yes; I
think if it were only one thing, I would say, St. Paul on Mars’ Hill.”

“I think I shall rest content with Anne’s choice,” said Mrs. Lyndsay.
“But, ah me, there might be many, many things.”

“Dick, it is your turn,” said Lyndsay.

“I—I—don’t know. Yes, yes. The days of the great lizards—and things,” he
added, comprehensively; “and that beast with a brain in his head and one
in his tail. And, father, may I see the insides of that salmon? He has a
lot of what the men call sea-lice on him.”

“Certainly. He loses them very soon in fresh water. It is a sign of a
clean run fish. Yes, of course. Do as you like, my boy.”

“Mrs. Maybrook was here this morning,” said Mrs. Lyndsay. “I was away.
You and Anne must see her, Rose. She is really a personage. I, at least,
have never seen any one like her. She left word that the little boy was
sick at Joe Colkett’s,—the upper clearing, you know, Archie; and could
we do something to help them? There is no doctor for fifty miles. I
thought, Rose, you might take some things, and go over after lunch, and
see what it is.”

Now, Rose was salmon-bitten, but it was characteristic that she said at
once she would go. A glance at the mother’s face decided her. Anne, who
understood everybody with strange readiness, nodded to her gently, and
Rose had her reward. It is pleasant to be clearly read by those we love.
Then the chat went on, gay or grave, but plenty of it, and with ample
sauce of folly.

As the girl went out onto the porch, Lyndsay said to his sister, “I was
sorry for Rose. Her first day of salmon-fishing. Sometimes my good
Margaret is—well, a little too positive about these confounded duties.
She might—”

“No, Archie. Rose understood her mother. Of course, she did not like it,
but she was right, and was perfectly sweet about it.”

“I shall take her up myself, and wait for her,” he went on. “If we start
early, she will be in time for a late cast. Hang the black flies!—get a
smudge, Tom,” he called. “I suppose Margaret is right. Even the
simulation of goodness is valuable. Of course, Anne, as Marcus Aurelius
said, ‘Affect a virtue—’ No, confound it! he says, ‘If you have not a
virtue, make believe to have it, and by and by you will have it.’”

Anne smiled. “I think there is a statute of limitations for some of us.”

“Come into my room,” he added. “I want to read you my last chapter. It
is on the value of habits. You can sew if you like.”

“Archie! You never saw me sew in your life. It is Margaret’s resource,
not mine. I never could comprehend its interest for women. M. A. was a
bit of a prig in my opinion; but, as to the commentary, look
out,—previous experience should have warned you,—there will be two
commentaries,” and she went in after him, laughing.

As he passed Rose, he said, “By the way, and to put your conscience at
ease before you fish again, here is a note-book of mine in which you may
see that while hunting is forbidden to the clergy, fishing is allowed.
The reasons are amusing. Ned or Dick will help you, but the Latin is
easy.”

“Walton quotes it,” added Lyndsay.

“No, only in part,” said Anne.

“You are intolerable. Your literary conscience is like Margaret’s moral
exactness. There is no living with either of you.”

“Don’t believe him, Rose; but keep for me the quotation.”

She devoured books, and digested them also, with the aid of a rather too
habitual acidity of criticism; but what was in them she never forgot.

“Come, now, Archie.”

Rose took the note-book and sat down. This was what she read, from the
Decretals of Lyons, 1671: “Sed quare prohibetur venari, et non piscari?
Quia forte piscatio sine clamore, venatio non; vel quia major est
delectatio in venatione; dum enim quis et in venatione nihil potest de
divinis cogitare.”[1]

-----

Footnote 1:

  Until within two years, it was lawful to fish on Sunday in New York,
  but unlawful to shoot.

-----

“Ambrose speaks of it in like manner in his third homily,—the old
humbug!” said Miss Rose, over whose shoulder Dick had been looking.

“I guess they took a sly shot, now and then, at the king’s deer, Rosy
Posy.”



                               CHAPTER IV


About three o’clock, as Rose stood by the canoe in a pretty hot sun, she
saw Ned and Dick making ready for another trip to the brook.

“Pardy,” she said, “do let Jack go with them.”

“It won’t be half the fun without Jack,” urged Ned. Lyndsay hesitated.
“Well, yes, Rose.”

She was away up the steps in a moment, and found Jack deep in an Arctic
voyage.

“You are to go, Jack,” she cried.

“I don’t want to.”

“That’s a first-class fib.”

“Well, I don’t want to go.”

“Come, Jack; you hurt me; and I asked—”

“By George!” he cried, “I’ll go.”

“You must want to go.”

“I do.”

“Go and thank Pardy.”

Jack stood a moment, and then Rose kissed him.

“Drat you women!” said the youngster, and walked away and down to the
canoes. He went straight to his father.

“I am very much obliged to you, sir.”

“All right, old man. Off with you.”

“By George, Dick, but M. A. is a gentleman,” said Jack, as the canoe
left the beach. “He might have rubbed it in, and he just didn’t.”

“How’s your nose, you small poet cuss?” said Dick. “I cut my knuckles on
those sharp teeth of yours.”

“That’s what they’re for, Ruby”; and so they were away, singing as they
went:

                 “The king shall enjoy his own again,”—

to the amusement of the two Indians.

“I should have sent the Gaspé men,” said Lyndsay to Rose, as he stood
following the canoe with his eyes. “If anything happens, they would
think first of the boys, and next of themselves. In Mr. Lo I have less
faith.”

“But why?”

“Experience, prejudice, color—distrust. Once I was on Lake Superior,
Rose, in a boat in a storm. Our two Indian guides simply lay down and
wilted. We could get no help from either. And a curious thing happened
that night. We landed on a beach at the river of the Evil Manitou. When
the Indians learned that I meant to camp there, they tried to steal a
canoe and run away, explaining that to sleep there would cause the death
of some one of their people. I could not stand this, because we needed
the third canoe. It ended by our keeping watch, revolver in hand, all
night. When we reached Duluth, an old Indian—a Chippeway, of course—was
waiting to tell one of my guides that his sister had died that morning.”

“What did he say to you, papa?”

“Only, ’Me telly you so.’”

“And didn’t you feel very, very badly? You know, dear M. A., you are
quite a bit superstitious yourself.”

“As to the first question, No. I was sorry, but—Get into the
canoe—so—facing the bow. I sha’n’t see your face when you talk, and I
can fib without those nice eyes of yours making righteous comments.”

“A _tête-à-tête_ back to back might have its advantages,” she returned,
laughing, “for a _cœur-à-cœur_ at least, papa.”

“I trust that is in the dim distance, my child.”

“How serious you are, Pardy!”

He was troubled at times lest this best of his dear comrades should find
another man whom she would love more than she loved the father-friend.

“And,” she went on, “would you have shot the Indian if he had taken or
tried to take the boat, Pardy?”

“Oh, no! The revolver was not loaded. Our Anglo-Saxon fists would have
answered, as we were four to two.”

“But aren’t these Indians Catholics?”

“If you mean that religion puts an end to these little or large
superstitions, No. Kismet, the Fates, our Angle ancestors’ Wyrda—the
goddess who decreed deaths in battle and spared the brave awhile—she
became God for the Christian Angles: then the will of God, and now the
law of God, and for some the laws of nature. It is only a transmutation
of phrase. We remain fatalists, and change the label.”

“But it seems to me,” said Rose, “a long way from Wyrda, who was rather
indecisive, I remember, to changeless law.”

“Rose, you are dreadful! If ever I begin to talk loosely, down comes
Anne or you with your confounded rigidity of statement. Don’t marry a
fool, Rose, or he and you will have a dreadful time.”

“No, papa, never! Heaven forbid! But isn’t it helpful at least to know—”

“You can’t drag me any further into these deep waters to-day.

                      ‘To-day we give to trifles,
                      And if to-morrow rifles
                      The honey thefts we won,
                      At least the pleasant hours
                      Head down among the flowers,
                      Swinging jolly in the sun—’

nobody can quite take away. I forget the rest of it.”

“I am happy enough, dear Marcus Aurelius, to dare to be grave. I have a
pocketful of moods at your order.

                      ‘Eat, drink, and be merry,
                        Dance, sing, and rejoice,
                      With claret and sherry,
                        Theorbo and voice.’

For we all shall be past it a hundred years hence.”

“I don’t know that, Rose. I like to think, with Anne, that in a world to
come

            ‘The angel Laughter spreads her broadest wings.’

We may laugh at other things, but laugh we shall.”

“Dear Aunt Anne! The angel of laughter! I think I can hear him.”

“Just to go back a moment, Rose. You can’t talk out these deeper things.
I, at least, must use the pen if I am at all able to discuss them. There
never was truth in text or brief sayings that for me could stand alone.
Even a proverb needs limbs of comment to get about usefully among
mankind. Books of mere maxims I detest. Don’t! I see you mean to reply.
Good-by to common sense to-day.”

“Aunt Anne was talking last night,” said Rose, “about the value of
nonsense. I think it was apropos of just the very worst conundrum you
ever heard,—you know what a lot of them the boys have. This one I have
made a solemn vow never to repeat. She was wondering why the novelists
never make people talk refreshing nonsense the way all really reasonable
folks do sometimes.”

“I wonder more, Rose, why they so rarely get really good talk into their
conversations, talk such as we do hear, gay and grave by turns. Of
course they say of their characters things clever enough.”

“That is terribly true,—one tires of the endless essays about their
people. Why not let them say of one another what is to be said. Aunt
Anne says she hates to have a critical providence forever hovering about
a story.”

“A good deal of the personal talk in novels is needed to carry on the
tale. Still, there ought to be room for doing this in a way to make the
talk in itself amusing at times, and not merely coldly developmental of
character.”

“Wait till I write my novel,” cried Rose. “Every one in it shall be
clever,—English clever. It hurts my sense of the reality of the people
in books to be told they are able, or this and that, and have sense of
humor, and then not to find these qualities in what they say.”

“You may have too much of it,” he returned. “The mass of readers are
unaccustomed to a selected world where to want to amuse and interest,
and to be amused, is part, at least, of the social education. Your book
would lack readers, just as George Meredith’s books do, where, surely,
the people talk enough, both of brilliant wisdom and as shining wit.”

“But they keep me in a state of mental tension; I don’t like that.”

“No. I said there could be too much in a book, in a novel. These books
keep one on a strain. That may suit some people, some moods, but it
isn’t what I read novels for. Now, Cranford is my ideal.”

“I knew you would say Cranford, papa. But isn’t it a little too—too
photographic? I met in the Tyrol, papa, a lady who knew many of the
people in Cranford. Did you know it was called Knutsford?”

“Ah, Canute’s ford.”

“Yes. She told me such an odd thing about Knutsford. When a bride is on
her way to the church the bridesmaids scatter sand before her, and this
is because when Canute crossed the ford he was seated on the bank, and
getting the sand out of his shoe,—and just then a bride came over the
stepping-stones; the king cast the sand after her, and said, ‘May your
offspring be as many as the sands in my shoe.’ Now, isn’t that a pretty
story?”

“A _very_ pretty story. I shall write it on the blank page of my
Cranford.”

“Hullo, Tom; are those bear-tracks?”

They were close now to a sandy beach.

“Yes, and fresh, too.”

“If Jack saw this he would go wild,” said Rose. “And the little marks?”

“Them’s cubs. They’ve been roun’ here a sight.”

As they went on, the hills became higher and more steep. At their bases
lay the wreckage of countless years, the work of ice and heat and storms
piled high along the shores. It was covered with dense greenery of beech
and birch and poplar. Out of this, in darker masses, broad columns of
tamarack, pine, and spruce seemed to be climbing the long upper slopes
of the hills which, still higher, lifted gray granite summits, free of
growths.

“How fast do we go?” said Rose.

“It is good poling on this stream to make three miles an hour. On the
St. Anne there is one ten-mile stretch which takes all day. Watch the
movement of using the poles. See how graceful it is,—the strong push,
the change of hands, the recovery. Ah!—” Suddenly the bowman let go his
pole, which Tom seized as it came to the stern.

“Now, that’s a good thing to see, Rose. He caught it in the rocks, and
let it go. If he held it, it would break, or he go over, and possibly
upset us,—no trifle in these wild waters. It requires instant decision.”

“I see. Aren’t these the clearings?”

“Yes.”

And now, on the farther side, the hills fell away, and the stream grew
broad and less swift. A wide alluvial space, dotted with elms, lay to
the left, with here and there the half-hidden smoke of a log-house.

“Beyond this is a hopeless wilderness, my dear; and to-morrow, Sunday,
we shall go up and look at it. And you shall draw a little, if you are
wicked enough, and I will make some word sketches.” They were now poling
along close to the farther shore.

“Who is that fishing across the river?”

“It must be the island camp men.”

Rose set her opera-glass and looked. In a moment she put it down,
conscious that the man in the boat was doing as to her precisely the
thing she had done. She had a queer feeling that she did not like it;
why, she would have been puzzled to say.

“Who are they? Oh, yes, I remember; you spoke of them before.”

“One is Mr. Oliver Ellett. I think he must be Oliver Ellett’s son. We
were at Harvard. The other is a Mr. Carington.”

“He’s an old hand up here. Fished here a heap these years. Casts an
awful nice line. Seed him yesterday. Shot a seal last week, they was
a-tellin’ me.”

“I should hate a man that could shoot a seal,” said Rose. “They look so
human, and, then, they can be taught to talk. He can’t be a nice man.”

“Them seals spiles the fishin’, Miss Rose. They ain’t got no business to
spile the fishin’. As for them seals a-talkin’, that’s a pretty large
story, miss; whatever, I don’t go to doubt you heerd ’em.”

“But it is true.”

“I’d like to _con_verse with one,” said Tom, in his most liberal voice.
“He’d git my opinion.”

And now the canoe was ashore, and Rose and her father set out through
the woods, and by and by came upon a rude clearing and a rough-looking
log-cabin, surrounded with fire-scarred and decaying stumps. The huge
wood-pile, as high as the eaves, struck Rose.

“How that makes one think of the terrible cold and the loneliness of
winter here,—no books, no company; what can they do?”

“It recalls to me,” said Lyndsay, “the curious use of the word ‘stove’
in Labrador, where, even more than here, it is important. You ask how
many people there are, say, at Mingan? The reply is sure to be, ‘Oh,
there are twenty-seven stoves.’ But how many people? ‘I don’t know;
there are twenty-seven stoves.’”

At the open door Lyndsay knocked, and in a moment came through the gloom
within a tall, sallow woman. A soiled and much-mended brown gingham gown
hung down from broad but lean shoulders over hips as lean and large. As
she came to the door, she hastily buttoned her dress awry across the
fleshless meagerness of her figure.

“How do you do, Mrs. Colkett?” said Lyndsay.

“Now, ain’t it Mr. Lyndsay? I’m that wore out I didn’t know you. Set
down”; and she wiped a chair and a rickety stool with the skirt of her
gown. “I didn’t know you, sir, till you came to speak. Was you wantin’
Joe?”

“No; we came over because Dorothy Maybrook left word your boy was sick.
This is my daughter Rose. We brought some lemons and other trifles. The
little man might like them.”

As she turned, Rose took note of the unkempt hair, the slight stoop of
the woman’s unusually tall figure, and the shoeless, uncovered, and
distorted feet. Not less the desolate, comfortless cabin caught her
eye,—the rude wooden furniture, and the bed, whence came the hoarse
breathing of the sick child. To her surprise, Mrs. Colkett said:

“Dory Maybrook’s always a-fussin’ over other folks’ concerns, ’stead of
mindin’ her own affairs.”

Lyndsay, who was standing beside Rose, looked up at the woman.

“I think,” he said, “Dorothy is incapable of wanting to be other than
kind.”

“S’pose so. She might of let on she was goin’ a-beggin’.”

“Oh, it was not that,” cried Rose, bewildered by the woman’s mode of
receiving a kindness.

“Dare say: maybe not. All the same, me and Joe ain’t never asked no
favors. Set down, miss.”

“No, thank you,” returned Rose, and began to empty her basket of fruit
and other luxuries.

“We came over,” said Lyndsay, “because my wife thought you might need
help.”

“It ain’t no use. It wasn’t never no use. That boy’s a-goin’ like the
rest.”

“I trust not so bad as that.”

“Yes; he’s a-goin’ like them others.”

“You have lost other children?” said Rose, gently, looking up as she
cleared the basket.

“Yes; two, and he’s the last. They hadn’t no great time while they was
alive, and now they’re lyin’ out in the wood, and no more mark over ’em
than if they was dead dogs. There won’t no one care.”

“Yes, I shall care; I do care, Mrs. Colkett. Oh, isn’t it hard to say
why such things do happen?”

“Happen!” said the woman. “Dorothy, she says God took them children. I’d
like to know why? Preachin’ ’s easy business. God! What do I know about
God, except that he’s done nothin’ for me? And I’m to be thankful,—what
for?” As she spoke a hoarse sound came from the bed. “For that poor
little man a-croakin’ there, I suppose!”

As Rose was about to reply, her father touched her arm, and,
understanding that argument was thus hinted to be unwise, she said:

“Let me see the little fellow?”

“You may, if you’ve a mind. ’Tain’t no good. When it isn’t any good, it
isn’t any good, and that’s all there is to it.”

Rose went up to the bed. A sickening odor filled the close air. She saw
beneath her a stout little boy of ten, hot and dusky red with fever, his
lips purple, two small hands tightly locked, with the thumbs in the
palms, the head, soaked with the death-sweat, rolling rhythmically from
side to side. The woman followed her.

“Has he had any one to see him?” said Lyndsay.

“Yes. We had a doctor from down river. He came twice. He wasn’t no use.
He took ’most all the money we had left.”

“We shall be glad to help you.”

“Much obliged, sir. It’s only to bury him now. There’s one mercy
anyways,—it don’t cost much for funerals up here. It’s just get a
preacher and dig a hole and my man to make a box. Thank you, all the
same.”

Here was poverty so brutal in its results that even the pretense of
sentiment was absent. Rose was troubled. Before her was death, and it
was new to her. She turned to her father. “Oh, can’t something be done?”

He tried a moment with unprofessional awkwardness to find the pulse.
There was none he could feel. “What did the doctor say? What is the
matter with the boy, Mrs. Colkett?”

“He left some medicine stuff; but laws! the child couldn’t take it. The
doctor he says it’s diphthery, or something like that. I don’t rightly
know. It don’t matter none.”

All this was said in a slow monotone, as if, Rose thought,—almost as if
the woman, the mother, had been an uninterested spectator. After a pause
she added, in the same slow voice:

“If he’s goin’ he’ll go, and that’s all there is of it.”

At the word diphtheria, Lyndsay recoiled, pushing Rose back from the
bed. “Harry!” he exclaimed. “It was that! Go out, Rose! Go at once!”

“Lord, is it ketchin’?” said the woman, shrinking back from the bed.
“That fool never said so. If I’m to git it, I guess the mischief’s done.
If Joe he gits it, Hiram’ll have to make the box.”

“Come away, Rose.”

The girl was divided between horror and pity. At the door she turned.

“I am not afraid. Let me stay, father,—I must stay!”

“No; it is useless, and might be worse than useless.” As she obeyed him,
a short, squat figure of a man coming into the doorway darkened the
dimly lit room. He moved aside as Rose went out into the sun. Lyndsay
went by him also, and the man, turning back, said, “It’s about all over,
I guess. We’ve got more’n we can handle, sir. Seems there’s no end of
troubles.”

“Come this way,” returned Lyndsay. “And you, Rose, wait by the fence.”

He saw but too clearly that the stout, ruddy little man had been taking
whisky. Joe Colkett followed him.

“Good Lord, my man, that child is dying,—will be dead, I am sure, before
night; and here you are in liquor just when that poor woman most wants
help.”

“I ain’t that drunk I can’t do chores. Fact is, Mr. Lyndsay, I went down
to ask Dory Maybrook jus’ to lend me a little money. That doctor he took
most all my wood wage.”[2]

-----

Footnote 2:

  Money earned by lumbering in the winter woods.

-----

“Well?”

“She wouldn’t do it.”

“Well?”

“She said she’d come up and help, an’ if my old woman wanted any she
might have it. That ain’t no way to treat a man.”

“No,” said Lyndsay, with such emphasis as satisfied his own conscience,
and also the duller sense of the lumberman. “No,—that is not the way to
treat a _man_. Listen to me, Joe: Don’t drink any more.”

“I ain’t any,” said Joe.

“Really?”

“Not a drop. It was just a bit I had left.”

“Come to me when it is all over, and I will pay the doctor’s bill, and
you can help clear off the brush back of my cabin.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“You don’t drink often, I think. Why should you now? Was it
trouble—about your child?”

“He wasn’t my child.”

“What!” exclaimed Lyndsay, puzzled; “how is that?”

“My wife was a widder, you see, and them was all her first man’s; I
never had no child. ’T ain’t like it was my own child. He was awful
spiled, that boy. I licked him two weeks this Sunday comin’ for makin’
fire by the wood-pile. Gosh, what a row Susie did make!”

“My God!” exclaimed Lyndsay.

The man understood him well enough.

“Oh, I don’t go to say I didn’t like him none. Lord, I’d done most
anything to git that boy well. I wanted that money to help put him
underground. It don’t cost much buryin’ up here, but it ain’t to be done
for nothin’, and you’ve got to look ahead. There’s the minister’s got to
be fetched, and—and—”

Here the man sat down on a stump, and putting a palm on each temple and
an elbow on each knee, looked silently down at his mother earth.

Respect for the moods of men is one of the delicacies of the best
manners. Lyndsay was still a minute. Then he put a hand on Joe’s
shoulder.

“How else can we help you?”

“It’s my woman I’m a-thinkin’ of.” He spoke without looking up. “This
thing’s the last and the wust,—it’s goin’ to down her awful. And there
ain’t nothin’ I can do,—nothin’!” Here he passed his sleeve across his
eyes, and then glanced at the unaccustomed moisture, and had a dulled
remembrance of having cried long years before; he failed to recall why
or just when.

“You’re a-thinkin’ I’m a mean man to be a-drinkin’ and that child
a-dyin’ in yon; and that woman! That’s where it gits a man. I ain’t been
a bad man to her; I’ve took care of them children right along, Mr.
Lyndsay, and I never beat her none, and I don’t mind me I ever used no
bad words to her, not when I was wore out, and—and—hadn’t a shillin’,
and was busted up with blackleg.[3] I don’t git it clear, sir; I don’t
care most none for that child, but she might kill me if it would git it
well. I don’t see nothin’ to do but drink, and that’s the fact.”

-----

Footnote 3:

  The scurvy of the lumberman,—more rare nowadays.

-----

Lyndsay stood silent in thought. He had seen enough of life not to
wonder that drink could be distinctly regarded as, under stress of
circumstances, an available resource. He had also seen men or women
capable of a single affection, and of only one. What there was to know
of this man’s relations to his wife and her offspring had been uncovered
with frank brutality. He had said there was nothing for him except to
drink.

“But if you love your wife, my man, you want to help her, and if you
drink you are useless,—and, in fact, you add to her troubles.”

“It ain’t that, sir. Fact is, she don’t care a’most none for me,—and
there’s the truth. You wouldn’t think, sir, what a pretty woman she was.
She took me to get them children a home and feed. Dory, she knows. I
ain’t given to tellin’ it round, but you’re different. Somehow it helps
a man to say things out.”

Here was the strange hurt of a limited tenderness, with all this
rudeness of self-disclosure, and, too, some of the stupid, careless
immodesty of drink.

“I take it kindly,” said Lyndsay, “that you have told me the whole of
your troubles. Come over and see me. I left some tobacco on the table
for you.”

“Much obliged, sir,” and, rising, Joe took Mr. Lyndsay’s offered hand.
“I’ll come,” he said, and walked back toward the cabin, while Lyndsay,
beckoning to Rose, turned into the ox-road which led to the shore.

For a while they were silent. Then he said, “This child is dying of a
fever; no word of the diphtheria to your mother or even to Anne.”

“One can escape mama easily, but Aunt Anne is a relentless questioner.”

“I will speak to her.”

“That would be better, I think. How horrible it all was! And that woman!
Do you think she really did not care?”

“No, no, dear. Imagine a life of constant poverty, utter want of
means,—to-day’s wages meaning to-morrow’s bread; a cruel soil; a
mortgaged farm at that; then one child after another dying; the
helplessness of want of money; the utter lack of all resources; the
lonely, meager life. This woman has the moral disease of one long,
unchanging monotony of despair.”

“I see—I see—you know more, and that makes you forgive more.”

“Some one has said, Rose, that to be able to explain all is to be able
to forgive all, and that only One can truly explain all.”

“It seems to me, Pardy, that poverty has more temptations in it than
wealth, and more explanations of sin, too. Isn’t the man a brute, Pardy?
He had been drinking, and to drink at such a time!”

“No; he is coarse, but not a bad fellow. You or I would have much we
could turn to if trouble came upon us. This man has nothing. It does not
surprise me that he drank. It is not his habit. But let us drop it all
now. I am sorry I took you.” He was not unwise enough to speak of the
anguish of dread which had possessed him as he stood by the bedside, and
now made haste to add, “And yet the lesson was a good one. You won’t
want to fish, I fear?” He had in some ways appreciative touch of his
kind, and knew the daughter well.

“No, no; not to-day. Let us go home.”

“As you please, dear”; and they slid away swiftly down the gleaming
water as the evening shadows crept across the stream.

After awhile Rose said, looking up, “You must have seen, oh, so many
people die, Pardy.”

“Yes; Death was for four years a constant comrade. I had always a firm
belief I would not be killed. Some men were always predicting their own
deaths; others carefully avoided the question. I know one very gallant
fellow who was always a gay comrade in camp, and almost abnormally merry
in battle unless the fight took place on a day of the month which was an
odd number. Then he was sure to think he would be killed. Men in war are
like gamblers, and have queer notions as to luck. You knew that child
was dying?”

“Yes.”

“How did you know it?”

“I cannot tell. What troubled me, Pardy, was—I think what troubled
me—was the loneliness of death; that little fellow going away and away,
all by himself.”

“Yes, dear.

          ‘Once, once only, love must drop the hand of love!’”

“But what a horrible woman! I can’t help thinking that.”

“Was she? Perhaps; I don’t know.” His charity was older than hers.

“Did you notice, Rose, her sad fatalism: if the child was to die, it
would die?”

“Yes; it was a strange illustration of our talk.”



                               CHAPTER V


We have so far heard little of Mrs. Lyndsay; but, in fact, she was
usually more felt than heard in the every-day life of the household.
Archibald Lyndsay said, “She had but one defect, and that was not a
fault. She was so entirely good that she lacked all human opportunity
for the exercise of repentance.”

“There is no credit to be had in this world, my dear, for monotony of
virtue,” said Anne Lyndsay. “When you do some of your sweet, nice
things, that cost you no end of trouble, people merely say, ‘Oh, yes,
Margaret Lyndsay! but she likes to do that kind of thing.’ For my part I
prefer that wise mixture of vice and virtue which gives variety of
flavor to life, and now and then adds the unexpected.”

This was said at breakfast on Sunday morning, the day after Rose had
seen the dying lad, who now lay quiet in the dismal cabin where the
mother sat angrily brooding over her loss.

Lyndsay had spoken of some pleasant act of thoughtful kindness on the
part of his wife; and as Anne, laughing, made her comment, Margaret had
shaken a menacing finger at her kindly critic, saying quietly:

“Oh, I think we are very much alike, Anne”; at which there was a general
outbreak of mirth, for these people were much given to laughter.

Lyndsay declared that he had observed the resemblance.

“And the boys inherit our goodness,” added Anne, demurely. “At least, it
seemed to me I had evidence of it pretty early to-day; but then the hymn
says, ‘_Let_ boys delight to bark and bite.’ I disremember the rest, as
Peter, our cook, says.” At this Ned gave his aunt’s gown a gentle pull,
by way of respectfully intimating that she was getting them into
difficulties.

“‘Let’ is permissive,” she went on. “I was not really disturbed,
Archie”; for her brother was now curiously regarding a rather distinct
scratch on Dick’s ruddy cheek.

“Raspberry thorns, Dicky?” he said, maliciously.

“No, sir.”

“Sleep-cats,” said Anne. “That was always our nursery explanation.”

“What then? Another row? I thought we had had enough for a week.”

“And on Sunday morning, Dick!” said the mother. “I wouldn’t.”

Anne looked up, amused at this latter declaration.

“Never mind, Margaret,” said her husband. “What was it about, boys?”

“Oh, it wasn’t much of a row. It was only a scrimmage,” said Dick. “Ned
said King James cut off Raleigh’s head because he would smoke tobacco.
Did you ever hear such nonsense?”

“But Aunt Anne told me King James wrote a book against smoking,—didn’t
you, aunt?” urged the smaller lad.

“And I said it was ridiculous,” cried Dick.

“And Jack he up and said it wasn’t, because if he was a king, and people
didn’t do as he wanted, he would cut off their heads, like that,” said
Ned, knocking off the end of an egg, by way of illustration.

“And so we had a melley,” remarked Jack. “It wasn’t much, and that’s all
there was of it. _I_ don’t see why people make such a fuss.”

“Suppose you let this suffice for the day, you rascals,” said Mr.
Lyndsay.

“Yes, sir.”

“And it wasn’t Raleigh who brought tobacco to England, was it, Aunt
Anne?” said Ned. “I told Dick it was Hawkins, and he wouldn’t believe
me. I saw it in—”

“Where?”

Ned hesitated. His habit of lying on his stomach on the floor in the
long winter afternoons, with some monstrous quarto, was matter for
unending chaff on the part of the twins.

“Where was it, old Book Gobbler?” cried Dick. “Where was it?”

“It was in Hollinshead’s Chronicles,” returned the lad, coloring.

“You are right,” said Aunt Anne. “You would do better to read a little
more yourself, Jack, than to laugh at Ned.”

“What’s the use, if I am going to West Point?” said Jack.

“You will find out, I fancy, when you get there,” remarked Rose. “I am
told it is dreadful.”

“Well, there’s time enough to think about it,” returned Jack, with his
usual philosophical calm. “I wish it wasn’t Sunday. Oh, dear!” and he
groaned in anticipation of the dullness of the day.

“Jack!” exclaimed the mother. “Oh, Jack!”

“Well, you can’t go to church, and there’s no fishing; and, mother, you
know you don’t like us to read novels on Sunday, and I’ve read voyages
until I know all there are up here,—and I don’t see what a fellow is to
do.”

“I shall read the service before you all scatter.”

“Well, that doesn’t take long.”

As a means of passing the time, this device of her sister-in-law
enormously delighted Anne. “I confess to a certain amount of sympathy
with the unemployed. It is a Sabbath lockout.”

Margaret turned on her with abruptness; but Lyndsay said, quickly:

“My dear Anne, this is Margaret’s business. Keep out of other folks’
small wars. You are as bad as Jack.”

“That is true, Archie. I am a conversational free lance. I beg pardon,
Margaret, I will never, never do it again.”

“Not until the next time,” returned Mrs. Lyndsay, with unusual
ascerbity. “It is really of no moment,” she added, “but I like to manage
the boys myself.”

“You are right. I was wrong to meddle.”

“I propose,” said Lyndsay, “that the two Gaspé men shall take you
fellows up the Arrapedia. You will find it hard work if they let you
pole, and you can’t drown there if you try; and the black flies,
mosquitos, and midges will make you miserable. And, Jack, come
here,—nearer. This in your ear: at the second bend there is an old
clearing, and under the eaves of the cabin—now, don’t let it out—there
is a mighty nest of hornets. I recommend it to your attention. I owe
them a grudge.”

Jack’s face flushed with joy.

“Thank you, sir.”

Mrs. Lyndsay said, “What is it, Archie?”

“Oh, nothing; a little secret between Jack the Giant Killer and his pa.”
Lyndsay had a pretty distinct notion that fighting hornets as a Sunday
distraction would not be altogether to his wife’s taste.

“Don’t tell, Jack.”

“No, sir.”

“Honor bright!”

“All right, sir.”

“Won’t you tell us?” asked Ned of his father.

“No.”

“But I have an irresistible curiosity,” said the boy.

“And I have an impenetrable resolution to hold my tongue. You are to
sail under sealed orders.” One of his delights was to offer problems to
this sturdy young intellect. “Suppose, sir,”—and he put the old
scholiast question,—“If the impenetrable were to meet the irresistible,
what would happen?”

“That would be a row,” said Jack.

Ned had a deep dislike to being beaten by these absurd questions. His
detestation of intellectual defeat was as deep as his brother’s disgust
at physical discomfiture. He hesitated, flushed, and replied:

“It couldn’t be at all, father, because it says in the Bible that the
world will be destroyed, and, if there was an impenetrable, that
couldn’t be at all,—I say it _couldn’t_ be.”

“Shade of Confucius!” exclaimed Anne.

“But suppose.”

“I can’t.” He had a sense of wrath at the question. At last he said,
“You might as well ask a fellow what would happen if the impossible met
the incomprehensible.”

“Glory! what dictionary words!” cried Dick.

“Pretty well, old fellow,” said Lyndsay, laughing as they rose.

“Oh, I hate things like that.”

“Rose, Rose, put some lunch in a basket. We shall make a day of it. We
will take the skiff and Tom. Put my note-book and pencils in the basket,
and your sketch-book; and don’t forget my field-glass. Won’t you come,
Margaret?”

“No; I am going to Mrs. Maybrook’s this morning, and, Archie, I want
Hiram to attend to something at the church where Harry is. Don’t trouble
about me.”

“Anne, won’t you come with us?”

“No; I am not good for all day. I shall go and have a talk with Mrs.
Maybrook this afternoon. If I lie down until then, I may manage it.
Margaret says it sweetens one for a week to see that woman. I mean to
try the recipe.”

“I am getting very curious about her,” said Rose; “and there is so much
to do, and I must catch a salmon to-morrow.”

“We kill salmon,” said Lyndsay.

“But you catch them with a pole and a line.”

“No; they catch themselves; and we call it a rod, miss, please.”

“Yes, Marcus Aurelius.”

“At ten o’clock, sauce-box; and get your wits in order.”

“Ay, ay, sir!” and she touched her forehead and went to secure their
lunch.

Anne took a book, as usual, and went out to lie under the porch in a
hammock. The boats got away, and still she lay quiet. Delicate of
features, the mouth and large gray eyes her only beauties; her nose
fine, but large for the rest of her face, and aquiline; her forehead
square, with a mass of brown hair set too high above its pallor for good
looks, perhaps justified the common notion that Anne Lyndsay never had
been even pretty. Years of pain and endurance had lessened, not
increased, her natural irritability, and given to her face an expression
of singular force. It may be added that she was a trifle vain of the
small hands and feet which she, like all of her people, possessed.

As she lay at more than usual ease, dreamily happy as she noticed the
sun, the shadows, and the far-stretching curves of the river, she saw a
dugout, what in the North is called a pirogue,[4] put out from the
farther bank. A woman stood in the stern and urged it across the swift
current with notable strength and dexterity. Presently it ran onto the
beach, and Dorothy Maybrook came up the steps, a basket in her hand.

-----

Footnote 4:

  Spanish, _piriagua_.

-----

As to most things, all books, and people in general, Anne Lyndsay had a
highly vitalized curiosity; but, as to this woman, it was more eager
than usual. She was mildly skeptical as to the fact that the wife of a
small Quaker farmer, illy educated, and, of course, without the tact
which makes sympathy acceptable, could have been what Margaret Lyndsay
said this woman had been to her in the last summer’s trial. Anne was apt
to distrust Mrs. Lyndsay’s unwonted enthusiasms. Also, this invalid lady
was very democratic in theory, but by nature’s decree an aristocrat,
whether she would or not. Thus, Anne Lyndsay was now a little on her
guard, and more curious than she would have liked to have been thought.

But when, as Dorothy Maybrook advanced, a pair of large gray eyes came
into the horizon of another pair almost as luminous, Anne, as she
afterward explained, felt something akin to fascination. She made up her
mind as Mrs. Maybrook approached that her facial expression was one of
strange purity of repose. The next moment Miss Anne cast a foot over the
hammock’s edge, and made an effort to rise, in order to greet the
new-comer. But to get out of a hammock with ease is not given to mortals
to achieve without much practice, and as all rapid movements were sure
to summon at once her unrelenting enemy, pain, she fell back with a low
exclamation, wrung from her by pain so extreme that she was quite
unprepared. Sudden anger stirred within her, because she had so plainly
betrayed her feelings to one who had been described to her as full of
sympathy and almost incredibly competent to notice the peculiarities of
men and things. If this woman should dare to pity her, in words or with
looks!

“Good morning. Mrs. Maybrook, I am sure. I am Miss Lyndsay,” said Miss
Anne, in her most tranquil voice, and it was capable of many tones.

Said Dorothy to herself, “That woman isn’t long for this world.” What
she said aloud was:

“Yes, I’m Dorothy Maybrook. I brought over some wild strawberries for
Mrs. Lyndsay. They’re very early, but there’s a sort of little nest
right back of our clearing, and the sun gets in there constant,—seems as
if it couldn’t ever get out,—and it hatches the berries two weeks before
they’re done blooming anywhere else.”

“Thank you,” said Anne, who was making a difficult effort to catch with
the foot outside of the hammock a slipper lost in the foiled attempt to
rise.

Mrs. Maybrook set down the berries, and without a word went on her
knees, took the dainty slipper, lifted the foot, bestowed a glance of
swift curiosity upon it as she put on the slipper, and gently replaced
the foot in the hammock.

“Sakes alive! If I was a man, I’d just say it’s beautiful. Being a
woman, I’d like to know how you walk on them?”

“Oh, I don’t very much; not nowadays,” returned Anne, smiling. “Thank
you.”

It was a neat little shot, although quite unconscious of aim. Miss Anne
tried to think she disliked both the help and the outspoken admiration.
She made a feeble effort to generalize the compliment, and so to get
away from its personal application:

“It’s a family failing, Mrs. Maybrook. Even our men have absurdly small
hands and feet. I should have offered you a camp-chair. Get one, please,
out of the house. I am quite incapable of helping any one,—even myself.”
Mrs. Maybrook did as Anne desired, and sat down.

“My sister-in-law was going to see you to-day. Shall I call her! She
must be in her room.”

“Oh, there’s time enough. That’s the only thing we have a plenty of up
here. We ain’t time-starved, I can tell you.” Anne began to be
interested. Quaintness of phrase was a thing so rare. For a few minutes
she had been struggling with one of her few weaknesses. At last she gave
way:

“Excuse me, but would you be so kind as to put the basket of
strawberries in the house? The sun will spoil them.”

“Oh, but the sun is good for them. They won’t take any hurt.”

“But I shall. The fact is, when I was a girl I was picking strawberries
in the White Hills, and a snake—oh, a rattlesnake—struck at me. I have
been ever since unable to endure the odor of strawberries. I think it
becomes worse as I grow more feeble. It is very absurd.” She was
absolutely pleading her weakness to this simple woman, and had ceased
for the time to be self-critical.

Mrs. Maybrook rose, and without more words, after carrying the basket to
the cook’s house, returned around the cabin to her seat facing Miss
Anne. The smile she wore as she came back would usually have been taken
by Anne for vulgar comment on her own display of what might, with
reason, have been taken for pure affectation. Now it struck Anne as
being like her own habit of smiling large, or smiling small, as she
said, at some humorous aspect of the passing hour.

“What amuses you?” she queried pleasantly.

“Oh, I was just a-thinking you might feel about those berries like Mrs.
Eve might of felt when she was coming on in years and one of her
grandchildren fetched her a nice, red apple. Guess he got warmed for it.
Sandals might have come handy in big families, those days!”

Anne looked up, laughing gaily, and noting by the exception how rarely
Mrs. Maybrook failed in her grammar.

“Delightful! Now I feel historically justified. Are there any snakes
here?”

“Oh, no; none to hurt. But, bless me, I never can hear about snakes
without thinking of Sairy Kitchins.”

“And what was that?” said Miss Lyndsay, enjoying talk with a mind as
fresh and unconventional as her guest’s.

“Oh, it ain’t much. You see, I’ve had asthma so bad that Hiram and me,
since the children are gone, we have traveled here and there, trying to
find a place where I wouldn’t have it.”

“Have you suffered much?” said Anne.

“Yes,—quite my share. But there are worse things.”

“That is so.”

“Hiram and me get along most anywhere. We have a bit of money,—not
overmuch. We are both pretty handy, and once we tried it two years down
South, at Marysville, in Alabama. That was a right nice place for
snakes.”

“Gracious Heavens! You talk as if you liked them.”

“Well, they’re handsome, and brave, and don’t want to hurt you; and how
many men can you say that about?”

“A fair defense,” said Anne; “but what of Sairy Kitchins? I love a
story; I am like a child.”

“Well, Sairy she had just come that spring. She was the wife of one of
them Methodist preachers that don’t be let to bide long anywhere,—the
kind that goes about the land seeking whom they may devour. As I came
along the road with her there was a six-foot rattler lying right across
in the sun. Down went Sairy on her knees. ‘Good lands!’ said I, ‘what’s
the good prayin’ to that reptile? A whole camp-meeting couldn’t convert
him.’ Well, we couldn’t get by him, and so I got a good, big stick of
live oak, and fetched him a crack on the head, and one or two more to
make sure. Then I said, ‘Come along, Sairy; he won’t sin any more; if
that fool of a woman, Eve, had had any sense, and a live-oak stick
handy, there wouldn’t have been no need of you and me going to meeting
this hot day.’”

“I should think not,” cried Anne, laughing. “And what did Sairy say? I
am quite on her side.”

“Oh, she told her husband, and I got prayed over a heap. It’s amazing
how clear those preachers see the sins of other people.”

“I think it a delightful story. I shall tell the boys to-night. I
haven’t laughed as much in a month.”

“Dear me! It must be ten o’clock,” said Mrs. Maybrook, looking up at the
sun, “and I must see Mrs. Lyndsay, and go home to cook Hiram’s dinner.
But I would like to see the house. You know last year they tented. When
I was here yesterday no one was about, and so I did not go in to look. I
was dying to see it.”

Anne smiled. “Help me a little.”

The hand she met with hers was strong, well-modeled, and—if tanned by
sun, and showing signs of toil in the broken nails—was, like the gown,
scrupulously clean. Dorothy wore no head-cover, and her hair, which was
fine and abundant, lay in flat, old-fashioned style on her temples, and
was caught back in an ample and perfectly neat coil. Again, as Anne
rose, the look of repose on Dorothy’s face, and also the absence of
lines of care, struck her no less than the regularity of features. There
was none of the slouch of labor; Dorothy sat erect, without touching the
back of the chair; a woman of fifty or over, and still keeping many of
the gracious curves of feminine maturity.

But what interested Anne most in Mrs. Maybrook as they moved about the
room—which was hall, dining-room, and sitting-room—was her simple
pleasure in the white curtains Mrs. Lyndsay had tied up with gay
ribbons, the cane seats, and the covers of light Eastern stuffs, not
very remarkable or costly, but, as it seemed, pleasing to the visitor.
Anne thought she would have noticed the books, but of these she made no
mention, albeit the collection was odd enough, because every one had
brought what they liked, and the cleverly built book-shelves Pierre had
made were full to overflow.

Very soon Mrs. Lyndsay appeared, gave the visitor a more than usually
warm welcome, and at last asked about the Colketts and the child.

“It died last night,” said Mrs. Maybrook. “I was up there pretty early
to-day. They’re awful hard folks to help any; it’s like setting up
ten-pins, and down they go, in a minute. Hiram says they haven’t any
‘gitalongativeness.’ That’s a great word with Hiram.”

“Do they want help? What is there we can do?” said Mrs. Lyndsay.

“I wouldn’t know to tell you. Oh, dear, if I was that man, I’d drink,
too.”

“No! No!”

“Yes, I’d drink! He did, some, yesterday; but I judge he’s taken none
since Mr. Lyndsay was there. The fact is, Mrs. Lyndsay, Susan Colkett
cared more for those children of hers than for her first man or Colkett,
or anybody else, except herself. She’s just savage now, like a bear that
has had its cubs taken away. And the worst of it is, she hasn’t got the
means of wisdom in her, and never had, or else she’d have seen you can’t
live in a pigsty and bring up live children. Oh! You were asking if they
want anything?”

“Yes, Dorothy.”

“Well, Mr. Carington he went over yesterday afternoon. I guess he took
the short cut or he would have met Mr. Lyndsay coming out. Mr. Carington
must be a pretty nice man. There’s not many as young would give up
Saturday afternoon fishing, even a bit of it, to go and see about a sick
brat. Fishermen’s generally right selfish. He left them twenty dollars.
But he had the high-up sense to give it to Susie. He’s a well set-up
young man; I saw him poling a pirogue across. It takes a lot of judgment
in a man’s legs to handle a dugout.”

“But you do it well, I fancy,” said Anne.

“Yes, but I’m a woman.”

“Good,” said Miss Lyndsay, and went out, leaving the others to talk
alone.

Then Dorothy said, “What troubles that woman the most you couldn’t
think, not if you lived as long as Noah.”

“And what is it?”

“It’s because there won’t be any tombstone. They’re all buried in the
wood back of the cabin. Poor little kittens, just dead drownded in
filth. She had better have thought more for them when they were alive.”

“I will speak to Mr. Lyndsay about it.”

“It would be just that much wasted.”

“Money is well wasted sometimes. You might think of the box of ointment,
Dorothy.”

“It’s a long way between them two wastings.”

“Perhaps. I don’t know. We shall see.”

“Well, I must go and cook Hiram’s dinner. Good-by.” And she went out and
down to her dugout.

“What do you think of her, Anne?” said Mrs. Lyndsay, as the maiden lady
came out of her own room.

“I think her most interesting, and altogether a remarkable person.”

“A heart of gold!” said Mrs. Lyndsay. “You cannot imagine, Anne, what
that woman was to me last summer.”

“I can,—I think I can now.” Mrs. Lyndsay went back to some household
occupation, and Anne, returning to her hammock, lay thoughtfully
watching the retreating pirogue and its capable guide, and smiling ever
as was her habit.

Then she spoke aloud:

“That beats Marcus Aurelius. To have lost all her children, to have had
sickness,—poverty, and not a wrinkle to record it all. That woman must
have the self-contentment of a first-class angel. Ah, me!” And she
turned again to the “Life of John, Lord Lawrence,” and was soon smiling
over it, for in her heroic lives found glad and ready recognition.



                               CHAPTER VI


The light Gaspé canoe sped away up stream close to the shores, with
Archibald Lyndsay and Rose. They were contentedly quiet for an hour or
more, and at last left behind them the island camp and its white tents,
and then the last of the clearings and the lower alluvial meadows with
their richly feathered elms. As they went on, the hills were more abrupt
and closer to the river, or precipitous past the power of the hardiest
pines to find more than here and there a foothold.

And now Lyndsay laughed, and Rose, curious, inquired why.

“I was thinking of the boys”; and he told her of the hornets’ nest.

“I don’t think the dear mother will like it,” said Rose.

“Perhaps,—oh, assuredly not; but what on earth can one do with three
young steam-engines?”

“It’s very, very dreadful, papa, and do not tell; but I would like to be
present at the siege of the hornets’ nest. It must be awfully good fun.”

“What was that you said?”

“I said awfully good fun. And also I desire to add that this is my day,
and I shall say what I please, do what I please, talk slang and bad
grammar by the yard if I want to.”

“As you like,—I make but one condition: there is to be none of that
wading into deep waters of which you and Anne are so fond. I get enough
of that at home, in my work. This is to be a tree-and-water day. I want
to push on first up to the burnt lands. Some twenty years ago the upper
country was burned off, so that, between the hills and the river are
long abrupt slopes with low underbrush and millions of dead trees. The
tops of the hills are also covered with the same mighty stubble.”

“But that cannot be beautiful.”

“No and yes. I fished above there one year, and for some days I found
the desolation most oppressive. Then, one evening, I saw something in
these gray dead trees, and ever since I have seen in them more and more
that is strange or even beautiful.”

“I think I have felt like that at times,—as if of a sudden I had become
another person, and saw with strange eyes. Once we were looking at
Ruysdael’s pictures; it was at Amsterdam, and Aunt Anne said how
delightful it would be just in a moment to see the world of things as a
great master does, or the world of men as a poet may.”

“What spirit made me his own I do not know, my dear,” said Lyndsay;
“but, if he fled, he left me some permanent property. There is a bit of
St. Clair’s verse which puts it fairly.”

“And it is—Pardy?”

“I think I can repeat it, but I am never sure about my quotations:

            ‘If from the vantage of thy wiser heart
              I could look out on nature through thine eyes,
            I think that I should learn a novel art,
              And joyful capture some divine surprise.

            The tiny morrow of the opening rose,
              With kindred comment of thy genius viewed,
            Might to love’s wisdom eagerly disclose
              The mystery of some new beatitude.’

Perhaps you will like my dead trees at first sight.”

“I can hardly fancy that.”

“Oh, you may. The afternoon is the time for the water. The black flies
are pretty thick, Rose, eh?”

“They don’t trouble me,” she returned. “I can’t say why. They bite, and
that is all.”

“I never could account for the exceptions,” he said. “Ned is tormented
by them, and they hardly touch Jack.”

“How curious!”

“Yes. My own foes are the sand-flies, what are called by the Indians
‘no-see-ums,’ and in Pennsylvania pungies. I brought a little smudge-pot
and a small A-tent, just to give you shelter at need.” Meanwhile the
poles rang ceaselessly, and the talk went on.

“I think, Pardy, the landscape under the water is almost as attractive
as that above it. The stones seem to be all colors, and, I suppose, all
shapes, because they play such queer tricks with the water. I never
noticed until yesterday that when a wave rolls over a large, smooth rock
it takes perfectly the form of a shell,—I think I mean a scallop-shell.”

“That is so, Rose. There, over there, is an example. I think it a very
pretty idea,—one might be ingeniously poetical about it, but one won’t.”

By and by the stream stretched out shallow and broad, and the men took
their paddles. Then they turned a sharp angle of the river and came
among the burnt lands. Here and there a few great trees had strangely
survived the fire, and towered high, green cones among the ruin.

“I can see no beauty in it,” said Rose.

“I said it was strange, interesting, and had certain beauties. Wait a
little. Land us on the island, Tom,—at the upper end. There will be more
air. There is a good bit of grass and a spring near by.”

Pretty soon the tent was up, and the smudge-pot, full of cedar bark,
lighted. There was some wind, however, and the flies were not annoying.

“But what am I to sketch?”

“Let us sit in the opening of the tent. And now, my pipe. Let us first
consider, Rosy, the eccentricities of these burnt trees. I want a sketch
of some of them.”

“Why are they not black? I see very few that are charred.”

“Ask Tom,—it will amuse you.” She did so.

“Them trees, when there’s a fire, and there ain’t too many pines and
firs, the fire it just eats up their leaves and scorches their hides.”

“Bark?”

“Yes; and the winds and the frost and the sun, they peels off the dead
hides. After that them trees lasts powerful long. But if the bark be on,
they rots.”

“What I want just now, Rose, is to get you to look at those few isolated
skeletons of dead trees on the point. There are many as odd in the
wood-tangle below, but these above you can more readily sketch for me,
because they stand by themselves. We will come back to the rest by and
by.”

“Oh, my dear, dear M. A., what a fine master you are! I used to long for
you, and that book we were to write, on the ‘Art of Seeing.’”

“Yes, I have taught myself to see. While you are sketching I will
lecture a little.”

“And just what do you wish me to draw?”

“Take your field-glass and look at the trees on the point. Now, the one
at the edge,—look at it; I do not want to tell you about it, I want you
to see.”

“Well,” said Rose, talking as she sat in the tent-shadow, the glass at
her eyes, “I see a tall dead tree,—a fir? No, a dead spruce,—probably a
spruce, I am not sure. It is gray, and has only two great limbs left,
and a tuft of dead twigs above—and—the trunk is oddly twisted to the
left.”

“Now you are getting warm, as the children say. Hey, Rose?”

“I see,” she cried, with a real joy in her mind; and, taking her pencil,
swiftly drew the desolate dead thing, while Lyndsay looked on.

“Good!” he said; “very good. You have it precisely. I will make a
word-sketch, and we will compare work. I can’t draw a straight line, as
you know. I conceive of the other world, not entirely as a place to
develop our own qualities, but where there will be a pleasant
interchange of capacities. There, my dear, I shall sing like Nilsson and
paint like Velasquez.”

“I think I could myself make some pleasant exchanges,” said Rose. “Those
stiff lines of the dead branchless firs and pines, set against that dark
cloud,—they remind me of the lances in that great picture by Velasquez
at Madrid,—the Surrender of Breda. I loved the two men in that picture.
Requesens is taking the keys of the town from Don John of Nassau, and he
is just saying, ‘Might have happened to any fellow,—so sorry for you!’
You know, papa?”

“No, I do not. But I recall Macbeth’s etching of the picture. Go on with
your sketch. Mine will be done in a few minutes.”

Then he wrote in his note-book again, glancing now and then at the tree.

“Listen, Rose. How is this? ‘Tree sketch: dead tree; no bark; cool gray
all over; stands alone on point of land. Trunk twisted; only two limbs;
bunched end-twigs. Limbs raised like arms.’ Now, if—mind, if it says to
you—I mean if it has for you a distinct expression—I hate affectation
here and everywhere: but if this distorted thing really expresses for
you—something—label it!”

Rose was still a moment, and then said, “It is rooted there, still,
alone. It seems to be turning back toward its fellows. It suggests to me
utter dreariness. What have you found to say about it, Pardy?”

“See, dear, I have written, as I often do at the end of a word-sketch:
‘Loneliness, suffering; isolated anguish, if you like.’”

“I see. How very, very interesting! It seems to remember the fire,
father.” It was sometimes this, and sometimes Pardy, or Marcus Aurelius,
or any queer pet-name of nursery origin.

“You begin to see what one may get out of a dead tree?”

“Yes. There is another, below,—just below.”

“Yes; I sketched it last year. Here it is: ‘Dead tree; poplar; split by
lightning; black and gray. The lower half thrown out like a leg. Above,
one limb has fallen against the trunk; top of tree tufted and thrown
back. Queer expression of jollity.’ Sketch it, dear.

“How ready you are!” he said, over her shoulder. “Look at the one
farther away,—bent back with two great limbs high in air. It is prayer,
deprecation—dread: I am not sure,—and again, before you draw it, look
across to the other side. This is my sketch. ‘Late twilight; a huge,
gray rock in the water. Deep cleft in it; out of this rises a dead pine.
It leans toward me. Two vast limbs extended right and left. Top tufted
as usual, and bent to one side. All set against a bleak mass of
boulders.’”

“I see, even in this light; but at dusk! at dusk it must be terrible,—a
crucifixion!”

“Yes, that is it. It recalls to me an odd thing. A few years ago I was
fishing as late as ten o’clock at night on the Metapedia, and, looking
up, saw on the hill above me a cross set against the blood-red, newly
risen moon. Next morning I perceived that it was only a telegraph-pole
with its cross-bar.”

“What a theme for Heine!” said Rose.

“Yes, indeed. Now sketch me this, and the other trees. I want only just
mere hints of form. There are no end of strange things among dead trees.
I could not exhaust them in hours of description. There was last year a
fallen tree on an island near our camp. I suppose the mass of stuff sent
down by freshets protected it below, and the ice and so on swept away
the branches which lay uppermost. At last the wreckage was washed off.
When I came on it at evening it looked like one of those prehistoric
lizards Dicky delights in. There were many legs on each side as it lay
and—”

“Do let me see, Pardy. You drew it?” and she laughed. “I don’t think it
would go into the _Salon_. There ought to be a place for embryo art like
this.”

“Like ‘Rejected Addresses’?”

“Yes; the real ones.”

“Do you frame yours, Rose?”

“Oh, for shame!”

“Who rose to that fly?”

“But you coldly planned it. It was base.”

“Poor thing!” he laughed—

                        “The wail of the salmon
                        A man tried to gammon.

Alas, poor Rose!”

“Wait a bit. As Jack says, ‘That drawing is unique.’”

“I am quite proud of it. I wanted to give you the lesson. Now I will
smoke and talk and take mine ease, while you draw.”

“I can talk and sketch, too.”

“No doubt. On the Nipigon River there is a long carry once burned over.
After the fire must have come a windfall. The whole blasted forest went
down before it. It lies to-day a grim tangle of gray or black trunks,
with huge agonized arms extended upward. At dusk it is very striking.
Years went by, and then I saw the dead Confederates lying below Round
Top the day after the fight, with arms and legs in rigid extension,—a
most horrible memory. As I looked, it recalled that wrecked forest.”

“How dreadful, Pardy! I think I could draw those trees as you describe
them. I will try to-morrow.”

Meanwhile, as she sketched, he went on:

“The growth of power to see is a curiously interesting thing. There is a
disease or disorder called ‘mind-blindness,’ about which the doctor was
telling me a few weeks ago. People who have it see things only as a
mirror sees, and cannot give them names; but if they touch or handle
them, are able to say what they are, or to tell their uses. Think, now,
of a baby. It merely sees things as a mirror sees. Later, it learns the
qualities of things seen, remembers them, learns to group them, and so
to say at last what the thing is, or is for. Some people seem to stop in
their education a little way beyond their baby gains, and at least never
learn to get out of mere observation any pleasure.”

“But one may make many uses of this power to see. Now, the poets—”

“Stop a moment. The poets get an absurd amount of credit for being able
to see as other men do not; but, really, the pleasantest people for a
woodland walk are those naturalists who see far more than the poet, and
combine with their science, or have with it, the love of things for the
mere beauty in them. I never did walk with a poet in a wood. I think I
should see all he saw.”

“But not the same way.”

“I would dispute that, if you mean to say I get less pleasure, Rose. And
there is some nonsense in the notion that poets are very close observers
of nature. They vary, of course. Take Wordsworth, he was a mere child in
minute observation compared to Shakspere. Tennyson is better, too,—oh,
by far; and any clever naturalist sees far more than any one of them.”

“And now, I know, Pardy, you are going to advise me to read Ruskin,
because that is the way you always used to wind up our talks.”

“I was, dear.”

“I must try him again. Aunt Anne says we grow up to the stature of
certain books as we get older, and at last can look them in the eyes and
say, ‘We understand one another.’ As to what you say of Wordsworth, I
shall ask her what she thinks.”

“We shall not differ,” said Lyndsay. “I see you have done your sketch.
Let us have lunch. Afterward, if there is time, we can take a look at
these trees when the evening shadows are falling. We have by no means
done with them.”

Meanwhile Tom and his bowman had made the fire. The salmon was
deliciously broiled, for these woodmen are nearly all good cooks; the
potatoes roasted in the hot ashes; the bacon, broiled with the salmon,
in thin slices, brown and crisp. Rose thought there could be no meal
like this. It was set out on a flat rock, with birch-bark for plates.
The spring was a little way back of them.

“Let us go for the water ourselves,” said Lyndsay.

They walked down the island a hundred yards, and there, in deep woods,
found two rocks fallen together, and under them a pretty little rise of
water, bubbling up out of the earth.

“That is really a spring,” said Rose. “One uses words until one forgets
to think of their meaning. How cold it is!”

“Yes 38°,—and delicious.” He twisted a bit of red birch-bark into a cup,
and put a split twig at each end to keep it together. Then he filled it,
and she drank, throwing her hair back with one hand, and flashing
laughter over the brim of the cup from eyes the color of which has never
been rightly settled to this day.

“More lunch, Rose?”

“A little jam and a biscuit.”

Archibald Lyndsay lit a pipe and lay upon his back on the meager
grasses, with hands clasped behind his head. His eyes wandered from the
clouds overhead to Rose, and thence to wood or stream.

“The court has dined, M. A.,” she said. “What now?”

“I am afraid,” he returned, “it is too late for you to sketch in colors
the trees, or even a bit of them. I wanted to get your notion of the
tints; but look at this—I am not quite sure I myself see colors at their
true values. There is no standard in which to try our sense of color. I
am sure some men see a tint bright, and some see it darker, and then
some artists are sensational in their statement of colors on canvas.”

“I should like to try.”

“We are a little too late; but the sun is back of us yet. That is
essential. Now, keep in shadow, and tell me the color of those sun-lit
myriads of dead pine and fir and spruce and poplar.”

“How they shine!”

“Yes; they are very hard, and polished by storm and sun. They are about
a hundred yards distant. Near by they are silvery-gray. At their feet is
a mass of young birch and beech, and feathered ferns below, along the
margin.”

“They are purple,—clear, distinct purple,” said Rose. “Of course, they
are purple.”

“Yes. Now look at the river.” All between the two observers and the
trees was a swift flow of hastening water, faintly fretted all over by
the underlying brown and gray and white stones of the bottom,—a
tremulous brown mirror.

“Oh, the beautiful things!” cried Rose. “Purple reflections,—deeper
purple than the trees. How they wriggle!”

“Put me the two purples on paper.”

“There!” she said, “that is as I see them.”

“And I,” he returned,—“for me they should be a much deeper, purer tint.
That is the difference between your color sense and mine.”

“Is it true, Pardy, that there may be colors no man has seen?”

“Yes.”

“And sounds no man has heard?”

“Yes.”

“‘Heard sounds are sweet, but sounds unheard are sweeter.’”

“Your quotation sets one’s imagination free to rove. Think of extending
the gamut of human thought. I cannot imagine that; and, as to your poet,
he did not mean, I suppose, the sounds man never heard are sweeter; but
then one has his freedom of interpreting the words of genius. They
always build better than they know.”

“Aunt Anne says that is so beautifully illustrated by the view a man of
science would take to-day of St. Paul’s words: ‘The eye cannot say to
the hand, I have no need of thee.’”

“The point is well taken, as we lawyers say. But that must do for
to-day. Come, Tom, you and Bill can smoke your pipes in the middle of
the skiff. Put Miss Rose in the bow, I will take the stern.”

“And am I to paddle? What fun!”

“Yes. In with you.” And the boat fled away down the swift waters, with
here and there, where the billows rolled high over a deeply hidden rock,
a wild roller which swept them on as with the rush of a bird through
space, while Rose laughed out the joy of a great delight, for of all
modes of motion this is the most satisfying.

“It isn’t difficult,” she said.

“No, and it is a noble exercise. Look! Look, Rose! See that hawk,—no, it
is an eagle. Don’t you envy him? What are those lines Anne loves to
quote about the hawk and the lark? They are called ‘True Captivity.’”

“I forget all but the last two lines. It contrasts the two prisoners,
and says of the lark:

                   ‘He has the heaven which he sings,
                   But my poor hawk has only wings.’”

“Thank you. There used to be an imprisoned hawk in a cage at the lower
clearing. The melancholy of his great yellow eyes so troubled me that I
bought him, and, to Churchman’s amazement, opened his cage. The poor old
warrior walked out, looked around him, and then walked back again into
voluntary captivity.”

“Like the man of the Bastille.”

“Yes. I shut the cage and took it down to the river. There I left it,
open. Next day I saw him perched above it on a dead tamarack, swinging
in a wild wind. The day after he was gone.”

“I wonder if he regrets the cage and the certainty of full diet.”

“Ah! liberty is very sweet. I sometimes wonder whether, when this
earthly cage is opened, we shall linger about it like my hawk.”

For a time they speed onward, silent, as the shadows grew across the
waters. Said Lyndsay, at length: “One more thing to note: the sun is
down, but see how that huge array of gleaming, seried tree-trunks, away
up on the hilltops, takes the light we have lost.”

Rose looked, and saw on the far summits that the multitudinous
tree-stems were of a lovely lemon yellow, and below, where their lines
crossed at the intercepting angles of two slopes, of a pallid lilac.

“I think we have learned to use our eyes to-day. No need to paddle here.
Take a rest. We are going at the rate of five miles an hour.”

In the gathering dusk they flitted past the camp-fires on the island,
and soon were at their cabin door.

“Shall I ever have another day like this?” said Rose, as she ran up the
steps. “Thank you, Pardy.”



                              CHAPTER VII


When they entered the cabin, Dick was diligently counting a beetle’s
legs,—a process the animal seemed to resent. Ned, at a window, was
staring at the falling shadows on the farther hills, and Jack, at the
door, was deep in a gruesome book of adventures by sea and land.

The boys rose as Lyndsay entered.

“Gracious!” exclaimed Rose, observing their swollen faces. “You have not
gotten off without honorable wounds.” Jack’s face was a testimonial of
valor. “You seem to have found it lively.”

“It was galumptious.”

“What?” cried Rose.

“Oh, I wasn’t going to run. Those fellows, they ran. I think they’re—”

“What?” broke in Dick.

“None of that,” said Lyndsay. “I suppose the hornets did not have a very
pleasing time.”

“They licked us,” said Ned.

“That’s because—”

“Hush,” said Lyndsay, laughing. “I presume there are enough left for
another time?”

“Archie, how could you?” said Mrs. Lyndsay. “I shall be glad to get
these boys home alive.”

“Oh, we are all right,” cried the twins; and they went gaily to supper,
and before long to bed.

When Rose got up next day it was raining; the sky gray, and the waters
inky black. She was reassured at breakfast by her father, and told to
get her waterproof and high boots, and be ready for a salmon after
breakfast. Again Miss Anne was on hand, declaring that she had not felt
as well for a year, and they fell to planning their day’s amusements.
The squirrels tempted Jack and his gun. Dick and Ned were to fish the
upper pool, and Anne and the mother, as they desired, were to be left to
their own devices.

“But, Rose,” said the latter, “you must see Mrs. Maybrook.”

“If we get any salmon, I might take her one, or one of the men might
carry it this afternoon. I am very curious about this paragon. I don’t
believe much in perfection, mama.”

“I did not say she was that, Rose. Dorothy Maybrook is my friend.”

“Isn’t that putting it rather strongly, mama? A woman in her class of
life can scarcely—”

“Nevertheless, she is my friend.”

“That answers all questions,” said Lyndsay.

“No,” said Anne, “not until one knows your definition of friend. What is
a friend?”

“A fellow that will fight for you,” said Jack.

“Then Sullivan or the ‘Tipton Slasher’ would be the best friend,”
remarked Ned.

“A fellow you like,” said Dick.

“How is it, Ned?” said Lyndsay. “What is a friend?”

“I don’t know,” replied Ned, coloring as usual. “I would want a lot of
them.”

“There is something in that,” said Anne. “I never found any one human
being who, at all times and under all stress of needs, was able to give
me everything I want of man or woman.”

“I think with you, Anne,” returned Lyndsay. “I never could quite
comprehend those all-satisfying alliances one reads about, those
friend-love affairs, such as Shakspere had with Herbert, or whoever it
was. Certainly some men, and not always those who have most to give,
intellectually, at least, have, as was said of a dead friend of mine, a
genius for friendship. Wherever he went, men became attached to
him,—they could hardly say why.”

“How do you explain it?” said Rose.

“He was quick of temper, cultivated, but not a profound man,—unselfish.
I think it must have been chiefly because he took a large and unfailing
interest in other men’s pursuits, and was not troubled if they made no
return in kind. He gave interest and affection, being easily pleased,
and exacted no return. But it always came.”

“I should have said he had a talent for friendship. Genius is a large
word,” said Anne.

“Yes; it was only an unusual capacity,—not genius.”

“But what is genius?” said Rose.

“You are getting out of my depth!” cried Mrs. Lyndsay, laughing. “I
shall want a life-preserver pretty soon, Archie.”

“I can only quote Marcus Aurelius,” said Lyndsay.

“He remarks—what is it he says about genius, Anne?”

“No, no. We want something fresh, Pardy.”

“A fine way to clap an extinguisher on wisdom.”

“But I want—I do want an answer.”

“Shall we say that genius is crude creative power? How will that do?”

“That is better than usual, Aurelius,” cried Anne. “It needs talent to
come to anything. It would be easy to illustrate. There is Blake at one
end, and—well—Shakspere at the other.”

“May we go?” said Jack, yawning fearfully.

“Yes, of course. What a sight you are!”

“They must have been good shots.”

“Oh, they did well,” said Ned, “and it was worse than bullets. They
don’t get inside your pantaloons and skirmish around. I’m very
uncomfortable when I sit down.”

“How can one die better, etc.?” cried Dick, and, riotously laughing,
they ran out of doors. Margaret looked after them affectionately.

“Do you remember, Archie, how you used to have an unending tale for
those boys when they were little, of Tommy Turnip, and how he ran away,
and went to Russia, and was made Count Turnipsky?”

“I do, indeed, my dear. It went on for years. Come, Rose, I sha’n’t rest
until you have killed a salmon. If it rains hard all day the water will
rise, and then good-by salmon until it begins to fall.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. The salmon is a mysterious creature. We know little about him; but
we do know that with rising water, or rapidly rising warmth of water, he
seems to lose curiosity as to flies. Come along.”

“I think my own curiosity collapses in hot weather,” said Anne.

There was now a steady fall of rain, but, well protected, they reached
the pool.

“How black the water is!” said Rose. Tom sat quiet without the least
cover, and took the ducking as if it were a matter of course. Now he
adjusted a rather large Jock Scott. Then Rose began to cast, while
Lyndsay sat behind her and smoked.

“Couldn’t I stand?” she said.

“Yes. You will cast better, and take care you don’t catch the handle of
the reel in your wraps. Give the back cast a little more time. Count
one, two, three quickly. You do very well. You will soon get the trick
of it.”

“You riz him!” roared Tom, for there was a mighty swash, and half a
salmon came into view.

“Sit down. Wait a little.”

“_Will_ he—_do_ you think he will rise again?”

“If I knew, dear, it would save much needless casting. Will a young man
propose twice, thrice? Who can say?”

“I fail, sir, to perceive the analogy.”

“My dear Rose, the too logical mind is destructive of the very
foundations of social gaiety. Young man rises to a fly; salmon rises to
a fly.”

“But no right-minded woman casts a fly over. Oh, they just—you know.”

“No, I don’t. Both the fish and the man have the right of choice; but
there is some responsibility as to the attractiveness of a Jock Scott,
or a Durham fanger. So, after all, the young man’s anguish may be the
fault of the wicked milliner. As a question of morals one likes to
know.”

“But will he—will he come back?”

“Really, Rose, that was worthy of Sarah Siddons. It might have been said
of the most attractive of my sex.”

“Bother the men, papa; I want _my_ fish. What is a man to a salmon!”

“I recognize that assertion of personal ownership as distinctively
feminine.”

“You are too bad. How it pours!”

“Try him again. Cast out to right, and let the fly come down, around the
tail of the boat, with not too much movement, just as if you were quite
indifferent; an ordinary, every-day promenade, my dear. The application
is, you see, of skill acquired in one branch of industry to the
cultivation of another.”

Of a sudden the reel ran out a little.

“Poor young man! Sit down. Keep the tip up, so.”

The fly had been tranquilly taken under water, this time with no show of
indecision. Rose obeyed the advice, and for a moment sat expectant, the
rod well bent. The delay on the part of the salmon was so great that she
could not understand it.

“It must be fast on something. It doesn’t move.”

“No, the young man isn’t quite sure as to what is the matter. He is
reflecting. Are Cupid’s arrows barbed, my dear? There!”

“Oh!”—for the reel ran out so fast as to make a distinct musical note,
and, in a moment, Rose saw the salmon flash high in the air near the
farther bank.

“That can’t be my young man.”

“Yes. Reel, reel quick.”

Meanwhile it was up anchor and away, the instant the fish struck. The
men shared Rose’s excitement, and watched the quick movements of the
fish with admirable understanding of when to wait or to follow. The
rapid reeling in Rose found hard work.

“I do think you must take the rod,” she said.

“No,” he cried, laughing. “I prefer not to have the responsibility of
other folks’ flirtations. He won’t carry on this way very long.”

But again he was off, and this time not so far. Then he leaped twice,
with mighty splashings of the water. Meanwhile Tom was carefully getting
his canoe out of the heavy current, and Rose found that the salmon was
slowly yielding to the steady strain of the rod. They were now near the
bank, and in an eddy.

“Look sharp, Rose,” said Mr. Lyndsay. “Give him the butt.”

“What?”

“Yes. Keep the tip back and the butt forward. As the fish yields reel in
a little, dropping the tip. That’s right. Now, you can lift him, as it
were, by throwing the butt forward again, so. Reel! reel! Well handled.”

“He’s a-comin’,” said Tom. “He are a buster.”

She could but just perceive her fish,—a dark, shadowy thing,—a few feet
away. Now he sees the man with his gaff, and is off on a short run; and
again is slowly reeled in.

“Something must break,” said Rose.

“No, you can’t pull more than two pounds, my dear, do as you may. It
seems to you a vast strain. There, keep his head up-stream. Well done.
Let him drop back a little.”

As he spoke, Tom made a quick movement and gaffed his fish. In a moment
it was in the boat, and Rose sank back delighted.

“Here is the scale, Tom.”

Tom held up the fish, with the scale-hook in the gill-cover.

“Thir—ty—two—pounds, miss.”

“Do let me see,” she said, and examined her captive with curiosity.

“A fine young man, by the neb of his lower jaw,” said her father. “You
don’t like the gaffing: I saw that. Be assured that lingering hours of
slow exhaustion in the nets at the mouth of the river are far worse. You
could let the fish go; you could refrain from fishing; you need not eat
salmon; several ways are open to the sensitive.”

“I am very foolish, I dare say.”

“There is some folly that is nearer heaven than some wisdom, my child.
If this folly is incapable of reasoning defense, it is still not one to
be ashamed of. We may over-cultivate our sensibilities so as, at last,
to become Brahminical in our abhorrence of any destruction of life. The
argument as to need for animal flesh is hardly a help. Men, in fact,
nations, live without it; and it is quite possible that we have in time
more or less manufactured both the appetite and the need for this diet.
Our nearest anatomical kinsmen, the monkeys, are all vegetarians, and as
for any necessity to kill salmon or deer, there is nowadays none. Both
are mere luxuries of the rich. Not a soul on these rivers ever gets a
salmon, unless he poaches or we give it to him.”

“Isn’t that hard?”

“Yes and no. Throw it all open, and in five years there would be no
salmon. They would go as the buffalo have gone.”

“And still I am sorry for the people who cannot fish; the eating is
another matter.”

“Their fishing, dear, would be the mere use of a net. But there is
another point of view. We leave more money on these rivers, are of more
real use to these boatmen and farmers, than all the salmon they might
take could possibly be.”

“How difficult all life seems! There are so many questions.”

“Fish, my dear, in peace of soul. By Thor, you have a grilse!” he cried.
For now she was fast to a fish of some six pounds, which was in and out
of water every minute, and, being too small to gaff, was beached by a
quick run up a sandy shore of the well-drenched fisherwoman. While Tom
was weighing the fish, Rose learned that a grilse was a young salmon,
and what a parr was, and a smolt, and a kelt, and how a grilse was known
by the forked tail and the small scales.

“A good un to smoke,” said Tom. “We split ’em, miss, and salt ’em pretty
well, and then hold ’em open like with two sticks, and hangs ’em over a
right smoky fire for a matter of four or five days. Some makes a wigwam
of bark and smokes ’em in that, but it ain’t needed unless you want ’em
to keep long. Them they sells is all dried stiff and hard. These here,
just dried gentle, why they’re as fine-flavored as—as—angels, or a
chicken porkenpine.”

“A smoked angel!” laughed Rose. “I am horribly wet, but I must kill
another salmon.” Her hope was realized, and, after an hour of hard
casting, a twenty-pound fish was brought to gaff in some twelve minutes.

“Very good time, Rosy. I used to think no man ought to be over a
half-hour in killing the strongest salmon. But the charm of the game
lies in the amazing individuality of the fish. No one of them ever does
just what any other does. Once I was two hours with a salmon, and you
may have the like luck.”

“I should perish of fatigue.”

“What would you think of killing ninety-two and six grilse in five days?
I once killed forty-two striped bass in twenty-four hours, but these are
bonanzas. Run the boat up and empty her,” he added to Tom. As they
stood, the rain continued falling more and more heavily through a
perfectly still atmosphere.

“Kind of falls,” said Tom.

“Did it ever rain harder?” said Rose.

“Yes, miss; there are a spot up nigh back of Thunder Bay—that’s to north
of Lake Superior—and there it do rain in July—solid.”

“Solid?” said Lyndsay.

“I said solid. Folks moves out for a month, otherwise they is drownded
standin’.”

“That is a trapper’s tale, Rose. I have heard it before.”

“It is near enough here to being solid to enable me to believe the rest.
How the boughs leap every now and then as they drop their loads of rain,
and how slate-blue and opaque the water is!”

“Notice these great drops: each rebounds from the surface in a little
column, so as to seem like black spikes in the water. See, too, how the
circles they make cross one another without breaking. Smoke rings do
that,” and he blew successive circlets of his pipe-smoke, as he spoke,
so that they passed across one another, breaking and remaking their
rolling rings.

“Why is that?” she said.

“I do not know. I hardly care to ask. I am in the mood of mere
acceptance. Oh, there is the sun, Rose! See how between the finger-like
needles of the pine the drops are held, and what splendid jewelry the
sun is making. It needs a still hour for this. You have seen a thing in
its perfection quite rare.”

“Must we go, Pardy? It has done raining.”

“Yes, we must go. I forgot to ask you to listen to the different noises
a heavy rain makes according as you stand under pine or spruce, or hear
it patter on the flat-lying, deciduous leaves, or hum on the water.
Come, you must take the twenty-pounder to Dorothy Maybrook. If it is not
too wet, she will perhaps walk up to Colkett’s with you. But don’t go
into the cabin. You might take for those poor people two or three cans
of corned beef. Meats are scarce luxuries with them. They will need no
money just at present. Mr. Carington gave them some help.”

“Did he?”

“Yes. The child is to be buried to-morrow, I hear.”

“Is Mr. Carington the young man who shot the seal?”

“I suppose so,—yes. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, nothing. Idlest curiosity. Pure curiosity unstained by the
coarseness of a motive.”

“I am answered,” he said, laughing.

They were soon at home.



                              CHAPTER VIII


After Rose and her father had made their brief toilets, they found the
family at luncheon.

“I was wet to the skin, and through it, I believe,” said Rose. “No, I
sha’n’t take cold, mama. Nobody takes cold here. Tom must be wet through
to his bones—absolutely water-logged.”

“The boys were a-drip like water-rats,” said Mrs. Lyndsay. “I am sure
some of you will have pneumonia.”

“But I got an eighteen-and-a-half-pound salmon,” cried Jack.

“He’s had him in his lap for an hour, like a baby,” said Dick.

“That is capable of olfactory demonstration,” remarked Anne.

“He’ll get that salmon framed,” cried Dick. “Such a fuss—”

“Did you get any, sir?” asked his father.

“No.”

“Are you sorry Jack did?”

“No, I am not that mean,” returned the boy, flushing. “Ned he caught it,
and he let Jack bring it in. Jack wanted it so very bad.”

“Badly, sir?”

“Badly.”

“And it was Ned’s fish, after all.”

As he spoke, Lyndsay nodded gently, smiling at the youngest son, and no
more was said; but the boys understood well enough that neither the
selfishness nor the self-denial had gone unnoticed. This was made more
plain when Mr. Lyndsay said:

“I shall fish the upper pool to-morrow morning—or, rather, you may, Ned,
for I have letters to write.”

“And Jack and Dick?” said Ned.

“Those other fellows may slay trout.” He disliked even the approach to
tale-telling by his boys, and when Mrs. Lyndsay made an appeal, in her
mild way, he said, laughing:

“The laws of the Medes and Persians were never changed. Let it rest
there. My barbarians understand me, I fancy.”

There was a little silence, which Rose broke.

“What is that in the glass, Dick, on the window-ledge?”

“What Pierre calls a lamprey. It is the very lowest of vertebrates. It
has only a cartilaginous skeleton.”

“Must be an awful learned beast,” said Ned.

“It holds on to the side of the salmon, Rosy.”

“Just like a fellow outside of an omnibus,” said Dick.

“What a queer thing!” and Rose got up to look at it. “I wonder if the
salmon likes it. A parasite!”

“Which proves,” laughed Anne, “that even a parasite is capable of
attachment. The obligation is all on one side.”

“Literally,” said Lyndsay.

“Archie, you are worse than Mr. B.,” said Anne. “If you say anything
clever, he begins to dissect it for the benefit of all concerned. The
application of anatomy to humor is one of the lowest of social pursuits.
I loathe that man.”

“You don’t really loathe any one, aunty.”

“If you do not,” said Margaret, “it is a pity to say that sort of
thing.”

“But I do loathe the man—I do; I do. I am honest. He has every quality
of what Dick tenderly calls a G. I. P., except the probability of
ultimate usefulness.”

“Reasonably complete that,” said Lyndsay, while Jack grinned his
appreciation.

“He is a clergyman, Anne,” remarked Margaret, with emphasis.

“That only makes it worse. I have heard him preach. Don’t you think a
man who has no humor must be a bad man?”

“Anne!”

“One moment, dear. Let me finish him. I was going to say, Archie, that
if a mule was to kick that man just for fun, he would never know he was
kicked.”

“That covers the ground. You should have edited a newspaper, Anne. Such
vituperative qualities are wasted here.”

“Indeed, I think so,” said Mrs. Lyndsay, rising at the end of her
luncheon. “It may amuse you, Archie, but for the boys it is bad, dear,
bad.”

Upon this the twins, enchanted to hear of wickedness, became critically
attentive to the matter, and for a moment refrained from their diet.
Anne, a little vexed, smiled as her sister-in-law stood opposite, but
made no other reply.

“I dare say it amuses you, my dear Anne.”

“It does.”

“But should it, dear, and at the cost of temptation to others? Go out,
boys.” The twins went forth merry. “And—and, dear, don’t you think—?”

Between question and answer Lyndsay made swift retreat, with an
explanatory cigar-case in his hand.

“Yes, I think, Margaret”; and then, the gray eyes lighting up, “I think,
Margaret, that you do not always think. If you did, you would criticize
that wicked Archie.”

“Archie! Archie! What do you mean?”

“I admit your premise. Homicide applied to character is bad enough; but
don’t you think that Archie ought to give up killing salmon?”

“What?”

“You see it teaches the boys to be cruel. It is the sad beginning of
murder. There is only a difference of degree in it. Suppose, now, a man
kills a monkey, and then—you follow me, dear—and then—oh, do come here,
Rose—and then he gets a shot somewhere in Africa at the missing link.
You see where killing salmon lands you at last. Where shall we draw the
line?”

Rose laughed, despite her mother’s face of puzzled yet obstinate
gravity.

“What do you mean, Anne?”

Anne rarely argued seriously with this sister-in-law, who, despite their
differences, was very dear to her. Her delight was, like the
cuttle-fish, so to obscure the whole atmosphere of a discussion with
mistiness of vague analogy as to enable her to retreat with honor.

“Good gracious!” Margaret went on, fanning herself violently, as she did
in all weather, and amuseingly indicating by her use of the fan her own
moods, “what did I say to bring out all this nonsense? I think
I—yes—what was it, Rose?”

Any one’s irritation, of which she herself seemed to be the cause,
troubled the little lady, especially if Anne were the person involved.
Nevertheless, no experience sufficed quite to keep Mrs. Lyndsay out of
these risks when her motherly instincts were in action.

Rose smiled, as she replied:

“Dear little mother, Aunt Anne objects to your criticism of her form of
sport, and the naughty aunty is raising a dust of words, in which she
will scuttle away.” As she spoke she cast a loving arm around her
mother, and one on her aunt’s thin shoulders. But Margaret Lyndsay had
the persistency of all instinctive beings.

“I think it bad for the boys. I always shall think it bad. Dick is now
too fond of ridiculing serious things, and they think whatever you do is
right, and whatever you say they think delightful. As for Ned—”

“Ned! my Ned! That boy is an angel. I won’t have a word—”

“As if I did not know it!” said Margaret, with the nearest approach to
wrath of which she was capable. “Really, Anne Lyndsay, may I not even
praise my own boys?”

“I think, my dear Margaret, you lack imagination,” said Anne. Like a
great algebraist, who is apt to skip in his statements a long series of
equations, she was given to omitting the logical steps by which her
swift reason passed to a conclusion satisfactorily true for her, but
obscure enough to her hearers.

“I don’t understand,” said Mrs. Lyndsay.

“Nor I,” echoed Rose.

“My dears,” said Anne, smiling, “the prosperity of life lies largely in
the true use of imagination.”

“You are incorrigible, Anne. But I know I am right.”

“Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, are ofttimes different,”
quoted Anne, rising, and not over well pleased. “I think I shall go and
lie down.”

“I think I would,” said Mrs. Lyndsay, simply. “You are not looking well
to-day.”

“I am well enough,” said Miss Anne.

“All ready!—and the fish and Polycarp!” cried Lyndsay.

Rose was soon in the canoe, and the men began poling across the river.
As they moved, she sat, reflecting upon the little scene she had
witnessed. It troubled her that two people so dear to her should not
always understand each other. The mother had already ceased to think of
it, and the aunt’s irritability was a matter of minutes. Only Anne
Lyndsay knew how sternly a remarkable intellect had by degrees dictated
terms of reasonable life to a quick temper and a tongue too perilously
skilful. This endless warfare was now rarely visible, but its
difficulties were terribly increased at times when weakness and pain
grew hard to endure and fought on the side of her foes. There were,
indeed, times during the weariness of travel when Rose Lyndsay was
startled by what she saw; times when Anne was striving with constantly
increasing pain. Then it would end with a laugh and a jest, and some
quaint defense of pain as a form of moral education, until Rose, despite
herself, would be reassured, and she

                 Who would have given a caliph’s gold
                 For consolation, was herself consoled.

These things troubled her as she crossed the stream. Once ashore she
ceased to think of them. Polycarp, with few words, slung the salmon on
his back, and, leaving Ambrose to pious meditations and the canoe,
indicated the ox-road to Rose, who went on in front.

After twenty minutes of swift walking, Rose came out of the wood-path
into a clearing of some fifty acres, and at last to a cabin set in an
inclosure. Here were a few beds of the commoner flowers and a
squared-log house. The windows were open, the clean white muslin
curtains pulled back, and on the ledges tomato-cans and a broken jug or
two filled with that flower which grows best for the poor, the red
geranium. On the south end of the cabin a Japanese ivy, given by Mrs.
Lyndsay, had made a fair fight with the rigor of a Canadian winter and
was part way up to the gable. Noticing the absence of dirt and of the
litter of chips, rags, egg-shells, and bits of paper, so common where
labor has all it can do to attend to the essential, Rose tapped on the
open door, and then, turning, saw Mrs. Maybrook standing at the well.
She came forward at once to meet her visitor.

“Why, I guess you must be Margaret Lyndsay’s daughter.”

Rose, a little taken aback by the familiar manner of this
identification, perhaps showed it to this shrewd observer in something
about her bearing as she said, “A pleasant evening after the rain,” and
took the proffered hand. “Yes, I am Rose Lyndsay.”

“I’m never quite rid of my Quaker fashion of naming folks without their
handles. Seems to get you nearer to people. Now, don’t you think so?
Come in.”

Rose, as her host stepped aside, entered the cabin. It was bedroom,
kitchen, and sitting-room all in one, like most of these rude homes, but
it was absolutely clean, and just now, as the cooking was done out of
doors, was cool and airy. Mrs. Maybrook was in a much-mended gown, and
bore signs enough of contact with pots and pans. Still the great coils
of hair were fairly neat, and the gray eyes shone clear and smiling. She
made none of the apologies for her house or its furniture such as the
poor are apt to make, nor yet for herself or her dress.

“Come in and sit down. I’m that glad to see you. Oh, Polycarp, is that
you? And your father has sent me a salmon? My old man will like that.
Put it in the brook, Polycarp.”

“But it is my fish,” said Rose. “I killed it and I wanted you to have
it; my father had nothing to do with it, I am glad of a chance to thank
you, Mrs. Maybrook, for—for all you were to my mother—all you did last
summer when our dear Harry died.”

And this fine young woman, in her tailor-made London walking-gown,
thereupon having got to the end of words, and having had this thing in
mind for ten minutes, fell an easy victim to nature, so that her eyes
filled as she spoke. When this came about, Dorothy became as easy a prey
to the despotism of sympathetic emotion, and her tears, too, fell like
ripe apples on a windy November day. Also, upon this, these two “fools
of nature” looked at each other and smiled through their tears, which is
a mysteriously explanatory and apologetic habit among rightly made
women. After this they were in a way friends. The elder woman took the
hand of the younger and said:

“When my last boy died, there was a woman I just hated, and she came and
she cried. It makes a heap of matter who cries,—don’t it, now?”

“Oh, it does—it does,” said Rose, with still a little sob in her voice.

“I didn’t want that woman to cry. But you don’t mind _my_ crying, now,
do you? That was the sweetest little fellow.”

“Please don’t,” said Rose.

“No, no; I won’t, I know. Isn’t it awful lucky men can’t cry? That’s
just the only way we can get even with ’em. How’s mother? And Miss Anne?
Now, that is a woman. Never saw a woman like her in all my born life.
Ain’t she got a way of saying things? Oh, here’s Hiram. Hiram, this is
Miss Rose Lyndsay. I reckon”—Mrs. Maybrook reckoned, calculated, or
guessed with the entire indifference of a woman who had lived south,
north, and east—“I reckon they knew what they was about when they called
you Rose. ’T ain’t easy naming children. They ain’t all like flowers,
that just grow up, according to their kind. If you’d have been called
Becky, there wouldn’t have been no kind of reason in it.“

“I trust not,” laughed Rose.

“How do you do, miss?” said Hiram. He was tall, a little bent, clad in
sober gray, and had a shock of stiff, grizzly hair and a full gray
beard. His eyes, which were pale blue and meaningless, wandered as he
stood.

“Miss Rose has fetched a fish,” said Dorothy. “You might clean it,
Hiram.”

“I’ll do it,” he said, stolidly, and turned to go like a dull boy sent
on an errand.

“And don’t forget to fetch the cows in at sundown.”

“I’ll do it,” and he went out.

“He’s a bit touched in his head,” said his wife. “You see, when we were
at Marysville the war kind o’ upset him. They wanted him to go into the
rebel army, and he wasn’t minded to do it. I got him a place on a
railroad, so he didn’t have to; but he was awful worried, and took to
thinking about it, and his brothers that were in our army,—on the other
side,—and then he got off his head. He ain’t been the same man
since,—and twice he ran away. But I fetched him both times, and then the
fevers took the children. He ain’t been the same man since. I’ve got to
p’int him a good bit,—that’s what he calls it; but if he’s p’inted
right, he goes sure. To my thinking, it is a queer world, Miss Rose. I
wish I was certain there is a better.”

“But there is,” said Rose.

“Well, well. Maybe. Anyhow, I never felt no call to doubt what I was to
do in this one. Old Kitchins used to pray over me. He was an awful
certain man about other folks’ sins; never missed fire. At last, one
day, when he was a-consoling me, and thinking he’d just only got to be a
kind of centurion for a woman’s troubles, and say go and they’d go, I
asked him if he’d any knowledge of the gospel of grinning,—and that
ended him. Come out and see my flowers.”

Rose got up, laughing. “I want you to walk to Colkett’s with me. I told
the men to go up the river, so as to bring us back. You see, I made sure
you would go.”

“Go!—of course I’ll go,” said Dorothy. “No, I won’t want a bonnet. I’ve
got one somewhere, under the bed, I guess,” and, so saying, they set
off. It required little skill to draw from this frank and fearless
nature, as they walked, the history of a wandering life, of the children
dead, of the half-witted husband, of her own long-continued asthma, now
gone, as she hoped. It was told with curious vivacity,—with some sense
of the humorous quality of complete disaster, and when she spoke of her
dead it was with brief gravity, which seemed to deny sympathy or hasten
away from it. As they moved along and her companion talked, Rose glanced
with curiosity at the Quaker-born woman, who had lost nearly every trace
of her origin. She walked well, and there was a certain distinctiveness,
if not distinction, in her erect carriage and refinement of feature,
still visible after years of toil and troubles.

At last, after a pause, Rose spoke for herself.

“It seems to me wonderful that you, who have gone through so much, could
have stood it as you seem to have done.” She herself was at the opening
age of doubts and questions. At times the discontentment of a life
without the definite aims of a man’s career distressed her. Yet she had
surely all that one could ask of existence; and here was this
poverty-haunted woman supremely cheerful under circumstances such as
would have ruined all capacity for happiness in most of her sex. Rose
went on, half surprised at her own frankness:

“I have everything in the world, and sometimes I am not happy. I ought
to be ashamed.”

“Well, Miss Rose, I did use to bother, but I gave it up. As long as
you’re here, you’re here. I’m like a pig Hiram used to have out West. He
was a very enterprising pig, and was always a-trying to get into the
pea-patch and out of his own field. One day I was watching that pig,—I
used to think that pig could laugh,—well, he spied an angle of a great
big, dead cottonwood-tree Hiram had set to stop the gap in a fence. You
see, the two ends of it were in the field, and it was hollow right
through trunk and limb, and the point of it stuck out into my pea-patch.
So, Mr. Pig, in he goes, and after much scratching he got through the
trunk, and then through the big branch, and then out he came, and there
he was in the same field again. Well, he tried it three times and then
he gave it up; looked like he’d have liked to scratch his head; and
after that he was the contentedest pig you ever saw. And when
sticking-time came, at Christmas, he didn’t squeal any morsel louder
than the rest. I guess I’m a good deal like that pig. I’ve quit trying
to get out of my field, and so I just stay here and grin, and take what
comes.”

“Thank you,” said Rose, smiling. “That is a delightful parable, Mrs.
Maybrook.” And with it Rose ceased awhile to hear what her companion
said, and took stern measures with herself, because of the thoughts this
woman’s life and words had brought to her.

Dorothy was at times, when her audience suited her, a person who talked
herself out in liberal amount, finding in self-utterance one of her few
and most distinct pleasures. Yet she was never so full of herself as
entirely to cease to think of others. She saw in a few minutes that Rose
had lost hold of the talk, and was at intervals saying, “Yes, yes,” in
an absent way, so as to keep up a decent appearance of being still
interested in her companion’s words. Dorothy had by no means fine
manners, but she had the automatically active instincts of a woman to
whom tact was a natural gift. She too became silent, and they walked on
for a time without more exchange of words.

Rose, like some young women of her age, was at times the easy prey of
moods of absence, which carried her far enough from the hour or its
company. She had preached herself a severe sermon, and now came back to
the outer world again as they passed a marshy spot where, of a sudden,
the wholesome wood odors rose around her, that delightful commingling of
the scent of moldering trunks, resinous weepings of the pine, and the
sweetness of the breath of the young spruces. Nature said, in her most
tender tones, “Come back to me out of your tangle of self-discussion,
and I will give you rest.” It was a delicately responsive organization
to which this mute appeal was made, and the fine instrument answered to
the call with no more consciousness of the gentle influence than has the
swaying pine stirred to healthful exercise by the northland breeze.

“Don’t you like the wood-smells?” she said.

“Me? I guess I do. That’s queer about Susan Colkett; asked her one day
if she didn’t love the spruce-smells, and she just said they hadn’t
none.”

“That was odd. I could never like that woman, but I am very, very sorry
for her.”

“Like her! Miss Rose, I saw her once killing chickens,—I never _can_ do
that,—and the woman was laughing all the while. I don’t love her,
but—There’s the house; you wait here in the woods; I’ll get her out, and
then you can talk. Sit down on this log. I’ll fetch her.”

“But are you not afraid, Mrs. Maybrook?”

“I? No; I’m old and tough, and it wouldn’t matter much—except for Hiram.
There’d be nobody to p’int him,” and she laughed.

Then Rose took up her sermon again, and Dorothy walked to the back of
the crumbling cabin, through the vileness of the cow-shed, which was
connected with the house to save wintry exposures in caring for the
cattle, now reduced in number to one lank, milkless cow.

Two decrepit chickens fled as she came by, and a long-legged,
high-roofed pig lifted his snout above his empty trough and grunted a
famine-born appeal. Her feet were noiseless in the slough of muck
through which she picked her way with a grimace of disgust. At the open
back door she paused, hearing high voices within. About to enter, she
halted abruptly, and a look of intense attention came upon her face. The
speakers were hidden, but in the dimness at the far end of the room, she
saw the half of the bed,—one broken leg of it tied up to a splint of
wood,—and above, the white sheet upon the figure of the dead child. She
stayed motionless a moment, at first merely shocked at the rude noises
in the chamber of death, but, when about to knock, stopped short again
at the hearing of her own name.

“Dory Maybrook’s a fool; don’t tell me about her!”

“Well, I won’t. Ain’t I goin’ to have no more of that money?” It was Joe
Colkett who spoke.

“You took five dollars last night,” said the woman. Her voice, strident
and high-pitched, sent a shiver of discomfort through Dorothy. “Didn’t
think no man would be mean enough to steal from under a dead child’s
pillow!”

“I might ov took it all,—I’m that miserable. Don’t go to say I’m drunk.
I’m not. What did you do with the rest of it, anyway?”

“I got Bill Churchman’s wife to buy me a white gown down the river, to
put on my child, and a white sheet, and then there’s the money to fetch
the preacher. I couldn’t get no sheet until I paid your reckonin’ for
whisky. There ain’t much left.”

“I’m dreadful sorry,” said the man.

“Oh, don’t go a-whinin’ round me! Just let me alone! I was a fool to
have took a man like you, that ain’t got no sense and no work in him!”

“I wouldn’t ov sayed that, Susie.”

“No? Well, I say it. What did that lawyer man tell you about the
mortgage? When has we got to go?”

“Oh, he says we may bide till next winter; but he’s to have the cow and
the pig.”

“And you said you’d give ’em up?”

“Yes. What could I ov done? Susie, don’t you set there a-cryin’. I can
git a lumber job, and we’ll look about, and Mr. Lyndsay he’ll give us a
bit of money.”

“No, he won’t. Dory Maybrook she’ll tell him Mr. Carington gave you some
money, and Dory she’ll tell him, too, it’s no use helpin’ a drunken
brute.”

“I said I wouldn’t drink no more, and I won’t. You might believe me,
Susie. Ain’t I allus loved you, and slaved for you and them dead
children, and not mine neither? I’m not a bad man, if I do take a drop
now and again.”

“If you was a worse man, I’d ov liked you better. A great strong man
like you, and all these rich folks round here.”

“What!” he exclaimed.

Dorothy started. She would have liked to see those two faces.

“If you was to care for me a little, Susie, I’d do most anything you
wanted.”

“Ain’t that Carington comin’ up in September, and didn’t he ask you to
go into the woods after caribou with him? There ain’t no better hunter
than you in these parts.” As she spoke, her voice became low and softer,
so that the listener scarcely heard it. “Them city folks carries a lot
of money about with ’em, and watches and things. We’ve got to get away,
and we’ve got to live, Joe Colkett,—to live, I say!”

“Do you want me to steal the man’s money?”

“Oh, stealin’ gits found out. Ain’t we been robbed? Who stole our house
and all my man’s earnin’s?”

“What is it you want, Susie?” He spoke timidly.

“I want a man as is a man, and ain’t afeard,—you ain’t him!”

“Didn’t I say I’d do ’most anything for you?”

“’Most anything!”

“Well, anything.” Then there was a moment of utter silence. “You
wouldn’t go to want me to do nothin’ wrong.”

“Well, you are a fool! Ain’t folks lost in them woods sometimes, and
never found?”

“I can’t do it,” said the man, hoarsely. “I said I couldn’t, and I
can’t. I—I can’t,” and he was heard moving to and fro in the agitated
indecision of a great temptation. Dorothy began to fear that she would
come into view.

“I can’t,” he repeated.

“But he will,” murmured Dorothy, falling back noiselessly. Then,
stepping through a break in the rotten boards of the shed, she bent low
among the alders and fled. When away in the woods, she walked until she
came again to Rose. “They’re in,” she said. “Mind, we’ve just come.
Don’t let on I left you—hush—not now. There’s a reason. I can’t explain
now. Come.”

Rose, rather bewildered, followed her. A few paces from the closed door
she stood still, while Dorothy, going on, called gently, “Susie
Colkett,” and knocked as she spoke.

“Oh, it’s you!” said the mistress of the house, as she came forward to
the doorway.

“Yes; Miss Lyndsay came up with me. Dear me! I’m that tired!”

Mrs. Colkett, from her grim height of leanness, looked sharply at the
speaker. “That ain’t common with you.” Then she came out and went up to
Rose. “Won’t you come in?” she said. “It ain’t much of a house, but poor
folks has got to put up with what they can git.” The stooping carriage,
the high, red cheek-bones, and the large, yellow teeth struck the young
woman unpleasantly. That the mother said nothing of the dead child
within seemed strange.

“I—I couldn’t now,—not now,” said Rose, gently. “I wanted to say we were
all so—so very sorry for you. It’s only just a year last week that my
own little brother died, you know.”

“And, Susie, it was the same thing, oh, just the same,” said Dorothy,
softly.

“My father would like to know if there is anything you want;
anything—really anything we can do?”

“No,” she said. At one moment she was filled with eager greed to get all
that was to be had out of these fine people; at the next she was shaken
by a storm of anger at the contrast between these deaths. She had a
crude remembrance of the decencies and order of the funeral of Harry
Lyndsay, and then of Joe coming in with the rough coffin, of the place
back in the woods where her two children lay in unmarked graves. On such
recollections the mere brutalness of love of her offspring dwelt with
savagery of comment. She had seen the small stone which had been set
over the little Lyndsay, in the late spring, just before the family had
come upon the river. These things had been in her mind for days, and now
it was hard to conceal her feelings She would have liked to take an ax
and break the modest memorial of their dead. She said, merely, “No, no!”
to Rose, and then, shortly, “Joe and me are much obliged, miss.”

“You will let us know if we can help you?” Her visible emotion Rose,
very naturally, misinterpreted. Dorothy stood by, grave, silent, and
watchful.

“Where’s your man?” she said, as Rose bade good-by and turned away. Joe,
stunned, half afraid of his masterful temptress, had remained in the
cabin. “Oh, Susie,” added Dorothy, in lower tones, “I hope he hasn’t
been drinking again?”

“What’s that your business?” returned the other woman. “Guess I can take
care of my man.”

“I am not so sure of that; but I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“Then you hadn’t ought to have meddled.”

“All right,” said Dorothy; “good-by”; and, turning, she left Mrs.
Colkett and rejoined Rose.

“What a woman!” she said, and then for a time neither spoke.

When they were well on their way to the shore, Rose said: “I am
troubled, Mrs. Maybrook, that I so dislike any one as unfortunate as
that woman. But I don’t like her. I never, never want to go there again,
and I am sorry for her, too. Oh, I am as sorry as I can be; but—”

Dorothy simply said, “I do not wonder.” And then, with a laugh, “The
fact is, Miss Rose, that Colkett woman’s bad; and, for my part, I’m a
right lopsided Christian. I can’t put on mourning for rattlesnakes just
the same as for doves. It’s a kind of comfort to find you aren’t much
better than I am.”

“I,—indeed not!”

Meanwhile Dorothy was debating in her mind how much she should tell her
companion. A side glance at the fresh young maiden face decided her. “I
said along back I would explain what kept me so long. I cannot. They
were talking about me. It wasn’t very pleasant. I overheard something
disagreeable. I reckon I’ll come over and see about it with Mr. Lyndsay.
Do you chance to know Mr. Carington that fishes up to Island Camp?”

“No.” Rose felt that whatever was withheld concerned—must concern—this
gentleman. “But I am immensely curious,” she said.

“Are you?” cried Dorothy, laughing. “I am going to keep my mouth shut
for twenty-four hours, and that’s real, rity-dity penance, I can tell
you! Did you never see Mr. Carington? Why, he’s right up river, just two
or three miles.”

“No,—or yes, with my glass a moment, ever so far away. What is he like?”

“Oh, there’s two.”

“Not twins?”

“No. There’s a Mr. Ellett. He’s a man walks about and—well, he walks
about.”

Rose laughed. She felt the description to be somewhat indistinct, and
said so.

“Kind of man says ‘Oh!’ when you talk to him. Awful neat man,—wears
glasses?”

“And the other?”

“He’s a well-set-up man. Stands up strong on his hind legs.”

“His what?”

“His hind legs. He’s pretty smart with a boat, and a gun, too. He’s got
a way of putting his head back, and sort of looking you over, as if he
was taking stock of you. It’s not as if he was stuck up or saucy. It’s
just a way your father has, too, Miss Rose.”

“Indeed!” Miss Lyndsay was not quite sure she desired any one to
resemble her father. “Here we are at the landing.”

“You won’t mind if I ask you, Miss Rose, not to say—there
was—anything—anything wrong?”

“No, of course not, if you wish it; but I do want to know,” and then
they went away homeward, down the highway of the waters. In fact, as to
this matter of which she was not to speak, Rose was vastly curious, and
lay long awake that night, smiling at times over the description of the
dwellers at the Island Camp.

Dorothy slipped away up the ox-road, from the river-bank opposite the
Cliff Camp, and went with slow and unusually thoughtful steps through
the wood. At the gate of their clearing she found Hiram, as usual,
waiting for her like a patient dog for the master.

“You’ve been a long time,” he said.

“Yes,—I could not help it. Are the cows milked!”

“No. I kind of forgot.”

“Better go and milk them now,” she said; “and don’t forget to feed the
hogs, and put the bars up,—one, two, three things,” and she smiled;
“mind, three things.”

“Oh, now I’m p’inted right. I’ll go. The bars, you said?”

“Yes, the bars.” And he went away, saying, “One, two, three, one, two,
three. I might forget them bars!” And meanwhile the wife moved homeward,
still deep in thought.



                               CHAPTER IX


At breakfast next day, Rose came in late.

“What, overslept yourself?” said her father, as she went the round of
the table with her morning kisses.

“Yes; I couldn’t get to sleep.”

“And what kept you awake?” said Miss Anne, who still, to the surprise of
all, appeared almost daily at the morning meal. “A penny for your
thoughts.”

“I was guessing a riddle; but I took it into my sleep unanswered.”

“A good many riddles have been answered in sleep,” said Miss Anne. “Was
yours?”

“No. Oh, no, Master Ned; I shall not tell it.”

“That’s the hardest riddle ever was,” cried the boy. “I have to guess
what the riddle is, and then what the answer is.”

“You will never, never know.”

“May we ask twenty questions about it?” said Dick. “Animal, vegetable,
or mineral?”

“I should be puzzled. To what kingdom do morals belong?”

“Why, who ever heard of mineral or vegetable morals?”

“The last might admit of illustration,” said Miss Anne; and she began to
consider within herself the people she knew who had what she called
vegetable morals.

“Is there a man in your riddle?” cried Jack.

“A Boss-town man,” said Dick, with a grin.

“Pinch him, Jack,” said Rose.

“Oh!” cried Dick, responsive to the promptly applied punishment, and
making a wry face. “You would be awfully good at a Jersey courtship,
Rose, especially if you got Jack to help.”

“A good friend at a pinch,” said Jack. And so these foolish people
rattled on, and by and by Mrs. Lyndsay said:

“Rose, you have not told us anything about Mrs. Maybrook and those poor
Colketts. I did not ask you last night, you were so sleepy.”

“Don’t ask me now,” said Rose. “I never saw such a horrible creature as
that woman.”

“But her child is dead!” said Mrs. Lyndsay, with gentle inconsequence.

“I think her altogether hateful,” insisted Rose.

“Altogether hateful?” cried Anne. “I like these complete natures. It
must simplify things in life so satisfactorily. Amiability would become
so useless an effort. To be altogether and hopelessly aside from the
possibilities of affection or respect might save a deal of moral
exertion.”

“I don’t think I understand,” said Mrs. Lyndsay; “or, if I do, I am very
sure that it isn’t a nice thing to say. “Wouldn’t it be as simple and
better to be altogether lovable?”

“No, no,” cried Anne; “you have tried that, and does it really pay,
dear?” Margaret was a trifle uncertain as to the compliment, and Anne,
much delighted at her game of what she called mental cat’s-cradle, was
about to go on, when Pierre came in.

“Ah, here is the mail,” said Lyndsay, and emptied out the bag on a
side-table.

“I have been yearning for a newspaper,” said Anne.

“Not I,” cried her brother, as he walked around the table distributing
the letters. “Ah,” he said, “my friend North. He was to have joined us
with his wife next week, Anne; but Clayborne is dead. You will all be
sorry to hear that. North says—it is, as usual, interesting. Shall I
read it?”

“Oh, certainly, Archie,—all of it. I am very sorry. It will be a great
loss to Dr. North.”

“And to our too small world of letters,” added Lyndsay.

“He says, ‘We—that is, Vincent and I—had spent two hours with our old
friend in that great book-clad room we all know. We came away talking of
his vast knowledge of medieval men and things. I had chanced to say I
wondered how a gentleman in the fifteenth century spent a day, and he
had at once told it all in curious detail—as to hours, dress, diet, and
occupations. I left Vincent and went back for a book I had meant to
borrow. When I entered, Clayborne was seated as usual with a little book
in his hand. As he did not stir, I went up to him. The book was kept
open by his palm. I stooped over him and saw that the book was Fulke
Greville’s on Democracy. He was dead. He had noiselessly gone out,
without stir of a finger. He must have been receiving ideas, dealing
with them, and then—’ See, Margaret, this is his symbol of death. ‘I
suppose, dear Lyndsay, you will think it strange that I sat still a
half-hour beside my dead friend. I never felt the other world so close;
it seemed within touch. At last—as the great frame began to stiffen—the
book fell. I took it, marked the place, and put it in my pocket.’

“The rest,” said Lyndsay, “is of less interest.”

“A happy exit,” said Anne.

“I cannot think that,” returned Margaret. “I should want to know that I
was dying.”

“One rarely does,” said her husband. “You get muddled, and say and do
foolish and ill-bred things. I sympathize with a friend of mine who gave
orders that he was to be left to die alone.”

“How horrible! How unnatural!”

“No, no,” cried Anne; “it is you who are ‘un-natured.’ But imagine dying
with such a dull book in hand! I was wondering what book I should want
to have last seen on earth.”

“I can think of but one, Anne.”

“Oh, that is not one book. Why call it a book? It is the books of many
men. Besides,—and this is terrible, Margaret,—I should like it to have
been some very earthsome book,—I had to coin an adjective,—and I should
like it to be like Ned’s friend—several.”

Margaret was critically silent. All this was in a way unpleasant to her,
as the unusual is always to some people.

“I do not think,” said Lyndsay, “I know with what thoughts I should like
to go hand in hand out of life. He was a fine, irritable old fellow. The
critics won’t bother him now.”

“Who can tell? There may be archangelic critics, for all we know,”
returned Anne. “However, perhaps one won’t mind it. You know what Hafiz
says: ‘Happy are the dead, for they shall inherit the kingdom of
indifference.’”

“Anne! Anne!” exclaimed Mrs. Lyndsay.

“Between papa’s Aurelius and Aunt Anne’s Persian poets,” said Rose, in
haste to intervene, “the fairy-land of bewilderment is never far away.”

“I have the wicked worldliness, brother, to want to know how Mr.
Clayborne left his money. Wasn’t he rich?”

“Yes. Wait a moment. He divided it, North says, between him—that is
North, dear; I am glad of that; it will be in wise hands—and, really,
that queer creature, St. Clair; but he was clever enough to put his
share in trust.”

“I am very glad. That too delightful man!” exclaimed Rose. “Do you
remember, Aunt Anne, the morning we spent with him at the Louvre? It was
like walking about with some Greek sculptor. He seemed to be away in
Athens while he talked.”

“It was certainly interesting,” said her aunt. “A trifle naturalistic at
times, I thought.”

“Was he? I don’t know. We used to wonder, mama, if he ever really cared
for Alice Leigh. After that morning I made up my mind he never did. He
spent ten minutes comparing her head and neck to that of the Diana.”

“What a feminine test!” said Lyndsay. “If a man were to tell you that
you looked like the Venus of Melos, Rose, would you say, ‘No, sir; you
can’t care for me. It is impossible. I shall always,’ etc., etc.—the
usual formula?”

“You are too bad, Pardy! My convictions are unshaken. Mr. St. Clair told
me; he did not tell her. If he had told her, I know he would have said
it in that soft, convinced way. She would have liked it.”

“I see,” said Lyndsay; “it becomes clearer.”

“Why do men sneer at him? I think him—well, I think him indescribably
attractive. The word ‘fascinating’ would answer. And I am sorry for poor
Mrs. North; oh, I am! Fascinating—yes, that is what _I_ should call him,
and oddly unconventional.”

“I think you young folks are too apt to use that word ‘fascinating,’”
said her mother. “I have no liking for these men who can fascinate, and
can’t hold fast to the affections of any one.”

At this Anne burst into inextinguishable laughter, and, with one hand
pressed on the aching side which was so apt to check her wilder mirth,
she held out the other to the astonished Mrs. Lyndsay, exclaiming:

“A forfeit—a pun from Margaret. Five cents—ten cents; a forfeit!”

“And what did I say?”

“Oh!” cried Rose.—“the dear mama! She said—she said a man who could
fascinate and not hold on to one. Oh, mama, how could you?”

“But I didn’t. I never meant such a thing.”

“Yes! yes!” they cried; and, laughing, got up from table amidst
continued protests from the innocent punster.

Rose followed her father on to the porch.

“Mrs. Maybrook will be over at ten. She wants to see you. I told her you
would not fish to-day.”

“What is it she wants?”

“I do not know. Something serious, I fancy.”

“No new trouble for her, I hope. By the way, old Polycarp’s bowman is
sick to-day and cannot go with you. Anne, for a wonder, wishes to go on
the water. Ned shall take Pierre. Not to disappoint you, I sent Polycarp
early up to the clearings to get a bowman. He will be back shortly. Good
luck to you!” And he went in to his letters, while Rose arranged her
fishing-basket, put in it a couple of books, and sat down to look over
the bright assortment of feathered lures in her father’s fly-book. Now
and then she glanced up the river, but no boat appeared.

Meanwhile Mrs. Maybrook came, and went. Rose heard her father say to
her, as she went out:

“No; it must not be left in doubt.” He was of opinion that it might mean
little; but it might, on the other hand, mean much. Many are tempted,
and few fall. The idea of crime on this quiet river seemed almost absurd
to him. He added, “I shall mention it, you may feel sure of that, Mrs.
Maybrook. A Lady Macbeth in business up here is queer enough.”

“I certainly do think he ought to be told,” said Dorothy.

These bits of talk much puzzled Rose. As to Dorothy, she lingered a
while to chat with Anne, who sat with her hands in her lap in that
entire idleness which more than any other thing on earth exasperated
Margaret Lyndsay. Below, on the beach, Ned was preparing, a little
troubled because the other boys were not to go with him, while they,
quite reconciled to the decree of parental fate, were gaily launching
their canoe, and singing, as they poled up-stream:

                 “I would not gi’e my bonny Rose,
                 My bonny Rose-a-Lyndsaye,
                 For all the wealth the ocean knows,
                 Or the wale of the lands of Lyndsaye.”

Then Rose waved her handkerchief, and, much disappointed, again took her
field-glass and still saw no canoe. At last Mrs. Lyndsay came out, and
they sat in the pleasant sunshine, the mother sewing with even
constancy, which as seriously annoyed Anne as her own absence of all
manual employ did the little mother.

Very soon Anne became engaged in her usual amusement of recklessly
tangling some one in the toils of statements, arguments, and opinions in
which she herself had no serious belief; since, I should add, this
bright, humorous, and strangely learned creature was, under all, a woman
of strong views and deliberately won religious beliefs.

When Rose, distracted from her regrets at the loss of the forenoon
fishing, began to hear the talk, Anne had just said:

“I don’t see how the world could go on at all without fibs.”

Upon which Mrs. Lyndsay, despite years of acquaintance with her
sister-in-law, pricked her finger and dropped her thimble, and took to
her fan.

“You see, there is no commandment against it, Margaret.”

“But, Anne, ‘Thou shalt not hear false witness,’” said Mrs. Lyndsay.

“But suppose I tell a harmless fib about myself, or praise some one I
should like to—to slap?”

“It’s all false witness, I reckon,” said Dorothy. “If I ain’t my own
neighbor, I’d like to know who is?”

Anne smiled. That this fly was not easily meshed in her sophistical web
only excited the spider.

“It would be a horrid addition to one’s responsibilities to be one’s own
neighbor. I should move away. After all, Margaret, isn’t the chief use
of habitual truthfulness to enable one at need to lie with useful
probability of being believed?”

By this time Mrs. Lyndsay was nearly past the possibility of
remonstrance. She let fall the work she had resumed, and, rocking
steadily, began to fan herself with deliberate slowness. A little she
suspected this baited snare; but not to seize it was beyond her power of
self-control.

“I am thankful my boys are not here. You will say it is a jest. Whether
it is a jest or not, it is equally the kind of thing which should not be
said—ever,” and here she shut the fan with decision, as if that also
closed the argument.

“I was thinking I’m rather on Miss Anne’s side,” said Dorothy. “There’s
a heap of righteousness in some lies. Now, if I hadn’t been a dreadful
truth-speaking woman a good many years, my Hiram wouldn’t believe me
now; and the fact is I just stuff that man full of lies nowadays. I just
chuck them around like you feed chickens. I tell him he looks better
every day, and how he is getting stronger. Miss Anne, I shouldn’t wonder
a bit if the Lord loved a right cheerful liar.”

“Good gracious!” said Margaret Lyndsay. “Dorothy, how can a good woman
like you say such things?”

“I can. And he’s a-failing before my very eyes,” she added, upon which
she became silent. A tear or two dropped down her cheeks. “Now, wouldn’t
you lie, Mrs. Lyndsay, if you was me?”

Anne looked up with interest as to what the answer might be.

“I might; I would,” said Margaret. “I am afraid I should.” Then she put
a sympathetic hand on her friend’s knee, while Anne looked grave, and
Rose watched Dorothy, with instant pity in her heart.

But this was not Dorothy’s common way.

“My lands! I’ve been making a fool of myself!” She had the aversion of
the strong to the alms of sympathy. As she spoke she rose. “Come over
and see me when you feel right good, Miss Anne. I do love a talk—and my
roses! I’ve got a lot of them to blooming this year, and if that isn’t
enough to make a woman happy, what is?”

With this she said good-by and went down to the beach. Anne watched with
envy, in which was no unkindliness, the vigor with which the dugout shot
forth from the shore. “A fine nature, that. It does one good to talk to
her. Example is a strange medicine. It is hard to analyze its value.
Because she endures with patience, I may. Yes; my helps are larger.”

As Mrs. Maybrook walked up to her house she thought over, as was the
habit of her lonely life, the talk she had had with Mr. Lyndsay and its
occasion. In her younger days of wandering, Hiram and she had lived long
amidst rough people in the West, among miners and loose ruffians of all
degrees of wickedness. Thus the idea of crime was not so unfamiliar as
to strike her as it did Lyndsay. She had seen men shot, and had been
where murder and plunder were common. She had overheard a half-evolved
scheme of villainy, one to be easily thwarted; nor, knowing, as she did,
Colkett and his wife, did it greatly amaze her. Still, it was rare to
hear of crime on the river. She had found more or less explanation of
this wickedness in what she remembered of the Colketts, and had said in
explanation to Mr. Lyndsay:

“She was a right fine-looking woman when she married Joe Colkett; but
she never was less than bad. She’s about the only one I ever came across
that would give her man—that is, her first man—drink, and buy it for
him, too, till she poisoned him. When the children came, and two were
idiots, like drunkards’ brats are, as every one knows, she put it all on
her first man—Fairlamb was his name. At last she was left with them, and
nothing to do but get another man. She’d have married ’most any one to
keep those children. That’s the only good about her; but the funny thing
is the way that stump of a fellow does love her. He does, though!”

“A queer story!” said Lyndsay.

Now, as she walked homeward, she said to herself, “But who on earth was
that Lady Macbeth Mr. Lyndsay talked about? It must be a book. I forgot
to ask. Think I’d like to read it. I’ll ask Miss Anne. The way a woman
p’ints a man is the thing. Guess I’ve always p’inted Hiram straight,
thank the Lord! I wonder if he’s seen about mending that scythe?”

Meanwhile, by noon, came lazily back Polycarp and the canoe, without a
bowman. Lyndsay was vexed. There had been no one at the clearings who
could be had. Pierre, when he came in, must go down with the mail. Said
Lyndsay:

“Go back at once. Stop at the Island Camp. There seems to be a lot of
men about there. I saw four canoes on the shore. The lumbermen are
driving on that reach. Some one said a photographer was camped there. He
can’t want both of his men. Don’t ask the gentlemen for a man; I don’t
know them. Now, mind what I say. Find somebody; I’ll pay him a dollar
for his half-day, but don’t come back without a bowman.”

“It’s a great thing the way you p’int a man, papa,” said Rose. “Mrs.
Maybrook has the trick of it.”

“He’ll find some one now. You had better fish the rock stretch, a mile
above the Island Camp. The Indian knows, and no one has cast a fly there
yet. Be careful not to get on Mr. Carington’s water. Watch Polycarp, or
he’ll let you fish down to the bay. They are all born poachers, these
fellows.”

Polycarp said “Yes,” and no more, and poled doggedly away up the river,
not over well pleased. At the camp he beached his canoe. The
photographer had gone. The lumbermen could none of them get leave; and
the Indian, pleased at the prospect of a lazy half-day with his pipe,
was on his way back to his canoe, when the tent-fly of the larger canvas
home was parted, and he heard:

“Halloa! Want anything?”

“Want man for bow to pole down at Cliff Camp. Mr. Lyndsay he goin’
a-fishin’, and my man sick—hurt leg. No much good.”

“Well, ask the lumbermen.”

“No make any use.” At this appeared a second man, also, like the first,
in knickerbockers. He wore a glass on one eye, and looked Polycarp over
curiously. Then he went back, and lay down with a novel and a pipe.

“Hold on!” said Carington. “Take one of our men; Mr. Ellett isn’t going
to fish to-day.” Then his face lit up with a quick look of merriment.
“What fun! I’ll go myself!”

“You wouldn’t do that? I wouldn’t do that!” said a voice from the tent.
Now, opposition was to this young man like fuel to fire.

“Why not?” he said.

“Might be awkward.”

“Oh, you be hanged! Look here, my man, what’s your name?”

“Polycarp.”

“Well, you antique saint, I mean to go down with you and pole for your
Mr.—what’s his name? oh, Lyndsay, is it? I can pole. Don’t be afraid.
Here’s a dollar if you don’t let on,—tell, I mean.”

The Indian grinned.

“This is a spree, Polyglot—Poly-carp—Poly-salmon, or whatever your
multitudinous fishy name is. Do you know what a spree is?”

“Plenty heap whisky,” said the Indian.

“Well, there are varieties. Can you hold your tongue?”

“Yes—can hold tongue.”

“You can fib a bit?”

“Heap much.”

“Then remember I am one of the men up here, no matter who.”

“Well, of all the absurd things!” said the mentor within the tent.

“By St. Botolph, as they say in Boston, I need a little absurdity to
make a decent average after a fortnight with you, you confounded old
conventional _et cætera_.” And, talking or laughing, he presently
emerged in pretty well soiled velveteens, a dingy jacket, slouched felt
hat, and his trousers stuffed in his long boots.

“Are you really going?” said Ellett.

“I am. Come along, Polycarp. I fancy I’m dressed in character. What fun!
He will want to pay me,” and he whistled as he pushed the bow out into
the stream and sat down to paddle.

Meanwhile Mr. Oliver Ellett considered his vanishing friend from afar
with mingled feelings of dismay and admiration. “That is a very
remarkable man. I couldn’t possibly have done that. I think there are
several brief insanities besides anger.” Then, as if surprised at his
own cleverness, he added, “I wish Carington had heard that. Confound
it!” and he smote an army of unseen midges who had taken advantage of
his abstraction to prey on the ruddy cheeks, which, with a slight
tendency to stoutness of girth, gave him a look of youthfulness he much
detested.

“What was it Fred said last night about remorse and midges? Confound it,
I forget. Blank the things! Get a smudge, Steve,—two smudges!” And he
retired again to the tent and his novel.

He had been drowsily considering the fates of a despairing young woman
for a half-hour or more, when he was aware of an unfamiliar voice
outside of the tent. Steve, the guide, an honest, good-tempered Gaspé
man, was heard to say:

“Mr. Carington—he went away a bit back. I didn’t see him, sir. I was
getting cedar bark for smudges.”

“Where did he go?”

“Michelle, where is Mr. Carington? Where did he go?”

‘The bowman, fully prepared, replied at once:

“I don’t rightly know.”

At this Mr. Ellett bounded from his mattress, and appeared without. The
voice he heard first was unmistakably that of a man of his own world.

“Beg pardon,” he said; “I was dozing. I am Mr. Oliver Ellett. Won’t you
come in?”

“No, thank you. I have but a few minutes. I am Mr. Lyndsay, from the
Cliff Camp. I came to see Mr. Carington. Is he here?”

“No. He has gone off somewhere.”

“On the river?”

“I don’t think he is fishing. Perhaps, if you were to come in and wait a
little, he might turn up.”

But this Lyndsay declined. He had run up with Pierre’s canoe, and must
return to get rid of some yet unanswered letters and be in time to fish
the lower pool.

At last, after a little chat about the salmon, he said: “Are you not
Oliver Ellett’s son, of Boston? I think it must be so: the resemblance
is strong. We were classmates at Harvard.”

“Yes,” said Ellett; “he was my father.”

“He was stroke-oar in my boat. If you are as good a fellow—oh, if you
are half as good a fellow—we shall be glad to see you and your friend at
the Cliff Camp.”

“It will give us great pleasure; and what shall I say to Carington?”

“That can wait. By the way, I sent that Indian of mine to the lumbermen
to get a bowman for half a day. I trust he did not trouble you. I gave
him strict orders. I saw he had been successful. We passed him as I came
up.”

“Yes, he got some one,” said Ellett. “It was not one of our men.” And
so, with further talk of flies and fish, he carefully conducted Mr.
Lyndsay to his canoe, and was relieved to hear him tell Pierre to land
him on the far shore.

“One feels the need to use one’s legs here. Meet me at the timber brow,”
he said to Pierre. “I shall walk fast. Good-by, Mr. Ellett, and come
soon to see us.”

Ellett stood a moment, and then went back to his tent. “I wonder whom he
is to pole for? It isn’t Mr. Lyndsay. Christopher Columbus! What a lot
of mischief you are responsible for! No wonder Fred says you have pretty
near as much sin to your count as that fair explorer who discovered the
new world of wickedness. By George! If it should be the woman! He stared
at her, Sunday, through his glass as they went by, until I told him it
wasn’t decent. He said it did bring her pretty close. Well, I never
heard of falling in love through a telescope. Now, that wasn’t a bad
idea at all.” He had no high estimate of himself, and was occasionally
overcome at his own cleverness. “This beats my novel all to bits. More
smudge, Michelle!”

Meanwhile the canoe ran down-stream, Fred Carington in the bow, and
Polycarp, with his changeless, coppery visage, astern.

As the Indian had by no means hurried himself, the morning was past and
luncheon long over when Rose saw the canoe returning. Lyndsay had not
come back. At all events, she would have the afternoon fishing.



                               CHAPTER X


When Mr. Lyndsay reached home, Rose had gone, and he had no chance to
take a look at the new bowman: he hoped he was competent. The man in the
bow especially has to judge with decision as to the watery way before
him, to avoid shallows, to look out for rocks, and instantly to obey
every order from the stern.

When Polycarp’s birch, for the Indians always use the bark canoe, ran
close to the beach, the bowman stepped out, as the way is, into the
water and drew the bark to the shore. Polycarp, silent as a monk of La
Trappe, went up the steps. The boys were absent, Miss Anne was off with
big-voiced Tom, and Mr. Lyndsay had not returned. Carington began to be
curious. “Great Scott!” he exclaimed, for here was a young woman coming
gaily down the steps. She wore a boy’s cap and carried a basket. Behind
her came Polycarp with her rods.

It is the business of the bowman to use his eyes and not his tongue. The
former were now discreetly busy. I scarcely ever knew a talkative
bowman. Talk is the privilege of the man at the stern, who rarely
hesitates to advise as to the handling of a fish, or to converse with
easy freedom.

“I scarcely bargained for this,” said Fred to himself. “It’s high
comedy, rather. I am in for it. Here goes!” And he drew the side of the
birch close to the shore, readjusted a stone or two of those placed for
landing and then steadied the canoe. Miss Lyndsay put a hand on his
shoulder, stepped lightly in, and sat down. As usual in this watery
travel the low seat for the fisherman is set to face in the direction in
which the boat moves, so as to give the view ahead. When about to fish
the canoe is run ashore,—beached, they say,—and the seat is turned so as
to look to the stern.

“We are to fish the upper—the rock pool, Polycarp; above the Island
Camp—a mile or so, I believe.”

“Me know.”

“And you are to be careful not to go beyond a certain dead pine, or to
get onto the water of the Island Camp. We don’t know those people, and I
wish to be careful.”

“Me know. Last drop best. Have to cast a little over. No help it.”

“No, not a foot! These are a couple of Boston gentlemen, and very likely
to be disagreeable as to boundaries.” Rose was thinking aloud.

Thereupon the bowman was tempted—“I did hear tell they was awful nice
men.“

“Indeed!” said Rose, not fancying this reply.

“There won’t nobody know,” muttered Polycarp, with a chuckle.

“You bad old poacher,” she returned, laughing. “Here is some tobacco for
you; you may smoke, but I can’t have you chewing. As to poaching, I hope
it won’t be necessary.”

As she spoke, the poles clinked as one on the rocks and pebbles, and,
keeping close to shore, they gradually forged up-stream, Rose lying back
at lazy ease, and hardly hearing the rare words of order or warning from
stern to bow. By and by, being, as I have said, an observant young
person, she fell to noticing the symmetry and strong lines of her
bowman’s figure, and then the thick, brown half-curl of hair under the
felt hat. The action, as it repeated itself over and over, struck her
fancy. She took at last to analyzing the movement, which beautifully
brings out the curves of the tense muscles. She saw that poling on the
right side begins with the left hand above, the right below; and that,
in the recover and forward lift for a new hold on the bottom, the right
hand is shifted above the left, and the pole is carried forward through
the relaxed grip of the left hand, and the push begins again. At last
she took out her sketch-book, and pretty soon caught a neat likeness of
the man in the last moment of the forward shove, when the balancing
power of the man in these unsteady vessels is the most severely tried.
Her unconscious model, now warming to the work, had half forgotten the
awkwardness of the position in the pleasure of this manly use of
well-trained muscles. A little later and he saw Ellett, as they sat down
to take their paddles to cross the quieter water before the camp, in
order to win the farther shore. “Confound his impudence!” said Carington
to himself, as he became aware of his friend coolly inspecting them with
a field-glass from a bank on the margin.

“Who is that man?” said Miss Lyndsay, turning toward Polycarp.

“Not know name.”

“Aren’t there two gentlemen fishing this reach? How much water have
they?”

An Indian usually answers the last question, taking no notice of the
first. “They got Mr. George—his water. From bogan up to big tree.”

“Bogan? What is that?”

“Just bogan,” said Polycarp. His descriptive powers, as well as his
English, were limited. The word which puzzled her is probably an old
English term. Still unsatisfied, Rose addressed the tall bowman. “What
is your name, bowman?”

“Frederick, ma’am.”

“But your whole name?”

“Fairfield.” In fact, it was his middle name.

“What is a bogan, Fairfield?”

“A kind of a little bay like.” He was about to say a _cul-de-sac_, but
stayed his tongue in time.

“And what is that yellow stuff all along the shore? It looks like
sulphur.”

“It’s the pollen of the alders.”

“Pollen!” said Rose.

“Yes; that’s what the gentlemen calls it. Drops off them bushes, ma’am.
Pullen or pollen—I don’t rightly mind.”

“Where is our pool, Polycarp?”

“’Most to it now.”

“Oh, there are the burnt lands,” said Rose. “What a dreadfully
sad-looking place!” This was a mere personal reflection, unaddressed;
but the bowman was now in the spirit of his part, and made a shy cast
for a rise of interest in his human freight.

“It’s right mournsome-like.”

The fish rose. “What a beautiful word! Mournsome! Fearsome is another
good word up here.”

“Hadn’t we best anchor?” said Carington. “I say, Polycarp, how is it? I
don’t know this upper water.”

Rose took a look at the back of this curly head. The voice had not the
intonations of Gaspé, but rang out clear over the noise of the rapids.
Also the “a’s” were broad, and there was a decided south-land note in
it, with which Rose was too unfamiliar to cause suspicion. Polycarp
silently turned the canoe, and in a moment beached it. Rose stood; the
chair was shifted, and now in a few moments they were at the top of the
pool, a swift flow of dark water all around them.

“Anchor—drop,” said Polycarp, as they swung to the current. “Keepee hold
short.”

The stream was a hundred yards wide. The hills rose high to right, and
already a favoring shadow was on the pool. Rose had lost much time by
reason of this trouble about the bowman. It was well on toward evening.
A fish leaped below and then another. It was of a truth most beautiful,
and the man in the bow, who was now behind Rose, was longing to say as
much, but Rose was intent on other matters. A moderate-sized Jock Scott
was adjusted, and she began to cast,—still awkwardly enough.

“I must stand,” said Rose. Then she cast better, but still in vain. An
hour went by. Two people were beginning to consider it a little dull. At
last once more Polycarp said, “Drop!” Rose laid her rod on the thwarts,
as they slid down some thirty feet, the fly and leader hanging in the
water, and the butt behind her. Of a sudden there was a mad splash, the
reel ran out, and the bowman, catching the butt, raised the rod, and,
leaning over her, put it in her hands. “Take care!” he said, “he’s off,”
and away he went across the water.

“How splendid!” cried Rose, as she lowered the tip, when the fish made a
mighty leap, eighty feet away, and his silvery arched form fell amidst
foam onto the dark waves.

“Look out! More jump!” cried the Indian; and again the reel clicked
busily.

“Reel! Reel!” said the bowman. “Well done, miss! Reel! Logs coming,
Polycarp!” It was true. A half-dozen dark logs were coming down on them.

“Darn logs!” said the Indian, much excited. “You hold hard now. Tip up!”

“Yes. Tip up! tip up!” cried Carington. “There, can you hold him? If you
can’t, he will get the line among the logs.” They were now out of the
current in a side eddy. “So—so! Hold there, Polycarp! If he waits a
half-minute before he runs, we shall have him. Good! He’s coming! Now
lift him, miss! Well done! Reel! Reel! These running fish don’t last.”

“See belly,—much dead. Yah,” said the Indian; and the gaff was in, and,
amidst laughter and wild splashing, which covered her with water, a fine
salmon was in the boat.

“Admirably done, miss!” said Carington. “That was well handled.” Then he
added, “Them fresh-run fish is tough uns.”

Rose began, even amid her tire and excitement, to be a little puzzled.
However, they went back to the same drop, and the casting went on as
before. A half-hour passed. It was now long after six o’clock.

“See him rise, ma’am?” said Polycarp. “Best fish—heap late, heap best
fish.”

She cast again, and this time saw the swirl in the water and a glance of
white.

“Much hungry!”

After a little while the fly was changed, and then again, until at last
the first fly was tried anew.

“No good! He no come!”

“Hold on a moment,” said Carington. “Try this”; and he took from his
head his soft felt hat and threw it over to Polycarp. “There’s a fly in
the band: try that. It is a white miller.”

“No good!” said Polycarp; but he put it on. The next moment Rose saw a
fish dart sideways through the water, and with open mouth take the fly.
Then the anchor was up, and the fish away for a wild run down-stream,
the reel whizzing, pausing, and whizzing again. For a half-hour of
running and reeling this went on. At length the fish hung out steadily
in the strong water, his head to the current, while Rose with all her
power held him.

“These runs down-stream are rare,” said Carington; “How strong he is!”

For an hour the sky had been overcast, and the river-bed in the nest of
hills was fast growing dim.

“Are you tired?” said the bowman. “Shall I take the rod? It might spell
you.”

“Oh, no! Thank you! No.”

“Give him a little line—so, slowly; but be careful. Drop the tip a
little. It may tempt him to run again. No! How he holds on! Might I
suggest, Miss Lyndsay,”—he had quite forgotten his part in the
excitement of the contest,—“may I suggest that we drop below him?”

This was tried. The fish came duly down-stream. The canoe was again
brought to the bank, and again there was the salmon out in the heavy
water. Each motion of his tail revealed itself by a single “click,
click” of the reel. It was now dusk.

“It is that limp rod: it has no power,” said Carington, and, reaching
over, he caught a few small stones from the bank, and threw them at the
point where at the end of a perilously tense line the fish still held
his place.

“No much good!”

At last she got in a little line. The salmon was now not over twenty
feet from her rod-tip; but she could no longer see, and it was near to
eight o’clock, and, by reason of the coming storm, far more dark than
usual at that hour.

“I shall be eaten by the sand-flies,” said Rose. “How they bite!” It was
now too dark to see line or rod-tip.

“Hold her, Polycarp,” said the bowman. “I will make a smudge.” And in a
moment a thick smoke was whirling from the beach, and cast around her by
the rising wind. Then, of a sudden, the smudge, blown into ruddy flame,
sent a long flare of light across the water. In an instant the line came
home.

“He is gone!” cried Rose, in accents of despair.

“No! no!” cried Carington, from the beach: “reel!”

The fish, caught by the light, had rushed wildly toward it, and run his
nose onto the shore. The bowman, catching first a handful of gravel,
seized it by the tail, and threw it high up onto the shore, the rod-tip
snapping as Rose threw it back of her.

“Did any one ever see the like?” said Carington.

“Me see—twice—two time,” said the Indian, as he took the spring balance
from the fishing-basket.

“Oh, this is fishing!” cried Rose. “It must be quite two hours! I know
what papa will say. He will say, ‘Bad fishing!’”

“But I assure you,” said Carington, from the darkened shore, eight or
ten feet away, “I can assure you no one could have handled that fish
better!”

At this Rose was struck silent, and now she wanted to get a good look at
this eccentric bowman.

“No see,” said Polycarp; “’bout twenty-nine pound; got match?”

“Ah!” she exclaimed, for now in an instant there fell a fury of driving
rain, which struck her on the face and hands like spent shot.

“Let me help you,” said Carington. “Here. How dark it is! Take my hand.
This spruce will hold off the rain a while.” Rose leaped out in haste.

“It won’t last,” added the bowman.

“But what does my fish weigh? Couldn’t you strike a match and see? I
want to know.”

“Certainly, ma’am!” he said, urgently sensible of the need to get back
into character. “Best get it weighed soon. Them fish drops weight a
lot.” So saying, he took out a silver match-box, and, taking three
matches together, struck them on his corduroys, and hastily covered them
with the cavern every smoker knows how to make with his hands. The wind
put them out at once.

“No good!” said Polycarp.

“But I must know what my fish weighs,” urged this persistent young
woman.

“Of course, ma’am!” said the much-amused Carington.

It had become suddenly still darker. Above them the storm roared, as it
tossed the plumes of the unseen tree-tops, and the spruce was no longer
a cover. Miss Lyndsay squirmed, and gave a little laugh, as more and
more insolent drops crawled down her back.

“Do hurry,” she said, “my good man.”

Meanwhile, Carington again lit a match, this time in the shelter of his
hat, and kindled the resinous tips of a pine-branch he had torn away.

“Thirty-one pounds and over—say thirty-two.” As he spoke he held up the
fiercely blazing branch, so that its red-and-orange light flared over
the water, and, seen in a million drops, cast for a moment dancing
shadows through the dense woodlands back of them. In this wild light the
Indian’s visage stood out like some antique bronze, and she saw for the
first time clearly a smiling brown face, clean shaven except for a
slight mustache. The bowman threw the branch on the water, where it
sparkled a moment, and said, cheerfully, “Will the canoe live in this
wind, Polycarp?”

“Not know! Big much blow!”

“Confound it!” said the bowman. “I think we had better wait a bit,
ma’am. Kind of rains like them clouds was buckets turned upside down. It
can’t last. Are you gettin’ wet, ma’am?”

“No, I am wet,” said Rose. “Mama will be so uneasy. Couldn’t we go? We
must go! How long will it last?”

Polycarp was silent, and the deluge went on pattering on the maples,
humming softly on the water when the wind ceased, and the intervals of
quiet let into the ear the myriad noises of the falling drops. Rose set
her soul to be patient. She was now too cold for comfort, and very
hopelessly soaked. But it was like her to say, “It is nobody’s fault,
and, after all, it is great fun.” Then Carington, liking the courage and
good sense of the woman, forgot himself again.

“Don’t you think it is a little difficult sometimes to say just where
amusement ends, and—the other thing begins?”

“What other thing?” said Rose, too wet and shivering to be acutely
critical.

“Oh—discomfort!”

“But I think one may be both amused and uncomfortable.”

“Guess that’s so, miss,” said the actor. “It is holding up a little. The
clouds are breaking. By George! we have a moon—a bit of one!”

“Go now,” said the sternman, as he tilted the canoe to rid it of water.

“Can we risk it? Are you sure?” said Rose.

Carington smiled. He was about to add, gaily, “Miss Lyndsay’s carriage
stops the way.” He did say, “All right, ma’am. It rains a mawsel, but
the wind’s nigh done. We’d have risked it alone. All ready?”

In a moment they were away, in the power of the great river’s night
march to the sea. Never had Rose felt as full a sense of this vast
energy of resistless water. Again, as once before, she realized the
feeling of being walled in by darkness. Then there came the fierce rush
through white water, and things like gray hands tossed up to right and
left.

“Look sharp for salmon pillow,” said the Indian.

“Yes, yes!” cried Carington, intent on the stream before him, silent, a
little anxious. “Left! left!” he cried. And Rose saw close by, as they
fled on, a huge lift of waves, and then again they were away in a more
quiet current, and the moon was out and the torn clouds were racing
across its steady silver.

“Here’s a paddle, ma’am,” said the bowman. “Try to use it; it will keep
you warm.”

“Thanks,” she returned. “What a good idea, Fairfield!” And now in a few
moments she was more and more comfortable, and in proportion inclined to
talk and reflect. She concluded that the bowman must have been thrown
much with gentlemen in the fishing-season. She wondered if, on the
whole, it was good for a man in his position to see the easy comfort of
camps, the free use of money, and then to fall back into the hardships
and exposures of the winter lumbering. The man puzzled her a little as
she tried to reconcile him as he at times had appeared with what she
knew must be his common existence.

“Is lumbering hard work, Fairfield?” She was now seated so as again to
face his back.

“The woods, ma’am, is it, or the drive?” He was safe here. No man knew
better this wood-life.

“Oh!—both.”

“The spring drive is pretty stiff work; beats a circus, ma’am, jumpin’
from log to log in quick water. Ever see a circus?” he added, with
ingenuous innocence.

“Of course, often.”

“I’d like to see a circus. I did hear tell of one once. There’s the
lights. Best let them know”—and he smote the waters with the flat of his
paddle. “Guess they’ll hear that.”

The next moment they ran on to the beach, where Mr. Lyndsay was
standing. He had been somewhat anxious, but had laughed at the women’s
fears.

“All right, Rosy?” he said. “Go up at once and change your clothes. You
must be wet through.”

“I am all right, papa, and two such salmon; one took nearly two hours!”

“Up with you.”

“Yes, Pardy. Don’t forget to pay the man. He has been most capable and
very thoughtful. I should like to keep him always.”

“What fun!” thought the bowman.

“Needn’t mind, sir. I can come down for it ’most any time.”

“I have no change, Rose,” said her father. “How much is it? Oh, a
dollar, I think I said. Come down to-morrow, and ask the cook now to
give you some tobacco.”

“Thank you, sir, I doesn’t smoke—at present,” he added to himself.

“Stop, papa!” cried Rose. “It is absurd to bring this poor fellow all
the way back for a dollar. I have my portemonnaie.” So saying, she
searched it in the dark.

“Have you got it? Hurry, Rose. You will take cold. Bother the child. How
persistent you are!”

Her fingers encountered only a bundle of notes of amounts not to be
known in the gloom, and then, in a pocket apart, a little gold dollar—a
luck-penny, kept for its rarity. She hesitated, but, being chilly and in
haste, said, “Here is a dollar, my man. It is one of our old-fashioned
gold dollars; but it is all right. I am very much obliged to you. If I
want you again, can you come?”

“Maybe, ma’am. Depends on the lumber-boss.”

“Well, good night.”

“Good night, ma’am.”

“Do come, Rose.”

“That’s an odd sort of a man, Pardy,” said the young woman, while the
canoe sped away, and the odd sort of a man said:

“Set me ashore at the ox-path; no, at the brow above. I’ll walk up. I am
soaked. I shall take Colkett’s dugout and cross at my camp. Here’s
another dollar, you old saint, and if ever you tell, I will scalp you!”

“All right, Mr. Carington.”

“Well,” exclaimed that gentleman, as he strode away, “if that wasn’t
fun, there isn’t decent cause left for a laugh in the universe.” Then he
lit a pipe, inspected by its dim light the gold dollar, and, smiling,
carefully put it away in a safe pocket.



                               CHAPTER XI


The transmutation of the emotions or the passions into one another is
among the mysteries of the sphere of morals. In some natures, even the
most sacred grief, the outcome of a child’s death, I have seen capable
of change into anger at a world in which such things are possible.

Susan had loved her sturdy little boy with unreasoning ardor, and
indulged him to the utmost limit their scant means allowed. He had been
like her in face, and this pleased her. He had, too, her masculine
vigor, and seemed more bone of her bone than the two idiots who had gone
early to the grave.

She sat just within the doorway, rocking. The chair creaked at each
strong impulse of her foot. An oblong of sunshine lay at her feet, and
in it a faded crape bonnet, last relic of a day when prosperity could
afford to grief a uniform. It had turned up in her vain search after a
decent garment for the dead. As she continued to rock with violence, the
loose planks of the floor moving, a toy ark, the gift of Dorothy to the
boy, fell from a shelf. Noah and his maimed beasts tumbled out, and lay
on their sides in the sun. She took no note of the scattered menagerie.

The room was in no worse than its usual disarray, with no sign of that
terrible precision which we associate with the death-chamber. At last
she rose quickly, and, pushing the toys and bonnet aside with an
impatient foot, left the rocking-chair in motion, and trod heavily up
and down the room, opening and shutting her hands as she walked. She fed
her rage with each look she cast on her dead boy.

A far gentler woman once said to me that there was for her in her
child’s death the brutality of insult. Some such feeling was now at work
with Susan Colkett.

In her younger life she had lived on a farm in upper Canada, a tall,
pretty, slim girl, quick of tongue, unruly, and with an undeveloped and
sensual liking for luxury and ease. Then she married a man well enough
off to have given her a comfortable life. A certain incapacity to see
consequences, with that form of fearlessness which is without fear until
the results of action or inaction are too evident, led her to be
careless of debts. Then her husband drank, and grew weary of her
tornadoes of unreasoning anger; the idiot children came, and she began
to think of what even yet she might realize for herself if he were dead.
Making no effort to stop him, she let him go his way, seeing without one
restraining word the growth of a deadly habit. Dorothy had said that she
helped his downward course even more actively. His death left her
penniless, but free. Men were unwilling, however, to face her wild
temper, and when, at last, her looks were fast fading, to help the only
things in the world she cared for, she took the stout little man who had
for her from his youth an unchanging affection. Misfortune taught her no
good lessons. Even now she hated work, loved ease, and lacked
imagination to picture consequences. Amidst the animal distress her
child’s death occasioned, she was still capable of entertaining the
thought of crime; in fact, her loss contributed a new impulse in the
storm of fury it evoked. They were close to the end of their resources.
There is in Paris a Place St. Opportune. Who this saint was, I know not.
His biography might be of interest. There is probably a fallen angel of
the same name who makes the paths of virtue slippery. Crime had been
near to this woman for years, and ever nearer since disaster had been a
steady companion. She had lacked opportunity, and that alone. Nor was
this the only time she had cast temptation in the way of her
simple-minded husband.

At last, as, striding to and fro, she went by the doorway, she saw
Dorothy, and with her a thin man in shining, much-worn, black alpaca
clothing.

She knew at once that he was the preacher who had been brought up from
Mackenzie to bury her child.

Upon this she turned back into the room, and stood a moment by the two
chairs on which lay the pine box which Joe had made. The little fellow
within it had been hardly changed by his brief illness. He was fair to
see; white, and strongly modeled; and now he was beautiful with the
double refinements of youth and death. She touched his cheek as if to
test the reality of death, and then kissed him, and, laying over him the
rude cover, turned away.

At the door she met Dorothy and the minister. Dorothy said, “Good
morning, Susan.”

“You’ve been a heap of time comin’.”

Dorothy, glancing at Mrs. Colkett, did not enter, but stepped to one
side and, leaning against the log wall, waited. The little man in the
worn alpaca suit was stopped as he turned to go in by the gaunt form of
his hostess.

“There ain’t no need to go in or to preach,” she said.

Upon this Dorothy plucked at his coat-skirt, and, much embarrassed, he
fell back, saying, “That’s as friends please.”

Then Joe came from the cow-shed and went in past his wife. As he went
by, he nodded cheerfully to Dorothy and to the preacher. “’Most ready;
won’t be long.”

Mrs. Colkett stood looking across the clearing. The preacher, uneasily
moving to and fro, at last approached her again. “My sister,” he said,
“the hand of the Lord has been heavy on this household of his people.”
From her great height Susan Colkett cast her eyes down on the wan little
person below her. “It is fit,” he went on, “that while—”

“Look here,” said Susan; “you’ve come to bury that child, and that’s all
you’re here for. Just set down and wait”; and so saying, she brought out
two crippled chairs.

Dorothy said, “No, I will stand.”

The preacher sat down without a word, and found occupation in keeping
his place, as the chair-legs bored unequally into the soft soil. At
last, greatly troubled, he looked toward Dorothy for consolation, and,
receiving none, at last fell on his knees in deep despair. “Oh, Lord!”
he cried, “move the heart of this woman that she may receive the message
of thy grace!” and on this Dory too knelt in the sunshine, while Susan
turned and went into the house.

Then there arose within the rude noise of loud hammering, and, utterly
confused, the unhappy preacher looked up, and saw that he was alone with
Dorothy.

“What manner of people are these?” he said, as they both arose. “I must
speak to her,” and he moved toward the door.

“I wouldn’t,” said Dorothy, touching his coat. “Not now. Another time.”

He said no more, and the pair stayed without, waiting with no further
words, while the hammering went on. At last it ceased. Joe came out,
wringing a finger. “I kind of mashed it,” he said, in an explanatory
voice. “Susie’s ready.” He went back, and soon came out again with the
white box held in front of him on his two outstretched arms.

The mother followed, looking straight before her—a strange,
high-colored, set face, the tightly shut jaw making hard lines in the
lower cheek-curves. The meager preacher came after with a book in his
hand, and Dorothy followed.

In the woods Joe stumbled once, and a moment after set down his strange
burden and wrung his hurt finger. Then he went on again into the deeper
woodland, and about two hundred yards from the house stopped and set the
box on a level stump. Before them were two crumbled mounds of earth, and
beyond a small open grave, not over-deep.

The clergyman came forward.

“I might put it in?” said Joe, interrogatively.

“Yes,” said Dorothy. “Let me help.” And, taking the coffin at each end,
they let it down, for the grave was shallow.

“Them roots is in the way; they bothered me when I was a-diggin’,” said
Joe.

“Hush!” exclaimed Dorothy. “Hush!”

As they stood up, the minister went on to read his simple burial
service. Susan Colkett paid, or seemed to pay, intense attention. At
last he ceased, and all stood still a moment in the deep wood-shadows,
for the twilight was near at hand. There was a little stir as Dorothy
took from her handkerchief a handful of roses and let them fall into the
open grave. Susan looked at her a moment, and then, turning to the
preacher, said, coldly:

“Is that all of it? I don’t want none left out.”

“Yes.”

“Don’t rich people have no more said than that?”

“No; that is all,” he replied, much astonished. “Wouldn’t you like me to
talk to you at the house!”

“No, I wouldn’t. My man he’ll pay you.” And she walked away. The
minister wiped his brow, and sat down on a stump, while Dorothy waited,
and Joe calmly began to fill up the little grave.

He paused once to give the minister the cost of his journey, and then
went on.

“Come,” said Mrs. Maybrook. “No; don’t go in,” she added, as they passed
the cabin. “Let her alone.”

“The Lord has made my errand hard,” he said.

“No; he hasn’t took a hand in the matter at all,” she said. “It’s the
devil! Come!” And they disappeared in the darkening wood-spaces.

Before Joe had quite done, he was aware of his wife again standing
beside him.

“What’s wrong?” he said. “Best wait in the house. I’ll come. And don’t
bother none for the supper. I’ll cook it.”

“Couldn’t you set a board over the boy?” she said.

“Yes.”

“They’re just buried like dead dogs!”

“I’ll git somethin’.”

“What’s the use, anyhow? If you were any good of a man, there’d be a
decent white stone like them Lyndsays has set.”

“Oh, I’ll find somethin’, Susie! I’ll think about it.” He was anxious to
get through with it all, and somewhere deep in his mind was moved by her
want.

“It ain’t no use thinking,” she said, “when you’ve got no money.” And
so, at last, she went away once more to the wretchedness they called
home, leaving him to complete his task.

It was now dusk. He sat down on a log, and wiped his brow with his
sleeve. There was a little tobacco left in his pouch. He lit a pipe, and
sat awhile in dull rumination, like some slow ox, recalling her words.
At last he took the pipe out of his mouth, and stood up, as one set on
the clear track of an idea. A difficulty occurred to him.

“I’ll do it. No one won’t know. There don’t nobody come here.” A moment
later a new obstacle arose is his mind, and he resumed his pipe and his
seat.

“That’ll do,” he said. “I’ll get Dory to help. She won’t think for to
suspect none.” And so, much cheered by the prospect of pleasing his
wife, he went away to the cow-shed.

His had been a poor, loveless life. An orphan boy, he had never
possessed ability or power to win affection or respect for anything
except his muscles. Yet a canine capacity to love without question was
in him, and the tall, gaunt woman who alone had put out a hand of
apparent trust to him had all of his simple attachment.

Now he extinguished his pipe, knocked it on a tree to shake out the live
ashes, put it in his pocket decisively, and went back to the house.

He had a sense of satisfaction in the notion that he would surprise his
wife with fulfilment of her desires: also he felt surprise, and as much
elation as he was capable of, at his own skill in seeing his way through
this enterprise. What she, the poor hurt mother, wanted was now in
single possession of a mind little able to transact mental business with
more than one importunate creditor at a time.

To take what is not your own is common enough. The higher criminal mind
disposes of the matter with some sophistry as to the right to have a
share in the unjust excess of another’s property. The utterly immoral
nature gives it no thought, save how to act with safety. The lowest type
of man is untroubled as to the ethics of thieving, and as little as to
personal results. The idea that another might suffer in proportion to
what his own wife would gain never passed the threshold of this poor
fellow’s consciousness. What he was about to do seemed to him easy and
safe. He was certain that Susie would like it, and would think him more
of a man. And that was all.



                              CHAPTER XII


Mr. Lyndsay, as we now know, came back without having seen Mr.
Carington. His purpose was, however, unchanged. Yet, as there was no
immediate need to act, and no present danger, he concluded to wait,
quite sure that the two gentlemen on whom he had called must, when they
returned his courtesy, give him an easy chance to say to Carington what
he had heard. Thus having decided what to do, and that delay involved no
possibility of mischief, he put it all aside for the time.

Meanwhile, the Island Camp was the scene of amusing debate. The next
morning, as they lay on their tent mattresses and smoked that most
blissful first love of the day, the after-breakfast pipe, Ellett took up
the talk of the night before.

“I told you that you would get in a scrape.”

“It wasn’t that. ‘My lands!’ as Mrs. Maybrook says, what a noble
adventure! If I only could do it again! No, I don’t repent. Far from it;
I would like to do it again. It was just too altogether delicious, as
the girls say.”

“But you will have to call. Mr. Lyndsay has been to see you, and go to
see him you must, if I have to carry you!”

“But I can’t and I won’t! I am a bad boy. Just now it is all a beautiful
and adventurous dream. I don’t want to see that woman again—ever. It
would spoil the romance of it. Go yourself. You can drop down in
mid-morning. No one will be in. Leave my card on the table.”

“What stuff, Fred! You can’t get out of it. Mr. Lyndsay wants to see
you. He called on you, not on me.”

“But I don’t want to see him. Imagine my having to explain and
apologize, and fetch the whole thing down to the dreary level of prose.
I am ill; I am dead; I shall go home—anything!”

He was at his high level of reckless enjoyment of a delightful
indiscretion, and a part of his delight lay in the distress it
occasioned his soberly conventional friend. He was himself, in truth, a
graver man than Ellett, but took into his work as a successful engineer
the same gaiety which ran riot in his holiday hours. It had its value
with the men who did work under his eyes, and helped him and them over
some hard places. At need he became instantly a cool, watchful, cautious
man, with the bearing and reserve of middle life. To those who saw him
only in his utter abandonment of glee, ready as a boy for any merry
enterprise, and by no means disliking it the more if it brought physical
risks, it was hardly conceivable that he should be, back of all this, a
man of strong opinions, political and religious, of definite views, and
of an almost fantastic sense of honor.

“Can’t you be decently quiet a moment, and think a little?”

“Don’t want to,” returned Carington. “Git away wid ye! You are like Eve:
you want to introduce a knowledge of good and evil into this Eden of
mine. Go, fish and let me alone. I want to dream it over: that scene in
the wood, the rain, the wild orange, light for a minute, that
copper-head saint. It was really great, Oliver! Beats the Bowery
Theater! And, oh!—I forgot to tell you. She told her pa I was such a
good bowman!—so thoughtful! and couldn’t she have me always? Always,
Oliver! The bliss of that!”

“I don’t see how you can see anything amusing in it, Fred. It isn’t as
if this was some common New York girl, with a boarding-school
civilization. Now that’s a rather neat phrase, ‘a boarding-school
civilization.’”

“Is it? What else?”

“Nothing. I only meant to say these Lyndsays are gentlefolk, and won’t
be very well pleased.”

“You old idiot! Do you suppose I don’t know that? Put your brains to
work. Here am I at the end of the first volume of a lovely romance;
situation entirely novel. I wish to stop there; the second and third
volumes are sure to fall off dismally. The problem is, how not to go on;
or, if I must, how to drop from poetry to prose.”

“I should think you must have dropped pretty distinctly when Mr. Lyndsay
paid you; I suppose he did.”

“Sir, I was paid in gold of the Bank of Spain—in coin no longer
current—by the woman herself.”

“Would you kindly interpret?”

“I will”; and he told the scene on the beach.

“Let me see that gold dollar.”

“See it! Not I. No profane eyes shall—”

“Stuff and nonsense! She will very likely want it back. Probably it was
a luck-penny.”

“Very like. I shall keep it for luck. You are an iconoclast of dreams.
Let’s go and kill fish. I have been trying to divide my enchanted mood
with you. It has been a dismal failure. The fact is, I know as well as
you—and a blank sight better—that this is a lady, that these are nice
people, and that I am in a scrape. But to-day they may all go to the
deuce and the bow-wows. ‘Let the great world spin forever, down the
ringing grooves of change.’ He must have meant a railway. I never
thought of that before. Don’t bother. I’ll go and call some day. Come,
let’s kill salmon.” And they went to their canoes.

While this dreadful thing was agitating Mr. Ellett’s mind, it was also
receiving due consideration at the breakfast-table of the Cliff Camp.

Rose Lyndsay, despite remonstrance, had been sent at once to bed on her
return, and supplied with hot tea and more substantial diet, and ordered
to go to sleep. Next to being wicked through and through, to be wet
through and through was, to Mrs. Lyndsay’s mind, one of the most serious
of human catastrophes. She was gently positive, and so Rose lay very
wide-awake, and considered at ease the events of a most agreeable day,
until, thinking with a little regret of her luck-penny, she fell asleep,
only to wake up with the sunlight streaming in as her mother opened the
curtains, and to hear the pervasive voices of the boys singing under her
window:

                    Up in the mornin’ ’s nae for me!

“Overslept yourself, Rose!”

“Are you dry yet?”

“That salmon is only thirty pounds. You awful fraud!”

“All right, dear, to-day?” were the salutations of the noisy table, as
she distributed her morning kisses, and at last sat down.

“One at a time,” she replied. “Fair play, boys. First, I am nearly dry.
Second, salmon always loses weight.”

“I have noticed that,” laughed her father. “Tell us all about it, my
dear.” And upon this she related the adventures of the previous day.

“I must have my luck-penny,” she added. “I was a goose to give it away,
but I was so cold and wet, and I was in such a hurry. I hated to send
the man away without a cent.”

“It is odd that he took it,” said Anne.

“Yes,” returned her brother. “These fellows are sharp enough about their
pay and about money; and he couldn’t have known what he was taking.
These coins circulate no longer, even in the States. He never said a
word, but merely put it in his pocket. What sort of a fellow is he,
Rose?”

“It is so hard to describe people.”

“It is impossible,” said Anne, “even on a passport.”

“Not quite. Tall, and curly hair—very curly hair.”

“That’s satisfactory, Rose,” remarked Jack.

“I had not done. Oh, what I thought strange was the man’s manner. Now
and then he spoke as if he was talking to an equal, and really he has a
voice quite full of pleasant tones. The next minute he talked like
Thunder Tom, or worse.”

“I must ask Carington about him. By the way, I was right as to Ellett.
He is a son of my old companion. I fancy they will be here to-day or
to-morrow. If this present Oliver is like his father, he will be solid,
stolid,—a rock of good sense.”

“I don’t want him, Marcus Aurelius, nor the other. For a first-class B.
O. I prefer my young man of the gold dollar. But I must have it again. I
am not at all sure now that honesty is the best policy. When you see Mr.
Carington, Pardy, do ask about the man. He seemed quite above his class.
Ned, I cannot wait for you to finish your interminable meal.”

“I think he just chews for exercise,” said Dick. “Might arrange, if the
meat was tough enough, to keep his appetite up all the time. Wouldn’t
that be fine, Ned?”

“I don’t think any of my boys require artificial aid,” said Mrs.
Lyndsay. “Dugald Dalgetty was a trifler to you.”

“I haven’t got to the fish yet, and it’s my own salmon,” said the boy,
helping himself.

“We want to have Rose to-day,” said Dick, between mouthfuls. “I want her
to go up to the brook. There’s a marsh there, and Drosera—oh, lots! It’s
far north for it, too.”

“What is Drosera, Dicky?”

“Fly-trap; and there are some purple orchids.”

“For this once I will compromise,” said Anne. “I want to see Archie kill
a salmon. If you will assure me of Rose to-morrow afternoon, you may
have her to-day.”

“And I am to take care of myself,” said her brother. “I never hear of
compromises without thinking of Dr. North’s illustration. I must have
told you, Margaret.”

“If you ever did, I have forgotten.”

Stories were pretty often retold in this household, and it was the way
to consider them as guests to be made welcome, no matter how often they
came.

Lyndsay smiled. “Two Germans, who were North’s patients, built houses
together and adjoining. Then each of them bought paint enough to paint
both houses; one chose green and one a fine brick-red. This ended in a
quarrel. Dr. North advised them to consult their priest, and this they
did. He said, ‘Shust you make a gompromise, and migs de baints.’ So this
was done, and neither got what he wanted. This is of the essence of all
compromise.”

“But I shall get what I want,” said Anne.

“And we, too!” cried the boys. “We will take Rose and lunch and Big Tom,
and Pierre and you can have the Indian, father.”

“And his lame bowman, if he be well enough,” added Lyndsay. “Thanks.”

“And I shall take my rifle,” said Dick.

“No, unless you go alone,” said Lyndsay.

“All right; we’ll fish for trout, Rose,” cried Jack. “Red Head can hunt
beasts in the swamp, and Ned shall sit on a stump and make poetry.”

“Be sure not to be late again, Rose. I was a good deal troubled last
night.”

“Yes, Pardy; but my watch has stopped. It got wet through, last night,
poor thing! I fear it is utterly ruined. It was not worth much.”

“Never mind, dear,” said Anne. “I will give you one when we get home.”
To give was Anne’s great joy.

“For a drowned watch intemperance is the cure,” said Lyndsay: “total
immersion in alcohol or whisky is the sole remedy. I never carry one
here; it reminds me too much of the minor oppressions of civilization.”

“And, after all,” said Anne, “punctuality is a quite modern virtue.”

“Yes. I think a Quaker in the reign of Anne has the terrible
responsibility of the invention of the minute hand. In another century
we shall say, ‘You are late six seconds; is this the way you keep
engagements?’”

“It makes one shiver to think of it; and, by the way, Jack, I promised
you a watch at Christmas. Be sure to remind me.”

“I’d rather have something else, Aunt Anne.”

“Why, Jack?”

“Oh, I know lots of fellows carry watches. They have an awful time.”

“The watches?”

“No; those boys. If you have a watch, you have to wind it up, and the
fellows ask what time it is; and if you play, it gets smashed; and if
you have a fight, you have to get another fellow to hold it, and he
forgets—”

“Gracious! The simplicity of the mind of youth! You would prefer—a new
bat?”

“Yes, indeed, and a good foot-ball.”

“I am a female Kriss Kringle,—presents to order.”

“Thank you, Aunt Anne. And I say, Rosy Posy, get lunch ready. Oh, quit
eating and come along, Dick!”

Upon this Dick secured a biscuit and followed him, while Anne and the
rest went out onto the porch.

“I trust, Margaret, those young men will not regale you and me with
their society at lunch. What a wholesome thing it would be to have a
man-smudge! I get no time to read. But you said Dorothy would be over to
lunch. That is better. What fun it would be if the stolid, solid Boston
man should turn up. I could enjoy the combination, I think.” Then she
walked to the cliff-edge, smiling, for there was a battle imminent
between the boys.

“I mean to paddle,” said Jack.

“No, I’ll pole.”

“Not with me in the canoe,” said Rose.

“I’m to paddle,” cried Dick.

“May I sit by you?” said Ned.

“You sha’n’t, if I can’t pole,” cried Dick. “You always want Rose.”

“You’re hard to please, boys.”

“I’m not; I’m soft to please,” said Ned.

“Get in!” And so, with some coaxing from Rose, the peacemaker, they got
away.

“And I should like a boy-smudge, Anne,” said Lyndsay, who had quietly
watched the proceedings on the shore.

“They are delightful.”

“You have no responsibility for them, my dear sister. You know what
Marcus Aurelius says: ‘Irresponsibility arises from an unphilosophical
indifference to—to—’”

“Consequences,” cried Anne, laughing. “You worry too much over the boys,
Archie. I mean it. You take them too seriously. Permit me to say you are
too consequentitious.”

“What a word! Did you make it? I can’t help worrying. I am always
thinking of what their future will be. One should give some thought to
the morrow, and other people’s morrows are the real difficulty.”

“See Marcus Aurelius, chapter third,” said Anne, maliciously.
“‘To-morrow is only a stranger; when he is to-day consider how thou
shalt entertain him.’”

“That is not my way, Anne.” And he left her, saying, “Jack is the one I
fear for most.”

“I least,” said Anne to herself. “I shall not be here to see, whatever,
as Tom says.” Then she sat down to her book about the Council of Trent,
and by and by varied it with a little tough work on Cædmon’s Anglo-Saxon
riddles, smiling as she read,—a good, half-dozen kind of smiles, of
which she alone had the secret.

By and by came Margaret Lyndsay and sat down, her knitting-needles
clicking, until Anne’s unlucky nervousness, kept in hand with
difficulty, was viciously alive. At last Mrs. Lyndsay laid aside her
work with a certain deliberation, for those who knew her best a signal
of serious moment. She said, “You won’t mind, dear, if I say something I
have had on my mind?”

“I? Oh, no! What is it?”

“I sometimes think, dear, that the endless trivialities into which you
and Archibald lead those boys are not, dear, a good thing. I have spoken
to Archibald about it, and he quite agrees with me. I sometimes think
Archibald agrees with me too easily. I would rather he argued the
matter; but he is so apt to say, ‘Certainly, Margaret!’ and then to go
and smoke. I do wish you would consider it seriously. And you are so
capable of wiser and more instructive talk. You won’t mind what I say,
dear?”

“My dear Margaret,” replied Anne, with some irritation, “shall we
converse about the Council of Trent? Also the enigmas of Cædmon are
instructive; the manners and customs of the Angles are stated there in a
manner to combine interest with amusement, instruction with perplexity.”

“Why do you answer me in that way? You always do. Anne, you are too bad!
You know well enough what I mean.”

“Yes, I know,” she said, a little wearily. “I think you are hardly just.
You see only one side of things. At all events, the whole logic of the
situation is this: When you have a headache, you go to bed and dose
yourself, and put stuff on your temples; when I am in pain from head to
foot,—I was at breakfast,—I go merry mad and say things. You will have
to stand it, unless I go away.”

“Oh, Anne! How can you hurt me so? Go away?”

“I spoke hastily: I don’t mean that. But sometimes, Margaret, you so
completely fail to comprehend me that I feel I had better be away. You
can never change me.”

“But you—you could change yourself.”

“Could I, indeed? And trust me, Margaret, I shall go on as gay, as
inconsequent, as merry; but if I can teach, if anything in my life
teaches these boys to laugh when they might cry, I shall not have lived
in vain. I am sure we are all grave enough at times. When I go wild, and
say absurd things, pity me. A jest is my smelling-salts; a joke is my
medicine. Believe me—oh, it is true: the custom of laughter is good.”

“But this constant amusement at everything—yes, everything!”

“There is quite enough that is serious, even now, in these young lives.
The laugh of a fool is as the crackling of thorns, and heats no water in
the pot; but the grin of the wise boils the kettle of wisdom. There!”

The illustration was unhappy.

“I think, dear, you might put Scripture to wiser use than to twist it
into a defense of this perpetual levity. It seems strange to me that you
cannot see these things as I see them.”

“Better to give me up as a hopeless case. I shall laugh till I die, and
if afterward the supply gives out I shall feel glad that I neglected no
reasonable chance on earth.”

“There is a time for all things, Anne, and sometimes—”

“Yes, I know. Only we differ as to the times. I think, now, I must go in
and rest a little.”

This was the usual end of their discussions. Anne was mentally victor,
but physically defeated. “Yes, I am sure that will be best.” Upon this
Anne went away with a smile that was not quite pleasant. In her room she
stood a moment and then said, “D. A. M! I think that is good French. The
Lord deliver us from the gentle!” and so fell in a heap on the bed, with
set teeth and very white.



                              CHAPTER XIII


Meanwhile the overladen canoe went away up the river. “And now, boys,”
said Rose, “this is my day, and there must be no quarrels. We are pretty
well packed in one canoe, and I will have only sunshine and good temper.
And do sit still. Remember what the wise man said:

                 Three Irishmen of Timbuctoo,
                 They went to sea in a birch canoe.
                 They kicked up such a hullabaloo
                 That they never got back to Timbuctoo.

Remember that, boys.”

“Oh!” said Ned. “I know a better one—

                   There was a young man of Siam,
                   As occasionally murmured a damn!
                       Monotonous virtue
                       Is certain to hurt you;
                   So he swallowed a taciturn clam.”

“What nonsense!” cried Rose.

“That’s good about monotonous virtue,” said Jack. “A whole day and no
row!”

“Not one,” said Rose.

“Why, Rose, if a fellow don’t fight somebody, what’s to become of him?”

“I guess we aren’t any less brave than the Romans,” remarked Ned,
sententiously. “If you gemini had a hornets’ nest to fight every day,
you would let me alone. I hate to fight.”

“Oh! There’s a nice fat fib.”

“I do. I had to eat dinner standing up for two days after that
scrimmage.”

“Yes, little peaceful man!” said Jack. “Tell us a story, Rose. It’s an
hour to the brook.”

“Very well. Once on a time there was a princess. She was terribly rich,
and as pretty—”

“As you,” said Ned.

“No interruptions, sir! She was very beautiful, and very, very hard to
satisfy. A great many lovers came to ask her to marry them. None of them
pleased her, but so many came that to save trouble she wrote a big ‘No!’
on her visiting cards, and gave every man one as he came in, and this
saved a great deal of trouble. When there were no more lovers left in
the world but only three, she began to be afraid she would never get
married at all. So she tore up her cards, and was polite to these three.
Their names were Hurdy-Gurdy and Trombone and Mandolin. At length her
father said she must make up her mind. At first she thought she would
draw lots, but by and by she resolved to marry the most courageous of
the three.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Jack, “I like that.”

“One day they were all four walking by the river, and, as if by
accident, she fell in. ‘Oh, dear!’ she cried, ‘I shall drown.’ Then
Hurdy-Gurdy sat down and began to whittle a shingle; but Trombone jumped
in, and, as she flopped about a great deal, he was like to drown
himself. Then in jumped Mandolin, and pulled them both out by the hair.

“Then all three spread themselves in the sun, to dry. And the princess
said, ‘Now, which _is_ the most courageous?’

“Trombone cried, ‘I! Because I dashed in to save you, without
hesitation.’

“‘But,’ said Mandolin, ‘you did not save her. I pulled you both out.’

“‘I was first,’ said Trombone.

“‘Certainly!’ said the princess, which her name was Henrietta, and she
was so called because she was fond of algebra, and preferred even an
improper fraction to the most virtuous of men. Said she, ‘What good was
your courage, if it only served to drown us both? You are neither of you
as brave as me.’”

“Oh!” cried Ned.

“They always speak bad grammar in fairy-land, because it is romantic,
and because then the young princesses can be sure that the princes are
thinking more of them than of the mere choice of words.”

“Guess Jack would have a fine chance!” said Ned.

“Don’t interrupt me. Where was I? Oh!

“‘You are neither of you as brave as me, because I have to marry one of
you, and that is an act of courage of which a man is incapable. Also, I
can’t swim, but I fell in so as to see which of you is the bravest. I
fell in! Trombone jumped in! Mandolin leaped in!’

“‘But I saved you!’ said Mandolin.

“‘A mere question of brute skill,’ urged Trombone. ‘It is braver to jump
in when you can’t swim than when you can.’

“‘It is very puzzling,’ cried Henrietta. ‘The personal equation—’”

“I know what that is,” cried Ned.

“Shut up, old wisdom! Go ahead, Rosy Posy.”

“‘It is a question in the rule of three. As Trombone is to Mandolin, so
is me to the answer.’

“‘That leaves me out,’ said Hurdy-Gurdy.

“‘You stayed out!’ cried Mandolin, with scorn.

“‘I don’t see my way,’ said the princess. ‘Let Mandolin be B, and
Hurdy-Gurdy C, and I am—’

“‘B, C puts them both out of the question,’ said Trombone. ‘They are
dead.’”

“Sancho Panza!” cried Ned. “What fine nonsense!”

“Do keep quiet,” said Jack.

“‘And me—I—oh, bother!’ said Henrietta. ‘It comes out even.’

“‘But,’ said Hurdy-Gurdy, ‘it is heart-rending what I suffered. I alone
had the courage not to jump in. I had the courage of my opinion, which
was that I should be drowned, and so break your heart. I really
couldn’t. There are three hundred and twenty-one kinds of courage.’

“‘Gracious! How numerically interesting!’ said Henrietta. ‘Dry
yourselves, and I will reflect.’

“So she left the three seated on the bank, in the sun, and went away.
But once a year she sent her maid to see if they were dry, and to say
she was working it out. The second year Hurdy-Gurdy went away, because
he was a person who had a good deal of decision of character.

“There!” cried Rose, laughing. “It’s a little too old for you.”

“Well, of all the stuff!” said Dick.

“I call it bully,” said Jack.

“And whom did she marry?” cried Ned. “Never any one?”

“Never! Like Rose Lyndsay. I am going to live with you all my life at
home, and never, never marry.”

Upon this the twins intimated their satisfaction by pulling Ned’s back
hair. He howled loudly.

“Seems to answer the bell,” said Jack.

“Oh, stop that—it hurts!”

“Look out there!” cried the sternman. “You’ll upset the birch. There are
too many of you, anyways.”

Again Rose called them to order, and they were silent a while. In the
mean time she sat gazing up the changing waterway. This home-coming,
this abrupt transition, this privilege of abandonment to every light,
innocent folly, even to enjoying the mad fun of three clever boys, made
for her an immense change, and one which she felt to be both wholesome
and pleasant. In Europe she had come fully to understand the sacrifice
Anne had made in order to be with her, and at last to see but too
clearly that Anne Lyndsay was failing. To none was this so clear as to
the sufferer; to none less clear than to her brother. As to Margaret,
she was by nature conservative. The word hardly describes what I mean.
She had an inherent belief in the unchangeableness of things and people.
The death of Harry had been the first calamity in a prosperous life. She
had so long seen Anne Lyndsay to her mind full of levity that she found
it impossible to accept the idea that for this woman, who lowered her
crest to no adverse hour, the time could not be very far away when she
would cease to smile at pain.

Miss Anne, of her own will, cut short by three months their intended
length of stay abroad. She had seen how heavy was the burden of
responsibility which this fatal descent placed upon Rose. In fact, to be
alone with a woman like Anne was good only if the younger person had
intervals of other companionship. Anne made a too strong call upon the
apprehending intellect to be as a constancy good for a growing girl, and
her matchless cynicism in talk, which found no representation in her
acts, was tempting as an example and easily capable of misapprehension.

This long stay with Anne had been for Rose a severe test of character
and even of physical power. Without altogether realizing the true cause
of her rebound into unusual joyousness, she distinctly felt the relief
of her new surroundings.

“There is the brook, Rose,” said Ned. “We’ll fish, and build a big fire,
and cook our own fish.”

They were now above the clearings, and on the far side of the river.

“What canoe is that up the stream, near the far shore?” she asked.

“It’s Mr. Carington’s. He’s took a bit of water ’bove Mr. Lyndsay’s
upper pool. It ain’t much good.”

“You are sure it is Mr. Carington?”

“I don’t rightly know. It’s too far.”

After this they went ashore on a broad beach, through which a quick run
of brown water from the swamps inland found its way out to the main
river.

Rose took a book and sat down, while the boys cast for trout at the
mouth of the brook. After a while the twins tired of this and set to
work to build a fire on the higher rise of the shore, while Tom cleaned
the fish they had captured. By and by came Ned and sat down with his
sister. Now and then he called her attention to a salmon, or, at
intervals, asked Rose questions not always easy of answer. At last he
said, “There is a spring back in the woods,—comes out of the hollow of a
big, old balm of Gilead. I found it.”

“Oh, we must go and see it after lunch. I know few things I like better
than a spring,—and out of a tree.”

“Yes; mustn’t it be comfortable for the old tree?”

“Rather,” she said, and fell silent.

It was now quiet and warm—no leaf astir—a noonday dreaminess on wood and
water. “That canoe’s dropping down,” Ned said. “Is it Mr. Ellett or Mr.
Carington, Rose? He doesn’t get any fish.”

“I don’t know. I was half asleep. How nice to be where all the noises
are sounds one likes!”

“Do you hear the rapids, Rose? I thought yesterday they were exactly
like children laughing—I mean their noise.”

“I said that very thing to Pardy, the night we came up.”

“I guess when the Indians called a fall ‘The Laughing Water’ they might
have meant that.”

“Perhaps,—or only that, in a way, it did sound cheerful.”

“I don’t think the sea always makes pleasant noises, Rosy.”

“No,” said Rose, abstractedly. She was watching the canoe, as in
successive drops it came toward them around the curve.

“What set that great boulder on this beach, I wonder!” said Ned. “Rufus
he says, it’s what he calls conglomerate, and that there is none near
by.”

“The ice, I suppose,” said Rose. “Ask papa.”

The rock was some eight feet high, rounded and smooth, except toward the
waterside, where it was broken and splintered.

“Where are the men? That fire is too large.”

“They are in the wood after birch bark. I’ll see to the fire.”

“By Jove!” he cried, and bounded to his feet. “Look sharp, Rose!” And,
giving her a hand, he helped her to rise. She looked about in dismay,
for this thing had happened: Jack had suddenly spied a small bear cub,
an awkward, black little bruin, sprawling over the round stones at one
end of the beach, between him and the water. It was not much bigger than
a well-grown kitten. He had it by one hind leg in an instant, and was
roaring with the fun of his capture, the capture grunting dolorously. As
Ned spoke, Jack saw the troubled mother-bear come out of the wood, and,
a moment in doubt, hesitate among the bushes. Ned dragged his sister
toward the water, as the bear, fiercely growling, began to move toward
them. As for Jack, he was away around the boulder, and in an instant
upon top, the young bear giving him a smart nip, as he stood on the
summit, flushed, resolute, and laughing.

“Fling it down!” cried Ned, with good sense. But Jack was otherwise
minded, hardly taking in the peril for Rose and Ned. Dick had dashed
into the wood, calling wildly to the men.

“Let it go!” cried Rose. Then there was a loud cry from the river:

“Drop it, you fool!”

“Not I!” cried Jack. “Run, Rose; he’ll go for me. Run! run!”

As he spoke, the savage bruin reared herself up in a vain effort to
climb the smooth stone. Jack, on the boulder, laughed, as he balanced
himself with difficulty, owing to the struggles of the cub. Seeing that
to climb was impossible, the bear proceeded to make a flank movement,
which would have enabled her to follow Jack up the back of the rock. The
boy was in no way alarmed. But now he saw that Rose was in the path of
the bear, and that Ned, white as death, was standing between Rose and
the enraged mother, a canoe-pole in one hand, and the other motioning
back at Rose, as he called to her to “Run! run!”

Just as Jack, appalled at these unlooked-for consequences, was about to
part with his precious captive, a voice rang out again from the river:
“Run! run! Quick!”

Ned cast a glance behind him, and, catching Rose’s hand, pulled at her
so violently, as he threw the pole aside, that she lost her balance and
fell, striking heavily on a corner of rock. Ned cast himself down beside
her. Instantly a rifle rang out from the river behind them. As they lay,
he heard the shrill “ping” of a rifle-ball above him, and the bear
rolled dead on her side, clean shot through the head.

Jack leaped from the boulder, still holding on to the cub, and made
toward Rose, as the men and Dick came out in haste from the wood onto
the beach. Carington sprang into the water before his canoe touched the
land, crying to Jack:

“Back there, you infernal young idiot!” With his rifle ready, he pushed
the boy aside and advanced cautiously but swiftly, until he saw that the
beast was dead. Next he turned to Rose, who lay motionless on the beach.
As the group of faces, still wild with scare or excitement, gathered
around him, he knelt, lifted the girl, and, seeing a thin thread of
blood leaping in little jets from her temple, he set her head against
his knee and put a finger on the wound, saying:

“Get me water. It is not so bad. Good Lord! It might have been worse!”

“Is she dead?” said Ned.

“Dead? No, my boy—not she.”

He wet his handkerchief and washed the blood off her face, still keeping
a finger above the cut on the artery, as he gave directions to Tom to
make a pad from Ned’s handkerchief. With this and his own tied tightly
around her head, he was able easily to check the bleeding. Meanwhile the
rest stood still, recognizing the competence of the improvised surgeon.

“That will do,” he said, looking at her as he knelt, and letting her
head rest on a cushion from the canoe. “I think she has only fainted.”

“Oh!” cried Jack, “I was afraid— Be still, you beast!” to the writhing
cub. Carington gave him a look, and again considered the fair, young
face beneath his gaze, the blood on neck and dress, and the red splashes
on his own attire.

“That is better,” he exclaimed, for Rose opened her eyes, looked about,
confused for a moment; then rallied her faculties, and said, feebly:

“What is it? Where am I? What has happened?”

“It is all right. You fell down.”

“Oh, Fairfield! Is that you? Where is Ned?”

“I’m here.”

“And Jack?”

“Oh, I’m all right! And the bear’s dead.”

“The bear? Yes, I know now. Dead?”

“Mr. Carington shot him,” said Ned.

“Mr. Carington? Where is he?” cried Rose, sitting up, and still a little
dazed.

“Keep quiet, boys,” said the young man. “Back a little. Take that cub
away, sir. Can you stand, Miss Lyndsay? Here, take a little brandy from
my flask. The explanations can wait. Why, you are quite strong. Now,
then. Don’t look at the bear; come.” And he supported her to the canoe,
talking as he went, to keep her from questioning.

“Now, then,”—turning to Jack,—“you must wait here, sir. You can go in
Tom’s boat with Miss Lyndsay”—this to Ned. “I will go ahead and explain
at the camp. Don’t let Miss Lyndsay talk.”

“But, Fairfield,” said Rose, “I must—”

“You are better, I think. There, that will do,” as she was laid in the
canoe. “If you talk, you will start the bleeding. Not a word now.”

This was a somewhat masterful person, and Rose, as she lay back against
the cushions, was satisfied to shut her eyes and obey, weak, and still
tingling with past excitement.

“You shall know everything by and by, Miss Lyndsay.”

“Thanks!” she murmured, and her canoe put off.

“I will overtake you,” he said, and then walked back and took a look at
the bear, which Jack, now reassured, was attentively regarding.

“A first-rate shot that was!” said the boy.

Carington made no reply. Then, glancing at the bear: “Poor old mother!”
he said. “A sucking bear! I am sorry I had to kill you.”

“You’ll send for me soon?” said Jack.

Carington again failed to reply.

“Isn’t there room in your boat?”

“Not for you.” He was very angry. Jack sat down with his troublesome
captive, feeling that he had been sharply snubbed; and the canoe fled
away in the track of Rose’s boat. As he passed her, Carington cried out:

“Are you all right?”

“Yes, thank you!”

“Well, don’t talk.” And his birch went by at speed, he himself taking a
third paddle to gain time.

“By George! My little comedy came near to a tragic ending. How Ellett
will rate me! What a mess!” And he considered a moment his bloody
knickerbockers and stained stockings.

“Your face is all over blood,” said Michelle. “Best wash, sir. Might
scare ’em worse than a bear.”

“That is so.” Ceasing to paddle, he took the boat sponge, and made a
hasty toilet.

“Am I clean, Michelle?”

“Well—pretty fair, sir. You are right well painted. It was awful lucky
you took a mind to try for a shot at that other seal.”

“Yes. Shove her along!” He took the paddle again, and fell to thinking,
until they came to the beach. There was no one in sight. He ran up the
steps, noticing that there was one canoe on the shore. Then he paused,
and, returning, called Tom.

“Go up and tell Mr. Lyndsay I want to see him.”

Presently Mr. Lyndsay came down the steps.

“Mr. Carington!” And he stayed a moment, surprised at the appearance of
the blood-stained man. “What is it?” he said. “Anything wrong?”

“Miss Lyndsay has had a slight accident. She is all right now. I came on
ahead to tell you. It is really—really not serious. They were scared by
a bear on the beach. I was lucky enough to kill it, but, in trying to
escape, your daughter fell and struck her head, and—oh, it bled a bit.
Oh, here is the canoe.”

Rose, freshened by the air and motion, got up, laughing, and ran to her
father.

“Rose, my dear! Rose!” he cried.

“Where is mother? Does she know? It isn’t anything, Pardy.” Then she
looked at his companion, who presented a sufficiently soiled and untidy
appearance to still perplex her.

“Fairfield,” she exclaimed, “where is—”

“I am Mr. Carington,” he returned, smiling, and a little embarrassed.
Lyndsay looked on bewildered.

“But—”

“Never mind, Miss Lyndsay. I owe you an apology for playing bowman for a
half-day.”

“Indeed!” cried Rose, flushing, and, turning away, went up the steps.
She hesitated half-way, remembering the bear, and then went on and
entered the house.

“One moment, Mr. Carington!” exclaimed her father. “Wait for me.” And he
hurried after her. In a few minutes the scared mother was made to
understand the matter, and, reassured, busied herself in seeing Rose
safely to bed.



                              CHAPTER XIV


Archibald Lyndsay went down to the beach again, where Carington, not
very happy, sat waiting on the stern of his canoe. He rose as his host
came near.

“This way,” said Lyndsay. “And now”—as they walked to and fro on the
upper shingles—“may I ask you to let me understand it all?”

Carington quietly related the scene on the shore, omitting nothing. When
he had ended, Lyndsay said:

“I have probably to thank you for a life which is very dear to me. I
have no words in which to say what I feel. We are very deep in your
debt.”

“Oh, any one would—”

“No—I understand. You are a little like myself, I fancy. To have too
much obliged another has its embarrassments. I won’t ask you now to let
my wife say her own thankfulness; but come and breakfast to-morrow, and
bring Mr. Ellett.”

“With pleasure.”

“By the way—and you will pardon me—what was all that about Fairfield and
a bowman?”

“Simply, Mr. Lyndsay, that I am still, in my holiday \.pn +1 times, a
bit of a foolish boy, and when Polycarp came up for a man and could get
none, I supposed it was for you, and just as a frolic induced him to let
me play bowman. I had, of course, not the remotest idea that it was for
Miss Lyndsay. May I ask you to accept for her my most humble apologies?”

“I see,” said Lyndsay, laughing. “It has its amusing side.”

“Yes, but— Well, it ceased to be amusing when I realized the annoyance
it might bring to Miss Lyndsay.”

“I dare say you will be able to make your peace,” said his host, as
Carington took his hand. At the boat, to which he walked with the elder
man, he paused:

“May I say a word to that boy of yours?”

“To Ned? Yes, certainly.” He called, “Ned! Halloa! Come here!” for the
lad had gone up to the cabin with Rose.

“Coming,” cried Ned, from the porch, where, with Anne, he was trying to
make a good case for Jack.

Meanwhile, as Lyndsay was ordering a boat up to Jack, Ned came down to
the strand.

“Mr. Carington wished to see you,” said Lyndsay. “Good-by, and breakfast
at half-past eight to-morrow”; and so, with ready tact, he went up the
cliff, leaving Ned with Carington.

“I wanted to see you a moment, Ned, while the matter is fresh. I want to
say that I saw the whole affair on the shore. I was but thirty yards
away. Perhaps you won’t think it a liberty, my lad, if I say you behaved
admirably, and kept your wits, too. You showed both good sense and
courage.” He spoke as if he were addressing an equal.

Ned flushed with pleasure. “Oh, thank you!”

“That’s all. I think you and I shall be friends after this. You must
come up and see me; we might kill a salmon. Good-by.” And he pushed off.

Ned stood a moment, in his thoughtful way, and then went back up the
steps to Miss Anne, who was now at ease as to Rose, and well pleased
with her dearest nephew.

“What was it?” she inquired.

“Oh, not much—nothing.”

“I think I know.”

“No!”

“Yes; he wanted to say you had behaved well.”

“Oh, bother, Aunt Anne! What’s the use of your asking, if you know? You
always do know.”

Then Ned went away, and Archibald Lyndsay came out and strode uneasily
up and down the porch.

“Archie,” said Anne. “Brother.”

“Well, what is it?”

“Are you troubled?”

“Yes, of course. How should I be other than troubled?”

“But why?”

“Why? Jack has behaved like a selfish, thoughtless—”

“No; he is not at bottom selfish. Thoughtless—yes; and he has the vices
of his virtues. He is so bold, and so resolute in action—so enjoys the
peril he creates. Can’t you see what such a character wants? You may
rest assured, my dear Archie, that he is quite enough punished.”

“He is incidentally punished.”

“But—”

“I don’t want to hear any more, Anne. He has behaved like a blackguard.”

“No.”

“Confound the women!” he said, and walked away; but in an hour was at
the shore to meet Jack, who landed a little dismayed, his grunting cub
still expostulating in the only language known to juvenile bears.

“Well, sir! I have heard this agreeable story!”

“But, father—”

“I should think you might be fatigued!”

Now, a good kicking would have been preferred by any of these boys to
the father’s sarcasm.

“Go up to the house, undress, and go to bed. I don’t want to see you for
a day. No words, sir, or I shall lose my temper. Off with you—you are
not fit to associate with gentlemen.”

Without a word more, Jack went up the steps and did as he was told; in
consequence of which Margaret wept a little, and Anne, who thought on
the whole that Jack had gotten off better than she expected, betook
herself to her books, with a full determination to have it out with the
boy in her own way, and at a later date.

It was well into the afternoon when Carington reached his camp, and
found Ellett still away on the river.

“I shall catch it!” said Fred, with a grin at the prospect. He made use
of the interval to change his clothes and get rid of the stained
garments, after which he ordered a smudge, pulled open the tent-flaps,
and cast himself on the camp mattress, for the first time realizing that
he was tired, or, at least, had that sense of languor which follows upon
intense excitement. The tent-fly was up—the triangular space thus open
to view framed prettily the beach, the men and canoes, the river, and
the hills beyond. The smoke of the cedar-smudge at times dimmed the
picture. At last, being absolutely comfortable, the cushions just right,
the midge and black fly routed, he carefully filled and lit his pipe,
reflecting, as he did so, on the varied value of tobacco, which he had
never misused. Next he sought in one pocket after another, until he came
upon a worn note-book. Among its scraps of verse and memoranda he found
the well-known apostrophe of El Din Attar to the pipe. He read it with a
smile.

“‘O wife of the soul, thou art wiser than any who bide in the harem. A
maker of peace thou art and a builder of prudence between temptation and
the hour of decision. Can anger abide with the pipe, or a gnat in the
smoke of the tent-fire? Lo, wine is but wine for the simple, and a pipe
but a pipe for the foolish; and what is a song to the dumb, or a rose to
the eye that is blind? A bud of the rose findeth June on the breast of
the dark-eyed; a song must be sung by the heart of the hearer. And thus
are the pipe and the smoker. Also of it the king hath no more joy than
the beggar, saith El Din Attar.’” “A pipe is a pipe, and a rose is a
rose, be it prim or not,” said the happy young fellow, laughing. “There
is no new wisdom. To think what Wordsworth would have said to that? If
Hamlet could have played upon this pipe, would he have been nicer to
Ophelia?” His own meerschaum had been a friendly counselor at times.
“Gracious!” he laughed outright—a good sign of a man that he can
soliloquize laughter—“if I should fall in love, and the woman hate
tobacco!” He let his fancy wander, and began to reflect, lazily, and yet
with some curiosity, on the person he had saved from a serious, if not
fatal, calamity. “I got out of that comedy pretty well,” he said to
himself. “But, by George! it is rather more awkward to put a person—a
woman—under such an obligation as this. How I should hate it! I wonder,
does she? I suppose she won’t be at breakfast. That, at least, is a
comfort.” Then he reflected that, with people such as these, he would
not be too absurdly overwhelmed with gratitude. At last he turned to a
book, fully satisfied that, on the whole, he had the best of it, and
that there was no need to growl at Fate.

In a minute or two he exclaimed, “In-door poetry, that”; and dropped the
volume of too dainty verse. The substance beneath was not worth the
polish on top. He was not in a book mood, or disposed to anchor. The
hours slipped by without freight of urgent question or answer. He was in
a dreamy state, and, liking the hazy indistinctness of its demands,
invented for his use, with a smile of approval, the word, “Vaguearies.”

Smiling, he made note of this verbal find, as Ellett came up the beach.

“What pleases you, Fred? And what is all this row the men are talking
about?”

“One at a time. I was hoping that the woman I shall love will take
generously to my pipe.”

“She will be a fool if she don’t. I always advise the women never to
marry a man who doesn’t smoke. You see, if they fall out a bit, she can
always say, ‘Well, just take a cigar, Fred, and think it over.’ I am
sure the proportion of divorces must be smaller among the couples that
include a smoker. Good notion, that!”

“It is on the heights of wisdom!”

“Isn’t it? And you haven’t been fishing?”

“Yes; I did fish, but I got no fish. I caught a mild little adventure.”

“Michelle began to tell me—”

“Michelle be hanged! These guides are always dramatic!”

“Well, and what was it happened? Tell me.”

“Talk to you about that by and by.” He was indisposed to have too much
made of the incidents of the morning. Why, he could hardly have
explained. He did not want Miss Lyndsay discussed. Perhaps this was what
the doctors call a prodrome—of a malady known to man and maid. Love may,
like other forces in life, assume many forms before it unmasks and we
know it as love. The correlation of forces obtains in the world of the
emotions as well as in that of matter.

“How confoundedly queer you are sometimes, Fred! I can wait, I suppose;
but I don’t see why.”

“Oh, because my mind is an absolute vacuum. That is a rather interesting
thought, Oliver, quite worthy of Boston! Fancy an entire mental vacuum!
Is it any more possible than a physical one? Don’t you think there may
be a zero of thought, as of cold—or of heat, I should say?”

“Nonsense!” cried Ellett.

“Want to know? Do you? Well, I was seriously thinking that when we can
get photographs in colors, it will be a delightful thing to collect
sunsets.”

“I don’t care a continental malediction for sunsets, or thought-zeroes,
either. What’s the matter with you? Michelle says you shot a bear, or a
young woman—I am not sure which. He was a little mixed about it. But why
you should—”

“I was only chaffing you, old man.” He was really, and like a child,
putting off an inevitable annoyance. He knew he must talk of it all to
his friend, and felt himself ridiculously unwilling either to make it
seem grave or to treat it as a matter for jesting comment. Not to
understand the cause of your own states of indecision is, for the
habitually decisive, most unpleasant, and yet silence may make a thing
seem important which is not.

“What happened, Oliver, was this.” And he quietly narrated the incidents
of the morning.

“I congratulate you, Fred.”

“And why?”

“Well, if you are idiot enough to ask that in sober earnest, I am not
fool enough to reply in kind. And so Miss Lyndsay knows who her bowman
was?”

“Yes.”

“Did she like it?”

“How the deuce do I know?”

“But I should think you could tell. I hope that girl lost her temper.
Girls who can’t lose their tempers can’t lose their hearts. That’s
pretty good, Fred!”

“Nonsense! Who wants her to lose her heart? You can judge for yourself,
if you are curious—we are to breakfast with them to-morrow. Get any
fish?”

“One—only ten pounds. The new run is up, Pierre says. Saw plenty of
small fish leaping. But about these Lyndsays?”

“Let’s have supper. Hang the Lyndsays!”

“Both, with all my heart; and I will also suspend my opinions, if it
suits you better. Wasn’t bad, that!” And then, as Fred walked away to
stir up the cook, Ellett muttered, “What the mischief’s gone wrong with
the man?” And so, being a kindly fellow and considerate, as far as he
knew how to evolve in action this form of social wisdom, he dropped the
subject for the evening, and, as Miss Anne used to say, “left time to
pull the chestnuts out of the fire, when they were cool enough to be
useful as diet.”



                               CHAPTER XV


Carington had slept off his brief ill-humor, and the friends were in a
happier mood as they flitted downstream next day to breakfast with the
Lyndsays.

At the Cliff Camp things were not so entirely joyful. Mrs. Lyndsay,
after a talk about the simple bill of fare with the black cook they had
brought with them, paid a furtive visit to Jack, who was condemned to
such tranquillity as was possible, even in bed, for a human machine as
restless. She administered a tender scolding, and left him with a book
or two. Next she softly opened Rose’s door, and, finding her comfortable
and smiling, said, “No, dear, you are to keep still to-day,” and left
her to reflect that, on the whole, she was as well satisfied not to meet
the “two single gentlemen rolled into one” before the entire family.
However clearly the matter had been explained, there remained, and she
colored as she thought of it, the remembrance of certain things she had
said to her bowman. Nor was it quite pleasing to imagine herself
discussed by these two strangers over their evening meal. The scene in
the boat—“She would like to have him always as her bowman!” The scene on
the beach! And then the obligation! The debt to an unknown man! In what
currency should such debts be paid? She smiled, as she quoted to
herself:

                                         What need
               Good turns be counted as a servile bond
               To bind their doers to receive their meed?

Then, having no other more consoling thought on hand, she began to
recall how the novelists had dealt with these situations. A man saves
your life! What then? As far as she remembered, it always ended in the
woman giving the man what he saved—a life!—her life! She would have
liked to have certain books to see precisely what they did say, or Aunt
Anne, who was herself and generally all books beside. As she played with
these questions, a little amused or a trifle annoyed, Miss Anne knocked,
and was welcomed.

“Aunt Anne,” she cried merrily, “what would you do for a man who saves
you from a horrible mauling by a bear, or possibly from death?”

“The novelists marry them. That cancels the debt, or makes the woman in
the end regret the man’s skill and strength.”

“Aunty, that is very cheap cynicism for you, and at eight A. M.! What
will you be at dinner?”

“I repent, dear. I hate the sneer—easy and obvious. I am always penitent
over verbal wickednesses that are mere children of habit, and have no
wit to excuse them. Is the question, dear, worth considering?”

“Oh, but seriously—”

“I mean seriously. Would it not depend on the moral make of the people
concerned? Clearly, when those involved are of one world, likely to
meet,—to have continuous relations of some sort,—it must lead to close
friendship when the debt of life is merely between man and man.”

“Yes; but when a woman owes an unknown person—a man in her own class—an
obligation like this? She must feel it—really feel it, as I do.”

“My dear, you are a little absurd. Many debts remain unpaid, and should
so remain. How do you pay your debts to Shakspere? And, after all, this
is a small affair—Mr. Carington was in no peril.”

“No, it wasn’t that. The thing involved courage and decision. Papa has
told me all of it—all. And the ball went only a couple of feet over dear
Ned and myself. Any one but a brave and positive man would have
hesitated—and, just a moment more! It is dreadful to think of it!
Dreadful!”

“Your gratitude is quite too analytical for me, dear.”

“But do you believe, aunty, with mama, that there cannot be true, simple
friendships between man and woman?”

“Man and woman? A large question.”

“Yes.”

“Certainly, I believe there can be—more likely, more easy, more possible
with us than in Europe. I know of many such, where what was in youth a
friendship, limited by conventions, became, as years went on, a larger,
deeper, more valuable relation, and yet only and always a friendship.”

“Thank you!”

“I think myself that when women—married women—grow wise, they will want
their husbands to have women friends. Margaret would say, ‘That is an
old maid’s opinion.’ Nevertheless, it is mine, and, as I have chosen
never to marry, it is valuable. The old maid is a sort of neutral, with
the wisdom of both sexes.”

“I should like to choose my husband’s female friends.”

“Should you? I have not talked it out yet, but now I must go. I want to
see how your creditor behaves. He may be a true Shylock and want—how
many pounds do you weigh, dear?”

“You are horrid, aunty! I certainly do not think you have settled my
questions.”

“How can I? or you? or he, for that matter? Time, dear, not only answers
letters, but also doubts and difficulties. As a consulting physician, I
am told, he is unsurpassed. You are, naturally, in a state of unease
to-day, and had better wait until you see what kind of a draft on the
bank of gratitude you are called on to pay, or honor, if you like the
word better. I don’t know whether, nowadays, commercial men use the
word, or the thing. You might send him a silver pitcher, the inscription
to be, ‘To my preserver, from the preserved,’ or else—”

“Go away, bad aunty!” cried Rose, laughing. Once alone, she began upon
her coffee and rolls, and wished it was next month, and thus, like
Carington, turned over her hot chestnuts to pussy-cat time. They were
too hot for her.

Miss Anne went out on the porch, and began watching, with the interest
she took in almost all earthly pursuits, Ned’s efforts to tie a
salmon-fly, while Dick, beside him, was feeding the drosera’s hairy
leaves with minute black gnats, and considering, through a lens, the
ferocious certainty with which the vegetable monster closed upon the
captives cast among its sensitive limbs. Presently Dick said to her:

“Aunt Anne, is father very angry with Jack?”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry, because—because he really didn’t have time to think—and it
wasn’t cowardly.”

“No, it wasn’t that.”

“But I ran away.” He had a vague feeling that to prove himself to have
gone amiss would be to lessen the enormity of Jack’s conduct.

“You went into the wood to call the men, and were the first back on the
beach, my Prince Rosy-locks. You are a first-rate liar; but, as you are
a Lyndsay, you are not a coward, and you had better kick yourself well
for insulting Dick Lyndsay!

                  I may not turn, I may not flee,
                    Though many be the spears;
                  I should not face with better grace
                    The army of my fears.

I do not blame Jacky as much as your father does. I understand him, I
think.”

“He feels awfully, Aunt Anne.”

“That will do no harm, Dick.” The boy turned again to the drosera and
his lens.

Anne was herself so entirely brave that not even the prospect of the
coming of added pain had ever been able to make her timid. All forms of
courage were to her intelligibly beautiful, knowing as she did that if
its mere instinctive form be meaningless, it is, in its higher
developments, the knightly defense of all the virtues. She pulled Dick’s
ear, playfully, and said, finally:

“Jack will be out at noon. The less you say about it, the better.”

“I guess so,” remarked Dick.

“Ah, here comes Mr. Carington. Now, boys, behave yourselves at
breakfast. No nonsense, mind! This is to be a very pretty-behaved
family; we will make up for it at lunch.”

The two gentlemen were in turn presented. There were the ordinary
greetings, and no word of allusion to the day before, except that Mrs.
Lyndsay, in a quiet aside, said to Carington:

“I shall not be quite comfortable until I say how much I thank you—for
all of us—all.”

“That is more than enough,” he returned. “How is Miss Lyndsay?”

“Wonderfully well!” And presently they went in to breakfast.

“Here by me, please, Mr. Carington. Anne, sit next to Mr. Carington.
This seat, Mr. Ellett—on the left.”

The boys, a little subdued, contented themselves with quiet inspection
of the new guests, and the talk slipped readily, in skilful hands, from
the subjects of fish and the weather, and flies and rods, to other less
trivial matters. Anne was unusually silent. She was studying the
unconscious Carington, who soon noted the absence of Jack, and as
quickly understood its meaning.

“Yes,” said Lyndsay, “these Gaspé men are most interesting. They are
clever, competent, and inherently kindly, really good fellows; but their
trouble is, and it does not trouble them, that they have no persistent
energy. I confess that, being myself, at least while here, without
energy, I like its absence.”

“Isn’t it a vast relief, after the endless restlessness of our people,”
said Anne, “to fall among folks who are contented, and home-loving, and
so uncomplicated?”

“I certainly think so,” said Carington. “And what a surprise it is to
meet the stray descendants of loyalists hereabouts and on the 'St.
John’s’—I ought to say the ‘Aroostook,’ there are so many ‘St. John’s.’
Some of the best of the Canadians are descendants of those people; but,
for the most part, those who settled in certain quarters of Lower Canada
are down again to the level of mere laborers or fishermen.”

“And no better off,” said Ellett. “I mean no more energetic than—well,
than I am. I hate the very word energy. I quite share your opinions,
Miss Lyndsay. There is a nice little conundrum about that word—sounds
better in French. But, pardon me, I never repeat conundrums, or make
puns.”

“I am so sorry. Are you past persuasion?”

“Entirely.”

“Even as a personal confidence?”

“That is another matter. It will keep. I think, Mr. Lyndsay, you were
about to say—”

“I forget. But no matter. One may talk about, and about things, at
breakfast especially. It is pleasant to feel that you may kick—that any
one concerned may kick—the foot-ball of talk without reference to a
goal.”

“I don’t think my friend Carington would agree to that,” said Ellett.
“He likes talk to be well feathered, and go straight home—”

“And I like it,” cried Anne, “to be well feathered, and go zigzag home,
or not, like a bird.”

“And, for my part, aside from Ellett’s calumnious nonsense,” laughed
Carington, “I have no social creed as to good talk. If it bears sharp
analysis, it is probably poor talk.”

“But,” said Anne, “there are some essentials. One must reverse the great
maxim that it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Mrs. Lyndsay regarded the maiden lady with a look of reprobation, in
which were trial, judgment, and execution. She reserved her verbal
attack for a better occasion, while Anne, unconscious of offense, went
on, “Wasn’t it Mr. Lowell, Archie, who said at our table, when you
questioned him as to the best talkers he had met, ‘Oh, the best are
those who meet you’? I thought that delicately put.”

“But then he added,” said Lyndsay, “when you mentioned G. M. as on the
whole the most remarkable of dinner talkers, that he had not the
essential conversational art of punctuation. That his sentences were
like those of Judge Jeffries, eternal How one spoils such a thing in the
telling! We all smiled at it a little. Our friend himself liked an
audience, and to have, at times, the royal freedom of unbroken talk.
North, a friend of ours, Mr. Carington, has a theory that breakfast
talks are the best.”

“I should think so,” said Ellett, and then began to think he had been
rather critical, and added, “I mean—well, I usually breakfast alone, and
a fellow can’t talk to himself.”

“This fellow can,” cried Anne.

“He meant,” said Lyndsay, “that breakfast talk is apt to be general and
gay; but that at dinner you have the cares of the day on your back. It
takes a little effort, or a little champagne, to get up steam.”

“But I have no cares,” said Ellett.

“Then,” cried Miss Lyndsay, “we will all dine with you, and you shall do
all the talking.”

“That would suit my sister admirably,” laughed her brother. “Did you
ever notice how silent many of these woodmen are?”

“Yes,” said Carington, “that is true. The woodland life has the same
effect upon me.”

“That’s curious,” remarked Miss Lyndsay. “Certain people blast me with
utter dumbness. It might be useful if it were kept up long enough to
form a habit. I mention that to anticipate my brother. One does
sometimes say what one doesn’t want to say—but, oh, I do think one much
more often wants dreadfully to say what one had better not say.”

“I think that is true,” said Mrs. Lyndsay, with reminiscent gravity.

“Which? or both?” said Anne, in an aside.

“By the way,” said Lyndsay, “talking of these unlucky relics of the
royalists, and, in fact, of too many on these coasts, the most energetic
of us would succumb to their environment.”

“Yes; there is that poor devil, Colkett,” said Carington, “a good
hunter, a hard worker—I am told, a first-rate lumberman—and yet always
in want.”

“To judge from my daughter’s account,” said Mrs. Lyndsay, “the wife is
his difficulty.”

By this time the boys were at ease.

“What is an ‘environment,’ Aunt Anne?” said Ned. “Is a wife an
environment?”

Ellett laughed. “Sometimes she is.”

“Environments are surroundings—a man’s surroundings.” She always
answered the boys seriously.

“But does a wife surround a man?” urged Ned, oblivious of his place as a
boy among elders in his keen pursuit of a meaning.

“I should think so!” said Carington. “Wait till your turn comes! You
will see!”

“I am quite sure Dorothy Maybrook is a fair illustration,” said Anne.
“It is a good sermon on the conduct of the matrimonial life to see that
woman what she calls ‘p’int’ poor old Hiram.”

“An interesting person,” returned Carington. “Don’t you think so?”

“It hurts a fellow to see a woman as placid as that,” remarked Ellett.
Whereupon Miss Anne adjusted her glasses, and took a look at the small,
rotund man.

“Why?” she said. “Why does it hurt you?”

He hesitated a trifle, and then replied, “Well, it sort of knocks all
the excuses out of a fellow’s life.”

“Certainly,” laughed Anne. “She doesn’t pet her moods,” and she
concluded that there was something in the ruddy gentleman, who looked so
pleased at what he had said.

“I have known her under many circumstances,” said Mrs. Lyndsay, “and I
doubt if she has any moods.”

“I rather suspect,” said Lyndsay, “that Mrs. Maybrook’s equality of
temper is partly natural, and partly a singularly intelligent acquired
capacity to make the best of her surroundings.”

“Environment,” said Ned, under his breath, and now satisfied.

“Really, Rose knows more about her than even my wife, who has known her
longer; but Rose has a curious way of getting at people, and I have
seldom seen Rose so carried away by any one.”

“I envy people the power of understanding people on short acquaintance.
I like everybody at first, and then, by and by, I have to change my
mind. Now, Carington—”

“Nonsense!” cried his friend.

“Indeed!” exclaimed Anne. She thought Mr. Ellett oddly frank.

“From all I can hear,” said Carington, “Mrs. Maybrook must be a kind of
female Marcus Aurelius.” This was quite too much for the boys, who began
to laugh; and then, as Lyndsay and his wife followed their example, Miss
Anne felt obliged to explain, in her amusing way, why this remark had so
unaccountably disturbed the nerves of the household. Lyndsay defended
himself with seriousness. As they rose to have their cigars outside, Ned
said:

“We are going up to the beach, father. Rose lost a pin there. May we
take lunch, mama? There is plenty of brass knocker from breakfast.”

“Pardon me,” said Carington, “my dear fellow; but what on earth is
‘brass knocker’?”

Lyndsay laughed. “That is a family bit of my Scotch education. The
lowland Scotchman calls the relics of a meal the ‘brass knocker,’
because once, I suppose, the poor relations, who came to get the remains
of a feast, were expected to knock, and not to ring.”

“How curious. Yes, thank you, I will smoke. Mrs. Lyndsay?”

“Oh, my women are angelic about that!”

“Indeed, if we were fallen angels,” said Anne, “we could hardly be more
used to it.” Then she said, “I hope we may see you and Mr. Ellett often.
I must go and tell Rose what a pleasant chat we have had.”

As she turned, she swayed a little, so as to touch Mr. Carington.
“Pardon me,” she said, “I am not over-strong, and it now and then makes
me awkward.” She was really in extreme pain. “Good-by.”

He stepped aside to let her pass, struck, as she moved away, with her
pallor. It was a sign of unusual liking in this woman when she permitted
herself the least allusion to her own feebleness.

Carington was in the gayest of moods as their canoe went up the river.

“He has very good cigars,” remarked Ellett.

“Admirable! And the air up here, I have noticed, keeps them in
first-rate condition. Cigars are a good deal like people, Oliver—they
are unaccountably changeable. Ever notice that?”

“Yes; but a pipe is an unchanging friend. Cigars are like women. That’s
a good idea!”

“Bother your ideas! What interesting people! It seemed to me a wholesome
atmosphere—strong and true and honest. Master Jack did not appear. I
suppose he was in disgrace.”

“Very likely.”

“That boy Ned is a quaint little fellow.”

“We only wanted the sister and that scamp to make up the entire family.”

“I am not so sure about the scamp—the black sheep; I fancy he is hardly
more than brown. I was rather hard on him; but I was angry enough to
have thrashed him, and yet I couldn’t help liking his pluck.”

“It was rather out of place, Fred.”

“Yes. To know when to fear, and what to fear, is wisdom.”

“I think you have it to-day, Fred. You are afraid of that girl.”

“Upon my word, you do have at times the most remarkable flashes of
intelligence. You are right.”

“But why? The awkwardness of the affair seems to me to lie on the lady’s
side.”

“I wish it were not. She is young, and—well, rather pretty, and of
course she will be effusive, and enthuse, and then there will be a few
tears, and I shall feel like a fool!”

“It’s a great thing, Fred, to have no imagination. Now, it wouldn’t
trouble me in the least. She will just say, ‘I am so much obliged, Mr.
Carington,’ and you will say, ‘Oh, it really doesn’t matter, Miss
Lyndsay.’ People don’t go splashing their emotions about like a wet dog
shaking off the water on everybody. Good notion, that!”

“You are a social and consolatory Solomon. Give me your tobacco. I shall
go back to-morrow and have it over. Will you fish the upper pool this
afternoon?”

“Either.”

“Hang your politeness, Oliver. There is nothing gives as much trouble as
‘either.’ It ought to be kicked out of society.”

“Then the lower pool.”

“Good!”

There was a little interchange of views at the Cliff Camp as to their
guests; a certain pleasantness of relief at finding Carington one who
could confer an immense obligation and appear totally to ignore it.
Perhaps, of all of them, Anne the best appreciated this; for she
understood, as did neither her brother nor his simple and direct wife,
that Rose felt and must deeply feel a sense of indebtedness, and the
difficulty of at once putting herself into the right relations with the
man who had, without peril to himself, left on her a debt which could
never be canceled. It was easy to say about it to Rose too much or too
little; but, with her usual clearness of head as to matters of conduct,
Miss Lyndsay now held her tongue, nor did Rose tempt her to speak
further.

As to Jack, he came out of his room at one, adding an hour out of pure
dislike to having any one think he cared. Anne spoke to him, as he
passed her, a mere “How are you, Jack?” but he merely answered, “Good
morning, Aunt Anne,” and went at once to the barrel in which he had left
his cub. It was gone; but whither he never knew. Then he came in to get
his rifle, a gift from Anne on his last and fifteenth birthday. That,
too, was gone. Upon this he got a crust of bread, and betook himself to
the woods, where the black flies were more active than his conscience.
At last he climbed a high dead pine, and sat in the wind, and saw, far
away on the river, his father’s canoe. He felt that he had been
ill-used, and then, remembering Rose on the beach, with the blood about
her, had an hour or so of a boy’s unhappiness. Toward evening he found a
woodchuck’s burrow, which he resolved to dig out; and, somewhat
comforted, at last wandered back to the cabin, all other emotions having
given way before the overwhelming hunger to which, in his wrath, he had
needlessly condemned himself.



                              CHAPTER XVI


The fishing had been fortunate in the Cliff Camp waters, and now,
somewhat later than usual, dinner being over, the whole family, save
Anne, was collected in the large central room of the cabin. The
fireplace was of a size to hold logs five feet in length, and was built
of rough, unhewn, gray rock. As the evening was cold, a great pile of
birch-wood filled the wide chimney-throat with ruddy flame, and the lamp
which hung overhead and the candles on the table were scarcely needed to
light the room. Here and there were books. In the corner stood a rod or
two in their cases; on the racks a rifle and shot-gun.

Lyndsay was busy with his salmon-flies, and was carefully inspecting the
multitude of feathered lures which every one collects and no one uses.
On a cushion, upon the floor, sat Rose, in the ripest glow of the red
birch flame. She was all in virginal white, and with this innocence of
color the fire was playing pretty tricks, flushing the white sweep of
the skirt with rose, or playing hide-and-seek with flitting shadows, as
they hid among the folds, and were chased hither and thither when the
long jets of flame spurted out at the ends of the logs.

Jack being still in some disgrace, our Rose must have his head in her
lap, the lad’s sturdy figure stretched out on the floor. Beside him, Ned
sat cross-legged, like a Turk, and stared into the fire. Dick, at a
side-table, with a candle to himself, was far away in another world,
watching a wild menagerie of rotifers spinning around on the field of
his microscope.

They were quiet, all of them, in the company of their thoughts. At the
table, Mrs. Lyndsay was deep in “Belinda.” She dearly loved those
pleasant books, still worth the reading, and often gay with very
delightful chat. Now and then she read a bit aloud to her husband. She
cared little for the great books, and liked best the level lowlands of
literature. When Anne was lost in book-land, and it took two or three
questions to call her back to consciousness of her kind, Margaret found
it impossible to comprehend her absorption. Anne had once said to her,
“There are books which carry one away to the mountain-peaks, and will
not let one go without a ransom.” Then Margaret had smiled, and replied,
with the nearest approach to sarcasm of which she was capable, that it
was well there were some people left down below to order the dinners and
see to the servants.

In the cool air without, and well wrapped up, Anne Lyndsay swung gently
in her hammock beneath the porch. It was well understood among these
people, who so deeply loved her, that at times she liked to be alone,
and then was to be left to herself. She had struggled for this freedom
from kindly intrusion, and years ago had won it, but not without some
contest with Margaret, who was quite unable to see why any one could
want to be solitary. Anne would say, “I am never alone, my dear,” and
was of opinion that the hardest thing to get in a large family were
these sacred hours of privacy. Too many women know that.

She was just now absolutely free from pain, and in unrestrained
enjoyment of the cool, dry air of the Canadian river, which ran below,
and sent up at unaccountable intervals strange noises as she listened.
Now it was a low, booming, bass note, and now mingled sounds, as of
cries, and distant chuckle of suppressed mirth, where, above and below,
the voyaging waters hopped merrily over their rocky path to the sea. The
moon was high overhead, and lit up the water with life of light, when
here and there the checked current rose in snowy foam over some huge
boulder, dropped ages since on the mighty portage of the ice-swept
continent. Nor cry nor insect-note came from the somber masses of the
hills. After awhile she turned her head, and looked in through the
window at the good people who were so near to her heart. Then she
called, “Jack! Jack!”

The boy got up and went out to her.

“Sit down on that stool beside me,” she said. He obeyed in silence.

“How is the cub, Jacky Giant-Killer?”

“He is gone!”

“Indeed! I am sorry for that. I wanted to see it. Did it get away?”

“No. I suppose father gave it to Tom, or somebody. I don’t care. It was
my cub. I don’t care,” he repeated.

“Jacky, if Goliath had lied in proportion to his size, he could not have
lied larger than that. Now, isn’t that so?”

“Oh, I don’t care, and I do.” Then he broke out angrily, “The thing is,
Aunt Anne, nobody asked me a question; nobody wanted to give me a
chance; and that long-legged fellow that shot the bear, he said—I wish
he was my size!—he called me an idiot.”

“The description was brief and correct. What brains you have—and they
are good enough—you did not use. Three people called to you to drop the
cub. Why didn’t you? You see what mischief came of it; and how much
worse it might have been I do not like to think. Why did you hold on to
the cub?”

“I just couldn’t let it go, Aunt Anne. You’re awful good to a fellow.
There is no one like you.” And here she captured his hand.

“Why couldn’t you? It was only to do that.” And she let his hand drop,
and caught it again.

“It would have been cowardly.”

“Of course—I knew it; I knew what you thought; but I wanted you to say
it out.”

“Nobody else has asked me. I didn’t think that bear would go after
anybody but me and the cub, and I just held on.”

“I see. It explains what you felt; it does not excuse what you did. This
is not quite all of it.”

He was silent.

“You were afraid some one would think you were afraid. Wasn’t that a
sort of cowardice, Jack?”

He was clear of head now, and this arrow went to the mark.

“Yes,” he said; “I’d hate to think I was afraid.”

“What is courage?”

“Oh, not to be afraid; never to be afraid.”

“Is that all? Isn’t there a nobler courage that goes hand in hand with
reason and love and unselfishness? A man ought to fear when there is
reason to fear—to fear evil, or hurt of others, or dishonor, or sin. You
have unreasoning courage. How are you better than a bulldog? I remember
once, at your father’s table, that I asked a great and wise general as
to another, who was famous for mere heedless bravery, what he thought of
him. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘he was a great thunderbolt of war, to be thrown by
a hand not his own.’ The man who spoke was brave as are God’s bravest,
Jack; but he had always his wits about him, and knew when to go on and
when to fall back. Isn’t that the finer courage?”

“I guess so,” said the boy. And then, abruptly, “Are you ever afraid,
Aunt Anne?”

“No.” And it was true.

“But if you were in a battle, or were going to die?”

“I am!”

“Oh, but soon?”

“I am! Look here, Jacky, my dear Jacky. I never talk of myself; but I
will this once, for you. I am a very ill woman; in a year or two I shall
die. It is certain. I am to leave this world and those I love. I suffer
pain all the time. No one knows how much.”

“Oh, Aunt Anne!”

“Yes. Now I am not afraid to die. I am not even afraid of this pain,
which goes on from bad to worse. If some angel came and said, ‘You are
free to die to-morrow,’ I would say ‘No.’ Life is my little bear-cub,
and it isn’t like your cub. I should be afraid to be such a coward as,
for fear of pain, to want to let go my cub; and that is because God has
put me here to bear what ills come to me, and to use them so as to get
something out of life—to learn endurance and true courage. Perhaps some
one else may get something out of it. I do not want to talk over your
head, Jack. Do you understand me?”

“I think so,” and tears began to fall on her hand. “I am—I am so sorry
for you.”

“That is well,—although I am foolish as to pity, and like best to keep
my troubles to myself. But if to know all this helps you to do right, to
know what the courage which comes from God means, I shall not have
suffered in vain.”

“Thank you!” He began to comprehend her courageous reticence, and was
appalled at this insight into the anguish and struggle of this calm,
self-contained life, which went laughing on its way to death.

“Kiss me,” she said, “and mind this is between us two. I try usually not
to pain others with my pain. Except to help you, I would not have made
you suffer for my suffering. No one knows why there is so much torment
in the wide world of man and beast, but some of it is clear enough. I
have made your young heart ache to-night; but this suffering has a
meaning, and ought to have a use.”

“Thank you, dear Aunt Anne!”

“Don’t cry any more,” she said. “I shall love you better than ever
because we have trusted each other. Now I think you know what to do.
Don’t wait,” and she laughed pleasantly; “procrastination is the
thief—of what, Jacky?”

“Oh, of time.” And he laughed.

“No, no, stupid!—of all the virtues. Your father is in the room. Kiss
me.”

The boy rose up and went straight into the cabin. With his head in air,
and a little flushed, he walked up to his father, and stood as the
latter looked up from his book.

“I am sorry, sir, for what I did yesterday. I was wrong.”

Lyndsay put out his hand, and the mother also looked up from her book.

“That will do,” he said. “I thought you would come right. Go and kiss
Rose.”

He did so, whispering in her ear, “I am awful sorry, Rose.” Then, in the
brief silence that followed, he walked out again, and went back to Anne.

“It wasn’t hard?” she said.

“Yes, it was! I hated it, but I did it.”

“Now, that was honest courage, Jack. You will feel better for it
to-morrow. Good night; I must go to bed myself.”

Jack went in with her, and by the way in which he was bidden good night,
saw that the bear business was over. Before he fell asleep, he heard
Rose ask:

“May I come in?”

“Yes,” he shouted. She came to the bedside and kissed him.

“I wanted to say, Jack, that I thought you were very brave to-night. I
would have done it, but I would have waited until dear old Marc.
Aurelius was alone. Oh, I am proud of you. You are to have your rifle
to-morrow.”

“You asked for it?”

“I did.”

“By Thor, but you’re—”

This was a family oath.

“Hush, no swearing.”

“Oh, by Jove!”

“These are not the Olympic games.”

“Plague it, Aunt Anne says that isn’t swearing. She says—”

“You and Aunt Anne had better be careful how you explain away the
commandments. Good night.”

A poet has said that Time is a mighty peacemaker, and it is quite
certain that he patches up even our quarrels with ourselves. This Rose
found to be the case. The lapse of a day left her less self-annoyance.
That certain precedent facts about her bowman cast a humorous aspect
about the new acquaintance began to be felt rather as a relieving aid to
future social intercourse than as an added embarrassment.



                              CHAPTER XVII


The next day went by before Rose was believed to be well enough to cast
a fly. Mr. Ellett dropped down to ask how Miss Lyndsay was, and to leave
a note from Carington, with a half-dozen of the famous Millers.

Aunt Anne smiled a little as she caught Mr. Ellett on his way to the
house, no one else but she being at home. She made herself very amusing,
and, as Ellett was enthusiastic about Carington, she bagged, as she
said, all there was to be known of both young men.

“You see, Miss Lyndsay, I am unlucky enough to have more money and more
time than Carington says is good for me. But everybody has the same time
as everybody else. That’s so, isn’t it? I saw it in—I think I saw it in
Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations.’ Ever read it, Miss Lyndsay?”

“Yes,” said Anne, charmed with her capture.

“I don’t have much time now. I go in for managing hospitals and things.
You see, Fred says a man who can run a club can manage a hospital. Good
notion, that. He says men are better housekeepers than women.”

“What heresy!”

“Isn’t it? Nowadays Fred has more money than I have. You see, he builds
bridges and things.”

“Then you and your friend Mr. Carington have little in common, from your
account.”

“Oh, yes, we have; we like each other.”

“That’s neatly and nicely said; but don’t you think that, on the whole,
in people who are intellectually sympathetic, unlikeness of tastes and
pursuits may be as good a foundation for friendship as a common fondness
for this or that?”

“Y-e-s,” said the small gentleman, somewhat perplexed. He was slow of
apprehension, but in the end likely enough to become clear as to what he
should think of things said. Miss Anne, on the other hand, was a rapid
talker and thinker, and sometimes overestimated the capacity of people
to follow her.

“We were speaking of this last week. I said then that as little reason
goes into the making of most friendships as into most love-affairs, or,
for that matter, into most of the religious attachments which men call
their beliefs. Friendship ought to be a tranquil love-affair of the
head, without base question of dot,” and she laughed.

“But I like a fellow first, and then find reasons for it afterward.”

“I said it was a love-affair of the head. I have a small heart somewhere
in my head; I know that. Some folks have two heads, and call one a
heart.”

“I don’t think I quite follow you, Miss Lyndsay,” said Ellett.

“Oh, there’s no need to.”

“But it’s dreadful to get left the way I do, at the first hurdle. I was
going to tell you what Fred said to me once; it wasn’t bad at all. He
said once that ours was a friendship of _convenance_ at first, and then,
afterward— Well, the fact was, I happened to hear that he needed money,
and I used to admire him, but I never did think he would care for a
fellow like me, that shot pigeons, and rode steeplechase, and—killed
things.”

“And you helped him?”

“Good heavens, Miss Lyndsay! I never meant to—to say anything about
that. I—”

“You need not apologize,” she said, smiling. “I am getting to be a
pretty old maid, and that gives me privileges. I think I like Mr.
Carington’s friend”; and she said to herself, “You are a dear, shrewdly
simple little man.”

Then he thanked her, blushing as he rose, and saying:

“Now, I must go and get a fish.”

As for Rose, she began to feel that it was rather nice of Mr. Carington
to be in no haste to come after the inevitable gratitude; but when a
pleasant note came to Mrs. Lyndsay inclosing the flies, she began also
to have a certain amount of curiosity as to the man in question, much, I
suppose, like the beginning of that same fatal emotion which in the end
causes the salmon to inspect at closer quarters the provocative Jock
Scott or Durham ranger.

It was now near the end of their second week, and the after part of the
third day from that which saw the drama of the bear and cub. Rose had
killed two salmon in the morning, and, not having altogether gotten over
the loss of blood, had declined to fish again in the afternoon. Anne was
in her room, the mother out in the boat with Mr. Lyndsay, and the boys
off to dig up the unhappy woodchuck. Rose had the pleasant feeling of
having the house to herself. She took a volume of Lowell, and, settling
herself in the hammock, was soon so deep in the delicate analysis of
Gray that she did not observe the coming canoe, until of a sudden
Carington was beside her.

“Good evening, Miss Lyndsay.”

Rose made the usual awkward effort to rise from her comfortable nest,
saying, “I am like the starling, I can’t get out.”

“Permit me,” he said, and, with the help of his hand, she was on her
feet.

“Upon my word,” she laughed, “you seem to be essential to the getting me
out of scrapes. I am, I was, always shall be hopelessly in your debt,”
and she blushed prettily, feeling that she had been less formal than she
had meant to be. “Pray sit down,” she added, taking a camp-stool.

“Thanks. Don’t you think that to give a man such a chance to oblige
people like—like your father and mother—rather puts the sense of
obligation on the other side?”

“Aunt Anne says that it is written large on some debts, ‘Not
transferable.’ You have put it very nicely, and still you must let me
say once for all, I thank you.”

“And I am forgiven for my boy frolic?”

“I don’t know,” she cried, smiling. “That is not nominated in the bond.”

“Well, we will consider the other obligations settled,” he said, “and
leave this for future adjustment. You will give me what the men call a
good ‘recommend’ for a new place as bowman? I am rather vain of my
poling. How wet you were!”

“Wet! You have no idea. It established new standards of moisture for me.
But we got the fish.”

He liked the pronoun of partnership.

“Yes. I wonder if Mr. Lyndsay would let you fish our water. I could
promise you a salmon or two. Ellett would like to exchange to-morrow
afternoon, and try your lower pool, so that, if Mr. Lyndsay would take
the lower half of our fishing and we the upper, we should be agreeably
matronized—patronized I should say. Will you be so good as to give your
father this note?”

Rose said yes, and he took up the book she had dropped into the hammock.

“Lowell! I like his essays more than his verse, except always the
immortal fun of the Biglow Papers. That must surely live. For most of
his poetry I care little.”

“Yes, it is graceful, interesting at times, which is not true of some
much greater verse; but I do not care for it much,—and that is dreadful,
because we all know him well and love him well.”

“Indeed! How pleasant that must be! Long as I have lived near him, I
have never seen him.”

“We shall quarrel here and now if you do not at once praise the Biglow
Papers.”

“Oh! but I could not say too much of them. After their kind they stand
alone.”

“Thank you! And how rare it is that the poets combine humor with the
higher qualities! It is sadly true of our day.”

“Yes, yes! It is laughable to hear people talk of Browning’s humor. At
times he is grotesque or sardonic—never delicately humorous or funny. We
want a word in between fun and humor. And Tennyson is not humorous. It
all seems a part of the gloom which has fallen on English letters.”

“Oh, there is ‘Plump head-waiter at the Cock’!”

“That is the exception, and is not very notable, like Lowell’s sustained
and delightful verbal play; the rest are no better or worse off—the
lesser larks, I mean.”

“Yes, and Shelley has no humor, and Keats’s attempts are only
illustrations of the fact that editors don’t know where to draw the
line.”

“How agreeable we are!” he said, laughing. He had the happy art of
low-pitched laughter.

“That way of saying we agree,” she said, “would delight Aunt Anne.”

“And do you find time up here to read much?” he went on. “I cannot. The
hours go by like the water, without freight of thought.”

“Not much,” she returned. “I read very little here, although at home we
are mighty consumers of books. I am as little fond of the needle as is
my aunt, but one takes up a book lazily here as a sort of companion that
does not insist on answers.”

“You seem to have provided a goodly ration,” he returned, looking about
him.

“I am hardly responsible for this mob of books. My good mother is in
despair over our accumulations, and my father declares that the house at
home is a Noah’s ark of books after their kind.”

“And what kind?” said Carington, much pleased to get off so easily from
what he had feared might be an importunate debtor.

“Oh, every kind! Of course, my good father’s legal books now and then
drift away from their proper place. Then Jack collects voyages and
ferocities by land and sea, and Dick will spend his last dime on books
about beasts and plants. My dear Ned reads everybody’s books with entire
impartiality. Aunt Anne must have digested libraries; but then she is
not like anybody else. I hardly call it reading. She falls upon a book,
and appears to look it over carelessly, and then, after you have read it
with attention, you find that she knows twice as much about it as you
do.”

“But that is very interesting. I judged from our little chat at
breakfast that Miss Anne was out of the ranks of our commonplace world.
And she reads widely?”

“Yes! We call her the ‘book-hawk.’ It is rare fun to see her pounce on a
tempting volume.”

“She struck me, if I may venture to say so, as most interesting; but
that there should remain this immense, ever active energy of
appropriation with feeble health seems remarkable.”

A little surprised, Rose asked, “Why do you think her ill?”

“She told me so,—or hardly that: she was merely led to say she was not
strong, and a glance at that pale drawn face, Miss Lyndsay, would—pardon
me—I—”

“No. Perhaps I should explain my surprise. It was because to hear of
Aunt Anne as confessing weakness was to me more strange than you can
imagine, unless you knew her as we do.”

“I liked it,” said Carington.

“Yes. It means that she—well—it means that she is going to like you—a
signal.”

“Thank you; that is very pleasant. But, talking of books again, you left
off just where I hoped you were going to tell me what books after your
kind go into the family ark.”

“I was going to do nothing of the sort,” cried Rose, with a laugh. “You
will think we are a dull set of mere book-grubbers. I can assure you we
are very foolish people, and can be as silly as the silliest.”

“You shall have credit for any possible margin of folly.”

“Oh, there must be a limit. I did not want to leave you to think we are
what Aunt Anne calls book proud.”

“Book proud?”

“Yes. You must have known people who seem at some time to have suddenly
discovered books, the real books, and are vastly set up by their
new-found wealth.”

“I know. I was stupid. My friend Ellett came pretty near to having a
grave case of the malady soon after I first knew him, but he was cured
easily with the tenth dilution of a sarcasm.”

“Were you the doctor?”

“I was. I hope you liked him, Miss Lyndsay. I like my friend to be liked
by—by every one.”

“You meant to say, by your friends,” she returned, with pretty
frankness. “You have committed the folly of making a large addition to
your list.”

“And I may include Miss Rose Lyndsay?” he said, as he stood up.

“That goes without saying.”

“But I want it with the saying.”

“Then you have it,” and she gave her hand for good-by, and he went away.
At the cliff edge he paused.

“I shall be dreadfully disappointed if we do not get the fishing.”

“But I think we shall.”

“Then good-by again.” In a moment he was in his canoe, for he had come
alone, and was sturdily poling up the stream. The well-knit figure in
the becoming guise of jacket and knickerbockers held her eye until it
was lost around the river curves. Then she said aloud:

“That is a very nice man.”

The man in the canoe said to himself:

“Please God I shall marry that woman.”

An hour ago she was Miss Lyndsay and as other women had been to him. But
now—he smiled.

When Miss Lyndsay had made her own little statement, she looked about
her shyly of a sudden, as if fearful lest some one might have overheard
her, and, reassured by the knowledge that she was alone, added:

“I am not as sorry as I was.” The why of this last decision she did not
seek to analyze, but dropped into the hammock, and, lulled by its
motion, by and by fell asleep.

After awhile came Lyndsay on tip-toe, and, smiling, kissed her, and then
again before she quite waked up.

“A pair—two pair—of gloves,” he cried.

At this she sat up, with a faint blush on her cheek, fetched from far
away out of dreamland. I do not know of what she was dreaming.

“You startled me so, Pardy. How wicked you are! Mr. Carington has been
here, and left a note for you.”

“And you settled your small obligations—hey, Rose?”

“I did.”

“Difficult?” He had anticipated her embarrassments.

“No. Not even you could have been nicer about it.”

“And you liked him? We did.”

“Yes—oh, yes,” she said with indifference. “I thought him pleasant. He
talks quite well, and is a gentleman.”

“Rather mild praise for a man who—”

“Don’t, please, Pardy; I—I hate to be joked about it.”

“I won’t, dear. To say, in these days of too easy fashions, that a man
is a gentleman means, for us at least, a good deal.”

“I think so. Of course, I had to say distinctly that I thanked him, and
he received it so—so quietly and simply that I was not in the least
embarrassed. I can’t tell you, Pardy, how absurdly I dreaded it.”

Thereupon Mr. Lyndsay went in, saying to himself:

“I hope the receiver isn’t going to be the thief—confound the business!”



                             CHAPTER XVIII


The next day, being Saturday, a little note sent in the morning told
Carington that Miss Lyndsay and her father would fish his waters in the
afternoon. Her father took Rose up in his own canoe, and at the Island
Camp they found their new friends. Mr. Ellett went off to take their
pool, and Rose was soon seated in Carington’s canoe, facing the stern of
the boat.

“No,” he said gaily, “I shall sit between you and Michelle, here in the
bottom. I shall be very comfortable, and I shall be able to criticize
your casts. No, I don’t mean to fish. It is your day—all yours. We shall
beat you, Mr. Lyndsay. Mind, Michelle, we are bent on wholesale
business.”

Then they were off, and in a half-hour were at the head of the pool, a
full cast from the bank, and in a wilful rush of broken water. Meanwhile
Mr. Lyndsay dropped down half a mile below them.

“I am afraid you must cast seated,” said Carington. “The boat rocks too
much for it to be safe to stand.”

“That makes it harder.”

“Yes; but you won’t mind my coaching you?”

“Oh, no!”

“Then, use your arms and wrist in the cast. Don’t try to put too much
force in it. There, that is better—so.”

She went on casting, a little troubled by the critical watchfulness of
the curly head below her, for Carington had thrown his cap at his feet
and sat bare-headed. At last, in the second drop, a fish rose.

“Didn’t you see him?”

“No.”

“He rose. Wait a little. He lies on a line with that cedar. Now, again.
They are in rising mood to-day. I rose six here this morning, and then
left the pool, so as not to exhaust their curiosity.”

“That was to leave me the chance,” thought Rose.

“There, Miss Lyndsay; he was pretty eager that time.

“A rise to a Rose seems grammatically improbable,” he murmured, laughing
outright at his own nonsense, and happy enough to be easily silly.

“What amuses you?” she said.

“Oh, nothing.”

“Then you are very readily amused.”

“I am to-day. Up anchor. He has it. Tip up! So! A grilse.”

“Oh! how he jumps,” she cried, for he was in and out of the water a
dozen times.

“That is the fashion of his kind, young and foolish. Hold him hard, and
reel him in. He is too small to trifle with. Well done; four minutes, or
less.”

“That horrid gaff!” said Rose.

“Wait a moment. I thought you might not like it. I have my big net,” and
so in a moment the pretty five-pounder was in the boat, and had his
_coup de grâce_.

The next half-hour Rose fished hard, but in vain, and began to be weary.
Then, at last, there was a huge splash at the utmost limit of her
casting distance.

“Two fish was after that fly,” said Michelle. “Guess they run against
each other.”

“Let out a little line,” said Carington.

“But I can’t cast that far. Won’t you, please?”

“Certainly.” And, standing, he threw off two or three feet of line. The
leader and fly dropped far away, straight from the rod. At last, after
many casts, he put on a fly well known to anglers as a “fairy.” The fish
rose, missed it, and then, following the retreating line, struck
savagely.

“Up anchor!” cried Carington, as he sat down, giving the rod to Rose.

“Big one that, sir,” said Michelle; and, as he spoke, the salmon darted
down-stream, the men in wild excitement, and the canoe swiftly urged in
his track.

“The salmon seem fond of going to sea, Michelle. It is very rare, Miss
Lyndsay.”

“Oh, he will have all my line! What can I do?”

“Tip up! up! He must run, and he will.” And away they flew.

“Quick, Michelle! I have twice seen a salmon run off a reel.” And now,
in fact, there was very little line left, when, after nearly half a mile
of rush downstream, the fish turned and ran toward the boat.

“Lost? No! Nothing is ever lost—reel! reel!—except by people who ought
to lose. No, reel! reel!” And poor Rose, at the limit of exhaustion,
obeyed till her arm ached, and the perilously long loop of line at last
became tense, and the fish showed himself in one great leap not forty
feet away.

“He’s beat!” cried Michelle. “Easy, miss, easy. Have to gaff him, sir.”

“All right. What’s the matter with him?”

“Hooked foul, sir. Ah!” And, amidst splash and laughter, and much water
over Rose, the prey was hers.

“What does he weigh?”

Carington took the spring-scale. “How is it, Michelle?”

“Thirty-eight pounds, miss, and a beauty. A half-hour we was, I guess.”

“I congratulate you. Are you tired?”

“Tired? No, I am exhausted. I really don’t think I can fish any more.
Won’t you?”

“Suppose we pole up a mile or so, to the upper pool. I’ll cast a little,
and then we can drop down and meet Mr. Lyndsay.”

“Certainly. I, at least, am satisfied.”

“Up-stream, Michelle.” And the poles were out, and they went away slowly
up the watery slope.

“Do you mind talking at the back of a man’s head?” said Carington. “I
might have shifted the chair, and my own position—I will, if you like.”

“No; it has its advantages,” and she laughed, remembering another
occasion.

“Such as—”

“I leave that to your imagination.”

“I have none.”

“Then to your reason.”

“Gone! Retired from business.”

“I found it advantageous—once.”

“You mean when I was bowman. I thought I was to be forgiven.”

“I distinctly said you were not, and that I should reserve the matter
for future consideration.”

“But the advantage was all on my side.”

“Thank you. I suppose because you could not see my face.”

“That is simply a diabolical explanation. I hope you may lose your next
fish.”

“Don’t. I can bear any form of malice but that. I have gone salmon-mad,
like the rest of you.”

“I retract,” he said. “Isn’t this hunting and fishing instinct curious?
I suppose it got ingrained ages ago, in the days when our forebears were
getting their daily diet by the use of the club and spear. If you could
shoot, would you like that?”

He did not want her to say yes, and she did say, “No; I set my sporting
limits at the salmon.”

“That is to say, pretty well up the scale. I confess that for me
salmon-fishing is the noblest of the sports.”

“Why is it? For myself, I like it; I hardly know why. But I want to hear
why you speak of it so warmly. You shoot, of course?”

“Yes. All manner of things, when I get the time. As to this fishing, I
don’t think I spoke at random. It requires some skill,—not too much, or
too intense attention. One is free to mix it with a book, or with deep
thinkings, or with the laziest mind-idleness. Then, too, one’s curiosity
is kept up by the unguessable riddles of the ways of salmon. We know no
more about salmon than we know about—well, I leave you to fill the gap.”

“It is easy to guess,” she cried, “what the other term of all difficult
comparisons is for men.”

“Woman, I humbly presume you to mean. Indeed, I at least might be
excused if I so said. I have no sister, no cousins, indeed; no
mother—now,” and he paused. “I am in truth alone in the world since
after the war, when I wandered north, a pretty sorry sort of a
half-educated orphan.”

“And what did you do then?” She felt agreeably the courteous deference
of the young man’s manner, and liked the brief emotion of his pause as
he spoke of his mother, nor less the soft Southern accent.

“Oh, I got work on a railroad as a chain-bearer, and worked up until I
made a little invention, which I sold, and with the money I went to the
Troy scientific school. It was pretty tough, because I had to do double
work on account of my want of early training. However, I got through.”

“And then?”

“Oh, then I was employed as an engineer, and, by and by, the firm I am
now in took up some of my new notions about bridge-building. I ought to
ask pardon for talking about myself. I really think it was your fault.”

“I am not over-penitent. I think, with my father, that the lives of men
who succeed are interesting.”

“Have I succeeded? I suppose that fellow Ellett has been indulging you
all with my virtues and capacities.”

“Perhaps!” And now a look at the face would have been desirable. He said
no more for a moment. Then Miss Lyndsay went on:

“You were about to say—”

“No, I was not. Yes, I was. I was about to say that success in life
means many things. Material success I have had. There are other
successes. I have by no means all I want.”

“And what else do you want? Immaterial success? I hardly know what that
is; but one can’t be consistently wise.”

He laughed. “Oh, I am a fellow full of wants.”

“Do you get what you want, as a rule? I sometimes envy men the battles
of their lives.”

“Yes, mostly I get what I want. When I want things, I so terribly want
them that not to win is—is unpleasant.”

“Oh!” she cried, “did you see that salmon jump? I should like to be a
salmon, just an hour, to know why they want the fly. They don’t want it
to eat, do they?”

“No. But also we ourselves want many things which we can’t eat.”

She laughed outright, which is at times provoking when the face is
invisible.

“It is my turn now,” he said. “What amuses you?”

“Nothing!” This was hardly true. She was mirthfully overcome at the idea
of Carington as a salmon, and somebody casting a fly over that curly
head. “Oh, nothing.”

“I know better,” he said.

“Indeed? What kind of a fly would you advise as a lure to a human
salmon?”

“That is a pretty serious question. It is to be a male salmon, I
presume. What would I rise to? Money, good looks, character, position.”

“I might suggest a killing combination fly,” she returned.

“That reminds me pleasantly of my old guide, Tom Dunham, who used to go
with me on Lake Superior. He was an old beaver-trapper. Once I asked him
how he baited his traps. He said, ‘Women beavers is easy satisfied with
one thing for a bait, but men beavers is best took with two or three
kinds, all just sot to one, in a bait.’”

“I don’t see the moral.”

“Oh, that is a matter of choice. The beaver, once in the trap, has
leisure to select the moral.”

“Rather. How interesting these guides must be! The lonely life in the
woods must result in the making of some singular characters. Or do they
all become dull and taciturn?”

“Some do. Tom was a most amusing person. I remember we were lying one
night at the Pictured Rocks, on the south shore. I can see now the dim
line of cliffs, and the camp-fire, and the loons on the lake, taken by
the broad red band of ruddy light flashing far over the waters. Tom was
talking beaver. At last I told him a beaver story out of one of
Buckland’s books. It doesn’t bore you?”

“Oh, no. I love stories.”

“Well, once on a time, when folks wore beaver hats, an ancient beaver
sat on a dam, and discoursed wisdom to a young beaver. Presently came
floating down-stream a beaver hat. ‘What is that?’ cried the young
beaver. Then the old beaver wiped his eyes with his long, hairy tail,
and said, ‘My son, that is our grandfather!’”

“Delightful! Do tell the boys that.”

“Tom considered this incident in silence until at last I said, ‘Tom, I
don’t suppose you believe that story?’ ‘Well, now,’ says Tom, ‘that just
shows you don’t know nothin’ about beavers. In course he knowed his own
granddaddy.’”

“That is really charming.”

“Oh, here is the pool.” Their places were now shifted, Carington casting
over Miss Lyndsay. For an hour he fished in a distracted way, to
Michelle’s disgust, for the fisherman sat for the most part, and paid
less attention to the fly than to the back of Miss Lyndsay’s neck, and a
pair of delicately modeled ears, and the most distracting lot of hair,
which had been disturbed in her casting, and in and out of which two
hands were busy with mysteriously guided efforts at readjustment. Also,
he wondered how much of a woman’s nature one could learn from these
limited opportunities.

After a good deal of talk, with some dangerous intervals of silence, he
gave up fishing, saying, “It is no use,” and ordered the anchor up. It
was now toward evening, and they were off and away to meet Mr. Lyndsay
at the beach.

“Don’t paddle,” said Carington. “Keep her straight; that is all.”

He was more than willing to lengthen the time of their too brief voyage.
Both seemed inclined to the lonely satisfaction of silent thought.

As they neared the Island beach, Rose said, “I have had so delightful an
afternoon that I almost forgot mama’s message. I was to ask you to come
down to-morrow—no, Monday—night, after dinner, and Mr. Ellett, of
course. We will try to show you what silly folk we can be. We are guilty
of much folly, I assure you. We will play ‘Situations’—we call it
'Plots.’”

“What is that?”

“Oh, you will learn—and charades, I dare say.”

“It looks formidable.”

“It is—it will be. I have to get even with you about that bowman
business.”

“But I am reeking with remorse.”

“I don’t believe it. By the way, in my moistened haste, I gave you my
luck-piece, my dear little gold dollar.”

“Well.”

“I want it back.”

“And my pay? I do not work for nothing.”

“You shall have a big silver dollar.”

“No, that is worth only eighty-five cents: pure swindle that!”

“But I want it.”

“I like that.”

“I shall never rest till I get it.”

“I am so sorry.”

“But I really don’t care.”

“That is a relief to my conscience.”

“Oh, Pardy! I have killed a grilse and a thirty-eight-pound salmon.”

“And I nothing. Mr. Carington must have ordered all the fish up-stream.
Might I ask for some water?”

“Yes. Michelle, get a jug fresh from the spring. Come to the tents.
Alas, Mr. Lyndsay, to-morrow is Sunday—no fishing.”

“No, indeed. How good that water is! Rose, you might take that grilse to
Mrs. Maybrook to-morrow.”

“I will, unless it is too hot. Good-by, Mr. Carington. How comfortable
you look here!” They were now in the dinner-tent. “And books! You are
worse than Aunt Anne.” And they went away.

Carington watched them from shore as they hailed Ellett, who went by
them with three good fish.

“Now,” said Carington, “if it is cool in the morning, I shall go to see
Mrs. Maybrook, to pay for the milk; and if it is warm, I shall go in the
afternoon. I hope the thermometer will be definite.”



                              CHAPTER XIX


On this Saturday evening, while Rose was relating her day to Aunt Anne,
Joe Colkett sat, meditatively, astride of his wood-saddle.[5] In the
morning he had seen Dorothy Maybrook, and had been as cunning as he knew
how to be. He had found Dory engaged in “p’inting her man,” as she said;
he was to saw some wood, and to kill two chickens for Mrs. Lyndsay’s
table. “Now, two p’ints, Hiram, two!” The pale, square-shouldered man
considered her with dull eyes.

-----

Footnote 5:

  The cross-pieces on which wood is laid for sawing.

-----

“You said two pairs.”

“Oh, you are not p’inted right yet. Don’t you kill more than two
chickens. Here,” and she set two pins in his sleeve, “you can look at
these.”

“There, one pin stands for each chicken,” he said. “Guess I’m p’inted,”
and he went away.

“What’s wanting,Joe?” she said. “How’s Susie?”

“Oh, she’s kind of upsot. She takes on ’bout that last boy like there
wasn’t a boy on airth.”

“There isn’t for her.”

“There’s no gainsayin’ that. She’s allus a-talkin’ about them Lyndsays,
and how they sot a stone, a right handsome stone, up on that there boy
of theirn,—and she ain’t got none. Women’s awful queer, Dory. I can’t
buy no tombstone.”

“It doesn’t seem so queer to me. Can’t you get some kind of a thing,
just to please the woman? Why, if it was only of wood, you see, it might
help.”

“That’s so. I was a sort of thinkin’ ’bout that. Queer how folks thinks
’bout the same things.”

“Were you? Well, you’re a better kind of man than I took you for, Joe
Colkett. Your wife’s about half off her wits with grieving. If I was
you, I wouldn’t—well, I wouldn’t take her too serious. People that are
troubled the way she is do have strange notions. I think the devil he’s
as like as not to get a grip on us when we are—”

“What was you a-thinkin’, Dory?” he broke in, suspiciously.

“I ain’t fully minded to tell you, Joe. But Susie’s a masterful woman,
and don’t you let her get you into trouble. If it’s money, my man and me
we’ve got a little put by. I’d a heap rather spend a bit of it than see
you tormented into some wickedness.”

“You must think I’m right bad, Dory. Can’t you talk out?”

“No; I might, but I won’t. Only you remember, Joe, I didn’t say you were
bad, but I do say anybody you care for might p’int you wrong. It’s a
queer thing how easy men can be p’inted.”

He was terribly scared, and, seeing that no more was to be had out of
Dory, resolved to profit by her warning. How she could have guessed
anything of his or his wife’s intentions he was at a loss to comprehend.
But he was timid, and eager to steer clear of trouble. After a few
moments of silent consideration, he spoke:

“It ain’t always easy to keep straight. Guess I’m p’inted now, like
Hiram,” and he grinned. “I don’t drink none neither, not now.”

“Stick to that and keep your mouth shut, or it may be worse for you—and
for Susie, too,” she added.

“I will. Don’t you be afraid.”

“And what fetched you, Joe?”

“I was minded to set a nice clean board over them boys. I was a-tellin’
you that. And I can’t read none nor write. But if you was to write big
on a paper just what a man might want to set on a board like I was
a-talkin’ of, guess I could copy it plain enough.”

Dorothy considered. “Can you wait? It’ll be quite a time.”

“Yes, I kin wait.”

She left him, and went into the house, and was gone a full hour. What
the man thought of as he leaned against the rails, or sat on top, I do
not know. He had the patience of an ant.

When he saw Dorothy again at the door he climbed down, and, with some
excitement in his face, went toward the cabin.

“It wasn’t right easy, Joe. I was thinking I might ask Mr. Carington
about it. Mr. Lyndsay he’d be best; but I guess I wouldn’t ask him.”

“No,” said Joe, promptly. He saw why this might not be well. “I don’t
want nobody to know, Dory, ’cept you and Susie. It’ll kind of surprise
her, and she’ll like it.” Then he added, with some cunning, “She hates
to have folks goin’ there where them children’s buried.”

“I shall never want to,” said Dorothy. She still carried an unpleasant
remembrance of the dismal burial.

“Well, I thought I’d tell you, Dory.”

“Yes, of course.” She took the hint as but another evidence of Susie’s
state of mind and of Joe’s dreads and anxieties, and failed to examine
it closely, not being of a suspicious turn, despite a life which had
given little and taken much. Whoever asked of Dorothy a favor approached
her on the side of her nature most open to capture.

“You are a good deal more patient than most men,” she said. “Come in;
come in.” Joe entered after her. A Sunday quiet was in the air of the
place. There was no fire, and the sun, as it looked in, disclosed no
want anywhere of neatness and care. It was not lost on poor Joe as he
looked around the small house. He had been here often, but there are
times when we see and times when we do not. Now, perhaps because of
being on guard, all his senses, and the inert mind back of them, were
more alive than usual. A book lying open on the spotless table struck
him most; a snow-white rolling-pin had been hastily laid on it to keep
the place at the moment of Joe’s coming.

He was bent on making himself agreeable to his hostess, who now stood by
an open window, well satisfied with her work, a large sheet of paper in
her hand. She had put on for Sunday a white gown which had known the
summers of Georgia. It was clean and much mended, but it set off her
fair rosiness and dark hair, and made her look larger than she was.

“Sit down, Joe.”

“Guess I will,” said Joe. “Top rail of Hiram’s fence is mighty sharp.”

He sat down with caution, being heavy. In his own home the furniture was
apt to go to pieces unless humored by a but gradual abandonment to it of
the full weight of the human frame. Satisfied as to this, he began to
use the weapon of his sex:

“You’re well fixed up here, Dory. There ain’t many women could keep a
man’s house lookin’ like yourn!”

“Oh, it’s only just to not let things get ahead of you, and to keep your
man p’inted right.”

“Might be the woman mostly,” he said. “Some women p’ints themselves, and
some women don’t. It isn’t every woman’s got your talents.”

“I don’t know, Joe. Sometimes I think it isn’t worth while to go on and
on this way, and then I let things go a while just any way they’re
a-minded. That’s burying your talents, Joe; and then at last I can’t
stand it, and I dig up my little talents, and dust them well, and say,
‘Get up on your legs, and attend to your business.’” Her parables were
never clear to him.

“We live just like hogs at my house.”

“No, you don’t,” cried Dorothy, laughing. “I hate to hear a man taking
away the characters of respectable animals. A hog has always got his
nose over the trough. He wants his feed like everything. He’ll work for
it all day—and smart! Why, he’ll be into your truck-patch and out, when
he sees you, before you can turn round. He knows what he wants, and he
goes for it; and he knows when he’s stealing as well as you or me. I
hate to hear an animal called pig-headed because he don’t mean to be
ordered here or there by a fellow that hasn’t got half his will or half
his brains. There!”

“Gosh, Dory, but you’re a funny woman.”

“Am I? There is more than fun in that sermon. Look here; this might do.”
And, as he came near and stood with huge square hands on the table, she
spread out the sheet of paper.

“Can’t you read any of it, Joe?”

“Not no word of it. I might know the letters—the big ones.”

He looked at it as a scholar might at some papyrus in an unknown
language. “You might read it,” he said.

Upon this, with a finger on each word, as she went on, and with his eyes
following it with interest, she read slowly:

                         “HERE LIE THE BODIES
                         OF
                         SUSAN FAIRLAMB,
                         PETER FAIRLAMB, AND
                         ISAIAH FAIRLAMB,
                         CHILDREN OF SUSAN AND
                         PETER FAIRLAMB.”

“I guess I’d leave him out,” said Joe, straightening himself.

“But children must have a father.”

“There ain’t no need to say it, though, Dory. Susie she won’t like it.”

“Well, it isn’t my tombstone,” said Dorothy. “He wasn’t much use to them
when he was alive; we’ll leave him out.” Untrammeled by the usages of
the world, she put a pen through the statement of parental relation.

“What about the dates—the days they died, and their ages?”

“Derned if I know, except about Isaiah. It don’t matter none.” He was
reflecting that the work before him might be reasonably lessened.

“It really don’t matter,” she returned. “But, Joe, don’t you want some
verse out of the Bible? They most generally do put that.”

“It makes a heap of work, and my knife ain’t none too sharp. Make it
short, anyways.”

Certain grim texts came into Dorothy’s mind, but she set them aside. At
last she wrote:

                   Of such are the kingdom of heaven!

and repeated the phrase aloud.

“That’s as short as you could make it?” he said.

“Yes. Do you come down to-morrow morning—no, on Monday. I’ll baste four
big sheets together, and print it all, the size you will want it. Then
you can easily copy the letters. How will that do?”

“First rate. I’m awful obliged to you, Dory.”

“Can Susan read it?”

“Well, she can manage to spell it out; and you’ll read it to me a couple
of times, so I’ll be able to tell her if she ain’t got the meanin’
straight. I’ll come, and don’t you let no one know.”

“Well, good-by.” She made no promise. She had too clear a sense of the
ridiculous to want to let this thing stand uncriticized. It was for her
a novel venture. Now she saw the man go, and stood herself a moment in
the sun, facing the doorway, and resting with both hands on the table.
Her own children lay in nameless graves in the far South, buried in days
when war and want had made record difficult. She was recalling the
live-oak grove where the two small mounds were crumbling to the common
level of earth. At last she smiled, and said aloud:

“I guess Christ will know where to find them.”

“What was you sayin’?” said Hiram, entering.

“I was only p’inting myself, Hiram.”

“Do you have need to do that, Dory? I’d’a’ never guessed that.”

“Oh, pretty often.” She herself would scarcely have said “p’inting” in
her talk with the Lyndsays, but that her husband used the word, and she
had come to regard it by habit as having a specific significance other
than that of its proper, unabbreviated parent.

Meanwhile Joe Colkett walked homeward, with so much mind as he possessed
at ease. The rest of the enterprise seemed small compared to the
difficulty over which poor Dorothy had so innocently helped him.

At times he had been inclined to content himself with a neat wooden
tomb-mark. Being clever enough with tools, this might easily have been
managed; but now, the hard, half-distraught woman, whose worn middle age
still had his love, for whom he would have dared all his nature let him
dare, was ever at his elbow with hints as to the possibility of crime.
He had, however, no natural tendency to grave wrong-doing, and it seemed
to him that if he could propitiate this relentless temptress by
gratifying her lesser desire, she might be content and cease to urge him
into worse ways. He was distinctly afraid of his wife, and, once or
twice, of himself, when she had set before him what they could do with
money, and how pleasant it might be to get drunk when he liked.

At least now she should have her more innocent wish satisfied. Nor was
it strange that he gave no thought to the people he was about to
plunder. He had lived too much of late in the black shade of the
possibilities of larger crime to be troubled by the smaller sin he was
so eager to commit. Nor could he supply to the minds of those he meant
to rob more motives than his own imagination supplied, and it taught him
nothing in the way of sentiment concerning these records of the dead.



                               CHAPTER XX


Joe went home, and, as he approached, saw the woman, his wife, at the
wood-pile. One foot was on a log, and, as she struck, she swung the ax
with the ease of habit and of strength. Joe stood a moment thinking what
a fine, big creature it was. He admired the physical power and the
dexterity of this gaunt being, to whom unkindly time had left none of
the fair curves of her sex.

Once he had humbly wondered why the tall and still handsome Susan had
given herself to him; but for years he had too well known her motives,
and slowly, by degrees, there had been revealed to his simplicity the
true nature of the wife he had taken. It did not destroy, it scarcely
lessened, his attachment. The poor fellow had by birthright a great
fortune in capacity to love. No one had cared for him, and when he found
this single love of a sad life, it was not in his construction to be
capable of change.

“Halloa, Susie! Why, I’ll do that!” he cried cheerfully.

She stopped short, and, turning, faced him. “You ain’t man enough even
to cut wood for a woman.” And again she struck to right and left with
masculine vigor. “Get out, or I’ll let you have it,” she said, whirling
the ax around her head as he fell back. And still the vigor and force of
the woman pleased him, despite the sense that he was being ill used.

“But I’ve been doin’ somethin’ for you that’ll please you a heap.”

She ceased to chop as he spoke, and, standing, faced him.

“You can’t fool me. You’ve been after drink. I know you. Get in and make
the bed, it ain’t been made all day; and there’s a pair of socks needs
darning.” She laughed. “Pretty dear, he is!”

The sarcasm was thrown away. He stared at her a moment in dull wonder,
and went in, and tossed up the pillows, and turned the corn-husk
mattress, and propped a broken chair against the wall, and did his best
to make it all look like the neat order in Dorothy’s cabin. Next he took
a half-loaf of stale bread, and went out the back door and into the
woods.

It was now dusk. Avoiding the road, he strode with a woodman’s skill
through the deeper forest, over a hill-top, and thus down to the river,
and so at last found himself above the clearings. Here he came upon the
dugout he had hidden in the alders two days before. He got in and poled
up-stream in the darkness, passing the burnt lands, and coming at length
to a deserted flat. It had once been a good pasture, but some change had
taken place in the channel, and now in the spring the waters always went
over it. Where coarse undergrowth had sprung up, the ice of the April
floods had torn long lanes of ravage. The dead or half-dead bushes were
bent southward, and weighted with a ragged tangle of leaves and twigs
caught in the angular branchings of the stems: a desolate place, and
wild enough in the uncertain evening light.

Beyond the ruined cabin, which the changes of the river curves had made
untenable, he crossed the inland road. He might easily have come by it,
but had wisely avoided even this small chance of being seen. On the
farther side was an oblong, white frame-building, the Methodist chapel.
Once in a month it was used in its turn for service by the lean
minister. It was likely that no one would be near it for two weeks, and,
in fact, here the road ended.

Joe got over into the graveyard and looked about him. There were three
or four heavy slabs of gray stone, and a dozen or two of unmarked
graves, over which he stumbled with a curse. He looked around and
listened. Only the hoarse roar of the rapids reached his ear, and he saw
the moon just over the tree-tops. The light aiding him, he came at last
on the simple, white, upright slab set over the child’s grave. He seized
it, with no hesitation, and began to rock it sideways, to and fro. At
last it was loosened, and, with no more thought than he would have given
the felling of a pine, he tore it out, and with difficulty hoisted it on
his back, and set out toward the river. It was easily lifted over the
low stone wall of the graveyard, but as he set it on the top of the
fence beyond the road, and began to climb over, the rail broke and he
fell, the heavy marble tumbling on his foot so as to cut the instep. He
sat down, with an oath, and took off his boot. He was in great pain. The
boot was torn, as he found, and half full of blood. It was an hour
before he could get it on again and walk at all.

At length he got over the broken fence, thinking only in his suffering
of the woman and how she would like what he meant to do for her. Twice
he failed to lift the slab onto his back, and twice lay down beside it,
overcome by a strong feeling that after all he might fail. At last, in
such extremity of pain as would have conquered most men, he got up, and
set his teeth, and resolutely took up his burden. It must have been the
most intense hour of a life without power to call up the past by means
of pictures, for, as he staggered through the gloom, sweating with
effort and from increasing torture, he was given a brief moment when he
saw Susan as he first knew her, a slim, strong, young woman, with the
emphatic beauty of anger upon her. It made him stronger, and he went on.
At last he reached the dugout, and saying, from mere habit, “Thank the
Lord! I done it,” he sat a while with his foot in the cool river water.

It was true that at no moment had he felt the terrors which few had
escaped in the lonely home of the dead he had robbed. Now he was at ease
and assured of success. He laid the stone in the boat. As he stood an
instant in the gloom of a profound stillness, a cold gust of wind came
down from the hills, and, with wail and roar in the pines beyond,
swooped onto the level, and for a moment shook life of movement into the
dead gray streamers of moss and the hanging wreckage of torn underbrush.
The next moment all was still again. It is not a very rare phenomenon,
but he might not before have given it attention. Somehow its unusualness
impressed him, so that he shivered as he felt the momentary coolness,
and with this came the familiar notion of his childhood that a dog was
crawling over his grave. He jumped into the pirogue, shoved it off, and
was at once away in the current. As he sat down, with his paddle in
hand, he reflected that the white stone was full in view and that some
one might by chance be out with a drag-net poaching. He put into shore,
and carefully covered the stone with ferns. There was, of course, the
risk of a river-warden’s inquisition, but he knew when the rounds were
made, and so ran on fearlessly, keeping a sharp eye ahead.

No one troubled him. He got ashore near his cabin, and still in the
utmost pain, resting often on the way, carried the stone to the wood,
where, in secure remoteness from his house, he could go on with the
needed work. On his way homeward he picked up two steel traps as an
excuse for his absence.

When he entered the house it was early morning, and, to his surprise, he
found Susan afoot. Her habit was to lie abed until Joe had been up some
time, kindled the fire, and perhaps even had set the frying-pan to heat,
and made tea, which she was accustomed to drink in excessive amounts. On
other days, of late, she was apt to lie abed still longer, to refuse
food, and decline to take the least notice of Joe. For him these moods
represented the mother’s grief. If he did not fully comprehend it, he at
least tried his best to disregard the inconvenience thus added to his
wretched life. His canine simpleness craved mere affectionate regard,
and in its lack, and the undefined misery this caused him, the woman
possessed a deadly weapon. And now, on this occasion, to his surprise
she was up, and his sorry breakfast of stale bread and bacon ready.

Of trees to fell, or quality of rafted lumber, he knew enough to be a
good hand in the woods or on the spring drives, but naturally enough was
unobservant of people. Nevertheless he noticed that his wife had on a
not uncleanly gown, and a bit of worn ribbon, and had set her unkempt
locks in order.

“Law, Susie, you look right slick,” he said.

“Been after the traps, Joe?” she said, glancing at the rusty irons in
his hand. “Get anything?”

“Guess so. A mus’rat and a wood-chuck.”

“Let’s see.” He went out and brought them in.

“Chuck’s good and fat, Susie, and I know where another one lives!”

“Just ain’t he fat! And the rat-skin?”

“That ain’t much.”

“But it’d make a nice purse if there was any money to put in it.”

“That’s so, Susie.”

“But we’ll get something to put in it,” she said, setting her large red
eyes on the man, and speaking with cold cheerfulness.

“Yes,” he returned hastily. “I’ll get a job up river soon. Them Boston
men’s set on buildin’ a house. Thought I’d see ‘bout gettin’ on to
that.”

“Is Carington comin’ to hunt caribou?”

“Don’t know rightly. He ain’t said nothin’, ’cept last week. I ain’t
seen him since.”

“He’ll come, I guess, Joe, and then, if you’re a man, there’ll be a
chance.”

“Yes, yes,” he said anxiously. “Time ’nough.”

He was dreadfully scared. He felt that he might be made to do anything.

A smile crawled sluggishly over her face. “That’s so. But the thing is
to get your mind set to it. Might happen a good chance any day.”

He was too simple not to show his fear, and she was quick enough to see.

“You trust me, old man, to fix it, and there won’t be nobody’ll ever
guess who done it.”

“You ain’t called me your old man, Susie, this two year,” he said. “Now
don’t you go for to want me to do somethin’ like that.”

“There ain’t no harm in considerin’ things, Joe. Everything’s just gone
against you and me, and if a good chance was to turn up—a right safe
one—I guess you’d not be the man I took you for if you don’t just grab
it.”

“Well, we’ll see,” he said, eager to get off the subject. He had become
set in his mind as to this matter, and meant somehow to escape the toils
she was casting about him. “What’s for breakfast, Susie?”

“Oh, that old hen’s took to layin’ again. There’s eggs and bacon, and I
done you some slapjacks.”

“That’s good. I’m hungry.” As he passed her to sit at the table he
kissed her. “Why, you look right pert to-day.”

“Thought you might be a-spyin’ round Dory. Got to keep an eye on you
fellows,” and she laughed. Manufactured laughter is a dreary product;
but it answered for poor Joe as well as the most honest coinage of a
merry heart. It set him at ease for a time, and they ate, while the
woman tried to revive for her victim the coarse coquetry of her younger
days, when she attracted or revolted men as their natures chanced to be.



                              CHAPTER XXI


Lyndsay had set his heart on a second Sunday morning on the river, with
Rose and the trees. She readily gave up her proposed morning visit to
Dorothy, and said the afternoon would answer. Miss Anne thought she
herself was strong enough for the party, and Rose, much pleased, set
about arranging her cushions in Tom’s canoe.

“We will be back to lunch, mama,” said Rose. “It is early. Will it rain?
It looks hazy.”

“It is smoke, Rose. Some far-away fire. Where are the boys, Tom?”

“Up-river, sir, with the Gaspé men.”

“Who gave them leave to go?”

“You, papa,” said Rose. “I suspect they have gone after those unhappy
hornets. They were up and away long ago. They asked you last night.”

“Did they?”

“Yes; you were deep in a book, and said ‘Yes, yes,’ in your dear old
absent way.”

“I am sorry. Mama thinks it a naughty amusement at best, and when there
is also the additional naughtiness of battle on Sunday! Well, they will
be properly stung with remorse or hornet-fangs, or a combination. The
wounded will be pardoned, I fancy. Hey, Rose?”

“Like enough.”

Mrs. Maybrook’s vivid account of Susan Colkett’s talk with Joe had made
on Lyndsay at first a strong impression of disgust and annoyance. He saw
in it, after cooler reflection, only one of the numberless beginnings of
tragic crime which are refused the prosperity of opportunity. We have no
proverbial wisdom as to what place bad intentions go to pave; but those
who see much of the darker ways of man are well aware that there is much
intended evil, as well as intended good, which never gets beyond the egg
of theory. The crime which Susan Colkett was nursing with the devil-milk
of base use of a man’s honest love grew less momentous to Lyndsay as he
considered it. Once suspected, it became to him almost childlike in its
foolishness. Crime-seed, like the grain of the parable, falls
everywhere. There is a human climate in which, above all others, it
finds swift maturity of growth.

Susan Colkett was by nature inclined to evil. She had base animal
cravings, liking high colors and coarse meats. A want was with her at
once a fierce hunger of desire, and made temptation dangerous to one who
had in its crude fullness brute courage, and that dreadful alliance of
the sensual with the destructive instincts which is more rare in woman
than in man. But of Susan Colkett’s personality Lyndsay knew almost
nothing. He was, however, by no means indifferent as to the matter, but
had simply put off speaking of it to Carington for want of an easy
chance.

As they came opposite the Island Camp, Lyndsay said abruptly:

“Run her up onto the beach, Pierre.”

“Are you going to stop? I wish you wouldn’t stop, papa. We have a very
short time to-day.”

“I shall be back in a moment. I have been putting off a little matter
of—of business with Carington. I shall not be long.” Meanwhile Anne
Lyndsay’s canoe also came to shore.

Rose said no more. She saw her father disappear into the tent, come out
with Carington, and begin to walk to and fro on the upper slope. Very
soon she began to be curious, as she saw them pause and turn and go on
again.

“What are they talking about, Aunt Anne?”

Miss Lyndsay looked up from a book. “How on earth, my dear, should I
know?”

“But are you not curious?”

“Yes, I am always curious—as to the good, and as to the bad, and as to
everything in between.”

Rose laughed. “That covers the whole possibilities. Here they come. Now
I shall know.”

“I don’t think you will.”

“A pair of gloves to a pound of bonbons.”

“Done, goosey! Whom will you ask?”

“That is my business. There was no limit of time.”

“None! But you will lose. Your father looks solemn, and Mr. Carington
like a sphinx.”

“Given two men and one woman, aunty, and a thing to find out: that seems
an easy equation.”

“I see the unknown quantity written clear on both faces. You won’t win.”

Carington stood a moment in gay chat with Rose. Then Lyndsay said:

“You won’t come with us?”

“No; not to-day.” His question was settled without the thermometer. He
was clear enough as to the indiscreetness of a useless morning with Rose
and two others, and a meeting at Mrs. Maybrook’s in the afternoon. He
would abide by the later chance and its less distracting accompaniments.

“We shall look for you both to-morrow,” said Miss Anne Lyndsay. And they
poled away up the river, while Rose talked to her father, biding her
time to win her little bet.

Anne, lying in her own canoe, and very comfortable, fell into amused
reflection. If books were what she dearly loved and closely studied, she
had a no less active fancy for that rarer occupation, the serious study
of the human face. It is a difficult branch of observation, because one
may not too often or too attentively examine the features of those with
whom we are in immediate social contact. Like her friend, Dr. North, she
preferred on the whole the critical study of women’s faces. She declared
that only these repaid attention, and that the hirsute growths of men
were, like the jungle, useful for the concealment of animal expressions.
She remarked with interest that Carington lacked this partial mask, and
said to herself, “That man has something on his mind. Is it about what
Archie has been telling him? I shall ask Archie.” Then she went back to
her book, which was her favorite “Reisebilder.”

In the other canoe, Rose had brought the talk around several sharp
corners, and at last, having no better chance, said:

“You looked worried, Pardy, or so very grave, when you were talking to
Mr. Carington. Has he been naughty, papa?”

“No.”

“Well, what was it? You both seemed so intent.”

“Allow me, miss, to ask if interest in me, in Mr. Carington, or in the
unknown is at the thriving root of your evident curiosity?”

“In you, Marc. Aurelius.”

“That is pretty clever, miss. Permit me to reply, in the language of my
namesake, ‘Mere curiosity is like a road which leads nowhere: what
profits it to go that way? Also as to things it may be well, or as to
those in whom we have an interest, but not as to the horde of men.’ Now,
as you have expressed no interest in it as a thing unknown, and none as
to Mr. Carington, or mankind, and as it concerns him chiefly, I shall
forever after hold my peace. You lost your chance.”

“Give me another.”

“Not I.”

“But I made a bet with Aunt Anne.”

“Then pay it. Have you exhausted your feminine arts?”

“All—I give up; but I mean to know. I shall ask Mr. Carington.”

“I wouldn’t do that, my dear child.”

“Oh, Pardy! How you rose to that fly! Imagine it!”

“You minx! Halloa, Tom! Hold up a moment. Drop anchor here. I want to
stop.” They were near to the farther bank. “Here, Pierre, put your canoe
alongside. Are you all right, Anne?”

“Perfectly.”

“I want to show you something before the sun is too high. Can you sketch
here, Rose? The boat is pretty quiet?”

“I am not sure; I can try.”

“How much darker it is, Tom!”

“Yes, sir. It’s the smoke. It’s been about a bit for a day or two. Now
the wind’s to south, it’s gettin’ kind of thicker. There’s a big fire
somewhere.”

“How far?”

“Might be a hundred miles away. ‘Heap big smudge,’ Polycarp says.”

“Look now,” said Lyndsay. “Try to get me these water-tints. Take a bit
of it.”

“I can’t. What makes these colors? They are beyond me.”

“The sun must be back of you; the water near you—that is, you must be
low down. Then the stone-tints of the river-bed are caught by the many
changeful mirrors of the surface. It is, as you see, pretty well
wave-broken here. Also, the general color is that of this yellow-red
gravel slope opposite, mixed with the green of the trees.”

“Then,” said Anne, “it gets color—surface color—from within, and also
from without, like one’s personality.”

“That is it, I see,” said Rose. “But the blue in the waves is so
deep—deeper than the sky. It is intense indigo. More heavenly than
heaven.”

“Yes, that is so. It is because, as we partly face the current, you look
into the concavities of thousands of waves, and each condenses, so to
speak, the blue of large sky spaces. Am I clear?”

“‘Each nobler soul inherits heaven’s largeness,’” quoted Anne.

“Thanks, aunty. The greenish gold of the surface is the color of the
bank, made also deeper in hue because of being caught on the myriad
rippling of the water.”

“Good, my dear.”

“How beautiful it is!—the flashing cupfuls of blue in among this bloom
of green and gold. No one could paint it.”

“It is best at evening, Rose, but not at this point. There is a place
some miles up where the general surface is silvered by a mass of white
or light-gray granite, and in this you have set again the numberless
wave-shells of indigo-blue—a dance of blue in silver.”

“Isn’t that smoke getting very much thicker? The colors are less
brilliant now.”

“Yes, ma’am. The wind blows it up the gorges. Happen might smell it.”

“I do,” said Anne. “One can hardly see the farther hills.”

“Some men,” said Lyndsay, “fancy that it affects the fishing
unfavorably; but two years ago, on the Cascapedia, the water was so
saturated with smoke as to be undrinkable, and still the fish rose well.
I wanted to study with you again, Rose, the purple color of the dead
trees above us; but this smoke will somewhat affect it.”

“Let us get on to the beach, papa.” And in a moment they were seated on
a log, Anne lying at ease beside them.

“It gets still more dense, Rose. We must give up the water. Sketch that
sprawling dead pine yonder; it seems reeling back, and the one in front
looks as if it had just hit it.”

“How droll, Archie!” said Anne. “May I talk, or will it disturb the
higher art?”

“No. Talk as much as you like. No one could be cruel enough to deny you
the safety-valve of talk.”

“If you had said no, I should have wanted to talk. I am now perversely
inclined to silence.”

“It is a self-limited disease with you, Anne.”

“Thank you! I was wondering a little whether you were right about the
use of minute observation of nature by the poets. Rose told me what you
had said. It was, I think, that Wordsworth was apt to be over-credited
with this faculty, and that others have had it far beyond him.”

“Yes; it is the spiritual use of what he saw that is his distinctive
quality. I think he carries that at times to the utmost endurable
limit—even to near touch of the absurd.”

“That may be so. I think the limits of acceptance depend on one’s moods.
Of course, too minute notice in verse of natural peculiarities may be
possible. Now, these colors—how could one put them in verse?”

“Oh, aunty, you forget:

                ‘A silver plane of fretted gold,
                Set thick with shells of violet blue.’”

“That is mere description, Archie—good enough and true; but what I mean
is that accurate description does not, as a rule, consist with poetry.
The best of it seizes a single trait, and with it links some human
emotion. You can’t catalogue in verse, as Walt Whitman does.”

“My dear old Walt!” said Lyndsay. “I am thankful for what he gives, and
do not quarrel with what he does not. I am inclined to think that he
will outlive some of his seeming betters. I have been more than once
struck, in talking with him, by his entire unconsciousness of the fact
that, while he believed himself to be the poet of the masses, he found
his only readers among the most cultivated class.”

“Could I read him? You said once that I could not,” said Rose.

“He is hardly _pueris et virginibusque_, my dear; but his later editions
are fairly expurgated of what had as well never been written. Anne will
give you his great poem, ‘The Dream of Columbus,’ and ‘The Convict,’ and
‘My Captain,’ and ‘When Lilacs Bloom.’ A friend of North’s once gave
Walt, through him, a check which he much needed, asking in return an
autograph copy of ‘My Captain.’ He took the gift with entire simplicity,
and sent two copies of that noble verse. He was the most innocently and
entirely vain creature I ever knew. The perfect story of his vanity
will, I fancy, never be written. It was past belief.”

“What a fine head he had a few years ago,” said Anne.

“Yes; he was a great big child, and he looked then like the Greek busts
of Jove.”

“He should always be read aloud,” returned Anne, “and read, too, with a
little contribution of rhythmical flattery. If I were Mr. Ellett, I
would say, ‘Now, that isn’t at all a bad remark.’”

“You appear to have said so, Aunt Anne.”

“I have. If I were a poet, I would set over my verses, ‘Read this
aloud’; or, ‘Read this to yourself’; or, ‘To be read under a tree over a
woman’s shoulder’; or, ‘With a pipe in autumn.’”

“What a nice idea, aunty! When you were talking just now of the use of
natural descriptions, I meant to tell you what Mr. Carington said.”

“Well.”

“He said it seemed to him a fine and artful thing in Shakspere to set
amidst the crime of Macbeth all that prettiness about innocent nature;
the description of the martlets and the castle, you know.”

“It is true,” said Anne. “It is quite true. Does the young man talk
well? I am not sure that his remark is new; but no matter. How little of
one’s talk can be that!”

“I thought he talked fairly well. He did not say it was his own
thought.”

“No matter. It is _ben trovato_.”

“I think it was his own,” said Rose.

“Oh!”

“How the smoke still thickens, papa! And the water is now a green
bronze.”

“Yes, and the sun— Here is my word-sketch: ‘Eleven A. M. Sun over and
back of me. Air full of smoke. Hills a delicate, airy blue. Sun
orange-red, with a blur of yellow around it. All shadows on gray sand a
faint green. Delicate opalescence on smooth, slightly rippled water.
Deep purple reflections of dead trees. Sense of strangeness—of
mystery.’”

“That is almost as good as a picture, Pardy.”

“At early morning here,” he went on, “the river-bed is full of mist. The
combination of this with smoke gives some very weird effects. If we have
a bright yellow sunset this evening, the dead trees on the hilltops will
be of a pure orange tint.”

“I shall imagine the morning colors,” said Rose. “I am like the salmon.
How they are rising now!”

“Yes; and so is my appetite. Shall we go? It will be lunch-time before
we get back.”

“And this is our last Sunday on the river for this year,” said Rose.

“And perhaps my last for all years,” thought Anne; yet what she said was
this:

“I have been trying to make out, Archie, why water is such a lovely
thing. Why is it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Nor I. It is the one thing in nature which has moods for me,—I mean
many moods. Then it is the one natural thing which has something like
laughter.”

“Time writes no wrinkles, etc.,” cried Rose.

“And it has no memory or record of its works. Is that part of its
seeming joyousness? And never—never is in straight lines.”

“Rather obvious that, Anne.”

“But it wasn’t obvious to me a half-hour ago. I am pleased with my
discovery. Don’t tell me Ruskin has said it. I know he has not, or if he
has, he had no business to have said it, and you can’t patent ideas.”

“But Anne—” Lyndsay began.

“Don’t, Archie. I am not to be contradicted to-day.”

“I was going to agree with you”; and he laughed. “May not a fellow even
agree with you?”

“Certainly, if he agreeably agrees with me. There are—oh, there are
hateful ways of agreeing with people.”

Then Rose was about to mention Mr. Carington’s use of the word
agreeable, but refrained, she did not know why. She caught the words
about to issue out, and put them back into a corner of silence, and did
say:

“What you say, Aunt Anne, of water reminds me of what Mr. W. said about
a picture, last spring, of great war-ships coming through a mist toward
us. It was rather fine. But the water was set in such stiff, orderly
billows that Mr. W. said, ‘Yes, Britannia certainly has been ruling the
waves.’”

“I had forgotten it,” said Anne. “Now I remember that our English friend
did not capture the meaning.”

“Oh, no. Really, Pardy, it sometimes makes life hard in England, this
sort of inaptitude to turn with quick apprehension from grave to gay.”

“It would suit your mama. I am not sure that I like our unending
tendency to see things or put things in ridiculous aspects—no, not just
ridiculous,—help me to a word; not funny, either,—somewhere among the
lost words, the verbal refuse-heaps of Old English, there must be the
word I want.”

“We know what you mean,” said Anne. “I agree with you. Our newspapers
are every day painfully funny for me. To deal all the time with the
serious so as perpetually to make it seem trifling by putting it in
comic guises is to damage one’s true sense of humor.”

“And of the serious, which is worse,” said Lyndsay.

“And, Archie, I don’t like the constant misuse of words it brings about.
I don’t like to lose respect for words. I don’t like their characters
taken away, so as to unfit them for their next place. Words have
duties.”

“That is all true, Anne; but if we begin to abuse newspapers, we shall
never get home. And they are so infallible, confound them!—an absolutely
honest confession that they have told what was not true is the last
thing you can get out of them. The editor who would not contradict a
false paragraph as to a man’s death is a good example: he offered to put
in a statement of the man’s birth! Let us go home.”

Laughing, they pushed off, and, soon lapsing into silence, slid away
down the dancing rapids, under an ever dimmer sunshine, as the smoke
grew more and more dense. Now and then Lyndsay saw something to remember
in wood or water, and made brief note of it. He had a mind some day to
make a small book about word-sketching. Probably he would never do it;
but it is pleasant to pet our little enterprises, until, maturing in
thought, they get too large for the mother-lap.

Rose watched the amber waters, and then, furtively, the Island Camp,
where was noontide quiet, and no man in sight.

The two canoes were held together as they ran down-stream, and only now
and then a guiding paddle was used.

“You have had a nice little nap,” said Lyndsay.

“I have,” said Anne. “I am the only person I know who will admit to
having slept in daylight. I slept little last night, and—isn’t it
droll?—I took just now into my sleep a queer little bit of the Orient. I
think it is rare to carry one’s thoughts with one unbroken into the land
of dreams. But I did, and I went on dreaming of it.”

“What was it, aunty?”

“Only some stuff out of the ‘Legenda Aureata.’ It would not interest
you.”

“Anne!” “Aunty!” they cried. “It used to be El Din Attar, and Hafiz. Now
it is the ‘Talmud’ or the ‘Golden Legends.’ You are a horrid humbug,”
added Lyndsay.

“You are a dear, sweet, altogether nice humbug,” said Rose. “What was
it?”

“Then listen, children. When Adam and Eve were turned out of Eden, they
could get no sleep, because of their tears—for when tears part the lids
what man may slumber? Therefore all night long they complained. After
awhile the birds flew up to heaven and said, ‘We have done no wrong,
neither have we eaten of the tree, nor do we know good from evil. Yet
these two keep us awake with their cries.’ Then the Christ came down to
help them, and, coming to Adam, said, ‘What is there thou wilt give God
for sleep?’ And Adam said, ‘We have but one thing left us: we will give
love.’ And the Christ said, ‘It is enough. Forasmuch as even the kings
of the earth receive no gift without returning a better, therefore for
thy love thou shalt have God’s larger love and also sleep.’ So the man
and the woman slept, and the birds had rest. And it was said later, ‘He
giveth his beloved sleep.’”

“Isn’t it pretty, papa?”

“Rather. But, Anne—”

“I am sleepy,” she said. “By-by,” and she pushed their canoe away. “Let
go, Pierre; I want to go to sleep again.”

“Was it out of some book, Pardy?”

“Gracious, Rose, how do I know?”



                              CHAPTER XXII


The Sunday stillness of the Island Camp was broken by lunch, and after
it Ellett thought he would go down to call on the Lyndsays, and perhaps
Fred might like to go with him. But Fred had letters to write—he was too
lazy—he wished to finish a novel. However, he wrote a note to Mr.
Lyndsay, to say that on Thursday he meant to go down the river to
Mackenzie to see a man about a cabin he desired to have built on the
Island, and would call to ask if Mr. Lyndsay still wished him to have a
check cashed at the bank, in order to pay his men. Also, he could then
arrange for the tickets and sleeping-car accommodations Mr. Lyndsay’s
family needed on their return. And thus, having secured the absence of
Ellett, he saw him depart, and for an hour or more smoked, and
diligently struggled with a book by a sadly literary woman who was
contributing her feeble ferment of doubts to enliven the summer moods of
man and maid. At last he rose, pitching the book across the tent, and
said aloud:

                 “There was a young woman of Boston,
                 A blanket of doubts she was tossed on;
                   Four fiends who were scorners
                   Had clutch of the corners.
                   They tossed her so high
                   That she stayed in the sky,
                 And doubts the existence of Boston.

I forget the other nine verses. Michelle, halloa! Put me across!”

“Pshaw!” he exclaimed, as he strode through the summer woods. “I hate
books which land you in the country of nowhere.” And he thought,
smiling, of the famous Eastern tale of the caliph and the philosopher:
“Who are you?” said Haroun. “I don’t know.” “Where are you going?” “I
don’t know.” “Where are you from?” “I don’t know. I write books; what
about is for him that readeth to discern. To know nothing is the Path of
Negation by which you attain knowledge of the infinite Nothing.” “Then,”
said the caliph, “in the language of El Din Attar, ‘One serious
conviction is better than armies of denial: more wholesome is it to
believe in Satan than to deny God.’ In order that thou mayest abide on
the seat of wisdom for a week and acquire one earthly certainty, thou
shalt have the bastinado!” “Where did I read that stuff?” he thought,
and went along, humming snatches of song, his own or others, for he
scribbled a little, and had some musical touch of the light grace of the
song; but “intended no monuments of books.”

The woods soon brought back to him the mood of contentment, which is one
of their many mysteries. The most delightful possibilities are those
which never occur, and of these the woods are full. The delicate sense
of something about to happen began to possess Carington. He went on his
way, smiling, and now and then stood still to touch a tree, or notice
some unusual giant, or to note some singularity of limb or bole.

An hour or more of sharp walking brought him to the cabin of the
Maybrooks. It was closed. He passed around it, and saw no sign of its
inhabitants. He knocked and got no reply. Then he said a naughty word,
and went and sat down on the edge of the well and reflected. He was more
disappointed than he felt willing to admit. By and by he acquired
wisdom, and went to the brook, where would have been the grilse if Rose
and her attendant had come and gone. Seeing no fish lying in this cool
larder, he felt better and went back to the well. There doubt awaited
him with the possibility of Dory having gone to the Cliff Camp, which
would have made needless Miss Rose’s intended visit. He had been stupid
in not anticipating this contingency. At least he would wait awhile.

And now there was a sudden gleam far away among the trees, unseen by
this young man who was gazing down into the cool depths of the well. Had
he looked that other way this flutter of color in the trampled ox-road
would soon have become to him a pink muslin gown. The wearer carried a
basket in her right hand, and in the left, swinging it gaily as she
walked, a broad straw hat. At the wood skirt she paused to change her
burden to the less tired hand,—for she had been of a mind to come alone,
and now found her five-pound fish to have gained in weight. As she
looked up, she was aware of Mr. Carington seated on the edge of the
well, his back toward her. He was singing:

                 Oh, merry’t is in proud La Moine,
                   I hear my glad heart sing;
                 The flag is up, the fleet is safe,
                   And the blessed church-bells ring.

                 Oh, here’s a kiss, and there’s a kiss,
                   For you, good northern wind,
                 That brought our fishers home again,
                   For you left no soul behind.

                 And here’s a kiss, and there’s a kiss,
                   Because my heart is glad;
                 And there be twenty dozen left,
                   And my sweet sailor lad.

He sang with little art, but with every word clear, and as a man alone
sings for company of sound.

Rose stood still and heard it out, liking it, but hesitated a little,
half hid behind a huge pine,—a pleasant picture of a maiden struck shy
of a sudden. What had happened? There is a little timepiece which Cupid
winds up. It ticks quietly, and by and by strikes a fateful hour, or we
take it out to see how goes the enemy, and behold! it is to-morrow. Love
is the fool of time.

Rose stood a moment, as I have said, not forty feet away, a little
inclined to retreat,—aware that, if detected, this would mean something,
she knew not what. At last, seeing the need of action, she made a
strategic movement to left, and said, “Are you looking for Truth?”

“Good heavens! Miss Lyndsay,” and he rose from his seat on the edge of
the well. The prettiness of the picture struck him as Rose came forward:
the pink gown, fresh from the looms of fairy-land, set fair against the
greenwood spaces, the faint excess of color in her cheeks, and the look
of unconsciousness which goes surely with natural distinction of
carriage.

“Did you come up out of Mother Earth? Are you sure it is you?”

“I am. I came over to give my grilse to Mrs. Maybrook.”

“Our grilse, you remember.”

“I do not; but it is no matter. I came to give Dorothy the grilse.”

“She is not at home. Let me take the basket. I will put it in the brook.
Did you carry it?”

“I did. It weighs—I assure you—twenty pounds! I must see it bestowed.”
And she followed him into the wood along a narrow path to a basin of
brown water. The stream crawled forth here from under a fallen tamarack,
and seemed to hesitate a little in the pool below. Then it gathered
decision for flight, and leaped out, tripping across the tangled roots
as it went. Carington laid the fish in the water, and two stones upon
it.

“It is cooler here than outside,” he said. “Dorothy will be back in a
little while.”

After this outrage on truth, he added:

“I came over to pay my milk-bill.”

Then Rose, of a sudden remembering what she had said the day before as
to this errand of hers, became at once conscious of being in the country
of a pleasant enemy. Therefore she made a neutral remark as she looked
about her:

“How pretty it is here!”

“It is prettier a little way up, where the spring comes out under a
rock.”

“I should like to see it, but I must go. I have no time to spare. I must
go home. I have so much of nothing to do here, and there is nothing
takes so much time as doing nothing!”

“That is more mysterious than my little spring. Do come. It is only a
step.”

“If it is really only a step.” And she went with him, as he answered:

“Yes, almost literally.”

He put aside the bushes, and ten feet away came where, from under a
broad, mossy stone, a gush of water broke forth with a brisk air of
liking it. She stood still, pleased with that she saw.

“The dear, sweet, little thing!” she cried.

“It seems glad to get out,” he said. “Perhaps it has some strange
craving for sunshine; and think what a journey underground in the
darkness, like a soul in prison.”

“Go on,” she said, still looking down, and considering the fine
wholesomeness of its untainted life.

“How it got a little help here, and strength there, and climbed up from
under the bases of the hills, and of a sudden found light and voice and
purpose, and goes on its way, not minding obstacles. Pretty, isn’t it?
It seems so eager.”

“Yes. I wonder will the sea answer its riddle.” It was a quite alarming
little parable to this quick-witted young woman. “How it hurries! And it
reminds me I too must be going. It says, ‘Come.’”

“Does it, indeed? But it does not say, ‘Go.’”

“I am so sorry I have missed Dorothy.”

“You might give her a few moments. She will not be long. I shall have to
‘bide,’ as she says. I came to pay my milk-bill. Pray consider my
melancholy prospect if I have to stay here by myself!”

“Certainly a sad trial,” she said, smiling; “but I really must go.” She
began to move back again toward the pool.

“Does she know you meant to leave the grilse? It will spoil if it is not
cleaned. Grilse spoil so easily.”

It was difficult for mendacity to go beyond this latter statement.

“I am sorry, but I can leave a note in the doorway. Yes, I have a card,
by good luck. Have you a pencil?”

This time he achieved the lie direct, and said, “No! but it is near
milking-time, and Hiram will be ‘p’inted’ this way of a certainty.”

“I really cannot wait. What time is it?”

“How late it is!” he replied, glancing at his watch. “I had not the
least idea it was so late. They ought to be here now. It is half-past
five.”

There was good judgment in this fib. If he made it early she would not
think it worth while to wait, and if very late, she would be sure to go
at once.

“Indeed! Only half-past five! I will rest a few minutes.”

“Better sit down,” he said. She took her place on a rock, while he cast
himself down at her feet, dividing the ferns as he lay. She felt that
she had been infirm of purpose. He gave her no time to analyze her
weakness.

“You are very good not to leave me in the naughty company of myself.”

“It is not goodness at all: it is self-indulgence. I am a little tired;
that fish was very heavy. But you have not told me what you were looking
for in the well.”

“What do you folks look for in a well?” he asked, in turn.

“Truth, I suppose. Was that what you were looking for?”

“Yes.”

“And did not find it.”

“I shall.”

“There is more water here,” she said, laughing, and then could have
bitten her wicked tongue.

“Ah! we don’t look for it in shallow waters. There must be quiet for
reflection.”

“Indeed! What were you singing about?” she added, abruptly. “What is ‘La
Moine’? I caught the name.”

“I am glad you asked. On the coast near to Bar Harbor there is a little
fishing-town, La Moine. The cod-fishers go out in a fleet from its small
port in June, to the banks. The voyage, and, in fact, the whole life at
sea of these brave fellows, is full of peril. When the home-bound fleet
is sighted, the people go to the beach, and a lookout stays in the
church-steeple. If he sees no flag flying from the nearest smack, it
means that one or more men have been lost, and then the bells are
silent. But if he sees the signal flag, all is well: there has been no
life lost, and the bells ring out merrily.”

“What a pretty story! Tell me more, as the children say. It sounds like
a bit of Brittany. It is the girl who sings?”

“Yes. A girl—the girl.”

“Who made the verses? Where did you find them?”

“A local poet,” and he smiled.

“Yourself?”

“Yes; when I get away from my work my brain is apt to run on such
stuff.”

“Oh, I like them. Won’t you copy them for me?”

“You ask too much. But what am I to have in return?”

“The pleasure of obliging me.”

“Good! You shall have them.”

“Thank you. Aunt Anne will like the story, and Dorothy—it is strange how
easily that woman is interested. Don’t you like her?”

“Yes, very much. But, then, we are rather old friends. I was not here
last year, and this year I find Hiram a good deal changed. It seems as
though Fate had dealt hardly with Dorothy. She has so much tact, such
natural good manners, and you would smile if I said distinction.”

“No, I should not. It is a word which has acquired a fine flavor, and is
well applied here. I am always tempted to feel sorry, when with her,
that she must always have this narrow life.”

“I do not think the idea ever occurred to her.”

“Possibly not. She is by nature contented, and a source of contentment,
which is more rare.”

“That is true. I never see her without feeling that I have gained
something. She is in a real sense influential.”

“It seems odd, or perhaps it is not, but she has the same effect upon
me. I hardly fancy that in her class you could find this creature
repeated.”

“She has a similar effect on Ellett, and human nature does not repeat
itself. I mean that even the type is rare. It is purely natural,—owes
little to the education of events.”

“Yes, rare in all classes, I should say. My Aunt Anne is in some ways
queerly like Dorothy.”

“Indeed?”

“As I am like Jack. You may smile,—I am. Yes, and that makes me think of
Jack. Poor fellow! he fancies you utterly despise him.”

“No? Does he? I will ask him to go after a bear with me. I was quite too
rough with him, but really—-- However, I do not want to talk about that
horrid morning. I thought he was splendidly courageous and equally
outrageous.”

“There is courage and courage.”

“Yes, of course. It admits of analysis. I am often a coward myself; I am
desperately afraid of some things.”

“Of what?” she said, smiling.

“I will tell you some day. It is not well to tell a woman everything;
one loses interest as one satisfies curiosity.” He was on thin ice
now,—but ice it was, as he found out,—what Jack would have called tickly
benders.

“I have no curiosity,—none at all. I think I must go,” she said. “I
really must go,” and she rose, adding, “There is Dorothy, at last.”

He was as much relieved as she. He had seen but little of this young
woman, and his reason told him clearly enough that he had been near the
crumbling brink of folly, and that he had better be careful. He also
rose, and they went over to the cabin, where Dorothy greeted them. It
was not possible for a person as shrewd as Dorothy, knowing what had
passed on the beach with the bear, not to have some notion of what it
might lead to in the future. She had in her a fine feminine spice of
romance. Now she said, in her quiet way, “Good afternoon! Did you happen
to meet my Hiram?”

“No,” said Carington.

“I brought you a grilse, Mrs. Maybrook. It is in the pool.”

“I am that obliged to you. Guess I’ll smoke it, if it isn’t too big.
Come in. I just pulled some roses for Miss Anne. I’ve got them inside.
You might take them along. I’ll have to look up Hiram. Come in.” They
followed her.

“Here is your money for the milk,” said Carington, “and very good milk
it is.”

“My old cow ought to have her share, but she won’t. I guess we none of
us know when we get our fairings. She won’t know any more than the rest
of us. Did you walk down, Mr. Carington?”

“Yes.”

“Come by Joe Colkett’s?”

“No; I took the lower road.”

“He was here yesterday. You wouldn’t guess in a week of Sundays what
for. He wants to put a wooden slab over those poor children,—just to
please that hag. And he asked me to print it for him,—I mean, what will
do for the inscription. I tell you I was puzzled. I want you to see if
it is all right. He can’t read a word. You see, he means to copy it, and
then to please the woman with it.”

“How sad that is!” said Rose. “And he really cares for her?”

“I should think he did! That’s the worst of it.”

“The worst of it? Why?”

“Oh, she isn’t a woman to keep a man straight. She’d have to begin with
herself, way back, too.” Then she added, “Who was the woman
Macbeth,—_Lady Macbeth_?”

“One of Shakspere’s characters,” said Carington.

“I should like well to read about her.”

“She ‘p’inted’ her man wrong, I can tell you,” laughed Rose. “I can lend
you the book.”

“Now, can you? Don’t forget. There’s the writing. I am rather proud of
it.” They both considered it gravely.

“You might put in the dates.”

“Joe says ‘no.’ I guess he thinks it will make too much work.”

“How strange!” said Rose. “And the text is, ‘Of such are the kingdom of
heaven.’”

“Yes. How will that do?” said Dorothy. “They were a queer lot, those
children,—perfect little fiends, I called them; but I suppose there’s
going to be a pretty well mixed up party in that other world. Think I’d
like to choose my mansion. It wouldn’t be the nursery. Sakes alive! what
was I saying?” Her face became grave, with a look of yearning tenderness
in her eyes. “Miss Rose, I oughtn’t to have said that. There would be
the very place I should go for first; and only to think I might not get
in! Where would I be then? I tell you, Miss Rose, you’ve got to begin
pretty early with your tongue, if you want to make it keep all the
commandments.”

Carington smiled. “I fancy dumb folks are as bad sinners as we. After
all, one slanders the tongue. One does not know half how naughty a
thought is until we have put it into speech.”

“Lord! Mr. Carington! There’s a heap of wiseness in that you said. Guess
I’ll be set up about talking after that!”

Here she took up her half-dozen roses, nourished with care on the south
end of the cabin, which Dorothy had whitewashed to get more heat upon
the scanty children of her garden. She considered them with affectionate
care, touching a leaf here and there, her head on one side.

“I guess they’re nice enough, even for Miss Anne. Mind, there’s six of
’em. Don’t you lose any, Miss Rose!”

“Shall I carry them?” said Carington. “And the basket? Where is it?”

“Oh, I’ll smudge that a bit to get the fish smell out, and I’ll fetch it
to-morrow. I’m coming after Mrs. Macbeth, or whatever her name is. No,
Miss Rose is to take the bouquet. They’re sort of relations, you see.
Men can’t be trusted with flowers, and roses are scarce up here.”

“You might 'p’int’ me, Mrs. Maybrook,” said Carington, laughing, as he
followed Rose at a little distance.

“Reckon I’m too old.” And she stayed in the doorway of her poor little
home, kindly, by no means unhappy, and giving the benediction of a smile
to these two people in their youth of health and prosperity and love. “I
guess he’s p’inted already,” she said, as she stood.

Rose turned at the wood-skirts, and nodded good-by. The parable of the
roses had been by no means meant as such, but neither the maid nor the
man at her side failed to capture the possibilities of its meaning. They
walked on in silence for a while, she with a faint hope that her
companion had not been as apprehensive as she, and he, a little amused,
and with a not unpleasing impression as to the slight embarrassment
which, despite her training, Rose had betrayed when their eyes met a
moment while Dorothy was speaking.

“How silent we are, Miss Lyndsay!” he said at last. He might have taken
it as a sign of their growing intimacy.

“And do you object to that? I like it sometimes. I like that about the
well-bred English. They talk or not, as they want to. We seem to think
it socially criminal to keep quiet. I like to feel free to talk or not
to talk.”

“And are you not?”

“Yes,” she said, and then felt that the little monosyllable was more or
less an admission, and so there was a yet longer silence. But one may be
silent too long, and Rose spoke:

“What you said to Dorothy made me think of a quotation with which Aunt
Anne puzzled us last night. Her quotations and my dear papa’s Marc.
Aurelius we are always doubtful about.”

“What was it?”

“‘He who speaketh out the evil of his soul is at the gate of wisdom.’
She declined to explain it, and vowed it was out of a Hindostanee poem;
but as to this you need never quite trust Aunt Anne. I was on the point
of quoting it just now, but did not, because I fancied Dorothy might not
understand it.”

“Do you?”

“No,” she laughed; “not I.”

“She would have been sure to say something droll. I wish you had quoted
it. I am glad you do not understand it. I do not. It might have several
meanings. But I don’t like vagueness in prose or verse. If the thought
is worth stating, I think it must be worth the trouble of stating it
clearly.”

“Pardy—I mean papa—insists that vagueness of language always means
mistiness of thinking.”

“I hardly go that far. There are many explanations of the vague in
statement. A man may think with decisive sharpness of result, and be
quite unable to word his conclusions. But we are in deep waters.”

“Quite too deep. As to quotations, I like to think with Aunt Anne that
they are all in the dictionary, and so cease to bother myself with the
source.”

“Assuredly that saves trouble. Ah, here is the river,” he said. “Am I
not to have a rose?”

“Is that a quotation, Mr. Carington?” and she laughed. “That is silly
enough for ball-room talk.”

“It has been said pretty often, and at all events is not vague.”

“I am not sure men ought ever to have roses,” she cried, gaily; “but, as
I am not sure, here is one. I will not act on my vagueness.”

“Thank you.” He held it a moment, and then quietly dropped it into the
pocket of his jacket, not unperceived by Rose.

“Ah, here is my boat,” she said; “good-by.” As they stood on the bank,
she looked hastily over at the cabin and saw no one in sight. Then she
stepped into the canoe, where Polycarp sat in tranquil patience, and the
young man, lifting his cap, walked away into the woods.

Gay comrade thoughts and fancies went with him on the way, and, light of
heart, he guided himself by the yellow lanes of sunshine which lit the
open forest before him. Soon he found the lower road, and, still
smiling, moved on more slowly, and took to building castles on those
great estates in Spain to which he had just fallen heir.

“Seen my cow, Mr. Carington?” said a voice, a few feet behind him, and
the sweet prosperity of fancy was gone. It was Susan Colkett who spoke.
He started. He had heard no step, as she came out of the wood, although
she must have been very near.

“No; I saw no cow. Is yours astray?”

“Yes. What time might it be?”

“Six o’clock,” he replied, looking at his watch.

“Do you think to come up here in September, sir? Joe says caribou’s
plenty up the river.”

Then Carington recalled Mr. Lyndsay’s warning, and said, “It is hard to
say as yet. Most likely I shall not.”

“I did hear there’s bears back to the pond. If you was minded to go
after ’em, Joe he’d like to guide. There ain’t no better hunter.”

“I’ll see about it. If I want him, I shall let him know. Good night.”
And he left her.

After walking some thirty yards he looked back. The woman was standing
in the road, tall, angular, and large, a long crooked stick in her hand.
She was watching him, but instantly moved as she caught his glance.

“Confound it,” he muttered, “if I believed in the evil eye, and were a
good Catholic, I should cross myself.”

Then he tried to think again of Rose Lyndsay, but, failing to command
the return of his broken day-dream, he went on more swiftly, and once or
twice turned again, with inexplicable unease, to look back to where he
had seen the figure of the woman set against the darkening greenwood.
“Pshaw!” he exclaimed.



                             CHAPTER XXIII


When on her return Rose went into their cabin she happened to glance at
the clock. Then she said:

“What time is your watch, Aunt Anne?” Being told, and discovering that
the two timekeepers were unanimous in opinion, she smiled a little, and
went on into her own room. Here she went straight to the small mirror
and—why, who shall say?—inspected herself briefly, saying, aloud:

“You were a rather big fool, to-day, Miss Lyndsay, and next time you
will have your own watch.”

Presently, remembering what he had done with the rose, she concluded
that men were hateful. She had seen a good deal of the world, and had
had her full share of earnest admiration at home and abroad, so that she
was by no means ignorant as to the cause of the gentle tumult in her
bosom. She wanted to wish that this man would let her alone, and be but
a friendly and pleasant companion. Also she more sincerely desired that
the race of bears had been omitted from Noah’s menagerie.

At last she made her toilet, and went out to dinner, where Dick asked,
with cruel promptness, why she had not brought that big Boston man over
to dine.

“Because I did not ask him.”

“That’s not a reason, Rosy,” said Ned. “I wish he had come.”

“And I don’t,” remarked Jack.

“Why not?” said Lyndsay, coldly.

Jack flushed as he caught Anne’s eye. “Oh, you can’t like everybody.”

Anne said, in a quiet aside, “Jackey, your giants are not all dead,” and
he was silent.

“Mr. Carington was at Dorothy’s when I got there. He came to pay for the
milk they get. By the way, papa, he told me to say that on Thursday he
had to go to Mackenzie, and that he would call as he went by and get the
draft you wanted cashed, and please to leave word how you wanted it. Oh,
I forgot, he said afterward that you could tell him to-morrow night;
and, Pardy, he wants you to let Jack go with him on Friday, to look for
a bear they have seen some distance back of the camp, above the burnt
lands.”

Meanwhile Anne was quietly glancing at her niece’s face. Now this
proposal was fire-hot embers to Master Jack.

“Oh, I can’t go! Hang bears!” he said.

“He did not tell me to tell you, Jack; but he did say he had been hard
on you, and I think so, too.”

And now Anne Lyndsay put on her glasses.

“Well, Jack,” said his father, “how is it?”

“Am I to take my rifle, Rose?”

“Yes,—I think he said so.”

“His trust in this family must be large,” said Lyndsay.

“Do you think I ought to go?” said this young hypocrite.

“Yes, but don’t shoot him!”

And now Rose was dreadfully aware of her aunt’s inspection, and made
haste to add, with embarrassment more felt than seen, “What a budget!
Oh, I quite forgot, Aunt Anne, I took your roses into my room. Dorothy
gave them to me for you.” As she spoke she left the table, and,
returning, put the flowers by her aunt. “I was to tell you there were
only half a dozen,” and here she made a full, though brief, stop; “but
that it was all she had. She seemed to think it hardly worth while
sending so few. You know how nice she is; but, dear me, I have made a
speech of congressional length,—and I am so hungry!”

In fact she had talked at the last with accelerated speed, having made,
as she well knew, a sad blunder into undesirable arithmetical verities.

And now Lyndsay said, “It was very kind of Carington. You must be quite
exhausted by the carrying of so many messages!”

“It isn’t all,” said Rose; “Mrs. Maybrook wishes to borrow the book,
Pardy, in which is the history of Mrs. Macbeth.”

“Indeed!” he returned; “that is droll,” and fell to thinking.

Then Mrs. Lyndsay said, “You must be very warm, dear: you look quite
overheated.”

Here Anne let drop her eye-glasses, and began to consider the number of
her roses, but said nothing.

On Monday, after a most successful day on the river, in which both camps
had nearly equal good luck, the two men from the island came down in the
evening, through a fine moonlight, to the lower camp. They were now in
that easy stage of acquaintanceship with the Lyndsays when people begin
to make agreeable discoveries as to other people who are common friends.

Carington watched his chance and caught Jack alone.

“You are going with me, I hope?”

“Yes. Papa says he wants me to go.”

Carington was very quick to catch the accent of lingering discontent.

“By the way,” he said, “I was rather sharp on you the other day. I don’t
want you to think I thought you did quite the right thing; but I liked
your pluck, even if it was out of place, and I understood the
temptation. Suppose we forget it all. Be ready on Thursday night—pretty
late. I shall get back here by eleven, I hope, and will pick you up. I
can give you a bed and a blanket, and early Friday we will be off for a
day. I can’t promise you a bear, but I think we shall both like the
tramp.”

“I’ll be ready, and I’m much obliged, too.”

Jack was enchanted, and by and by confided to Rose in a corner his
exalted opinion of Mr. Carington, nor was he altogether satisfied with
her “Oh, yes, he’s quite a nice kind of a man.”

“You were to have seen, Mr. Ellett, how foolish we can be,” said Rose,
as they stood by the door. “I also promised Mr. Carington that
experience.”

“And are we not to have it, after all?”

“No. Papa and I had arranged some very neat situations for your
discomfiture; but papa finally decided that they were too difficult, or
at least needed some preparation.”

“But I should really like it. I can do a little at it myself, and Fred
used to be a very clever actor. But, then, he does so many things well.
Do you do many things well?”

“Everything,” said the young woman. “We do everything well here in this
family, even to liking our friends better than other people like their
friends.”

“Don’t you think our friends’ friends are often great troubles? I think
a fellow’s friends ought not to have any friends. That is, a man’s
friends should not be the friends of his friends. That wouldn’t be so
bad now, would it, if it wasn’t a bit mixed?”

Hearing Rose’s merriment, as poor Ellett endeavored to untangle his
sentence, Anne and Carington turned to join them.

“What is the fun, Oliver?” said Carington.

“I’ve made an overrun,” said Ellett. “When I try to talk too fast, I am
very apt to do it.”

“And what is an ‘overrun’?” asked Anne Lyndsay.

“When you are casting for striped bass, the reel runs very easy, and the
bait is heavy, and if you don’t check the reel with a thumb, as the line
runs out, and then stop it as the bait drops on the sea, the reel runs
on, and the line gets into a tangle, such as is really unimaginable. It
takes hours to get it clear. Hence Ellett’s comparison.”

“That is a noble idea,” cried Miss Anne. “An intellectual overrun!”

“You see,” said Ellett, much pleased, “everything is underneath that
ought to be on top, and the inside of the line gets snarled in loops of
the outside, and there’s a sidewise tangle, and—”

“Wouldn’t it be advisable to stop at this point?” said Fred.

“Shouldn’t wonder.” And he reflected upon the excellence of his
comparison.

The night was clear and pleasant, and, as they talked, they went out and
sat on the porch, where presently Lyndsay joined the group.

“Miss Lyndsay,” said Carington, “tells us you gave up the plots. I am
not too sorry. How do you play the game?”

“Oh, two or three of us devise situations, and when we announce them,
the others act them. It is an Italian game, I believe, and quite
amusing. You may treat the situations seriously or lightly. It is
easiest to keep to the key-note on which you start, and not try too hard
to be funny. Puns and quibbles, coming in of a sudden, disturb the other
actor, unless he be well used to it.”

“I never pun,” said Anne; “but to be forbidden I regard as an invasion
of human rights.”

“Oh, they are not forbidden!”

“Then they should be, except to Wendell Holmes. Only the worst puns are
endurable. When Alice Fox told Dr. North his horse ‘Roland’ was well
named, because he was to carry good news to Aix, I considered that the
climax of verbal murder.”

“No, there is a worse one,” cried Rose; “but that I shall never, never
tell.”

“Pardon me,” said Carington, “was not Mrs. Fox that delightful widow
with the pleasant name,—I recall it now, ‘Westerley,’ Mrs. Westerley?
There was some queer story about her wanting to marry a country doctor
who came to grief, or did some queer things, I forget what.”

“Yes; she married Colonel Fox, at last.”

“Married once,” said Lyndsay, “engaged once, and at last lucky enough to
capture that fine fellow. How many love-affairs she had in between—who
shall say?”

“And a sweeter, better woman never was,” returned Anne. “I could explain
her life; but I have no mind to betray the secrets of my sex.”

“She attained wisdom at last,” said Lyndsay, “for I heard her tell Fox
once that married men should have every year one month for a bachelor
honeymoon.”

As they laughed, Mrs. Lyndsay, who had just come onto the porch, said,
“That is like her; but I do think it is only an echo of the discontent
with our decent, old-fashioned notions as to marriage. I hope, Rose—”
and here Mrs. Lyndsay stopped short. Anne looked up.

“The recipe seems to work well. They are very happy. I propose some day
to start a company to insure the permanency of the married state. It
ought to pay. They insure everything nowadays, from boilers to
window-glass,” she added.

“That’s so,” said Ellett. “Now, the interviews of the examiner of that
company with the young couples wouldn’t be a bad situation to play.”

“Admirable,” laughed Lyndsay.

“But don’t you want to hear our plots? You will see what you have
escaped.”

“By all means,” replied Carington.

“Well, here is one. Mr. Sludge, the medium, calls up Shakspere to ask if
he wrote Bacon’s essays.”

“If that is a specimen,” cried Carington, “I still less regret. The
probability of Shakspere having been in Bacon’s pay as essayist strikes
me as a delightful alternation to put into the Shakspere discussion.”

“It is a trifle tough,” said Anne. “I should like to ask for it at the
next spiritual _séance_. I myself am strongly of the opinion that Queen
Elizabeth wrote Shakspere’s plays. Just turn some of her correspondence
with James into blank verse, and see how dramatic it is, and how
humorous.”

“Repeat some of it for Mr. Carington, aunt,” said Rose. “It is really
interesting.”

“Certainly, if I can recall it. Ah, here is one. I have made but little
change in her words,—hardly any:

          ‘I praise God that you uphold ever a regal rule.
          Since God then hath made kings,
          Let them not unmake their authority.
          Let little rivers and small brooks acknowledge
          Their spring, and flow no further than their banks.’

“There is another:

            ‘Else laws resemble cobwebs, whence great bees
            Get out by breaking, and small flies stick fast
            For weakness.’

“I like this one,” said Miss Anne:

            “‘For they be actions rather, and not words,
            Which paint out kings and truly in their colors.
            There be so many viewers of their facts
            That their disorders (do) permit no shade,
            Nor will abide excuses.’”

“Oh,” cried Carington, “that last is like Tennyson. ‘The fierce light
that breaks upon a throne.’ Is there more?”

“Tell us,” said Rose, “the one about a treaty—she ‘mislikes,’ I think
that is what she says. I liked that one.”

“I think I can:

            ‘Touching an instrument you’d have me sign,
            I do assure you, though I play on some,
            And have been brought up to know musick well,
            Yet this discord would be of gross account,
            Such as for well-tuned musick were not fit.
            Go teach your new raw counsellors better manners
            Than to advise you such a paring off
            Of ample meanings.’”

“How pleasantly that takes one back to _Hamlet_ and the pipe!” said
Lyndsay. “It ought to settle the question of authorship.”

“I begin to agree with you, Miss Anne,” said Ellett.

“Don’t forget to ask your medium about Queen Bess, aunty,” cried Rose.

“I? Indeed I shall.”

“Have you any belief in that business of spiritual manifestations, Mr.
Lyndsay?” asked Carington.

“None. Not I. It is one mass of self-deceit and fraud. I have seen too
much of it.”

“I have a strong belief in the circulating medium,” cried Anne. “It
seems rather essential as a means of inspiring the other mediums. But
what are the rest of your situations, Archie?”

“Oh, there is one more Shaksperian situation.”

“Well.”

“Mr. Shakspere appears at midnight in Mr. Browning’s study and asks what
the mischief he means by—”

“For shame, Pardy!” broke in Rose; “we won’t hear any more. They are
horrid.”

“I guess we are out of it,” said Jack. “I’m audience.”

“Oh, there is one for you. The ghost of a murdered bear appears
to Master Jack Lyndsay and wishes to know if he can spell
‘responsibility.’”

“Good for you, Jack,” cried Dick.

“Wait till I catch you to-morrow, Redhead.” But there was much laughter,
and Jack felt that on the whole it was not undesirable for his bear to
pass into the limbo of jokes.

“And now, boys, be off with you and dream over that last situation. Good
night,” and they trooped away, merry, to their tent on the cliff.

“Jack is a very good actor,” said Lyndsay; “but children are apt to be
fairly good actors and then to lose the gift. Ned is even better. The
boys are fond of charades, and what we like best is to take the names of
poets from Chaucer to Crabbe,—we have pretty well exhausted the list.”

“I have seen in France,” said Ellett, “a harder game than your plots.
Two or three scenes are allowed, and what each is to include is stated.
Then the actors endeavor to go through with each act so as to fulfil its
dramatic purpose.”

“I trust,” said Mrs. Lyndsay, “no one will introduce that game.”

“It would be charming,” cried Rose.

“Come in, Archie,” said Mrs. Lyndsay, “and let us have our piquet. Anne
and Rose will furnish quite as much talk as will suffice. I must have my
revenge.”

“Certainly, my dear,” and he went in with his wife.

“Some time we must really try those plots,” said Rose. “Papa is too fond
of the difficult ones. Imagine _Hamlet_ furnishing evidence to the
Psychical Society about his father’s ghost!”

“Does any one believe in ghosts nowadays?” asked Ellett.

“Pardy does,—look!” she said, laughing, and pointing through the open
window. Lyndsay was pushing off from a burning candle the tall spikes of
wax which stood unmelted on one side. “We are laughing at you, papa,”
she cried.

“Are you?” he said, turning from his game. “I can’t stand a ghost in the
candle: it is another relic of my Scotch education, Mr. Carington. It is
bad luck to have a ghost on the candle. I have lost the belief, but the
habit remains.”

“I fancy we all keep some of these little pet superstitions,” said
Carington.

“I assure you, we are rather proud of ours,” returned Anne.

The chat went on, grave and gay by turns, and at last Lyndsay came back,
saying:

“I retire after a sad defeat.”

“My papa plays cards abominably, Mr. Carington. He writes verses
better.”

“Rose! Rose! None of that nonsense.”

“The fact is, when we were talking about the charades of poets’ names, I
meant to repeat the endings papa made for some of them, but, when I
mentioned it to him, he shook his head like a China mandarin, and I
weakly gave up. He is doing it now,” and she laughed. “Oh, I am even
with you at last, Pardy, because you left me yesterday in the anguish of
ungratified curiosity. This is my vengeance.”

“It is incomplete,” said Carington.

“Blush, Pardy, but tell us the verses.” Lyndsay declared that the verse
was hardly worth a fight.

“I can recall only two,” he said. “Here is one:

                 The fight was lost. On hill and glen
                 Thick lay the ranks of fallen men;
                 And sullen through the narrow gorge
                 Went back the standard of St. George.
                 Then in the saddle rose the ’Squire,
                 And shook his pennoned spear on high,
                 And called his broken band again,
                 And taught them how to die,
                 And won a name, and little knew
                 That where his country’s banner flew
                 By hill or dale, on ocean blue,
                 In centuries to come,
                 That name the lifted pennon won
                 Should live as deathless as the sun.

“Of course these words were meant only for the children,” said Rose; “I
like this better:

              A Smith who beat the gold of song
              To voices pleasant, sweet and strong:
              What royal jewelries he wrought
              With simple words and kindly thought!
              A careless, foolish, wasteful soul,
              Too fond, alas, of pipe and bowl;
              Vain of his looks, his waistcoat’s set,
              Oppressed with duns, o’erwhelmed with debt,
              Crushed with distasteful Grub Street work,
              The friend of Reynolds and of Burke,
              He smiling bore the gibes of Johnson,
              And loitered in the shop of Tonson;
              And well or ill, or drunk or sober,
              In youth or age’s drear October
              Went smiling, jesting, laughing through,
              If friends were false or friends were true.
              And fared he well, or fared he ill,
              Left but kind words to greet us still,
              And modest humor’s gentlest play,
              That bids no maiden turn away,
              And many a cool, clear, ringing line,
              Still heard through all those noisy years,
              And wholesome as a wayside spring,
              And sweet with smiles, or sad with tears.”

“That is really a nice bit of character-sketching,” said Carington, as
he rose. “We must try the postponed plots some other time.”

“I think my father and you and Mr. Ellett could manage the ghost scene.”

“Perhaps we may have a chance next winter,” he returned. “I have a
bridge to build near your good city, and shall certainly see you all as
I go and come.” Rose made no reply. The gap in the talk was filled by
Miss Anne:

“That we shall be glad of.”

“And,” added Lyndsay, coming out, “we shall hold you to it. There is a
little old Madeira still left.”

“Your fellows in the war drank all that would have been mine,” said
Carington. “You owe me principal and interest.”

“We shall be honest; and we shall look to see you also, Mr. Ellett,”
said Rose.

“Good night.” And they went to their boats. As they poled away in the
night, Carington said to himself, “If those railway directors but knew
it, I would pay for the privilege of building their bridge. However,
skew bridges are difficult: it will take a good while.” And he lit his
pipe.

“What are you thinking over, Fred?”

“Oh, about the difficulty of constructing a cantilever skew bridge.”

“What a word! Good gracious! It suggests a dreadful pun.”

“Don’t,” cried Carington. “Come alongside, and give me some baccy.”



                              CHAPTER XXIV


There was something pitiful to Dorothy in the eagerness with which Joe
received the inscription, which she had carefully printed on four sheets
of foolscap basted together. She read it to him, over and over, that
Monday morning, at his request, until he could repeat it easily.

Before going home he looked up Hiram, and borrowed a cold chisel and a
hammer. When he reached the wood where he had hidden the stone, he laid
it down, and, without further thought, began to chisel out the few sad
words in which the graver of the city workman had recorded the fate of
Harry Lyndsay. This was sufficiently easy, as he made rough work of it,
being anxious to get to the more difficult task.

He had reflected a little as to the risks of some one visiting the
little burial-ground up the river, but, as those he knew thereabouts did
not trouble themselves to visit the graves of their dead, it did not
occur to him that these city-folks would be any more likely to do so.
Nor was it any more probable that, far away in the depth of the forest,
anybody who was interested would ever come upon the burial-place of
Susan’s children.

“Wouldn’t know nothin’ if they did,” he said to himself, as he went on
with great care to mark with a burned stick the place for the lettering,
which he began now to chisel on the smooth reverse of the marble.

It was a hard job, but Joe, like most lumbermen, was very skilful with
tools. He returned after dinner, and steadily persevered until the
twilight forbade him to go on. Susan, still in her more pleasant mood,
was satisfied that his absence meant merely the continuance of the usual
labor of accumulating fire-wood for winter use.

On Tuesday, early, he went back to the unaccustomed task, and all day
long hung anxious and sweating over the stone. Meanwhile Margaret
Lyndsay sat on the porch of the Cliff Camp, reflecting that soon she
must go away and leave her dead to loneliness and the long burial of the
winter snows.

On the river Lyndsay was fishing with Anne, and Dorothy had been over,
and taken away, carefully wrapped in her handkerchief, the drama of
“Mrs. Macbeth.”

And still the hammer rang on in the dark woodland, until at evening his
task was completed. Joe stood up, straightened his tired back, and
considered the stone with satisfaction. The work was roughly done, but
sufficiently plain, nor was Joe disposed to be too critical. At last
here was something which Susie would like.

Pleased with this idea, he brought water from a forest spring, and
sedulously cleared the marble of the charcoal-marks and of the soil of
his handling. As he stood regarding it, he even felt pride in his
seeming power to read what he had carved, and repeated aloud, “Of such
are the kingdom of heaven.”

It was now late, and with deliberate care, lest his burden should fall,
he heaved the slab on his back, and set off across the forest, limping
as he went. When he reached the three small mounds in the clearing, he
laid it down with care, and, after some deliberation, dug a hole and set
the stone at the head of the middle grave. Having thus completed his
task, he wiped his wet brow on his sleeve, and sat down on a stump, with
his pipe in his mouth.

He intended to let the night go by, and, after breakfast next day, to
take his wife to the wood, and surprise her with what he had done for
her. He would tell her he had a secret; he would say it was something
she would want to have done. But he would not tell her what it was. He
was like a great simple child; unthoughtful, owned by the minute’s mood
or need, not immoral, merely without any recognized rule of life.

As he regarded what he had done, he began to think that to bring her
hither at once would be pleasant. He could not wait. The notion brought
him to his feet, and he soon gathered the material for a fire, which he
placed facing the stone, a few feet from the graves. The space around
was amply cleared, so that there was no risk. This done, and the pile
ready with birch-bark kindling, which needed only to be lighted, he
turned away and hastened home.

It was now dark. As he entered his cabin he saw his wife crouched low on
a stool before the fire, her head in her hands, her hair, which was
coarse and abundant, hanging about her—a comb awry in its tumbled mass.

He guessed that her mood had changed. She took no manner of notice of
his coming. He moved forward, and, touching her shoulder, said:

“What’s the matter, Susie?”

“Matter enough!” she returned, sharply. “That lawyer man’s been here,
and wanted you. You ain’t never to hand when you’re wanted.”

“What is it now?”

“He says we’ve got to pay up or git out in October. Guess he got my mind
’bout it. I’d have licked him if I’d been a man. He wasn’t far from
scared, anyhow.”

“That won’t help us none,” said Joe, with a glimmer of good sense.
“He’ll be wus’n ever he was.”

“Who cares?” Then, turning, she set her eyes, aglow with the firelight,
large, red, and evil, on Joe. “That man Carington was around to-day,
asking if we’d seen bear-tracks. Bill Sansom told me. He didn’t come
here. I did see him yesterday, on the lower road, a-twiddlin’ a gold
watch-chain and a-singin’. What might a big gold watch be worth, Joe? I
asked him the hour, just to git a look at it.”

“Lord, Susie, I don’t know.”

To this she made no reply. He stood beside her, shifting his feet
uneasily.

Of a sudden she got up and caught the man by the shoulders, and, as she
stood, towered over him a full foot.

“What—what’s the matter, Susie?” he gasped.

“Git that man up here in September, you fool.”

Joe looked aside, Dorothy’s imperfect warning in his mind.

“I heerd he’d give up that notion.”

“That’s a lie.”

“It ain’t! I swear it ain’t no lie. I heerd Michelle a-sayin’ so.”

“When was it?”

“I don’t rightly remember. I—I couldn’t do it.”

“Git him here, and I’ll do it,” she said. “It’s just to pull a trigger.
So.” And she snapped her thumb and finger so as make a sharp click. The
blood was up in splotches of dusky red upon her angular and sallow face.
The man recoiled, more scared at the woman than at the crime which he
lacked power to conceive of as possible.

“Gosh!” he cried, “you’re a devil!”

In an instant she was changed. She had a share of the singular dramatic
power of the abler and more resolute criminal nature.

“Oh, I’m just crazy, Joe, what with one thing and another. Don’t you
never mind me.” And a smile, which to another man would have seemed
hideous, disturbed her features with unwonted lines. “Might nothin’ ever
chance. You and me we’ll have to just fight along. ’Tain’t every man
would have stood by me all along, the way you’ve done.”

“That’s so,” said Joe, relieved. “I’ll work for you, Susie: don’t you go
to fear I won’t. I was a-thinkin’ you was ’bout downded all along of
them children.”

“That’s it, Joe; you’re better a heap than me.” She knew, or thought she
knew, that if the chance came she would have the power to compel him
into doing her will. There was strange self-confidence in her sense of
capacity to hurl this child-man into evil-doing, as one may cast a
stone; and now the notion possessed her almost continually. How to do
it? how to bring about the occasion? how to escape consequences? The
craving for this thing to become possible grew as the days went by. Nor
is this abiding temptation rare in minds of her class. I have said that
it possessed her, and the phrase suffices to describe her condition. The
idea of crime owned her as a master owns a slave. It was a fierce and a
powerful nature which poor Joe had taken to his unchanging heart.

“I knowed it was the children. You won’t never talk so again? Just you
come with me; I’ve got something’ll surprise you.”

“What’s that, Joe?” She was just now intent on quieting his fears. “Do
tell me.”

“No! You come along. Looks like rain a bit.”

“Well, I’ll go.” She threw her hair aside, and went out with him,
saying, “You are a queer old man; I guess I’m right curious.” Well
pleased, he went along, the woman following.

By and by they came into the open space around which the underbrush grew
so close that it would have puzzled one unused to the way to find it.

“You just stand there a bit,”—and, as he spoke, he bent over the ready
pile,—“and don’t look yet,” he added.

“What’s that white thing?” The night was dark, and, in the forest, of
inky blackness, because of the coming storm.

“You wait,” he repeated. “Don’t you look yet.”

He struck a match on his corduroys, and lighted the birch-bark shavings.
Instantly a red light leaped up, and in a moment the flame soared high,
flaring in the gusts of wind, so that the tall pines cast all around
wild lengths of shivering shadows, and the forest became as day; while
the white oblong of stone came sharply out into view.

“I done it,” he said. “I done it for you, Susie! I done it.”

The woman came near, and, saying no words, fell on her knees to see it
better.

“You did that, Joe?” and she looked up.

“I did!”

“There’s letters on it. I can’t spell them rightly.”

“Dory she made them on paper. She won’t know. I told her it was for a
board I was thinkin’ to set up. There don’t no one come here.”

“It’s a stone! a real tombstone, Joe!”

“Yes, it’s that.”

“What’s on it?”

“I learned it,” he said. “It just says:

                          ‘HERE LIE THE BODIES
                          OF
                          SUSAN FAIRLAMB,
                          PETER FAIRLAMB,
                          ISAIAH FAIRLAMB,
                          CHILDREN OF
                          SUSAN FAIRLAMB.’

I left out Pete Fairlamb. Seems right, don’t it?” he added, noticing her
silence.

“There isn’t anything about when they was born and died. Any fool would
have guessed it ought to have that.”

Joe’s face fell. After all, he had failed to satisfy her entirely.

“I done my best. Guess my back’s achin’ yet with heftin’ that stone.”

“Where did you fetch it?” she said, looking up.

“I took it out of the graveyard, up-river.”

“Why can’t you say you stole it? It’s them Lyndsays’.” As she spoke the
dominant idea which she had so long nurtured rose anew into power.
“Well, I didn’t think you was that much of a man, Joe.” She felt that he
had taken a downward step. “You stole it!” she repeated. “You needn’t be
afraid to tell me.”

The words “stole it” disturbed him.

“I stole it!” he repeated, mechanically.

“I don’t like it any the worse for that. What’s that last line? Did you
say all of it?”

“That’s what Dory said was to be put under the rest. It made a lot more
work; but Dory she said they most allus done it like that.”

“What is it?” said the woman. “I don’t make it out.”

He hesitated a moment. “‘Of such’—that’s it; most clean forgot it: ‘Of
such are the kingdom of heaven.’”

As he spoke the drops began to fall. Then an intolerable blaze of orange
light flooded the forest with momentary noonday, and, without interval,
the thunder, followed by a deluge of rain, and struck hither and thither
by the hills, died away reverberant in the distance.

“Jerusalem! That was a near one! Ain’t it a-rainin’!”

As the lightning fell the woman threw up her arms where she knelt and
staggered to her feet. “Come along,” she cried; and, as she moved
swiftly before him in a mighty downfall of rain, she said, over and
over, “‘Of such are the kingdom of heaven’; ’of such are the kingdom of
heaven!’”

When they reached home, she sat down by the fire, as if unconscious of
her soaked garments, until Joe, coming in from the cow-house, said:

“You’d best be gettin’ on dry clothes, Susie. You’ll take your death of
cold.”

“I’d like them Lyndsays to miss that stone, Joe.”

“I hope they won’t,” he returned. “They ain’t never been nothin’ but
good to folks hereabouts. I’d not of took it happen there was another;
and I wouldn’t have done it for no other woman.”

“It was a brave job, Joe, and I’ll never forget it. I wish them other
things had been set on it—when they was born and died. It’s only them
rich people has things complete. Maybe you done the best you could.”

“That’s so,” he returned.



                              CHAPTER XXV


On Wednesday morning, Anne Lyndsay woke up with what her brother called
one of the acute attacks of curiosity in regard to Mrs. Maybrook. They
were subject to variations and accompaniments. She shared with her
friend, Dr. North, the fancy for imagining what certain persons, real or
unreal, would do under circumstances which she contrived for them. It
was the byplay of a restless intellect. Lyndsay, who was in his
professional work keenly logical, had at times no patience with Anne’s
amusing nonsense. He labeled it “mental vagabondage” or “mind gossip.”

She was just now outside in her hammock, enjoying the wonderful weather
of a Canadian river in mid-June. She was also busy considering Dorothy
Maybrook in a variety of new social surroundings; as to what she would
say or do in a drawing-room, or if of a sudden dropped into a seat at a
Boston dinner-party, between Emerson and Wendell Holmes. And then she
laughed aloud in her satisfaction at reseating her between _Polonius_
and _Mercutio_.

“What amuses you?” said Lyndsay, as he came out of the cabin with his
beloved “Marcus Aurelius,” a finger in between the leaves. “What, no
book?”

She related gaily her occupation.

“Upon my word, Anne, I am unable to conceive what pleasure you can take
in such stuff.” He was in one of his severer moods, when to be merely
logical was alone possible. As Anne said, it was pretty hard to switch
Archie off on a siding. He had his own moods, gay or serious; but for
the time they were despotic, and disabled him temporarily from entering
into those of others.

“My dear Archie,” she returned, “you have no mental charity; at least,
not of a morning. Now, if I were to ask you, to-night, to imagine
Dorothy at dinner between George the Third and Edgar Poe, you would just
as like as not assist my imagination with an added pair of wings, and—”

“Very likely,” he interrupted. “I suppose it is the result of long
habit. I came out just now to ask you how this passage strikes you.”

She was at once all interest. “What is it, Archie?”

“‘Cast away opinion; thou art saved. Who, then, hinders thee from
casting it away?’”

Anne laughed, “Try it,” she said. “Cast away opinions—have none, and you
won’t be bothered with the need to trouble yourself with this old
heathen’s. I agree with him. Opinions are like gowns: it is so nice to
change them! I am all the time giving away mine, and it is delightful to
see how ill they fit other folk.” She was, in reality, of all people,
the most definite and clear as to her religion and her politics.

“I think you never can be serious, Anne. Nobody holds harder to their
beliefs than you do. I can’t imagine what the old pagan meant. Saved
from what? ‘Cast away opinion, and you are saved.’”

“It is the salvation of negation, Archie; pretty popular in some places.
It is not my kind.”

“I shall get no help here,” said her brother. “You are no easier to
eject from a mental mood than I am. I think I shall give it up and go
a-fishing.”

“It is my changeless opinion that you are now on the track of reason.
The first fish will answer you. He will be quite on the side of Marcus
Aurelius, and wish he had not had a too definite opinion as to the
desirability of closer relations with a dusty miller or Durham ranger.
Get to thee fine opinions, but don’t act on them. Thus, thou shalt have
the cool joy of theory, and escape the hot results of its practical
application.”

“On my honor, Anne, you are quite intolerable at times.”

“I am to myself, old fellow. I wish aches were opinions. The Christian
Science idiots say they are. I would like to exchange aches for
opinions.”

“Are you not so well to-day?” he said, putting Aurelius in his
coat-pocket. “You look much better.”

“I am far better than usual,” she returned, hastily repentant, as usual,
of her admission of weakness or pain. “I am thinking of going over to
see Dorothy this afternoon. It is a great enterprise for me, but I
really cannot bide, as she says.”

“Why not?”

“My dear Archie, she took away ‘Macbeth’ to read, yesterday, and I
must—I cannot wait. I want to know what she thinks of it.”

“Indeed! She probably won’t think at all. She will very likely give up
at the end of the first scene.”

“No, I don’t think it. After the witches? No! She told me you said
something about _Lady Macbeth_; why or when, I do not know. It seems to
have made her curious.”

“That is rather odd. Does she read much? I should not think it.”

“No, very little, and that is why I want to hear. The opinions of people
who read too much are not often worth much. But what Dorothy concludes
about _Lady Macbeth_ ought to be entertaining, at least.”

“You can have a canoe, dear, and Tom, after lunch. Are you quite up to
the walk?”

“My legs may give out, but my curiosity will not—I can assure you of
that. I shall take Ned.”

“Very good, then. I am to go with Margaret up to the burying-ground. She
wants to see that it is kept in decent order, and to have a better
inclosure made.”

“Poor Margaret! We go away on Saturday—do we not?”

“Yes, about noon or later.”

“I suppose those Boston men will remain.”

“Yes, a week or two.”

After this she was silent, and her brother, leaning against the
door-post, glanced listlessly down the river. She was seldom silent very
long.

“Well, what is it, sister?” He rarely used the word of relationship.

“Have you thought at all, Archie, about—Rose and Mr. Carington?”

“Why should I? Margaret has been pestering herself about the man. But
Rose is a difficult young woman, Anne, and there have been so many
matrimonial scares that now I don’t trouble myself any longer.”

“Circumstance is a mighty match-maker, Archie.”

“But Rose is not, as you know. I sometimes think she will never marry.
She is twenty now.”

“Indeed! I think, Archie, I should like to have a dictionary of the
reasons why women marry men.”

He laughed. “The reason is as old as Adam. They have no one else to
marry.”

“Oh, he had no _embarras de choix_,” she cried. “Pity he had not. They
are various, I fancy—I mean the honest causes of interest that lead on
to love. I have always thought that Rose would be captured by character.
In our every-day life it lacks chance of exhibition, but here, it is, or
has been, different. That man is a strong, effective, decisive person.
He has a good deal that is attractive, and that soft Southern way which
our men lack. Moreover, he is very good-looking. If you don’t want it to
be, take care: _I_ think it is too late.”

“Anne!” Her sagacity was very rarely at fault. He knew it, and was
somewhat alarmed. “But I can do nothing.”

“No. I do not know why you should. We know all about the man and his
people. Rose is not a girl to act in haste.”

“Why, then, should we bother about it?” he said.

“We don’t: you will. And Margaret will fuss.”

“I am afraid so. Confound the men!”

“If Margaret had confounded you with other men twenty-four years ago,
this catastrophe would not have been imminent to-day. Let us hold her
responsible.”

“You have made me very unhappy, Anne. I can’t jest about it.”

“Then I can. I think I like him. I wish I had married myself—I mean,
somebody else. Old maids are married to themselves, and that is the
reason why they have a bad time.”

“Do you?”

“Not a bit! Go a-fishing, and hold your tongue.”

Lyndsay uttered a malediction on things in general, and walked away.

Some time after lunch Anne called Ned, and went over the river with Tom,
who thundered replies to her ever-varying range of questions about
climate, lumber, trees, and men. A little later, Margaret and her
husband, who had given up for her his evening sport, set out up-stream,
and the twins were left to the Indian and a chance at the lower pool.

Anne and the boy climbed up the bank, and went away into the woodland.
Several times, feeling tired, she sat down on a wayside stump or fallen
tree. She had the peculiar trait of liking to be silent when afoot or
when driving. As soon as she was at rest her tongue was apt to be set
free, and she became, as usual, a delightful comrade.

Now she began to amuse herself by asking the lad in what age he would
like to have lived, and was pleased that he chose the reign of
Elizabeth. Then at last she talked about Dorothy, and of her life, its
hardships, trials, and contentments with what she had, and, finally, of
the woman’s interest in “Macbeth” and her own curiosity as to this. She
had the art of interesting the young in matters usually thought to be
out of their sphere of comprehension.

As she sat, Ned, who was quick to see, noticed that she became of a
sudden silent, and, looking up, saw that her face was distorted for a
moment, and that she had one hand pressed against her side. He rose,
saying:

“What is the matter, Aunt Anne?”

“Nothing. Nothing much. I very often have pain, and sometimes it beats
me.”

“I am sorry. Can’t I do something?”

“No, dear. It will be better presently. It is better now,” and she wiped
her brow.

“Why do people have pain?”

“To keep them from eating green apples a second time.”

“That’s so, aunty; but you—why do you have pain?”

“Perhaps because my great-grandpapa would eat green apples. ‘The fathers
have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’”

“I don’t understand.”

“No! That is an enigma for more than you. I do not know why I have pain.
Having it, I know what to do with it. I don’t know why Christ had pain.
God might have willed to help us in other ways, but at least I know what
to do with the story of that anguish. If he was, as we think, a perfect
man, Ned, he must have suffered as only a man who was also more than man
could suffer. As he chose his pain to be, and taught men how to use it,
so must I in my small way.”

“And wouldn’t you choose, aunty, just to have no pain, if you could?”

“Get thee behind me, little Satan,” she laughed. “If I could make a
world without pain, would I choose? I don’t know. My pain has been a
bitter friend. Come,” and she rose. The boy, whose thoughts and
questions were beyond his years, walked on in silence, now and then
glancing at the woman’s face.

“Does no one know, Aunt Anne, why we must have pain?”

“Only one man knew, Ned, and he suffered and was silent.”

“It seems dreadful, Aunt Anne.”

“Perhaps it only seems: best to think that.”

At the cabin-door Dorothy came out smiling, the little, red pocket-copy
of “Macbeth” in her hand.

“Now this is right good of you, Miss Anne,” she said. “Come in. Mrs.
Lyndsay was telling me last week you like a cup of tea about sundown.
It’s a bit early, but you might be tired. I’ve got the tea Mrs. Lyndsay
sent me last year.”

“I would like a cup, Dorothy. How is Hiram? and the cows? and the
chickens? and Sambo, the cat?”

“They’re all well—the whole family.”

She set the kettle on the fire, got some bread, cut it up, and set it
with a supply of butter before Ned.

“No good in asking a boy if he is hungry.”

Ned laughed. “Jack says it is no use for Dick to eat: he is just as
hungry when he is done as he was at first.”

“‘It grows by what it feeds on, like the worm i’ the bud,’” said Anne to
herself. “I’ll keep that quotation for Archie.” And then, aloud, “We old
folks eat from habit. The only appetite I have left is for books, and—
What good tea, Dorothy! Thanks! Yes, one cup more. My brother says you
like coffee better. I sent to Montreal for a few things you might like.
You will find among them a small bag of coffee. We think ours
excellent.”

“And I was just last night a-wondering how I could get some right good
coffee. It’s half chicory what we get; and here, in you walk, and I’ve
got it easy as asking. I haven’t said I’m obliged to you, but I am. Fact
is, Miss Anne, giving comes so natural to some folks—you might as well
thank them for sneezing. I’m a bit that way myself. I do just think
being thanked is the hardest part of giving. If the man in church was to
say, ‘Thank you, ma’am,’ every time I dropped a sixpence in his bag, he
wouldn’t get another out of me soon.”

“I am much of your way of thinking,” said Anne. “But tell me, what about
the book? How do you like it? And why did you want to read it?”

“Mr. Lyndsay happened to say some one was like that woman, _Lady
Macbeth_. Guess I called her Mrs. Macbeth.”

“And who was the some one?”

Dorothy hesitated.

“I was telling him a little about Susie Colkett.”

“Indeed!”

“Yes—she’s an evil-minded one.”

Anne had no suspicion of the seriousness of the story Dorothy had
confided to Mr. Lyndsay, and was somewhat amused at the remoteness of
the tragic comparison. She set the thing aside, and resolved to ask her
brother what he meant. She was now instantly curious as to what effect
the drama had had upon a woman like Dorothy.

“If Susan Colkett is as bad as _Lady Macbeth_, she must be an unpleasant
neighbor.”

“There isn’t much to steal here,” said Dorothy, smiling and looking
around her; “and I never did see the woman I was afraid of. As for
Susie, she’s so bad, she’s—a fool. There wouldn’t be much harm in it if
Joe wasn’t the worst fool of the two. She’ll be the losing of that man
yet. Two fools can hatch a heap of mischief.”

“He isn’t much like _Macbeth_.”

“I don’t know that. You were asking about this book. I don’t read books
much. I can find out people right soon; books—they puzzle me.”

“But you have read it?”

“Yes, I read it. I read it twice. I sort of set myself to believe it the
second time. There’s a heap I didn’t understand.”

“And _Lady Macbeth_?”

“She was a queer one. All that howling and a-carrying on of the
witch-women, it’s just nonsense. I got the idea those witches set it up
to tell the man he was to be a king: that’s straight, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“’T isn’t wholesome to get notions; they stick like bur-ticks. I knew a
girl down at Marysville, in Georgia, and an old black woman told her,
for her fortune, she was to marry a thin man with heaps of money, and
the fool was so awful took with this that she told her beau. He was a
direful stout man. Well, when she wouldn’t have him, he went off and
tried to starve himself thin; and the end was he fell away and died, and
that girl, she never got another beau, fat or thin.”

Ned and his aunt laughed.

“Well, what else, Dorothy?”

“That’s about all I have to say. That _Macbeth_ woman understood
p’intin’ her man.”

“She did, indeed.”

“Sometimes Hiram gets tired of being p’inted. That’s how men are: they
haven’t got the natural goodness of women. I wouldn’t give a cent for
the woman that don’t know a man has got to be kept p’inted on to the
narrow way. They’re awful easy got off the track—just like Hiram: he’ll
stop to pick berries any time. You just take notice how Eve she p’inted
Adam, and it’s been going on ever since, like it was natural. Maybe
’tis.”

Anne was enchanted.

“Shall I leave you the book?”

“No, I don’t want it. I couldn’t stand two of the kind. Susie Colkett’s
enough. Have another cup?”

“No; and thank you for the roses, Dorothy.”

“I hadn’t but just six.”

“They were lovely.” And now Anne was still more certain how six roses
came to be five.

“I like them right well, Miss Anne. I don’t believe anybody likes them
more than me. Seems like waste, next month, to see those wild roses so
thick all along the river, and no one so much as to smell them. Seems
just pure waste, like that precious ointment Mrs. Lyndsay and me were
talking about the other day. That always did puzzle me, that story.”

“Does it?” said Anne. “Perhaps the flowers enjoy one another—who knows?
And perhaps you and I and the rest of us are not all the beings of
earth. Why should we think everything is meant only for us?”

“Sakes alive! Miss Anne, but you have got some queer notions. To think
of folks you can’t see smelling around among the flowers! Suppose you
was to bump heads when you were smelling of them. It gives me the creeps
to think of it. Hope I’ll never run against one of them. Must you go?
Well, I’m right sorry. When you and Mrs. Lyndsay and the rest go away,
my old head will have a long rest.”

“Shall I send you some books?”

“No. I shouldn’t read them. I don’t set much store by books, without I
have some one to talk to, and poor Hiram is as mum as a stone. That’s
the worst of our long winter. Only last night I was reading the Bible,—I
do read that, Miss Anne,—and I came upon where Christ wrote on the sand.
I just said to myself I would wait about that till I saw you. I did want
to talk it over right away.”

“And what is it you want to ask?”

“What do you suppose Christ wrote in the sand?”

“Who can tell that, Dorothy?”

“But it must have meant— Why did he do it?”

“I suppose,” said Anne, thoughtfully, “that he wanted to let the woman
think over what he had said. When you think of the eyes of Christ
looking at you, Dorothy, you might understand.”

“I see, Miss Anne. That woman she felt awful bad, I guess, and he only
wanted not to seem to take notice. I wouldn’t ha’ thought of that in a
year, not if I stayed awake all night every night.”

“Why not write to me in the winter? I should like that.”

“Would you really? That would take the edge off the lonesomeness. If I
didn’t say ‘oh!’ every now and then, of evenings when the green wood
cracks and the sparks fly, I guess I’d go dumb before the birds come
back.”

“Well, Dorothy, that is settled. I shall write first. Good-by!” And,
with Edward, she moved slowly away through the broken cross-lights of
the sunset glow.



                              CHAPTER XXVI


After two or three weeks in the forest, where “the slow-growing trees do
patience teach,” and the strong, effortless waters go by and seem only
merry and idle, there comes to some men a sense of being at home. It
does not come at once. We are all of us, in our busier lives of varied
work or pleasure, actors in ever-changing rôles. It can hardly be
otherwise. Almost the simplest lives involve some use of the art of the
actor. In the woods, away from men and their struggles and ambitions,
with the absence of need to be this or that, as duty, work, or social
claims demand, we lose the resultant state of tension, of being on
guard. It is readily possible to notice this effect in the rapid erasure
from the faces of the constantly strained, intellectual workman of the
lines of care which mark the features of those on whom, in one or
another position, the world relies to carry its burdens.

At first, on passing from great mental occupation to the life of the
forest, there is a period of unrest, of vague disappointment. But soon
or late, with repose of mind, and the cessation of endless claims upon
the sentinel senses, arises a distinct and less explicable indifference
to what a fortnight back was important. Our whole world of relation is
gradually changed. The passion, strife, and more or less worthy motives
of the great camps of men shrink to valueless dimensions, so that we
look back and wonder how this or that should have caused us a thought,
or called forth that irritability which is apt to be the offspring of
the unceasing strain of modern life.

At last we lose count of the days, and acquire a strange impression of
the remoteness of the tumult of the active life from which we have fled.
So complete may be this feeling that at times the busy past seems to
fade into dreamy unreality, as with sense of relief we give ourselves
unresistingly to the wholesome influence of the woodland and the waters.
Much of this ease of mind must be due to the physical well-being which
this existence surely brings to those who know how to get out of it the
best it holds.

This calm of spirit, and this feeling of perfect fullness of bodily
health, were what Archibald Lyndsay unfailingly secured in his summer
holiday. He had become careful to humor the pleasant mood, and to be
annoyed when anything took place which forced him even for an hour to
return to the problems of the outer world.

Such a summons had come from Anne. She had not explained why she had
spoken, nor could she have given a reason beyond the fact that she and
he habitually discussed in common all family interests, and that it was
not always quite safe for Anne to talk of them to Margaret. That gentle
little woman was indisposed to have others, as she said, “come between
her and her children,” and was in fact jealous, with a steadiness of
jealousy which unwillingly accepted even love as an excuse, and heard,
with unreasoning lack of logic, explanations, advice, or comment, which
another might have welcomed, or at least calmly considered. Thus, when
Anne wished to influence Margaret, she was apt to talk to the husband,
who, in turn, was shrewd enough to profit by the counsel without
betraying the counselor.

Archibald Lyndsay’s uneasiness had been extreme from the time Anne had
spoken of Carington. Now he was in the canoe with his wife, and was
being poled up-stream by the two Indians, who could understand but
little of the rapid speech of the white man, and before whom, therefore,
he could talk at ease. Lyndsay sat with his back to the bowman, his wife
facing him and lying against a pile of cushions. After a little he said,
speaking low:

“Margaret, has it occurred to you that possibly all this unavoidable
intimacy between Rose and young Carington might—well, might result in
some serious attachment, and—”

“Of course,” she broke in, with the wife’s privilege of apprehending
more than the husband has said, “of course, any one—”

“My dear Margaret, I wish you would listen until I have finished—”

“Very well, dear, I will listen. I only meant to remind you that I have
already spoken of this, and that you said it was not of any moment; and
that I was too much given to anticipating trouble. The fact is, Archie,
when you are on your holiday, you hate to have anything serious brought
to your mind, and you are pretty apt just to put it aside.”

Lyndsay, well versed in the fine art of matrimonial diplomacy, made no
instant reply to this arraignment.

“Perhaps, my good wife, we may be as to this a little alike. When you
are very full of a subject, or have decided it in your own mind, you are
inclined not to hear me out.”

“That may be so. I beg pardon, Archie. What is it?”

“What was I saying? Where was I? It is like taking the marker out of a
book you are reading.”

“You were saying it might result in a serious attachment.”

“Yes, that was it; or something to that effect. Perhaps I should not
have been quite so definite. Yes, that was it. It has seemed to me that
Rose is a girl who would readily be captured by—well, by a man who had a
chance to show force of character, and this very thing has happened. You
know, dear, in the ordinary chances of life these opportunities are
rare, but—well, you understand.”

She did; and also she had a suspicion that this bit of social reflection
was somebody else’s wisdom.

“Has Anne mentioned the matter?”

“I did say something to her about it yesterday—no, this morning.”

“I would much rather, Archie, when you want to discuss the children,
that you come to me first.”

Clearly he had brought this on himself. She went on:

“Anne is ready enough to interfere without being given an excuse, and
now, I suppose— She has not talked to Rose, I trust?”

“No, my dear. She has not and never will. That would be very unlike
Anne.”

“I don’t know. One never knows what to expect.”

“But you do now. Have you noticed of late how thin Anne looks? I
sometimes think she will trouble none of us very long.”

“I think you are rather prone to exaggerate about Anne. She isn’t well,
but these chronic invalids outlast the healthy.” Margaret had the
occasional hardness of the very tender. “As to Rose, it is as well to
comprehend the matter, and then, as the man seems unexceptionable, to
let Rose alone.”

Mrs. Lyndsay’s good sense usually kept her at the end on the ways of
reasonable decisions. If she could always have acted without speaking,
she would have had more credit for wisdom. But acts are rare, and speech
is not; so that people were apt to say, “Margaret Lyndsay is a very good
woman, but not always very wise.” Those who knew her best did not so
think, and especially Lyndsay, who well understood that great goodness
cannot coexist with foolishness, because the more valuable goodness must
have intelligence for one parent. There are people who reflect very
little about what they are going to say, and a great deal about what
they are about to do: of this kind was Lyndsay’s wife; but then, under
some circumstances, words are acts, or have their force, and so she made
mischief occasionally for herself and for others.

“I quite agree with you, my dear,” he replied. “It were best left to
Rose’s good sense. In the end you and I are sure enough to agree.”

“Perhaps you might give Anne a hint, or—shall I?” She was a trifle
afraid of her sister-in-law.

“It won’t be required. She has quite our own ideas about it”; and then
Margaret knew that Anne had fully discussed this question with Lyndsay.
She did not like it, but this time held her tongue.

The sun was low when they drew to the shore, a little above the point
where Joe had left his dugout two days before. The oblong white box of a
church stood on the upland, a dismal architectural symbol. Its closed
doors and windows, the broken steps at the entrance, and the ragged,
storm-worn paint looked dreary enough to Lyndsay as he passed with his
wife through the open gateway.

“How hideous it is!” he said. “Would not you like it, my dear Margaret,
if in the fall I had our boy brought home to rest among our own dead?”

“Very much, Archie.”

“It shall be done,” he said.

“Thank you.” By this time they had picked their way around the church
amidst growth of thistles and wild raspberry vines. Lyndsay led, and
presently they were in the scantily-peopled half-acre back of the
chapel. He stood a moment, confused.

“I don’t see the stone,” he said.

“What? What is that?”

He turned, and said again, “I don’t see it!”

Margaret went by him swiftly.

“It was here! here!” and, utterly bewildered, she stood, looking up at
her husband, or down at the grave, and then around her. “Archie! It is
gone! This is—is horrible.”

Lyndsay paused a moment. He was both troubled and perplexed; but the
intellectual puzzle was uppermost, and, as usual with him, was merely
fed with motives for action and decisions by the shock of horror with
which the thing affected him. As for his wife, she looked down again at
the trampled ground and broken flower-stems, and then saying, “What is
it? Where is it?” began to go to and fro, irregularly, among the graves,
and along the tumbling stone wall of the inclosure.

At last she ran, like a scared thing, back to her husband, threw her
arms about him, and burst into violent sobbing.

“Oh, my boy! my boy!” she cried. Her face twitched, and she broke out
into unnatural laughter. Lyndsay caught her as she reeled to and fro.

“Take care, Margaret! Margaret! Be quiet. No more of this! I command you
to control yourself!”

As he spoke he lifted her slight figure, and carried her to the gate.

“Sit down,” he said. “Now, no more of this! I want your clearest
head—your help.”

“Yes, yes, Archie,” she said. “I will try. I—oh, I couldn’t help it!
Don’t scold me.”

His eyes filled. “No, dear love, not I. But keep still. I want to look.
This is a mere vulgar, brutal theft. Wait a moment, can you?”

“Yes, but don’t be long.”

He walked back again to the little grave, and carefully examined the
place. It was broken and battered by large footmarks, and these led away
toward the low stone wall, and were lost in the underbrush beyond the
broken fence-rail on the far side of the unused road. He saw that the
break in the rail was recent. At last he returned to his wife.

“The grave, dear, is not disturbed. Some fool has stolen the stone. Come
with me; I want to go through the drift yonder, and I do not want to
leave you alone.”

She stood up, and followed him around the church, and back to where he
had found the rail broken. “Ah, here again is a footmark,” he said. At
the river he walked along the margin, and at length came upon the place
where a dugout had been drawn up and where were other footprints in the
wet clay margin.

“It is very simple,” he said. “We shall soon know. But why any man
should do such a thing I cannot imagine.”

“He ought to be killed,” said our quiet Margaret.

“That will do for the present,” he said, and then called to his men to
drop down from the landing where he had left them. In a minute or two
they were at the shore.

“Now, dear,” he said, as they came near, “try to keep this thing a
secret for the few days left us here. It is an intolerable bit of
wickedness, possibly of malice, but this I do not believe. The more
quiet we can keep it, the better my chance of discovering who has done
it.”

“I will try; but Anne!”

“Oh, Anne, of course, and Rose perhaps. It is the men who must not know,
and the boys.”

“That is easier. What shall you do about it, Archie? Who could have been
so cruel?”

“Unusual crime,” he said, thoughtfully, “has commonly unusual causes. I
do not as yet know what I shall do. And now, dear, let us not discuss it
any more. And will you tell Anne, or shall I?”

“I would prefer to do it myself, Archie.”

As the sick animal knows by instinct what wild grasses it shall eat,
this woman apprehended her need for a woman’s strength and sure
community of feeling. She was as certain to fall back on Anne’s opinion
or help in the end, or where she herself was honestly puzzled, as she
was to resent her sister-in-law’s independent assertion of her right to
have a say where the question was one as to which Mrs. Lyndsay thought
that the title mother or wife was in itself a victorious defense of all
decisions needed in either capacity.

In this present trouble it was a woman’s help she wanted. She had been
for the first time in her life close to an hysterical attack. Without
the forceful tonic of her husband’s call upon her self-command, the
discipline of years would have been of no avail: she would have been
entirely routed. As it was, there had been sad disorder in the ranks of
the governing qualities of a being unused to yield to the lawlessness of
unrestrained emotion. This nearness of defeat was more or less due to
the preparative softening influences with which she came to say a silent
farewell to her dead, and to the suddenness of the shock of horror and
of insult.

None turned to Anne Lyndsay in vain. As Lyndsay and his wife approached
the cabin, where, as usual, Anne was lying in her hammock, she saw at
once that something had gone wrong. Her long walk was exacting the sad
price of all physical exertion which took her beyond the limits of the
most carefully measured exercise. She was in great pain, and, for a half
hour, had been resolutely struggling to ignore it by forcing herself to
give deliberate attention to a difficult passage in the second part of
“Faust.” She dropped her dictionary as they came up, put a marker in the
page she had been reading, and rose on one elbow.

“Go and talk to Anne,” said Lyndsay. “Is Rose still out, sister?”

“Yes; and the boys, except Ned. He is in the wood, somewhere. I am all
alone, Margaret. What is it, dear?”

“Something very unpleasant has happened, Anne; nothing serious—I mean,
no personal calamity. Margaret will explain.” And so saying, he went
into the cabin, while Mrs. Lyndsay sat down on a low stool, and, letting
her head fall on Anne’s bosom, began to cry. But this time she had
herself well in hand, and the burst of tears was wholesome, as Anne
instantly knew. She let her hand fall over Margaret’s neck.

“Have it out, dear,” she said. “A man always says, ‘Don’t cry’; a woman
says, ‘Cry; it will help you.’ Cry as much as you want to. God knew our
wants when he gave us tears. No; don’t try to explain,—not yet, not
yet.” And the reassuring hand put back a stray lock of hair, and rested
in tender caress on the wet cheek.

Both were still for a few minutes, save for an occasional sob.

“Now I am better, Anne. I can talk now. How well you know!—what is it,
dear?” she added, abruptly, for a brief exclamation, “Oh, my God!” broke
from Anne’s lips. She was in the extremity of physical pain. The tone
and words were unusual, as coming from these lips, and Margaret,
instantly turning aside from her own trouble, caught the look of
suffering on the other woman’s face. She wiped her eyes hastily.

“Are you ill, Anne?”

“Yes. Oh, not ill! I had a stitch in my poor old side.” Then she laughed
low. “I am sure it is years older than the rest of me. Get me your
smelling-salts.”

Margaret got up at once and went into the cabin. As for Anne,
smelling-salts, hot-water bags, sedatives, and, in fact, the whole
armament of the invalid, were to her altogether unpleasant. But now she
was in some want of a minute to herself. She got it, and more, for
Margaret was some time before she came out with the smelling-salts and a
flask.

“No, dear,” said Anne; “no brandy.” She used the smelling-salts, and
returned them to her sister-in-law. “I hate all scented things. I am
better now. Tell me all about it, and don’t hurry. What is it?”

“We went up to my boy’s grave, and, Anne, Anne, some one had trampled it
all over—trod on my—my dead!”

“Well, dear. Take care! Don’t give way, or you will go to pieces. There!
What else?”

“And some cruel brute has taken away the tombstone. It was not there. Do
you understand?” she cried, with fierce energy. “They stole it! It is
gone!”

Anne understood well enough; but the fact, as told her, was so strange,
so unlooked for, that she was amazed for a brief time beyond power of
comment. The next moment all her heart went out to the mother at her
side.

“It is horrible!” she cried. “Oh, for me, even, for me! And for you,
what must it be?” She saw, as few would have done, the broken
flower-fence, the rudely profaned and trampled grave, the gap in the
earth where the stone had been. “For me, horrible—but, my dear God! what
must it have been for you!”

“Yes; I am his mother!” She was moved because Anne did not pretend to
share the maternal intensity of her feelings. “Only a mother could know.
Archie says I must not think about it; but that is beyond my power—I
must think about it. Who could have done it? I can’t see any reason in
the theft. Do you think it could have been to annoy us, or to get a
reward? I—”

“No,” said Anne. “Neither.”

“Then what could it have been? There must have been a motive.”

“Yes, there must have been.”

“And what? We are liked, I think, on the river. “We do try to help these
people.”

“Yes.”

“Who could have done it?”

“Joe Colkett!”

“Archibald! Archibald!” cried Margaret, instantly rising. He came out at
once.

“What is it?”

“Anne says Colkett took it!”

“What does this mean, Anne?” he said.

“Only this: Rose told us yesterday, you remember, that Colkett had been
to see Dorothy about an inscription for a board to set over his wife’s
children. You heard her speak of it.”

“Yes; but what then?”

“That man is the thief!”

“You are a most astonishing woman, Anne. What reason have you? You must
have a reason.”

“I shall have; but now, as yet, I have none.”

“I am sorry, then. You have quite upset Margaret.”

“No. I saw the man take it.”

“Saw him? Nonsense—I beg pardon, dear, I don’t quite mean that.” He was
nice always in his home ways with the women he loved. “I mean that you
have spoken unadvisedly.”

“Yes, I had no advice from within or without, for that matter; but I
know that man is the thief.”

“It is a serious charge.”

“It is. When you come to think it over, you will agree with me.”

Lyndsay was silent a moment. Then he called, “Tom! Tom! I am going up to
the Island Camp; put the canoe in the water.”

“What are you going to do, Archie!” asked Margaret.

“I want to talk to Carington. He knows all these people; has known them
for years.”

“Shall you tell him what my own belief is?” said Anne.

“Certainly! Why not?”

“But,” exclaimed Margaret, “do you not think—”

“No. No, dear, I don’t think at all as yet. I have no material for
thinking—very little, at least.” He spoke with unhabitual impatience.
“Evidence is what we want.”

He was annoyed by this mysterious crime in the midst of his idle hours;
troubled by his wife’s distress; and finally, if but to a slight extent,
irritated at Anne’s unreasoning dash at a decisive conclusion. Perhaps
he was the more disturbed because, on hearing her, he had at once begun
to put together facts, always within his own knowledge, which he felt
should have caused him to have gone, under guidance of reason, toward
the goal which she had reached at a bound.

“I shall be back in three or four hours. Do not keep the dinner waiting.
Good-by.”

“But, Archibald, do listen to me. It is not about—about this—” And she
followed him as she spoke, and, at the edge of the cliff, said a few
words hastily, but with earnestness.

“No,” he said, so that Anne heard. “I see—I see, of course; but there is
no help for it; and, after all, Carington is not a man—” And the rest
was lost to Anne’s ear.

“Perhaps not,” said Margaret. “I suppose you know best.” And she went
back to Anne.



                             CHAPTER XXVII


When Lyndsay walked up the beach at the Island Camp, it was already
dark. In the dinner-tent, on camp-stools, the two men were gaily
discussing such events as in a fishing camp are always uppermost—how
this or that salmon behaved, the weather, the water, or the eternal
black-flies.

The cook had just set on the table a dish of broiled salmon, and said,
as he did so:

“There’s a canoe at the beach—Mr. Lyndsay, I think.”

“Come to ask your intentions, Fred,” said Ellett, laughing.

“Hush, I hear him coming. I wonder what it is he wants.” As Carington
spoke, he threw open the fly of the tent. “Come in, Mr. Lyndsay; you are
just in time. Bring the soup back, Jim.”

“Thanks. How are you, Mr. Ellett? Yes, I will dine with you, and with
pleasure. No soup, thank you,” and he sat down.

For a while there was the ordinary talk of the river, and when, finally,
they were left with the tobacco and cigars, Lyndsay having declined the
rye whisky, he said:

“I came up to get a little help from you. We have had to-day a very
singular and quite unpleasant incident. There is no one can overhear
us?”

“No one. I need hardly say how heartily we are at your service. Pray go
on. May I ask what has troubled you?”

“Of course. I came to tell you, and then to ask your help or advice. You
know all these river men?”

“Almost all, even the lumber-gangs.”

“I thought so. I shall be brief. Last year we buried my youngest child
here. I had set up at the head of the grave a simple white stone. To-day
I went up with Mrs. Lyndsay to see that it was all in order. To our
horror the stone was gone. Of course my wife was painfully disturbed.
The grave was trampled; the wild rose-bushes we had set around in a
little thicket were beaten down. That is the whole story. I am, as you
may fancy, greatly annoyed. I felt that, with your knowledge of the men
hereabouts, you might possibly give me some clue. I owe you every
apology,” and he turned to Ellett, “for thrusting so personal a calamity
into the hours of a holiday, but—”

“You could not have found two people more willing.”

“Thank you.”

“Let me ask you a few questions,” said Carington.

“Of course.”

The young man reflected a moment, and then in quick succession put his
queries.

“Have you gone over the place?”

“Yes,” and he told the little he had seen.

“Was it a dugout?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“I will look to-morrow, early. Were there several people?”

“The foot-marks seemed alike—the usual many-nailed boot. I did not
measure them.”

“I will. The beach is clay up there. Has any one cause to injure you?”

“No one. My wife has been, as usual, all goodness to these poor people.”

“I see no possible motive,” said Ellett.

“Wait a bit, Oliver. The grave had not been opened?”

“Great Heaven! No.”

“Why should a man want a tombstone?” said Ellett. “An insane person
might have done it.”

“No,” returned Carington, thoughtfully. “No, there are none here. No,
some one wanted that stone. Why!—by George, I hate to suspect the poor
devil!”

“Who?”

“It is a mere guess, a suspicion. I have an idea that Joe Colkett stole
that stone.”

“It is a little odd. That, exactly, is my sister’s conclusion.”

“Indeed!”

“Yes. Being a woman, she had no reason to give, or none worth anything;
and yet I myself am enough inclined to agree with her to want to make
sure as to whether there is any evidence to be had. It is a thing to
punish.”

“I think so. The man is in pretty sore straits about money. But it
cannot be any motive involving money, and yet—however, it is useless to
talk about it. The first thing is to go over the ground with care. Let
me do that—early to-morrow. Ah, to-day is Wednesday; I must go to
Mackenzie to-morrow. That I can’t let wait. A man is to meet me there
about my cabin. Can this thing rest a day?”

“Yes, I shall stay over Sunday. We had meant to go out on Saturday.”

“Then I will call late to-morrow night for your boy—as we come back, I
mean.”

“One moment: I have thought best not to tell the boys. It can do no
good.”

“None. On our return toward camp, I will manage to send Jack off, and
will myself slip down to Colkett’s, and will look about me. If
necessary, I can talk it out frankly. I think I could know in five
minutes all the man knows, if he is in the thing at all.”

“But you won’t forget my warning, Mr. Carington. Joe is a poor sodden
dog, but the woman is a devil.”

Carington smiled. “Oh, I shall have my rifle; and, after all, what could
a woman do? There is no manner of risk.” He did not say that the notion
of there being some peril in the matter made the enterprise more
attractive. There were other motives also which were not disagreeable,
and of these, too, he made no mention.

“Well, promise me to be on your guard.”

“It all seems rather absurd, but I shall keep my eyes open. I may be
very late to-morrow night. Tell Jack, and, by the way, if it is late, I
shall have to keep your money until Friday evening, or Ellett can take
it to you. Send me the draft to-night.”

“I have it with me”; and he handed it across the table.

“I think,” said Carington, “I would ignore the whole matter until I see
you on Friday night. I would fish, as usual.”

“I think so.” He had asked advice and help, and this very decisive young
man had certainly given it. “Thank you a thousand times,” he said, as he
rose; “you have really relieved me,” and then he went away.

In his canoe he reflected a little on the mental peculiarity which made
Anne and Carington prompt to conclude where he had been so tardy in
reaching a decision. Anne had once said of him that his mind lacked
wings, but was very sure on its legs. He reached home late, and rather
weary. Anne said Rose had been told, and that Margaret had behaved
admirably; also that the boys had no suspicion of the events which had
distressed their elders.

The lives of men are lived under the limited monarchy of circumstance.
Within this, men’s instincts and personal qualities—in a word,
character—decide how they deal with the stringency of events, or meet
the despotism of changeless natural laws.

Carington was about to feel the results of a combination of influences,
some within and some outside of those due to mental and moral
peculiarities entirely his own.

What I saw in an idle hour may serve to illustrate my meaning. The
reader has my benevolent permission to leave it unread. I was once lying
on my couch of spruce in a rude log-cabin on the Alligash River. It was
raining heavily, and we had left our tents awhile for the more perfect
shelter of a deserted log-cabin where the lumbermen had wintered years
before my coming. Apparently for reasons as good as our own, many live
things had come hither—some for a permanent home, and some, like Noah’s
menagerie, for temporary protection. A splendidly constructed spider’s
net occupied the open space where a window-pane had been. The three
remaining panes were intact. It was a happy thought of that spider: when
flies at noon sought the cool shade of the house, this open pane seemed
to offer a way, and, when the sun fell, the path of exit was as
inviting. The net was well stocked, as I saw, but mostly these corpses
were dead shells, out of which the succulent meats had been taken.
Nevertheless, the deadly _retiarius_ lay coiled in a corner, as eager as
if he had never had a breakfast. As to the flies, who were many, they
seemed to be as ignorant of the net’s thin lines as men are of the fatal
meshes which circumstance spins in the way of human flies, or which
character weaves when the fly is his own spider. The spaces between the
anchoring cables were wide. Most of the flies went through quite unaware
how near they had been to death. Some got into the toils and struggled
out, and then went and sat down in dark corners, and reflected on
free-will and predestination. At last a queer-looking, yellowish fly got
into trouble. He was physically odd-looking, and as to mental
organization clearly distinct from the herd of flies. He was evidently
adventurous and on a holiday. He was in and out of the room, between the
long net lines, half a dozen times. “That is luck!” said I. “The goddess
Wyrda has smiled on him!” At last he struck the net, and was caught. In
place of struggling, he kept still a moment, while the spider ran out
and made a reconnaissance. Then my fly gave a kick and a flutter, and
was off and away. “Luck and strength,” said I. By and by he sailed past
me, and sat down to dine on the sweet margins of some ponds of
molasses—the relics of our lunch. Being a little too eager, he got his
legs in the sweets, and then his wings. Not liking this, he flew away,
and, after a disorderly flight, made for the window, where he hit the
center of the net. This time I got up to observe the affair closely. He
made a brave fight, but the molasses on his sticky legs was the
determining circumstance. The net-thrower crawled up with caution, when,
of a sudden, a great bee, humming in its flight, went like a Minié ball
through the net, and the spider fled, and the fly tumbled out—and this
was the end. I felt as if I had been a superior being who, from the
vantage of a higher sphere, had been watching one of earth’s numberless
dramas. He would have seen how instincts, character, and circumstance
combine to determine the fates of men.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII


There are few things more interesting than to observe in a quiet family
the effects of an explosion of the unusual. Assuredly, what had happened
to the Lyndsays was uncommon. There is family character just as there is
national character. Individuality is more or less dominated by it. Among
those with whom we are dealing the endless discussions which in some
groups of human beings are wasted on a matter of annoyance—a calamity or
a grievance—were quite unknown. At need they talked over their troubles
or difficulties, and put them aside when decisions were once attained.

Anne was fond of saying, “Talk is a wedge which widens troubles. When
you think, you are talking to yourself alone, and are responsible for
the consequences; it is hard so to weigh words as to know what weight
they will have for others.” And thus it was that even about her most
unbearable pain she said nothing, and disliked all discussions which led
to no working opinion. Mrs. Lyndsay alone was given to seeking sympathy
in her small ailments; but Anne, as she herself once observed, “wore
neither her heart nor her liver on her sleeve.” And this was the general
tone. If talk was needed to settle a thing, there was enough, and no
more. Lyndsay liked to say, “And now we will put it aside, my dear.” He
had thus ended a talk with his wife, who was disposed to say far more.

To all of them the unpleasant event I have recorded brought a sense of
horror. But the primary mood of anger or disgust gave way to some other
form of mental or moral activity, which varied with the person. Lyndsay
simply and directly occupied himself with the slight evidence he had,
and endeavored to reach a conclusion as to the criminal. Anne fell to
thinking with interest of the motives of the criminal, and as to what
possible temptation could make her desire to do such an act. The mother
remained in a state of somewhat lessened emotional disturbance, wanting
some one to talk to of it all, but finding none save Rose, who had no
power to repress her.

Thus Thursday passed quietly enough at the Cliff Camp. Mr. Lyndsay
wisely went a-fishing, and took Rose. It was pitiably true that, for
Mrs. Lyndsay, the incident of the day before had renewed the grief which
time had begun to heal. She wondered how Archie could go and fish. She
even made a mild attempt to keep her daughter at home; but Lyndsay
resolutely persisted, and had his way. Left to herself, Margaret devoted
the morning to coddling Anne, which resulted, for the latter, in a
condition of restrained irritability which was almost too much even for
this heroic woman. At last she took refuge in her room.

Jack spent the day in cleaning his rifle, and Dick in stuffing a
kingfisher, while Ned bothered him with questions which not Solomon
could have answered. As to Carington, he asked Ellett to go up to the
church and make careful measurements of the footsteps, as this, by
relieving him of the task, would enable him to get away earlier for his
long paddle to Mackenzie.

At dawn, Carington, with his two men, in their canoe, went by the Cliff
Camp, where all was peacefully still.

At the little town he made his own arrangements for the building of his
cabin in the fall, and cashed a draft for himself and one for Mr.
Lyndsay. The seven hundred dollars of Canadian notes he rolled into a
tight bundle and put in his breeches-pocket. Then, after a hasty meal
and a little rest, he turned back for the journey up the river.

There was some paddling to do until they reached swift water, and here
he “spelled” his bowmen, taking a turn at poling, and pushed on. Three
miles an hour is very good speed at this business, and thus, as the way
was long, it was far into the night before they reached the Cliff Camp.
Every one else but Jack was in bed. He had taken his blanket and gun,
and settled himself patiently at the foot of the cliff.

“Is that you, Nimrod?” said Carington.

“Yes.”

“You have had a long wait. Is your father up?”

“No.”

“Then I must keep this money until Ellett can give it to him to-morrow.
Jump in. It is late.”

In five minutes the boy was asleep in the bottom of the canoe. Carington
began to think over what he should do next day about the tombstone
business.

At his own camp-ground it took him some five minutes to restore Jack,
for a time, to the world of the wakeful, and Carington himself was glad
enough to find his own couch.

Before dawn, Michelle touched him on the shoulder.

“You are pretty hard to wake, Mr. Carington.”

“Am I? What is it? Oh, we are going after bears. Hang the bears!” He
rubbed his eyes, sat up, and said to Michelle, “Wake that boy. It will
take ten minutes.”

“Yes, sir.”

After Jack’s blanket was pulled away, and he himself rolled on to the
tent-floor, he began to wake up.

“Coffee ready and lunch in knapsack, Michelle?”

“All right, sir.”

Carington got up, and, laughing at the guide’s difficulty in reviving
Jack, went down to the beach, had a cold—a very cold—dip, and in a few
minutes was dressed and ready, while Jack, but half awake, was making a
boy’s still briefer toilet.

Meanwhile Carington looked into Ellett’s tent, and, seeing him sound
asleep, hesitated a moment as to waking him, in order to give into his
charge the money he had drawn. As he was about to speak, Michelle called
out:

“Halloa! Canoe’s adrift! Take care, Jack. Paddle her in.”

Carington ran out of the tent, and saw that Jack was again ashore. He
had put his gun and other traps in the boat, and then, jumping in
hastily to arrange them, had caused the canoe to slip off into the
current. The slight break thus caused in Carington’s mental processes
made him for the time forget his intention. Ten minutes later he
remembered it, as they were flying down-stream, and his hand chanced to
fall on the bulging packet of notes in his pocket.

“Confound it!” he exclaimed. “I forgot it. It is hardly worth while to
go back, Jack. I meant to leave the money I drew with Mr. Ellett. I
fancy it is safe enough.” Then he proceeded to secure the pocket with a
pin, saying, “We won’t go back. It is late, as it is.”

“I was thinking that,” said Jack, to whom bears were of far more
importance than the balance in the national treasury.

“I meant to wake myself earlier, Jack; but I was pretty tired. Usually I
can wake when I please.”

“I did think you were up, sir,” said Michelle. “You were a-saying things
about roses when I touched you.”

“Was I?”

“Yes. Just, ‘Rose—Rose’—like that.”

“That’s queer,” remarked Jack.

“No. I am rather fond of flowers, more so than most men. By the way,
Jack, you are a first-class performer in your sleep. If the
wedding-guest had heard your loud bassoon, I don’t know what he would
have done.”

“Who was the ‘wedding-guest’?”

“Ask Miss Rose.”

“I shall say you told me to ask.”

“That is hardly necessary. Read the poem—‘The Ancient Mariner,’ I mean.”

“I don’t care much for poetry stuff.”

“Don’t you? Well, you were pretty musical about 3 A. M.” Then he played
a little with the matter of his rosy dream. “I think, Jack, that very
often dreams like this of mine seem to be the outcome of some quite
trivial event rather than of the larger things of life. A day or two
back I was trying to pick a rose, and pricked my finger. I didn’t get
the rose, but I—meant to. I suppose that thorn stuck into some
pincushion of the mind. Odd, wasn’t it?”

“I dreamed about bears for a week after that beastly circus on the
beach.”

“No wonder,” and they laughed. “I don’t think dreams very interesting,
Jack; but twice in my life I have chanced to see dreams produce some
very strange results. See how the mists are melting away.”

“What was it about—the dreams?”

“One, Jack, I cannot tell you. The other I can. I had a guide in the
Wind River country who used to talk in his sleep. Several times when we
were alone in the hills he woke me up by the noise he made. I used to
whistle to quiet him long enough to give me a chance to fall asleep. It
is a good recipe to stop snoring. I tried it on you.”

“Dick can beat me all hollow! But please go on, Mr. Carington.”

“Well, one night he kept at it so long, and talked so plainly, that I
gave up in despair and listened. He was unusually excited this time. I
heard him say, ‘Kill him! Kill him!’ Then he groaned and rolled over and
groaned so that I thought he had a nightmare. At last he sang out, ‘Let
me go! I didn’t do it.’ After this I whistled ‘Yankee Doodle,’ and it
acted like a charm. Next morning at breakfast I said, ‘Whom were you
murdering in the night, and were they really going to hang you, Billy?’
When I said this he looked at me sharply, and I saw he did not like it.
He asked what he had said. I thought it best to say as little as
possible, and so replied, ‘You might have been killing bears, Billy.’ I
saw he did not believe me. All day long that fellow was restless and
uneasy. He twice missed an elk, and he was a perfect shot.”

“That was bad,” remarked Jack.

“That wasn’t all. When I woke next morning Bill was gone. I never saw
him again, and I had a pretty hard time getting back.”

“Do you think he had killed somebody?”

“Probably. Folks’ consciences seem to get a grip of them in sleep, and
to go to sleep themselves in the daytime. It’s a queer enough story.”

As they talked the paddles were busy, the mist melted, and they ran
swiftly down-stream a mile or more below the Cliff Camp. Here, at a
bend, where the river made a bold curve to the northwest, they ran
ashore.

“That will do, Michelle. Be on the lookout about six or seven to put us
over. Come, Jack. Give me the knapsack. Do not load yet.” As he spoke
they left the shore, and Carington, leading, struck into the woods.

They walked slowly through a tangled wilderness of trees, dead and
alive, set in perplexing undergrowth, Carington explaining his plans to
the boy as they tramped along.

“We shall go up the hill to left, over the crest and down on to Loon
Lake. It is a mere pond, but the berries are thick on the far side, and,
although now there are none, the bears have a habit of going there. We
shall read our fortune clear when we get on the shore.”

“By the tracks on the edge?”

“Yes. The deep print of the foot makes little pools; and if the water in
these is still muddy, the prints are recent; if not, we shall get no
chance.”

“I see.”

“Out in the Rockies we used to stir up the mud in the old prints with a
stick so as to fool the other fellows. It is an ancient trick. By the
way, Jack, at evening I shall set you on the ox-track to the west of
Colkett’s. I saw two porcupines there a day or two back. I will go
straight down the mountain to Colkett’s. I shall be but a few minutes at
Joe’s. I want to arrange about lumber for my cabin. If you see no game,
don’t wait, but take the cross track to Colkett’s. You can’t miss it. It
starts back of the big boulder in the clearing on the left, as you face
the river.”

“And you will meet me?”

“Yes. Perhaps before you quit the open.”

“I understand.”

“The road doesn’t go all the way to Joe’s, but I shall be on it before
you.”

“Yes.”

“Be very careful how you shoot. Colkett’s is not far, and the river in
the other direction none too wide, and rifle-balls travel a long way.”

“Yes, I will be careful.”

“And don’t carry your gun that way. So—that’s better.”

It was full noon and cloudy as they walked noiselessly down the slope to
the lonely little pond in the lap of the hills. At last they paused
among a mass of boulders.

“Now, keep still. I ordered a man up last evening late to put a black
kelt on the beach at the far side, where a brook comes in. I fancied it
might fetch Mr. Bear.” So saying, Carington adjusted his glass, and
searched with care the curved line of the farther shore.

“Look there! It’s a good half-mile or more.”

The boy took the glass.

“There are some water-weeds in a bunch, and above—oh, a black thing! A
bear!”

“Come,” said Carington, “you will want a skin for Miss Rose. Come.”

The boy went after him, and the long walk around the lake began. The way
was hard.

“We must go well back up over that hill, and then down the gorge which
carries the stream.”

At times the elder person glanced back at the noiseless, tough little
fellow. “Tired?” he said, as they broke with care through the alders.

“Awful,” said Jack.

At the foot of the hill, as they left the lake, they came on a bit of
old burnt land, and here the way was even harder. Myriads of dead pines,
spruces, and firs, interlaced in tumbled ruin, made progress difficult.
Now it was a giddy walk, twelve feet in air, along a slippery trunk, now
a crawl under spiky and splintered stems. Again Carington looked back,
and began to understand the value of the qualities of endurance,
strength, and grip of purpose, with which the boy pursued his way.

At length, hot, brier-scratched, and weary, they came out on the
hilltop. Jack was for immediate march, but Carington said:

“No. Get cool; you could not hit a barn-door now. Lie down a bit. You
will want to be fully rested. As for me, I am half dead,” and he dropped
on the scant soil. “Fine, isn’t it?”

A great sea of lesser hills was all around them, with here and there a
rare sparkle of silver from distant windings of the river.

As for Jack, who lay on the summit, his eyes were eagerly searching the
ravine down which they were to go.

“A friend of mine—oh, drop that bear, Jack; he’ll keep—a friend of mine
says that to enjoy a view like this one must walk up. He has a notion
that somehow the exercise absolutely increases your mental power to get
the best out of it.”

Jack was not clear as to this, and he said so.

“I don’t understand it myself. I do not know why it is true, but it is
true—for me, at least.”

“Maybe because it’s hard work,” said Jack.

He could not get his idea into proper shape, not having Ned’s facility
of expression.

“Yes,” said Carington. “We like what is difficult to get; but that is
not all of it. I suppose, if bears were as easy to get as omnibus
horses, neither you nor I would go after bears.”

“I guess that’s so.”

“What do you want to be, Jack, when you grow up?”

“I shall go to West Point.”

“Well, and after? The army is not a career, nowadays.”

“But there is first-rate sport in the West.”

“Yes; but that is for one’s idle hours. Life is a pretty big thing,
Master Jack.”

“What do you do, Mr. Carington?”

“I build bridges, lay out railroads, generally scrimmage with nature to
make life easier for man. How would you like that?”

“I don’t know.” He had a clever lad’s indisposition to commit himself.
“Is it easy?—I mean, to learn. I hate books—school-books, I mean.”

“No; it isn’t easy. But it is work for a man. Go to a school of
engineering for three or four years when you are older, and then come
and help me to build bridges. All this energy of yours—all this hatred
of defeat—this—well, you have the whole outfit, as we say in the
Rockies, but it is no good unless you know how to do things. The fellows
that know and have no steam, I don’t care about. Now, we want that bear,
don’t we?”

“Rather!”

“And first, we know how to get him, and then we want him so tremendously
that torn breeches, scratched legs, and the like, make no kind of
difference. Just patent that combination, and, as my friends down in
Carolina say, ‘there you are.’”

The small skeptic returned, “But we aren’t there yet.”

“We will be. The wind is up the gorge. See those ferns, how they sway
up-hill. He can get no scent of us.”

“That’s so. I wouldn’t have thought of that.”

“It is intelligence against mere instinct. Are you easily lost in the
woods, Jack? I am. I have no resource except incessant observation of
landmarks.”

Jack looked up in surprise. “I—lost? No, I never get lost.”

“But is that really so?”

“Yes. I wander off anywhere. It is easy to find your way here; but in
Maine it is harder. I was up with father two years ago, at the
Parmaccini lakes, and he almost always had to ask me the way.”

“How do you know it?”

“I don’t. I go home.”

“Like a dog?”

“I suppose so. I can’t tell.”

“But do you not unconsciously take note of the sun, and the moss on the
north side of the trees, and so guide yourself?”

“No—I may; I am not sure. I only know I can get back, and I go pretty
straight. Father says it is instinct.”

“That may be. I have seen guides who could go through a wood without
fail, and unerringly take you to camp in the darkest night. They cannot
tell how they do it.”

“I never thought much about it,” said Jack.

“It is worth thinking about. You see most instincts are intelligently
aided in man. The thing is to keep your instincts and help them with
mind; but I fancy you will lose yours as you cease to use them. What you
seem to have is like the instinct which brings the salmon back to his
own river, the homing pigeon to its own cote, and the cat you may have
tried to lose to its own kitchen, miles across the unknown streets of a
great city.”

“Can you explain it?”

“No,” replied Carington. He was interested in the talk. “No, it is
incomprehensible. There are organs in the ear which tell us the point
from which sounds come, and the eye is a help; but there is over and
above all, this instinct of direction, which guides the bird, or, still
more wonderfully, the fish, and to some degree, I suppose, the men who
have this capacity. I was once lost in a cave in Virginia. After an hour
of turning and twisting in long passages, and among forests of
stalactites, two hundred feet underground, the guide of a sudden got
altogether bewildered and terribly alarmed. A boy who was with us said,
‘I can get out,’ and, by Jove, Jack, he took us back, and in and out,
and at last into the open air. He never paused.”

“That was a scrape. I wish I had been with you.”

“Do you? I prefer not to try it again. Are you rested?”

“Yes.”

“Then come.” And they went over the slope, and began to go down the bed
of the scantily fed brook. In a half-hour they came to a small basin
whence the water fell into the pool below. Creeping cautiously, they
reached the edge and looked down on the muddy shore. The bear had gone.
Then Carington took his glass.

“The tracks go to the left,” he said. “Come, but be careful.”

Slowly and in silence they scrambled down to the edge of the underbrush.
Suddenly Carington caught the boy’s arm and drew him back.

“Hush!” he murmured. “Softly. There!” and parting the bushes, he pointed
through them. A large bear was slowly moving along the curve of shore,
not forty feet away. “Your bear, sir; behind the left shoulder. Steady!”

“No—you, sir!”

“Quick! You will lose him. Steady now! Well done!” he cried aloud, as
the boy’s rifle rang out, and the bear fell, rose, and fell again. “No!
Don’t run in! Load! Now wait a moment!” And, so saying, he moved along
the beach. But poor Bruin was dead.

“Clean shot, Master Jack!”

“By George!” cried the boy. “What fun! I thought—I was awful afraid you
meant to shoot him yourself.”

“That is not my way with my friends. I hate selfish sportsmen. When you
have killed as many bears as I have, we will toss up for the first shot.
He is dead enough.” And Carington nudged the beast in the ribs with his
gun-barrel.

Jack inspected his prey with care. “We must get his skin.”

“Of course. Got a knife?”

“Yes.”

“Then help me.”

It was a long business, and the sun was well down when they were done,
and the skin packed in a tight roll on Carington’s back.

“We will hang up the meat and send up for it early to-morrow. It is
poor, at best. Come, Jack. I think you are an inch taller. You have
killed a bear!”

“Just haven’t I?” said the boy.

“And you are going to be an engineer,” added Carington, laughing.

“I don’t know,” said Jack. “Would Michelle tan the skin for me?”

“Yes. It shall be smoke-tanned and sent down to you. Once smoke-tanned,
it is fairly moth-proof, and you will find it does not get stiff after a
wetting. The civilized man has never yet learned the art of the tanner.”

“I want it for Aunt Anne.”

“I thought you said it was for Miss Rose?”

“No. That was what you said.”

“Did I?” And they went on in that uncertain light which is more puzzling
than darkness, in and out of the water, or, with exclamations and
laughter, pitching over rocks and dead trees.

Half-way down the hill Carington stopped. The brook-channel they were
following descended to the river in a widening gorge. He intended to
follow it, and, after seeing Colkett, meant to rejoin Jack, as he had
previously arranged. He now set the boy on a disused lumber-road leading
to the clearing, saying, at last, “This is my way. You may see the
porcupine in the open to the left, but be careful how you shoot.
Confound it! How much longer do you think I am going to be your
pack-mule? I shall kick. Here, carry your own plunder.” And, laughing,
he cast the bearskin on the ground.

Jack’s face lit up. This, of all things, was to be desired.

“I was going to ask you if I might carry it a bit.”

“Were you? Well, be off, and, if you lose yourself, remember that all
the slopes lead to the river.”

“Yes. As if any fellow didn’t know that!” said Jack to himself, as he
trudged away, very proud, with the bearskin on his back.



                              CHAPTER XXIX


Carington stood a moment, looking after the boy. Then he readjusted the
straps of the knapsack, which he had taken again when Jack had loaded
himself with the bearskin, and went rapidly down through the more open
forest.

At first he had meant to look quietly about the cabin, hoping to find
the place where the children were buried. On reflection, he changed his
mind, and determined to go at once to the Colketts’s, for which he had a
ready excuse. There was still enough of light, but he had not as yet the
least idea where the little graveyard lay. Better, perhaps, he thought,
to ask Dorothy, and to return at mid-morning, when Joe would be away.
That there was the least peril in his search he did not think, despite
Lyndsay’s warning. It had interested him, and he meant to be guided by
it so far as to have some other guide than Joe in September. That was
all.

At the edge of the clearing he climbed over the snake-fence, and walked
at once to the well, being hot and thirsty. Mrs. Colkett, seeing him,
came out of the cabin, and met him as he began to lower the bucket. He
turned as she came.

“Good evening, Mrs. Colkett. Is Joe about? I have a job for him.”

“He’s ’round somewhere. Joe!” she called, in a high-pitched voice;
“Joe!”

The man came from the cow-shed, and joined them at the well.

“Was you wantin’ me, sir?”

“Yes, Joe. I mean to build a cabin on the island this fall. Remson will
do it. I saw him yesterday. He wants you to get out a lot of squared
lumber. Can you do it?”

“Yes.”

“I will give you the measurements before I leave. It will be a pretty
good job for you. Mind you pick out good stuff.”

“I will; no fear of that. Want some water, sir?”

“Yes.”

Joe let down the bucket, and brought it up brimming. He set it on the
rim of the well. Meanwhile Carington sat on the ledge, and, tilting the
bucket, wetted his handkerchief and wiped his brow.

“That’s jolly good. By George, but I am warm! I have had a hard tramp.”
As he completed this brief refreshing of the outer man, he looked up,
and for a moment considered the scaffold of big bones on which time and
care had left Susan Colkett but a minimum amount of flesh.

He took no more deliberate notice than do most people of the features,
which gave him, however, in their general effect, a sense of strangeness
and of vague discomfort. The eyes were too big, and, like the
cheek-bones, too red, the features large. Beside her the stout husband,
muscular and not unkindly of look, presented an odd contrast. There did
not seem much harm in him, and how miserably poor they must be!

“Come over soon,” said Carington; “I will tell you then more precisely
what I want.”

“He’ll come,” said the woman.

“Very good.”

“Would you mind, sir, to give Joe a little in advance? I’ll see he
comes.”

“Why not? Certainly!”

“The fact is, Joe he’d never think to ask it; he’s that modest.”

Carington, who had been looking at her husband’s face, was of opinion
that he was pretty full of whisky, and just now dulled with drink.
Still, he was a good workman, and the misery in which they lived was but
too obvious. He might have found a more certain agent, but then he would
have lacked excuses for the interviews which his present purpose
required.

“I will tell you just what we want when you come over, and, as to pay, I
shall be glad to give you now a moderate advance.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Joe.

“He’ll come to-morrow, sure. Fact is,” she went on, “we ain’t a dollar,
and there’s no work, and this house, there’s a man in Mackenzie’s got a
mortgage on it, and the pork’s about out.”

“Will you have to go?”

“That’s what we’ll have to do.”

“Rather hard, that.”

“I wouldn’t mind so much if it wasn’t to leave them dead children, sir,
and no man to care for their graves. ’T ain’t like as if we was rich.”

“Are they buried here, Mrs. Colkett?”

“Yes, they’re put away, back in the woods. You might call that buried.
We are just clean broke, Mr. Carington, and that’s all there is to say.”

“I am sorry for you.” And he was, despite all he knew, being a man
pitiful of what led to crime or to want. “I shall be very glad to give
you help now.”

“The lawyer man he’s coming to-morrow, pretty early. If we ain’t got
twenty dollars, the cow must go.”

“Can he take it? I don’t understand that.”

“He says so. I don’t rightly know. We poor folk can’t ever tell. We most
always get the worst of it.”

She played her part and told her lie well, looking down as she spoke,
and at last wiping her eyes, while Joe uneasily shifted from one foot to
another as he stood.

Carington put his hand in his pocket, and took out the roll of notes. As
he unfolded them, the woman’s eyes considered them with a quick look of
ferocious greed. He counted out twenty-five dollars, and gave the money
into her hand, replacing the roll in his pocket as she thanked him.
After this he took the bucket, tilted out of it half the water, and,
raising it, drank. As he buried his head in its rim, Susan caught Joe by
the arm, and pointed to the thirsty man, whose back was toward them. She
looked around in haste, took a step toward a broken ax-helve, which lay
near by, and then stood still, as Carington set down the bucket. He had
been nearer death than he ever knew.

As he turned, the woman’s face again struck him. It was deeply flushed;
the large, sensual lower lip was drawn down, so as to uncover a row of
large yellow teeth, and the face was stern.

“Thank you, sir,” she said again, quick to notice his look of scrutiny.

“You are welcome. Come, Joe. I want to talk over the lumber.”

As Joe went by her, Susan caught his arm with so fierce a grip that he
exclaimed aloud.

“What is it?” said Carington, pausing.

“I hurt my foot last week, and I just stumped my toes—that’s all.”

They walked on and reached the house. Here she passed them and went in.
While they stood a moment in talk, she moved to the far corner, and took
from its rack Joe’s old-fashioned muzzle-loading rifle. She knew that,
as usual, it was loaded. Then she hesitated, set it down against the
table, and fetched a bowl of milk to the door.

“You might like a drink of milk?” she said. “Come in. It’s good. Dory
fetched it; our cow’s run dry. Hers was better anyway. It’s right rich.”

Carington might have thought of Jael as Mrs. Colkett faced him. “She
brought him butter in a lordly dish.” His thoughts, however, were far
away.

“No, thank you,” he replied, absently.

“Won’t you rest a bit, sir?”

“No, I must go.”

Profoundly disappointed, she went in, sat down, took hold of the rifle,
and then set it aside, as she listened.

“I am not over sure of the way, Joe.” He knew it well enough. “Come with
me a bit.”

“Yes, sir.” They went around the cabin and struck off into a forest
road. At the brook, which crossed it some fifty yards from the house,
Carington turned off the road. He had brought Joe thus far with the
indistinct intention of sounding him about the lost tombstone. Suddenly,
however, Joe said:

“I wouldn’t go down the trail by the stream, sir.”

“Why not?”

“It’s shorter, but it’s awful muddy.”

“Oh, that doesn’t matter.”

“You’d lose your way, sure.”

“Nonsense.”

The man’s manner was so uneasy that Carington at once concluded that the
trail might lead near to the object of his search.

“Good night,” he said, abandoning his intention to question Joe. “I
shall take the brook trail. Don’t come with me. I see you are very
lame.”

“Don’t you try that way, sir. You—you—I got stuck in that swamp last
fall. It’s real bad.”

Carington was now still more certain of the cause of the lumberman’s
persistent warnings. “I’ll risk it,” he said and set off. “Good night.”

“Good night. Keep the left side, if you will take the trail.”

“All right, Joe.”

He crossed the rivulet, and kept to the right bank. Joe stood a moment
looking after him. The brook-path would bring Carington full in sight of
the tombstone, and the shadows were not yet deep enough to hide it. A
great fear came upon him of a sudden. He turned, and ran limping back to
the house.

“What is it?” she cried, as he stumbled in. “Is he dead? Have you done
it?”

“No, no! I couldn’t stop him! He’s gone down the brook. Oh, Lord, he’ll
see it, and I’m done for! He’s a-goin right for it.”

She broke out, “Here!” and thrust the rifle into his hand. “Now is your
chance! It’s a heap of money. Go! go! You are ruined, anyway. Ruined!
He’ll see it. He’ll see it, sure. Make it safe. Quick!”

The man stood still. “I can’t! I just can’t!” He was shaking as with
ague.

“Coward! Fool! Give it to me.” And she tore the rifle from his hand.

“Susie! Susie! It’s murder.”

He caught her arm, and her gown, which tore in his grasp. She thrust him
aside with a blow of her open hand on the chest. He fell over a chair,
and got up, limping, unsteady, in extreme pain from his hurt foot. She
was gone.

“I will kill you if you follow me,” he heard, as she passed the open
window.

He believed her. He was afraid. He went to the door, limped back, and,
falling into a chair, stuffed fingers into his ears, while sweat of
terror ran down his cheeks. A moment passed, then another, and, despite
his childlike precaution, he heard his rifle ring through the forest
stillness, and upon this he burst into tears, and cried aloud, “Oh,
Lord, oh, Lord God!”

As he spoke, he rose up, and stood in agony of expectation. The woman
came in.

“Where’s your powder and ball?”

“I ain’t none. Last charge,” he gasped. “Did you miss him?”

“Miss! No. Take an ax, and go and make sure. He ain’t to be feared now.
I hit him sure. Go and get the money. Haven’t you that much pluck, you
sot?”

“I dassen’t.”

“He’s got his gun, Joe, and I had a notion he might be just crippled,
and I’d come and get a load and make certain.”

As she spoke, he stood by her, swaying on his feet, dazed.

“Great God, are you a man!” she cried.

“Not that sort,” he said, slowly. “Did you say you done it, Susie?”

“Did I? You fool! Go and get the money. He won’t hinder you none.”

“I couldn’t, Susie.”

She looked about her, in no wise intimidated or hurried. An ax stood in
the corner.

“What! What! You mustn’t!” he cried.

“Go and get a spade,” she said. “I’ll fetch the money.” And, seizing the
ax, she thrust him aside as he stood in the doorway. “You white-livered
coward, get out of my way, or I’ll brain you.”

He shrunk aside. He could only say, “Susie! Susie! Don’t—don’t!”

“Off with you!” And passing him, with no more words, she ran around the
cabin and disappeared in the darkening forest.

This time she moved with extreme caution, so as to approach her victim
in another direction. Nevertheless, being, like most of the
forest-dwelling women, a fair shot, she felt coolly certain of her prey.

After leaving Joe, Carington had followed the brook, or rather the trail
beside it, for some hundred yards, when he noticed a gleam of white
among the shadows. Anything unusual in the forest is sure to win instant
notice from men accustomed to wandering and to keeping all their senses
alert. Moreover, he was now keenly observant. He stopped, and, crossing
the brook, broke through the undergrowth, and stood at once in a
clearing some twenty yards wide. As he came nearer to the three little
mounds, now dimly visible, he saw the white slab, and instantly
understood that his guess had been correct. A little while he remained
still, in thought recalling what Dorothy had said, and gradually seeing
in his mind the pitifulness of it all: the crude animal eagerness of the
mother; the rough, unthinking man’s wish to please her.

At last, laying aside his rifle, he knelt down, and, unable to see, felt
with his hands the surface of the stone. “Ah!” he exclaimed, recognizing
on the back the dints poor Joe’s tool had made. Next he struck a match,
and, guarding it with his hands, read the inscription. The match went
out before he had quite done. He lit another.

“Ah me!” he murmured; “this is a strange world.” And he read, “Of such
are the kingdom of heaven.” “What a sad business!”

He lifted his hand to cast aside the still-burning match. At this
instant, while still on his knees, there was a flash of light. He heard
no sound, but fell across the graves, motionless.

Meanwhile, Jack, with swift feet, eager for home, trotted down the
broken road, and, to his disgust, finding no porcupines, struck easily
into the cross-road, and, passing the boulder, moved away along the
forest-track. At last the way became less and less plain; but, trusting
by habit to his sense of direction, he pushed on into the wood.

A little surprised not to meet his friend, he concluded that he might
possibly have missed his way. For the first time the boy hesitated.
Then, as he stood, he heard a rifle, and, sure at once that Carington
must have shot something, he ran with greater speed. In a few moments
the tangle of undergrowth checked his pace. Some five minutes or more
went by, and he saw a flare of light. Thinking it strange, he hurried
his steps, and then, of a sudden, stood still.

The woman had carefully approached her prey, ax in hand, and at last
saw, as she strained her vision, that Carington’s rifle lay out of his
reach. Reassured, she went on more boldly. Looking around, and seeing no
one near, she calmly lifted the man’s head, and let it fall. This seemed
enough. She took the roll of money, and began to disengage the
watch-guard; but, unable to release the catch in the buttonhole of his
jacket, struck one of the matches which, as usual, she had in her
pocket, caught up a scrap of birch-bark, and, lighting it, saw by the
flare how to undo the chain. As she dropped the watch into her bosom, a
long gasp broke from the chest of the man beneath her.

“He ain’t done for,” she exclaimed, and rose to her feet, the roll of
burning birch in one hand, the ax in the other. She stepped back a pace,
cast down the blazing bark, which flashed forth anew as she let her
right hand slip up the handle and lifted the ax.

A voice rang out to the left, “Stand, or I’ll shoot!”

She set a foot on the fading bit of fire, and, still gripping the ax,
fled, with one hoarse cry, through the woods, striking against the
trees, falling, tearing her hands and clothes in the raspberry vines.

Joe heard her coming, and stumbled out.

“He ain’t dead,” she cried, “and there’s another man there. I got the
money, though. Come! quick! Take blankets—go on to the road. I’ll be
there in a minute. Don’t stand staring. You’re drunk!”

He was. All day long he had been drinking; and when she went out, he
found his bottle and emptied it, half crazed with fear. He obeyed her
with difficulty and came out staggering—letting the blankets trail, and
stumbling as he went. Then he halted.

“Where am I going?”

“Oh, the river! the river!—the dugout! Fool! sot! The dugout’s at the
lower landing, isn’t it? I left it this morning.”

“Yes, it’s there.”

“Then wait at the road.”

She went back into the cabin, caught up some garments, and threw them
out of the window. Next she raked the fire out onto the floor, and, when
again at the door, caught the kerosene-can from a shelf, with no tremor
or haste, uncorked it, and threw it onto the scattered fire. A great
yellow blaze went up, and she barely escaped in time. She stood a
moment, and turned away laughing. “There won’t be much for that
lawyer-man, I guess.” One of her starved hens, which had ventured into
the cabin to forage, was hurled out by the blast, blind and scorched,
and reeled about making strange noises. “Gosh, but that’s funny!” she
cried, snatching the ax and following Joe.

At the fence she found Joe.

“What’s been a-doin’, Susie?”

“Shut up, and hurry, if you want to save your neck.”

“’T ain’t my neck.”

“What!” she cried. There was that in her voice which quieted the man,
and they went as swiftly as a reeling head and hurt leg permitted down
to the landing.

“Set down,” she cried, and pushed off the pirogue. “Can you paddle?”

“I can.”

“Then do it,” and they went away into the darkness, down the hurry of
the stream.

Jack had dimly understood that something was wrong as he came through
the edge of the wood, but, as the birch flared up in its fall through
the air, he caught sight of a man’s body, and of the backward step of
one about to strike with an ax. Then he called to her. As she fled he
ran out, and, hearing the noise of her retreat more and more distant, he
dropped beside the man.

“It’s Mr. Carington! Is he dead? She shot him! I heard it—oh, this is
awful! What shall I do?”

“Mr. Carington!” he called. “Mr. Carington!” As he shook his shoulder,
he guessed it was blood he felt on his hand.

He stood up at last, and listened. There was no sound but the deep
murmur of the distant river. More at ease, he struck a match, for the
birch flame was out, and, bending over, looked at the body.

“By George! he’s not dead; he’s breathing.” And still his anxiety was
intense. He took both rifles, dropped a shell in each, ran to the edge
of the clearing, and laid them down. Running back, and catching
Carington under the arms, he tried to drag him to a shelter. It was in
vain. The tall, sturdy man was beyond his powers. But, as he tugged at
him, Carington groaned aloud. At the next pull, he spoke:

“What’s wrong? Who are you?”

“I am Jack, sir. You have been shot.”

“Did I do it?—my rifle?” he murmured, feebly.

“No—a woman.”

“What? What’s that? A woman!” The shock of the ball-wound and the
subsequent faintness, kept up by loss of blood, were partly over.

“I am dreadfully weak. What an infernal business! Where am I?”

“In the woods; in the woods. Can you get over to the bush? They might
come back.”

“I’ll try. Great Scott! It’s my left shoulder.” And he fell in the
effort to get to his feet. “I can’t do it. Get my flask. Ah, that’s
better.”

This time he crawled with one arm and Jack’s help to the margin of the
clearing, and at last lay among the underbrush.

“Tie a handkerchief, tight, here, around my arm-pit. I don’t think it
bleeds. It might. Now lie down, and keep an eye over yonder. In a while
I shall be better. What a deuce of a business! Now keep quiet. Are you
loaded?”

“Yes—both rifles.”

Jack waited, a hand on his rifle. Presently Carington said, feeling his
pocket with the right hand, “George! that’s it. I was a fool. It’s gone!
and my watch!”

“How’s that?”

“No matter now. Halloa, Jack, what is that light?”

“Light?”

“Yes,” for the upward glow of the blazing cabin now rose in the sky
overhead, and soon began to send arrowy flashes of illumination through
the trees.

“Can’t be the woods,” said Carington. “They are all wet, and there are
few pines. Let us try to get out of it.”

This time he did better, but it was slow work, and Jack became more and
more anxious as the light grew behind them, and now and then sparks fell
through the foliage about their path. They were soon close to the shore.

“Stop!” cried the boy. “Who’s there?”

“Good Heavens!” said Lyndsay. “Jack! Jack!” and Rose, at his side,
repeated his name. “What is wrong?”

“I got a little hurt,” said Carington, leaning against a tree. “That is
all. It is of no consequence.”

“He’s shot,” Jack blurted out. “A woman shot him. Oh, but I’m glad to
see you!”

At this Rose exclaimed, “Shot!” and caught at a great, friendly pine
near by and held fast to it, until a moment of its stay sufficed to
steady her. “Is it bad?” she said, in a voice which elsewhere might have
told enough, had the comment of her face been visible.

“No,” said Carington, cheerfully. “It is really of no account, Miss
Lyndsay. Let us get away. I can tell you all to-morrow.”

Lyndsay put a strong arm around him, and, thus aided, they were soon at
the shore, where Michelle in Carington’s canoe lay ready beside
Lyndsay’s.

“Mr. Carington’s hurt,” said Lyndsay, and in a few words explained the
matter.

Carington, too weak and dazed to resist, or indeed to care, found
himself in a minute in Tom’s boat with Lyndsay, while Rose and Jack
followed in Michelle’s canoe.

“Down-stream,” said Lyndsay, “and hurry, my men.”

“Where are you taking me?” asked Carington, feebly.

“To the Cliff Camp, of course, my dear fellow. We are going to get even
on the bear business.”

“You are very good.” He was in dreadful pain, but even this did not
prevent the pleasant reflection that he was to be under the roof with
Rose Lyndsay.

“By George!” he added, “it hurts.”

“I know well enough,” said Lyndsay. “You are not bleeding, however. I
still have one of these leaden hornets in me. It takes the pluck out of
a fellow, at first.”

“I should think it did!” said Carington.

“Don’t talk now. It can’t be serious. To-morrow, or later, we shall want
to hear more.”

Meanwhile Rose in her own canoe was hearing from Jack all that he knew
of the day’s misadventure.

“That will do,” she said, at last, and fell back on her seat, deep in
thought. There are some fruits which only winter ripens quickly.



                              CHAPTER XXX


Lyndsay had just come in when he saw the glow of the fire over the
hilltop. He was curious and a little anxious. Wood-fires are of all
things what men dread the most, when once they have been face to face
with their terrors. He called his men again, and ordered them to take
him up the river. Rose, who had been with him on the pool, asked at once
to go with him.

He said, “I see no objection. Get a wrap and make haste.”

Thus it chanced that in a few moments they were poling up the stream
with more than usual speed.

“Halloa!” cried Lyndsay, as a dugout shot by them in the darkness.
“What’s wrong up above?”

There was no reply.

“Isn’t that queer?” said Rose. “How uncivil!”

“Very.”

At the landing they went ashore, and pushed on to see what was the
source of the blaze.

Presently Lyndsay halted, noticing the sparks about him. “There is no
wind, Michelle.”

“No, sir; and the woods are soaking wet. I’ve a notion it’s Colkett’s.”

“Best to see. I will wait at the boat. I don’t want to run any risk with
Miss Lyndsay.” But at this moment he heard Jack’s challenge, and so all
the threads of my story are spun together.

As they ran down-stream, Lyndsay was a little uneasy concerning what
might be his wife’s judgment as to his course in regard to Carington;
but he had felt very deeply the obligation under which the young man had
placed them, and he was clear enough that there had been really nothing
else to do. Nevertheless, he was shrewd as to the domestic management of
the matter. At the landing he said to Rose:

“Wait a moment, you and Jack,” and then ran up the steps and into the
house.

By this time Rose was in full command of herself, and able, as her
father left them, to speak tranquilly enough to the wounded man.

“Yes, he was in some pain; but, to judge from his own feelings, the
trouble could not be grave.”

Then she asked, quite naturally, if Mr. Ellett had been told, and
learning that he had not, sent Jack to find Polycarp, that he might take
a note to the Island. When Jack came back with the Indian, Rose said:

“I must see papa about the note for Mr. Ellett. Ah, here he comes.” She
did not wait to complete this business, but turned to the canoe where
Carington still lay, and said:

“Good night, and good-by, too, for a few days. Mama will keep you well
caged. You may rest assured of that!”

In the very dim light she saw him put out the hand nearest to her. She
took it, felt the lingering grasp, already fever-hot, that would have
delayed the moment’s soft prisoner, but dared not. She said again:

“Good night. Here is papa,” and moved away, at first slowly, and then
quickly.

When Mr. Lyndsay entered the cabin his wife looked up.

“What is it, Archie?”

“Don’t be alarmed, Margaret. Mr. Carington has been shot—badly wounded.”

“Not by Jack!” cried the mother.

“Oh, no! No. It’s a queer story. I have not heard it fully. He bled a
good deal, and—”

“Do you think him in danger, Archie?”

“It is hard to say, especially so soon.”

“Surely you did not leave him at their camp?” said Margaret.

“No. He is in my canoe on the beach.”

“Good gracious! Is he?”

Anne smiled, as she would have said, inside of her, and reflected upon
the wisdom her brother had displayed, for at once Margaret, easily
captured by appeals to her pity, was afoot, and, for the time, intent
alone upon what was best to be done.

“I would send Tom to Mackenzie for a doctor, and he must stay. I think,
Archie, you will have to give Mr. Carington your room and take to a
tent.” Then she went off to set the room in order, while Lyndsay
returned to the beach, still a little anxious, but also a little amused.

Rose had gone.

By and by the guides carried the wounded man up into the neat chamber,
where Lyndsay helped him to bed, and was easily able to ascertain that
the ball had crossed the chest beneath the skin, passed over the left
shoulder, and out again—a severe flesh-wound.

“It does not bleed,” said Lyndsay, “and I think there is no very serious
hurt. Can you move your arm?”

“Yes,—with pain.”

“Then the joint is safe. I have known fellows brevetted for things no
worse.”

“But my puzzle is, why what is only a flesh-wound should have made me
drop as if I were dead. I cannot understand it.”

“The doctors call it ’shock,’” said his host. “At times it affects the
head, and a man hit in the foot or arm goes crazy for a time, or else it
stops the heart, and he faints.”

“That was it, I suppose.”

As they talked Lyndsay put on a wet compress, and, with the skill
learned long since, where bullets were many and bigger, he made his
patient reasonably comfortable, and left him at last under Mrs.
Lyndsay’s despotic care.

In the mean time, Anne, anxious to know more, had looked for Jack. At
ease concerning Carington, he was off somewhere, busy about the
preservation of his precious bearskin, and Rose, too, had disappeared.
Anne felt that she must wait, and, as usual, went to her room, to rest a
little before their retarded dinner. She opened the door, and instantly
went in and shut it. Rose was lying on the bed, trying hard to suppress
her sobs, knowing well that she would be but too easily heard.

“Dear child, what is it?” said Anne.

“I don’t know. Oh, do, please, let me alone!”

“But I must know. It is so unlike you. Mr. Carington is in no danger.”

“I know. I don’t care whether he is in danger or not. I do care! It
isn’t he! It’s—it’s me—it’s I. I can’t tell. I am ashamed. Are all women
this way? Oh, I hate to be such a fool!”

Anne sat down. “I don’t quite understand, dear; but, no matter. What is
clear is that you are going to have hysterics.”

“I am not going to have hysterics.”

“Then keep quiet, and don’t talk.”

“You made me talk!”

“I did. I am an ass.”

“No—no! Kiss me, aunty. I am so miserable! Couldn’t I get to bed
quietly?”

“Yes. Your mother is busy. Come.” And thus, when at last dinner was on
the table, and Mrs. Lyndsay asked for her daughter, she was told that
Rose had a headache, and then, when she got up to go to her, that she
was asleep, which may or may not have been true.

At dinner, between what Carington had told Lyndsay and Jack’s very clear
statement, the story came out plainly enough. The boy was praised to his
heart’s content, and when Anne had said that this was courage in the
right place, and Carington refused to sleep until he had thanked him,
Jack felt that, including the bearskin as a part of the day’s blessings,
life had no more to give. As for Dick, he settled the genus and the
species of the bear, and Ned sat in a corner and meditated, seeing the
whole day’s events in pictures, with curious dramatic clearness.

Next morning the doctor arrived, and further reassured them. Mr.
Carington was in for a day or two in bed, and then might be out in the
hammock.

Of course Ellett had been informed the night before, and had come down
at once. When again, next day, he returned, there was a long
consultation, and it was decided that the patient was so well that
Ellett might move down and take care of him, that the doctor would come
back and stay a few days, and that Mr. Lyndsay and his family might go
away on Sunday night. To this plan Mrs. Lyndsay somewhat eagerly
assented, for reasons of which she said nothing, an unusual course for
the little lady.

Thus, on Friday and Saturday, what with fishing and packing, every one
was busy.

“Preliminaries are the bane of existence,” said Anne, “but
postliminaries are worse”; and thereupon she asked Ned if that word was
in “Worcester,” and declared for a dictionary of her own making.

Mrs. Lyndsay had no opinion of Anne’s capacities in any practical
direction, and declined for a day her help in the care of Mr. Carington.
But now she was over-busy, and thus it chanced on the next morning,
being Saturday, that she asked Anne to look after their wounded guest.
They had purposely brought no maids with them, and, even with all of
Rose’s help, Anne had been obliged to assist in packing, for, as
concerned her books, she was as old-maidish and precise as are some
other of her corps about what Anne regarded as quite unimportant
properties. To escape, at last, out of the bustle of packing, and to
find some one to talk to or be talked to, was entirely to her taste.

“Certainly, Margaret,” she said.

“And do not let him talk.”

“No.”

“And do not talk to him, dear.”

“Of course not.”

“There is nothing so fatiguing.”

“No. That is quite the case.”

“And be careful about drafts.”

“Yes. Is that all?”

“I think so,” returned Mrs. Lyndsay, doubtfully, and then went before
Anne into Carington’s room.

“I have brought you a new nurse. My sister-in-law will look after you
this morning. You must not let her talk to you.” And having thus doubly
provided against the deadly malaria of conversation, she went out as
Anne sat down.

Carington liked the maiden lady, with her neat dress and erect carriage,
which no suffering had taught the stoop of the invalid; moreover, her
unusualness pleased him. Her talk, too, was out of the common, and full
of enterprise. What she used of the learning or sentiment of others
seemed also to acquire a new personal flavor. Mrs. Westerly had once
said, “When Miss Anne quotes Shakspere, it loses the quality of mere
quotation. She can’t say anything like the rest of us.”

As she sat down, she said demurely, “I am not to talk to you. Let us
gossip: that is not talk.”

“Oh, no,” he said, joyously. “I am just about in a state for mere chat,
which involves no thinking. Mrs. Lyndsay has been severe.”

“I have to fight her a little myself, dear, good, obstinate creature as
she is. I suppose she did not talk to you at all,—not a word, I
presume?”

“I decline, Miss Anne, to betray the weaknesses of my nurses.”

“That is well. Negations often answer questions quite sufficiently in
the affirmative. I know she did talk to you, and about that miserable
tombstone. She cannot help it, poor mother!”

“Yes. I thought it pitiable. She seemed unable to escape from it.”

“It is like her; but it is not wise. Margaret is persistent always. Her
likes and dislikes are changeless. She is obstinate in her kindness, her
loves, and her charities. As good as gold, we say; but goodness, like
gold, is not an insurance of fertile results in all its relations. I
mean that goodness can be sometimes exasperating. But, as usual, my
tongue is indiscreet. I would like you to understand her. She is worth
the trouble.”

“Thank you. I never can forget her tenderness and her kind carefulness.
Never!”

“Our real battles are over my books. She says my little library is a
wilderness of books, and every autumn, on my return, I find the servants
have had orders to dust my books.”

“How dreadful!”

“Is it not? And the strange things that happen! I like to arrange my
books so that they shall be happy, and when I come home and find
Swinburne in among the volumes of Jeremy Taylor, and Darwin sandwiched
between Addison and the ‘Religio Medici,’ I get frantic and say things.
It is useless.”

“How sad!”

“I shall assure her we—you and I—were only gossiping. She has an abiding
impression that I talk only high science, and I detest science. Talk I
must.”

“I think it will do me no harm. I am now quite easy. I have no fever.”

“None,” said Anne, taking his hand and looking at her watch. “Pulse
good, too. I don’t think a talk will hurt you. Tell me when you are
tired.”

“I promise, but you shall do the talking. I will listen.”

“You had better be careful how you give such large liberty. Did you
ever, by chance, know Miss Pearson?”

“Yes, yes,” and he laughed, “years ago—that statistical lady in
Germantown. I had some engineering work near there. Oh, years ago: I was
a mere lad. I knew all those good people, Mrs. Fox and the Mortons. But
what about Miss Pearson? Good woman, I take it?”

“Yes, entirely; but she kept her religion on ice; a sort of east-wind of
a woman. She had that bloodless propriety which passes muster for
dignity. When you gave me full discretion as to talk, I meant to tell
you her description of my conversation; I don’t think I shall.”

“Well, you are revenged, I think,” and he laughed. “I find I must not
laugh; it hurts. You will have to be grave, if you talk at all.”

“I think I _must_ tell you. She declared that if I wanted to be amusing,
I never hesitated to be either inaccurate or untruthful, and that, while
accidental inaccuracy was deplorable, intended intellectual inaccuracy
was criminal!”

“That is surprisingly like her—or was. She is dead, I think.”

“Yes. How it must bother her! One can’t imagine accuracy in space, and
where time is not. I don’t suppose the angels plume themselves on
punctuality.”

“Really, Miss Anne!”

“Well, I will try to be good. Now, don’t laugh! Let us be serious. Do
you suppose folks take the seriousness of death into that other world?
Not that I personally regard it as so very grim a business. There are
many worse trials in life than dying, because vital calamities may
repeat themselves; but it seems improbable that we shall have more than
one experience of this exit.”

“Who can say?” said Carington. “I have been near it of late; but I can
contribute to no wisdom.”

“I like to think I shall grin at the world from the safe side of the
fence,” she returned. “Miss Pearson would have said that a due sense of
the relative proportion of things would be inconsistent in another
sphere with the minute dimensions of our earthly jests.”

“And you call that serious?”

“I do. Don’t you?”

“No. I shall have to ‘p’int’ the talk, as Mrs. Maybrook says.”

“And what shall we talk about? If I cannot put a smile into my talk, I
shall prefer silence.”

He made no answer for a time, and then spoke gravely enough.

“I have had a very narrow escape, Miss Anne, and, but for that fine
fellow, Jack, I should have been lost to this life, or, if you like,
this life to me.”

“Yes, that is so. I am proud of the boy. He has made a friend, I trust.”

“Yes, and I can help him. I saw that in the talks we had. One can tell,
sometimes, when, of a sudden, one comes into sympathetic touch with
another nature. It is like taking a key out of your pocket at need, and
finding it fit a strange lock and turn easily, and so open a life to
you. The sentence isn’t good, but you know what I mean.”

“I do.” And again he was quiet a little while.

“Miss Anne, may I tell you something?”

“Why not?”

“You may not like it.”

“Perhaps not. That is of no moment. I want to hear. I always want to
hear. My appetite for the unknown is like that of a ghost for
realities.”

“This is real enough.”

“Well?”

“I care—oh, a great deal—for Miss Lyndsay.”

“Do you call that a secret? It was arithmetically revealed to me by five
roses, which should have been six.”

“You are a terrible woman, Miss Anne! The witches were a trifle to you!”

“They had the insight of wickedness. I have the sagacity of love. Rose
is very, very dear to me.”

“Do you think it possible—”

“That Rose should care for you? Yes. It is possible. But, frankly, yours
is a three weeks’ acquaintance, ripened by unusual events. Neither she
nor we know you as we should know a man to whom—”

“Let me interrupt you. I am thinking of the future. One does not win a
woman like Miss Lyndsay in a day.”

“You are right. I think, were I you, I would assist the future to take
care of itself.”

“Thank you. I should like, much as I care for her, to have her get quite
away from any sense of obligation to me. I almost wish she could
entirely forget it. Any man could have done the little I did, and, after
all, you are quite out of my debt.”

“No one can pay another’s debts. The heart has no clearing-house. Rose
must know that. You feel, as I do, that no manly nature should want to
be taken for granted, as altogether what is best for life, just on the
chances of a minute of decisive action. You want her to know you in many
relations, and to know herself also. Isn’t that so?”

“It could not be better stated.”

“If you had saved her life a dozen times, she would still reflect before
she said ‘yes,’ and be the more apt to hesitate because of the
obligation. It is a strong nature.”

“But I don’t want her to let—”

“No. I understand, and don’t misunderstand me. We are quite at one.”

“And you will be my friend?”

“Yes. I like you. If you are good enough for my Rose—I doubt— Come and
see us; and be prudent now. I never could hold my own tongue. Therefore,
much conversational adversity makes me a good adviser. If you see Rose
at all before we leave, be on your guard.”

“Thank you again,” and he took her hand.

“Now I must go. What a pity we were ordered not to talk!”

“Dreadful, was it not? And how good we have been! I assure you, Miss
Anne, I am worlds the better for your visit. Good-by. I am to be up on
the lounge on Sunday afternoon. Indeed, I am to be carried out to the
porch. I could walk well enough. Don’t you think I shall have a chance
to say good-by?”

“To me? Oh, yes.”

“Please, Miss Anne, you know I mean Miss Rose!”

“Why not? And now I must go.”

She did not calculate on Mrs. Margaret, who was now once more uneasy
about this business, and had a maternal mind to put in its way enough
obstacles to make the stream of love run anything but smooth. As I have
said, she was conservative. The unusual distressed her. Rose’s other
love-affairs had been conducted after the conventional manner, and had
caused her no great discomfort. There was too much abrupt romance in
this courtship, and she feared for the effect on Rose of its
singularity, believing it might unsettle her good sense and bring about
a too hasty result. She did not understand her daughter; few mothers do.

It was late in the afternoon of Sunday, almost twilight, when the canoes
were loaded and ready. Rose came down last and stood with the rest on
the beach. Mrs. Lyndsay, her husband, Anne, and the boys had said
good-by to Ellett and Carington, but the mother, on this or that excuse,
kept the men busy, until at last, Ellett, seeing Carington’s impatience,
called one of his own people, and with his help lifted his friend out on
the porch.

The cliff hid from view the little group on the shore below.

“Confound it,” said the sick man, “they are gone! No, I hear them. I
think I shall walk to the steps, Ellett.”

“You will do nothing of the kind!”

“Hang it all!”

“No. Keep still.”

At this moment, as Lyndsay was busy putting his people in the boats, and
Tom was thundering advice and orders to the men, Anne said:

“Really, Archie, Rose ought to say good-by to Mr. Carington.”

“What is that?” exclaimed Margaret from her canoe, which had just been
shoved off from the strand.

“Nothing, dear,” said Anne. “It is really ungracious, Archie.” This in
an aside.

“But Margaret thinks—”

“Margaret will make mischief by wanting not to.”

“Well, perhaps you are right. Run up, Rose,” he said aloud, “and say
good-by to Mr. Carington. He is on the porch now.”

“I will go up with you,” said Anne; “I forgot to say good-by myself,”
and, with this mild prevarication to assist her, Rose followed her aunt.

“I came up to say good-by, Mr. Carington.”

“And I,” said Anne.

“Good-by,” he said, putting out his hand. Whether his eyes were as
prudent as his tongue, may be doubted.

“You will write to me, Miss Anne?”

“I will, and Mr. Ellett will let us hear.”

“No, I shall do that myself.”

“Come, Rose,” called Lyndsay.

She turned and went away with her aunt. In a few moments Carington saw
the little fleet of canoes scattering, as the paddles rose and fell.
Then they entered the swift current, and were lost to view around the
bend in the river,—the boys calling out a loud “good-by,” and then
breaking out into their favorite song:

                 “Seven braw sons had gude Lord James,
                 Their worth no Scot will gainsay;
                 But who shall match the bonny eyes
                 Of gentle Rose a Lyndsay?”

“Who, indeed!” said Carington, as he shut his field-glass with a snap.



                              CHAPTER XXXI


Rose was in the boat alone with her aunt. Neither being in the mood for
talk, they ran silently down the broadening stream without a word. The
paddles dipped and rose; the evening shadows crept forth, as it were,
out of the earlier darkness of the woods, and again, as once before,
they sped along in the gloom of an overcast night.

The same soft odors of earth and spruce, the peculiar smell of broken
water, were as they had been. Once more the hills seemed closing in upon
them. The clouded skies overhead appeared to be almost within touch.
Then the white flash and roll and strange voices of the rapids went by
them like the mysterious uncertainties of a dream.

All was as it had been three weeks before: all but Rose herself. She was
under other skies, in the strong tide of a mightier current. She locked
her hands, and set herself to put it all aside, and to win again the
mood of peace and serenity which these three weeks had so disturbed. It
would not come back.

As for Anne, she lay against the piled-up luggage, silent and
thought-bound. She was in the dreary company of pain, and smiled sadly
as she glanced back over the years in which it had been her foe or
friend, and again, as often before, wondered how long it would last, and
she be called upon to bear it with ever-weakening physical power to make
the fight less easy.

At the landing, and while they were arranging to go to the station, a
man came down the bank and asked for Mr. Lyndsay.

“That is my name. How are you, Carstairs? What is it?”

“This way, sir, a moment. Could you let Michelle come with me for half
an hour,—or Tom. The body of a man has come ashore on Caribou Bar. They
have taken it up to my barn. Some of the men say it is Joe Colkett. We
think one of your people would know.”

Lyndsay called Michelle, and, leaving proper directions, went away with
him.

In the barn, after twenty minutes’ walk, he found a number of men, and
the local magistrate. Two lanterns lit dimly the threshing-floor.

The men stood about silent; the horses in the stalls beyond changed
feet, and the noises of the never-quiet river came up through the night.

On the floor lay the body. Lyndsay took the lantern, and bent over it.

“Yes, it is Joe! Poor fellow!”

“He is badly cut up by them rocks,” said Michelle, “and his foot.”

“Was it rocks?” asked Lyndsay. “The skull seems broken. Poor fellow!”
Then he took the magistrate aside, and they talked long and earnestly.

“Yes, I got your message. Thursday night one of the wardens hailed a
dugout, and got no answer. That was below your camp.”

“I passed it also, farther up—two people. It must have been that woman
and Joe. They fired their house,—why, I do not know,—and got off with
their plunder.”

“We shall catch her. Do you think she killed Joe?”

“Perhaps! As like as not. But, if that woman is alive, you will not
catch her.”

“I shall wire to Quebec.”

“And you will let me know?”

“Certainly.”

“Carington’s evidence you can get, of course. I really have none to give
myself. The woman you will never get.” And they did not. No dugout was
found, and whether she too was lost or escaped to breed further
mischief, none know.

Lyndsay walked swiftly back, and rejoined his people at the station.
When at last they were running at speed between Quebec and Montreal,
Anne said:

“Archie, what was it last night? Why did they want you?”

Then he told her, as he had already told his wife, the sad ending of
poor, simple Joe.

“It is a miserable business,” she returned. “Really, Archie, the morals
which come at the end of life’s fables are pretty useless for those most
concerned.”

On reaching home, Anne found a letter from Carington. He wrote:

That astonishing woman—Dorothy Maybrook—has spent most of her time with
me. She calmly told Ellett to go a-fishing. He went. I have been
admirably nursed, and, as you may suppose, have not lacked conversation.
Who ‘p’ints’ Hiram, in her absence, I do not know.

There has been no news of the Colketts. It is but too probable that she
killed the man, and got away in safety. I shall hereafter entertain a
profound respect for the intelligence of crime.

It is great fun to hear Ellett and Dorothy. Do write to me—and say
pleasant things to all of those dear, good people of yours. Tell Miss
Rose I am not too badly crippled to ask for a new place as bowman.

                                       Yours, etc.



                             CHAPTER XXXII


The winter days went by, and, although the bridge was built, it seemed
to need later much inspection, until, by ill fortune, there were bridges
to build in Cuba, and thither Carington went in haste. It was therefore
not until mid-June that he reached home again.

While busy with his bridge, and later, he had found himself often at
Lyndsay’s table, and had come to be a welcome guest. And yet he seemed
no nearer to the end he desired. One day, just after he had gone to the
West Indies, Anne Lyndsay had said to Rose:

“I think that is a too patient man: I hate a man to be as patient as
that. If I were he, I would go away and stay away.”

“He won’t.”

“How long will this state of things go on?”

“I do not know. I cannot be sure. I—aunty, one ought to be so very sure.
It is for life! I think he understands me.”

“If he were to leave you, my dear, you would cry your eyes out.”

“I should.”

“How many bears go to a wooing?”

“Let me alone, Aunt. I had better be let alone.”

Then Aunt Anne, who was feebler than ever, said to herself, “Love is the
only fruit which ripens in the spring.” But meanwhile Carington was away
in Cuba, as we have said, and the spring came and went without results.

He found in his rooms in Boston, on his return, a letter from Miss Anne
Lyndsay. He was depressed in spirits; the town was empty of all he knew,
and more than ever he felt the want of a home. When last he saw Miss
Rose, she was still, as always, pleasant, gay, and friendly. He had
never yet seen fully the emotional side of a nature resolute by
construction, and perfectly mistress of all the protective ways of the
world of woman. Now and then the dim past of their life on the river
seemed to him as if it had never been. More and more time, and the world
appeared to be widening the distance between them, and yet once she had
looked to be so near.

He sat a minute or two with Anne’s letter in his hand. The maiden
lady,—“Mistress Anne” he liked to call her, after the Southern fashion
his youth remembered,—Mistress Anne had, as the months went by, taken
him quietly into the wide circle of her friendships. Her letters,
however, were rare enough. She wrote many, but not often to Carington,
although from Cuba he had written frequently.

He put aside all the other notes and, lighting a pipe, sat down with
Anne’s letter, honestly glad of the kindly relation it suggested.

DEAR MR. CARINGTON: I have had a number of letters from you of late, and
this is all I have been able to give in return. I have now to limit
myself even as to this indulgence.

You won’t want to hear about the new books, and you will have, I
presume, some quite absurd desire to know about my good people. A man
would say, “Everybody quite well, thank you”; but, being a woman, I know
better the masculine wants: only women write satisfactory letters.

My good brother is well, and shamefully busy at the game of the law.
Mrs. Lyndsay is just now in bed. Dr. North comes daily; but Margaret’s
maladies, which I must say are rare, are obstinate when they arrive. She
has to read a report next week at a society for the prevention of
something to something. If she lets that day go by in bed, I shall be
alarmed. A dose of duty will cure her at any time. She requires large
doses of pity when ill, and as to that I am grimly homeopathic.

Dick is at school—and Ned. They both want what no schools give, some man
who will know how to educate the peculiar, and not insist that it be
like the unpeculiar. As for Jack, he has begun to work, and takes it
hard, and has more rows than ever. One envies England her India for
these restless young Vikings. In a week we join Lyndsay on the river.

Carington looked at the date. It was two weeks old.

My niece is very well; as handsome as ever; rather too serious, as I
think: one wants a little foolish vagueness in the young. It gives to
the human landscape atmosphere, as the painters say. If you don’t know
what I mean, I am sorry for you. I tell Col. Fox that is what the
Quakers lack—atmosphere. (_I_ call that _very_ clever: _vide_ Ellett.)
Fox says Friends _are_ rather definite,—think of the arrogance of
calling themselves Friends, and a big _F_ also. This is the great and
lovely liberty of the letter. It may wander like a gipsy. I think really
I must go back and look. I meant to tell you what North said about
tombstone biography. He called it “epitaffy.” Isn’t that lovely? Also,
it has no manner of connection with the rest of this meandering screed.

I was saying that Rose has become too grave. Do not be alarmed. It is
only a mood elongated. And now I am going to do a very silly thing. No,
I won’t! A word to the wise is said to be enough; sometimes the silence
of wisdom is better. I dreadfully hunger after a chance to give you a
dose of advice. I write a big ℞, like the doctors’, in due form, with
that stupid flourish below, which is, I believe, their invocation to
Jupiter for luck (they need it); and then—I hesitate. Be so good as to
fill in this blank with what I shall only think, not say:

                       I advise most positively—
                       ...........?
                       ...........?

I can hear your anathema.

“I should think so, indeed!” exclaimed Carington; “and what next?”

We shall be in camp before this reaches you. I had some doubt about
going myself, but I mean to have all the joys life offers, or that I can
decently lay hands on. When the thing is over, I shall just say to my
dear people, “By-by; see you again shortly,” and laugh a little, and go
to sleep. I never could see why folks make such a fuss about dying. The
way some people think of it rises to the gravity of a jest. What _would_
the goody-goody world say to that—or my dear Margaret Lyndsay?

I hear that you are to be on hand soon. Mr. Ellett has gone up the
river, and promises to be very attentive to me. I am all of a flutter.
Read with care what I have not written, and believe me,

                                   Mysteriously your friend,

                                                       ANNE LYNDSAY.

L’envoi.

If you are fond of Scotch literature the poems of Montrose might be of
interest.

“Of all the nonsense ever I read!” said Carington; but he went to the
side of the room, where the long bookcases overflowed with volumes on
which the dust had gathered in his absence. He looked them over, and at
last found the one he sought. “Montrose—Graham—James, Marquis of, etc.,
author of certain songs once popular.”

By and by he chanced upon a volume of Scotch ballads, and sat down. Very
soon he laid the book, back up and open, on the table, and went on
smoking. After a half-hour he discovered that his pipe had long been
out. It was, in fact, cold.

He went forth at once, and assured his partners that Cuban malaria
necessitated Canadian air. In twenty-four hours he was on his way to the
river.

Three days later saw him on the waters he loved. Toward five in the
afternoon he heard voices singing. He knew them well, and in a few
minutes was ashore at a bend of the stream.

For a few moments he stood, unseen, a little below the lads, who lay
back of a rock, caroling their songs, having killed many trout, and
filled themselves with a mighty luncheon.

Carington listened a little, and then cried out, “Any bears here?” and
walked round the rocks. He was noisily made welcome. “Give me a bit of
something,” he said. “I pushed on, and have had nothing since nine
o’clock.”

“There isn’t much left,” said Jack. “Rufus ate the big pie. There was
only one little one for Ned and me.”

“They said they didn’t want it, and I wish I hadn’t,” said Dick. “Pie’s
an awful different thing when it’s outside of you and when it’s inside.”

“I have observed that,” said Carington. “That will do, Jack. A little
marmalade, please. Bad, Dick?”

“Very.”

“When we get our deserts, we don’t always escape whipping.”

“That’s so!” exclaimed Ned. “Just remember that, Red Head.”

“Shut up!”

“Behave yourselves,” said Jack. “Fact is, sir, we are all about ready
for a row.”

“Bad as ever?”

“Worse—those two, I mean. I am like a lamb.”

“Or a bear-cub,” said Ned.

“You wait a bit, old rhyme-snarler.”

“Halloa!” said Carington. “Not now, please. How is everybody? and Miss
Anne?”

“We are all first-rate. Rose she is up there above us on the point. She
wanted to be alone; she loves that. She told the big Indian to come down
here and wait till we go up. You can see her red umbrella. She’s
sketching. We are to stop for her at six. More bread?”

“Yes. Bless me, it is five o’clock! I must get away. What was that song?
I thought I knew your whole repertory.”

“Oh,” said Ned, “we found that last winter. Tune up, Jack. Dick’s got
colic in his bagpipes: he’s no good.”

“I didn’t catch it quite. No, don’t sing it; say it for me.”

“Well, here it is,” said Ned:

               “It was a lorde of the North Countree
               Cam’ wooing a lady of high degree.
               She wad nae listen, she would nae hear;
               Till a wee bird sang in that lorde’s ear:

               “‘When spring-tide leaves are fair to see
               Brave little wooers we birdies be.
               Give me for love-luck bannocks three,
               And I will pay a fairy fee.’

               “‘Ye shall hae bannocks fair and free
               For all the birds in the North Countree.’
               Up and whistled the little bird friend,
               ‘Wise folks begin where ither folk end.’

               “Gay laughed that lorde. Nae more said he,
               But thrice he kissed that fair ladye,
               He kissed till she was red to see;
               And they’re awa’ to the North Countree.”

“And is that your notion of wooing, Mr. Ned?”

“Rose she says it’s a horrid song.”

“You just ask her,” said Dick. “Hang that pie!”

Carington, laughing, stepped into his canoe, and settled himself in easy
comfort against the baggage piled up behind him. “See you soon, boys.”

Then he said, “Michelle, you may drop me at the point where Miss Lyndsay
is. I shall walk up.”

“Well!” he said to himself. “The family seem unanimous. It would be
rather funny if—if it wasn’t something else.”

After this he gave himself up to his thoughts, and what fair cheer the
June evening offered. The good mother-nature was all in sympathy, and,
foreseeing in her prophetic heart the drama about to be, had set out the
stage and its scenery with pleasant prevision.

For here was a stretch of rippled river, where the hidden stones set the
waters a-dancing, and there they rolled high, and anon were possessed of
a coy quietness in nooks below the trees, where red and white tangles of
rootlets swayed in the current and had their fill as a reward of
adventurous growth. The sun was just over a far hill, and low, so that
all the long broad reach was aglow with many colors, to which the sky
above and the stones below lent variety of help, that none might hope to
explain or paint it, and that only the pure joy of it should be left in
the heart of man.

And for it all this young fellow in the canoe was open enough, glad to
get from the sensual tropic zone to the cool wholesomeness of that he
saw. Now and then he caught sight of the red shelter on the point, and
tingled, for this love had been fed with mere memories these many
months, and now he had won the sweet courage which is a thing native to
the wild woods, and wilts in the hordes of men.

Across the waters a mighty wreckage of vast rocks lay, where untold
years since they fell in some elemental strife from the granite fortress
which still towered high in air. Along its battlements a few grim warder
pines kept their centuried watches.

On the beach opposite To-Day sat, and mocked with colors the massive
ruin, untroubled by its mystery. To-Day was a maid in a pink gown, for
prettiness—standing, sketch in hand, to see, with head on one side, if
her sketch had got the vigor of these fallen rocks.

Nature, liking love-affairs, had decoyed the maid into a moment of
statuesque repose, and, knowing well her business, had set back of her a
bold gray rock, deep sunk in ferns. Against its sternness the strength
of virginal curves stood out, very fair to see. Meanwhile the canoe drew
nearer, running close to shore.

At last Carington leaped on the beach, and came straight to where she
stood, flushed of a sudden, and with downward hands holding the picture.

“Good evening.”

“Oh, Mr. Carington!”

“That will do, Michelle. Don’t wait. I shall walk.”

The canoe was off and away as she said:

“It must be four miles. Isn’t it a rather rough walk?”

“It is nearer five. How are you? How is every one? I can’t tell you how
glad I am to see you.”

“How dreadfully brown you are!”

“Cuban sun, Miss Lyndsay. I am told it is becoming.”

“Indeed! Who told you?”

“A young woman on the steamer.”

“Indeed.”

Here she glanced down the river, and resumed her place on the rock.

“You may sit down there. Please give me that color-box. Those pines are
so hard to get in.”

“Thank you. I shall sit when I am made welcome. You have not said so
much as that you are glad to see me.”

“That was stupid of me. Of course I am glad to see you. How did you like
Cuba?”

“It was very hot.”

“Was that the extent of your observation? It seems rather limited. Do
you think that lower stone is purple enough? Purple is such a
difficulty!”

“I wish you would not paint now.”

“Why not? But I must. I shall never get just this light again. It is the
most important thing in life—that rock.”

“Let me see.” He took the sketch and put it aside, out of her reach.

“Please,” she said.

“No.”

“But I shall—I shall be angry.”

“You have had your way too long. You get whatever you want. It is very
demoralizing.”

“But I never got my gold dollar.” This was unwise.

“No; you never will.”

She was silent now, foreseeing trouble.

Meanwhile he sat on the ferns at her feet. As she spoke, her color-box
fell. Carington set it aside. She made no further remonstrance.

“What o’clock is it, Mr. Carington?”

“You are here till six. You can’t get away. What is the use of asking
the time?”

“I don’t know.”

“I do. It is my hour, Rose Lyndsay.” And he looked up. “For a year we
have been seeing one another in the midst of a fog of conventionalities,
and the game has been all in your hands. One cannot love and respect a
woman and wish to force her to abrupt decisions, and she can always
escape. I have waited.”

“Please—it is dreadful! I beg of you.”

“No. I have been very patient, but I am so no longer. We are here alone:
a man and a woman. The world of defense and excuses is far away.”

“Oh, if you only knew! It is so hard! If you think I have been happy
this winter, you little know.”

“How long is this indecision to last?”

“I do not know.”

“It is a simple question: Do you care for me? Care! No! I want you to
say that you love me! Oh, plainly, Rose Lyndsay, as I have said it until
you are weary of it, I dare say.”

“How cruel you are! I cannot. I ought to be so sure about such a thing;
and I am not—I am not!”

“Then I think I will go.” He spoke slowly, with measured distinctness.

“I am sorry,” said Rose. “I am more sorry than you can think.”

He made no reply for a moment; but, still seated below her on the ferns,
put his hands to his head and, looking down at the pebbles, said:

“I came here resolute to force you to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ It seemed easy,
away from you. Now that you are beside me, I am helpless. If I loved you
less, I could do it. I find it easier to carry my weariness of waiting
still longer. You are all my life to me. You have a home and constant
loves: I have no one—I am alone! What others have in life—sisters,
brothers—I lack, as you know. And yet—and yet, I cannot force you to a
decision. If you are just to my great love, Rose, I must ask you to say—
It might be wiser, both for you and for me, if I were to be positive.”

“Oh, no! no!”

“You shall have your way. I will not trouble you again: but, I know you
well—you are a woman of sense and courage. If I go, have I not the
honest right to expect that some day you will be brave enough just to
write to me, yes—or no? I leave it with you. That ought to set you at
ease.”

“But it does not,—it will not. Life is so hard—and I do—I do want to do
what is right!”

“Have I been too hard? Well, good-by.” And, so saying, he rose and stood
beside her. She glanced up at him, uneasy, pitiful, timid. He put out
his hand, “Good-by.” She took it, rising as she did so. As she held it,
he added:

“I shall go back to-morrow; a telegram will explain it. I must not spoil
your holiday. Good-by.”

The hand she gave stayed passive in his grasp.

“Let me see you once, Rose, before I go. I mean, look up.”

She lifted her gaze, and, as his eyes met hers, he saw.

“Rose!”

“What is it?”

“You love me!”

“No—no. Oh, I don’t know!”

Then he caught her in his arms and kissed her, and all her soul went out
to him in one great sob of joy and love; and in the sweet pain of it she
fell to crying, the fair head on his shoulder.

“Oh, Fred! Fred!” It was all that she could say.

“Are you sorry?”

“No! No!”

“And you are sure?”

“Yes.”

“Then don’t cry any more.”

“I can’t—can’t help it. I am so—so glad.”

She stood and took his two hands, and said, “I was afraid, I was not
sure. Now I know; it is for always!”

“Yes, Rose. Sit down, dear.” And again he fell on the ferns beside her,
and they talked in the tongue of the new land they had found, looking
before and after, and asking no more of life than the golden-freighted
minutes brought.

Meanwhile the sun fell behind the hill, and the glow of blue and orange
light on the waters faded to dusky brown. Tree and rock grew slowly less
distinct as the shadows crossed the stream; but on their world another
sun arose, and with touch of hands they stayed, talking of the life of
love and duty and common helpfulness which lay broad and beautiful
before their eyes.

At last they heard the paddles, and their hands fell apart.

“How late you are, boys!”

“Yes; the trout were rising. I’m awful sorry,” said Ned.

“So are we,” returned Carington. “We have been horribly bored—Miss Rose
and I. I will go up in your boat, Miss Lyndsay, if I may. It is late to
walk.”

“Certainly.”

She had now a little gold dollar in her shut hand, and was silent
enough, till he left her at the Cliff Camp.

She went up the steps slowly. What had an hour done with and for her?
She was very happy.

“Pleasant, isn’t it?” said Anne. “Get a good sketch, dear? Mama and your
father are still out. Come here, nearer; what is the matter with you?”

“Nothing.”

“Wasn’t that Mr. Carington I heard on the beach?”

“Yes. He stopped when he saw me sketching.”

“Yes. Come and kiss me, Rose.”

The girl bent over her.

“I am so glad!”

“Glad? Why?”

“Go and wash your face, and change that ribbon, Miss Ostrich; but, for
heaven’s sake, don’t let Margaret know I guessed it.”

“No! no! Dear Aunt Anne! I am so very happy!”

“And I, my darling.”

“Will Pardy like it?”

“Very much.”

“And Mardy?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, here they come,—I must run. I want—I want to be alone, just a
little.”

“Kiss me again, Rose.”

Then the girl fled in haste; but Anne said, “And now I should like to
live a little longer.”

                           Transcriber’s Note

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.

  18.3     [‘]The Mystery of Pain[’], my poor Anne!       Added.

  43.20    and by and by you will have it.[’]”            Added.

  98.3     [‘/“]I think my own curiosity collapses in hot Replaced.
           weather,”

  142.20   [“/‘]The bowman, fully prepared, replied at    Replaced
           once:

  146.18   We don’t know those people, and I wish to be   Added.
           careful.[”]

  185.28   “[‘]Gracious! How numerically interesting!’    Added.

  200.32   more joy than the beggar, saith El Din         Added.
           Attar.’[”]

  211.5    “Yes,” said Lyndsay, “these Gasp[e/é] men      Replaced.

  378.28   “I’ll fetch the money.[”] And, seizing the ax, Added.
           she thrust him aside

  404.25   “Archie, what was it last night?[”] Why did    Removed.
           they





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