The Project Gutenberg eBook of Wits' End

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Title: Wits' End

Author: Amy Ella Blanchard

Illustrator: L. J. Bridgman

Release date: September 2, 2023 [eBook #71546]

Language: English

Original publication: Boston: Dana Estes & Company, 1909

Credits: David Edwards, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)




Author of "Two Girls," "Three Pretty Maids," "A Girl of 76,"
"Janet's College Career," "A Journey of Joy," etc.

Illustrated by


Copyright, 1909
By Dana Estes & Company

All rights reserved

Electrotyped and Printed by
C. H. Simonds & Co., Boston, U.S.A.


I.The Island
II.The Cottage
III.A Helper
IV.A Tempest and a Teapot
V.The Singing Waves
VI.Pebbly Beach
VII.White Horses
IX.If It Were Your Daughter
X.Over the Chafing-dish
XI.Daddy Lu
XII.A Bundle of Letters
XIII."Three Fishers Went Sailing"
XIV."The Clouds Ye so Much Dread"
XV.On the Deck of the Domhegan
XVI."'Twixt Tide and Tide's Returning"
XVII.The End of the Season
XVIII.On Haskins' Island
XIX.A Tale That Is Told
XX.In Another Year


"He stopped short at the sight of the girl"
"He bent down to observe her more closely"
"'Unfortunately, I am not a miniature painter'"
"'That lazy Manny settin' outside on the back porch'"
"'If you don't mind it, I'll call you Daddy Lu'"
"'Good evening, Mr. Hilary'"
"He caught her hand and kissed the blue-veined wrist"




The tide was half way out, and the rocks were already showing strange shaggy shapes as the water retreated from their weed-draped sides. A man, who had just beached his dory and had loaded his wheelbarrow with gaping cod and shining mackerel, stood looking off toward the cliffs for a moment before he should trundle his burden up the slanting path which led toward a group of white houses.

"Look like buffaloes," he said to himself. "That furthest one's most like a lion." He turned his gaze from the rocks to the pile of fish in his barrow. "You poor miserable wide-mouthed critturs," he said. "There's nothing I know of that can look so down-at-mouth as a fish out of water. Every day I think I'll give up, and I don't. What would I do if I did? I guess it's good for me to see something unhappy-looking: it makes me feel as if I weren't the sorriest wretch in the world. Maybe I'm not, either."

He took up the handles of his barrow and started along the path, which led past clumps of bayberry bushes and thickets of wild roses, into a grove of pines, and at last emerged before the door of one of the white houses which, at intervals, dotted the island. It was early morning and as Luther Williams came into the open, he met a party of workmen swinging along, dinner pails in hand. They hailed him cheerily. "Good catch, Mr. Williams?"

"Pretty fair," was the response. "What's going on to-day, boys?"

"We cal'late to start Miss Elliott's cawtage," said the foremost.

"Another cottage?" Luther Williams frowned. "Where is it going to be, Thad?"

"Oh, down along. Sot right on the rawks, she cal'lates to have it. What she wants to be down there where she'll hear all that bellerin', is more than I know, but women-folks are cranky."

They passed on, through the stile and over the hummocky ground toward the sea while Luther stood still. "Elliott," he said, "Elliott." He watched the men till they finally stopped on a knoll a few feet from the shore line, when he trundled his barrow around the corner of the house and was lost to view.

The men on the knoll stood for a few moments looking off at the blue waves which sparkled and danced in the morning light. White-sailed ships, like pale moths, poised on the water. A line of foam curled along the edge of the crags, and the murmuring ripples sang a gentle plaint as they stole in upon a small stretch of shelly beach.

"There ain't no bellerin' this morning," said one of the men. "She's only sloppin' in."

"She pounded pretty hard last night," responded another. "Kept me awake."

"Nawthin' keeps me awake," returned the first beginning to drive a stake into the ground.

"Where's this Miss Elliott from?" asked Mart Johnson. "She's noo, ain't she?"

"She was up here for a week last summer," Thad Eaton answered. "Liked the place and bought this lawt in Ben's pasture. She's from down around Baltimore or Washington, I hear."

"Single woman?"

"Yeah. Ben says he'd rather sell to them and widders, then he knows there'll be no men-folks trying to get the best of him. He's terrible afraid of city sharpers. Moreover, he says he don't care about a passel of children traipsing over his land."

The four men worked mightily to lift the great stones which they laid for the foundation of the cottage. There were many orders of "Shove her a little to the west'ard, Jim." "Jest a little wee mite to the north'ard," and the work went on so rapidly that in a short time the length and breadth of the foundation were evident.

Down by the cove, toward which the houses of the fishermen faced, a half busy, half idle life went on. At the fish house the morning's catch was being weighed. The lobstermen came in one after another from hauling their traps. Captain Purdy's vessel lay at anchor, her crew lounging about with tales of the last cruise. Luther Williams stood listening to the good-natured chaff. Big Mil Stevens was weighing the fish, once in a while putting in a humorous word as the others talked. A fat-faced, round-bodied man, ready with anecdotes, sat on an overturned keg.

"What ye think Hen Fosdick was telling me, yist'day?" he said. "Told me he didn't think nawthin' of eatin' a six pound cawd all by himself. Said he'd done it. Showed me one 'bout the size of what he'd eat the day before. 'Bout like this." He touched with the toe of his boot a slippery fish which lay on the floor. "Said it didn't bawther him a mite to eat it all."

"What do you think of that, Mil?" asked one of the men.

Mil slid a shining mass from the scales. "Wal," he drawled, "I think he was either a hawg or a liar." A shout of laughter went up at this in which Luther Williams joined. When he laughed the man's whole face changed, and one might have said that at one time he knew well how to be merry. He was a man above medium height, spare of flesh, with far-seeing eyes and a mouth whose melancholy droop seldom altered to a smile. He wore a close-cut beard and mustache, and his iron gray hair where it was not too short curled about his forehead. He was not much of a talker, but was evidently held in respect, for in that community, where even children called their elders by their first name, he was the only one dignified by the title of "Mister." Leaving the jolly crew, he trundled his barrow out of the fish house over the boards of the boat-landing, and on uphill to where the white cottages shone out in the brightness of the May morning. At the rear of one of the houses he stopped and went in. The room he entered was a cheerful sunshiny kitchen with painted floors of yellow, doors of blue, mouldings of pink. It was fresh and clean. Geraniums blossomed in the windows. The great stove sent out almost too intense a heat for the day, but the woman at the table making pies would have scorned to open a window. She was a small, neat-featured person, light-haired, blue-eyed, faded before her time. She wore a gray calico gown of indefinite pattern.

"Where's Miss Phenie?" asked Luther Williams, throwing himself down on the lounge in the corner.

"She's getting the room ready for the boarders," Miss Phosie answered. The Tibbett sisters rejoiced in the names of Tryphena and Tryphosa.

"Boarders? What boarders?" Mr. Williams raised himself on one elbow and looked alert.

"Ain't you heard, Mr. Williams? We're going to take Miss Elliott and her niece till their house is ready. She wants to be here where she can overlook it, and Almira Green says she can't take anybody till June. I don't blame Miss Elliott for wanting to be on hand, so sister and me talked it over, and as Almira said Miss Elliott was so persistent and we'd no excuse when we already had one boarder, we gave in. To be sure I said you wasn't like common boarders, seeing that you'd been here twenty years. But then it did seem churlish to refuse when we meant to take boarders anyhow this year, and what difference did a few weeks, sooner or later, make? So we said we'd try to accommodate 'em, and they're coming on the boat to-day."

"Humph!" ejaculated Luther from his corner.

"I told sister you'd be upsot," Miss Phosie went on as she rolled out her pie-crust, "but she said you'd have your breakfast before sun up anyway, and could have your other meals here in the kitchen, as you always do, so she guessed you wouldn't be bothered much by 'em. You never was much for seeing folks, Mr. Williams, and I guess we won't insist on your settin' up and makin' yourself agreeable if you don't want to."

Mr. Williams gave a short laugh and settled back while Miss Phosie went on with her pie-making. He drew a book from his pocket and lay back to read, but somehow he could not fix his mind on the pages. His thoughts would wander back to that time which had been newly brought to remembrance by the name of Elliott. He sat up, dropped his head between his hands and was lost in memories. Yes, it had been nearly twenty years since he came to Fielding's Island. He had come for a week's stay and had remained for a score of years. Old Captain Ben Tibbett had taken him in and he had stayed on and on. In these twenty years the Tibbett girls had grown to be middle-aged women, the island, then a lonely spot whose aloofness had been its chief charm, was growing to be popular. First one then another wandering visitor had discovered its beauties, had bought a plat of ground, and had built a cottage. The channel between the island and the mainland, once crossed only by sailing-vessels or row-boats, was now the highway for a steamboat which touched daily at the new wharf and brought the mail. In those early days the mail-bag was sent over from the Neck in a dory, and few were the letters it contained. Then the low-roofed houses all faced the cove, most of them nestling down in the more sheltered spots under the hill; now the summer residents had their cottages all looking seaward and the line of these was increasing year by year. "I shall have to go," said Luther Williams aloud.

Miss Phosie looked around in surprise. "Dear suz!" she exclaimed, "what do you mean, Mr. Williams?"

The man rose to his feet, picked up his hat and said, "I must be going down along, Phosie."

"It's most dinner time," she warned him.

"I'll be back in time," he assured her as he closed the door after him.

"He don't like it a mite," Miss Phosie soliloquized. "I never did see a man so sot against outsiders, unless it be Mil Stevens. Mil can't abide them, though I can't see that they do a namable thing to him. He maintains that they overrun the place and look down on us that belongs here, says they call us Islanders, and they're so high and mighty he calls 'em Highlanders. Well, I don't see that either name hurts much. One's about as good as the other and neither's bad. But Mr. Williams is different. He has a solitary kind of disposition like one of these hermits you read about. I wish I knew why. I wish I knew. There's one thing certain, he sha'n't be put to inconvenience. I'll stand between him and bother if I can."

She shoved her pies into the oven and added another pinch of tea to that already brewing on the stove. The teapot was never empty but stood all day where Cap'n Ben could get a cup of the hot black infusion whenever he came in. Miss Phenie, too, frequently liked to indulge in a draught from the brown teapot.

"They ought to be ready by this time," said Miss Phosie looking up at the clock which was set by sun time and was far ahead of Luther Williams' watch. "I wonder where father is and Ora."

She passed out of the kitchen and on through the pantry into the sitting-room. This was empty though showing the late presence of Cap'n Ben, for his pipe lay on the window-sill and his yesterday's paper was on a chair. Miss Phosie hearing voices in the room beyond, gathered that the family had congregated there. Beyond the sitting-room was the entry, oilcloth covered, chill and clean. From it a straight staircase led to the rooms above. On either side the entry were the best rooms, the parlor opened only on state occasions, and the spare chamber reserved for such particular company as the minister or some such dignitary. It was the spare chamber which Miss Phenie was preparing for the coming boarders, and it was here that Miss Phosie found her sister, her father and her niece Ora.

"Well, I swan, Phosie!" ejaculated Cap'n Ben as his daughter came in. "You ain't come to call us to dinner yet, hev ye?"

"Not yet," Miss Phosie told him. "I wondered where you all were, and I wanted to ask Phenie if I'd better bake two kinds of cake, or if one, with the gingerbread, would do."

"You'd better bake two," said Miss Phenie, putting an added touch to the mantel by setting an advertising calendar thereon. "They say Miss Elliott's quite particular. Father, you'll have to fix that door; it don't latch, and Miss Elliott won't feel safe."

"Wun't?" said Cap'n Ben pulling up his ponderous weight from the chair in which he sat. "I'd like to know who she thinks is going to carry her off. They'd drop her pretty quick if they did ketch her up by mistake, wouldn't they, Ora?"

Ora giggled and stood off to see the effect of the arrangement of the dressing-bureau on which she had placed a very hard, red velvet pincushion, a shell-covered box and an extremely ornate glass vase.

"It looks real nice," said Miss Phosie admiringly. "I'll go stir up the cake. I guess I can get one in before dinner."

"You go help her, Ora," commanded the girl's grandfather. "I guess Phenie can spare you now."

"I did want her to help me make the bed," said Miss Phenie, a round-faced, rather stout woman, who must have been good looking in her youth, but who, like most of the women on the island, had aged early. Those who had not faded had grown heavy and hard featured. Miss Phosie preserved her gentle expression, but exposure and hard work had seamed the delicate skin and turned the slimness of youth to angularity. Miss Phenie loved ease and was not inclined to do more than she must, therefore she had grown stout, but the sparkling prettiness of youth had given place to a certain coldness of eye and sensuousness of mouth which indicated the growth of selfishness. But for the authority of Cap'n Ben Miss Phosie would have been more put upon than she was.

"Go on, Ora," said her grandfather, as the girl hesitated. "If Phosie has two cakes to bake, she'll need two pairs of hands, and I cal'late one woman's enough to make one bed."

So Ora joined Miss Phosie in the kitchen. She, like her younger aunt, was fair-haired and blue-eyed, with the milk-white skin and delicately tinted cheeks of the northern girl. She was but sixteen and was already ambitious to have "a waist you could span." She therefore wore a belt several inches too small for beauty, unaware that such compression was out of fashion. Her hair was arranged in the extremest of pompadours, but, alas! among her possessions she did not count a toothbrush as her innocent mouth only too plainly evidenced. However since most of her companions were no more particular than herself, she did not realize how much her looks suffered because of her neglect.

Miss Phosie looked up with a smile as her niece came in. "Could Phenie spare you?" she asked.

"She had to. Grandpap said I was to help you."

"That's real nice," said Miss Phosie gratefully. "You just cream the butter and sugar together in this bowl and I'll get the eggs. I must get out my pies first. I hope the cake will turn out firstrate so's the boarders will be satisfied."

"I guess they'll have to be," returned Ora with a little toss of her head. "Nobody asked them to come."

"Now Ora, that ain't the right spirit," reproved Miss Phosie. "They'll pay for what they get, and we hadn't ought to take their money without making a proper return. That would be next door to stealing."

"That's not the way Aunt Phenie talks," answered Ora. "She says if we put ourselves out to accommodate them they'd ought to be satisfied with what they can get."

"We ain't putting ourselves out so very much, and if we are we're doing it in order to earn their money," replied Miss Phosie. "I guess they'll be satisfied, and I don't see the use of talking in that stiff-necked way. The niece will be nice company for you, Ora."

"She won't be then," returned Ora with a quick movement of her spoon. "I can get along without the Highlanders as well as they can without me."

"You hadn't ought to talk that way, Ora," Miss Phosie continued her reproof. "I realize that us natives haven't so much in common with city folks, and yet I'm perfectly willing to be polite to them when they are to me. I haven't a doubt but what they'd treat us well if we went to where they live. I don't believe in being so stand-offish as some are."

Ora made no reply but continued to stir the butter and sugar vigorously.

"We don't know their ways and they don't know ours," Miss Phosie went on, "and while maybe we can't be as intimate with them as we can be with those we've been brought up with, I don't see why we can't be polite and friendly like your grandpap is. Everybody likes and respects him."

"I don't want to be liked and respected except by them I like and respect," retorted Ora obstinately.

"There comes Zerviah Hackett," said Miss Phosie. "She'll want to know everything I suppose. Well, I can't stop to talk. She'll have to go to Phenie."

Miss Zerviah Hackett was the newsmonger of the place. Not an ill-natured gossip at all; quite the contrary, but nothing went on that her vigilant eye did not observe; nothing was planned about which she did not have an opinion. They were often good opinions too, just as her advice was good, and her views of life sound. But, as Miss Phosie often plaintively said: "Zerviah can't even see you darn a stocking without telling you how it ought to be done." Miss Hackett was not the sharp-eyed, angular woman her name would suggest, but was plump and fair, though possessed of a voice which shrilled out like a steamboat whistle, in striking contrast to the unusually pleasant tones of her neighbors. She was a small person, though one whose presence could not be ignored. She now entered the kitchen without knocking,—all had that privilege when they came to Cap'n Ben's,—and throwing off her shawl, she began: "Busy getting ready for your boarders, are you, Phosie? Well, I hear they're coming to-day. I hope Thad Eaton won't be sot by the ears when Miss Elliott gets here. He does hate to have women folks interfering while he's building. It's going to be a right sightly cottage, he says, but I could have told Miss Elliott she'd be kept awake nights by the noise, so near the water."

"She's been here before. She knows what it's like, Zerviah," said Miss Phosie.

"Yes, but she didn't realize it, like as not. She's going to have her front door facing east'ard, too, and she'll regret that, I know."

"I don't see why," returned Miss Phosie.

"Now, Tryphosy Tibbett, you know the storms come that way, and the rain'll beat in, and the wind."

"She won't be here in winter, and it won't matter much in summer."

"Of course it will matter. Well, it ain't my business, I suppose; but I do hate to see things going wrong when they could be bettered. What you making, Ora?"

"Cake," was the laconic reply.

"You've got gingerbread, too, I see. Going to give 'em both? What kind you making?"

Ora told her.

"Well, I s'pose you're bound to feed 'em good, but as long as they ain't going to stay any longer than they can get into their own house, I don't see the odds. Thad cal'lates they'll be in by the middle of June, but I s'pose you know that. He says they'd ought to have had their well dug first, and I say so, too. Ten to one they won't strike water."

"Asa Bates was up with his willow wand and he prophesies they'll get a plenty," Miss Phosie told her.

"Well, I don't gainsay it, but they'll have to board up their windows whilst the men are blowing the well."

"I hear they ain't going to begin the well till fall. They'll use Miss Grey's well this summer. She's given them leave."

"That so? Then maybe they can make out, but I'd have had my well before I did my house. Got the room ready for 'em?"

"Yes, Phenie is in there now."

"Then I'll go look at it. I won't get another chance, maybe." And Miss Zerviah went confidently through to the best room, leaving Miss Phosie and Ora with smiles on their faces and glad to be free of their inquisitive caller.



The small steamer, after winding a tortuous way from island to island, at last turned into the little cove, which made a safe harbor for the fishermen of Fielding's Island. There were not many passengers at this time of year, and there were, in consequence, few lookers-on at the landing. Ira Baldwin, who combined the offices of shopkeeper and postmaster, was there to receive the mail-bag. Manny Green hung around ready for a jest with the purser. Cap'n Ben with his dog Tinker at his heels, loomed up a conspicuous figure to welcome the arriving guests. These stood on the deck waiting for the gang-plank to be thrown across to the wharf. As the tide was up it made a steep descent for Miss Elliott who crept down cautiously followed by her niece, Gwendolin Whitredge, coming at a more fearless pace. Cap'n Ben's big hand was there to give assistance at the last, and his cheery voice was the first to greet the two.

"Got here all right, didn't ye? Right hawndsome day, ain't it? Give me them traps. I'll lug 'em for ye."

"I can carry them," spoke up Gwen.

The captain turned his twinkling blue eyes upon her, and gave a quick sideway jerk of his head. "Ain't going to le' ye. Women-folks has petticoats to manage."

"Cap'n Ben, this is my niece, Gwendolin Whitredge," said Miss Elliott hastening to give the introduction which had been wanting before.

"That's what I cal'lated she was," came the reply. "Didn't guess you'd changed your mind and brought another gal along. Wal, Miss Elliott, your cawtage is gettin' on. They've begun to shingle. Guess you're glad of that."

"I am indeed. Will it be ready for us in time, do you think, Cap'n Ben?"

"Don't take long to run 'em up, and when they git her roofed in the weather don't make much difference. Pretty warm down your way?" He turned with a smile to Gwen.

"It's beginning to be," she answered, smiling back and thinking, "we shall be good friends, this old man and I. Ah, there is the ocean!" she exclaimed as they took the rise of the hill. "I was beginning to be disappointed, Aunt Cam."

"It does beat all how you city folks always want to get close to the water," said Cap'n Ben. "I like to keep as far away from all that bellerin' as I can, but here you go climbing over rawks, spending your time watching waves, dragging in all sorts of stuff and sticking it up in your houses. Why, last year somebody actually wanted one of my old fish nets to hang up inside. Looked crazy enough when she got it there, too, but I let her have it. I cal'lated it pleased her and didn't hurt me."

Gwen laughed. "I can fancy it was very artistic," she said.

"Artistic! That's what you call it. Wal, I dunno. There was a man up here last summer settin' round on the rawks making dauby looking things I wouldn't give a nickel for, but he called 'em pictures, and somebody said he got as much as a hundred dollars for one. That stumped me. All the fools ain't dead yet, thinks I."

"I know a man who gets five hundred dollars for the smallest of his pictures," said Gwen, "and for the big ones he gets several thousand."

The captain cast his shrewd eyes upon her, and gave a chuckle. "You think mine's too big a fish story, do ye? and you're going to get ahead of me. All right, I'll believe you when I see the checks."

They had reached the white house by this time. The vines climbing up the trellis at the side were putting forth young buds. Small green shoots were beginning to appear in the garden which covered the southern slope of the hill. Beyond the slope groups of fir trees stretched their pointed tips toward the sky. Upon the hummocky ground which undulated between the stile and the sea, the brown reaches of grass were giving place to a tender emerald-hued growth, violet-strewn in patches. Upon the gray lichen-covered rocks which had failed to gather sufficient soil for a holding of grass roots, a few fugitive strawberry plants had lodged, and were already combining their green of leaf and red of stem with the soft neutral tints surrounding them. Further away the line of cottages faced the sea which sparkled and danced in the afternoon light. The sound of hammers coming from the most distant of the cottages betokened the carpenters at work. Mingled with this staccato was the rush of waves beating against the rocky shore, but above all was the sweetly insistent note of a song-sparrow, "sitting alone on the housetop."

Gwen looked around and breathed a long sigh. "Now I know how beautiful it is," she said. "I'd like to explore it all at once. How can I wait?"

"There is plenty of time," returned her aunt, as they followed the captain into the house.

But it was only a few minutes that they spent inside, just long enough to speak to Miss Phenie and Miss Phosie, to rid themselves of superfluous wraps and to drop their hand luggage, then out they went into the fresh air, full of the tang of the sea, but sweet with the odors of the new spring. Through the stile to Cap'n Ben's pasture their way led over the hummocks to the point where a small cove made in, separating Simms' Point from that upon which the new cottage was going up.

"Before I give one look at the cottage," said Gwen taking her stand upon a flat rock just below the porch, "I want to observe a little of this outside world. What a view! You have seen it before, Aunt Cam, and you can watch them drive nails if you like. As for me I shall feast my eyes first."

"Very well," said her aunt, "I shall have plenty of time to do that after a while. What I am most concerned about now is the setting of those windows. I am almost sure they are too high, though I specially stipulated that they were to be but twenty-one inches from the floor. Come in when you are ready, Gwen."

She carefully picked her way across the floor beams of the porch and entered the cottage, leaving Gwen standing on the craggy point of rocks, gazing seaward. Directly ahead was the unbroken expanse of ocean, its far horizon dotted by a few white sails. To the right lay Simms' Point, a freshly green slope which further up ended in a growth of sombre firs. Beyond the point a lighthouse was visible, and a small island over which a solitary tree kept watch. To the left a misty line of shore curved tenderly to embrace the waters of the bay whose further islands melted into the mainland, but whose nearer ones gemmed the deep blue of the water.

"How beautiful it is! How beautiful!" breathed Gwen. "I never dreamed it would be so lovely. And to think I am to have a whole summer of it! That is almost too good to be true." She delicately made her way over the jutting ledges of rock and sought her aunt whom she found in lively debate with the builder.

"But I wanted this room a foot and a half wider, Mr. Eaton," Miss Elliott was saying. "It was marked so on the plan."

"I know it, Miss Elliott," the man answered pleasantly, "but I cal'lated you didn't realize just how small that would make the next room."

"But I did. I knew precisely," said Miss Elliott helplessly. "I don't see why you didn't follow the plan exactly."

"Well, the truth of the matter is, I wasn't here the day the men put up the partition," said Thad amiably. "I had to go to Portland that day to see about lumber."

"And the fireplace," went on Miss Elliott, hopeless to better things; "it was to be like the one in Miss Colby's house."

"That's what you said," returned Thad, "but I think this is a heap prettier, and I thought you'd be better pleased with it."

Miss Elliott turned desperately to her niece, raised her eyebrows, and shrugged her shoulders. "It's no use," she said.

"It's dear; it's perfectly dear," cried Gwen looking around admiringly. "The fireplace, made of the natural rocks, is perfectly fascinating. I love those diamond panes, and that row of low windows. We'll have a divan under them, won't we? Then I can lie there and look out. I gazed at the little balcony from the outside, and it is simply charming. Now I want to see everything, 'upstairs, downstairs, and in my lady's chamber.' Oh, Aunt Cam, I can't tell you how happy I am, nor how lovely I think it all. What fun we shall have getting everything in order. I can scarcely wait till the cottage is finished and the furniture here."

"Thank goodness, there is a place to put it," said Miss Elliott. "I have been at my wits' ends to know what to do with all my belongings. At last I have a safe place to store them. I can dump in here everything, over and above what we can make use of in the winter, turn the key and leave it when I please."

"I've thought of it," said Gwen suddenly bringing her hands together.

"Of what?"

"A name for the cottage. We'll call it Wits' End. It is the end, you see. The end of this part of the island, for we can't go any further without crossing this little cove, or going around it, and you were at your wits' end when you conceived the idea of building here. Don't you think it will be a nice odd sort of name?"

Miss Elliott nodded approval. "Yes, I like it. Wits' End it shall be. That much is settled. Now, we will explore."

As Gwen said, it was "upstairs, downstairs and in my lady's chamber" that they made their investigations, stepping cautiously along the timbers, picking their way over heaps of shavings, avoiding unprotected openings, swinging around corners while they held on to the studs, creeping up the unfinished stairs, commenting on this, criticizing that, admiring the views from each window and finally going away better satisfied than, at first, they had hoped to be.

"He is really doing beautifully," said Gwen. "Never mind if it isn't exactly as you planned in some ways; he has improved it in others, and he is such a perfect dear I shouldn't care what he did, so long as he made it comfortable. Oh, auntie dear, I am glad you and I are chums, for we are going to have such a good time in my summer's holiday."

Miss Elliott proceeded leisurely while she watched with loving eyes the slim graceful figure of the girl who ran on ahead. "It will do her a world of good," she said to herself. "It is just what she needs."

Gwen sprang from hummock to hummock, stopping to gather a violet, pausing to listen to a song-sparrow, turning her face seaward to take in the beauty of the eastern scene, and at last waiting at the stile for her aunt. She had just reached this point when a man came along a footpath leading from the little cove past Cap'n Ben's garden. He stopped short at sight of the girl, turned quite pale as he stood gazing at her, then with a lifting of the hat he passed on. Gwen watching, saw him enter the kitchen door of Cap'n Ben's house.


"I seem to have made an impression," she said as her aunt came up. "I didn't know strangers were such a rarity here that people stared at them the way that man did at me. I wonder who he is and what made him look so taken by surprise."

"Oh, I suppose he didn't know that any of the summer residents had arrived," returned Miss Elliott, "and he wondered who you were and where you came from. There aren't usually any summer visitors here before the middle of June."

"I suppose that must have been it," returned Gwen, at the same time feeling that it did not quite explain matters.

At the side door, by which it seemed they were expected to enter, they met Ora. She turned away her head and hurried around to the kitchen.

"What a pretty girl," said Gwen, looking after her. "Such a lovely complexion. But, oh dear, why does she lace so painfully? Doesn't she know wasp waists are all out of style? That they belong to the early Victorian age and passed out with ringlets and high foreheads?"

"She probably doesn't know," returned Miss Elliott. "I notice that many of the girls up here still cling to the traditions of their grandmothers in more than one direction. I have heard that one, at least, died from the effects of tight lacing."

"Then they need a missionary as much as the heathen Chinee does," observed Gwen as she entered the house.

She had gone out bareheaded but she tossed aside the golf-cape, which was none too warm for out-door wear, and sat down by the window. Miss Phenie, established in a comfortable rocking-chair, was quite ready for a chat while she knitted a "sweaterette" as she called it. Miss Phosie was in the kitchen getting supper, but Miss Phenie felt that it was due to her position as elder sister to entertain the guests rather than to give a hand to the evening's work. It was always her attitude and one of which no one had ever heard Miss Phosie complain. The most that she had ever done was to remark to Almira Green: "It's very easy to be hospitable when you do the entertaining and some one else does the work." But that was under great provocation when the minister, the surveyor, the doctor and the editor of The Zephyr had all arrived on the island in one day and all had been entertained at Cap'n Ben's house because there seemed nowhere else for them to go. On that occasion Miss Phenie, as usual, had asserted her right to the position of hostess, and had left Miss Phosie alone to wash the dishes as well as to get the dinner, Ora having gone to Portland for the day.

"Well," said Almira Green to whom Miss Phosie's remark was made, "there was Cap'n Ben to do the talking, and as they was all men I don't see why Phenie was called upon to set with them all the time."

"I guess she thought she had to," Miss Phosie had returned with the feeling that perhaps she had said too much.

To-day, however, there was not much reason for Miss Phenie's presence in the kitchen, for, while Miss Phosie made the soda biscuits Ora could be setting the table. The lobsters had been boiled that morning, so there were only the fish and potatoes to fry, and the preserves to be set on the table with the cake. Miss Phenie, in tight fitting black alpaca, rocked comfortably and asked questions till Gwen, by the window, saw Luther Williams pass. "Who is that, Miss Phenie?" she asked. "That tall man with the serious face and the kind eyes?"

"I guess you mean Mr. Williams. I presume he is taking his after supper smoke. He boards with us, you know."

"Oh!" Gwen wondered why he had not appeared at the table. "Is he a relative of yours?"

"None in the world, and we never heard that he had any. He gets a daily paper and advertising letters sometimes, but I never knew him to get any other mail. He's real well educated, and reads everything he can lay his hands on, but he is a very quiet man. He never talks much to anybody, but there ain't a kinder man living. If anybody's in trouble he's the first on hand, and the first to put his hand in his pocket."

"Is he a fisherman?"

"Yes. His pound is just off your point. He's been real lucky and it's said he's right well off."

"Has he boarded with you long?"

"Ever since he came to the island; that's about twenty years now. He came for a week's fishing, he said, and he's stayed ever since. I never heard a word against Mr. Williams. Everybody likes him, and if he is rather close-mouthed you don't hear him speak ill of anyone. He's no more trouble than a kitten. You would scarcely know he was in the house and his room's as neat as a pin. He's not much for meeting strangers, so it ain't likely you'll see much of him if you do live in the same house. He ain't as sociable as father."

Gwen was rather sorry to hear this, for she liked the looks of the man in spite of the long stare he had given her at the stile.

It was just after supper that she had her first word with him. She had gone out to see the young moon, poised in the clear sky. It hung directly over a shining strip of bay which was visible from where she stood. A dip between the ridges disclosed a sweep of gray-green marshland, a white house or two framed on either side by the pointed firs, and, beyond all, the shining water. She stood looking at it all with an expression of pure delight, and presently was aware that while she was gazing at the scene before her someone was looking at her. She turned with a smile. "Isn't it beautiful, Mr. Williams?" she said. "I never saw anything lovelier than just that." She made a sweep of her arm to indicate the breadth of view.

"It is very fine," he said. "I've always liked that, Miss Elliott. You see I know your name, too."

Gwen smiled. "Oh, but you don't, for I'm not Miss Elliott at all. That is my aunt's name. I am Gwendolin Whitridge. My friends call me Gwen."

The man shivered as if struck by a sudden chill, and backed away from her, but almost immediately he came nearer than before, and stood gazing at her with the intent look she had noticed at the stile. His eyes travelled from the curling tendrils of dark hair about her smooth brow to the tender blue eyes and sweet mouth, then down from the softly firm chin and round white throat to the graceful, slender figure. "I beg your pardon," he said presently, pulling himself up with an effort. "I didn't know. Yes, it is a lovely spot. I hope you will enjoy your summer here." He raised his hat and walked on, leaving the girl half amazed, half amused.

"Rather queer manners," she said to herself. "Yet he speaks like a gentleman, and would be rather nice looking if he had not such a serious face. I never saw such sad eyes, but they did change when I told him my name. I wonder why." However, she did not mention the little episode to her aunt who joined her a moment later.

"Let us walk up to the top of the ridge," Miss Elliott proposed. "We can see the White Mountains from there, and the sunset is glorious."

"There is an eastern sunset, too," said Gwen, looking toward the ocean, where purple, gold and rose were reflected in the water, and where wonderful opalescent clouds floated overhead. "It is a rare place that gives two sunset skies at once," she went on.

"It is like two rings at the circus," returned Miss Elliott. "You want to watch them both at the same time."

"Don't mention such artificial things as circuses when we have this. I want to forget spangles and clowns and sawdust."

"You'll forget soon enough. In a week the outside world will be of no account whatever, I promise you, for, to tell you the truth, we discovered last year that this island is the home of a wizard who gets you in his power, so that once in his clutches, you are bound to come back and while you are here to forget every other place."

"That's lovely," returned Gwen. "I wonder just where he lives."

"He has a cave which I will show you. He also frequents a cathedral in Sheldon woods, and one of his haunts is a pinnacle where he sits on moonlight nights and works his spells."

"Perfect!" cried Gwen. "I like him more and more, and I shall be willing to hug my chains if he binds me fast. Must we go in?" For Miss Elliott was turning her steps toward Cap'n Ben's.

"Mustn't we?"

"To sit in that stuffy room with a kerosene lamp? Do wait till it's too dark to see."

"You must go to bed early, for we have had a long journey, and I want to see some color in those pale cheeks."

"I'll go early. The earlier the better, but not before dark."

"And you needn't get up early in the morning."

"But I shall want to."

"You have no kindergartners waiting for you."

"No, but I have so many wonderful things."

"Which you will have all summer to enjoy."

"I am eager to make the acquaintance of the wizard, and I am sure he gets up very early, if he goes to bed at all. Very well, I'll go in. Good-night, Mr. Williams," she called to a tall figure lurking in the shadow of the big barn.



Although Miss Elliott fretted over the delay and was impatient to get into her cottage it was not ready until after the middle of June, and then it was a matter of hard work to make it habitable, for there were a thousand and one things to be done, for which no adequate help could be hired and which had to wait the convenience of some volunteer service. Fortunately aunt and niece were comfortably housed at Cap'n Ben's, and could bend all their energies to the business of getting their own dwelling in order. There were frequent trips to Portland shops for such odds and ends as had not been sent with the household goods, and there were many demands upon Ira Baldwin's stock of nails, tacks and such like things, so that his wares fell short of supplying the demand, and many times Miss Elliott was in despair at being unable to get the simple things she required.

She came in one day and threw herself into a rocking-chair, tired out by her struggles with the impossible. "Hereafter I am going to be a fool," she announced. "Fools get so much more done for them than smart people. There is that silly widow who has Hilltop; she can't do a blessed thing for herself, and is always appealing to this one and that in the most languishing way; the consequence is people are so sorry for her helplessness that they drop everything and run when she gets into difficulties. As for me, I might tramp the island over, and no one would budge to 'accommodate' me. I am sick of being 'accommodated.' I want to get hold of some one who wants to work for reasonable wages, and can honestly earn them."

"Poor auntie!" said Gwen sympathetically. "You're all tired out, and I don't wonder. What is the special grievance this time, or are you only growling on general principles?"

"I wanted some one to put up the window shades, and I have traipsed the place over. Each person I questioned told me he couldn't do it but maybe so-and-so would accommodate me, till finally I got desperate, went to the cottage and put up some of the shades myself. It was the most nerve-racking work to make them fit, for a sixteenth of an inch more or less makes such a difference. There are times," she added after a pause, "when I could almost declare profanity to be a necessity."

Gwen laughed. "Now, Aunt Cam, I know you have reached the limit of human endurance, and I shall appoint myself a committee of one to seek out a man-of-all-work."

"I wish you luck," returned Miss Elliott, resting her head against the back of the chair. "The trouble is," she went on after a moment, "that these blessed people spend their lives in waiting and they cannot understand why we should not be willing to do it, too. They wait for the weather, the winds, the tide. They wait for their fish, for nearly everything, and they are so in the habit of it that it bewilders them when they are hurried. They cannot comprehend a society which does not wait for anything."

"Shouldn't you like to see Manny Green, for instance, during the six o'clock rush hour in New York? Do you suppose he would understand the word hustle then?" said Gwen. "However, Aunt Cam, I am sure that there are great many who are not loafers. Look at Thad Eaton, and Miss Phosie, too. They work steadily from morning till night. Miss Phosie is such a dear. She certainly is a contrast to Miss Phenie."

"Yes," returned Miss Elliott, "the very way they cut their pies gives a clue to their characters. Miss Phenie always helps herself to the largest piece, Miss Phosie invariably takes the smallest. That tells the whole story."

"You have it in a nutshell," replied Gwen. "Now you stay here and rest, Aunt Cam, while I go on my voyage of discovery."

"Where are you going?"

"Not far."

"Whom shall you attack first?"

"That's tellings. I have an idea. If my quest fails I'll acknowledge my faith misplaced, and myself beaten, though I'm 'hop-sin',' as Asa Bates says. Lie down and rest. You have done enough for one day."

She picked up her hat and went out. Miss Elliott watched the erect figure pass the window, and turn toward the sea. "What's she going that way for?" soliloquized Miss Elliott. "Perhaps she thinks she can conjure up the wizard." But she ceased to speculate in a few minutes and dropped off into the sleep which follows great weariness.

Meanwhile Gwen went on toward the garden, following the foot path to where it dropped between the ridges, and entered a wooded way bordered by wild-rose bushes. These were not yet in bloom, but the hillside was white with daisies, and in the sheltered hollow where Cap'n Ben's apple trees struggled to resist the keen winds, a few faint pink blossoms were visible.

"Over the shoulders and slopes of the dunes
I saw the white daisies go down to the sea,"

murmured Gwen. "And it will be just as lovely when the roses come. They are budding now." In a few moments she emerged from the rose path into the open. Beyond the rocky ledges a little beach was visible at low tide. When the tide was up it was nearly covered, but now the pebbly sands were outlined by swathes of wet brown kelp. Mounting a rock Gwen stood looking out upon the waters of the small harbor, and presently made out the identity of a boat which was headed for the point near which she stood. "I thought I'd get here in time," she said to herself. She waited till the boat was beached and the man in it had stepped out, shouldering his oars, and turning toward the path by which she had come. Then she left her big rock and went to meet him. "I've been waiting for you, Mr. Williams," she said cheerily.

"For me," he said, pausing.

"Yes. I want your advice, and maybe your help. Can you put up window shades?"

He looked at her with a half-puzzled expression. "I have done it at Cap'n Ben's," he told her.

"Good!" cried Gwen. "I thought you weren't deficient in mechanical genius. We are at our wits' ends, or rather, I should say, we at Wits' End are at our wits' end. That isn't so idiotic a sentence as it sounds. You know we have named our cottage Wits' End, for my aunt was distracted to know where to stow her goods, and we continue to be at our wits' end to know how to get anything done in this perfectly fascinating, entirely maddening place. Poor Aunt Cam has worn herself out trying to get some one to put up shades. We could send to Portland for a man, but by the time we had paid his fare both ways, had paid for his time, his labor and his board, it would amount to more than the shades are worth. Now, I appeal to you, a maiden in distress. What do you advise us to do?"

"I'll put them up for you," returned he abruptly.

"Oh, Mr. Williams, how good of you. I'll confess that is what I hoped you would do. I have felt from the first that we should be friends. You have always looked at me as if you were rather interested in the new arrival, and haven't stalked by me with that defiant look some of your neighbors wear. That's why I thought I'd hunt you up and pour out my troubles to you."

"I'm glad you did," he returned. "Shall we go now?"

"To put up the shades? Can you?"

"If you have the screws and things. I can go."

"What fun to go back and tell Aunt Cam the work is all done. Have you been in our cottage? Don't you think it is perfectly charming?"

"It is a very nice little place. Will your parents be here, too?" he asked after a pause during which he strode by her side with eyes downcast.

"Oh, no. I have no parents."

A smothered exclamation caused her to turn to look at the man. His lips were compressed, his head bent.

"Oh, never mind," said Gwen, gently. "You didn't know of course. There are only Aunt Cam and myself left. I never had any brothers and sisters except one tiny baby brother who died before I was born. I always lived with my grandparents even during my mother's lifetime. Now they are all gone."

The man was silent for a little, then he asked in a queer strained voice, "How long since?"

"I was about six when my mother died. Grandfather did not live long after. Grandmother died about five years ago. Aunt Cam was a teacher in China, in one of the medical missions, but she came back after mother died. I don't know very much about my father's people. Grandmother seldom mentioned them or him. I don't remember him, for he died when I was a baby. I am a kindergarten teacher, but I wasn't well last year, and Aunt Cam insisted upon my giving up a month earlier to come up here to recruit, so I shall have a long rest. Now, Mr. Williams, you have my history." She looked at him expectantly as if inviting a like confidence.

"A man's life here can't be called exactly monotonous," he said after a pause, "for there is always incident enough if one cares for the quality of it, but there isn't much to make history of. I have lived at Cap'n Ben's for about twenty years, have fished every day when it was fit, have eaten, drunk, slept, read when I had a chance, and that is about all there is."

Gwen was silent, then she shot him a glance. "And before Cap'n Ben's?" she said.

A hot flush mounted to the man's face. "Before that there is nothing worth relating," he said. And Gwen felt herself properly rebuked for her curiosity. Why should she pry into a stranger's secrets? Yet she felt a sense of disappointment.

They presently came to the cottage perched upon the crags, yet clinging close to the rocks, showing long sloping lines, and simplicity of design. "When its newness wears off," said Gwen, "it will look just as we want it to. Come in, Mr. Williams, and I will get the shades. I can help you, if you want me to, but I am afraid I should never be able to put them up alone. I can't manage a saw, and some of the rollers are too long."

Her companion nodded. He was chary of speech, Gwen knew, but he took hold of the work as one having a personal interest in it, and before very long all the windows were furnished with shades.

Gwen surveyed them with a pleased look. "I don't know how to thank you, Mr. Williams," she said. "I am afraid I was very audacious to descend upon you as I did, but I was desperate. Shall I?" She fumbled at the little side bag she wore. "I believe the charge—some of them charge—"

Mr. Williams put up his hand peremptorily. "Stop!" he said. "I have done this only—"

"To accommodate me," exclaimed Gwen despairingly, then with a sudden smile, "Please don't say that. I am so tired of hearing it. Any other word, please."

"I have done this because it was a pleasure," he said gravely smiling. "And I will call it even if you will promise me one thing."

"And that is—"

"Whenever you get into difficulties that you will come to me, just as you did to-day, and ask me to help you. If I can do it I will."

Gwen seized his hand. "I told myself you were good and kind the very first time I saw you. Thank you so much. You make it all seem very easy when we know there is one friend we can depend upon. I am afraid I shall bother you a great deal," she continued. "You may be sorry you exacted such conditions."

He shook his head. "No, I know what I am saying, and I am quite willing to repeat the terms of our contract."

"Very well, then it's a bargain," Gwen answered.

That night, for the first time since their arrival, Luther Williams sat at the table with Gwen and her aunt, and the girl felt sure he had made the concession to emphasize his offer of friendship which she felt was sealed since he had elected to break bread with them.

It was after supper that Manny Green came around. He had been long casting sheep's eyes at Ora, but was not encouraged by Cap'n Ben nor his daughters. Manny was a tall, good-looking lad, but shiftless and uncertain. He had been brought up by a childless aunt who had lavished her best upon him, and had made such sacrifices as caused righteous indignation among the good woman's friends.

"He's a handsome boy, that Manny Green," remarked Miss Elliott as she watched the slim-waisted Ora walk off with her admirer.

Miss Zerviah Hackett, who had dropped in for her usual evening chat, gave a snort. "Handsome is as handsome does," she said. "He's not worth shucks, Miss Elliott. He goes lobstering when he feels like it, and when he don't he stays to home. When he wants to go off sky-larkin' he borrows money from his aunt."

"I'm afraid that's so," put in Miss Phosie, "and I wish he'd stay away from Ora."

"But they're so young it can't mean anything," remarked Gwen.

"Mean anything! Why! she's sixteen," said Miss Zerviah, "and lots of girls get married at that age."

"Oh, why do their mothers let them?" cried Gwen.

"'Cause they done the same thing themselves," Miss Zerviah informed her; "and it's all right when the young man's a sober, industrious fellow, but Manny's lazy. There's no use in trying to get around it."

"I'm afraid he is," said Miss Phosie wofully.

"His father was lost at sea," Miss Zerviah went on, "and he was Almira Green's only brother, so she thinks she can't deny Emmanuel anything."

"Oh, that's his name, is it?" said Gwen. "I wondered what it could be."

"He always gets Manny," returned Miss Zerviah. "As I was saying, he's lazy, and moreover, I maintain that the man that's willin' to borrow from a woman, even if she is a near relation, is pretty poor shucks, generally speaking. Nine times out of ten she never gets it back. It does seem to me that a woman who's been a-scrimpin' herself all her life as Almira's done, and hasn't allowed herself any pleasures, has a right to her little savin's when she gits to where there's no youth left her to make up for the goings without. I'd like to know who's to look out for her when she's past lookin' out for herself. Yet she'll up and give over and over again to ease Manny's way for him, and to allow him to go off sky-larkin'. If she'd done a little more sky-larkin' herself he wouldn't have a chance to git what's her due and not his. I'm just put out about Almira."

"I hear she's going to take boarders, after all," said Miss Phenie.

"So she is, and that's what I'm fussing about. She determined she'd take a rest this summer, but I went to her house to-day and there she was whitewashin' and paperin', same as usual. 'What are you up to, Almira Green?' s'I. 'Gettin' ready for my boarders,' s'she. 'Boarders,' s'I. 'I thought you wasn't going to take 'em.' 'They wrote and wanted to come,' s'she, 'and somehow I don't seem to be able to get along without.' I was that put out I walked off without a word, for I know just as true as I'm settin' here, that Manny's been borrowin' again. He can fling around his money pretty free when it comes out of her pocket-book."

Miss Phosie looked distressed. She knew that Ora would reap the benefit of Almira's hard earnings. The girl was very young, very fond of pleasure, of the foolish little trinkets and baubles which Manny bestowed upon her. She was, moreover, a vain little person, who followed the example of her elder, rather than her younger, aunt, and was given to considering herself first, though she really had more heart than Miss Phenie. "I wish Ora wouldn't run with him," murmured Miss Phosie as Gwen passed from the room.

"Now, there, Phosie, what's the use of croaking?" said her sister. "Ora's young, and young things like a good time. Like as not she'll take up with somebody else before she thinks of getting married." Then to change the subject she remarked: "What do you think, Zerviah? Mr. Williams was up to Miss Elliott's cawtage this afternoon putting up window shades."

"I want to know!" ejaculated Zerviah, this information driving all other gossip out of her head. "I never knew him to take up with the summer people before. Did you, Phenie?"

"No, I can't say that I did, but he certainly has taken a shine to Miss Whitridge."

Miss Zerviah chuckled. This was a new item to stow away among her stores of information. "Mr. Williams is always real pleasant," she said. "I never knew anybody to say a word against him, but I can't say I ever knew him to be more'n polite to the new people, or, as a matter of fact, to anybody here on this island. He's been here going on to twenty year, Phenie, and I'll venture to say you don't know much more about him than when he came. He ain't a Maine man, I'll warrant." There was a little eagerness in her manner as she turned her eyes questioningly upon Miss Phenie.

"Well, he ain't communicative," returned Miss Phenie, "but he does talk about his childhood sometimes, and about what his father and mother used to say and do. Yes, he does talk a little, but he's a reserved man, Zerviah. He's not much of a talker at the best, though he's a great reader."

"And he's kind-hearted as he can be," interposed Miss Phosie. "He never lets me bring a stick of wood, nor a drop of water when he's 'round, and when father was laid up with rheumatiz last winter there wasn't nothin' he wasn't willin' to do. There's no kinder-hearted man in the State of Maine than him, and he's always that quiet in his speech. I never heard him use a profane word, not but what he can get mad when there's occasion, but he's too much of a gentleman to use an oath."

"That's just it," remarked Miss Zerviah, a little spitefully and with suggestive accent, "he's too much of a gentleman."

"Now, Zerviah," protested Miss Phosie, "how can you say so?"

"Say what? That he's too much of a gentleman. You said so, didn't you?"

"Not in the way you did. I said he was too much of a gentleman to swear, but you meant different."

Miss Zerviah laughed. "Have it your own way," she said, rising to go. "I must be getting up along."

"Don't be in a hurry," said Miss Phosie politely.

But Miss Zerviah had gleaned all that she could, and so, picking up her milk bucket she went out. She passed by Ora and Manny walking slowly. Further on she met Luther Williams, who answered her "Good evening" with a slight bow, but who did not stop, although Zerviah slackened her pace. She stood still altogether when he had passed and looked after him as he took the path to the shore. "Now, ain't that like him?" she murmured. "I don't believe there's another man on the island that would go wandering off among the rawks after night. He's queer, there ain't a doubt of it." And she turned her face toward her own low brown house under the hill where she lived with her father old Cap'n Dave Hackett, now too feeble for a fisherman's life, but once a fearless battler with wind and waves.

Gwen, too, was out in the soft June night. She could not be content to remain in the stuffy house, and had followed Miss Zerviah's way as far as the road. One could feel perfectly safe anywhere on the island, she well knew, and she therefore wandered on till she had reached the lower path leading along the cove. There was still light in the sky which was reflected in the water, turning it to silver. The cove was quiet enough but along the reefs outside the water was beginning to dash noisily. Lights twinkled from several yachts which had put into harbor, and were rocking, amid a small company of dories, at anchor. A big fishing schooner, however, lay darkly silent, her crew ashore making merry.

Gwen paced slowly along, her thoughts on many things. She met few persons. A boy on a wheel sped swiftly by. Two lovers, lost to everything but themselves, wandered ahead hand in hand. The dark figure of a man, looking off across the water, was silhouetted against the faint primrose of the sky where an opening in the bordering pines gave a glimpse of the further side. Presently Gwen noticed the approaching figure of some one who stepped firmly and with the swing of a city-bred person, rather than of one used to country roads and unsteady decks.

Seeing her he drew up suddenly, and doffed his cap. "I beg pardon," he said, "but can you tell me the way to one Captain Ben Tibbett's?"

Gwen looked up with a smile. "All roads lead to Rome, Mr. Hilary," she answered. "Keep straight on and you'll get there."

He bent down to observe her more closely, for the dim twilight stealing over land and sea shadowed still more duskily the pathway already dimmed by the overhanging trees.


"Miss Whitridge!" he exclaimed. "I am glad to see you, but what on earth are you doing 'way up here in Maine?"

"I might ask you the same question, for I am wondering how you discovered this fairest island in Casco Bay. I have a perfectly legitimate right to all it offers, for my aunt and I have arrived at the distinction of being cottagers, while you, I suppose, are a mere ship that passes in the night, and are just stopping over at the Grange for a few days."

"You are wrong, quite wrong. I have as good a right here as you. My sister has also become a householder, and I am here to see her through the dangers and difficulties of a first season on the island. She has rented a cottage over yonder," he nodded in the direction from which he had come, "and I am out on a forage for milk. We haven't had supper yet and my sister pines for a cup of tea, but cannot drink it 'dry so,' as they say down in Georgia. Were you going to walk back, and may I walk with you? I shall get lost, I am certain, unless you pilot me."

"I was going as far as the open, but as it is so little further I can as well shorten my walk that much, and it is getting dark."

"Aren't you a little scared to be coming along this dim path by night?"

"Why should I be? There is nothing in the world to be afraid of. I could walk the length and breadth of the island at midnight, and be perfectly safe. That is one of the joys of being here, this feeling of absolute security." She turned about, and the two bent their steps to where Cap'n Ben's house showed whitely in the distance.



Kenneth Hilary was not an old friend, nor indeed was he more than a chance acquaintance, since he and Gwen had met but twice, once at a tea and again in a railway station when a like destination threw them together for an hour as travelling companions, and it is doubtful if their paths would have crossed again if chance had not cast them both upon Fielding's Island.

"Kenneth Hilary is here," Gwen told her aunt the next morning after the casual meeting.

"And who is he?"

"Oh, don't you know? He is Madge McAllister's friend. I met him at her tea last winter, and afterward we happened to take the same train from Washington. He was going to Annapolis, and I was going to Baltimore. Now I am sure you remember."

"Yes, I believe I do. What is he doing here?"

"Helping his sister get settled, at least that is what he was doing last evening. She is the wife of a naval officer and is here for the summer with her two little children. I fancy she is not rolling in wealth, though comfortably off maybe."

"And he?"

"Not wealthy either. In fact I believe he's a writer or a journalist, or perhaps it's an artist. Anyhow he spoke of doing some work up here, so I fancy he has time on his hands as he mentioned remaining the entire summer."

"Perhaps he is here for his health."

"You wouldn't say so if you could see him. He looks like a college athlete, and I cannot fancy him ill."

"Where did you run across him?"

"On the cove road. I was taking a walk and he was coming here for some milk. He asked me the way without knowing who I was. When we recognized each other we came back together."

Miss Elliott was thoughtful for a moment, then she smiled. "I suppose," she remarked, "that it would not be prudent to warn you not to fall in love with him. You know there is the possible millionaire who is to redeem the family fortunes."

"I am afraid this is an impossible place to meet him," returned Gwen. "Millionaires don't come to little isolated islands. They go where their splendor can shine like the sun at noon. You should have taken me to Newport or Bar Harbor, Aunt Cam, if you expected great things of me."

"Then there could have been no Wits' End."

"Oh, I am satisfied. I'd rather have Wits' End than all the millionaires going. It was you who began it, you know. I'm not sighing for point lace and diamonds at present whatever I may do later on. Just now my cravings are much better filled here than they could be anywhere else, so please don't mourn on my account because of unreachable glories. Let's talk about something else. To-day we come to our own. Think of it! We shall eat supper in that adorable cottage with our eyes turned toward the sea. We can have all the fresh air we want. We can sit out on the rocks all day if we like, and can go to bed with the noise of the waves in our ears."

But neither Gwen nor her aunt had bargained upon such an uproar of waters as they listened to that first night at Wits' End, for the wind blew up from the southeast, bringing a storm with it, and before morning the breakers were thundering against the rocks, fairly shaking the little cottage to its foundations. For three days the storm lasted, to the delight of the girl who revelled in the fierce tumult. At the end of the third day Gwen looked forth from the back door. "It's clearing," she said, "and I am going out to look at the surf. You'll come, too, Aunt Cam."

"Presently," promised Miss Elliott. "I must get up these draperies first."

"How can you stop when there are such wonders out of doors?"

"I'll come directly," was all that Miss Elliott vouchsafed, and in short skirt, high rubber boots and golf-cape Gwen went forth. Rolling masses of smoke-colored clouds scudded across the sky. Below it plunged and bellowed the gray sea, which reared itself monstrously and flung its huge breakers against the unyielding rocks in a long line of surf. All along the coast jagged pinnacles and deep chasms received the hissing waves, in their furious onrush, only to fling them back in masses of spray. Where the crags were highest, the chasms deepest, or the far spreading reefs offered most resistance, there was a perfect welter of tossing, seething, bubbling spray which was formed into wonderful balls and was flung aloft by the unseen spirits of the deep. Close in shore a small boat had drifted. At each swell of the surging tide it was taken up and hurled against the rocks until, bit by bit, it was battered to pieces. A few sea-gulls poised themselves above the turbulent ocean, their snowy breasts scarcely discernible in the toss of hurtling waves. Flecks of white blown far in by the mighty gale appeared like strange pale blossoms dotting the fresh green grass which fringed the path along the bluff.

The wind was still blustering through the sombre pines that stood huddled together where the pasture ended, but there were breaks in the flying clouds, and along the west a faint yellow band of light was beginning to shine. As it grew wider and wider it touched the purply-gray rocks with amber; creeping out to sea it turned the leaden masses of water to green, and further on found out the white cottages and red roofs on a distant island. At last it struck with a golden radiance the sails of a far-off vessel, making it appear like a magic ship bound for a land of happy fancy.

The ground, sodden with moisture, oozed water at every step Gwen took, and the tufts of meadow grass were surrounded by small pools. The girl paused first at one point, then another, each outlook fascinating her. At the most rugged point where a giant stairway led down to a fierce turbulence of whirling breakers, she stood transfixed. It seemed strange within sight and sound of that howling sea to see little wild strawberries spotting the hummocks and to hear a song-sparrow's blithe notes above the noise of the pounding waves.

"Isn't it wonderful?" said a voice by her side.

She turned her head slightly to see Kenneth Hilary clad in oil skins and booted for wet weather. "It is beyond words," returned the girl. "I did not dream of seeing anything so marvellous."

"I have been out all day," said Kenneth. "I managed to make two sketches, and I am going to make another when I find just the right spot."

"Isn't it just here?"

"A little further along I think. I am so divided between this ocean side of the island with all its tremendous uproar, and that wonderful sky over the cove that I am torn asunder. How have you been faring? Does your cottage stand bad weather?"

"We have been having a lovely quiet time getting odds and ends finished up, and the cottage stood the storm wonderfully. There was only one tiny leak. How did you all get along?"

"I was nearly drenched in the early hours of the first morning, but I think there was no real damage done. We put basins under the leaks. I moved my bed and let the old roof drip. I shall hunt up a man to get the roof in order at once."

"I hope he may do it before the next storm," returned Gwen. "Our nearest neighbors have been telling us they did not get much satisfaction." She smiled at the recollection.

"Why? How was it?" asked Kenneth.

"Miss Gray went off in a state of indignation to hunt up Thad Eaton. I can imagine the tone of voice in which she said: 'Mr. Eaton, my roof leaks.'"

"What did he say?"

"He said—" Gwen's eyes grew merry. "He said, 'Is that so, Miss Gray? So does mine.'"

Kenneth laughed. "I take the lesson to heart. I'll get a bundle of shingles and some paint before the next storm on the principle if you want a thing done, do it yourself. Here's the place." He set down his color-box and prepared to begin his sketch. Gwen watched him for a few minutes, then she moved off to join Miss Elliott whom she saw coming toward them. "When you get through," she said over her shoulder, "come to Wits' End and have a cup of tea."

The young man looked up brightly. "Thanks, I'll do it," he responded, then turned his attention to his sketch.

Gwen advanced to meet her aunt. "Isn't it the most gloriously awe-inspiring thing you ever saw?" she cried. "We thought it was superb from our upper windows, but you get more variety by walking along the bluff. I suppose I'd better go for the mail; we haven't had any for two days."

"I'll go with you," said Miss Elliott. "I want some things at the store if they are to be had."

They turned from the wild commotion of the ocean to the quieter side of the island. Down by the harbor there was little noise save the distant booming of the sea. The vessels which had put in from the storm lay gently rocking at each swell of the tide. From the low white house at the top of the hill Cap'n Ben came out in his sou'wester. He stood for a moment looking westward, then went down toward the long flight of steps which led to the wharf. Along the road, which extended like a backbone from one end of the island to the other, figures appeared at irregular intervals, going in the direction of the little store nestling under the hill by the harbor. As Gwen and her aunt passed by Almira Green's they saw her come to the door and hold out her hand to make sure the rain was over. Then she gathered her skirts closely about her, and picked her way down the narrow garden path to shake the moisture from the heads of some crimson peonies, and to tuck up a bit of vine torn from its trellis by the gale. The western horizon showed clearly now, the wind died down and the sun shone out brilliantly. The storm was over, though all night long, the dwellers along the bluff, when half awake, heard the booming of the sea.

"You are the first to break bread with us," said Gwen to Kenneth Hilary as she handed him a cup of tea. "How do you like our cottage? We are so proud of it that it is a perfect joy to show it off. Don't you think we have a fine fireplace?"

The young man looked around the room. "It is charming, perfectly charming," he said. "Who planned it?"

"We did it all ourselves, Aunt Cam and I."

"You have reason to be proud. I congratulate you upon having the artistic sense to keep to simple lines. They're mighty good ones, too. This is a jolly room, just enough in it for cosiness."

"Aunt Cam has one room full of her ponderous furniture, her books and family relics, but we tried to choose judiciously in furnishing the rest of the house. Auntie said she was tired of paying storage, and we cannot keep up much of an establishment in the city. She hated to part with her heirlooms and it was a problem to know what to do with them till it suddenly occurred to us to build a cottage here, call it our home and spill over into it such things as we could not use in the city. So you see the result. We think our household gods are as safe here as they would be in a storage warehouse, and between times there is no storage to pay. We do not have to wear ourselves out in trying to decide where we shall spend our summers in order to escape the heat, and we think we are very sensible people to have come to such a conclusion as we did."

"You were sensible. I wouldn't mind a shack here myself, for I never saw a spot more to my liking. But, alas, an impecunious artist can't indulge in any such dreams till he has made his ten-strike. I was glad enough to accept Nell's suggestion that I chip in with her this summer and come up here, for it gives me the chance to get at the kind of work I have been longing to do, and to work out some illustrations I have on hand. They are rather jolly to slash away at when one can sit in the cool and do them, though ordinarily I can't stand much of that sort of thing."

"I am afraid you are an impatient sort of somebody," remarked Gwen.

"Yes, I am afraid I am. I hate to be hedged about by conditions, and I hate to do things I don't like to do."

"Who doesn't?" returned Gwen. "But we have to. It's part of our development. I don't think anyone has the right to please only himself."

"Oh no, of course not, and we don't get the chance to, even granting we had the right. But I don't see the use of deliberately choosing unpleasant things to do."

Gwen was thoughtful for a moment. "I think many persons do deliberately choose unpleasant things for the sake of those they love. Isn't that what the joy of sacrifice means?"

"I suppose so. Perhaps I might do it for such a reason. I could, I know, but not when there seems no necessity for it."

"Aren't you ambitious enough to do it for your own sake?"

"That depends upon what you call ambition. I'd rather be happy than famous. In fact I've spent so much time in trying to find out how to be happy, that I haven't had much leisure to try to be famous."

Gwen shook her head. "There's something wrong with your philosophy. You mustn't try so hard to be happy. You should go on the principle that you will be happy if you do your duty."

"Who knows his duty? I never did have any patience with the people who say: 'Be sure you're right, then go ahead.' The going ahead is easy enough; it's the being sure you're right that bothers you, and even then I've discovered that selfish people are quite as happy, if not happier than unselfish ones."

"Dear me!" sighed Gwen, "you're a terrible iconoclast. I always have been taught just the opposite."

"Well, but look around you. Aren't the self-complacent, self-satisfied people the ones who flourish like a green bay tree? They get more out of life than the self-sacrificers who in the long run are seldom given credit for the things they do, but are often censured for not doing more."

Gwen put her hands over her ears. "Oh dear, oh dear, if you keep on I shall have no theories left. If you are thinking of the material side of life, no doubt there is some truth in what you say, but if you have spiritual aspirations you will never step up through any such beliefs. I can see the force of your argument. There are Miss Phenie and Miss Phosie Tibbett, for example. Miss Phosie is continually doing for others, and I can't remember that Miss Phenie ever did anything for Miss Phosie or anyone else, except things she is obliged to do, but I have heard her call Miss Phosie selfish because she did not do more, because she didn't do certain things that Miss Phenie would no more do than she would fly, and yet I am sure, of the two, that Miss Phosie has spiritual delights of which her sister never dreams."

"The way to the land of spiritual delight is very hard for some. I find it rather an interesting study to watch the lives of others, and try to discover what really goes to make up their actual pleasures. These good island people whose influences have been so different from ours I'd like to get at their point of view."

"I think human nature is about the same the world over, though I admit the difference in points of view."

"Tell me some more of your observations of the 'Tibbett girls' as I hear them called. How did you happen to discover so much?"

"It was very easy. Miss Phenie sits at the head of the table and serves the dessert. Miss Phosie pours the tea and coffee, which is a harder job. Miss Phenie always helps herself to the largest supply of cream, the choicest berries, the best piece of anything that comes her way. She complacently accepts any service that Miss Phosie offers yet never tries to return it. I will give you an instance: She was crocheting a little affair to throw over her head when she goes out of doors—she takes plenty of time to do such things—and I heard her say to her sister, 'You ought to have one of these, Phosie.' 'I'd like it if I had time to make it,' said Miss Phosie. I saw Miss Phenie begin a second one, and thought of course it was for her sister, but, bless you, no. She thought she'd like a dark as well as a light one. I could have shaken her."

Kenneth nodded. "I know the kind. I have in mind such another who is possessed of a sort of mental indolence which makes her intolerant of anything but absolute ease. She detests the effort that is necessary in order to extract comfort from moderate means. She is so self-indulgent that anything short of luxury she fiercely declares she detests. She could no more understand the joy of sacrifice as you call it than she could understand the language of another world."

"It is the language of another world," declared Gwen; "the spiritual world."

Kenneth nodded. "Yes, hers is a very material one, I am sorry to say. The material things are the only ones she values. I think that is why I value them so little, and why my ambitions do not run in the direction of money-getting. I would rather find the happiness that comes along the way of common things, than to work for the mere sake of piling up gain. Work, when it can be at the thing one most loves, is the greatest joy in the world."

Gwen looked at him a little surprised. "I believe I misunderstood you. I thought you were—"

"Lazy?" He laughed. "I don't believe I am that, but I have been called selfish because I would not become a mere calculating machine. The thing I most love, for which I have the most ability is painting, and I am making a desperate try at success in that direction. Some day I may arrive. Meanwhile I am not starving my best self, though I do not fare sumptuously every day."

"I understand," returned Gwen. "I am glad you told me."

"Thank you. I thought you would understand. But what a serious talk we are having. Such a day as this has been arouses us out of conventionalities, and we have to be honest in the face of the stupendous forces of nature. I saw your friend Luther Williams out looking after his nets. I fancy they must be badly damaged by the storm."

"He certainly is a good friend. You should have seen the beautiful fish he brought us the day we came into the cottage, a gleaming, shimmering salmon, all iridescent and silvery pink. It was just out of the water. They don't often catch them here, but this happened to get in the net by accident, I suppose, and Mr. Williams brought it to us. Then he came yesterday and to-day to bring us fresh water, fearing we could not get out to the Gray's well. Our rain-water hogshead is full to overflowing, and we have caught a lot beside."

"I noticed various buckets and pans sitting around under the eaves of your porch."

"Yes, we dragged out all the things we could think of, and set them in a row so we wouldn't lose a drop. I never knew how precious water could be till I came up here. Next year we shall have our own well, and will see that the water 'convenes' into the house as Asa Bates says."

"Why not 'convene' since it is for convenience?"

"Why not, indeed?"

At this juncture Miss Camilla came in. "You are missing the sunset," she said; "it is gorgeous. Come around to the back porch."

Kenneth grabbed his color-box and rushed out. In a few minutes he was splashing on the paint in furious haste that he might catch the fast changing tints.

"It must be fine at the cove," he said, standing off to view the effect of what he had done. "I think I shall have to go down there. Thanks for the tea, Miss Whitridge, and more for the talk over the tea-cups. May I come again?"

"Certainly," replied Gwen, "and if we are not at home I give you leave to sit on our porch."

"Thanks. I'll remember that," and picking up his hat he hurried away cove-ward.

"Well," said Miss Elliott as Gwen watched him out of sight.


"What do you think of him?"

"I find him more interesting than I supposed. He is in a transition state, I imagine, feeling around for his proper element. His family oppose his artistic aims, I judge, and want him to go into a business life for which he is not fitted. I am only reading between the lines when I say his mother is a luxurious, indolent, ease-loving woman who would rather he sacrificed himself for the sake of money-getting, than have him happy in the life he loves. He did not say so, but one can read a whole life's experience from a few generalities. I am sorry for him, though he seems light-hearted, and—"

"Take care, Gwen. Take care."

"Oh, I'll take care. I have no fancy for living in a studio furnished only with unsold pictures, and I certainly don't intend to waste my energies in building up the fortunes of a struggling artist. But you wouldn't deny me a summer's companionship with an interesting young man. He will come in very handy for sailing and rowing purposes, not to mention dancing."

"Nevertheless, I repeat, take care," said her aunt.



"He has arrived," said Gwen, coming in with her hands full of wild roses a few days later.

"He? Who?" asked her aunt.

"The millionaire, or at least the half of one, for they say he is worth not less than half a million."

"I never heard of him," returned Miss Elliott. "What's his name?"

"He is one Cephas Mitchell, age a little over thirty I should judge; height five feet nine, or thereabouts; complexion, uncertain; eyes, pale greenish blue; hair, mouse-color; weight, I don't believe I can give that, but it must be less than yours, for he is very skinny-looking. He hails from Boston, and is a steel something-or-other, we'll say a steel magnate."

"Your details appear to be very exact. Where did you meet him?"

"Down at the post-office. He is a guest of the ladies Gray. He was with Miss Henrietta. I think he is a relative. It was while he was buying fishing-tackle or something, that I received my information."

"I wonder what he is doing up here."

"He came with his mother, who is also a guest of the Grays. That makes seven women in the house, including the servants."

"Well, were you impressed by the young man?"

"Wait till you see him and then judge for yourself." Gwen put her head to one side as she viewed the arrangement of her roses in a bowl. "Aren't they lovely, Aunt Cam? I got them just over the fence as I came along. There are two letters for you and a couple of papers."

"Did you ask about the mackerel?" said Miss Elliott, picking up her letters.

"Yes, and that's all the good it did. I was informed that our mackerel was wrapped up, all ready to deliver, when some one came along who wanted it, and, being on the spot, secured it, so we are minus our mackerel as there are no more. Ira told me the tale as if it would console me to know that it had come so far in reaching us as to be wrapped up."

"Oh dear," sighed Miss Elliott, "then we must either eat canned something, or try to get a lobster."

"If I could catch sight of Mr. Williams as he comes from the pound I'd be sure to get some kind of fish," said Gwen. "I believe I'll go hunt him up. I may not be too late." She picked up her hat and went out again. The breeze, which always blew up freshly by ten o'clock, no matter how warm the early morning hours, had begun to stir among the tree-tops; the grass was vividly green upon the hummocks; in the woods the birds were calling to each other. A tame crow sat upon a neighboring roof, making such human noises as led Gwen to think some one was calling her. She went down hill to the little hollow where the cove curved in toward the marsh, then up she climbed to penetrate a pine grove and come out again upon the spot where Luther Williams moored his dory. She had not miscalculated for, looking up, she saw him ahead trundling his barrow of fish. She ran after him calling as she went, and directly he turned, dropped the handles of his barrow and waited till she came up.

"Any fish for sale, Mr. Williams?" sang out Gwen.

"Well, not at retail," he returned, "but you're welcome to your pick."

"Couldn't do that," answered Gwen, turning over, with a hesitating finger, the contents of the wheelbarrow.

"Then you can't have any," said Mr. Williams with a smile, essaying to pick up the handles again.

"That is unkind," returned Gwen. "Would you condemn us to a dinner of canned soup and potted ham when here are these beautiful fish just out of the water? Some one bore off the mackerel we ordered, and we are minus our chief dinner dish unless you'll let us depend upon you."

"You can depend upon me. Come, we'll make a bargain. If you will go out in my dory with me this afternoon when I haul my nets you shall have the finest fish in this wheelbarrow."

"Oh, I'd love to do that; it would be the nicest possible excursion," responded Gwen enthusiastically, "but it seems to me I shall be getting the best of it all around."

"No, I am willing to pay for your company, and consider it is a small price."

"Thanks," Gwen laughed. "When shall I be ready?"

"About three."

"And where shall I meet you? Right off there where your dory is?"

"Yes, if you will." He selected a fine mackerel strung it on a bit of grass, and handed it to her. "Do you care for tinkers?" he asked.

"Tinkers? I don't know of any but those you read about who go around the country mending tins."

"That's not the kind," replied Mr. Williams. "They are these little fellows." He held out a tiny mackerel in his hand. "Some persons like them better than the large ones."

"Oh, those. I never ate any, but I'd like to."

"You shall have some to-morrow for breakfast. We'll get them this afternoon."

"You are adding more and more inducements," returned Gwen. "Indeed, Mr. Williams, I don't know what I should do without you. There is scarcely a day but you smooth out some difficulty for me."

The man paused before starting off with his load. An inscrutable look was on his face. "Sometimes," he said slowly, "Heaven gives us opportunities we thought we had lost." After which speech he moved on, leaving Gwen to walk slowly home, pondering upon the mystifying remark.

"He certainly is a queer man," she told Miss Elliott, after triumphantly displaying the fish.

"He has evidently taken a great fancy to you," remarked Miss Elliott. "Carry the fish out to Lizzie, please, and tell her we'll have it baked. You are a forager worth while, Gwen."

"We are to have tinkers for breakfast," said Gwen over her shoulder. "I shall bring them home with me this afternoon."

"And what are tinkers?" asked Miss Elliott.

"Small fry," replied Gwen as she closed the door.

The afternoon was bright and clear, the drifting clouds along the northern horizon showing that fair weather might be depended upon. Gwen, equipped for the occasion, stepped into the boat to take the place assigned her. Luther Williams' helper, young brown-cheeked, dark-eyed Ned Symington, took one oar, Luther the other, and before long they were outside the cove, and, as it seemed to Gwen, fearsomely near the jagged reefs. But Luther's steady eye and strong arm were to be relied upon, and when they were at anchor she had no fears beyond those which led her to dread the lopping about of the little boat while the net was hauled and emptied of its draught of fishes. Not for a moment did the girl confess her qualms, though she felt she must yield to sea-sickness any instant.

It was Ned who remarked, "She looks kinder white around the gills, Cap'n. Guess we'd better sot her ashore, hadn't we?"

Then Luther looked up. "Is it too much for you?" he asked. "I was taking it for granted that you were a good sailor."

"But it is such a little boat," said Gwen weakly, "and it is rougher than I imagined."

"We're all ready to go in," he told her. "That will do, Ned."

The sight and smell of the slippery mass of fish in the bottom of the boat did not add to her enjoyment of the situation, but she lifted her eyes, looked steadily landward, and was presently borne inside the reefs to the haven where she would be.

The tin bucketful of tinkers was the reward of heroism, she told Luther Williams, as he rallied her upon being so poor a sailor. She left him to dispose of his afternoon's haul, and carrying her prize, she took the short cut around the little harbor to the cliffs beyond. As she emerged from a clump of trees which crested the first rise, she met a man whose costume was carefully studied. His arms were bared to the shoulders, while his negligé shirt, open at the neck, displayed a vast expanse of throat. He wore knickerbockers, highly colored golf stockings, and tennis shoes. His hair, instead of being close-cropped, was allowed to grow in two locks above his forehead, and these locks waved in the breeze at each step. His whole air was one of wild abandon as he sprang from hummock to hummock.

At sight of Gwen he poised himself upon a hillock as if about to take flight and called out cheerily "Good afternoon, Miss Whitridge, I'd take off my hat to you, but you see I don't wear one. Isn't this glorious? Let me carry your pail for you. Been Ashing, I see."

Gwen surrendered her tin bucket. "Well, not exactly, Mr. Mitchell," she said, "but at least I accompanied the expedition, and the reward I received for lopping around in a ticklish little boat for an hour or more, is this hoard of tinkers. Do you know enough of the vernacular to recognize the variety of fish?"

Mr. Mitchell peered curiously into the bucket. "They look like mackerel," he remarked.

"You have guessed the first time. That is exactly what they are: kindergarteners caught in a school of mackerel."

Mr. Mitchell smiled faintly and fell into step, while Gwen realized that conventional speech was best suited to her companion. "Delightful weather, isn't it, Mr. Mitchell?" she began. "I hope you are enjoying the island."

"Oh, so much, Miss Whitridge. I assure you that such novel experiences don't come my way very often. I was saying to my mother this morning that to cast off the shackles of business and become, as it were, a child of nature, is delightful, such a charming episode in one's life, isn't it?"

"Charming indeed," returned Gwen, glancing down demurely at the green and yellow golf stockings. "Shall you be here all summer, Mr. Mitchell?"

"For the greater part of it. My mother has not been well and the doctor has prescribed Maine air and quiet, so I have promised to keep her company for a while. Some friends at Bar Harbor are expecting me in August. It doesn't do to live too long away from civilization, does it?"

"Well, I don't know; it depends upon what you call being civilized."

"Oh, the regulation thing, of course; living in comfortable, well-furnished rooms, eating proper fare, dining out, and going to places of amusement, meeting your friends at clubs and at social functions."

"Wearing well cut clothes, walking down Commonwealth Avenue in a silk hat and frock coat," returned Gwen with gravity.

"Yes, yes, that sort of thing. I see you understand. But it is my principle to fall in with the customs of whatever place I happen to be in, and that is why I dress for the island."

"I see you do," responded Gwen. "Very commendable I am sure, Mr. Mitchell. Is your mother much of an invalid? Can't she enjoy being here?"

"Oh, yes, she enjoys it in a measure. She thinks the air very invigorating, and she is fond of her cousins. She hasn't ventured to walk over this rough ground, so she sits on the porch generally. She has her fancy-work and that interests her."

"How fortunate," murmured Gwen.

"Who is that chap sketching over there on the rocks?"

Gwen glanced seaward. "Oh, that is Mr. Hilary. He is here for the summer, too."

"Queer how a man can like to spend his time doing that sort of thing. I'd never be content to sit around daubing paint on canvas," remarked Mr. Mitchell. "An active life for me," and he lengthened his stride, giving an added spring to his gait.

"No," returned Gwen dreamily, "I shouldn't imagine you could be content to do such things."

Mr. Mitchell glanced down at her with a gratified expression. "I say, Miss Whitridge," he said, "you are appreciative."

Gwen's childlike laugh rang out merrily. There was such smug self satisfaction in his manner. "Thank you," she returned. "I believe I am more thankful for my appreciative faculty than for anything else. For instance, at this present moment I am loving that beautiful tender haze that overspreads the distance, and I am hearing the most delicately lovely motive in that musical murmur of the waves on the beach. You don't always hear it just like that, only when the tide is at a certain point and it is not too rough. Listen." She stopped and Mr. Mitchell obediently halted also.

"They are pretty noisy at night sometimes," he said, "the waves I mean, and they aren't very noisy now, but what their motive is beyond coming in and going out I cannot see." He looked bewildered and half annoyed.

"This will never do," said Gwen to herself. "I mean they sing a little—tune to me," she explained.

Mr. Mitchell visibly brightened. "Oh, yes, now you put it that way I suppose one could fancy something of the kind, but I'm not much for fancies, of that sort, I mean. Of course I take fancies to things—and persons." He gave the girl a swift look.

"This is better," thought Gwen. "I suppose you enjoy solid facts," she said. "I confess I haven't much patience, myself, with visionary people. If it were not for the practical ones we should all be very uncomfortable."

"Exactly. That is what I always say, though I'm not such a clodhopper as not to enjoy beauty," another glance.

"Then," said Gwen calmly, "I hope you will let me show you some of the beauties of this island."

"Thanks awfully. That's awfully good of you. You see my mother doesn't think she can walk much, and the other ladies don't care to. They all like to go to Portland, and they enjoy excursions and drives, but I'd have to do my walking alone unless—"

"Unless a bold young woman offered to go with you."

"Now, Miss Whitridge, don't say that. You are most hospitable and kind, in my opinion."

"That is what I meant to be," returned Gwen.

"When can we begin? What shall you show me first?"

"Pebbly Beach, I think. Each pebble is such a nice solid fact you will enjoy it."

"Can we go to-morrow?"

"In the afternoon, yes."

"Thanks. And after Pebbly Beach?"

"Water Cove, perhaps. Thunder Hole will have to wait for a rough day, and Sheldon Woods when we are better acquainted."

"And why?"

"Because it is the Holiest of Holies, and is not to be introduced to any passing acquaintance."

"Oh, I say now, Miss Whitridge, you mustn't consider me a passing acquaintance, and besides I don't see what difference it makes anyway. Woods are woods, you know."

"Are they?" returned Gwen. "I don't think so."

"Oh, I don't mean that I insist upon going there first, you know," returned Mr. Mitchell with a little less of his ready assurance. "I'm perfectly willing to follow wherever you lead. Shall I carry these in for you? No? Then to-morrow at what hour?"

"Shall we say four?" said Gwen after a moment's thought.


"What does that 'but' mean? Have you something else to do at that hour?"

"Oh dear, no. Only why not earlier? Unless you take a nap."

"If I should happen to do that I'd be wide awake before then. Suppose we make it half-past three. Will that suit you, Mr. Mitchell?"


"Auf wiedersehen, then." She carried in her bucket of fish to display to Miss Elliott. "Look at our small fry, Aunt Cam," she exclaimed. "Enough for supper and breakfast, and to send to the House of the Seven Gables."


"Well, dearest!"

"What makes you say that?"

"Because it is so apt. Seven women and one lone man who is being talked to death, I am sure. I wonder if that is why he is so thin."

"The millionaire, you mean?"

"The creature with such a faulty sense of humor that he couldn't recognize a joke if he met one in broad daylight. A true primrose-on-the-river's-brim man."

"Oh dear me, Gwen, is he like that?"

"Well, he is above all things practical. I suppose one ought to be thankful he is, for remove his festoons of bank notes and what would he be?"

"You are a trifle practical yourself, my dear. You have an absolute talent for economics."

"Don't," groaned Gwen. "You will make me feel that I am too thoroughly fitted to be a poor man's wife to throw myself away on a millionaire. We have just had a long talk, and I see an ever increasing vista of engagements to walk. I have promised to show him the beauties of the island. I wonder if I could manage them all in one day. Now that I am free from the magnetism of his presence I am wondering at my readiness to offer myself as 'guide, philosopher and friend.' He carried my fish home for me."


"You think tinkers are not the only fish I have landed? At all events I find that goldfish are a trifle difficult to digest, and oh, they are so bony. I don't know how they would seem served up with diamond sauce. I might enjoy the sauce, and forget the fish. Anyhow, and seriously speaking, it is a great thing to have at last discovered the long desired millionaire. Did you observe his looks, his free step and his wild and woodland air? He out-islands the islanders."

"I saw him," answered Miss Elliott. "I did think him a trifle over-dressed for the occasion."

"Under-dressed you mean. Nothing short of coral clasps could hitch his sleeves up higher, and I am sure there is a full yard of throat exposed to sun and air. I was foolish enough to try being fanciful when I talked to him. I wish you could have seen his expression. To-morrow we go to Pebbly Beach and I shall talk steel rails to him all the way. I am afraid he will suggest carting away all the pebbles to fill in railroad beds, though it won't matter as it can't be done. I am bound he shall find me sympathetic, though I die in the attempt. I'm going out on the porch. Come along, dear. Why should you ever sit indoors?"

"As soon as I have finished this letter I'll come."

Gwen picked up a book and went out. The singing waves were rippling in over the reefs. The sandpipers added a plaintive note once in a while to the universal melody, and from the grove beyond the marsh song-sparrows and wrens piped in harmony. The farther island lay distinctly outlined now in the sun, and the haze had moved on to the mainland which it enveloped in a faint purple mist. The windows of a house on a distant island flamed out like a beacon light as the sun touched them. The sky was blue above, the sea a deeper blue beneath. Soon more vivid colors would stain the west, and would drop rose and violet and gold upon the waters.

Letting her book lie in her lap unopened, Gwen permitted her eyes to dwell upon the scene before her. "It is almost too lovely," she sighed.

Presently some one waved a hand to her from a rock just below. "Do you hear them?" came the question.

"Hear what?" said Gwen, rising to her feet.

"The singing waves," was the reply. "Such a queer, quaint little motive that reminds me of Grieg: only a few notes repeated and repeated with a different accompaniment, so that although it is monotonous there is infinite variety. Do you hear?"

Gwen stepped out upon the flat rock in front of the porch. "I hear," she said. "I have been thinking the motive lovely, but I failed to get the suggestion of Grieg. It is like. Have you made a successful sketch, Mr. Hilary?"

"Would you like to see?"

"I'd like it immensely."

"I'll bring it up."

He came springing up the cliff, and turned his sketch around to show her what he had been doing. "It's just off here." He waved his hand.

"I see; a bit of the Pinnacle and the singing waves curling and rippling around the feet of the rocks. How well you have suggested that movement of the water, those queer circles and sinuous markings. I like the color you find in the rocks. They are not gray at all. Yes, I like it. It is better than the last. What is that other one? May I see it?" He handed her the second canvas he carried. Gwen held it off. A single white-capped wave leaped up from a gray-green sea. One could feel the toss of spray and could catch the pearly light. Gwen observed it long. "I like that, too," she said, "though it's rather more commonplace. It should please the popular taste, but it doesn't touch the first."

"In other words, it is more salable but not so artistic."

"Yes, I think that is it. You will have to exhibit your canvases after a while, when you have enough. I am sure you could find buyers."

The young man made no reply, but silently set his sketches aside. "I saw you out with Luther Williams," he said presently.

"Yes, and I came near to being seasick in that little boat that flopped about so wickedly at anchor, but I was rewarded with a whole bucketful of tinkers, and I don't mind looking back upon the afternoon now it is over."

"Who is the individual with the antennae and the buoyant step?" asked Kenneth, bending over his box.

"Oh, that? A steel magnate from Boston. He does look rather like some queer insect, though his ambitions are very human. I fancy he will never grow wings here below. He could never get along at all in the upper air, for he is of the earth, earthy, and if he is an insect he is not the flying kind."

"A hopping one, may be, a grasshopper?"

"Yes, his flights would never be higher. He makes rather a good grasshopper."

"I should call him a jar-fly. You know that's what the negroes call locusts sometimes."

"But why a jar-fly?"

"He jars me," returned the young man shouldering his painting kit.


Kenneth laughed and took his departure, Gwen watching him. "He is much better fun," she soliloquized, "but alas, he is as poor as poverty. Why does the gift always come with the gauntlet? The singing waves! the singing waves! How well he understood. Come out, Aunt Cam, come out," she called. "The sun is about to set, and I refuse to eat one tinker till the sky grows gray."



A hot sun glared upon the long highroad, warmed the rocks along shore and beat upon the pebbly stretch below the bluff. Yet a fresh breeze from the sea cooled the faces of the two who sought the beach, and who found it pleasant enough in the shade of the great boulders.

"It is something of a rough and tumble walk to come this way," said Gwen, "but we can go back by the bluff, though this is shorter. Now, sit down and tell me if you ever saw more beautiful pebbles. You must find one, with a ring around it, for a talisman. While you are doing that I will hunt for a big one to use at the front door; it will blow shut. I want some pretty stones, too, just to look at."

"Just to look at?"

"Don't you like to look at pretty things?"

"Yes, at some kinds, at pretty girls, for instance. I like to look at you, Miss Whitridge."

"What a very subtle compliment to be sure. Let us see which can find the first and best talisman. If you find the best I shall never forgive you."

"Then I'll not look for one."

"You must. That is the game. I won't play if you talk so."

"Very well, I'll look. What did you say they were like?"

"They are stones of one color with a circle of another color around them. That is, you may find a gray stone with a ring of white, or of darker gray, or of black, but the stone must be completely encircled; it isn't any good if it's not."

"And what's the good if it is?"

"It is a talisman."

"What's that?"

"It will bring you luck."

"Now, Miss Whitridge, you are not so superstitious as to believe that."

"Well, no, but it makes a nice little game to make believe you have faith in its charm. I like make believes. I always did as a child."

"I suppose all children do, but they give it up when they are grown."

"I'm not so sure of that. You go that way and I'll go this, and we'll meet at this big rock that looks like a huge rubber bag."

"Why can't we go together?"

"Because we might pounce upon the same stone, and you would be too polite not to let me have it, while I would be too selfish to give it up to you. The first one that finds will call the other."

They walked off in opposite directions, but Gwen, already familiar with the ground, was the first to call out. "I have one, a beauty! Oh, and here's a tiny one, too."

Mr. Mitchell hurried toward her. She held out the wee stone in her palm. "You shall have this," she said, "and I hope it may bring you good luck. The other I shall insist upon keeping."

"I think you are very generous to give me any," said Mr. Mitchell. "I shall have this polished to wear upon my watch chain."

"Lovely!" cried Gwen. "You are improving, sir."

"In what way?"

"In your appreciation of what our island affords. But the game isn't over. You must find a talisman, too."

"May I give it to you, if I do?"

"Certainly, unless you want to take it home to your mother."

"Oh, no, I can assure you she wouldn't value it in the least."

Gwen smiled. "I'll sit here and have a lovely time with the pebbles while you are gone." She established herself on a rock with her back to the high bluff, and bent over the store of pebbles in front of her while Mr. Mitchell went on his quest. Presently she heard a crunching sound behind her. "Already?" she said without looking up.

"Already, what? Do you mean that I have made a record in getting down the bank? I saw you from above, and naturally, you see—"

"Oh, Mr. Hilary, I didn't know it was you."

"I hope you didn't think I was the jar-fly."

Gwen dimpled, then said with quite a dignified air: "You mustn't make fun of my friends."

Kenneth grew immediately grave. "Of course not, if you don't wish me to. I didn't realize that he was such a friend of yours. What have you there?"

Gwen ignored the first part of his speech. "I have a talisman. Mr. Mitchell has gone to find another for me."

"A talisman?" The young man took the stone she held out. "I'd like one."

"You can easily find it. They are quite plentiful."

"Your friend hasn't found one, it seems."

"That's because—I mean there may not be so many at the end where he is."

Kenneth stirred the loose stones with his foot. "Here is one," he said, stooping to pick up a small pebble.

"Good! You didn't have to search long. Now you have your wish. You possess a real talisman."

Kenneth tossed the pebble lightly from one hand to the other, as he looked off to sea. Presently he threw himself down by the girl's side and dropped the pebble into her lap. "Will you have it?" he said.

Gwen did not touch the stone. "But you have none," she answered.

"I shall have if you will give me one."

"I have only this big one, and I want that myself. Maybe I can find a little one for you."

Kenneth did not detain her as she wandered further off, but sat where she left him turning over the pebbles. When she returned he had made a little pile of them. She stood for a moment watching him gather them together and tie them up in his handkerchief.

"So you like them well enough to carry them home?" she said.

"Yes. Don't you?"

"Of course."

He held out his hand. "Did you find the talisman to add to my collection?"

She put her hands behind her. "Which hand will you choose?" she asked laughingly.

"Which hand?" he asked with emphasis. Then seeing an uplifting of the chin he added, "The one with the talisman in it, which will be the right one, of course."

"You are entirely too smart, but as you have guessed correctly I shall have to give it to you. I think it's a beauty." She laid a small, perfectly marked and well-shaped little pebble in his hand.

"Is it as nice as the jar-fly's?"

She held up an arresting finger. "If you talk that way I shall take it back."

"You can't." He stowed the pebble safely away in an inside pocket, and Gwen, seeing herself worsted, turned the subject.

"Let me see your collection," she said.

He untied his handkerchief and displayed the carefully selected varieties. "Aren't they fine?" he said.

"They certainly are. I quite envy you the hoard. With the eye of an artist you have made a judicious choice. By the way, why aren't you sketching this afternoon?"

"Because I prefer to gather pebbles."

"It seems to me that you are in rather a—what shall I call it?—rather a difficult mood."

"Am I?"

"Aren't you?"


"With this glorious sea and sky, and here where worldly cares cannot touch us, we should never have moods."

"I am pleased that worldly cares cannot touch you. They do me."

"Oh, I am sorry. Would it be inquisitive to ask if anything very wrong has happened?"

He was silent while he let the little hoard of pebbles slowly drop, one by one, through his fingers. "You see," he said, "I happened to have a very disturbing letter this morning. I suppose it isn't philosophical to let such things irritate me, but they always do. The family fortunes depend upon me, I am told."

"I should imagine they ought," returned Gwen a little severely.

He looked at her quickly. "Darn the family fortunes!" he said fiercely.

"Darn them if you will," retorted Gwen calmly, "but mend them in some way, if they need mending."

He laughed, a boyish laugh, then became serious. "But you see," he said, "in my opinion they aren't so much frayed and worn as some persons imagine. They may not be in the very latest cut, but they do pretty well except for such things as court receptions and so on. I have relinquished my share in them, at all events, and am content to be a thing of rags and patches myself for the sake of wielding a free lance. But it seems that is not enough. I must give up all I love best, and follow a career that I detest. The parting of the ways has been reached and I must decide."

"At once?"

"By the end of the summer."

"Then wait till the end of the summer, and meanwhile do your best. Enjoy the hour. Don't spoil it by being gloomy. Then, when the time comes, make your decision. I find that when we face a blank wall, which apparently has no way through it, often when we come up to it, we suddenly see an opening. Leave it for the present. It does not help things to worry over them. You remember the story of the old man about to leave this life, who said to his sons, 'My children, I have had a great many hard times in this world, but most of them never happened.'"

Kenneth stood up and held out his hand. "Thank you," he said. "I believe that is good advice. I'll try to follow it. Will you forgive me for unloading my burdens upon you?"

"Since you agree to follow my advice, of course I forgive you. There is nothing more flattering than to have your advice taken. Are you going?"

"Yes, I see the jar—I see Mr. Mitchell coming. From the increased buoyancy of his step I should say that he has found a talisman for you."

"Please stay and meet him."


"It would perhaps be good policy to make a friend of him."


"Because—pardon the suggestion—he is wealthy. He likes our island. He might buy some of your pictures."

Kenneth frowned.

"You don't like the idea, but it is practical. Aunt Cam says I have a very practical streak for so romantic a somebody as I sometimes am."

"I acknowledge that your hint is practical, and that you are quite right, but I loathe being politic."

"Of course you do. You wouldn't be a really truly artist if you didn't. But you must probably meet Mr. Mitchell some time, so why not now?"

"True. All right." He stood with such a resigned expression as caused Gwen's face to dimple into smiles, but she made no comment as she went forward a step to meet Cephas Mitchell.

"I found one," he cried exultantly. "It is quite large. I will show it to you. Don't you think it would be pretty decorated? I could get some one to paint a little scene on it, and then it would be quite ornamental."

Gwen heard Kenneth, behind her, give a smothered groan. She turned with mischief in her eyes. "Perhaps Mr. Hilary would do it. He is an artist. Let me present you to my friend Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Hilary."

Mr. Mitchell held out his hand. "This is a fortunate meeting, Mr. Hilary. I wonder if you would care to undertake this little commission for me. A small landscape, a bit of the island maybe, would be appropriate."

"Unfortunately I am not a miniature painter," Kenneth answered with dignity. Then catching Gwen's expression he added with some show of interest, "But I am quite sure I know some one who can do it for you, and if you will entrust the stone to me I will promise that your order shall be filled satisfactorily, at a fair price," he added with a slightly malicious grin.


"Thanks awfully," returned Mr. Mitchell. "I don't know much about such things myself, but I thought it might make a sort of paper weight, or something useful like that." He looked at Gwen for appreciation.

She thanked him so profusely that Kenneth moved to further malice remarked to her. "I saw a lovely warming-pan painted with a wreath of roses, in Miss Zerviah Hackett's parlor the other day, and she has a sweet milking-stool tied with blue ribbons and painted with a wreath of daisies, so suggestive, don't you think? I asked her if it was her work, and she said no, it was done by a niece of hers from Lewiston who had taken lessons off of a Miss Somebody-or-other at school."

Gwen bit her lip. "I have seen them," she said. "Shall we walk on, or haven't you had enough of Pebbly Beach, Mr. Mitchell?"

"Oh, I have had enough if you have," he made reply.

"There are lovely sea-weeds here," said Gwen. "I must come gather some to use on menu cards. One can really arrange them beautifully with a little care.

"I hope, Mr. Hilary," she turned to Kenneth, "that you don't disapprove of that kind of art."

"I? Oh no. I quite agree with you that the sea-weeds are very decorative, and the delicate forms, preserved in some such way as you propose, are really worth looking at."

"Some of this stuff is good to eat, isn't it?" said Mr. Mitchell.

"Not just by itself. This kind," Gwen picked up a bit of the moss, "when thoroughly washed and dried, can be used for what Miss Zerviah calls 'blue monge.' Have you chanced to meet Miss Zerviah, Mr. Mitchell? She is quite a character."

"I don't think I have even heard of her," was the reply.

"Then you still have something to live for. You may not have heard of Miss Zerviah, but you may rest assured that she knows all about you from the size of your collar to the number of your shoe."

"Dear me!" Mr. Mitchell looked uncomfortable.

"Let us hope it isn't quite as bad as that," said Kenneth. "She is not a bad sort at all, Mr. Mitchell, a very kindly soul. If you fall ill she will be the first to send you a dish of 'blue monge.' She has helped my sister out of no end of difficulties. She was telling us rather a good story yesterday. Have you happened to hear about Ora Tibbett's young man, Miss Whitridge? The one who came over from the Neck to see her last Sunday?"

"No, I haven't heard. I thought Manny Green was her young man."

"He has a rival it seems, some one whom Ora met at a dance, I believe. He rowed over last Sunday and invited Ora for a walk. The family were so pleased that Ora should countenance anyone beside Manny that they invited the young man to supper. The boys of the island, however, were not so willing that an outsider should infringe upon what they considered their rights, and they took up the cudgels in Manny's behalf. After supper there was another walk, we were told, so that it was pretty late when the visitor went forth to get his boat, but the boat wasn't there. He hunted high and low. He knew just where he had tied it up, but not a sign of it was to be seen. He appealed to everyone to help look for it, but it was not to be found."

"They had cut it adrift, of course," put in Mr. Mitchell.

Kenneth laughed. "Not a bit of it. They did better than that. They kept the fellow searching about all night, and toward morning, just as it was beginning to get light, he discovered it hanging up high between two of the tall poplars in front of Cap'n Dave Purdy's house. They had lashed ropes around it and hauled it up there, where it stayed till he could get it down. 'I guess he won't come back,' Miss Zerviah said."

"That's pretty good," Mr. Mitchell remarked. "It's a very curious place, isn't it?"

"It is tremendously interesting," returned Gwen. "Last night we were nearly scared to death by some one's tapping on the window pane. Aunt Cam went to the door, and out of the darkness came a sepulchral voice saying 'Do you want any lobsters?' We discovered it to be a man who had 'shorts' to sell, and though we longed for them, as they are so much sweeter and tenderer than the large ones, we refrained from encouraging a violator of the laws, and didn't take any. I don't know that we would have been so virtuous, if we had not been sure of all we could use from another source."

"It is quite right, you know, to have such strict laws," said Mr. Mitchell, "for if every one used shorts in a little while lobsters would become very scarce, and in time there would be none at all."

"Of course it is right," agreed Gwen, "though it is funny to hear how the lobstermen evade the vigilance of the officers. They are rarely caught, for some one is always on the outlook to warn the men who have any undersized lobsters on hand. But here we are on the highroad. I suppose the mail must be in."

"I heard the boat whistle an hour ago," Kenneth told her.

"Then we'll go to the post-office. Shall we?"

They crossed over to the long flight of steps leading to the cove, meeting on the way various persons coming from the post-office. One of them exclaimed at sight of Gwen, "Why, Gwendolin Whitridge, what are you doing here?"

"What are you doing here, Ethel Fuller?"

"That is just what I'd like to know myself," came the reply. "It is the stupidest place I ever saw. Nothing to do all day but sit and look at that monotonous old ocean. No board walk, no chance to wear your good clothes, no band. I don't see what Aunt Harriet was thinking of to choose such a spot, and we've taken our rooms for the season. I shall try to persuade Aunt Harriet to leave early."

"Where are you staying?" asked Gwen.

"At a Mrs. Green's. Perfectly horrid, my dear."

Gwen smiled, but made no comment, then she presented her two escorts and proposed that they all walk home together. "I'll show you where we live," she said to Miss Fuller. "We think it is an ideal spot."

"But what do you find to do?"

"A thousand things. The days are all too short for all we want to do."

"Oh, I forgot that you are the romantic kind who likes scenery and poetry and such things." She turned to Mr. Mitchell. "She takes things too seriously. Now I am a regular butterfly."

"Really?" Mr. Mitchell wasn't sure that he approved entirely of butterflies. "But you know," he went on, "we don't find Miss Whitridge so very serious."

"Oh, don't you? Well, I don't mean that she never laughs. She is really very full of fun sometimes, but she isn't the frivolous creature I am."

Kenneth Hilary, who had gone on to get the mail, now returned with his hands full of letters. "Two for you, Miss Whitridge," he said, "one for your aunt, and some papers. Mr. Mitchell, these are yours, I believe. The rest go our way."

Gwen tucked her letters into her blouse, and the four walked on, Kenneth falling behind with Gwen. "There is to be a dance Saturday night," he said, "the first of the season. Shall you go?"

"Of course. Do you think I would miss it?"

"And how many dances will you give me?"

"All that no one else asks for," returned Gwen saucily.

"The first, at least. No one has asked for that, because there hasn't been a chance. I deserve another for telling you that the dance is to be, and a third is due me on the ground of my being your escort, for I shall come for you with our brand new lantern. I shall be satisfied with those to start with."

"Modest creature. How do you know I will go with you?"

"You wouldn't be so snubby as not to, when you have not made the engagement with anyone else. I am the bringer of the news, and of course no one could get ahead of me. Besides, after the inquisitorial rack you put me on awhile ago, I deserve to have my wounds healed."

"You behaved so beautifully that I confess you do deserve some compensation, so I'll promise to walk in the light of the lantern you've been bragging about. As to the dances, we will see, though of course you must have the first."

"I have heard several other frivolities discussed, so perhaps your friend will find that there are attractions here, after all."

"She is a handsome girl, don't you think so?"

"Yes, rather, but not a bit paintable. She is not an artistic type."

"She is very popular," said Gwen. "The men all like her. Mrs. Dow, her aunt, is a very proper sort of person, very conventional, very churchy. She is extremely particular about her brand of religion. She uses very little of it, and that generally on Sundays, but she likes to have it of good quality."

"How exactly you get at the heart of things," returned Kenneth, laughing. "The world is full of just that kind of people. You like Miss—Fuller is her name?"

"I like her, yes. She isn't at all a bad sort. I've known her since we were little tots who went to the same school. I've not a thing against her except that lately she has acquired the broad a, and uses it too lavishly, scarce an a escapes her. She says awnd and hawnd as cheerfully as she does calm and alms. I believe the whole family have adopted the pronunciation within the past year, and they display it conspicuously, not as an inherent part of their speech, but as a desirable adjunct."

"Broad a's are like genius," returned Kenneth, "they must be born in one. They can't be very well acquired, I notice."

"Oh, some persons are quite successful in conquering them, but Mrs. Dow's family pin them on. It is entirely too obvious that they were not there in the first place. But, oh dear me, what am I doing, slandering my neighbors? I must stop at once."

"You can scarcely call it slander. We might say it is only a species of analysis. One has a right to analyze."

"Not too much. It gets one into a habit of being over critical, and that deteriorates into fault-finding."

"So we must stop on the safe side. Very well. I shall begin at once to praise your friend to the jar-fly—I beg your pardon—to Mr. Mitchell."

They followed on through the stile, and up the road skirting the pasture, to the point beyond. And here the men left the two girls. At parting Kenneth furtively opened his hand and displayed the little talisman for a second.

"You won't forget to see about the landscape Mr. Mitchell wants painted on my talisman," said Gwen, ignoring the pebble Kenneth held.

He shut his fingers tightly. "I'll not forget," he said, and walked abruptly away.



The two girls watched the men as they went off, and then established themselves in porch chairs for a good talk. "It is a nice situation," began Ethel, "but one can't live on views. As I said before I can't imagine what you find to do, except to go to Portland for a day's shopping."

"It is very gay here if you did but know it," Gwen assured her. "For instance, we can take a motor-boat or can row or sail over to Jagged Island, where we can have a clam bake, or merely a picnic luncheon, as we feel inclined. We can go to the end of the island and be 'sot over' to the next one, from which we can drive all the way to Brunswick, coming home by way of the Neck, or going the other way to Bath. We can even come back on the boat from New Meadows river if we start in time. Then besides Jagged Island there are dozens of the most beautiful places to explore, for Casco Bay is full of lovely spots. Nearer home there are the Sheldon woods which are a never-failing source of joy. Or, if we feel very lazy, right here in front of our own cottage we have made a little fireplace on the rocks, so we can have tea al fresco, without going a dozen yards away. After this there will always be a dance on Saturday evenings, and between whiles concerts and musical doings. So, don't dare to say again that Fielding's Island is dull."

"You certainly do give quite a jolly list of entertainments," acknowledged Ethel. "What about dances? Do you really have men?"

"Haven't I just presented two?"

"I imagined them the sole ones, and that you had been lucky enough to capture both at one fell swoop."

"Oh, dear, no; there are others, and will be more next month when the height of the season arrives."

"And can you really dress for balls? What do you wear?"

"Don't you dare to call them balls, and if I see you in anything more elaborate than a white muslin frock I'll cut your acquaintance."

Ethel's face fell. "Oh, but—" she began.

"My dear, if you want merry-go-rounds, board walks and iron piers, go to Atlantic City. You'll see no décolleté here except on the men. Did you observe Mr. Mitchell's display of neck?"

"Who is he, anyhow? He dresses like a fisherman."

"Lovely!" cried Gwen. "I must tell him, for it is his dearest desire to be taken for one, and he thinks he dresses for the part. Of course he doesn't look the least little bit like those dear graceful creatures with their unstudied picturesqueness and their free swinging strides, but he believes in aping customs and looks as absurd in his get-up as he would in Pekin if he adopted Chinese dress. Can you fancy Cephas in a kimono, by the way?"

"Is that his name? How funny. What's his business?"

"I didn't intend to tell you before I made up my mind whether I should take him for my very own, as I know your 'delutherin' ways, but I shall have to confess that he does with steel, and is said to be worth at least half a million."

"Gwen Whitridge, I don't believe you. That's only funny business on your part."

"It is not. I declare it isn't. I have been looking for a millionaire, lo, these many years, and now I have found one I don't intend to let the first girl, who comes along, step in and rob me of my legitimate prey. So 'keep off the grass.'"

"What about the other one?" asked Ethel.

"Only a poor artist, not worthy your powers of fascination," returned Gwen indifferently.

"He might be good fun for a summer," remarked Ethel reflectively. "It isn't fair for you to have two when I have none, you know, and the artist, poor though he may be in pocket is much better off as to looks."

"I shouldn't call him handsome," said Gwen.

"No, not exactly, but nice looking, well set up, carries himself with an air. If you must have the millionaire, I shall take the artist."

Gwen opened the hand which had been clasping a small pebble banded about by a dark line. She began tossing the little stone from one hand to the other. "Take him by all means," she said, though adding to herself, "if you can. There's Aunt Cam," she said aloud. "She will be glad to see a neighbor."

Miss Elliott came out upon the porch. "Gwen," she said, "I do wish you would see what can be done about a washerwoman. Lizzie can't do the laundry work, you know, and I'd rather not send everything to Portland. Do you suppose there is such a thing as a washerwoman to be had?"

"I think it is quite possible," responded Gwen. "Miss Phosie was telling me of one the other day. She lives at the other end of the island. Mr. Mitchell and I are going to Water Cove to-morrow, and we can hunt her up. Here's Ethel Fuller, Aunt Cam. We shall soon have quite a colony from our city, sha'n't we?"

Miss Elliott came forward. "It is a surprise to see you here, my dear," she said holding out her hand. "Is your aunt with you?"

"Yes," Ethel told her. "We are at Mrs. Green's for the season."

"I hope you are comfortable."

"Fairly so, though we thought our rooms simply impossible when we first came. Now that we have a rug or two, some comfortable chairs from Portland, and a curtain to hang over our gowns, we shall do. My mirror makes me look very long and Aunt Harriet's makes her look very wide. We shall never know our proper proportions while we are here."

"It might be well for you to exchange once in a while," suggested Gwen. "Where have you been Aunt Cam? I saw you coming along the shore path, not long ago."

"I have been out making calls, and I have brought home our supper in the shape of half a dozen very large puff-ball mushrooms," she added with a laugh.

"What amuses you?"

"I had such a funny time. First I went to the Grays to call on Mrs. Mitchell, and, as there were other callers, Miss Celia and I had a confidential chat upon the subject of supplies. She confided to me that she was afraid to eat mushrooms, that some one had brought her half a dozen big puff-balls this afternoon, and as she knew the Colbys were fond of them she had sent them over there. I stopped at the Colbys on my way to Miss Asquith's and there I learned that the puff-balls had been regarded with suspicion and had been tendered to Miss Maria Skinner. I happened to meet Miss Maria on the road. She had just come from Miss Asquith's. 'Don't mention it,' she said. 'I have been taking over some large mushrooms that Mrs. Colby sent me. I was really a trifle afraid of them, so knowing Miss Asquith was very fond of them, I took them to her. The little meadow, button mushrooms I am quite willing to eat, but these monstrosities I really don't feel equal to.' But they are very good, I assured her. I shouldn't be afraid to eat them. 'Really?' said Miss Maria, 'then I am sorry I didn't meet you first.'

"We parted and I pursued my way to Miss Asquith's. I found her examining the gift which Miss Maria had just left. 'See these curious things,' she said. 'Of course I am not in the least afraid of mushrooms, particularly when I know these are fresh, but we happen to have something else for supper, and they should not be kept over. My dear Miss Elliott, won't you have them?' 'I'll take them gladly,' I said. 'You won't mention to Miss Maria that I didn't use them,' said Miss Asquith, and I promised. So here they are and they go no further. They stop in this house, for you and I, Gwen, are not afraid of them."

The girls laughed. "That is a story worth telling," said Gwen. "What funny things do happen up here. Do tell us something else, Aunt Cam. I know Miss Maria must have had some good tale. She has such a keen sense of humor."

"Miss Maria is inimitable," responded Miss Elliott. "She was funny when she was telling me her tribulations over getting certain things done. I wish you could have heard her on the subject of her lattice. 'Behold it,' she said, 'a brilliant green, caterpillar's blood I call it. My dear, it was intended to match the house. I saw it in my mind's eye a neutral gray with white trimmings. When I came down this morning, my maid told me the painter was at work. I was rejoiced, for I had been waiting weeks for him. I rushed out on the porch, and then I screamed, I actually screamed. "Abiel Toothacre," I said, "what do you mean by painting my lattice green? It was to have been gray to match the house." Abiel rose to his feet, scratched his head and looked at me in a dazed way. "I believe, Miss Maria," he drawled, "that Thad Eaton did say something about its being a sorter drab, but I went to Stork's and he was out of white paint altogether, and hadn't but a little wee mite of black. We looked over his stawk and there seemed to be more of this here green than anything else, so, as I heard you was in a hurry, I fetched it along. Nice lively green, Miss Maria. Looks real fresh and nice." In a hurry!' she gasped, 'and I had been waiting six weeks! Isn't it tragic? However I was so thankful it wasn't a magenta pink or a cerulean blue, that I didn't say a word.'"

Miss Elliott was not a bad imitator herself, and the girls saw the scene vividly. "I must stop and condole with her the next time I go that way," said Gwen. "We have troubles of our own, Ethel. Yesterday we had planned for lamb chops with potatoes and peas; our dinner turned out to be veal cutlets, lettuce and rice. There is really a charm in the uncertainty. It is absolutely exciting to surmise, and we both rush to the kitchen when the man brings the order, for it is so liable to be different from that we expected. Sometimes we don't get anything, and then we have to fall back on the box of supplies we had sent from Shaw's when we first came. Any more news, Aunt Cam?"

"No, I believe not. I saw Mr. Williams as I came by Cap'n Ben's. He reminds me of some one I have seen, and I cannot think who it is."

"Dear Mr. Williams," said Gwen enthusiastically. "He is my love, Ethel. The very dearest man on the island."

"Millionaires excepted."

"No one excepted. I don't know what we should do without him. Did you see Miss Phosie, Aunt Cam?"

"Yes, and I asked her about the milk. We can have more next week. What do you suppose Mrs. Baldwin said when I told her the milk was sour this morning?"

"Can't imagine. I hope she said that, of course, you couldn't be expected to pay for milk you couldn't use."

"Not a bit of it. She said 'What can you expect when the milk's two hours coming from Portland, and then sets out in the sun for an hour before it's delivered?'"

"Aunt Cam! Did you ever?" Gwen exclaimed. "What did you say?"

"My dear, I was so taken aback I said nothing. Our points of view were so different that an argument would have been useless. It is quite on a par with the chicken experience. Last Sunday, Ethel, we had such a tough fowl that no amount of boiling, baking or stewing could make it fit to eat. We'd had a very nice one the week before. But what do you think Dan Stork said when we complained? With the most innocent of smiles he answered, 'That so, Miss Elliott? Well, such is life; tender chicken last week, tough one, this.'"

"I am getting quite an insight into matters and things," said Ethel after the laugh had subsided. "I believe, after all, one needn't be bored here."

"Come with us to Water Cove to-morrow," said Gwen. "I will share Cephas with you for one afternoon, and I can show you some interesting types. Have you seen Miss Zerviah Hackett? And what do you think of Mrs. Green?"

"She is kindness itself, although I think our demands for clean towels and a few other things rather appal her. She gives us excellent and abundant food, even though it may not be served in exactly such a way as we are accustomed. Now that I have discovered you all, I shall be much better contented. I'd like to go with you to-morrow, Gwen, if you really want me."

"Can you doubt it when I needed no hint to make the proposition? We'll stop for you about four. You won't stay to sample the mushrooms? We'll guarantee that they will not poison you."

"No, I must go. Auntie will think I am lost."

Gwen watched her mount the path which led to the road. "She isn't quite so frivolous as she would have us believe," she said, turning to where her aunt had stood. But Miss Elliott had disappeared and Gwen settled herself in the hammock where she lay looking off at sea. The tide was coming in and was almost at its height. The water was rougher than it had been in the morning, and every now and then tossed up a shower of spray against the rocks. On the opposite point the towering evergreens were outlined sharply against the sky. In a few minutes a bright light flashed out from beyond the curving line of mainland to the left. "Good evening, Seguin," Gwen nodded, and then turned her eyes again toward the incoming waves. "Beautiful white horses, wild white horses!" she murmured as she swung slowly in her hammock. Presently she raised herself and sat up. An erect figure upon the rocks stood out distinctly. "What's he doing down there?" said Gwen in a low voice. "Why doesn't he keep his own side the fence?" The man, watching the water, turned and looked toward the porch. Gwen dropped back again and continued her swinging, though she was conscious that the figure was approaching nearer. She did not speak till it paused in front of the porch. "Well, Mr. Hilary," she said, "what are you doing over here? It's too dark to paint, isn't it?"

"Quite too dark, but I have been studying the effect of evening light upon the water, and the forms, whorls and arabesques down there where the waves come in. I shall paint it to-morrow. At least I shall try a sketch from memory and finish it the next time we have a like evening."

"So you like it from our rocks better than from any other point."

"This special motif? Yes. Good-night."

He was moving on when Gwen again raised herself. She had not meant to detain him, but why should he want to hurry? "Did you get your pebbles home safely?" she asked, feeling it was rather an inane question, for why should anything interfere with their safe conduct since they could neither melt nor deteriorate in any other way, through transportation?

He halted and rested one foot on the low step. "Quite safely," he answered in a polite tone. "The children were delighted to have them to play with."

"It was for the children you gathered them?"

"Yes, didn't you know?"

"I hadn't thought. I wondered a little at the time. I was foolish enough, perhaps, to think they might be for your own pleasure."

"They were for my pleasure, too."

"Aren't the waves fine to-night? They will be even more mysterious in the moonlight. Do you know Kipling's 'White Horses'? It begins, 'Where run your colts to pasture?'"

"I know it and love it." He leaned toward the hammock and gently swung it as Gwen sat there with dangling feet. "I specially like that line, 'But most the deep sea-meadows, all purple to the stars.'"

"I like it all. 'By lightless reef and channel, and crafty coastwise bars.' Isn't that perfect? It pleases me as a whole, more than any other of Kipling's, and up here I am continually repeating parts of it to myself. That is my summons to supper. Won't you join us, Mr. Hilary? We are having mushrooms to-night."

"I have had my supper, thank you. We take it early on account of the children. Don't let me keep you from yours, Miss Whitridge." He raised his cap and went on. Gwen drew a short, sharp sigh as she turned toward the door. "Why must millionaires be built upon such unfortunate lines?" she said to herself. "Imagine discussing 'White Horses' with Cephas. Oh dear, what should we find to talk about when the dark November evenings come? Probably his mind has its point of contact if one could discover it. I shall see to-morrow maybe." And she went in.

Meanwhile Kenneth Hilary walked slowly over the grassy hillocks, passed through a stile, and skirted the little beach which was nearly covered by the flood tide. Further along he took a winding path over the hill, but instead of turning down the cove road, he sauntered along that leading to the extreme end of the island. The stars were coming out, the birds had hushed their evening song. Only the rush of waves sounded in his ears. From the cottages along shore twinkling lights gleamed out. The young man took a pipe from his pocket, filled and lighted it, and then continued his walk till he reached the point where nothing but the sea lay beyond him. And just here he became aware that some one else was walking that way, some one who joined him as he stood looking off at Halfway Light, flashing red, then white, a sailor's beacon. A bell-buoy out beyond the reefs sounded a melancholy note now and then as the incoming tide swung the clapper from side to side. To the left a faint illumination in the sky prophesied the appearance of the rising moon.

"Fine evening, Mr. Hilary," said Luther Williams, after a moment's silence. "You don't get at it quite the same way in the city, do you?"

"It doesn't get at us in quite the same way either," returned Kenneth. "I tell you, Mr. Williams, a man has to have a pretty clean record when he faces himself in a place like this, and on a night like this. He can't stand himself if he doesn't have rather a fair page."

Luther Williams did not answer for a moment, then he said, "It isn't altogether the record, not altogether what a man has done, but what he knows he will do, that counts. What's done is done. It can't be helped. We can't always prevent a thing from happening once, but we can help it from happening a second time, if we are careful. If we make a misstep and discover that we're off the road, we must look sharp so as not to do it again. We must go around somehow, take another road, get away from the mud and the uncertain places, get our feet where there's no danger of slipping."

"Suppose we don't know the right road. Suppose the thing which offers the most honesty for ourselves is all wrong for some one else. What's to be done?"

"Sacrifice yourself," came Luther's quick response.

Kenneth was silent for awhile as he puffed away at his pipe. Then he said, "How far ought one to carry sacrifice? To the extinction of one's best self? To the suppression of all that makes life worth living?"

"Generally speaking, yes, I say. Life is worth living when you can feel the joy of having made a great sacrifice because it was the best thing for everybody. Though it depends, of course. If, unless you threw yourself into the breach, it meant disgrace to some one else. Yes."

"But if it meant simply the indulgence of a whim, the increase of another's luxuries, the catering to another's foolish pride and vanity, what then?"

"That might put another face on the matter. I'd probably say no to that. No one has a right to spoil his own life merely to indulge another in selfishness. It's a nice question, Mr. Hilary, and each must answer it according to his own conscience. I know my conscience, you know yours."

"And they rise up and confront us in the sternest manner in just such silent places."

"Sometimes it is the heart more than the conscience," said Mr. Williams, after a pause. "The heart's a pretty difficult thing to reason with. You think you have it completely under control, when first thing you know it's galloping off in a direction you never dreamed of."

Kenneth took his pipe from his mouth, knocked out the ashes, and slipped the pipe into his pocket. "One can't afford to have a heart unless he's a millionaire," he said, "not in these days."

"Oh, yes, he can," the other assured him. "He can have the heart all right, but he mustn't insist upon writing 'for value received' upon every transaction. He must make up his mind to do without exact appreciation, just for the satisfaction he gets in letting his heart go at its own pace."

"That's pretty poor comfort, isn't it?"

"It's much better than none. You can find solid satisfaction in it after a while. At any rate it's much better than the feeling of having a frozen heart in your bosom."

"Are you walking back my way, Mr. Williams?" asked Kenneth, turning from the sea.

"I'm going on a little further."

"You've given me a lot to think about. I'm glad we met. I hope we can have some more talks." And Kenneth held out his hand, before he slowly retraced his steps. "What a remarkable sort of man to find here," he said to himself as he went along the now moonlit road. "I haven't a doubt but he has an interesting history."



This was not the last talk that Kenneth and Luther Williams had together, for often the older man would come upon the younger, sitting before his sketching easel or with color-box in hand, climbing the cliffs, or it might be that they would meet upon that solitary and silent spot at the end of the island where it seemed most fitting that serious things should be discussed. In consequence of this outlet to his feelings, Kenneth, after this, displayed himself to Gwen in his most sunny moods, his graver, more morbid ones being reserved for the nights when he and Luther Williams stood side by side, the moaning sea before them.

As time went on many excursions were planned. Mr. Mitchell hired a motor boat which was put into use nearly every day, and was seen skimming the space between Fieldings and Jagged Island, or was started early for a cruise up the bay. Sometimes there would be a shore dinner at the Neck, or a picnic on one of the lovely islands within reach. There were seldom less than half a dozen in the party, and often as many as twenty would start out in a sail-boat for a day's pleasuring. Kenneth's sister, Mrs. Fleming, frequently joined the others, and her two children were seldom left behind. Mrs. Fleming was an unoffensive little person, devoted to her babies, amiable and chatty, though not very intellectual. Her prettiness and sweetness always won her a welcome, and she was pressed into service as chaperon oftener than any one else.

It was for one of these expeditions that Cephas Mitchell started out to look up his party one afternoon. He had already secured an acceptance from Ethel Fuller, had engaged Miss Henrietta Gray as chaperon, and was now in search of Gwen. He did not find her at Wits' End, so he wandered down toward the rocks and at last recognized the blue linen suit and white hat which he knew she wore. She was bending over a small pool in the rocks, the home of various little sea creatures to whom each returning tide brought gifts. Feathery green mosses waved in the clear water, strangely colored star fish languidly made their way through a forest of sea-weed to the shelter of an overhanging ledge, purple or pink crabs scuttled across the rocky floor to sink out of sight in a bed of brown kelp. Far under the jutting shelves of their watery home anemones and sea urchins clung to the shadowy retreats which they recognized as places of safety. The little barnacles were everywhere, finding refreshment at each new influx of the sea.

Although Gwen did not raise her head, she had seen the angular figure of Cephas Mitchell springing down the rocks. She had also seen some one else coming in an opposite direction, and she smiled. She knew each was bent upon some plan for the afternoon's enjoyment. "I'll leave it to fate," she said to herself. "I shall accept the first invitation from whichever it may be." She trailed her fingers through the salty water, and prodded a little star-fish from his hold upon the rocks. There was a hint of excitement in her action, for she was determined not to give herself the opportunity of watching the two men who were trying to find her. "I wonder whose voice I shall hear first," she was saying to herself when she felt the near presence of some one who greeted her with "Good afternoon, Miss Whitridge. Lovely day, isn't it?"

Then from just overhead some one called down to her: "Oh, Miss Whitridge, can you go sailing? Mr. Williams wants to take us out, and your aunt says she will go."

Gwen rose to her feet and looked up to see Kenneth Hilary's eager face bending over the cliff, while at her side stood Cephas Mitchell regarding her ruefully, conscious that the other's lack of ceremony had given him precedence. "You haven't any other engagement, I hope," said Kenneth.

"No," Gwen acknowledged, "and I'll go with pleasure. When do we start?"

"In half an hour. Mr. Williams is bringing the boat around to Capt. Purdy's wharf."

"Dear me," Mr. Mitchell began, "I'm too late. I wish I'd found you five minutes sooner, for I, too, wanted you to go out this afternoon. Cousin Henrietta and Miss Fuller are going and—" He turned to Kenneth with sudden inspiration. "Couldn't we all go together in the motor-boat, and leave your sailing-party for to-morrow?"

"I'm afraid not," returned Kenneth. "You see it isn't my sailing-party, but Mr. Williams'. We go by his invitation, or I would ask you to join us."

Mr. Mitchell, discomfited, turned upon his heel, saying over his shoulder, "The next time, Miss Whitridge, I shall take time by the forelock."

"I hope you'll have a lovely time," said Gwen cheerfully. "Too bad to disappoint you, Mr. Mitchell, but Mr. Hilary spoke first, you see."

"Oh, I did see," returned Mr. Mitchell.

"He's in a regular huff," said Kenneth coming down to where Gwen stood. "Would you rather have gone with the other party? I was so afraid of losing you that perhaps I didn't allow you any choice."

"I'd always rather go with Mr. Williams than anyone," returned Gwen, "and it will do Mr. Mitchell good not to get his own way for once. I fancy he is rather unused to such an experience, being a forceful sort of person in matters of business."

"That's why he succeeds. One must be very direct and prompt of course, in order to get ahead in this world."

Gwen laughed. "Then I am sure you ought to succeed, for anything more direct and prompt than yourself on this occasion it would be hard to find. When I first saw you coming Mr. Mitchell was yards nearer."

Kenneth smiled. "Did you see? I shouldn't have imagined it. I was conscious that he would reach you first if I came down to a level with you, so the only way to out-general him was to run along the bluff and hail you from above. What were you so absorbed in looking at?"

"One of these delightful little pools that are a perfect joy to me. There are some further out that one can reach only at low tide. Aren't they fascinating? A sort of dream world, a fairy haunt. See those tiny bright points of blue, where the light strikes that bunch of moss. Could anything be more brilliant? There is such a variety of color in these pools. Have you ever studied them closely? You have no idea how much vegetable and animal life one such small spot as this can contain."

"I've observed them less closely than you, I'm afraid, though I have always found them interesting. Are you ready for the sail? Shall you not need a warm wrap? Shall I get it for you?"

"I'd better get it myself, but you may come with me. I am glad Aunt Cam consented to go. She usually has a hundred excuses. I never knew anyone take to housekeeping and home furbishing with such zest. But she has always had absorbing interests of some kind, and cannot do anything by halves. This is one of the blue days, isn't it?"

"You don't mean mentally, I hope."

"Oh, dear, no, I mean—but you can see for yourself—a day when only the sea is bluer than the sky. When everything sparkles and vibrates because the atmosphere is so clear. It will be a fine afternoon for a sail."

"That is what Mr. Williams said. Just enough wind to keep us going, and not enough to be too cold."

"Where are we to go?"

"Somewhere up along Middle Bay. Mr. Williams directed me to say that we were to bring no eatables, for this is his party. That is a remarkable man to find in these parts, Miss Gwen. He seems in a wrong sphere here, yet I think he loves the life and scarcely misses what a larger world can furnish. I often wonder how he came to drift here."

"So do I. When I first knew him I used to try to draw him out to speak of his early life, but later I concluded to respect his secret whatever it may be, and I think he is grateful that I don't show curiosity. He is a remarkable man in many ways, a great reader and an intelligent one. I notice his choice of books shows him to have tastes above what one would expect."

"It isn't only in that way that he shows his clear mind," responded Kenneth, "but on the deeper questions of life he shows himself a thinker. He seems tremendously fond of you, Miss Gwen, and I believe he has taken in me as a friend, too."

"His kindness to us is almost embarrassing sometimes. Aunt Cam and I have discussed it, however, and have come to the conclusion that I must remind him of some one he cared for, a mother, a wife, a sweetheart, so we accept everything now, for the sake of whomever it may be."

"I don't doubt that you are correct in your surmise. He seems like a man who has passed through great sorrow and has come out of it uplifted and purified."

"I am sure it is so, and therefore we must allow him the small comfort of doing for us what he will. I will see if Aunt Cam is ready, Mr. Hilary, and will get my jacket."

It was not long before she returned, with Miss Elliott, prepared for a sail. Gwen had exchanged her blue linen for a dark corduroy skirt and jacket, and had wound a yellow scarf around her neck. Kenneth looked at her admiringly, saying to himself, "She is always picturesque in whatever she wears."

They took their way over the uneven pasture to the road beyond, from which they turned aside to follow a straggling path leading through tall growths of clover, wild roses and big-eyed daisies, to the little landing where the boat lay moored. Luther Williams' illumining smile greeted them as they stepped down the gangway, and in a few minutes they were gliding out of the cove into the bay beyond. Leaving Eagle Island on their left they swung past the long narrow neck of land, which thrust itself out like a curving finger from the mainland, and were soon in the quieter waters of Middle Bay, with Goose and Goslings in sight and the ocean no longer visible. By wooded shores and green-clad islands they sailed till they reached a small point of land around which the vessel was steered to be moored at last in a placid harbor.

"Now we'll have supper," said Luther Williams, who had been talking little, but had given his attention to sails and soundings. He set ashore a large hamper, helped Miss Elliott and Gwen to land, and, leaving the vessel at anchor, they all went a little further inland to find a fairer camping ground than any they had yet discovered. So still it was that the fall of a leaf, the movement of a bird on a twig, the tap of a hammer on some distant building, the lapping of the water on the pebbles were the only sounds they heard.

"What a heavenly spot!" cried Gwen. "When I want to escape the terrible rush of civilization as found on Fielding's Island, I shall come here. How did you discover it, Mr. Williams?"

He smiled. "I found it years ago, and, as you say, when I want to escape from oppressive civilization I come here. There are times," he added, "when in spite of your ironical remark, even Fielding's Island is too much for me. I am treating you as trusty friends, you see, when I discover to you my retreat."

"Then when I can't find you in your usual haunts I shall know where you are," Gwen said, "but I shall not tell. There was a day, not very long ago, when no one knew your whereabouts, not even Miss Phosie; she can generally tell."

Mr. Williams made no answer, but began unpacking the basket, bringing to view several boiled lobsters, roast chicken, biscuits and butter, cakes, fruit, and, last of all, a can of coffee, a bottle of cream and a box of candies. "He never got all those things this side of Portland," whispered Miss Elliott. "I know those biscuits are not island-made, neither are the fruit and cake native productions. What are you doing now, Mr. Williams?" she called out, as she saw him piling up some stones.

"Building a fireplace," he said. "We must make our coffee, you know."

She watched him deftly build his fire, using some dry driftwood of which he had a store, then he set the water to boil in an old kettle he produced from a hiding place in the rocks. As he bent over the primitive fireplace, the smoke enveloping him in a blue atmosphere, she suddenly leaned forward and made a slight exclamation.

"What's the matter, Aunt Cam?" asked Gwen anxiously. "Do you feel ill? You looked so startled—or sort of queer."

"No, no," was the reply, "I thought—I saw—"

"Not a snake?" Gwen drew her feet up under her.

"Dear me, no—I hope he'll not upset the coffee now that it is nearly ready."

"Is that all?" laughed Gwen. "You looked so serious I thought something tragic was about to happen. I am glad it was only anxiety about the coffee, though I admit it would be a tragedy to lose it now that we are yearning for it. Does anything give you such an appetite as a good sail? I shall expire with hunger, Mr. Williams, if I don't have a lobster claw pretty soon."

He broke off one, cracked it with a stone, and offered it to her. "There is a whole one waiting for you," he said.

"But I could never manage a whole one. I shouldn't dare attempt to dissect it. I should be sure to get some of those queer gray, whiskery things in my mouth."

"Then I'll do the dissecting," he promised. "As you may imagine, I am an old hand at the business."

"Twenty years it has been since you came to the island, hasn't it?" spoke up Miss Elliott.

"Very near," was the quiet reply.

"You must have been an enthusiastic fisherman in the first place," remarked Miss Elliott.

"I used to enjoy it when I was a boy off on holidays in summer," returned Luther Williams, breaking off the shell from the lobster he held.

"But you must have preferred it to any other occupation in life, to have given up everything to come here, a man of your intelligence, Mr. Williams."

Gwen looked with surprise at her aunt. What did she mean by pressing home a subject upon which they had agreed to be silent?

"Did you never hear of a man's letting himself drift, Miss Elliott?" said Mr. Williams calmly. "Sometimes it is a relief to go with the tide. If you had been battling with a single oar against wind and waves, for days, and at last had stepped into a quiet harbor, you might be satisfied to stay there and—just fish."

"Good!" said Gwen to herself. "I'm glad he made that answer. What is the matter with Aunt Cam that she is suddenly so inquisitive? It isn't like her. Coffee, please," she said to change the subject. "It must be ready by this time. Four cups? What a fine picnic this is! Aunt Cam and I only take one and drink out of it by turns. This is certainly a very high-toned feast." She rattled on, casting furtive glances once in a while at her aunt and Luther Williams. The former sat, with lips compressed, stirring her coffee; the latter's face wore its most serious look. "Haven't you all had enough?" suddenly exclaimed the girl. "I want Mr. Williams to take me to the top of this hill to see what's on the other side. Mr. Hilary, you can entertain Aunt Cam. She doesn't look as if she were thoroughly enjoying herself. I have devoured all of these good things that I can, but I shall want some candies when we come back, so please don't eat them all. Come, Mr. Williams." She bore him forcibly away, hanging on his arm, and making nonsensical speeches till she had brought back the smile to his face.

At the top of the hill they emerged from the grove of slim birches to come out upon an open field. The sky overhead was dappled with pink, while gold, purple and crimson colored the west. The sunset flecked the waters of the bay with wonderful tints, and, where the tide had receded leaving the flats shining wet, the colors were reflected in burnished streaks. The further islands were misty green, the nearer ones radiant in the glory of the departing light. "How beautiful!" cried Gwen. "I have always thought nothing could exceed the effect of certain sunsets over the cove, but this is beyond words. I don't know," she added after a moment, "but that I give the palm to our island as a steady thing, though I do hope I can come here often."

"This is a rare effect," Mr. Williams told her. "You see we can't always have such a sunset, and it isn't always low tide at just this hour. The combination is for your express benefit. I'll show you something else if you will come here." He took her by the arm and led her a little away to where, through the trees, the glory of a rising moon met their sight sending long silver beams across the water beyond.

"That too!" exclaimed Gwen. "It's almost too much, isn't it?"

"Nature never gives too much," returned her companion. "She is very chary at times, and again, as this evening, she overpowers us with her generosity, but it is only on occasions that she is so lavish. She knows how to withhold as well as how to be prodigal."

Gwen turned with shining eyes. "If I had a father, Mr. Williams," she said, "I'd like him to be just like you."

A spasm of pain passed over the fisherman's face. He took her hand in his and looked down at it where it lay, slender and fine in his big, strong knotty fingers. "If I could choose a daughter," he said slowly, "she would be just like you."

"Thank you," returned Gwen. And they went down the hill together.



It was warm and quiet in Miss Phosie's kitchen. The teakettle, as it simmered on the big stove, sang a gentle tune. On the braided mat, of various hues, slept Cap'n Ben's dog, Tinker. The window ledges held numerous tin cans and glass jars in which slips of geranium and fuchsia were planted. The table, covered with oilcloth, displayed a row of freshly baked cakes. Miss Phosie by the window, work basket at her side, was mending Luther Williams' socks. She wore her afternoon frock, for there was only supper to get, and part of that was already prepared. The frock was of black alpaca, with tight-fitting waist finished at the neck by a little lace collar which was held together by an old-fashioned pin set with a braid of hair. The dark strand was Miss Phenie's, the light her mother's, the one streaked with gray, Cap'n Ben's, the brown one that of her brother, Ora's father, who was lost at sea, the lightest of all was Miss Phosie's own. She gave a gentle sigh as she folded up the last pair of socks. "I shall be glad when the summer is over," she soliloquized, "and we settle back in the old ways. Seems as if there wasn't time for anybody or anything now. I don't wonder he keeps away so much with the house full of strangers, and folks liable to run in here any minute where he's used to laying and being comfortable with a book. To be sure he spends a good deal of time with Miss Elliott and Gwen. That young man Hilary, too, he seems to be friendly with. Well, I don't blame him; they're nice folks, real kind and pleasant, and more his kind. I hope he won't be discontented after they're gone, that's all. He appears sort of moody lately, as if he had something on his mind, or was dissatisfied in some way. I daresn't say a word to him about it, though I should like to know if there is really anything worrying him, or if it's just the boarders and the having things upsot." Her thoughts went back to the chill winter days, when, as she moved quietly about the kitchen, Luther Williams would be on the lounge near the window with a book, striving to catch the last bit of daylight, then when the short afternoon shut down, they would have a quiet chat together about the little daily doings of the household, the news of the neighborhood, or sometimes of more personal things. Miss Phosie always looked forward to that peaceful hour during which the rest of the family gathered in the sitting-room, and she washed the supper dishes and tidied up the kitchen. "It won't be long now," she told herself, "the summer's going. I kind of hate to see the lights all out in the cottages, too, and it does seem more lively to have people coming and going."

She stepped to the door and looked out beyond the blooming array of petunias, roses, and asters to the row of cottages along shore. Then her eye travelled across the pasture to a dip between ridges which showed a well-worn path leading to the house from the pines beyond. Along this way was Luther Williams accustomed to trundle his barrow. He was not coming now, and Miss Phosie turned her gaze from the path to the road. The air was sweet with the scent of new-mown hay, for everyone was cutting grass now, and it lay in long odorous windrows upon the ground by the orchard. Cap'n Ben and Silas Ford were out there working, Cap'n Ben's big booming voice rising above other sounds as he spoke to his fellow laborer.

Miss Phosie was about to close the door when she heard Zerviah Hackett's sharp tones. "Looking for Ora, Phosie? She's down at Almira Green's. I saw her there a few minutes ago helping Manny pass his time agreeably. Was you coming out or going in?"

"I just stepped to the door for a minute," returned Miss Phosie. "My! don't it smell sweet out of doors?"

"Always does in haying season," replied Miss Zerviah.

They entered the house together, and Miss Zerviah seated herself on one of the old kitchen chairs, painted black, with a decoration of flowers now dimly seen because of the rubbing of generations of backs. "In my heaven," remarked Miss Zerviah, "I hope the men will have to wash all the dishes, and either they'll have chairs four inches too high for 'em, so their legs will dangle, or else that the general size of women will be considered."

"Why, Zerviah Hackett," exclaimed Miss Phosie, "that sounds real sacrilegious."

"No 'tain't," returned Zerviah; "not according to some's doctrines, Swedenborgians, for instance."

"You been talking to the Knowles's, I guess."

"I did see Miss Knowles this morning, and had a few words with her. I guess maybe that was what put it into my head. 'Tany rate this world wasn't made for women. Did you ever notice, Phosie, how steps is always made for men on the street cars, and the seats in places where they have shows? I don't see why it would hurt a man to crook up his knees a little higher, or to take a wee mite of a shorter step getting in and out cars. I was up to the city last Monday and I've had sciatica ever since because every nameable chair I sot in bound me across my sciatic nerves. When I mentioned dish-washing I was thinking of Almira Green. There she was this time o' afternoon just getting through her dishes, and that lazy Manny settin' outside on the back porch looking pretty and making Ora laugh."


Miss Phosie flushed up. "Ora hain't accountable for Manny's behavior," she said, "and as long as she's done her work I don't see why she's called upon to do other people's."

"I hain't a-blaming her," returned Miss Zerviah, "not but what she mightn't have taken a hand at the dishes, but seems to me she could encourage Manny to be brisker."

"I guess Manny's drawed his traps," retorted Miss Phosie, "and I don't see that many of the men about here give much time to wiping dishes." Miss Zerviah always so antagonized Miss Phosie that she won from her the only tart speeches she was liable to make. However, Miss Zerviah was used to argument and did not in the least mind it.

"He could fetch water and wood," she insisted, "and he could give a hand here and there, even to dishes, and it wouldn't hurt him. Other men do for their families and hain't called upon to help except to pay the bills. The trouble with Manny is he hain't never taken responsibilities, and it looks to me as if he never would. I dunno how he's going to make out with matrimony I'm sure."

"Who's saying anything about Manny's undertakin' matrimony?" asked Miss Phosie sharply.

"Oh, I can see through a millstone if it has got a hole in it, and when two young things walk and talk together every opportunity they get, it's easy enough to prophesy what'll take place."

"Manny hain't the only admirer Ora has," Miss Phosie argued, nervously settling her sewing materials in her basket. "I'm sure that young man from the Neck wants to keep company with her."

"The one the boys run off the island by hiding his boat? He won't come back. He was showed too plain he wasn't wanted."

"I guess Manny Green ain't the only spoiled child that's got married," returned Miss Phosie, taking another line of argument, "and what's more there's plenty on this island that was spoiled in their youth and turned out good family men after all. I could mention quite a few."

"I'm glad you're so hopeful. Manny's for all the world like his grandpap Pritchard. He was the kind that sot around on a chair and wore his clothes in creases. Howsomever, it's easy for you with your father before you as an example and Mr. Williams, too. You don't have to lug wood and water like Almira does."

"Not when Mr. Williams is around," Miss Phosie said proudly, "and I guess there's enough of us in this house to have an eye to Ora, Zerviah."

"Well, I'm sure I thought you ought to know what's going on," said Miss Zerviah. "That's why I stopped by to tell you that Ora was down at Almira's. I thought maybe you didn't know it."

"Almira's quite fond of Ora." Miss Phosie pursed up her mouth primly. "And I'm sure she's welcome there."

"Oh, very well, if you take it that way." Miss Zerviah rose to go. "I certainly would be glad if anybody was interested enough to keep an eye on a niece of mine. Your father's hay looks pretty good, Phosie. He has quite a crop this year. Hill Evans hain't begun to cut his yet. He's always behind, and like as not just as he gets it cut there'll come up a thunder-storm. Just his luck, he'll say, too. Well I must be going. I see you keep well. How's Phenie?"

"She's nicely, thank you."

"Keep your house full of boarders?"

"We've all we care for."

"They going to stay long?"

"As long as it suits them, and that will suit us."

"You was lucky to have some one come in just as soon as Miss Elliott left. I hear Mr. Williams is greatly taken up there, whether it's the aunt or the niece nobody knows. Maybe he's thinking of marrying again; he's quite well-to-do they say. I've heard his wife ran off and left him and that's why he come away from home."

Miss Phosie winced. She knew this was but a feeler on Zerviah's part, who had always felt aggrieved that she could learn no more of Luther Williams than was given out by Cap'n Ben's family, though she had never before voiced her curiosity quite so plainly. "Mr. Williams has a right to do as he chooses," said Miss Phosie with dignity. "If anyone's been fooling you with that cock-and-bull story you can tell them his wife is dead and has been for many a year."

"Humph!" Miss Zerviah sniffed. "Well, I suppose you ought to know, seeing he's been living under your roof for all these years. It's a wonder to me he didn't set up to one of you Tibbett girls long ago."

Two red spots flamed in Miss Phosie's cheeks, and she pressed her hands together till the knuckles showed the strained clasp. She swallowed hard. No apt retort would come to her lips. She felt Zerviah's inquisitive eye upon her. Presently a fitting response suggested itself to her. "Mr. Williams stands in the place of the brother we lost," she said, holding her head high. "Father always says so, and I'm sure no brother could be more thoughtful than him, and no son neither."

Miss Zerviah's hand was on the latch and she slipped out the door as some one passed the window. "Well, good-bye," she said hastily. She felt that she would rather not meet Luther Williams in Miss Phosie's presence, just then.

He greeted her with a lifting of the cap and a "Good evening, Miss Zerviah," as he entered the kitchen where Miss Phosie stood with the light of triumph in her eye. "Been having a set-to with Zerviah?" he said pleasantly, knowing that the two seldom met without a tilt of words. "What was the cause of the battle this time?"

"She's been spying on Ora," replied Miss Phosie, glad to be able to speak truthfully. "I declare, Mr. Williams, she'd like to run this whole island. I believe she'd try to worm a secret out of a log. Do you think, Mr. Williams, we'd ought to separate Ora from Manny? She might go to her mother's folks for awhile. Manny mayn't exactly be up-and-coming, but he hasn't bad habits. He's awful good company, full of fun, and everybody likes him. It doesn't seem quite right to stand between two that love each other, does it? Supposing she was your daughter what would you do about it?"

Mr. Williams' face twitched as he sat down on the lounge, but he made no answer at once.

"You know," Miss Phosie went on. "You stand in the place of a brother to us, as you always say, and Phenie don't like to discuss this with me. She's never one to worry overmuch, and tells me I mustn't cross my bridges till I come to 'em, but it seems to me we've just about set foot on this one. Do you think I'm too anxious, Mr. Williams? How would you feel if it was your daughter?"

"That's a pretty hard question to answer, Phosie," said Mr. Williams after a silence. "Maybe it might be a good thing to send her away for awhile until you get your bearings. Maybe it would be a good test. She's very young, and such young things aren't always constant. It might be a good thing for Manny, too. You could tell Ora that when Manny can provide a home for her it will be time enough for them to be thinking of matrimony. She may meet some one in Bangor that she'd like better, a richer man, maybe. She's not seventeen yet, is she?"

"She will be in a couple of weeks. I'm thinking, Mr. Williams, that it would be pretty bad if she should happen to take a fancy to a worse man than Manny. You can't never tell how some of these city men'll turn out, and we know all there is to know about Manny. If she should do worse I'd feel that we'd separated two loving hearts and been punished for doing it. It hain't money that brings happiness, you know, Mr. Williams, and she's been brought up among fishermen. She's used to the ways here."

"A fisherman's wife has a hard time sometimes."

"Yes, they work hard, a good many of 'em, but there's worse than working hard, and we're pretty peaceful and contented with our lot here on the island, the most of us. You see I'm trying to look on both sides."

"I see you're trying to be the fair and just person you always are, Phosie. You always put yourself in the place of others, but I don't see that you put many in your place."

"I can't see any difference."

"Well, it's this way. You think to yourself what should I like if I were so-and-so, not what would so-and-so like if she were I."

Miss Phosie shook her head. Such fine distinctions were beyond her. "Well, I'm sure I'm much obliged to you, Mr. Williams, for your advice. I'll speak to father, and I'll talk to Ora, and maybe we can send her away for a visit. She might like the change. I see her coming now, and I guess this is as good a time as any other. Don't you go, Mr. Williams, we'll just slip upstairs where we won't be disturbed." And Miss Phosie went out to bid Ora follow her to the upper room which they shared together. Miss Phenie must have a room to herself, so it was Miss Phosie who had always had Ora for a room-mate.

Luther Williams leaned back in his favorite place. "What should I do if it were my daughter?" he soliloquized. "I'd give her to the man she loved if he were half a decent fellow. Who knows the curse of money better than I? Yet—" His thoughts flew to Gwen who had lately said she would choose her father to be like him. Suppose it were such a girl as Gwen, could he condemn her to poverty, the anxious eating cares that insufficient means would bring? Could he see that untroubled face growing lined and care-worn? those slender hands roughened and hardened by work? that sunny nature saddened or embittered? He shook his head. "It wouldn't do. All of one thing or all of the other isn't right. There must be judicious mixing. I'd sooner see her overboard than wrecking her happiness by marrying for money alone, and I'd sooner see her earning her comfortable little salary for a lifetime than to have her working her fingers to the bone for a careless indifferent husband. There must be judicious mixing and then—"

He sat a long time thinking. So long that Miss Phosie, returning to prepare supper, found him still sitting there. "I've talked with Ora," she said. "And I think she's willing to go, especially as Manny is talking of going off sword-fishing. He's never been but once, but perhaps if he gets fairly started he'll keep on. Almira never encouraged him to go, fearing something would happen to him, but Ora thinks he'll go if he hears she is going away. She's as good as said she'd promised to marry him, and she sees he'd ought to make a start. If he does well, I don't see any harm in encouraging him, do you?"

"If he does well by all means let them be happy," returned Mr. Williams emphatically. "It might be the making of Manny, and it would be a comfort to Mrs. Green to have Ora with her when the boy goes fishing. Yes, yes, Phosie, by all means. Happiness isn't so plentiful that we can afford to stand in the way of its coming to others."

"No, it isn't so plentiful," replied Miss Phosie wistfully. "I—I wish, Mr. Williams, we could do more to bring it to you. It has seemed to me lately that you've not been quite like yourself."

He gave a short laugh. "Don't worry about me, Phosie. Nobody has done as much as you have. Think of the home I have here, and the kindness you have shown me. I'd have to go pretty far to find anyone else so ready to mend and darn for me, to make the kind of preserves I like best, and to cook things as I like them. No, indeed, Phosie, my own sister could not do more to make her old brother happy. 'I was a stranger and you took me in,' without a word, and from that very first day when you saw I enjoyed your gingerbread you've baked it for me regularly." He laughed pleasantly and a faint pink suffused Miss Phosie's pale cheek.

"You've been like a brother to us, Mr. Williams. I shall never forget what you were to father and to all of us when the news came about Franklin, and how you comforted poor fatherless little Ora."

The entrance of Miss Phenie and Ora put an end to the confidential talk. Ora was quiet beyond the ordinary, and once or twice Miss Phosie thought she saw a suggestion of tears in the girl's eyes. "I hope, oh I do hope we are doing right," she said to herself, and she was even gentler to her niece than was her wont.

Miss Phenie in her best blue-and-white sateen, trimmed with lace, stepped about with the air of one unaccustomed to the performance of menial duties. She retired to the garden after cutting the cake and setting out the preserves. "I'll get some fresh flowers for the table," she said, as she sailed out. The ornamental was always her preference.

After supper Ora stole forth into the odorous night. The moon had not yet risen, though the sea reflected an expectant brightness and the afterglow still reddened the west. A light shone from the little hall where the summer people gathered for various entertainments. Some one was singing there, a song whose refrain was all of love. Ora crept up to an open window and listened for a moment, then moved softly away and was soon lost in the shadows of the mighty rocks which marked the trysting place of herself and her young lover.

Meanwhile Luther Williams was taking his evening smoke as he sauntered up the cove road toward the further point. Half way he met Kenneth Hilary. "Going the other way to-night?" he said to the young man.

"Yes, for this has been a good day for me. I wish I could stop to tell you. I will another time. Now I am bound for Wits' End. Miss Gwen is giving a chafing-dish party to-night."

"And you are in a hurry, of course."

Kenneth turned back and said a little shamefacedly, "No-o,—that is—well, you know Wits' End is a mighty good place for a fellow to be. I sold a picture to-day."

"Good! and you want to tell your news before it gets stale. I see."

"She is so sweet and sympathetic, you know."

Luther Williams smiled. "She? Who? Of course you must mean Miss Elliott."

Kenneth laughed in an embarrassed way. "Oh, I say," he began, then went on more seriously. "I do feel encouraged and I suppose that makes me hopeful. Mr. Williams, you and I have had some good talks, and I am under no end of obligation to you for the things you have said and the interest you have shown in me. Perhaps I am precipitate. Perhaps I am not prudent, but you see things do look brighter, and I may succeed sooner than I hoped. Besides, there is the other fellow—though I suppose I am a conceited ass to dream that she might prefer me—would you—do you think—you and she are such friends—I say—if you had a daughter what would you think if an impecunious fellow like me told her he loved her?"

"If I had a daughter," said Mr. Williams reflectively. "That is the second time to-day that I have been asked to consider such a state of affairs. I'll have to give the subject serious thought, I find, if I am going to be appealed to twice daily. Suppose we leave the question for the present, Mr. Hilary, and I'll consider it. Meanwhile I am keeping you from your party, so I'll say good-night with the advice, go slow." He spoke with mocking lightness, and Kenneth, feeling rather rebuffed, went on his way.



To Kenneth's disappointment he found that Cephas Mitchell had already arrived when he made his appearance at Wits' End. It was evident that having once lost an opportunity by being late, he did not intend to suffer such a thing to occur again. Miss Fuller was also on hand, and the three sitting before the fire were having a merry time over the sharpening of long sticks to be used later in toasting marshmallows.

"We did have such a jolly time this afternoon," said Ethel as Kenneth came in. "We must tell you about our search for a washerwoman."

Kenneth took the place she made for him. "Tell me about it," he said.

"We traipsed the island over," Ethel began, "and finally we discovered, away down at the other end, the woman we were looking for. She lives in a tiny bright pink house near the water's edge, and is as clean as a new pin. Her name is Minnie Hooper, and she has a houseful of children who bear the most astonishing names. One is Cleony Arminelly, another Althea Cleopatra. She is fond of the Cleos you see, and the youngest rejoices in the cognomen of Laury Violy. We didn't discover the names of any of the boys, but one; he is Grenville Leroy. Laury Violy appears to be a delicate young person, for her mother told us, in a voice like a calliope, that when the wind gets around to the east'ard Laury Violy 'hoarses up.' She also told us that she had lately moved from a house still nearer the water. She had stood it as long as she could, but when the water came in over the kitchen floor, she 'skun out.' She promised to come for the wash to-morrow if Laury Violy didn't hoarse up, so I'm anxiously watching the weather. You didn't notice when you came in whether the wind had changed."

"It seems still from the southwest quarter," Kenneth told her.

"I hope you have brought a good appetite with you," said Gwen looking up from her array of sticks. "We are to have lobster Newburg, for Mr. Mitchell has produced a bottle of wine from some mysterious hoard. I hope you like lobster a la Newburg, Mr. Hilary?"

"I certainly do, and I promise to do full justice to it."

"Mr. Mitchell is an expert in cooking up chafing-dish things we find, so I am relieved from all responsibility, and if it isn't good you can blame him, not me," Gwen went on.

"I'm willing to accept all the burden of responsibility, for I never failed yet," remarked Mr. Mitchell complacently.

"In anything?" inquired Gwen.

"In few things," he returned. "If I want a thing badly enough I can generally find a way to get it."

"Lucky man!" cried Ethel. "I wish I could say the same. Now I am dying to row over to Jagged Island, but I have not yet found the man brave enough to take me."

Mr. Mitchell looked as if he did not know whether this were a temptation or an opportunity. "I should be delighted to take you in the motor boat," he said.

"That is too tame a proceeding," replied Ethel. "I have been in that way, if you remember. I am craving some excitement, a perilous adventure of some kind, something to make my pulses beat, and my hair stand on end."

"If it promises to be as fearsome as that," put in Gwen, "I advise you to forego it."

Just here a group of young people came upon the porch. Setting their lanterns outside they came in with a rush, bringing a breath of outside air. "We had such a time getting here," said Nellie Hardy. "Dolly is afraid of everything and suggested snakes at every step. We nearly fell into a great hole full of water, and we stumbled over hummocks. Our lantern went out, and if this rescuing party hadn't appeared we should still be groping around in the dark." She nodded to the others who had come with herself and sister.

"Nell is afraid of things herself," declared Dolly. "At least she is scared to death of cows. I wish you could have seen her yesterday standing on a pile of rocks waving her parasol at Cap'n Ben's cow and shouting: 'Go 'way, sir.'"

"I was a little scared, I admit," said Nell, after the laugh had subsided. "I can't bear creatures with horns, and the cow wouldn't budge."

"Of course not when she had found a nice tuft of clover," said Dolly. "I'm not scared in broad daylight, but in the dark one never knows what unknown terror is lurking."

"Would you be afraid to row over to Jagged Island?" asked Ethel.

"By myself? I simply couldn't, I'd give out before I was half way there."

"I mean with a man, of course."

"Depends upon the man," returned Dolly. "What are we going to do besides eat, Gwen?"

"We're going to write telegrams and play nice foolish childish games, and we shall wind up with ghost stories."

"I love to play I'm a silly little child," lisped Flossie Fay rumpling up her mass of fair hair, and casting a look of appealing innocence at Cephas Mitchell. "May I sit here, Mr. Mitchell, and pretend to be a foolish little girl?"

"Does she have to pretend?" whispered Ethel to Gwen. Gwen made a little grimace and began to arrange some slips of paper she held in her hand. These she distributed. "Why didn't your sister come?" she asked as she stopped before Kenneth.

"Some friends arrived unexpectedly. I left them begging my sister to return with them to Blue Hill."

"Will she go?"

"I don't know. I think she showed signs of weakening when I came away. I appeared to be the stumbling block, though I assured her I could do perfectly well by myself, and could take my meals at the Grange."

Gwen passed on with her slips, and soon everyone was laughing over the absurdities which were written as telegrams.

One game followed another, but not once did Kenneth find himself by Gwen's side, nor had he a chance to tell her of his piece of good luck. Indeed it was Rob Denmead who made it known during the process of toasting marshmallows. "That is a stunning picture of yours, Hilary," he said. "That one you sold to Dr. Andrews."

Gwen turned eagerly. "Which was it?" she asked.

"One that shows a single big toss-up wave," Rob told her. "The doctor is pleased as Punch to own it."

"I love that one, too," said Gwen. "The doctor shows good taste. I quite envy him his possession." She looked pleased and excited. The fire had brought a brighter color to her cheeks, and exercise had loosened the curling tendrils of dark hair about her face. Kenneth's eye followed the graceful lines of the slender throat, the picturesque pose of the supple body. He thought he would like to paint her just as she looked then, the firelight falling on her face and white frock. "I don't suppose she is what the world at large would call a raving beauty," he said to himself, "for her charm is too subtle. In my opinion she is the most artistic girl I ever saw, and that expression is simply divine."

Cephas, too, thought she looked prettier than usual. "But, confound it, she needn't look so pleased," he thought. He was sitting next her in the circle gathered around the big fireplace. "Perhaps Mr. Hilary wouldn't mind duplicating the picture," he said aloud. "Would you object to making a copy for me?" he asked.

Kenneth frowned. "I don't duplicate," he said shortly.

"Then a similar one," said Mr. Mitchell, not to be thwarted.

"Inspirations don't usually come in battalions like troubles," said Kenneth. "I can't promise what I may do. The beast!" he added to himself. "At such a time and in such a place to try to drive a deal. Suppose we don't talk shop now," he said aloud. "Will you have this marshmallow, Miss Gwen? It represents my best effort so far."

Gwen examined it critically. "It is a little burnt," she decided. "You are too impatient. You should have a cool head, a steady hand, an alert eye and unlimited patience if you want to toast a marshmallow properly."

"Take this," urged Mr. Mitchell. "It is an even brown all over, you perceive." And Gwen accepted the proffered sweet.

"If I keep on I shall never want to see another marshmallow as long as I live," cried Ethel jumping up. "After indulging in lobster Newburg, and then in unlimited marshmallows, I shall be in no state to go to Jagged Island to-morrow, I am afraid, if I continue."

"Oh, are you really going?" asked Gwen.

Ethel sent a telling glance Mr. Mitchell's way. "Yes, if the weather is good. You know Mr. Mitchell never fails in anything he undertakes, so it will be perfectly safe to go with him."

"Just you two?"

"Just us two."

Gwen gave her a furtive little pinch. "Wretch!" she whispered. "Ignoble, disloyal wretch!"

"All's fair—you know the rest," returned Ethel with a mischievous laugh. Then some one proposed they begin the ghost stories. So the lights were put out, and only the glowing embers of the fire served to prevent utter darkness while the last hour was given to as blood-curdling tales as could be invented or remembered. Kenneth's was so uncanny that Dolly Hardy declared she could not listen to another one. "It is getting late anyhow," she said, "and I'd be scared of witches and hobgoblins and horrible headless monstrosities if we dared be out at midnight." So the girls gathered together their wraps while the men lighted their lanterns.

As the other girls were provided with escorts it fell to the lot of either Cephas or Kenneth to take Miss Fuller home, but she was quick to follow up her opportunity. "You go in my direction, Mr. Mitchell," she said. "May I walk in the light of your lantern as far as you are going? I've no doubt some of the others will see me home the rest of the way."

"Of course he'll have to see her home all the way," Gwen told herself as she saw them walk off. "That sly Ethel to carry off my rightful belonging, right under my very nose." She watched the bobbing lanterns casting their starry beams across the pasture, and then went indoors to find that Kenneth still lingered. "Why didn't you tell me you had sold a picture?" she asked.

"I hadn't a chance," he returned gloomily, "and besides," he added, "I didn't suppose it would interest you very much. It is much more to the point when a man is able to buy pictures."

"Do you think so?" said Gwen coldly. "I notice you didn't want to give a certain one the opportunity of buying yours. That was very unbusinesslike. You should have told him to come and see your pictures, and have made him take a dozen."

"I don't want his vile money," returned Kenneth fiercely.

"Why isn't it as good as anyone's? I am sure it was made fairly enough."

"You know he wanted to buy it for you."

"I don't know anything of the kind, and if he did, you were certainly very unkind to deprive me of such a gift."

"Would you care to have one? I'll do a dozen for you, if you like." The offer was made eagerly.

"Oh, bless me, I couldn't afford to pay the price of one."

"You could pay the only price I care for."

Gwen trembled. She was not ready for declarations. At this moment she resented Ethel's high hand in carrying off Cephas Mitchell, who just now appeared more desirable than ever before. There was dead silence for a moment and then the girl turning away, said: "You ought to sacrifice your feelings in every direction for the sake of your success. You shouldn't let anything stand in the way of it. Hard cash is the only price you should want, and it is the only one I could consider. I don't believe in allowing sentimental considerations to take the place of material benefits. If you are going to offer pictures to your friends in this wholesale way, I'm afraid you'll have a poor time of it."

Kenneth turned pale and shivered, even though he was standing by the fire. "Good-night," he said, "I am wrong to be keeping you up so late."

"Good-night," returned Gwen holding out a passive hand, which was ignored by the man pretending to be busy over lighting his lantern.

She let him go without another word and did not watch the lantern star disappearing over the hill. "I shall express my opinion to Ethel Fuller," she said as she waited for the last log to fall asunder. "I'll not have anyone poaching on my preserves. Even that silly little Flossie Fay was making eyes at him. There isn't a girl among them but would give her eyes to be Mrs. Mitchell, and why should I be more fastidious than they?" Yet she dreamed that night, not of Cephas Mitchell, but of a single great wave that tossed high, enveloping Kenneth and herself in its lucent green waters. She felt herself sinking, sinking, but awoke with the start which follows the sensation of falling, and sighed as she turned on her pillow.

Meantime Kenneth, walking through the dim perfumed night watching a gibbous moon dip behind the cove, cried out against fate. "Go slow," had been Luther Williams' warning, and he had not heeded it. Now he knew—he knew that the joy had gone out of the world for him because a girl had chosen ease and luxury rather than the battle with poverty. At first he was fierce in his hate of the man who could offer her so much, and he thought only bitterly of her for caring for those things which money could buy, but by degrees his mood changed, under the quiet stars in their limitless spaces. What did it matter after all? Life was not long, and there would be a certain reward for him. He remembered Luther Williams' words: "Life is worth living when you have made the sacrifice of doing what is best for everybody." He recalled his mother, vain, selfish, eager to receive, slow to give, hysterically tearful over her own supposed privations, thinking herself a martyr because she could not live as sumptuously as her indolent pleasure-loving nature craved. He thought of his sister and her two children. "I could do more for them, I suppose," he said. "I doubt if mother would be much happier, for with each fresh supply there would be a new demand, and if it were not met that would be another ground for grievance. It is like pouring water into a sieve, and the worst of it is that she becomes so accustomed to my sacrifices that they mean nothing to her. Poor mother!" But his mind was made up. He would not look for appreciation, and the summer over he would accept the position offered him in a broker's office by an old friend of his father's, and on holidays he would follow his painting as a recreation.

For the next few days he kept himself aloof from Wits' End and the group of young people who frequented the cottage. When he met any of them he pleaded hard work as an excuse. Meantime Gwen missed him, though she would not confess this even to herself. She knew that Mrs. Fleming and the children had gone to Blue Hill for a visit, and her conscience pricked her as she thought of Kenneth in his loneliness, but as she perceived Ethel Fuller to be in dead earnest in her effort to attract Cephas Mitchell she resolutely set Kenneth and his affairs out of her mind. The weather had not been favorable for the row to Jagged Island, but that it was surely to take place Ethel daily reminded both Gwen and Mr. Mitchell. There were other things on foot, however, and each girl vied with the other in making herself as charming as possible. Ethel did not hesitate to propose all sorts of expeditions which Gwen's pride made her reject with scorn, but she accepted such suggestions as Mr. Mitchell himself made, and he began to divide his time so equally between the two that it became known as a matter of course that if he were not walking or rowing or sailing with Gwen, he was with Ethel.

"You are a faithless monster!" Gwen declared to Miss Fuller one day when the two met on the rocks.

Ethel laughed. "'Wha' fo', son Riley-Rabbit-Riley? Wha' fo'?'" she asked.

"Who steals my purse steals trash—
But she who filches from me my good man
Robs me of that which while enriching her
Will make me poor indeed,"

paraphrased Gwen. "Have I not been looking for a millionaire all my life, and now that I have found him, do you suppose that I am going to allow the first girl who comes along, to swoop down and bear him off in her talons? A girl who doesn't need him either?"

"I never saw a girl yet who didn't need a millionaire," replied Ethel saucily, "but all the same they don't agree with every girl. I am thinking of your development, my dear. As a true friend I am fearing the effect of riches upon your beautiful character."

"Bosh!" cried Gwen. "You are thinking of Ethel Fuller; that's the person you're thinking of. I don't receive the consideration you would give a fly. And how about your character, pray? Do you keep your hands from picking and stealing, and isn't it as bad to rob me of Cephas as of anything else?"

"I don't do it with my hands," returned Ethel in mock protest.

"No, you do it with your eyes, and your delutherin' tongue, but it's just as bad. You are a thief and a robber, and you're no friend of mine."

"Are you really in earnest, Gwen?" said Ethel altering her light tone.

"Of course I am."

"If I thought you were truly interested, but I know you are not."

"What makes you say that? How do you know I'm not?"

"I know by the expression that came into your face when Kenneth Hilary entered the room the other night, and by the same look which was evident when you heard he had sold a picture."

Gwen flushed uncomfortably. "That is all your imagination," she said after a moment's silence. "It is perfect nonsense. He is nothing whatever to me, nor am I anything to him. I should think by this time you would have found that out."

"Have you quarrelled? Of course I have noticed that you see nothing of him lately."

"No, we haven't exactly quarrelled, but he is as poor as a church mouse and has no business to be thinking of anything but his career. If he marries at all, it should be a rich girl; otherwise he will have his nose to the grindstone for the rest of his days and his future will be ruined."

"Have you told him so?" asked Ethel slyly.

"No, but he knows it, or ought to, and of course his art is the thing of first importance to him, so he is working very hard just now."

"Humph!" ejaculated Ethel. "Then tell me honestly and truly, would you marry Cephas Mitchell if he asked you? Honest Injun. It's only fair to me to tell the truth."

Gwen was thoughtful for a moment. "I don't know," she answered finally.

"That doesn't do me any good," said Ethel. "It strikes me that it is a perfectly fair race, but if you don't think so, and really in your heart of hearts feel a consuming desire to be Mrs. Cephas, I'll pull out and try to fall in love with Kenneth. He is a dear, and perhaps there would be enough for the two of us if we were not wildly extravagant."

"You're perfectly horrid!" cried Gwen.

"Dog in a manger yourself," replied Ethel laughing. "Now let us be sensible. I give you twenty-four hours in which to think it over, and in the meantime I promise to be a recluse. I shall walk, talk, row, dance, and sail with none but the girls in all that time. There shall be a cessation of hostilities until to-morrow, and then you must let me know which of the two worthies you are willing to allow me as my lawful prey. You can't take both, and it is perfectly fair that I should have one. I prefer Cephas, but I'll take Kenneth if you discover that you cannot be happy unless you have the steel man for your very own."

"We are taking a good deal for granted," returned Gwen, "when we talk about taking either of them. The taking usually is upon the part of the masculines."

"We must be prepared," returned Ethel with a show of gravity.

Gwen laughed in spite of herself. "Very well," she said, "as it has come to a question of terms I suppose I'll have to give in, and make this a subject of serious consideration, a sort of searching the heart, as they used to say."

"I consider myself very magnanimous," returned Ethel, "to give up twenty-four good hours when every moment is precious. Of course you will do the same, and for the specified time your guns will all be silenced, too."

"Agreed," Gwen responded. "Though doesn't it strike you, Ethel, that this is rather a cold-blooded transaction?"

"Not a bit of it. Only in high-flown novels do you hear of girls with such saintly reserve that they allow no one to discuss their love affairs with them. I never saw a girl yet who wasn't perfectly willing to go over all the pros and cons with her intimate friends."

"Not when she is really in love."

"That depends, perhaps. It may be before she takes the final plunge that she is ready to talk matters over as you and I have done this morning. Now I don't want any more final plunges till I know it is worth while. I have no idea of losing my sleep without just cause."

"You are cold-blooded, Ethel."

"No, I am not. I am simply philosophical. Adieu, my dear, until to-morrow, and remember, no shilly-shallying then, or I shall be perfectly merciless if I get the chance."



True to her word, Gwen did not appear in public that evening. She was not seen in her usual place on the rocks, nor did she go to the post-office for the mail, and Cephas Mitchell, passing by Wits' End at a late hour, failed to perceive her on the porch. Miss Elliott was there with Miss Maria Skinner. She could not tell where her niece was. She might have gone to Sheldon woods or perhaps she was with Miss Fuller.

"She is not with Miss Fuller," Miss Maria gave the information, "for I saw Miss Fuller go off rowing with the Misses Hardy."

"Then I'll try Sheldon woods," said Mr. Mitchell as he went off. He pursued his way along shore to Little Harbor, mounting the hill which must be climbed before the road on the other side could be reached, and at last he came to Sheldon woods, but though he searched all of Gwen's favorite haunts she was nowhere to be seen. If, as he stood on the big bluff above Pirate's Cove, he had looked toward Jacques' Island, he would have seen there a boat moored, and if he had followed further on he would have discovered two figures sitting in earnest conversation. One he would have distinguished as Luther Williams, the other as Gwen.

The girl had left Wits' End immediately after dinner, had taken the lower way along the rocks to where Luther Williams always came in from his fish pound. There she had waited for him, going a short distance through the rose walk that she might be hidden from view by the thick undergrowth clumped around the great boulders. As Luther approached the spot where she sat she appeared, and he waved a friendly hand. "I was watching for you," she said coming forward. "As usual I want you to do something for me. Shall you be very busy this afternoon?"

"Not more than usual, and never too busy to do what you would like to have me."

"You are the most satisfactory man," Gwen smiled up at him. "What I want is this: I want you to take me over to Jacques' Island and set me down there, then when you have been to your pound I want you to come for me, will you?"

"Certainly. That is an easy task."

"Can you stay and talk to me a little when you come for me? I have a problem to solve."

"As long as you like me to stay I can do it."

"You are so nice; you don't ask unnecessary questions. Are we ready to go?"

"Yes, if Ned has come."

Ned was standing by the dory, and smiled a welcome to the girl. In a moment they were off, the strong arms of the two men giving long pulls to the oars which sent the boat swiftly through the water. The small island was soon reached. It looked a barren spot from off shore. A single tree, sole survivor of a less hardy company, seemed of great importance as it reared itself above the undergrowth of bay and blueberry bushes. There was no building of any kind on the little island, and as Gwen was set ashore she laughed. "I feel like Robinson Crusoe, but please, good man Friday, don't forget me and leave me here to starve."

"No danger," Mr. Williams assured her. "I'll be back before you have time to do much exploring."

Gwen watched the two men row off, and then set out to see what she could discover. "Blueberries!" she exclaimed after a little while. "If I had something to put them in I could pick a lot. Ah, I know, the hood of my golf-cape. How lucky that I brought it." She unbuttoned the long pointed hood, pinned it together and hung it on her arm before she set to work among the blueberry bushes. She was so absorbed in her occupation that she did not notice the return of the boat, and was surprised when Mr. Williams hailed her with: "Where are you, Miss Whitridge? Ahoy there!"

She made her way to him as rapidly as the scrubby growth of low-growing plants and vines would allow. "See what I've been gathering?" she cried. "Blueberries, ever so many of them. If we only had some bread and a lobster we could have supper here, though, oh dear me, you will need more than that, for you have a hearty meal at five."

"Don't you bother about me," said her companion. "Miss Phosie will save me a bite, but if you really would like to picnic here, there's no reason why we shouldn't. I've two or three mackerel saved out for you in the boat, and it won't take any time for me to row across and go to the Grange for some bread, I know they will let me have it."

"That would be perfect," declared Gwen, "but Aunt Cam doesn't know where I am, and I am afraid she will be worried."

"We can get back before your supper hour. It is not before seven, is it?"

"No, and later than that sometimes."

"Then we'll have two or three hours here. I'll go back for the bread while you go on picking berries."

He was off again directly and was not long in returning with a supply of biscuits and cake, a little packet of salt, and a bottle of water from the well. Gwen was watching for him this time, and was ready with a welcome. "Good man Friday, you are a fine provider. It will be such a real camping out. Are you very hungry?"

"Are you?"

"No, for I have been eating blueberries. Have some?" She held out the hood to him.

He took a handful and ate them silently. "What about that problem?" he said when he had finished. "It's a little early for supper I think."

"That's just what I think. Mr. Williams, do you believe it to be very, very wrong to marry for money?" She blurted out her question without preliminary. "I mean," she went on, "if the man has no vices, and hasn't a disagreeable temper or anything like that. Don't you believe that in the long run a girl would be just as well content as if she had married a man without a penny? It would be awfully hard to endure grinding poverty. I shouldn't mind being moderately poor, and going without some things, but a hand to mouth existence always—oh dear me, no."

"That's your problem."

"Yes, that is it. I can't very well talk to Aunt Cam about it, for she is sure to be sentimental and quote things about the uses of sacrifice in developing character, and about dinners of herbs and stalled oxen and things. She couldn't understand how I should loathe to wash my own dishes three hundred and sixty-five times—no, three times three hundred and sixty-five times a year, and cook my own meals as often, besides never having any money for operas and theatres and clothes. I think it is pitiful to see a girl, who has been bright and pretty, looking faded and worn in her threadbare wedding finery which she has turned upside down and wrong side out after she has been married ten years. Do tell me what you think about it. As an entirely unprejudiced person, who can look at the matter and get a proper perspective. What is your honest opinion?"

"I think," said Mr. Williams, after a pause, "you should ask yourself: How would it be if the man were to lose his money, or were to become a hopeless invalid."

"Gracious!" exclaimed Gwen. "That never occurred to me. I am afraid I have been thinking only of making the best of life with the compensation of having all the pretty things I wanted, and of going to Europe, and having a good time generally. I could even talk about steel rails sometimes, under those circumstances. But with no money! Oh dear." She saw before her a picture of Cephas Mitchell in shabby clothes, earning perhaps a meagre salary sufficient to keep up only a small flat in a crowded city. She saw herself struggling to make both ends meet, turning, contriving, mending while he talked common-places. Or perhaps she might be tied to a peevish invalid who would exact attention to his every whim, and to whom she must devote her days till death did part. She sat for some time, chin in hand, her eyes fixed on the waves breaking over Charity Ledge. At last she drew a long breath. "I couldn't, I simply couldn't," she said. "I should be perfectly miserable. I am pretty sure he is not the man to stay down if he does get a tumble, still one never knows, and as for health, that is even more uncertain."

"And it is too serious a matter to take risks in? Yes, I think it is. I knew a girl once who married a man for his money. He promised to be a success in the world. She wasn't in love with him, but she knew the marriage would please her family, so she married him. They were happy for a year or two." He paused.

"And then?"

"The man lost his money,—every cent."

"Then what happened?"

"She showed plainly that she had never cared for him, and so, you see, there were two persons made wretched, and the last condition of that man was worse than the first. He might have recovered from his fancy if he had not married her. She would have been free to marry the man she really did love, though her family objected because he was poor. So it was a pitiful disappointment all around. The circle widened and eventually included more than the two at first concerned. Don't make any such experiment, my dear child."

Gwen gave a long sigh. "My first millionaire, and to think I must deliberately let him go. Lots of girls do marry men they aren't madly in love with, and they seem to get along perfectly well."

"If there were no one else there would be less risk."

Gwen made no immediate reply. "Of course," she said after a moment, and lifting her head high. "Why should there be anyone else? There couldn't possibly be. That would be utterly absurd." She began to prod holes in the earth with a stick.

"Then why worry over it? Let things take their course."

"Oh, but I have to decide. I promised I would."

"The millionaire?"

"No. A—a girl."

Mr. Williams smiled. It was so very youthful to make such a compact. "Is it a question then of staying out of the race?"

"I suppose so."

"I don't see why one of you hasn't as good right as the other, and, after all, it will be the man who decides."

"Certainly. I said that. But you don't know the girl. She can always manage to make a man fall in love with her if she chooses. She is made that way and I am not. I don't mean that men never do like me, but all men like her, and if they don't in the beginning she makes them. She'll make this one, although she is sufficiently loyal to me not to really try to attract him, if I say I am deeply interested in him."

"I think," said Mr. Williams, "if you really want my honest opinion, that it would be much the best to go on as you have been doing, and let the future decide. There must be exceptions to all rules, and all men do not fall in love with Miss Fuller."

"Oh, how did you know?"

"I have eyes, little girl. Moreover, I know as a fact that one man has not fallen in love with your friend."

"You say that because you like me and want to increase my self-esteem. Who is the man? Ned Symington?"

"No." Mr. Williams looked grave. "Ned is a nice lad, but he is not thinking of falling in love with a—Highlander."

"Oh dear! I am sorry. I oughtn't to have said that. I never think of you as one of these dear fisher folk, and I forget to be sufficiently considerate sometimes. I wonder who has been making a confidant of you. I suppose you will not tell."


"Then I must simply take your word for it, and believe that some one worships from afar. It is rather a flattering and agreeable thought."

"There doesn't seem much hope for him," Luther Williams went on, "so long as you disclaim there being anyone else."

"I said it would be utterly absurd. Dear Mr. Williams, if you will keep my secret as if it were your own, I'll tell you that if it were not so ridiculously absurd to give the thing a second thought, there might be some one else."

"Why absurd?"

"He hasn't two pennies to rub together, and, oh dear, the dish washing ten hundred and ninety-five times a year. It is almost as bad to contemplate as the sitting opposite onion eyes and long necks an equal number of times."

"But if there were pennies, a moderate number, but still enough to pay for the dish-washing, what then?"

"That would be an entirely different thing." Gwen spoke with satisfaction. "I shouldn't mind getting a new winter suit only once in two years, and I shouldn't mind a little apartment, one of those nice studio flats—" She broke off suddenly and the tears sprang to her eyes. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "Oh! Please, please, Mr. Williams—oh, what have I said? You'll know!"

He patted her hand gently. "There, there, little girl," he said, "never mind. It doesn't matter about my knowing. Do you suppose I'd ever betray you? But since I am now convinced of something I have only suspected, I'll be more urgent in begging you not to think for one moment of marrying a man you do not love. Don't do it, Miss Whitridge."

"Then I'll not marry at all," said Gwen, caressing the man's rough sleeve. "Aunt Cam and I can go on as we have been doing. We are very comfortable in our little suite of rooms. But, please, Mr. Williams, don't call me Miss Whitridge. Call me by my first name as you do the girls on the island. Call me Gwen."

"And what will you call me?"

"Everyone calls you Mr. Williams."

"But you are not everyone."

"No, I like to be a special kind of friend. I would call you Uncle Luther, but I don't like that, for once there was an old colored man who used to work for us and I called him that. I know,—if you don't mind it, I'll call you Daddy Lu."


The smile which irradiated the man's face was brighter than anyone on Fielding's Island had ever seen. "Will you call me that?" he exclaimed. "Will you?"

"Yes, if you don't think it sounds disrespectful. I won't do it when anyone is by, only when we are having nice cosy talks like this. I can't tell you how much good you have done me. It seems much clearer to me now. I'll tell Ethel, and if she bears off the golden prize, well and good, though in the meantime I shall take the gifts the gods send, and have as good a time as I can. Now let's have supper, and will you cook the fish? You can do it so much better than I can, Daddy Lu."

For answer he went to the boat and brought back two small mackerel, well cleaned, then he made a fire, fastened the fish to a board and set them up to cook.

"It is a real Robinson Crusoe feast," declared Gwen, "for we have neither forks nor spoons. I shouldn't care to be so primitive in everyone's company, but I don't mind a bit with you. How good that fish looks. Is it ready? That's fine. We might make chop sticks out of twigs; Aunt Cam showed me how to use them, but I reckon fingers were made even before chop sticks." She was very gay and bright as she laughed and talked over the meal. Somehow she felt as if a great weight of responsibility had been lifted from her.

"No dishes to wash this time," said Mr. Williams as the last morsel disappeared.

"Not one; that is a great consideration. Perhaps, after all, one might get along in some such way as this. I'll tell you what I shall do: when I get utterly tired out from kindergartnering, I'll come up here and stay the year 'round, then we can go off and have feasts like this very, very often."

"That is quite a pleasant prospect. I quite approve of it, though it ought to be a long way off, for you must not waste your youth by giving up the things that only the outside world can furnish."

"The outside world doesn't furnish me with such a vast amount. Oh, I am not unhappy nor discontented, I am really a very fortunate girl, only there are times when a long vista of kindergarten teaching becomes rather oppressive, and if Aunt Cam should take it into her head to go back to China, I'd have to go with her or be left high and dry here unless—I did marry. I wonder if I ought to have more faith, Daddy Lu."

"In persons or things?"

"In a person. Ought I to think that genius will burn fiercely enough to keep up a furnace as well as a kitchen fire? You know the old nursery rhyme that says:

"'Will the love that you're so rich in,
Build a fire in the kitchen,
And the little god of Love turn the spit, spit, spit?'"

"I suppose there should be a fire for the pot-boilers as well as for the dishes."

"Oh dear, I suppose so."

"I think, Miss Whitridge—"

"Gwen, you mean."

"I think, Gwen, that you are quite young enough to wait and see."

"Twenty-one seems awfully old."

"When you are my age it will seem remarkably young."

"Perhaps. However, there doesn't seem to be anything else to do but wait. We'd better go back now, don't you think? It has been the loveliest afternoon, and I thank you so much for all you have said and done for a girl who has absolutely no claim on you."

"No claim? Hasn't friendship a claim?"

"To be sure, and you are the best friend I have on this island, and in the world, except Aunt Cam. I am beginning to count the days now, for the summer is going so fast, only there is always next year to look forward to."

They rowed around the outer side of the island, past Thunder Hole and Simms' Point. As they entered Sea Cove, Gwen caught sight of her aunt on the porch of Wits' End and waved to her. "So that's where the child has been," said Miss Elliott. "Well, she's perfectly safe with Luther Williams."

Gwen parted from her friend at the point where she was set ashore. She carried her hoodful of blueberries and a couple of mackerel as she came up to her aunt. "Spoils," she cried, "spoils!"

"I never knew you to go anywhere with Luther Williams that you didn't bring home spoils," said Miss Elliott. "Where were you this time?"

"Over to Jacques' Island. We had a picnic supper there, and it was fine for it was quite impromptu. He is just the dearest man that ever lived, Aunt Cam. I wish we could take him back to town with us where we could see him often. We made a new compact to-day. He is to call me Gwen, and I call him Daddy Lu."

"Daddy Lu! Daddy Lu!" Miss Elliott gave the girl a startled look. "How strange! Do you remember that is what you used to call your father?"

"I never saw my father."

"No, but there was a photograph of him which your grandmother had. I remember that you used to call it 'Daddy,' and one day when your grandmother was showing it to me she said, 'That is the best picture we have of poor Lewis,' and ever after that you spoke of the picture as Daddy Lew. You were about three years old then."

"I had forgotten," replied Gwen, "though perhaps that is the reason the name came to me so readily. It was my subconsciousness that suggested it."

"Very likely."

"At all events he seemed pleased and was so dear. We had such a nice talk, Aunt Cam. I had the blues frightfully, and now I feel as if a fresh west wind had blown away all the fog."

"There are fog banks along the horizon now," returned Miss Elliott. "I think we shall soon see it coming in."



Miss Elliott was right. The next morning a soft gray mist enveloped the island, pearling each separate blade of grass and gemming each twig and leaf with tiny brilliants. The cottages appeared great confused shapes shrouded in gray. Voices coming from a distance had a queer smothered quality. The sea was shut out by a curtain of fog. "A veil before our ways," quoted Gwen, as, cloaked and booted, she stood ready to issue forth. On her way to Almira Green's she met Cap'n Ben in his sou'wester.

"Pretty thick fawg!" he remarked as the girl came up. "I couldn't quite make out whether you was coming or going, or whether you was male or female. I was hopesing for a handsome day to take Ora up to Portland."

"Has she gone?"

"Hm, hm," Cap'n Ben nodded. "Couldn't hold her back once she got the notion in her head. Went on the first boat, though when she'll get there's another thing. It'll be everlasting slow travel. Guess you'll find most folks to hum to-day. Boat she blowed and blowed this morning before she could make her wharf. Going up along? Drop in when you're passing." He gave his characteristic jerky nod, and passed on while Gwen pursued the way "up along" which brought her to Almira Green's house, a white cottage, set in amidst trees, with a little garden in front. Now the bright hues of zinnias, nasturtiums and sweet peas were clouded by fog, and the rigid lines of the house itself melted into the background of slim birches and poplars.

In answer to Gwen's knock, Almira herself came to the door, an angular woman with melancholy eyes. "Well, the land's sakes!" she exclaimed. "You don't mind fawg, do you? I cal'lated 'twas Zerviah Hackett. Nawthin' keeps her to hum. Step right in. You must be wet through. We haven't had such a thick fawg this summer. Give me your cloak and I'll dry it by the kitchen fire."

"I'm not very wet," returned Gwen. "My cape and the edge of my skirt. Thank you, Mrs. Green. I love this soft silent fog. It doesn't chill one in the least. It is quite different from those cold easterly sea-turns they have further down the coast. Is Miss Fuller in?"

"I cal'late she's up in her room. She's not one to venture out, I know. Manny was so sot on going to Portland to-day, that nothing would do but he must up and take the first boat. He's going sword-fishing soon as Cap'n 'Lias Hooper's vessel's ready, so it'll be his last chance to get to the city for some time." She gave a deep sigh.

"I suppose you hate to have him leave you."

"Yes, I do. His father was lost off the Banks, and my husband too. We was cousins, my husband and me, so I lost two in one as you might say. Manny's all I've got left, and I did hope he'd take to clerking or something. He did work for Ira Baldwin one summer, but he said he couldn't stand that kind of a job."

"There seems to be very little loss of life among the fishermen about here," responded Gwen cheerfully, "and I have no doubt Manny will come back safe and sound, and all the better for his experience."

"Maybe," said Almira, shaking her head dubiously. "Will you go up, Miss Whitridge, or shall I ask Miss Fuller to come down?"

"I'll go up," Gwen told her, and mounted the stairs leading to the upper room occupied by Ethel. The house was not a large one, and the only spare room down stairs was given over to Mrs. Dow. In answer to Ethel's "Come in," Gwen entered a low room with sloping ceiling. The walls were covered with paper of a lively pattern, violets of heroic size flung in massive bunches upon a buff ground. The border, to match, looked like a wild flight of young chickens pursuing one another around the room. The floor was covered with a bright red and green ingrain carpet. The furniture, a cottage set, painted yellow with blue and white roses upon it, added to the variety of color. Ethel was sitting by the window absorbed in running ribbons in some dainty underwear. "Well," she exclaimed, "you are a brave somebody. Isn't it a vile day?"

"I think it is lovely," Gwen declared. "Who would have eternal sunshine? I'd like to walk from one end of the island to the other."

"You certainly have more vim than I have. What in the world is there to see on a day like this?"

"Queer ghostly shapes looming up out of the mist, beautiful jewel-hung grasses and weeds. Then to feel the soft fog in your face and not to care about hurting your clothes, or getting your feet wet, or any such trivial things. I love it all. I saw a ship stealing by just now, and it looked as if it had come straight from a land of dreams."

"You sentimental thing! You ought never to marry an ordinary mortal."

"That's just what I came to talk about."

"To tell me that nothing could induce you to link your fate with steel rails?"

"Not quite that. I came to say that it is silly and ignoble, and material and all the rest of it, to talk about running races to win a man, and so, for my part, I shall leave it all to chance. You can use your eyes, and your wits too, all you choose, and I shall do whatever the moment suggests. I shall not refuse any good time that comes my way, but I'll make no promises about anything. I think such things aren't worthy of girls like us, Ethel."

"I just now said you were deadly sentimental. All right, but you must not wax indignant if I do my best to come out winner. I give you fair warning, I shall make my best effort."

"I am willing. If a thing must be fought for it isn't worth having."

"If a thing is worth having it is worth fighting for, would be my way of putting it."

"I shall not fight for a poor miserable thing which can be easily turned aside. Let it go; it is not worth the keeping."

"And I am quite welcome to this poor miserable, uncertain thing, if so it proves itself?"

"Quite welcome."

"Thanks, dear. I feel ready to buckle on my armor for the fray. It was sweet of you to come and tell me. Must you go so soon?"

"Yes, I must. I promised Aunt Cam to send off a money order for her, and you know that takes time. Good-by."

Ethel arose, took her friend by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. "You don't despise me, Gwen, and you're not angry?"

"Neither. We have different points of view, that's all. You revel in little schemes. You enjoy lying in ambush and stealing along unsuspected routes. I like the open. I hate to manoeuvre and contrive. Whatever comes to me I must get as a free untrammelled gift, not by out-generalling some one else, and then falling on the prize as if it were plunder, or loot or something of that kind."

Ethel laughed. "I am glad you are so magnanimous as to call it out-generalling instead of using some horrid word which your present virtuous state of mind might suggest. I don't say that to be nasty, my dear—about your state of mind I mean. It is only this: if for steel rails you were to read tubes of paint and rolls of canvas I don't believe you would be quite so top-loftical."

"I think you are perfectly horrid," cried Gwen, feeling the color rise to her face. "The case would be quite the same. I should never, never, never want what did not come to me freely and naturally. I'd despise myself if I won anything by scheming for it."

"Tut! tut! I am getting it now!" exclaimed Ethel. "Who says it is scheming to do your best to be sweet and agreeable, in exerting such powers of fascination as Heaven has bestowed upon you? Don't tell me you wouldn't do your level best to be nice to—"

Gwen put her hand over Ethel's mouth. "I won't hear you," she cried.

"Then don't call me names," said Ethel, freeing herself.

"I didn't."

"You said I was a schemer."

"I didn't mean exactly that. I meant—oh, I don't know just what I did mean. Go along and do your own way, and I'll do mine."

"Sensible girl! I am glad you have come down from your high horse. Our tactics may be different but the end is the same. To the conqueror come the spoils. Really good-by?"

"Yes, or the mail will be closed."

She ran down stairs, took the now dry golf-cape from Mrs. Green's hands and went forth again to perform her errand. As she turned into the road she saw Kenneth Hilary, color-box in hand, trudging along. He was near enough to recognize her, which he did by a lifting of the cap, then he plunged into the path which led to Captain Purdy's wharf and she saw him disappear in the fog. Yet she was glad at heart to have met him. She remembered that he, too, exulted in storm and fog and rain. But suddenly she was chilled by the remembrance of their last talk. Perhaps he would never give her a chance to renew their friendship. He had taken her words so seriously that he might go away and—forget. Men did that. "Oh dear, what can I do?" she said aloud. "I must do something." Then with a flush of shame she remembered her lofty attitude with Ethel, and what Ethel had said about steel rails and tubes of paint. "Oh dear, I'm no better than she, not a bit," she sighed. "I'd like to run after him this minute and pretend that I had sprained my ankle or lost my way or any other foolish thing, just that I might speak to him. Oh dear, dear, it has come, that dreadful thing that I have been so afraid of, and have been pushing away from me. I don't care one little bit who bears off Cephas—and I do care a whole dreadful lot because Kenneth would not stop and speak to me. Oh, dear, dear. I see myself manoeuvring and scheming or else a lorn maid for the rest of my life. I can't leave everything to Fate, for Fate is so stupidly cruel sometimes."

So her thought ran as she continued along the road to the post-office. At the top of the flight of steps she tried to penetrate the fog to see if she could get a glimpse of Kenneth sketching from Captain Purdy's wharf, but the fog dropped down its soft impenetrable veil and all she could distinguish was the wharf and boat-house dimly outlined.

"He will paint beautiful things to-day," she told herself as she turned homeward, "beautiful, mysterious, charming things that I would love to see, and he will never show them to me—never. Some horrid, beastly wealthy person will buy them, perhaps some one like Cephas Mitchell with pop-eyes and lanky hair. He'll hang them up in his house and gloat over them. Oh dear, I am more kinds of an idiot than I supposed, but I cannot make up my mind to offer any advances."

As she entered the living-room of Wits' End, she saw Miss Elliott kneeling before the open fire with a boxful of letters by her side. She was laying them one by one on the burning logs, which shot up a renewed flare at each fresh accession of kindling. "What are you doing, Aunt Cam?" asked Gwen, throwing off her cape and joining her aunt.

"I am burning some letters which should have been destroyed long ago. They have been packed away in this box for years, and I have never had time to look over them. I found the box in the attic when we dismantled the old house, and should have looked at them then, but I was too busy. They were sent up here with the furniture, and this seemed a good day to look at them."

"What letters are they?" Gwen leaned forward to decipher the address on an envelope which was fast being consumed.

Miss Elliott was silent, and but for the ruddy glare from the fire Gwen might have seen that she was very pale.

Getting no answer to her question Gwen remarked, "I see L. W., my father's initials, signed to one of them. Oh, don't burn them, Aunt Cam. Let me read them, too. Are they old love-letters? Oh, please."

She laid an arresting hand upon her aunt's which held another letter, but Miss Elliott thrust the envelope and its contents deep into the glowing heart of the fire, then quickly added the other letters, poking them down between the logs, and quickening the blaze by stirring the loose bits of paper. "They are only business letters," she said presently. "Letters from your father to my father. It is strange they were not destroyed before. They should have been."


"Because it is stupid to give house room to out-of-date things like that, to things whose chief interest is to the person who wrote and the one who received the letters." Miss Elliott gave an excited stir to the charred heap, now slowly burning and showing brown, curled edges.

"Still," said Gwen, "I'd like to have seen them. I know so little of my father, Aunt Cam."

"He was a noble man, a very noble man." Miss Elliott arose from her knees and pushed the hair back from her forehead with a nervous gesture.

"You never said that before. I—I always thought you didn't like him, Aunt Cam."

"I never knew him. At least I used to see him when he was but a lad, when I was home from school for the holidays. I was ten years older than your mother, you know, Gwen, and I went to China before she was old enough to marry. When I came back your father was—gone."

"I am glad he was a noble man. No one ever seemed to care to tell me much about him. I only know he was drowned on his way to Mexico. That was where he was going, wasn't it?"

"He was going somewhere on business." Miss Elliott spoke heavily. "His valuables were found in his state-room. The captain of the steamer sent them home. It was believed he tried to save a sailor who became entangled in some ropes. It was while the vessel was in port. Your father was an expert swimmer, and the captain thought he must have been pulled down by the desperate struggles of the sailor, for both were missing that night."

"I remember the story. I have his watch and fob, and the purse he left in his cabin. And that is why you think he was noble, Aunt Cam, because he lost his life in trying to save another's. He did do that."

"Yes, it is true that he lost his life in trying to save another's. Nothing could be nobler than that. 'Greater love hath no man than this.' Oh yes, Gwen, you can give his memory all that a hero's should have, honor and love and respect."

"I am glad," said Gwen. "I wish you had said so before. Sometimes I have had doubts. I have been afraid he might not have been exactly worthy. Why didn't you tell me, Aunt Cam?"

Miss Elliott's hands were tightly interlocked as she sat gazing at the last blackened bits of paper. "I thought—it seemed to me best—that you should not think too much about him. The more worthy you believed him the harder it would seem to you to be deprived of him."

Gwen thoughtfully watched the flames, which, rekindled, were now licking around the ends of the logs. "It is a strange argument," she said to herself, "but I suppose Aunt Cam thought she was doing the best for me. She certainly did gather up some queer theories out there in China."

Miss Elliott was watching the girl's face wistfully. "I did what seemed best at the time," she said tremulously. "I hope I didn't do you a wrong, Gwen."

"Never mind, auntie dear." Gwen laid a caressing hand on her aunt's. "So long as I know now it is all right. I suppose you thought I was too young to appreciate exactly. I am glad to know the truth." Then after a pause, "I suppose there was never any doubt that he was drowned."

"At first your grandfather hoped there might be, but as time went on there could be no other conclusion to reach."

"Yes, of course. He would have come back otherwise." The subject ended here, though Gwen still looked a little troubled and her aunt's face wore a similar expression.

Toward night the wind veered around, and the fog lifted, showing first the line of houses along the bluff, then the nearest reefs, and finally lifting the veil which all day had obscured the furthest point of mainland. At last but a dim line of gray along the horizon told that out at sea the fog horns must continue to sound their warning. The long grass, however, was still very wet, and Gwen decided that a second tramp across the hummocks would be better left undone, so she and her aunt, avoiding the dampness below, took refuge on the little balcony over the porch where they were sheltered from the wind.

"Aunt Cam," said Gwen, leaning her chin on her hands and looking off toward Seguin's shining light, "when we go back I'd like to see something of my father's people. What relatives had he?"

"Very few are left," returned Miss Elliott. "His mother died when he was still a child, his father before he married. He was an only child, therefore there would be only some cousins. The family was from northern New York. We could go there some time instead of coming here, but I fancy you would not find any very near relatives, or indeed any who could tell you much of your father. He had not been thrown with them very often, and scarce at all after he was grown."

"His father was a great friend of grandfather's, wasn't he?"

"A great friend though a younger man by some fifteen years. Your grandfather did not marry till he was thirty-five; Lewis Whitridge's father married early."

"I see. Were there only business letters in that box, Aunt Cam? None from my father to my mother?"

"No, as they lived in the same city there was little correspondence between them. I had one or two letters from Lewis, while I was in China, but I destroyed the most of my correspondence before I left there, so those with others, were burned."

"Was my father ever well off? I know mamma had nothing, but had he?"

"He was supposed to be quite well off when your mother married him, unusually so for so young a man."

"Was that why she married him?" Gwen shifted the position of her hands that she might better see a figure on the rocks, distinct against the sky, an immovable figure with back toward Wits' End.

"What a question, my dear," returned Miss Elliott. "Why should you suppose such a thing?"

"I don't know. I only wondered. One likes to know—a girl does—all about her father and mother's courtship."

"I was not there, as you well know," Miss Elliott spoke with emphasis. "I could not possibly know what was going on in Lillian's brain. She was so much younger than I that there could not be the confidence between us as between girls nearer of an age. At all events your father was worthy of any woman's love, so we ought to assume it was a love match. He certainly adored her."

"If you know that he adored her, why don't you know whether she adored him?" asked Gwen.

"What is the matter with you to-night, child?" said her aunt impatiently. "It is too damp out here. I am going in. I have some letters to write."

Gwen, wrapped in a fleecy scarf of white, sat watching the figure on the rocks till the west faded from rose to gray and the shore's limits were visible only when a white line of foam curled along the base of the cliffs.



The fog shut down again the next day, for the uncertain wind veered around again to the southeast, and for several days the weather was capricious. At last it seemed to settle and was warm, sunny and agreeable. In spite of what Gwen called "Ethel's wiles" Cephas Mitchell discreetly divided his time between the two girls, and none could say which he preferred, though by certain signs Gwen was convinced that she was first favorite. Kenneth Hilary she had not seen again except casually. The more she realized the depth of her interest in him, the more indifference she had tried to show, and prided herself upon returning his formal lifting of his cap with as formal a nod. She wondered if things must go on this way indefinitely, and, as time passed, felt more and more helpless to alter conditions, while more and more eager to do so. The precious days were drifting by, the seat of happy memories under a branchy tree on the edge of Sheldon Woods, had become a sort of altar for the worship of lost hours, and she often went there alone, but never, by any accident, permitted Cephas to select it as a resting place when they strolled in that direction. It seemed that the more unattainable the more valuable grew that lover whom she had so rudely thrust aside. Perhaps one reason for this was that closer acquaintance with Mr. Mitchell commended him less than ever to her taste, and there were days when a walk with him seemed intolerable. At other times, when Ethel made one of the party, the spirit of rivalry gave zest to the occasion, and Gwen was ready to exercise her own powers of attraction. At such times the talk was light and flippant, indeed, it seldom rose to anything more serious than the summer's experiences, the gossipy tales about the island. There was a good deal of chaffing and much laughter. Cephas enjoyed what the two girls called "kidding," and set little value upon any but trifling subjects.

The way to Sheldon Woods was full of surprises to the uninitiated. The path led from the main road past an old well, on through the orchard belonging to the "Grange." Beyond the orchard one must know well in which direction to go, for the path could scarcely be distinguished amid the thick growth of underbrush, weeds and saplings. Once on it one must be impressed by its wild beauty, and could imagine himself far from habitations. Here the sea was not in sight, only dense masses of growing things, strange vivid-colored fungi, thickets of brakes, the softest and greenest of mosses, a jungle of brambles. At last one came to a stone wall and stepped out upon an open field which appeared unexpectedly. It was here that Gwen and Mr. Mitchell saw Kenneth at work one day.

"There is your friend, Mr. Hilary," said Mr. Mitchell to his companion, as he waved a signalling hand. "Shall we go over and see what he is doing?"

"No, no," returned Gwen hastily. "He hates to be disturbed when he is sketching. I think we'd better go on." And without turning aside they followed the path across the field, and disappeared in the grove of tall pines beyond. Gwen wondered whether they were watched by the man apparently so absorbed in his work, but she did not once look back.

Once within the deep woods it was necessary to be sure of bearings, but Gwen knew the way thoroughly, and presently they entered an enclosure surrounded by encircling pines, which were so closely ranked about them that daylight scarcely penetrated the spot. The ground was soft to the tread by reason of its thick carpet of pine-needles, and soft, waving curtains of gray moss depending from the trees, helped to shut out the light.

"This seems almost a holy place," said Gwen softly. "We call it the Cathedral, and I have never seen a finer."

"It is a solemn sort of place," agreed Mr. Mitchell. "Let's get out of it. I say, Miss Whitridge, when you go abroad you will see the real thing, though I must say I never took much stock in cathedrals, even over there."

Gwen moved on. "I didn't mean to compare them to this," she said with a short laugh.

Emerging from the dense woods the sea lay before them, and from the high bluff it was easy to appreciate the nearness of neighboring islands.

"Now, where shall we sit?" said Mr. Mitchell. "That seems rather a jolly place over there under that tree with the low branches."

"No, not there," returned Gwen hastily. "I know a fine place a little further on. We are to read awhile and then go around to the other side to see the sunset. I am glad it is clear again, although I did enjoy the fog that first day. However, a week of it gets rather tiresome. One has such a very limited horizon and no perspective to speak of. Sometimes life seems like that, as if a fog had shut down suddenly and cut off all your perspective, doesn't it?"

"Eh? Oh, yes. I don't know much about perspective and things. You'll have to talk that artist talk to our friend Hilary back there. I know when I like a picture, but when it comes to stuff like perspective and atmosphere I'm not in it."

"But you do like music, opera, for example," said Gwen, feeling around for a mental point of contact.

"Certainly I like opera. It's awfully jolly to see all the ladies in their pretty clothes and to go around to the different boxes between acts."

"But the music."

"When it isn't too heavy. I like a ripping good singer who gives you a high note that makes you nearly jump out of your seat. It's exciting to hear how high she will go, and some of the airs run in my head for hours, that one that Caruso sings for example." He began to whistle "La donna é mobile."

Gwen gave a deep sigh. "And how about the Wagner operas?"

"Can't stand them. I went to hear Lohengrin once, and came out before the last act. I leave out Aida now, too. The good old-timers suit me, old Trovatore and Martha, and some of the new ones aren't bad, the ones with catchy music."

"You didn't like Aida?" Gwen fairly groaned.

"Bored me to death. Could hardly sit through it. I wouldn't have, only the ladies I was with appeared to like it, so I stayed on their account."

Gwen made no comment but opened the book she had brought, a copy of Kipling. She had considered his masculine taste in making the selection. "Now I'll read you my favorite 'Bell Buoy' right here where we can get the sound of one. 'White Horses' is really my favorite, but it is not in this volume. I'll read first and then you can pick out something to read to me."

She opened the book and proceeded to read. Her listener sat with hands behind his head and Gwen hoped he was impressed, for she read well. "What do you think of it?" she asked as she closed the book.

"Well, I can't make out exactly what he's driving at. I'm not a great one for poetry. Once in a while you come across some rattling good thing like 'Hans Breitmann's Party,' something that makes you laugh. I don't mind that sort of poetry."

Gwen slipped the book behind her. "What do you like to read, Mr. Mitchell?"

"Oh, I don't have much time to do more than run through the newspapers, or a magazine sometimes when I'm on a train."

"But I thought all Bostonians were very intellectual." There was disappointment in Gwen's tones at discovery of his especial taste in literature. She had thought he might declare himself for history, at least.

"Well, I suppose a good many Boston folks are intellectual. I don't profess to be. Life's too short to spend over books. I enjoy this free life," he stretched out his arms bared to the shoulders, "and I like tennis and golf and that sort of thing, for exercise. I enjoy a nice light opera with a lot of pretty girls in the chorus, or a good play, not too tragic a one. I'm pretty fond of a horse and a boat. I shall have a yacht up here next year, I think."

"A yacht would be lovely," said Gwen brightening. "You could go cruising all around among the islands."

"Yes, and up the coast to Bar Harbor. Yes, a yacht would be jolly good fun."

"Shall you be glad to get back to the city, or do you feel as if you would like to stay up here forever living the free life?" queried Gwen.

"Not forever. Nobody would care to do that who'd ever lived in a city, unless it were some queer freak like Mr. Williams."

"Don't call him a freak." Gwen spoke with some asperity.

"Well, he's an oddity, at least. I can't make him out. To be sure I don't know him very well, but it strikes me as queer that a man should want to live on this island. It's all very well for a summer holiday, but in winter, no, thank you. Yes, I shall be glad to get back, to see the fellows at the club, and to put on a different sort of rig from this. It won't be bad to see the inside of a theatre, either, and go to a first-class dinner, or a German."

Gwen smiled. She did not despise these things herself. "One looks at life very differently in the city, doesn't one?" she remarked.

"Yes, there's the fun of it. When I do a thing I want to do it thoroughly. When I'm at home I do as my neighbors do; when I am here I try to follow the example of those around me."

"Sensible man! So we will not read any more. Come, let's go around to the other side, and see what it looks like. We'd better not go back through the woods, for after the sun goes down it gets pretty dark and spooky in there, so we will go back by the road."

"You're not afraid? Not when I'm with you?" He spoke tenderly, and more than ever Gwen declared for the road.

"Not afraid," she said, "but it takes longer, and I don't want to miss my supper, nor do I want you to miss yours."

"A good substantial reason," returned Mr. Mitchell approvingly. "I hope it will be a pleasant day to-morrow." He looked at the sky. "Are you a good weather prophet, Miss Whitridge?"

"Not very, though I should say it would be warm. To-day is warmer than any we have had for a long time. Any special reason to be curious about the weather, Mr. Mitchell?"

"I promised Miss Fuller I'd row her over to Jagged Island. It's an engagement of long standing, you know, and the time is getting short."

"I remember you promised long ago. Shall you go fishing?"

"Perhaps we shall try our hands at it."

"Cap'n Ben says that the steamboats and launches are beginning to scarcen the mackerel and that they are not so plentiful this year as usual."

"Scarcen is a good word."

"So I think. I shall adopt it from henceforth. Cap'n 'Lias Hooper's vessel, the Mary Lizzie, sails to-morrow," remarked Gwen casually, "so yours will not be the only fishing expedition that goes out."

The sun was setting in a mass of rolling clouds. The air soft and warm, even as it blew over stretches of water, was of a more languorous quality than usual. The waves stole in gently, lapping the stones with a placid murmur. The cove was as smooth as glass, except where a boat, manned by two rowers, left a brilliant line of ripples in its wake. The floors of the great chasms indenting the shores, displayed long ropes of maroon-colored kelp where the tide had gone out. The main land, beginning at the Neck, stretched its curving fingers out into the quiet sea as if it would clutch the islands beyond and draw them into safe keeping against a time when great breakers should threaten them. Gwen and her companion stood watching the sky till the sun disappeared behind the piled-up clouds, which, showing golden edges, drifted off towards the horizon, finally hiding the distant mountains from view. Retracing their steps the man and maid went on down hill toward the road, and further to where they must skirt Little Harbor. Just at this point Gwen gave a quick glance toward a cottage close to the cove shore, and on the porch caught sight of a man standing, with folded arms, looking out upon the water. She gave a gentle sigh as she went through the little gate on the opposite side of the way.

The next morning was balmy and still, only a slight breeze filled the sails of Captain Hooker's fishing schooner which passed out of the cove. Gwen standing on the rocks, watched it slipping slowly by. Some one on the vessel blew a long blast upon a horn, and presently, further on, a group of women gathered to watch the vessel out of sight, and to wave farewell to those on board. In the group Gwen distinguished Almira Green and Ora. She remembered that Manny was going out to the Banks that day with the other fishermen. "Poor little Ora!" said the girl to herself. "And poor Almira, too," she added. "I am glad to have no lover who must follow the high seas." She watched the vessel grow smaller and smaller, and presently her attention was attracted to a smaller craft, a little row-boat moving steadily toward Jagged Island. "I believe there are Ethel and Mr. Mitchell!" she exclaimed. "Joy go with you, my dears! I am absolutely convinced that I could not stand a man who preferred comic operas to 'Aida,' and who had no soul above newspapers. You are quite welcome, Ethel dear. I hope you are prepared with plenty of bait, and will land your beautiful gold fish." She made a deep curtsey and laughed. "I am sure he is just about as bony and unpalatable as any other gold fish would be to me," she said to herself.

She turned her eyes from the small boat to another which had just rounded the point, and was making toward one of the inner islands. She looked at it attentively for a moment, then sprang over the rocks toward the cottage, coming out directly with a pair of field glasses. "I thought so," she murmured. "Everybody is going out to-day, it appears. I was sure that was Cap'n Ben's boat. I wonder if he is going off sketching. He is all alone." The "he" could scarcely apply to Cap'n Ben. "He is sailing off toward Pond Island. He isn't going there, I know; I suppose to some point further on. That's the third boat to go out from here this morning. Dear me! I wonder what I shall do to-day. It seems a wee bit lonely on the island. Bother! there comes Miss Henrietta, skipping over the rocks like a hart upon the mountains. I can't pretend not to see her."

Miss Henrietta, the youngest of the Gray sisters, had arrived at that uncertain period of life when she hesitated to associate with women older than herself for fear she might be supposed of the same age. She, therefore, sought the society of those much younger, hoping to be accredited with a like youthfulness. Gwen usually tried to avoid her, not because she did not enjoy older companions, but because, as she said, Miss Henrietta was the kind who took in at one glance what you had on, and criticized it afterward. She was always very ready with suggestion. "You would think," said Gwen to her aunt, "that Miss Henrietta had a copyright on all possible suggestions, she is so ready to make them and acts as if you had infringed her rights if ever you present one of your own to her." To each other Ethel and Gwen always spoke of Miss Henrietta as "Household Hints." So just now, Gwen, waiting for Miss Henrietta to come up, knew a suggestion would be ready, and so it was.

"I just thought I'd run over and tell you," said the elder lady, "that I find tennis shoes injurious, and I suggest that you don't wear them."

"I haven't found them so," returned Gwen.

"But you will," insisted Miss Henrietta.

"I'll wait till I do," said Gwen a little shortly, but with a smile. "Were you coming to Wits' End, Miss Henrietta?"

"No, I saw you out here and I thought I'd join you. One tires of one's elders constantly, don't you think?"

"I never tire of Aunt Cam," replied Gwen, "and we see more of one another at Wits' End than we do in the city."

"Couldn't you find a prettier name for your cottage?" asked Miss Henrietta. "Why not call it Rock Rest, or something like that?"

"We don't want to be commonplace, and Wits' End just suits us."

"I see your friend Miss Fuller has gone off with our young man," said Miss Henrietta, ignoring Gwen's reply. "She is quite a handsome girl. What do you think of her character, Gwen? I wish some one would tell her that a red jersey is not becoming."

"I think it is becoming." Gwen set aside the question.

"Oh, never, my dear, never. I don't see how you can think so. Then she has such a fad for mushrooms; she is forever looking for them. How she can like such things I cannot see.

"Dear me!" Gwen shook her head. "It is sad that one so young should have such depraved tastes."

Miss Henrietta looked offended. "I see you are bound to disagree with me," she said tartly. "By the way, why didn't you go to Jagged Island with your friends?"

"Perhaps because I didn't want to, and perhaps for other reasons," returned Gwen noncommittally.

"Do you think it was quite the thing for them to go off alone in that way? I am afraid your friend isn't very particular about the proprieties."

"Why didn't you go, Miss Henrietta?"

"I had other things to do," said she bridling.

"For pity's sake go along and do them," rose to Gwen's lips, but she said only, "I think we all have plenty to do up here, and that reminds me I must finish a letter before I go for the mail. As Mr. Mitchell is away to-day, perhaps you would like me to bring yours, too."

"Oh, if you will." The offer was smilingly accepted, and Gwen returned to the cottage, leaving Miss Henrietta ready to swoop down upon the Hardy girls who were coming along the rocks.

"What's the matter?" asked Miss Elliott as Gwen threw herself into a chair. "You look as if some one had been rubbing you the wrong way."

"Some one has been. I met Miss Henrietta out on the rocks just now. She is so picky and so ready to condemn fads and fancies in others when she is full of them herself. She asked me why I wore tennis shoes; she found fault with Ethel for wearing red, and for liking to hunt for mushrooms. She asked me what I thought of Ethel's character, too. What business is it of hers what I think?"

"She was probably trying to find out if Ethel would make a suitable wife for your millionaire, Gwen," Miss Elliott said laughing.

"My millionaire? I could never marry a man who reads only newspapers, who can't appreciate good music, and doesn't know a poor picture from a fine one."

"If those are your only objections, they don't seem very weighty ones. He probably reads only newspapers because he is too busy a man for anything else, and as for the other things, it may be only a lack of opportunity for studying the best. He may be a very fine man who would make an estimable husband, and yet not be a connoisseur in art or music."

"Oh, dear, why is it that the men who would make estimable husbands must so often be unattractive? I am afraid it isn't lack of opportunity that's the matter with Cephas. It lies deeper than that. But his deficiencies will never bother Ethel, so she shall have him. I think they will suit one another admirably. Are you disappointed, Aunt Cam, that you must forego his nephewly embraces, and that he is not to call you 'my dear aunt'?"

"Nonsense, Gwen, of course not. I don't care a rap for him in any capacity."

"But you think he will suit Ethel. You don't exactly approve of Ethel, I am afraid."

"Not altogether. I like her. She is very agreeable, and even brilliant, sometimes. She seems to be a person who has many engaging charms but few sterling qualities. She has not a spiritualizing effect upon one, and I am afraid her standards are decidedly of a material order. I can fancy her quite satisfied without the ennobling things of life."

"She has a sweet disposition, and she has beautiful theories," said Gwen thoughtfully.

"But does she practise them?"

"Not when it is inconvenient. I am afraid she is rather a brilliant butterfly, but she is vastly entertaining."

"What has become of your artist friend?" asked Miss Elliott suddenly.

Gwen immediately became very busy rearranging the pillow on the divan. "Oh, he's around," she said with apparent indifference. "You know his sister and the children have gone off for some weeks, so of course I see nothing of them. I saw him yesterday out sketching. To-day he has gone somewhere in a boat. Everyone has gone off in a boat. Ethel and Mr. Mitchell are on their way to Jagged Island, Manny Green is off for the Banks, and Mr. Hilary has gone up along to some unknown spot. I am quite desolate without my playmates. I think I shall have to hunt up Daddy Lu."

But Luther Williams had gone to his favorite haunt in Middle Bay, Gwen discovered, for no one had seen him since morning. So the girl returned to the house and busied herself with unimportant things till it was time for the afternoon's mail. "I'll stop in to see Miss Phosie," she said as she passed out, "so don't expect me right back, Aunt Cam." She looked across to Jagged Island wondering if the two who had rowed over that morning had yet returned. She looked toward the north to see if Cap'n Ben's little boat were on its way back, but except for a motor boat chugging along and some white sails far off there were no vessels visible. So she turned toward the cove and was soon in Miss Phosie's bright kitchen.



Only Miss Phosie was at home, but she gave a smiling welcome to her guest. "I see Ora has come back," said Gwen by way of opening the conversation.

"Yes, she wanted to see Cap'n Hooper's vessel off, I s'pose. Anyway she wasn't content to stay any longer."

"And Manny has really gone."

Miss Phosie nodded. "I'm happy to say he has. Maybe Ora'll take an interest in something and somebody else, now. I was hoping she'd feel inclined to stay at Bangor with her cousins, but here she was back at the end of a week, and all the difference I can see is, she's got a bigger lot of hair piled up over her forehead and a gayer hat."

Gwen smiled. She knew Miss Phosie must be more than usually ruffled to criticize in such a manner. "Perhaps if she were to go away to school she might forget about the boys here. She is too young to have her head full of such things." Gwen spoke as one of vast experience.

"That's what I told her grandpap," returned Miss Phosie, "but he can't bear to think of her going away for as long as a whole winter. She's his only grandchild, and he does set such store by her. Won't you come into the settin'-room, Miss Whitridge, where sister is?"

"If you don't mind my staying here, I'd rather sit with you."

Miss Phosie looked pleased. "Well, that'll be nice," she said. "Two of our boarders has left, and there ain't quite so much to do. The others will be going before long, too, and then we can settle down to the old ways."

"Dear me, when you talk about boarders leaving it makes me feel as if the summer were nearly over," returned Gwen.

"But you cal'late to stay pretty late, don't you?"

"As late in October as we dare. I must be back by the twentieth."

"Then I hope we shall see more of you," replied Miss Phosie politely. "Mr. Williams was saying the other day that after the boarders go we always take more comfort in the cottagers. Them that come and go just for one season you never feel much acquainted with, but with them that owns property it's different. They belong here."

"We certainly feel as if we did," Gwen assured her. "I love every inch of the island."

"That's what Mr. Williams says, and I guess that's why you and him are such friends. He's real fond of it."

"Where is he to-day?"

"He's gone off in his boat alone. He likes to do that once in a while and nobody asks him why or wherefore."

"You are very good to him, Miss Phosie. I think it is wonderful that he should have found such a home here, when he just drifted in, absolutely unknown, and seems to belong to no one."

"We cal'late he's been long enough in this house to belong to us," said Miss Phosie a little defiantly.

"Indeed I am sure he feels so. He has often told me that no sister could do more than you for him. I know what it must mean to him for I have very few relatives myself."

"That so?"

"Aunt Cam is my nearest and dearest. I have some distant cousins, but that is all. I feel almost as if Mr. Williams were a relative. He has been so kind to us."

"That's his way, though I must say you are the first of the newcomers that he's taken any fancy to. He don't make much fuss about what he does, but little things count, Miss Whitridge."

"They surely do. Did he look just as he does now when he first came here, Miss Phosie?"

"Just about. He always wore his beard that way, close-cropped, and a short mustache. He must have been considerable over thirty when he came."

"And he just appeared that way, suddenly?"

Miss Phosie nodded. "Came over on a sailing vessel from the Neck. There wasn't any steamboat then. Said he'd like a few days' fishing. Had a grip-sack, but no other baggage. Father took him out, and liked him from the first, though he was always very quiet and reserved. Never had any family photographs about or nothing of that kind, just a little old Bible with his initials on the back. I've looked at it," Miss Phosie confessed, "but there's nothing on the inside page, but 'To my little son from Mother.' We've never tried to pry into his affairs. We didn't feel it would be friendly. He's a nice good man, father says, and that's all we want to know."

Gwen felt herself properly reproved, and concluded it would be better to change the subject. "How dark it is getting," she remarked, "and I do believe that is thunder." She arose and went to the window. Great masses of heavy clouds were overspreading the sky. The sea was inky black, though along the horizon shone a line of silver. "Dear me," exclaimed the girl, "there is a gust coming up, or, I should say, it has arrived," for, as she spoke, the rain began to fall in big drops, and a strong wind sent chips and leaves scudding across the grass.

"Land sakes! so it has," returned Miss Phosie, "and Mr. Williams is out in it. I hope he won't attempt to cross."

"I am afraid Ethel and Mr. Mitchell are out in it, too."

"You don't say! When did they go?"

"They started for Jagged Island this morning. They rowed over. There are—others out, too. Oh, I do hope they are all safe." A heavy peal of thunder startled them, and vivid lightning cleaved the dense clouds overhanging the island.

Ora, pale and frightened, rushed into the kitchen. "Oh, Aunt Phosie," she cried, "it's a dreadful storm, and the Mary Lizzie is out in it." She burst into tears.

"There, child, there," said Miss Phosie soothingly. "Don't you be a mite afraid about the Mary Lizzie. Her cap'n's weathered more than one gale. It's the little boats that's in danger, not the big ones. Here's Miss Whitridge has friends out, and she's not crying. You an island girl, too."

"There's no one she loves that's in danger," sobbed Ora.

Gwen shuddered, and kept her eyes fixed upon the storm-swept sky. It was a marvellously grand one. The centre of the storm seemed directly overhead, where lightnings flashed and thunders rolled from clouds of intense blackness. These grew in gradation of tone less and less dense toward the edges where they dropped a wonderful fringe over the brilliant silver which bordered the visible circle of the earth. Upon the jagged sides of the dark and forbidding rocks leaped angry, white-capped waves which rushed in from a sea as black as the sky, only farther out within the line of dazzling silver shone fair green islands, brilliant as emeralds upon the gleaming band.

"I must go out, and get a better view of it," said Gwen catching up her cape.

"But it hasn't stopped raining," Miss Phosie warned her.

"It isn't pouring so hard, and it is such a marvellous sight. I don't care if I do get wet. Besides, perhaps I can see if my friends are out."

"They'd have a pretty hard time in a little boat, in such weather," said Miss Phosie, and Ora began to cry again. She turned her wet eyes upon Gwen.

"May I go with you?" she asked meekly.

"Why, certainly," responded Gwen cordially. And in spite of Miss Phosie's protestations they fared forth, across the wet grass, and on to the rocks. The storm was passing over, and more gems of islands were visible. The bordering band of silver widened. The black fringe swept further and further across the land, and presently the sun broke forth, though the angry waves still buffeted the passive rocks.

The two girls said not a word till they stood side by side on the cliff, then Ora's eyes sought the distant horizon, while Gwen turned her gaze northward. There was not a sail, not a dot, indicating a boat upon the ruffled surface of the water.

"I hope, I hope everyone is safe," said Gwen breaking the silence. "It was such a sudden sharp storm, but it was soon over. It seems to be passing to the north. I don't believe it has gone out to sea at all, Ora, and the Mary Lizzie is probably away beyond it."

"It's dreadful to be so frightened," responded Ora faintly. "I was always afraid of thunder-storms, and when you have friends out you are more afraid than ever."

"Yes, you are; I realize that." Gwen took Ora's hand and held it in a warm clasp under the shelter of her cloak.

"They don't understand," said Ora responding to this sympathy. "Nobody knows what I feel, for I sent him. I wanted him to go so as to show everybody there was something in him."

Gwen gave the hand a little squeeze. "I can understand, Ora," she said. "I know just how you feel. It is dreadful to say things that send a friend away from you. I have done it, and I know."

Ora, in turn, gave the fingers that held hers a little pressure. The child in her distress felt the need of a confidant. She wanted sympathy and advice from some one young like herself, but some one whose experience had given her judgment.

"Do you think," Gwen went on, still looking northward, "that anyone would be liable to get so far out before the storm came up, that he couldn't make a harbor?"

"He might," returned Ora doubtfully.

"But even if he were swamped, the boat would float, and the oars; he could save himself."

"If he could swim, or he might even hold on and float, only there are these cruel rocks."

"Ah me!" Gwen groaned. "Suppose he—they did start out, and could not get back. I should never forgive myself."

"For what, Miss Gwen? Did you persuade them to go? Is it Mr. Mitchell and Miss Fuller you mean?"

"Of course," replied Gwen hastily. "I suppose there is no use standing here watching, and anyone starting now would be quite safe, though it would be hard pulling. Ah, there's Mr. Williams! One at least of our friends is safe. That argues well for the others."

Luther Williams in his sou'wester came up to them. "Miss Phosie told me I should find you here," he said.

Gwen held out both hands. "I am so glad you are safe," she cried. "Were you caught in the storm?"

"I was nearly home," he told her, "just coming into the cove, so I put in there by Jo Thompson's, took shelter in his house, and walked home from there."

"I hope every one else is as well off. Mr. Mitchell and Miss Fuller started for Jagged Island this morning. They haven't come back, and I see no signs of them."

"They're waiting for the sea to smooth down, I suppose. It will after a while. It was a sharp blow while it lasted, but the wind is back in the same old quarter, and they'll probably be coming along pretty soon. Cap'n Ben's boat is out," he added abruptly.

"I know it, oh, I know it," Gwen whispered. "Dear Daddy Lu, can't you do something?"

He patted her shoulder encouragingly. "I'll go up along, and see what can be discovered. I shouldn't be surprised if he had put into Water Cove, if he left Dorr's at all. He was going there sketching to-day, and thought it would be handier to take his traps in a boat than to lug them."

Gwen drew a sigh of relief. "It is a good thing to have met you. Have you seen him lately?"

"Last evening."

"He seemed well?" The question was asked wistfully.

"Yes." It was not like Mr. Williams to do more than give the laconic reply.

"Ora has been worrying, too," Gwen said in a low voice.

"She has no reason to."

"You are sure the storm went around."

"Yes, though they may get it out at sea later on."

"I will tell her you said there was no cause for worry." She turned to the girl who stood a little way off. "They are getting the storm over Bath way, Ora," she said. "We needn't be alarmed."

Ora turned a brighter face toward the girl. "I've been watching it," she said. "I'm going to see Almira now. She must be lonely to-day." And without further word she walked away.

Gold green were the islands now, sparkling were the dancing waves, though over the arm of the mainland there still hung a pall of clouds, and once in awhile there was a rumble of distant thunder. "It has been a wonderful storm," Gwen told Mr. Williams, "and if no one is the worse for it I shall be glad of its having come, for it gave us a scene I can never forget; those great masses of inky clouds dropping fringes all along their edges, and those brilliant, sun-touched islands in a silver rim of sea, beyond the gloomy spaces. It seems almost like a prophecy, Daddy Lu, as if one might say to one's self, no matter how dark and terrible the present seems, there is sunlight beyond, sunlight that will spread and spread till you stand in its glory, as you and I are doing this minute."

His rare smile lighted up his face. "That is the way to talk," he said. "Some may be wrecked in the gale, but the same storm brings great good to others."

"Oh, don't say that. I don't like to think of wrecks, wrecked vessels or wrecked lives."

"Even wrecked lives may not be lost ones. Sometimes a person may buffet with the seas for a while and then find a harborage. After the storm has passed sunlight may reach him, too."

"That's better. I feel more content with that view of it. Are you going down along, and will you let me know if anything has happened?"

"I will let you know in any event, if you like."

"That's the dear man you always are. I think I'd better go home now to Aunt Cam. She will be getting anxious about me, and I must find out if the rain has been leaking in at that south window."

"Very well. As the Spanish say, Hasta luego."

"That's a sort of 'auf wiedersehen,' I suppose."

"About the same."

They parted and Gwen sprang over the soppy ground, reaching Wits' End to find her aunt and Lizzie busy with cloths mopping up the floor under a window in the living-room, through which the rain had leaked. They had placed basins and buckets to catch the drip, but in spite of all the floor had not escaped a puddle. "The hogshead is full and we have caught a lot more water in the boiler and the tubs, so we are well supplied," said Miss Elliott as Gwen entered.

"Good," cried Gwen. The value of rain water was not to be under-estimated.

"Where have you been?" asked her aunt. "I hope you were under shelter during that downpour."

"I was in Miss Phosie's kitchen at first," Gwen told her, "but it was so glorious I had to go down to the rocks to watch it all."

"And in consequence no doubt your feet are sopping wet. I'll have a fire made in the fireplace at once."

"No, please don't. The sun is shining hot on the back porch. I'll change my shoes and wet skirt and sit out there."

"You'd better have a fire," persisted Miss Elliott, and had her way, for, as Gwen said, "When Aunt Cam really determines to do a thing she manages to carry her point. That is why she was such a success in China. If she said a patient must swallow a pill he had to do it."

And therefore it was sitting by the open fire that Luther Williams found the two a little later on. As he stood in the doorway in his fisherman's garb, flannel shirt, trousers tucked into high boots, Miss Elliott found no suggestion of that elusive likeness which had puzzled her more than once. She welcomed him cordially. "Come right in, Mr. Williams," she said. "What is the news?"

"I've come to report no wrecks so far as discovered," he told her. "Your niece was afraid the storm might have done some serious damage about here, but so far as we know all are safe. I looked off toward Jagged Island just before I started, Miss Gwen, and I think your friends are on their way. The sea has calmed down and they'll have no trouble getting in."

"Ethel and Mr. Mitchell, Aunt Cam," Gwen explained. "They happened to choose this of all days to go over, and I am afraid they were drenched."

"There's a house over there, you know," volunteered Mr. Williams, "and it's probable they took shelter there."

"No doubt they are safe then," returned Gwen, "and—and Cap'n Ben's boat, Mr. Williams?"

"That's in too. The man who had it to-day had started, but he saw the storm coming, and turned back in time. He waited till the storm was over before he made a second venture, then he came only so far as the upper end of the island where he left his boat and some of his traps and footed it home."

Gwen was grateful for the generalization of the boat's occupant, but she could not resist asking, "Did you see the storm-tossed mariner, Mr. Williams?"

"No, but Cap'n Ben did, and he told me, so it's reliable information."

"Thank you, Daddy Lu," said Gwen with a flashing smile which was answered by as bright a one.

Miss Elliott looked from one to the other. "There!" she exclaimed suddenly, "I know who Mr. Williams reminds me of, Gwen. It is your grandfather Whitridge. Do you happen to have any relatives of that name, Mr. Williams?"

"Yes," he said after a pause, "I have some distant ones. My own people are all dead, but I believe there were some of the Whitridge line alive when I last heard."

"And you never told me you had relatives of my name," said Gwen reproachfully. "Why, we might be kin ourselves."

"Do you chance to have any relatives by the name of Williams?" asked the man steadily. He turned to Miss Elliott.

"No, not that I know of," she answered. "The connection is not on my side of the house, you see. It was my sister, Gwen's mother, who married a Whitridge. Those family likenesses are very puzzling," she went on. "They crop up in the most surprising manner. You have what I should call the Whitridge smile, and Gwen has the same."

"I am glad it is anything as pleasant as a smile," returned Mr. Williams. "You say I resemble your niece's grandfather. Is the gentleman still living?"

"Now, Daddy Lu, you know I told you I hadn't anyone but Aunt Cam," Gwen again spoke reproachfully. "If I had a grandfather I would surely claim him."

"I beg your pardon," he said. "Sometimes families become separated. He might be living in some distant place, you know. Did your father resemble him?"

"Did he?" Gwen turned to her aunt.

"I never saw Gwen's father after he was grown," said Miss Elliott. "I knew him only by repute, and by a photograph taken when he was first married."

"He was a noble man," said Gwen proudly. "Wasn't he, Aunt Cam?"

"Yes, very noble," she returned, but she spoke sadly.

"He gave his life for another," Gwen put in eagerly.

Mr. Williams, standing rigidly upon the hearth, did not reply, but looked fixedly in the fire.

"Don't you think that the noblest thing a man can do?" continued Gwen.

"There is more than one way of giving a life, too," remarked Miss Elliott, as if speaking to herself. "Sometimes one lays down his life and the world does not know it. He does not have to die to do that."

Gwen looked at her in surprise. "What are you saying, Aunt Cam? One doesn't have to die? What do you mean? But my father did die for another, Mr. Williams. What do you mean, Aunt Cam?"

"Are there no deaths then but the giving up of one's last breath?" inquired Miss Elliott. "Haven't you heard the expression, 'dead to the world'? There was a man out in China who certainly laid down his life. He is still upon this planet, but he has sacrificed everything, home, love, all that was dear to him for the sake of others."

Gwen knew who this was. Had she not seen the little picture, her aunt treasured, of a young ascetic with burning eyes and a firm mouth? "Oh!" she said and looked satisfied at the explanation, as did the man who turned his eyes from the fire to the woman and, to Gwen's surprise, looked an intelligent sympathy.



There was an air of suppressed gaiety and subdued exultation in Ethel Fuller's manner when she met Gwen that evening at Cottage Hall where a concert was going on. She was rather splendidly attired for the occasion, and swept in alone. Mr. Mitchell arrived later with his mother and two of the Misses Gray. Gwen made a place by her side for Ethel. The music had not begun, for one of the singers was rushing around trying to find an accompanist, the one expected having failed him at the last moment.

"Did you have a dreadful time of it?" asked Gwen sympathetically as Ethel seated herself. "Weren't you awfully scared when the storm came up?"

"Not exactly scared," returned Ethel, "though it was rather frightful. We took refuge in an out-building and didn't get wet at all."

"What would you have done if the storm had continued?"

"I'm sure I don't know. Fortunately that problem didn't have to be faced."

"It was a gorgeous storm. I fairly revelled in it," said Gwen, "or I should have if I hadn't been worried."

"About us?"

"Yes, and about all who were out on the water. Didn't you think it was a splendid sight?"

"I am afraid I didn't think much about that part of it. We couldn't see very well from where we were."

"Where were you?"

"In a barn, sitting on a sawhorse."

"And you weren't scared?"

Ethel smiled, a sort of retrospective smile which suggested pleasure rather than fright. "Here comes Jack Lansdale with Flossy Fay," she said. "I didn't know she had brains enough to grapple with his accompaniments, but perhaps she is equal to them. Why didn't he get Miss Caroline Drake?"

"Probably because Flossy was the more available. She looks as pleased as Punch. Now they're going to begin."

Jack Lansdale had a fresh, unspoiled baritone voice of pleasant quality. He was quite a shining light among a not inconsiderable number of musical people. A genial, robust, dark-haired young man was Jack, who was as much at home in sailing a yacht as in guiding a dance, and who was as ready to go off for a tramp with a boon companion as to sit on the rocks in the moonlight and pay compliments to a pretty girl, consequently, as he was good-looking as well as athletic he was in much demand. To his credit be it said that he was most accommodating and seldom refused to sing when an accompanist could be found, but this was holiday time and even the most enthusiastic musician could not be expected always to be ready for a day's sailing, to play accompaniments or dance music, therefore it was sometimes rather difficult to find one willing to be pressed into service. Flossy Fay, however, had assiduously charged herself to learn his accompaniments, and had made such diligent use of her hour at the piano in the hall that she felt herself equipped to play the part of understudy when occasion should offer. This evening it had arrived, and her triumph was complete, for what more delightfully intimate than to follow a voice dependent upon her skill in accompanying?

After Jack's first songs, came a violin solo, then there were more songs. At the last moment, the missing pianist, Tom Belden, rushed in ready to supersede Flossy at the piano, but she clung to her rights, and the sturdy Tom retired to the back of the hall, to appear later to help out with the dances.

One swift glance at a seat near the door showed Gwen that Kenneth was in the audience, but he had disappeared by the time the chairs were pushed back and the dancing had begun. As usual Mr. Mitchell divided himself between Gwen and Ethel, though Gwen remembered afterward that to her share had fallen fewer dances than usual, and that Mr. Mitchell and Ethel had sat out more than one dance on the porch. These little informal affairs always closed early and ten o'clock saw the lanterns bobbing in various directions as the dancers wended their way home over uneven paths. Usually a party of them tarried for awhile at the ice-cream saloon, where delectable ices were to be had, and where the sweets were highly approved. It was a cosy little place, the "saloon" proper being divided from the small shop by portieres of antique make and design, these being nothing more nor less than hand-woven blue-and-white counterpanes, heirlooms in the family of Timson. This evening, however, Gwen did not join the other young people at the favorite resort but jogged along with the Misses Gray. There was a trip to Portland to be undertaken the next day, and she must be up and off betimes in order to get through the day's shopping which had become a necessity.

It was not an unpleasant duty to seek the tidy bright little city, which always had the air of being freshly washed and dressed, for one generally found some pleasant neighbor to chat with on the way, and even the slow-going steamboat, winding in and out among the islands of Casco Bay, was not a bad place to rest in after a day's rushing about from shop to shop. If the weather were good there was no more charming series of views than those in which fair islands, rippling water, and distant wooded shores found a place. Sails made rosy by the setting sun, golden gleams along sandy beaches, sun-touched rocks, and emerald sea gave such color as delighted most of those who sought these favored shores, and Gwen's was the most ardently nature-loving soul among them.

She glanced over the assemblage of those who had congregated upon the upper deck, but seeing no vacant place upon the side she preferred, she went down stairs. The little cabin was full of shoppers with baskets and bundles, women with babies, travellers with bags, but she had no desire to stay cooped up within, so she stepped out upon the little narrow deck usually unfrequented by passengers. There were but three occupying chairs here; one was a stalwart man surrounded by huge parcels, another was a portly woman who had settled herself in the midst of a collection of bundles, boxes and bags. Between these two, and quite aloof, sat Kenneth Hilary. A vacant stool was between him and the portly woman. Gwen's mind was quickly made up. She climbed over a huge coil of rope in her way, circumnavigated, as well as she could, the collection of bundles, boxes and bags, possessed herself of the vacant stool and sat down, planting her own bag firmly in front of her. Then turning around she said demurely, "Good evening, Mr. Hilary."


He looked around quickly. There was no escape. The ponderous man had hedged himself in securely at one end, the stout woman's array of goods formed a barrier at the other, and even supposing he were to brave the dangers that Gwen had done, he must incommode the girl herself and show himself distinctly rude. There was nothing to do but accept the situation. "Good evening," he said and then silence fell.

Gwen turned her head slightly that her eyes might rest on the man's goodly length of limb, the shapely hands, the rather rugged but wholly attractive face under the yachting cap. The brilliant eyes were turned away. If only she could see into their clear brown depths and bring again that intense expression she had beheld more than once. In spite of the discouragement which met her first efforts she felt the opportunity to be as golden as the light which glorified land and sea, and she took her courage in both hands. It was now or never. "I haven't seen you for such a long, long time," she said a little tremulously. "At least I haven't had a chat with you. Did you get some good sketches that foggy day when I met you on the road?"

"Fairly good ones," was the none too responsive answer.

"I'd love to see them."

No reply, only a tightening of the lips.

"Dear me," thought Gwen, "it is going to be harder than I imagined. I shall have to go to greater lengths. I am not to be met half way at all. It seems perfectly dreadful," she began again, "to think of all the lovely things you may have been doing, and that I have not seen one of them."

"You are very good to speak so flatteringly of my poor efforts."

"Ice," thought Gwen, "snow-balls similarly, and all the frozen things combined. I shall have to take another tack. I saw you at the Hall last night. Why didn't you stay to the dance?"

"I was tired."

"Nothing doing in that direction," Gwen told herself in girlish vernacular. "Well, there are two good hours before us. I shall have to thaw him out in some way. Suppose, just suppose it should be my last chance in life to meet him undisturbed." She ventured again. "The summer is almost over. Shall you be sorry to leave the island, Mr. Hilary?"

"For most reasons, no. I have made pretty good use of its possibilities for one season."

"A little better. I'll follow this up," Gwen decided, then aloud, "It has so many possibilities I don't think they can be used up in one season. Shall you come back next summer?"

"I doubt it, though it's rather too far ahead to make plans."

"But your plans—Fools rush in,"—Gwen quoted to herself—"I am interested in them. You were to decide something very important. Have you had any more light on the subject?"

"I have decided to keep on working and studying. Some day I may be an artist."

"Oh, I am so glad," broke out so spontaneously that the young man's rigid expression softened a little. "Then," the girl continued, "what about the holes in the family fortunes? You don't have to—darn them?" She laughed a little.

Kenneth's face clouded again. The reference brought up too sweet a memory of those first days of their acquaintance. "Fortunately for me," he returned coldly, "the fortunes of my family have improved," and Gwen felt repulsed.

"I am not asking from idle curiosity," there was a little quiver in her voice, "but because I am deeply interested." Then impulsively, "Aren't you ever going to forgive me, Mr. Hilary? I was horrid, I was vilely cruel that—that evening. I have been sorry ever since that I was such a beast." Having gone thus far she continued rapidly, "I have missed you dreadfully. It seemed such a lingering punishment when day after day I caught glimpses of you out sketching, and knew you were doing things I was dying to see, little bits that I loved off there in Sheldon woods, beautiful, mysterious effects on the bay, and those wonderful opalescent colorings of certain evenings. Don't you think I have been punished long enough? Can't we be friends again?" She spoke wistfully, almost as if there were tears in her eyes.

"Do you really feel that way about it?" asked Kenneth, nervously twisting the cord which held a small package he carried.

"I feel just that way, and it's been growing worse and worse. You would pass me by every time. You have taken such pains to avoid me. You never came to the dances, and refused all invitations to affairs where you knew you would be liable to meet me. So you see I had every reason to feel that I had sinned beyond hope of forgiveness. But, when I saw," she glanced at the barriers at each end of the deck, "when I saw that you couldn't very well get away without jumping overboard I made up my mind to risk my life by climbing over that mountain of shopping," she nodded toward the portly woman, "in order to tell you that I am sorry for what I said. It was fairly brutal."

There was no answer, but the nervous twisting of the cord ceased, and the hands gripped the package as if they would crush it.

"Please, Mr. Painter-man, forgive a meek maiden, and put her out of her suffering."

He turned suddenly. "Miss Whitridge, do you think I haven't suffered, too?"

"I am sorry, oh, so sorry. Don't let's suffer any more, please."

"How can I help it when you are going to marry that—"

"Jar-fly? But suppose I have decided that I don't care for jar-flies in my collection, even when they have gold wings, ruby eyes and are powdered with diamond dust? Suppose the jar-fly has flown to another flower and that I saw him go with joyous satisfaction?"

"Is that absolute truth?"

"Absolute. Yesterday the jar-fly and the butterfly, like the owl and the pussy cat, 'went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat,' and if they didn't reach 'the land where the bone-tree grows,' they did get caught in the storm on Jagged Island. The result I foresee, for if they are not actually engaged they must be close to it, judging from certain looks and remarks of last night, while I am ready waiting with my blessing, which I assure you will be of the heartiest kind." She turned a smiling face upon her companion. "Please remove the instruments of torture. I have made my confession."

"Thank you for it. Consider the instruments of torture, as you are pleased to call them, sunk in the depths of the sea."

"Thanks. I think I notice a volume of steam issuing from the spot where they sank. Now we are friends, aren't we? And you are going to tell me about the family fortunes. You are going to let me see all your sketches, every single one, and you are never going to pass me on the road without stopping to say some nice friendly thing. You promise all this?"

"All of it."

"Family fortunes first, for, of course, the other things have to wait. What has happened?"

"My mother has entered a second time into the matrimonial state. Her husband has ample means, so the family fortunes don't even have to be patched. When they get ragged they can be thrown away."

"How perfectly lovely. That is the last solution we should have dreamed of, isn't it?"

His heart leaped at that use of the first person plural. "I certainly didn't expect it," he said.

"And you don't feel sorry? Not a bit?"

"Not at all. I am very glad if my mother is happy. He isn't exactly the kind of man I should have selected as a veritable parent, but since my mother is satisfied I have nothing to say."

"What is he?"

"A wealthy brewer, or pork-packer or something of the kind."

"You have met him?"

"Yes. He is large, florid and expansive in manner."

"You didn't go to the wedding?"

"I wasn't asked. They stepped off quietly, were married and sailed for Europe at once."

Gwen pondered over the information. "Before then what was happening to you? Had you decided to stick to your palette and brushes?" she asked presently.

"No. I had decided to do the other thing."



"How miserable you must have been with a desk and counting house ever before your eyes. You were all alone, too, for your sister and the children were away. You poor boy!" Her voice was tender as she remembered that she had added to his unhappiness. "It is perfectly lovely," she went on, "to think that you don't have to sacrifice yourself."

"I shall be a poor man for a great many years, I am afraid," he said soberly.

"What of it? You are young, and it is worth everything to be able to follow the occupation you love best. 'The best use of your best powers' is how some one defines happiness, so you will be happy. Perhaps the new papa will send you abroad to study."

"Do you think I would go under such circumstances?" returned the young man fiercely.

"Proudy! Well, maybe he'll buy all your pictures. You couldn't refuse, not to one of the family, who isn't a—jar-fly."

Kenneth laughed a little. It was so delightful to respond to her gay spirits, to be able to feel in sympathy with her sly allusions. They were back again on the old footing. He laughed again. "No, he isn't that, but I don't believe he will want to buy my pictures, in spite of there not being the same reason for refusing to sell as when you—"

"When I acted like a cold-blooded jellyfish." She blushed when she remembered the exact cause of that refusal to sell, but she was happy, absurdly so. The blood was coursing wildly through her veins. She had triumphed and not only did she glory in her victory, but she felt that the vanquished hugged his chains. "That fatal picture," she sighed. "Did you paint another like it?"

"Not exactly, though much the same."

"And have you sold it?"


"Any others?"

"Two or three small ones."

"What are you going to do with that one?" she asked with sudden audacity.

"Which one?"

"You know. The wave that threatened to wreck our friendship."

He did not answer for a moment, but sat gazing at her, at the joyous curves of her sweet mouth, the flying tendrils of hair that curled around her small ears, the tender expression of her clear eyes. "Will you take it?" he asked suddenly. "I make no conditions—I have no right. I have my way to make, you know, but if you will have the picture—"

"As a sign and seal of our eternal friendship? Yes, I will take it gladly, and thank you a thousand times. You are right. You have your way to make, and you must not let anything stand in the way of that. No man has the right to hamper his career in the beginning, and no woman," she added softly, "would allow him to, if she valued his success at all. I do value yours, Mr. Hilary."

"I believe it, dear Gwen. Please let me call you that, and say Kenneth to me."

"I agree, for we are friends, real, true, loyal friends aren't we?"

"We are that. At the very least I am your true friend. At the very most—I cannot tell you what I am at the most. Some day I hope I may."

"Wait till that some day, and in the meantime you will tell me everything else; you will see me often and life will be very sweet, I hope. Are we so near home? Yes, ours is the next landing, and—oh dear me, I hadn't noticed that our heavily burdened neighbors had gone ashore. We are the only ones left on this deck. Did you think I was very forward to make that venturesome journey over all that pile of stuff in order to speak to you? I did it wilfully because I simply could not have things going on so wofully."

"I not only forgive you, but I bless you for your heroism. Do you forgive me for being so stand-offish?"

"You were horrid. I never saw such an iceberg."

"As I pretended to be. It was all pretence. I was a seething volcano inside when you sat down."

"Oh, you nice boy to confess it. Are you going to walk home with me and help me carry my bundles? You have such an insignificant little one compared to mine."

"Only some little tubes of colors I went up on the noon boat to get. I can put them in my pocket and I'll gladly carry all yours."

"I am willing to take my share of the burdens; I am young," returned Gwen with a swift look that made the man's heart beat fast, for what underlying promise was there not in her words, the more emphasized as the blue eyes drooped softly and she turned shyly away under his ardent gaze.

At last the steamer stopped at the lower wharf, and the two took the path along a way odorous with sweet grass and bracken, then over the long white road they travelled slowly, up the little incline, past Cap'n Ben's house and through the stile to the pasture, talking merrily of light things.

Just before reaching Cap'n Ben's they saw Ethel and Mr. Mitchell coming home from the rocks. Gwen waved her umbrella and called out to them; they answered cheerily and both went toward Almira Green's. Further on they saw Luther Williams and stopped to speak to him. "Isn't it the most wonderful evening?" said Gwen, her face aglow. "We've had the loveliest of trips coming home on the boat."

"She's rather late to-night," said Mr. Williams.

"Is she?" returned Gwen innocently. "I thought the time unusually short." Then she colored and laughed softly. "I shall see you to-morrow, dear Daddy Lu," she whispered.

At the porch Kenneth lingered. "May I bring you the picture in the morning?" he asked.

"Will you? I hope you will, for I shall not feel quite safe till you do."

"How safe?"

"In my belief that we are friends again."

He bent his head, softly kissed her fingers and said, "Hereby I set my seal of eternal devotion."

"To our friendship," added Gwen tremulously. She must not let him say more, and he understood, though he kissed her fingers again, this time with a swift eagerness which denied mere friendship, and then they parted.

"Tired, little girl?" said her aunt as she came in. "I have kept your supper hot. It has been a long day for you, I'm afraid."

"Not so very long," returned Gwen, "and you know I love the coming home part. It was glorious on the water this evening."

"I must say you don't look particularly dejected," said Miss Elliott, pouring out a cup of chocolate for her.

Gwen laughed, a low happy laugh. "Who could feel dejected on such an evening?" she said.

"I didn't remark that it was anything very unusual."

"It was on the boat," replied the girl. She was restless for the next hour and made the excuse of her early start that morning to account for her eagerness to go to her room. "For to-morrow, to-morrow," she whispered to herself, as she went up stairs. "And after that other to-morrows. How glad I am to be alive." Before she drew her curtains she looked out, and against the starlit sky, she saw a well-known figure standing a little distance off, upon the rocks. When she had blown out her candle she looked once more, and saw the man walk slowly away. "The darling!" she murmured, "he has been watching my light. It will be a long time to wait, but we are young, and oh dear God, I am so thankful he has come back to me."



But there was no happy talk with Luther Williams the next day, for sad news came to the island, and at Cap'n Ben's house there was a grief-stricken girl, widowed while scarcely more than a child. It was an incoming vessel which brought the tidings of the loss of one of the Mary Lizzie's crew. Happy, careless, pleasure-loving Manny Green had been drowned during a heavy gale. Like most of the other fishermen, he could not swim, and had sunk for the last time before help could reach him. It was while trying to soothe Ora that Miss Phosie learned for the first time that the girl and her lover were married on the day when Ora had started for Bangor. Manny had met her on the boat, they had gone to the nearest clergyman to have the ceremony performed and Manny had taken his little bride on a long trolley ride for a wedding trip. They had spent a couple of days in a quiet inland town, and then Ora had gone on to Bangor, returning, before her family expected, that she might spend with Manny the last days he should be ashore. Not only poor little Ora, but Almira Green, was stricken by the blow, and they mourned together. "She is all alone," said Ora, "and she loved him. I think I ought to stay with her now, Aunt Phosie, for she has no one else." Therefore to Almira went the girl with the intention of passing her life under the roof which had sheltered the boyhood of her young husband.

The sorrowful news affected everyone, and it was a depressed and subdued girl who greeted Kenneth when he appeared at Wits' End that morning. The tears were very near Gwen's eyes, and she could scarce speak at first, for the thought constantly recurred: suppose it had been you. Kenneth, too, looked grave, and the joyousness of their past evening seemed to have gone from them.

"I feel so sorry for Ora," said Gwen. "We grew to be friends after a fashion, for we were companions in misery, that day of the storm, the very storm, I am afraid, in which Manny lost his life. We went down to the shore together. I was anxious about Ethel, and—" she hesitated, then made bravely frank in the remembrance of a grief which might have come to her—"I was anxious about you, for I had seen you go out."

Kenneth caught her hand and held it tightly for a moment, then laid it gently back on her lap. It was hard to have self-command at such a moment, and he would fain have taken her in his arms then and there. "If I had known you were anxious about me it would have made a difference," he said in a low voice.

She laid her hand lightly on his sleeve for just a second, and they sat looking at one another, their eyes full of the love their lips might not speak. Gwen was the first to break the silence. "You have brought the picture. It was so good of you to come early. May I see it?"

He set the picture on a chair and she knelt in front of it. "How lovely it is," she said presently with a sigh. "I think I like it better than the other. I can't believe that it is really mine. What shall I say to thank you?"

"You have already given me more thanks than are due me, and such as I value most, for you truly like it."

"I love it, and to think it is going to stay with me always! I don't agree with you in thinking no more thanks are due you."

"There is only one thing you could give," he answered unsteadily. "Perhaps I ought not to ask it, but if anything were to happen to either of us—we are soon to be separated—it would mean much to me if I could carry away the remembrance of one kiss."

Gwen stood in front of him with drooping head. Suppose anything were to happen to either of them! She lifted her face and he kissed her gently, holding her close to him for one moment, and then letting her go. "It shall not be a long time," he said passionately. "I must have the right soon. I shall work as never man worked before."

"Don't work too hard," said Gwen, with the solicitude of the woman who loves. "I can wait—I will wait, Kenneth, no matter how long, and what does it matter how long when—we love each other?"

The last words were spoken so low that he must bend his head to hear them, and for the moment his self-control was flung to the winds. "My darling!" he said, "we love each other. Bless you for saying what I dared not say." He drew her close again, and kissed her lips, her eyes, her hair, then put her from him. "It will not do," he sighed. "I cannot be a selfish beast. I will not demand anything from you. I want you to be as free as ever, but I shall never forget this blessed hour. No matter what happens, I shall have had this."

"'Now who can take from us what has been ours?'" quoted Gwen softly. "Yes, Kenneth, dear, it is best for us to be only friends, though in our hearts we feel that we are otherwise. I won't, won't, won't stand in the way of your career."

"And I won't, won't, won't stand in the way of your future if it chances that you should become tired of waiting."

"I'll not tire, but all the same we are to be friends, just good friends and comrades."

Just then a step interrupted them, and Gwen turned to greet Cap'n Ben, who had come to say that Ora wanted to see Miss Whitridge.

"I will go, of course I will," Gwen responded. She turned to Kenneth. "You will come back later?"

"This afternoon, if I may, and I will bring some of my sketches for you to see."

Gwen gave him her hand. "Please," she said. She could not bear the thought of being parted from him for long, when there was Ora whom death had parted from her lover.

"She's at Almiry's," said Cap'n Ben, as he strode by the girl's side. "I cal'late we'll have to give her up to Almiry now, and I guess it's right she should go. Almiry's had a pretty hard time of it, working for the boy, and now her and Ora can help each other. Almiry'd pine away left to herself. It's a good thing her boarders have most all gone. She won't have much sperrit to look after 'em. Last one'll leave to-morrow. I guess she won't bother with 'em next year."

There was a feeling of fall in the air. The White Mountains stood out blue and distinct, the sea was almost indigo-hued, save where a golden path of sunlight spread across it, and where white-rimmed breakers chased each other shoreward. Everything was clean-cut and intense in color. The houses showed sharply against their background of sea, the tops of the sombre firs were outlined against the unclouded sky, the rocks showed purply-gray. The apples on Cap'n Ben's stunted little trees were slowly reddening. Only a few flowers flaunted themselves still in the gardens, dahlias, asters and sweet peas held their own, while against the gray shingles of some deserted cottages a tangle of nasturtiums displayed glowing blooms of flame-color and orange.

But bright though the day, there was a subdued air about the island. Those Gwen and Cap'n Ben met nodded gravely. There was a troubled look upon the women's faces, as though they feared a remorseless answer to the often recurring question, Who next?

In the sitting-room of Almira Green's low white cottage they found Ora at Almira's feet, her head resting in the lap of the elder woman. She did not rise as Gwen came in, and the girl, throbbing with her own new joy, knelt down by the other, put her arms around her and laid her cheek against Ora's, wet with her womanhood's first tears. There were no words to say. Comfort was too distant a thing to be looked for now; the phantom of a lost happiness hovered mockingly near, a happiness that found the sorrowing girl but a little maid, and left her a weeping wife. Almira sat, dry-eyed, her toil-worn hand fingering Ora's fair hair. "She's most worn out with crying," she said to Gwen. "It's come sooner to her than to most."

The tears sprang to Gwen's eyes. She hated the sea for the moment, that sea in which she had gloried every day during these holiday weeks. She did not wonder that fisher people did not love it, that it seemed to them a cruel thing upon which they were glad to turn their backs. "I wish there were something I could do or say," she murmured as she rose to her feet and stood looking down at Almira.

Presently Ora lifted her heavy head. "If we only had a picture of him, but we haven't. He meant to have some taken, but we spent the money that time in Portland, and he promised as soon as he came back he'd go right to the photographer's. We were going together." She dropped her head again and burst into a fresh paroxysm of weeping.

Some one knocked at the door, and Gwen turned. "Shall I go, Mrs. Green?" she asked.

Almira nodded, and Gwen went through the silent house and opened the front door. Kenneth stood there. "Oh," said Gwen, "did you come for me?"

He stepped inside. "I have brought a little study of Manny that I made one day down at the cove. It is only a quick sketch, but I think it looks rather like him, and maybe they would like to have it."

"Oh, Kenneth!" Gwen held out her hand eagerly for the small canvas. "Ora was just grieving because they have no photograph of him. You dear boy to think of coming with it."

"I worked it up a little," said Kenneth, "so it is still wet, but I thought I'd try to make it less of a sketch. Do you think it is like him?" He held off the picture at arm's length.

Gwen looked at it earnestly. "It is very like," she told him. "You have caught his happy, careless expression. He was a good-looking lad, poor boy. May I take it in? Will you go, too?"

"I'll wait outside for you."

She carried the picture carefully to the sitting-room, and set it on a chair where the light could strike it. Then she touched the forlorn figure whose face was still hidden in Almira's lap. "Ora," she said, "look here, dear. You see there does sometimes come some small comfort in our darkest hours. Mr. Hilary has brought you a little picture he made of Manny. Will you look at it? Mrs. Green, you, too, please. It is still wet and must not be touched for a day or two."

Ora sprang to her feet, and gazed with sobbing breath at the picture of Manny leaning against the railing of the boat-landing, his hat pushed back from his smiling face, his hands in his pockets, the whole attitude one of careless ease. So had his friends seen him often. "It is Manny," whispered Ora, "Manny. Aunt Almira, do see."

"Aunt Almira," murmured Mrs. Green. "Some one still calls me that." She raised her eyes, leaned forward and looked long and earnestly at the picture, then the blessed relief of tears came to her. She dropped her head on Ora's shoulder and shook with sobs. The act of dependence aroused Ora to a sense of responsibility. "There, there," she whispered, "don't take on, Aunt Almira. We've got each other, and we loved him."

Mrs. Green wiped her eyes. "Please thank the gentleman," she said. "It was very kind of him."

"There ain't a thing we'd sooner have, please tell him," said Ora. "It's wonderful." It was hard for these people to say even so much. Thanks were not easily expressed, obligations were rarely admitted. Gracious acceptance did not come naturally, but Gwen felt that they were sincerely gratified.

"I'll tell Mr. Hilary," she said, "and I know he will be glad you like the picture. He would not come in."

"Perhaps you'll bring him another time," said Almira. "I'd like to tell him we appreciate his present."

Ora followed Gwen to the door. "I know now why you understood," she said in a low voice. "I hope you'll be very, very happy."

"Oh, Ora, we must wait a long while, and no one knows yet, not even my aunt, so please—"

"I won't mention it, but I know, and I'm glad he did that picture. I'm glad he's the one, for he must be good and kind to think of bringing it. I can't tell you what it means to have it."

This was saying a great deal, and Gwen knew it meant more than extravagant thanks from some others. She kissed the girl's pale cheek and went out into the bright sunlight.

"Shall we go home by the rocks?" asked Kenneth, coming forward.

"No, I don't want to look at the sea to-day," Gwen told him. Then she gave him the messages from the two women she had just left, and they talked softly of the picture as they walked along.

Further on they met Ethel Fuller. "We're going to-morrow," she said. "Aunt Harriet wanted to go long ago, and she's sorry now we didn't leave yesterday. It is dreadful to be in a house where there is such trouble, and we can't do a thing. I'm quite ready myself to go now. We shall stop in Boston for a few days."

Gwen smiled. "And Mr. Mitchell?"

"He is going to-morrow, too. He gave up his trip to Bar Harbor, after all." Ethel looked exultant.

"Then you'll have his escort to Boston. That's good. I hope he'll make it pleasant for you while you're there."

"He's sure to do that. I am coming over to see you this afternoon, Gwen, to say good-by. I left Aunt Harriet making her rounds, but I have my packing to do. Auntie is so forehanded; her trunks are all ready. I'm really dying to be off. It will be good to get into the stir and bustle of a city again, and I love the Boston shops. I suppose you'll be going soon, Mr. Hilary."

"My sister is beginning her preparations, I believe, though I shall stay while the weather is pleasant."

Ethel gave Gwen a laughing glance as she walked on. "See you this afternoon," she said.

"Then we shall not have our walk to the woods," remarked Kenneth when Ethel was out of hearing.

Gwen shook her head. "Afraid not, but to-morrow we shall have the island to ourselves or nearly so. The Gray sisters go next week. Most of the boarders have gone, and I noticed more than one cottage closed for the winter as I came along. I shall love it when the transients stop traipsing over the pasture, and cease to crowd the rocks like a flock of pelicans. Already the place seems more our own."

"There will be a moon, though rather late to-night. May I come to Wits' End and watch it rise?"

"Most certainly, and what about the sketches?"

"I left a load of them with Miss Elliott. You can look at them at your leisure."

"Without the showman?"

"Do you want him?"

"I want him to tell me the merits of each, so you'd better come along now. You can stay to dinner. There will be quantities of excellent chowder, warmed over baked beans, with whatever vegetables we can scrape together. I think there is pie for dessert. Can you stand the combination?"

"It sounds appetizing, especially the chowder. I see Ira's wagon going our way; I'll send word to my sister not to expect me." He ran after the wagon, which was turning into the cove road, and gave his message.

"Do you like cranberries?" asked Gwen. "I think we shall have some of them, too. I adore them. If you gather them when they are just turning pink, not red, they make much better sauce than when they are fully ripe. If you will not tell anyone I'll show you where they grow." She led the way across the pasture to a marshy spot a short distance from the beaten path. Lifting the graceful tendrils of the pretty vines, she showed, buried in soft gray-green moss, the tiny globes of waxy pink. "This is my own special find," she said. "I have already gathered two quarts, and to-morrow I can get more. I am glad there is a to-morrow," she added. "Now come and show me the sketches. I hope there are some moonlit waves. Isn't it wonderful to see the golden gates open and that glittering pathway unroll upon the sea? One feels as if it led up—up to some enchanted palace. I can almost persuade myself into starting across the shiny road to fairy land. Then those little dancing flecks, 'patines of bright gold,' are like water-fairies luring one on to where the glittering path leads. I can scarce resist them."

"Don't follow them, please."

"I won't, I promise you. Are there any moonlights among your sketches?"

"Several. I have tried to express the effect very often, but I am afraid I have made many failures."

"Perhaps I can tell whether you have or not."

The sketches occupied the time till the dinner hour, after which meal Kenneth took his leave, but not before Miss Fuller arrived. The door had hardly closed after the young man when Ethel grasped Gwen's hand. "Congratulate me," she cried, "I'm engaged."

"Really?" Gwen looked pleased. "Of course it is Mr. Mitchell, and that accounts for his giving up Bar Harbor."

"Yes, and I have to thank you for making us known to each other. It might not have happened if we had not gone to Jagged Island that day, for I am candid enough to admit that you occupied first place up to then. However our being in common danger, as it were, put us on a different footing. Ever since then I have noticed a difference in his manner toward me. It was Jagged Island that settled it, I am sure. Do give me the satisfaction of hearing that you really do not mind, Gwen. Now that I have actually won the race I feel a little guilty."

"My dear, you needn't in the very least. I am perfectly delighted. It isn't every day that one's friends marry millionaires. I congratulate you with all my heart, and have not the smallest pang."

"It only happened yesterday," Ethel went on, "but I had to tell you before I left. It will be announced when we get home. Aunt Harriet is so pleased."

Gwen's smile might be called a veritable grin. "Of course she is. Very few aunts would not be."

"Would yours?"

"I am not sure. She is so darlingly unworldly that she might ask all sorts of probing questions that one couldn't answer to her satisfaction. Shall you be married soon, Ethel?"

"In the spring, I think. Who could ever dream that in this little unfashionable isolated place I should meet a man like Cephas? As Aunt Harriet says, I might have gone up and down the coast for years and never have found his like. I was so disgusted, too, when we first arrived at what seemed to me a perfectly impossible place. It has been the loveliest summer I ever spent, and it is all due to you, Gwen." In her great content Ethel was at her best.

"I am so very, very glad," murmured Gwen.

"I do wish the Hardy girls were still here, and Flossy Fay." Ethel would have enjoyed the triumph of announcing her engagement to them.

"All the other butterflies have flown," said Gwen. "We are the only ones left."

"I have my doubts about your being a butterfly at all," returned Ethel. "I think you tried to be and failed."

"Why do you think that?"

Ethel smiled. "You'll not like it if I tell you why."

"I promise not to turn and rend you."

"Then I think you would rather help a poor man build up his fortunes by—we will say—stirring up pancakes in a studio—than to be mistress of an establishment on Commonwealth Avenue."

"Do give me credit for more common sense than to consent to spoil a man's career would indicate," replied Gwen lightly. "No, it just happens that I shouldn't care to live in Boston, having been brought up south of Mason and Dixon's line."

Ethel laughed. "Tell that to the marines! I'll yet see in some exhibition a 'portrait of the artist's wife' in which I shall recognize my friend Gwendolin Hilary, née Whitridge."

"All right. Have it your own way," said Gwen, trying not to look conscious. "At all events I am honestly glad for you, Ethel, as I want you to believe."

"Oh, I believe; I'm only too ready to. Good-by, dear. I count on you to be one of my bridesmaids."

"No rash promises," declared Gwen. "I shall then be teaching finger-plays and kindergarten songs to such an extent that there'll be no time to devote to wedding fixings."

"I shall count on you, nevertheless. Good-by and thank you for being the dear generous girl that you are."

Gwen watched the red jersey disappear over the brow of the hill. "'Tis an ill wind that blows nobody good," she said to herself. "I suppose the Lord sent a millionaire my way just to see what I'd do, and to teach me not to make vain boasts. I feel very meek when I think of Commonwealth Avenue."



Within a week most of the summer cottages were boarded up and closed for the winter. Only a few lights still twinkled out at night along shore. The crickets sang in the dry grass or under some still warm hearthstone. The waxy cranberries had turned a rosier pink and down in the marsh hardhack and roseberries disputed the sway of golden rod and asters. Outside Ira Baldwin's barn was a row of newly hewn decoy ducks, freshly painted and ready for use. The report of the hunters' rifles was already heard in the early morning as the "honk! honk!" of wild geese betokened a flight southward. Strange weirdly-moving fingers of light played across the northern skies at night, rosy pulsings and quivering gleams travelled from left to right and back again, growing and fading and growing again mysteriously.

Still Miss Elliott and Gwen stayed on, and though from the cottage by the cove the tenants had all gone, Kenneth remained, having persuaded Cap'n Ben to take him in for the little time he should be on the island. He had seen his sister, with her children and the maid, safely on the steamer which should bear them to New York, and then he had returned with a feeling of possessing the beauty of Fielding's Island in a new sense, since now, in all its length and breadth were no summer visitors remaining except himself and the dwellers at Wits' End. Sheldon woods seemed a vast silence, the barrier of rocks along the ocean front a fortress with but a solitary sentinel left to watch. Jagged Island, afar off, appeared unapproachable. The Domhegan's single trip a day served to give one the feeling of not being cut off entirely from the outside world, though there was an ever present sense of indifference to what might be going on in other places. The wizard's most triumphant hour was near when his fetters would bind so tightly that no one could set foot outside his realm.

Miss Phosie coddled her new boarder unremittingly, and, because of their nearer association, Luther Williams and the young man became closer friends than ever, and spent much time together. Frequently Gwen made a third in long walks in the crisp air, and sometimes Kenneth would go on a cruise to a near island with Luther Williams as skipper, and it was seldom that they returned without a cargo of sketches.

To Daddy Lu Gwen had opened her heart and he had received her confidences, as she knew he would, sympathetically and with grave interest. "Of course we are not engaged," Gwen told him. "That wouldn't do, but I suppose it is what people call an understanding, and we are very happy. It will be years before we can think of marrying, perhaps we shall never be able to, but it doesn't matter so long as we love each other. So, dear Daddy Lu, you will probably see us mooning about the island for many summers to come. So long as we shall not be living in the same city we shall have to be separated in winter, but we hope our summers can be spent here. I shall go on teaching while he is working, and it will not seem hard to either of us."

"Do you like teaching?" asked Mr. Williams.

"I don't mind it. I love the dear babies, and I get interested when I am fairly started. Now, with the beautiful summers up here to look forward to, I shall mind less than ever. I should hate to think I must do it always till I became a worn-out decrepit old hack. I often wonder how I should feel to be going on without Aunt Cam, and the three or four rooms we call home. Sometimes I think that day may come, for now I don't believe I could ever go to China if occasion offered."

Mr. Williams looked startled. "Do you think it will ever come? Does she speak of going back?"

"She hints at it sometimes. Perhaps I ought not to tell even you, though I know you are not a gossip." She smiled, for anything further from a gossip than Luther Williams could not be imagined. "There is some one in China," she went on, "some one Aunt Cam met when she went over there, a man who has been, and still is, devoting his life to the people in a far-off district. He has been the one man to Aunt Cam, a hero above all others. She would willingly have joined him in his work, but he felt that it would be insupportable for a woman in the place where he believed himself to be the most needed, and so they parted, although each cared more for the other than for anyone else in the world. If he should need her at any time, if his health should fail, and he should go to a more comfortable place, leaving his work to a younger man, I think she would not hesitate to devote the rest of her life to him. She put the case before me once, and asked me if I would be willing to go with her. She feels very responsible for me, dear Aunt Cam, and I know it is mainly on my account that she stays here and does not go back."

"There are few women who love like that," said Mr. Williams, after a pause.

"There are a good many, I think," returned Gwen. "I used to believe I could be easily persuaded to go with her, but now I know I could not go, for there is some one as dear to me here as there is dear to me there. It would tear out Aunt Cam's heart to leave me behind unless it were in a home of my own, but so would it distress her to stay if she were needed there."

"Perhaps the question will never arise," said Mr. Williams, "but it ought to be provided for if it does." He spoke half to himself.

"Perhaps I could find some nice quiet people to board with," Gwen went on. "At all events I can take care of myself. I don't know why all this has come up to-day, unless it is because there was a letter from China in yesterday's mail and Aunt Cam has had a far-off look ever since. She is splendid, that dear aunt of mine, and I should feel pretty forlorn and desolate without her. I should pity myself for being an orphan if it were not for her. As it is, I suppose my lack of relatives has been a bond of sympathy between Ethel Fuller and myself, for she has no parents, either, though I don't think her aunt is half so dear as mine."

"If you could marry, you and the boy," said Mr. Williams after a silence, "it would settle it all, wouldn't it? You could have the home and the protection without the necessary parents. It would have to come some day. You would leave your parents, if you had them, for the boy." He always spoke thus of Kenneth.

"Oh yes, no doubt, for it is what girls do every day."

"That is what I mean. Well, my dear, when the time comes it is probable there will be a way provided."

"If it hadn't been for you," said Gwen softly, "I might never have come to my own. I think you scared me, dear Daddy Lu, into giving up any thought of marrying for money."

"I'm glad of that, very glad," he answered smiling. "I've done something then to be thankful for."

"I'm the one to be thankful. To think of my losing the 'boy' through any such hallucination as the idea that I could be happy with anyone else. I realize that more and more every day in proportion as I know him better and he grows dearer to me. You've saved me, Daddy Lu. You've saved my life."

He laid his hand gently on hers. "That's a big thing to say, but I think maybe you're right. What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose—"

"His own soul," Gwen finished the text. "It amounts to that when one forfeits his best self to a craving for luxury and ease. Aunt Cam says our best development always comes through sacrifice of some kind."

"She's right."

"So you have helped me to my best development, by showing me how the life can be more than meat and the body than raiment. I was thinking more of the meat and the raiment, I am afraid. Dear me, what a serious talk we are having, full of texts and such things. I feel as if I were actually preparing for the missionary field. However I am glad to have had the talk, and shall think of it many times when I am far away."

"That's a time I don't like to think about."

"Then you'd better come, too."

He shook his head. "I'm like a barnacle, glued to the rock by my own inner forces. I couldn't leave now."

He went to Portland the next day. Kenneth met him as he was coming home from the boat. "We missed you, old man," said Kenneth. "Gwen and I thought maybe you'd like a trip to Birch Island or somewhere. It's pretty sharp, but we shouldn't mind that. We were both saying that it would be harder to leave you than anybody or anything else." He put his hand affectionately on the older man's shoulder. "I am thinking of spending part of my winters in Washington where Gwen will be. Life is too short for us to waste it apart, if it can be avoided. Say, old man, why don't you come too? It would do you good to get into the world again. Why not come down and see the White House?"

Mr. Williams shook his head. "I've been here too long in my shell. I shouldn't know how to stand a city, now. You would be ashamed of your old fisherman."

"Not a bit of it. You'd soon fall into the old ways, for I know well enough you've been a city man."

"Yes," answered Mr. Williams slowly, "I've been a city man." Then, after a pause, "Do you expect to settle in Washington eventually? Perhaps, if you do, you'd be willing some time to take in an old fellow who'd be ready to bear up his end of the householder's burden. It might make that studio apartment come a little sooner."

"New York is the only place where I could make my bread and butter, I'm afraid," returned Kenneth. "My mother will be living there, and I shall put my pride in my pocket—who wouldn't for such a girl as Gwen?—and shall hope for a mad rush for my pictures from the moneyed friends of my new papa. Wouldn't New York suit you as well?"

"Never New York, never—" said Mr. Williams with intensity.

"Too bustling and noisy after this beautiful silence, isn't it? Still it is about the best place for an artist. What city would you suggest, if we didn't take New York into consideration?"

"Paris maybe, or somewhere abroad would suit me."

"Paris sounds seductive. We'll have to talk this scheme over, we three. It's good of you to think of it, dear old man. I know what you have in mind, and that is only the happiness of us two. You're the best friend I ever had. By the way, you told me once you had been married, that your wife died years ago. Were there any children?"

"There was a boy—a little fellow. He lived only a week. I think of him sometimes when I am talking to you. He would have been about your age. I can't tell you what I felt at losing him. The parental feeling is pretty strong in me, and I grieved terribly for that little week old baby. I grieve yet. Things might have been different if he had lived. He would have been an anchor I could not have cut loose from. As it was—well, it's a long time ago. One cannot alter the past."

"He can make his future, though," said Kenneth with the hope of youth strong within him.

"He can in a great measure, if there's much future left him, though it does appear sometimes as if there must be such a thing as inexorable fate."

"It was a happy fate that sent us your way," said Kenneth affectionately. "I think I must adopt you, too, as Gwen has done. You stand for a good deal more than the pork-packer who has recently become my step-father."

They went into the house together. Miss Phosie was watching for them, and had a table spread. The odor of fish and coffee, fresh gingerbread and baked apples filled the air. The room was piping hot. Under the stove lay Tinker snoring comfortably. Cap'n Ben was poring over his paper—now-a-days the mail was soon distributed. Miss Phenie in the most comfortable chair was knitting a pink "sweaterette" while she exchanged gossip with Zerviah Hackett. Ground was soon to be broken for two new cottages which would be ready for the next year, this was one item of news. Miss Elliott's well was to be started in a few days. Effie Jackson was going to teach school over on the Neck, and was keeping company with a young man of that neighborhood who was no one less than Ora's former lover, Al Daly,—and so it went.

Miss Phenie had lately arisen to the glory of a pompadour, thus emulating Mrs. Dow. "Who's ten years older than I am, if she's a day," said Miss Phenie to Zerviah. The pompadour, very heavy, very black, overhung Miss Phenie's forehead like a beetling crag. She was very conscious of it and bore it stiffly, as if she expected it momentarily to topple over and crush her. Cap'n Ben never tired of poking fun at it. He looked up now and said, "Why don't you take off your hat, Phenie, and stay with us awhile?"

Miss Phenie ignored the question and went on with her talk. "As I was saying, Zerviah, Ora's duty was just as much to me as to Almira, and her going leaves me pretty much cramped for time."

"She comes over every day and helps a lot," put in Miss Phosie, who more than Miss Phenie, missed her helper.

"I cal'late you wouldn't be so cramped for time, if you wasn't so everlastingly particular about that new hair contrivance of yours," spoke up Cap'n Ben. "Phenie cal'lates she'll prepare for cold weather in season," he said with a grin and a nod, as he turned to Miss Zerviah. "I guess I'll get myself one o' them warm pillows for the top o' my head," he went on. "Hair's getting kinder thin." He passed his hand over his bald pate and chuckled. "Keeps the sun out of your eyes pretty good, too, don't it, Phenie? I never thought your eyes was weak, but maybe it'll prevent you from having to get glasses. I had to put 'em on before I was your age."

Miss Phenie arose majestically, gathering up her knitting and saying, "Suppose we go to the settin'-room, Zerviah."

"I saw Obadiah Foster yist'day," shouted out Cap'n Ben, after her. "He'd just shot a coot. Wanted to know if you wouldn't like a wing to stick in that new cap he saw you was wearing." Obadiah Foster was a widower of some months standing. He had already buried three wives, and it was reported that he was looking out for the fourth, and therefore Cap'n Ben's witticism was not without point. Every available spinster or widow on the island had been mentioned by Miss Zerviah as "settin' her cap" for Obadiah, as Cap'n Ben well knew. He followed the departing pair to the door and continued his pleasantries by calling, "I say, Zerviah, why don't you git one of them caps like Phenie's? Obadiah might shoot another coot." This was too much, as the slamming of the sitting-room door proclaimed, and Cap'n Ben having had his joke, returned chuckling, to his paper.

"Now, father, you hadn't ought to be such a tease," said Miss Phosie, pouring out a cup of coffee for Mr. Williams.

"Phenie hadn't ought to be such an everlasting fool, then," answered her father. "You'd think she hadn't a namable thing to do, but dress up her head like a Guinea nigger's. She behaves like a year old colt, instead of a settled down old mare. Makes me sick." Cap'n Ben gave a mighty yawn, readjusted his spectacles, and betook himself again to his paper.

Miss Phosie, having finished serving her boarders, began to clear the table. Her eyes followed the two men wistfully as they left the room together. She did not wish Kenneth to go, but she would be pleased when, for lack of other company, Luther Williams would tarry longer in the kitchen, to talk to her while her father was absorbed in his paper. She wondered what had been the errand to town, for it was rarely that Mr. Williams went. Perhaps he thought he needed winter flannels; she could tell him that those he had, well mended, would last quite a while yet. She soon finished washing the few dishes, and sat down to her knitting. She was making wristlets for her father, and for Luther Williams. She kept both pairs going, and when Zerviah was present she always worked on Cap'n Ben's, which were red. Just now she preferred to work on the others, which were gray. Cap'n Ben liked lively colors, Luther Williams always chose quiet ones.

Presently the door opened and Ora came in. The pretty color was coming back to her cheeks, but she looked older, and her blue eyes had an expression in them which only a woman who has suffered, may know. "Just a little too late, ain't I, Aunt Phosie?" she said. "I see you have everything done up. I heard Mr. Williams went to town this morning, and I knew you'd be later'n usual getting through. You had two dinners to get, didn't you?"

"Oh, it wasn't a mite of trouble just to set his things on the table," returned Miss Phosie.

"Nothing is a trouble to you," said Ora. She had grown much gentler, and liked to be with her younger aunt more than formerly. "There doesn't seem to be much to do at our house," she went on. "We clear up and there's nobody to put things out of order. It's harder work having men-folks around, but I'd rather have 'em." She sighed a little.

"It must be dull for a young thing like her to spend her days with just one quiet woman," thought Miss Phosie. "Zerviah and Phenie are in the other room," she remarked to Ora. "Go in and hear the news. Zerviah's fetched quite a budget to-day."

Ora shook her head. "I don't want to, Aunt Phosie. She speaks so loud and says such things about—our needing a man about the house, and about its being wrong to hug our sorrow and waste our lives in useless repining, and all that—as if—as if I could ever forget Manny."

"She means well," responded Miss Phosie, "but she's so fond of managing other folks she can't see beyond her own ideas for 'em. Don't you mind her, Ora. You ain't wasting your life, not a mite. You've had what a good many would be thankful for, and that's the love of the man you cared for. There wasn't ever any clouds between you, and you was free to love each other all you wanted. It's a good thing to be free to do that; some never are. They have to hide their feelings from all eyes, and if the time comes that's come to you they wouldn't be free even to mourn, except in secret."

"That's true, Aunt Phosie," replied Ora. "And now that the worst has come I'm glad we did really belong to each other, and were husband and wife; that's a great comfort to me.

"I'm sure it must be," returned her aunt. "I'm glad, too, Ora."

"Aunt Phenie isn't. She talks about my throwing myself away, and all that—even now she does."

"Never you mind what folks say. You ain't wasting your life, and it ain't likely you ever will. I guess as time goes on your duties will be marked out pretty plain for you, and nobody'll gainsay that they're not duties. How's Almira?"

"She's pretty smart. She eats better. That reminds me. I thought I'd get you to let me have some of grandpap's nice good apples, if you have any to spare. She's real fond of apples."

"Of course you shall have some," Miss Phosie responded cordially. "We gathered some to-day from the trees down by the potato patch; they're proper good, too." She went through to the pantry, and saw, passing the window, Luther Williams and Kenneth pacing slowly. She gave a quick sigh. "Yes," she murmured, "it's a great thing to have the right to speak out your feelings. Ora hasn't lived very long, but she's had more than I've had." Then because it seemed too bold a thought, she thrust it from her, and diving down into the bag of apples, selected the finest for Almira who, too, had loved and lost, but had mourned openly.



"It is getting too lonely for three women to be down here on this point by themselves," remarked Miss Elliott one morning after a three days' storm during which they had scarcely set foot out of doors. "Lizzie is becoming discontented and yearns for city streets. Moreover, the supplies are not what they were, and she thinks our daily bill of fare unworthy of her powers. To be sure we are perfectly safe, for Mr. Williams comes prowling around before daybreak to see that we haven't been blown off the rocks over night, and Kenneth spends most of his time here, keeping his eye on us, as it were, or on you I should say," for it had been evident long before this how matters stood between the young people, and Gwen had confessed that there was an understanding between them. Once satisfied that Kenneth's character was all that she could approve, Miss Elliott offered no objections. "I hate to take you back to the city," she went on. "You look like a different girl, but I should like you to have a still longer holiday."

"I am a different girl," returned Gwen. "I am a very happy one. What a wonderful summer it has been. To be sure it will be a little hard to get into the traces again, but I feel quite equal to it, and the waiting for Kenneth doesn't seem hard when I am to see him before spring."

"I hope you will not have to wait all your life, dear child," said her aunt wistfully. "I should like to see you in a home of your own before I am called away."

Gwen felt that the last remark did not refer to a summons to another world. Had not Aunt Cam waited long and faithfully and might she not any day set sail for the land of her youthful labors?

"I wish," Miss Elliott went on, "that one of you had a little fortune of your own so you could marry while you are young."

"We don't need a big fortune, that is true," said Gwen. "We only require just enough to keep the pot boiling. When Kenneth is sure of that I shall be ready to share the 'olla podrida' with him, whatever olla podrida may be. I must ask Daddy Lu. By the way, Aunt Cam, he seems to be quite familiar with Spanish. I imagine he has been either to Spain or to some Spanish speaking country."

"Very possibly. He is an enigma, Gwen. Once or twice I have fancied I could solve the mystery of his early life, but now I realize that it is only one of those strong resemblances which are evident sometimes in persons distantly connected. At first I was very much upset by it, but I have gradually come to believe that he simply looks like some one else."

"I've felt, myself, as if his were a familiar face," returned Gwen. "Well, no matter whom he looks like, he always appears like a gentleman. Even in his old fisherman's clothes he is never anything but neat and tidy. He is a dear, and I shall hate to part from him. We have been trying to persuade him, Kenneth and I, to come away with us, but he will not do it. He says as we shall be in different cities, he couldn't be with us both, though he confesses he is trying to work out a plan which will bring us all together. I hope he will. I have become so used to seeing his dear old face around that I shall miss it. I hate to think of leaving him here. I know he will be lonely."

"After all these years? Surely he has become accustomed to the place and the people."

"Oh, but consider; this summer is the first time that he has made advances to anyone who came from the outside world. He has lived with his books. I fancy they will seem somewhat unresponsive now."

The day was bright and clear, though the wind still whistled through the pines and made a doleful clamor around the corners of the house. The open fire was now a necessity instead of merely a luxury, and the kitchen stove sent out a comforting heat all day. The nights were cold indeed, and more than once the dwellers at Wits' End had resorted to hot bricks in order to remove the chill from the beds when they crept between the sheets.

"Yes, it is time we were going," said Gwen as she and Kenneth started for a last walk to Sheldon woods. "We cannot stay till the snow flies, although I'd like to see the islands all a beautiful white like frosted cakes sitting on the blue platter of the ocean. Aunt Cam is fairly frozen out, and says it is getting to be next door to impossible to find anything we like to eat. I suppose we could order stores from Portland, but we really ought to be back, so next week finger-plays and cardboard patterns for me, while for you?"

"A plunge into study, life classes, models, talks with my fellow artists, and a hunt for a cheap studio."

"It makes life seem very complicated after this lovely simplicity, doesn't it? We are so free here, and it is so delightful to be able to wear your old clothes all the time. Now I shall have to wrestle with the problem of a winter outfit, and of how to make the best appearance on the least outlay. I can manage very well, though," she added quickly. "I'm not wild about clothes, and yet I don't believe I ever look really dowdy. Did I look dowdy that first time you saw me, so long, so long ago?"

"You never looked anything but adorably lovely," returned Kenneth with enthusiasm.

She lifted a protesting hand. "None of that."

"I thought you the most graceful girl I ever saw," Kenneth went on. "I remember thinking I'd like to make a study of you as you sat there."

"Where? That first time, was it?"

"Yes, at Madge McAllister's tea, where I had gone with my sister. You were sitting on a divan in one of your unconsciously picturesque poses. You wore a big black hat and some sort of pale yellow thing around your neck. Your dress was a pastel green, I remember. It was a charming study in color, and I would like to have painted you then and there."

"You never said so."

"I didn't dare then. I hoped to see you again and I had a sense of being defrauded when you suddenly disappeared and I couldn't find you, though I went through all the rooms. I remember that day when I met you on the train going to Annapolis; I thought it such a streak of good luck and meant to follow it up, but when I got back to the city you had left."

"And if you hadn't come up here, perhaps our ways would have parted."

"No, they would not. I should have hunted you out this winter when I went to Washington."

"And we should not yet have been more than mere acquaintances."

"Are you glad it is otherwise, sweet Gwen?"

"Please don't."

"I can't help it. The parting hour is so near. It makes me wild to think of it. How can I keep back what I so long to say? I love you, love you, love you, Gwen. Let me tell you here in these woods where we have had so many happy times. You needn't say anything in return, my darling girl, though I am a selfish beast, and long to have you." He caught her hand and kissed the blue-veined wrist where it showed white between her glove and the dark of her jacket.


"Oh, Kenneth!" expostulated Gwen. "You mustn't, you know you mustn't."

"I'll behave," he said, pulling himself up, "but it's awfully hard, when you're all the world to me, and I am going to lose you so soon."

"You're not going to lose me—ever."

"Darling!" he murmured. "There, I'll not say it again, and I'll not touch even your little finger, if you say I mustn't. See that boat off there. It looks like Daddy Lu's."

"Where?" Gwen looked off toward the nearest island to their right. The ocean lay to their left, but from the blue waters of the bay more than one island rose to view. "I am sure it is Daddy Lu's boat," declared Gwen after a few minutes' steady outlook. "I wonder what he has been doing at Haskins' Island."

"He told me he was going there to-day to take something to the old fellow who lives on the island as sort of caretaker. You know there are only two or three summer cottages, and when their owners leave, this old man is about the only person remaining. Daddy Lu told me he goes over once in a while to see that all is well with John Bender, I believe they call him."

"The one who is in the boat is not Daddy Lu," said Gwen. "See, he is rowing as fast as he can pull. He is making straight for this island."

"Probably he is using the boat to make the trip in, and has left Daddy Lu behind till he gets back."

"Why should he do that? I don't understand it," said Gwen. "Let us go back and see."

"My dear Gwen, you look as if you thought something was wrong."

"I am afraid there is."

"But why? It seems to me a very natural thing that Bender should use the boat to come over in."

"He never does come over. He always goes to the Neck for his supplies. Cap'n Ben told me so. Come, please come."

She was so evidently anxious that Kenneth said not another word of dissent, but led the shortest way back and before long they had arrived at Cap'n Ben's door. Two or three men were standing outside talking excitedly. Gwen went up to one of them. "What is the matter, Ned?" she asked, for it was Ned Symington whom she questioned.

"Bad news, Miss Gwen," he replied, shaking his head. "Mr. Williams—"

"Not dead"—cried Gwen, clutching his arm, "Please don't say he is dead."

"No, but badly hurt."

Cap'n Ben at this moment came dashing by in his buggy, urging his old horse to its utmost speed. He was on his way to the end of the island, from which point he would be quickly rowed across to the next, and would bring back the physician who lived there, for Fielding's did not boast of a doctor among its winter residents.

"Cap'n Ben's going for the doctor," said Kenneth, who had been speaking to one of the other men. "We can't do anything yet."

"Tell me about it." Gwen turned again to Ned.

"He went over to take some tobaccy to John Bender. They was on the rawks together, John says, looking at some ducks off shore. John took a crack at 'em, and the rawk he was standing on gave way. Soon as Mr. Williams saw him go, he reached out and tried to haul him back, but more rawks had got loose, and he went down, too, with the rawks on top of him. Fortunate for John he'd kind of slid, and wasn't hurt any to speak of, but Mr. Williams got the worst of it."

"Where is he now?"

"There still. John couldn't lug him by himself. Two or three of the boys have gone back with John, but they'll wait till the doctor gets there before they attempt to move him; it mightn't be safe to do it at once."

Gwen turned to Kenneth, her eyes full of tears. "Isn't it dreadful, dreadful?" she said. "Can't we do something?"

"I'm going right over with Ned and the rest," he told her. "I will come back and tell you what the doctor says. He may not be so badly hurt as it seems. A broken arm or leg may mean he must be laid up for awhile, but I hope there is nothing worse to fear."

Gwen scanned his face earnestly. "You believe there is nothing worse to fear?"

"We can't tell yet. Very likely there is not."

"You will come and tell me soon?"

"As soon as I possibly can."

"I'll wait here at Cap'n Ben's for you. Perhaps I can help Miss Phosie. She may need me when they bring him home. You will come with him, Kenneth. Give him my love and tell him I'm waiting here for him."

She watched the men go off, then entered the kitchen, which was empty. She went on through the sitting-room and entry. Up stairs she heard voices, and mounted the steps to find Miss Phosie and Miss Phenie in Mr. Williams' room. "What can I do?" asked the girl standing in the doorway.

Miss Phosie looked up, her face quivering with emotion. "You've heard? We can't do anything but wait. Sister and I have his bed all ready, and we've made up a fire. I wish there was something we could do."

"Did you see John Bender when he came over?"

"No, but father did. John wanted to hurry back with some of the men. Thad Eaton's gone and Mil Stevens."

"Mil's a powerful man," remarked Miss Phenie. "He could lift him easier than anybody else. There's nothing to do till they bring him back."

"If he can be brought back," said Miss Phosie wofully.

"Now, Phosie, don't you go a-borrowing trouble," said Miss Phenie with a glance at the small mirror and a settling of her pompadour. "Very likely he wasn't more'n stunned, and he'll be considerable shaken up, likely, so he'll have to keep quiet a few days."

Gwen met Miss Phosie's eyes which were indeed full of trouble. "Did they say he was very badly hurt?"

"John couldn't tell. He was afraid so. He managed to get the rocks off him, but he couldn't move."

Gwen looked around the room, plainly furnished, and displaying few luxuries. There was but one picture, a photograph of a mother and child, taken from one of the modern Madonnas. On the high old-fashioned mahogany bureau lay the worn Bible of which Miss Phosie had once spoken. A pile of magazines and papers was on the table, and a row of books on some shelves against the wall. Shakespeare, some of the old Greek philosophers, Don Quixote in the original, a set of Thackeray were among the books, Gwen noticed as she glanced at the titles.

"He is a great one for reading," remarked Miss Phosie, following the girl's glance. "He has a lamp up here and reads long after we've gone to bed, night after night."

"How do you know?" asked Miss Phenie a little sharply.

"I can see his light, from my window, shining out on the walk," said Miss Phosie.

"Humph!" returned Miss Phenie. "Well, there's nothing more we can do up here. We may as well go down and wait."

Gwen slipped her arm around Miss Phosie. "May I wait too?" she whispered.

Miss Phosie nodded assent, and leaving Miss Phenie to the occupancy of the sitting-room, she led the way to the spare chamber from whose windows one could see furthest. The two women spoke little as they gazed out beyond the stretch of embrowned grass to the road. Once in a while Gwen would say, "It takes a long time," and Miss Phosie would sigh softly. She thought of how often she had seen a tall lean figure, coming along the familiar way, energetic, erect. She remembered how the grave face would light up with a smile if he chanced to see her at the window, and of the pleasant, appreciative words that would follow his entrance if, when he was late, she had kept a meal hot for him. How now would be his home-coming? With feeble step, supported on either side by his friends, or would they be obliged to bring him on an improvised stretcher, a door taken from its hinges for the purpose? She shuddered at this last suggestion, and turned her thoughts to the pleasant reminiscences. Once or twice when he had been housed with a cold how grateful he had been for her ministrations, and how she had rejoiced in his dependence upon her. So would it be now. She could settle his pillows, cook him dainties, bring him news of the neighbors, cheer him with some droll joke of Mil Stevens. He could not be severely hurt—at the worst a broken bone. She grew almost cheerful over the prospect—but her heart sank as she espied some one hurrying up from the cove.

Gwen sprang to her feet. "It's Kenneth," she cried. "He will tell us." She ran to the door and was out upon the steps before Kenneth could knock. "Well?" she cried.

"Come in," he said. He drew her inside, and folded her two hands in his. "The doctor says he cannot be moved."

"Is he so badly hurt, so very badly?"

"Internally, the doctor fears. Don't cry, little girl. He does not suffer very much—and—he will not suffer long."

"Oh, Kenneth!" Gwen sobbed out and buried her head on his breast. He put his arm around her gently.

A pale face, with tightly compressed lips and agonized eyes, was visible in the dimness of the entry. Kenneth held out a compassionate hand to the woman who stood rigid and grief-stricken behind them. "He sent a message to you, Miss Phosie. He said he would like to have you with him at the last, and would you bring his Bible. He wants to see you, too, Gwen, and Miss Elliott. We have taken him to John Bender's house and made him as comfortable as we could. He is quite conscious now."

Gwen lifted her head. "Will it be long?" she whispered.

"It is only a question of hours. He has a good constitution and has lived a clean life, otherwise the end would be sooner."

Miss Phosie had slipped away. There was something to do. He wanted her. She busied herself in getting together everything she thought might add to the injured man's comfort while Gwen and Kenneth took the message to Miss Elliott, and in an hour Ira Baldwin's motor-boat was speeding out of the cove with its passengers, Kenneth, Cap'n Ben and the three women.

John Bender's house, hidden under the brow of the hill and sheltered from the ocean's keen blasts, was but a short walk from the little inlet which ran far up into the land.

The doctor was still within. He made way at the bedside for the newcomers. "He has been asking for you, Miss Elliott, and your niece; for you, too, Miss Phosie. I am glad you have come. He will be easier. Here they are, Mr. Williams," he said, bending over the bed.

Luther Williams opened his eyes and smiled. One hand was quite helpless; the other he stretched out to Gwen, who took it in her own warm clasp. "This is good," he whispered. "Good. It is more than I ever hoped for."

"What, dear Daddy Lu?"

"To have you all with me now,—when I am going. Phosie is there, good sister Phosie."

"I am here, Mr. Williams," replied Miss Phosie with trembling lips.

"You brought the little Bible?"


"I want you to have it, Phosie, when they have seen it. And the books—you won't care for the books—I'd like the boy to have them—except the Shakespeare—it was my father's—my little girl must have that. There are some other things. I have made my will. It will keep the pot boiling—the pot boiling." He closed his eyes for a moment, when he opened them. "Doctor!" he called.

"Yes, Mr. Williams."

"Give me something to make me strong for a little while. There are things I must say—to you, Miss Elliott. Please give me the stuff, doctor, and leave us alone."

The doctor poured a small quantity of medicine into a glass of water, lifted the patient's head and gave him some of it. Then he beckoned to the others, who followed him out—all but Miss Elliott, who sat by the bed gently stroking the sufferer's hand.



"They have all gone?" Luther Williams fixed his eyes on the woman by his side.

"Yes, all gone."

"The old Bible is for Phosie. I want my little girl to have some other things, though her grandmother gave it to me."

Miss Elliott leaned over eagerly. "You are—"

"I am your brother-in-law, Camilla. You have thought so more than once."

"You are Lewis Whitridge! Yes, yes, I have thought so, but I put the idea away, for it seemed beyond reason when there seemed little doubt of his having been dead for years. Lew, poor, dear, noble Lew! If I had known—"

"Not noble, Camilla. I was a wretched man fleeing from the law."

"Yes, but I know why you fled. It was to save my father, who was the guiltier of the two, for he enticed you, a younger man, into sharing his speculations. I know it all."

"He told?"

"No. I think he wanted to at the last, but he could not speak. I found some old letters, Lew, written after you had gone. They told the tale."

"They should have been destroyed. Does she know? My little girl?"

"No, I could not—I could not bring myself to tell her of her grandfather's share in the matter."

"I am glad of that. It would have done no good. She knows nothing then?"

"Nothing, except that her father gave his life for another."

"But I did not even do that."

"You sacrificed it for my father's good name, and leaving that out of the question, you have given it now. You tried to save John Bender."

"But my effort had no effect upon his safety. It was sheer good luck that saved him, and I did not try to save a drowning sailor, as you supposed. I slipped over the side of the vessel as she lay off the Mexican coast. I was always a fair swimmer, and I had no trouble getting to shore where I lay in hiding till the vessel got away. No one discovered—I changed my name, learned the language, and was soon earning my living. I managed to save a little and at the end of a year I yearned for my own country. I didn't want to venture so near home that I would be tempted to try to get a glimpse of those I had parted from forever. I would be no possible Enoch Arden to Lillian. I remembered hearing my father mention this lonely little island, a primitive enough spot then, and it seemed just the place for me. I took a vessel to Portland, a sailing vessel, came down here, where it seemed well to stay. No one has ever known."

"Why did you do it, Lew? Why did you not come back when the deficit was made good, and the matter was hushed up? My father was able to keep it out of the papers, and his influence with the directors of the bank saved the situation, so far as you were concerned, for you were his son-in-law, remember, and no one dreamed that he was the guiltier of the two. Your letters with the instructions about the checks were the ones I found, the last ever received from you."

"There was a little property belonging to me which came from my mother. I had almost forgotten about it. I went West to see about it and found it more valuable than I supposed. I sold it and sent your father the proceeds to pay back the amount I had persuaded myself I had borrowed from the bank. There was a little more than enough to cover my share."

"And the rest my father was able to pay before he died. And we thought—the world thought it was all your debt, yet how paltry your share was compared to his," said Miss Elliott bitterly.

"It does not matter now."

"It has mattered for years. Why did you stay away from Lillian and the child after all had been made right?"

"You forget that in the eyes of the world I was still responsible for the entire amount. Besides, there was another reason. I should have stayed away, anyhow, for Lillian's sake. I didn't know about the child. I heard from your father only in answer to those letters, that was just before I left for Mexico. His chief concern was the matter of the money. He did not mention Lillian. I asked him not to. I couldn't bear it, so I never knew that my little girl was born. After I had made restitution it seemed to me that there was nothing left for me to do but to cut loose from everything that should remind me of the old days. I would burn my ships behind me. I wonder why your father kept my letters, Camilla."

Miss Elliott gave a quick sob. "They were his punishment, Lew. He never recovered from the shock of your supposed death. I think he kept the letters as a sort of penance, to remind him of what you had done for him, and I think he meant us to discover them. He had not the courage, after you had disappeared absolutely, to tell the truth, and to lose the reputation he had always gloried in, but at the last he tried, I am convinced now. He died a poor man for he paid back all he owed—and we thought it was for you—oh, Lew!"

"Never mind. I am glad of what I did for him, though I am afraid he suffered more than I, after all."

"Poor father, poor father! Yes, I am sure he did. You knew my mother, Lew, and how dependent a nature hers was. She knew nothing of business matters and could scarcely be induced to look at one of father's papers after his death. That is why your letters lay so long unknown."

"It was all for the best—all—all, for Lillian did not love me. She cared for some one else, as you know, but your father liked me. He admired my fearless ventures in which I was for awhile successful, as he was, too. He had befriended my father when they were lads together, and my father was in danger of going wrong, so I felt I could repay by shielding my father's friend and mine. When discovery was sure to come, as we thought, I said to Mr. Elliott, 'You're not to appear in this. Why should we both suffer? It will kill your wife, and bring the greatest trouble to mine.' You know how they both adored him, Camilla, how they thought him the very pattern of a man. You know how he was honored and looked up to by everyone. Why implicate him when his would be the greater fall? As for me, Lillian, who had married me for money, would not tolerate me when I should be stripped of both money and character. She had already told me that she never loved me. Was it not better that I, who had lost all I cared for, should spare the others? 'The greatest good to the greatest number,' that was how it was. There might be a hue and cry for a little while, but the bank would not allow its depositors to suffer, and I could slip out of sight and be forgotten, while Lillian, in time, would perhaps marry some one who could make her happy, the man whom she really cared for. But she did not marry again?"

"No. Her early lover married just after Gwen was born, and I do not think she cared then, for she had her baby to comfort her. She was all in all to Lillian during the six years she lived. Oh Lew, it was hard for you, hard all around."

"Yes, it was hard—then—but it is all over now, and at the last I have had a great joy, and at the end there is peace. Poor little light-hearted Lillian, she had her sorrows, too. I felt so sure she would marry again, but I could not bear to have my belief made a certainty, and it was only when Gwen told me of her mother that I knew that the thing I dreaded had not happened after all. It must have been hard for you, Camilla, to have them all taken within so few years."

"Yes, though I had been so much from home that Lillian and I were almost strangers. Gwen has been a great comfort and happiness to me. She is much like you, Lew, in spirit, though more like her mother in appearance."

"God was good to let me have my little girl for a short time, and I thank you, Camilla, for all you have done for her. She must never know. There would have to be too many explanations, and it is better she should believe as she does, that she lost her father long ago. It would be a new grief to her to have the story told her now. You will not let her know that her father left a smirched character behind when he left his home."

"Don't, Lew. Dear brother, you long ago made restitution, and have paid a hard penalty for your folly."

"Yes, I have paid; that is a comfort. It doesn't excuse my past misdeeds, the borrowing a little more, a little more, hoping in the end to realize so much that it would be easy to pay back. It doesn't excuse that, but that I have lived to be honored and respected means much."

A spasm of pain passed over his face. "I am afraid you are tired, you are suffering," said Miss Elliott anxiously.

"A little maybe, but it will soon be over. Another swallow of the medicine maybe will be best."

She gave it to him and he lay quite still for a few minutes, then he turned his eyes upon her wistfully. "You promise she shall not know, Camilla."

"I promise she shall never think ill of her father. Before they are married I shall tell Kenneth the story of your love and sacrifice, and if any knowledge of that cloudy past should ever come to Gwen, I shall say to Kenneth that he must let her know the truth, so she will know how truly noble her father was. That is only justice, Lew. It is what my father would wish I am sure. I will consent to all else, to allowing the cloud to rest entirely upon you, so far as the world is concerned, but if there is ever a shadow of doubt in Gwen's mind it must be cleared so far as possible. You allow that I am right, Lew. It would be my father's wish, poor, proud, mistaken father!" The tears fell upon the hand she held.

"There, Camilla, there! It is past and gone. It may be he and I will meet in another world where we can straighten it all out."

"And Lillian, too. She will know, perhaps. In that other world our eyes must be opened to our earthly errors, and she will understand. That other life must surely compensate if there is any merit in noble sacrifice."

"I believe it will be all right. You will let them lay me there, over on the island, where I have been able to hold up my head among men?"

"I, Lew? Why should I raise a finger to prevent the carrying out of any wish of yours?"

"There is a little money. I have been a successful fisherman. I might have left it to my good friends the Tibbetts, but Cap'n Ben is not a poor man, and their wants are few. Good little Phosie, if I left it to her it might make gossip—besides now there is my own flesh and blood. So it must go to Gwen and the boy. Then they can marry and have enough. If this had not happened I might have found another way, but this is best, and I am content—more than content to die here where Luther Williams lived." He paused and motioned to the glass standing near. Miss Elliott gave him the medicine and he went on. "It may seem best to say that I discovered her to be the nearest relative for whom I cared at all. You can verify that, if necessary, and you can say that for family reasons I did not correspond with any of my distant kin. I think there will be no trouble. My lawyer in Portland will make everything right." He closed his eyes as if having finished, but he opened them presently. "You forgive me, Camilla?"

"Forgive you, Lew? It is I who should ask forgiveness for my people, for Lillian, for my father."

"No, no, that is all over. I have not a bitter thought against anyone. I have not been unhappy here. It has been peaceful, and at last—at last, Camilla, you brought her. Think of that! My little girl. I never dreamed of, or hoped for such happiness as I have had this summer past. And she loves her Daddy Lu. God bless the darling child. Kenneth is a good lad. I have taken pains to study him well. He will make her happy. Thank you for bringing her to me, Camilla." His voice had sunk into a whisper, and the last words were spoken with effort. His eyes closed again, and seeing that he made no further attempt to speak, Miss Elliott stole softly from the room to summon the others.

The autumn afternoon was closing. Royal colors blazed in the sunset sky. The wind had died down, and only a gentle plash of waves was heard. The bell-buoy, which all day long had sent forth its melancholy note at short intervals, but once in a while pealed faintly now.

The doctor put his finger on the patient's pulse. "He is sinking fast," he said in a low tone to Cap'n Ben. "He cannot last long."

Luther Williams raised his drooping lids and let his gaze rest on Gwen as he whispered a few words. She leaned over to hear. "Would you mind kissing me good-by," she heard. She did not hesitate to respond and he sighed contentedly. After a while he spoke again. "Phosie, where's Phosie?" His hand groped for the Bible. "I want you to have it. You have been good to me, Phosie, and sometimes—" The voice died away.

Miss Phosie knelt by the bed, clasping the Bible. The wandering hand found her free one presently and held it. So he drifted peacefully into a safe harbor just as Halfway Light sent its far-reaching beams over the waters.

It was a solemn procession which moved up the cove on the day that Luther Williams was laid away in the quiet burying-ground. Not a boat but went out to meet that one which brought him back to the spot where he had lived so long and so well. As Cap'n Ben's dory sailed ahead bearing its honored and beloved burden, each craft fell into line, and all moved slowly, slowly toward the island, the dories going first, the little row-boats following after. Into the house that had been home to him for so long, they bore Luther Williams. Not a window-plant anywhere about but was robbed of bud and blossom to be carried to Cap'n Ben's as a last offering to the man whom all his friends honored. Sorrowful as Kenneth felt he could but realize the picturesqueness of this fisherman's funeral cortege on the water, and it was scarcely less so on shore when everyone, on foot, followed the sturdy pall-bearers down the long road to the small enclosure, where under the October sky, and within sound of the breakers rested the quiet sleepers who had made their last port.

"'So shall they come to the haven where they would be,'" murmured Miss Elliott as they walked away. "How much better to leave one that you love, there in that peaceful place than to think of him still buffetting with the storms of life, with the waves of trouble that might wreck him utterly. He is spared much, dear child." She spoke to Gwen who was sobbing softly, while the tears welled constantly to Miss Elliott's own eyes.

"I know all that," replied the girl, "but when I think of him only a few days ago, so alive and well, so full of our plans, so helpful and kind to everyone, I cannot feel reconciled to his going."

"It is not you who will miss him most, my dear," said Miss Elliott; "it is those who for twenty years have seen him go and come, who have depended upon his unostentatious acts of kindness, his little deeds of willing service, and among them all it is Miss Phosie who will mourn longest, who will miss the ministering to his wants, who will have to become used to the silence of his room, who can no more watch for him at noon and at night. Yes, Gwen, he was but a new pleasure in your life, and when you go back home you will not miss him from your accustomed surroundings. Miss Phosie will have no one to take his place. Her lot is the hardest."

Gwen wiped her eyes and took hold of her aunt's hand. "Do you think—" she began.

Miss Elliott understood. "I think hers has been the devotion of years. You did not see her when she made her last farewell and put her one white rose into his hand. I did. At such times one sees to the depth of a human heart. I tell you because I want you always to cherish and love Miss Phosie as you would one who had been your own father's best friend."

Gwen's tears again flowed. "Dear Miss Phosie," she said. "You may be sure, Aunt Cam, that I shall always love her for what she did for Daddy Lu."

They were walking on alone. Kenneth had lingered with Cap'n Ben's family. "Aunt Cam," said Gwen after a while, "what was it Daddy Lu wanted to talk to you about, that last time?"

"About a sad family misunderstanding which he has not liked to mention to anyone," replied Miss Elliott quietly. She had been prepared for this question. "He also wanted to say," she went on, "that he had decided to leave his savings to you, or at least most of them, since you seem to be the nearest relative for whom he entertained any affection."

"Then he was really a relative."

"Yes, he had made investigations which gave him proof of that. Cap'n Ben says the will was probably made but a few days ago. Mr. Williams told him it was that which took him to Portland recently. He gave Cap'n Ben the name of the lawyer who drew it up and who has it now in his possession. Cap'n Ben is one of the executors I believe, while I am the other."

"It seems almost as if he must have had a premonition," said Gwen thoughtfully. "And to think he cared for me that much. Dear man! there will never be his like again. It does not seem possible that we had known him only this short time. I feel as if we had been friends always."

"Evidently he had the warmest affection for you," said Miss Elliott unsteadily, as she wiped her eyes.

"Shall we have to stay here longer, on account of the will?" asked Gwen presently.

"Not here I think, but maybe for a few days in Portland, so we will keep to our original plan of closing Wits' End next week."

Therefore when the boat left the wharf early the following Monday, it bore away Miss Elliott, Gwen and Kenneth. The two latter stood together watching first the houses then the last bit of Sheldon woods disappear from view.

"Such an eventful summer it has been," said Gwen as they swung around into the bay and lost sight of Fielding's Island.

"It has brought joy and sorrow to us both," returned Kenneth.

"In spite of the sorrow I hate to leave the dear island," said Gwen. "Could anyone ever have supposed I should find not only you there, Kenneth, but that I should have met a relative who learned to care so much for me that he named me as principal legatee in his will. I never dreamed that such a thing could ever come to me. Truly it is the unexpected that has happened. Dear Daddy Lu, if only he could have lived, and we all have been happy together. I shall never forget him, never. Oh, Kenneth, here is where we used to turn to go to his retreat as I called it. Everything reminds me of him—everything." Her eyes filled.

"Don't grieve for him, dearest. He wanted you to be happy. It would please him best to know he had helped to make you so."

"I can be happy after a while, perhaps, but not now—not yet. If we could but be together—you and I as we have been this summer."

"But we are coming back," replied Kenneth—"and it will be together."



It was mid June, and the dwellers on Fielding's Island were making ready for "the season." The sharp winds, which even in May, sometimes nipped the buds on Cap'n Ben's apple-trees, had given place to gentle breezes. Violets and strawberry blossoms sprinkled the pasture, daisies were beginning to open, tufts of green were springing up in the crevices of the lichen-covered rocks, the song-sparrows had arrived, and the barn-swallows were wheeling in joyous flights morning and evening.

Cap'n Ben, in his second-best suit, was standing in the kitchen, adjusting his necktie before the old mahogany-framed mirror. "There's plenty of time, father," said Miss Phosie; "she hasn't blowed at the Neck yet."

"Maybe she has and maybe she hain't," returned Cap'n Ben. "Folks don't always hear her. At any rate I'm going down. Everything's all right at the cawtage: well's full, hogshead's full, house clean as a new pin. His room's all ready, ain't it, Phosie? Got a good meal for him?"

"Everything's ready," Miss Phosie told him, "but I guess maybe he'll want to eat with them."

"No, he won't. They'll have women's vittles the first day; always do. Peck around like hens. What he'll want will be something good and substantial."

"Well, he shall have it," returned Miss Phosie. She sighed as she saw her father start off eagerly for the boat-landing. How soon time covers up the footsteps of those who once travelled our road, and suddenly passed out of it. Cap'n Ben, good and kindly-souled as he was, had nothing of the sentimentalist about him, and though he had honestly sorrowed for the housemate of so many years, had easily adjusted himself to the loss, and enjoyed the present as heartily as ever. As for Miss Phosie, she lived in the past. Not a day went by that she did not go reverently into Luther Williams' vacant room to read a little from the Bible which still kept its old place on the high bureau. Not a week passed, except when snow covered every hillock, but she went to the graveyard, and lately had set out there geraniums and roses, started from slips the autumn before and tenderly nurtured all winter. To-day would bring Miss Elliott, Gwen and Kenneth. Their coming made more vivid the events of the summer before, and so she sighed.

Her memories were interrupted by Miss Zerviah's entrance. She was sure to be on hand at such a time as this. "Well, of all close-mouthed people!" she exclaimed, as she came in. "Why didn't you tell me there was to be a wedding on the island?"

"We hadn't been asked to tell," responded Miss Phosie.

"How d'you find out, Zerviah?" asked Miss Phenie, laughing.

"I heard it to my cousin's house in Portland. She knows Mrs. Carter, the lawyer's wife. I was struck dumb when Caroline says, 'I hear there's to be a fine wedding on your island.' Before I thought, s'I, 'You don't say! Who is it?' 'Miss Whitridge,' s'she, 'the niece of that Miss Elliott that's going back to China.' 'Do tell! 's'I, all taken aback, for I hadn't heard that neither. 'Of course we knew there was to be a wedding,' s'I, recollecting myself, for everybody knew her and Mr. Hilary was engaged, but we didn't know the exact day and hour. Now, Phenie, you and Phosie tell me all about it."

"'Tain't to be a fine wedding at all, they say, and because they want it should be quiet, they are having it up here. They're to be married at Miss Elliott's cawtage in a couple of weeks, then him and her is going off for a little trip." Miss Phenie gave the information.

"When's Miss Elliott going back to China? What's she going back for? Ain't she got enough means to support her, or don't she want to live on Miss Whitridge? Don't she like the young man?"

"Lands' sakes! Zerviah, how you talk," said Miss Phosie. "We've never inquired into Miss Elliott's means. Of course she likes Mr. Hilary, he's a beautiful young man, and she's perfectly satisfied, but if she's a call to go back, why of course, as a Christian woman, she'll go."

"What's she going to do with her cawtage?"

"She's going to give it to Miss Whitridge for a wedding present."

"Well, now that'll be real nice for her, won't it? Some might say Miss Elliott'd better sell it and use the money for those benighted Chinese, but I say 'Charity begins at home,' and I suppose the niece is more like a daughter, anyway. She's going to stay up for the summer, ain't she—Miss Elliott, I mean?"

"We hain't asked," said Miss Phosie in a dignified tone.

"Where's the young man going to stay?"

"With us," returned Miss Phosie curtly.

"I thought you wasn't going to take in strangers this season. What you going to buy this time? Last year you was able to get the new parlor carpet with the board money, and a proper nice one it is. Going to get curtains or chairs?"

"We don't cal'late to take anyone but Mr. Hilary," Miss Phenie declared, "and he'll be here only for the little time before he gets married."

"And you ain't going to keep on taking in strangers?"

"He ain't a stranger. He was a great friend of Mr. Williams and father's very fond of him. He'd feel more at home here than anywhere else, and we're all his friends, Zerviah," Miss Phosie spoke.

"I should think you wouldn't be such good friends with any of 'em, after their coming in for all Mr. Williams' money that ought to have gone to you, seeing he made his home in this house so many years."

Miss Phosie wheeled around, a red spot in each cheek. "There, you've said enough," she exclaimed. "There was nobody had a better right to his money than his own relations, and even if it had been left to us, father said after we found out she really was his relation, we couldn't have accepted it. I guess the legacy he left us was quite enough to show how he felt toward us Tibbetts."

"But there's Ora," persisted Miss Zerviah; "it would have come in good for her and the child."

"Ora won't suffer," said Miss Phenie, herself aroused to resentment. "There's enough of us to look after her, and when we're gone she won't be a pauper."

"She'll have others to look after her, if reports are true," returned Zerviah. "I hear Ned Symington goes around that way pretty often, and that he's terrible fond of the baby, young as it is."

"Ned ain't the only one that's fond of the baby," said Miss Phenie, taking up the cudgels. "We all think he's a pretty fine child, and Almira's wrapped up in him. I don't know as I ever see anybody so taken with a baby. She says he's the living image of Manny."

"Well, I hope he'll not lead her the dance Manny did," began Miss Zerviah, then perceiving that even Miss Phenie looked offended, she went on, "not but what Manny was a nice agreeable young man, and if he'd had time to prove it no doubt he'd shown himself a proper husband and father. It is wonderful how Almira is wrapped up in that baby; she looks ten years younger, and it's real pleasant to see how settled Ora is. She's turned out real well, everybody says."

"I don't see why she shouldn't," Miss Phosie fired up again.

"There you go, Phosie. I declare, anybody'd think I was casting slurs on the whole family, and I ain't thought of such a thing. I'm sure I was only thinking of your advantage when I spoke of the money."

"It would be more to our advantage if you didn't speak of it," returned Miss Phosie. "There they come, Phenie. The boat had blowed, you see."

Miss Zerviah made her escape and the Tibbett sisters went out to meet the travellers.

Every day after this saw some new arrival. The Hardy girls were among the first and soon after came Mr. and Mrs. Cephas Mitchell to their new cottage, but a stone's throw from Wits' End. It was rather a pretentious affair with many turrets, bay windows and balconies, the building of which had rendered Thad Eaton nearly distraught. "It isn't half as artistic and suitable as our dear Wits' End," said Gwen to her aunt, "but it is very characteristic of the pair, and they will like it much better than ours. I can scarcely wait to see Ethel, and I know she will want to see me." Consequently hers was the first call upon the newcomers.

Ethel's wedding had been a gorgeous Easter affair, and that the duties of bridesmaid might not devolve upon Gwen, who had no desire for the part, Miss Elliott and her niece spent their holiday week at Old Point where Kenneth joined them. Therefore Gwen had not seen Ethel since the latter left Washington for her new home.

"I have been simply wild to see you," cried the new Mrs. Mitchell when Gwen appeared. "I've a thousand questions to ask and have such loads to tell you. How do you like our new cottage? We were so afraid it wouldn't be all right, and I almost dreaded to come into it, but it really isn't a disappointment at all. Cephas had a man from Portland to get the furniture in place and the draperies, and we sent the servants ahead, so there was nothing to do but walk in."

"Aunt Cam and I had such fun arranging Wits' End ourselves," said Gwen with a reminiscent smile.

"Oh, but I hate that sort of thing," said Ethel. "It is all very well when you have a fancy for it, but it was such a relief to us to find it all ready. Cephas didn't want me to have any of the bother." She spoke with the pride and satisfaction generally so obvious in the bride.

Gwen looked around the room, conventional in every detail, though comfortable, and even more luxurious than such a place demanded. "I should think it would be exactly right for you," she said. "It is so nice to think we shall have you for neighbors all summer."

"Oh, but we are not to be here all summer. We shall go to Bar Harbor in August, and between whiles we shall take short cruises on the yacht, but this is a lovely place for headquarters. Did you know Cephas had bought a yacht? It ought to be here to-day. It isn't named yet so you must help us out on that. Now tell me all about yourself. Are you really going to be married up here? Just like one of your romantic ideas, though I think it will be lovely, only my dear, I have been wondering, if you use your living-room for the ceremony, where will you serve the wedding breakfast?"

"Oh, dear, that is just what is troubling Aunt Cam," Gwen confessed. "We may have to stand on the Pinnacle to be married, and have the breakfast in Sheldon woods, for all I know."

"Please let us offer you our house for it. We are so near it would be nothing to step over here, and Cephas would be charmed I know. He has such a high regard for you."

"Where is he?"

"He has gone down to see about the trunks. One was carried on to Dorr's Island, and it must be grabbed on its way back or it may be travelling up and down the bay all summer. Do, Gwen, dear, let your breakfast be here. Remember we owe our meeting to you."

"You are a dear to put it that way. I'll have to see what auntie says, though, for my own part, I should be charmed, and I thank you a thousand times. You are happy, Ethel?"

"Of course I am. Cephas is kindness itself, and is so proud of me. He is a fine example of a true American husband."

"I am so very glad."

"And you will be happy, too. I hear only nice things of your Kenneth. Everyone says he is so talented, and will be sure to make his mark. I have always said that a good son must make a good husband,—that is one reason I was attracted to Cephas, for he is such a good son,—and not long ago I met some one from Washington who was saying the same of Kenneth. He gave up all share in his father's estate that his mother might have a larger income, as of course you know. She must be a selfish, vain, old thing—don't look so; she's not your mother-in-law yet—for when she married that rich pork-packer she never gave back one penny to Kenneth. She kept him miserable, too, all through his youth by whining and repining, and badgering him. They would have had quite enough to live comfortably if she had been willing to make a home for him, but she wanted new clothes every five minutes, and must live in nothing less than an expensive hotel, so your young man had to scramble around and make his living as best he could. Fortunately his sister, that nice Mrs. Fleming, took his part and did all she could to prevent the mother from insisting upon the dear boy's selling the coat off his back to pay her carriage hire. Of course all this is stale news to you, but I wanted you to know that the world appreciates his goodness and devotion."

"It isn't entirely stale news, although I have never heard a word of it from Kenneth."

"I can well believe that. I hope Mrs. Pork-packer won't be at the wedding."

"She is still in Europe."

"Good! Perhaps your step-father-in-law will die of eating his own pork, and will leave a rich widow who in turn will step out, so Kenneth and his sister will get the cash."

"Oh, Ethel, don't. We shall be perfectly happy and content with what we have."

"I know it, dear Miss Unworldly, for I am aware that you are quite capable of making coats for Kenneth out of discarded canvases, and of clothing yourself in studio properties after you have spent all your year's income on picture-frames."

"You absurd girl! just wait till you see the place we have selected in New York; you will be green with envy."

Ethel laughed. "And about Miss Elliott," she went on, "is it really true that she is going out to China to marry a missionary?"

"It is quite true. They have been lovers ever since Aunt Cam was my age. Now that I am provided for and he needs her, she is going to him. How I shall miss her! though we hope she will persuade him to come back here to end his days. It may be that he will consent."

"Such constancy! It seems to run in your family, for I am quite confident you would have done the same for Kenneth."

"Yes, I am sure I would," said Gwen quietly. "There comes Kenneth now. I must go."

"Please don't. Look, Cephas is with him; wait and see him."

Gwen consented and presently the two men came up. Mr. Mitchell greeted Gwen heartily. "We have been looking at the new boat," he said. "She has just arrived, and Mr. Hilary has suggested rather a unique name for her. What do you think of the Jar-fly, Ethel? It is certainly odd, don't you think?"

"The Jar-fly? What a very curious name!" Ethel looked at Kenneth and Gwen, too, stole a glance in his direction.

"The sly, audacious boy," she said to herself.

"You see," said Kenneth with unmoved gravity, "Mr. Mitchell wanted me to suggest something that had wings, to denote speed you understand. The Sea-Gull and the Eagle were too hackneyed to consider for a moment. White Wings is out of the question. The hull of the vessel is painted a sort of greenish brown, and I remembered that Gwen had told me her old nurse used to call locusts jar-flies. They are much the color of the vessel, and they fly only in summer as your yacht will do, so it struck me as rather an appropriate name."

"It certainly will puzzle everyone," said Ethel, "and I adore a name that does that. Besides there will not be another in the world's waters. I vote we adopt it, Cephas."

"Good!" he cried. "I hope we shall all have many a cruise on the Jar-fly. We are going to take her out this afternoon for a trial trip, although I already know her reputation. Perhaps we could all go." He turned to Kenneth and Gwen.

"Do," said Ethel, "We'll take a bottle of wine along and see that she receives her name promptly. You must be her sponsor, Gwen."

"But this is a Prohibition State," said Gwen with a smile. "We'd better take ginger-ale."

"Done!" said Mr. Mitchell. "I believe in following the customs, you know."

"You must be sure to get some one to paint the name to-morrow," Ethel reminded him.

"I'll do it," Kenneth offered amiably.

"Will you truly? How good of you." Ethel looked pleased. "I'm sure we should have to wait weeks for Abiel Toothacre. Everyone is so busy now."

"Oh, you bad, bad child," said Gwen as she and Kenneth walked away. "What made you so wicked?"

Kenneth laughed. "He afforded me such an excellent opportunity, and, really, I pleased him."

"It is too mean, and they have offered their house for our wedding breakfast to be served in."

"That is good of them. However I could not resist the temptation. He did look so like an insect as he stood there, and for the moment I was reminded of my last summer's prejudices. No, darling, of course I haven't them any more. Didn't I offer to paint the yacht's name? and didn't I send them one of my pet pictures as a wedding present? It is a joke—only a joke, yours and mine. Besides, now when we speak of the Jar-fly, we shall mean the yacht, and never the owner, so in due time the reference will have an entirely different association."

"What subtle reasoning. Of course there is nothing to be done now, and we shall have to accept the joke. Still I protest it was very wicked of you."

"He is a good fellow at heart, I am sure."

"And Ethel is so entertaining and so kind. You should have heard the nice things she said of you. I am glad she married Cephas."

"And I'm glad he married her." They both laughed and went forward to see what Cap'n Ben's wagon was bringing to Wits' End.

The island could boast of but three horses, and it had not been so very long since that Cap'n Ben's yoke of oxen had been superseded by his white nag. Ira Baldwin had bought a horse within the past year, not to be outdone by Dan Stork who already had one. As these two were kept pretty busy, it fell to Cap'n Ben's lot to drive back and forth from the wharf to Wits' End during the week of the wedding. He brought the boxes of stores, from Portland, he fetched the minister and the best man from the boat, he took messages to the stores, and finally drove the bridegroom at a dashing pace to the cottage where Gwen in her simple white wedding gown was waiting.

Wits' End was a bower of blossoms on that summer day. There were banks of daisies around the living-room, long gray moss from Sheldon woods was festooned around the top of the room, the fireplace and mantel were filled with ferns and wild-flowers which all the young people of the wedding party had gone forth to gather the day before. The Gray sisters had not yet arrived at their cottage, but Mrs. Fleming and her children were on hand, so were the Hardy girls, while Jack Lansdale appeared, as he said, "just in time to be useful."

"No music?" he exclaimed when told of the day's arrangements. "That will never do!" He rushed off and returned in a little while to say that he could get Miss Eleanor Drake to bring her violin. "She plays like a breeze," he said. "I'd sing the Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin myself rather than have it left out."

"Why not all of us sing it?" cried Nelly Hardy. "I'm sure we can get up a chorus of six or eight voices, and with the violin it will be great. Dolly hasn't a bad voice, and I've rather a pleasant pipe myself."

"Come on," cried Jack, "we'll go the rounds and meet at the Hall for rehearsal." They rushed out, and so was the wedding music furnished.

Cap'n Ben's old white horse was never so gaily bedecked as that day when with white rosettes on his head and white daisies stuck along his collar he trotted down the long road to bear the bridal pair to the end of the island, from which point they would be rowed over to Dorr's and from there would drive to Brunswick. Twice on the way the white horse stopped; once it was at Cap'n Ben's door where Miss Phosie was watching. She held a small package. Gwen alighted, bridal bouquet in hand, and went up to the step. "Dear Miss Phosie," she said, "why didn't you come?"

"I couldn't," she answered. "I didn't feel that I could. I want you to have this," she whispered. "It's only an old brass candlestick that he always used in his room, but I thought you would like to have it. I wanted to give it to you myself, but I'll keep it here till you get back, for you'll not want to carry it with you."

"I shall value it beyond measure, and I shall use it for my very own," Gwen told her. "Thank you, dear Miss Phosie. Nothing I have had gives me more pleasure. I've brought you some wedding-cake and you must have some of my roses." She disengaged two or three of the fair buds and gave them with the little box of cake.

"I hope you'll be very happy," said Miss Phosie, her eyes dwelling on the radiant face. "I know he would have been glad to see this day."

Gwen stooped and kissed her. "Perhaps he does see," she said.

Just then Cap'n Ben called out, "I guess you cal'late to keep her the whul afternoon, don't ye, Phosie?" And with a last nod, Gwen turned to the carriage.

As they reached the little graveyard Kenneth leaned over and touched Cap'n Ben's shoulder. "Gwen would like you to stop a minute," he said.

Cap'n Ben drew rein and Gwen got out, following Kenneth to where the blossoms were bursting into bloom by Luther Williams' grave. Gwen laid her own flowers gently on the green sod, and stood for a moment with bowed head. Kenneth's hand sought hers, and so they went out of the little wicket gate and on, into their new life.


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