Part 3 out of 4
I laughed right out, perhaps because I sought to conceal the fact that I
was just the tiniest bit provoked. She had said this with a little
hesitancy, as if she had been just timidly venturing on deep waters. She
looked at me, and I think she sighed again, and immediately asked for my
very expert advice about cutting into a piece of very cheap goods that
has come from St. John's, and with which she expects to make a dress for
herself. I felt like crying, and laid bare my profound ignorance, and
then we had a good laugh together, for she was at once as bright again as
she always is. Then I played with the kiddies, who are cherubs, and we
had tea, and when I left she looked at me again, with those beautiful
wistful eyes. I am afraid. Aunt Jennie, that she is in league with the
rest of the feminine population. I think I am beginning to be glad that
we are going away soon.
When I returned to our house I found Dr. Grant still there. He has not
been very busy lately, but he was showing symptoms of an early departure,
returning certain flies he had been discussing to a very large fly-book.
Of course, Aunt Jennie, he is not at all responsible for this foolish
talk, and I had no reason to be unpleasant to him.
"I am sorry you are going," I said. "I hear that for the time being the
crop of patients is diminishing."
"It rather looks that way," he answered, "and I must say I am glad of it.
It is only a lull, I suppose, and I'm going to take advantage of it.
Sammy reminded me to-day that September has come and that the stags are
beginning to shed their velvet. I think that your father and you would
like some venison. I shall enjoy it too, I can assure you."
"Oh! How I wish I could go," I exclaimed, foolishly enough.
"But there could be nothing easier," he explained, quietly. "I have a
very nice little tent which I brought with me when I came here, and you
could take Susie Sweetapple with you. The two men and I can build a
little lean-to anywhere. It is really worth trying. I have explored a bit
of that country, and I am sure you would enjoy a look at it."
"It sounds very attractive, Daddy," I said.
"If there is one thing I am longing for," said the dear old man, "it is a
decent bit of meat. The cook on the yacht and the steward may possibly be
able to fill Susie's place for a day or two. You go right along,
And now, Aunt Jennie, I am recklessly going away to furnish more gossip
for the ladies of the place, bless their poor old hearts. I have been
interviewing Susie, whose voluble conversation is often amusing, and find
that she also entertains some queer ideas. Of course I undeceived her at
once. Daddy doesn't think there is the slightest impropriety in the trip,
deeming Susie a sufficient chaperon. The ladies here of course never
indulge in such masculine pursuits as hunting, but none of them will
consider my doing it as any more wonderful than my going fishing. It will
be but one more of the peculiar doings of them "Merikins."
By the way, Harry Lawrence has written. You know, Auntie dear, that he is
one of the few very nice fellows to whom I have had to hint, as gently as
possible, that I am awfully happy with old Dad. He was the only one of
them to put out his hand, like the good, strong, red-headed, football
wonder that he is. I can hear him now:
"Shake, little girl," he said, smilingly. "You are not ready yet, are
you? I am not going to believe that this is your last word, and we'll
just pretend I didn't speak, and go on being good old pals as before. My
chance may come yet."
I remember that I felt quite gulpy and shaky when he said that, and that
I wished at the time that I had been able to think of him otherwise than
as a good old friend, just to see him grin happily again, as he so often
does. He tells me he has only just returned from abroad, having remained
longer than he expected to. He says that motoring in Norway is very
interesting. He also says he has half a mind to run up here and see what
sort of a digging we are living in. You know that Daddy thinks a lot of
him, and that Harry dotes on Dad. The boy thinks there is no one like
him, which shows what a sensible fellow Harry is.
Well, I am going to bed early, to prepare for a very long tramp
to-morrow. I will tell you all about it next time I write,
_From Miss Helen Jelliffe to Miss Jane Van Zandt_
_Darling Aunt Jennie_:
As the boys keep on exclaiming in _Stalky & Co._, I gloat!
I have now utterly and forever become one of those bold females, as your
cousin Theresa calls them, who so far forget the refinement of their sex
as to indulge in horrid masculine pursuits, and go afield clad in
perfectly shocking garb, looking like viragos, to emulate men in
barbarous sports. After this open and glorious confession I hasten to
tell you that I have actually killed a caribou, and a most splendid one.
I suppose that some day my much flattered photograph may appear in an
illustrated Sunday supplement, under some such heading as "Our Society
Dianas." I have spent two most wonderful days and shall never forget them
if I grow to be twice as old and plain as Miss Theresa.
We started in the early morning. Of course I was awake before Susie
knocked at my door, and only waiting for her to help me lace those high
boots of mine. She is the only woman I ever knew who can make knots that
will not come undone until you want them to. I suppose that it is an
inherited trait from her ancestry of fishermen and sailors.
We rowed across the cove to the place where we land when we go
salmon-fishing. I was distressed when I saw the size of the packs the men
were carrying, for it looked as if they had prepared for an excursion
beyond the Arctic Circle, and of course it was chiefly on my account.
Susie clamored to be allowed a bundle also but neither Sammy nor Frenchy
would hear of it.
"Ye'll be havin' ter help th' lady when we's on the mash," Captain Sammy
I discovered later that the mash is really a marsh, or swamp, or rather a
whole lot of them. Sammy opened the procession, followed by Yves. Then I
came, aided and abetted by Susie, and the doctor closed the imposing
line, also bearing a big pack. Whenever the nature of the ground
permitted Susie would walk beside me and impart her views. She trudged on
sturdily, her feet enclosed in a vast pair of skin boots borrowed from
some male relative. The evident disproportion in the sizes did not
trouble her in the least.
"I got four pair o' stockins," she informed me, "an' me feet feels good
A little later she imparted to me some of her views on the sport we were
"Huntin' is man's work," she said, "but I doesn't say as a woman can't do
it if she's a mind ter, like anythin' else. One time I shot me brother's
gun at a swile, and it liked ter have knocked me jaw awry. I had a lump
on it fer a week an' I let mother think I had the toothache. Anyways I
scared the swile real bad, an' meself worse. That time I were cookin'
aboard a schooner on the Labrador, as belonged ter me cousin Hyatt, him
as is just a bit humpy-backed. He got one o' them dories wid a glass
bottom, an' they say his back crooked a kneelin' down ter see the cod,
afore settin' the traps."
"What kind of traps?" I asked her.
"Them as is big nets leadin' inter a pocket where the cod gets jest shut
in," she informed me.
"Wasn't it horrid to go on such a long trip and stay on a boat so long?"
"Sure, but we mostly gets landed there. They has shacks or little houses,
an' flakes built up, in some places."
"It must be very disagreeable," I said.
"Laws, ma'am. They is allers some hard things about workin' the best one
knows how ter make a livin' an' help one's folks. The worst of it was
havin' no other wimmin folks ter talk to."
"Do you mean that you were alone with the crew?"
"Sure, ma'am. They wouldn't have no use fer a lot o' wimmin. They was a
chap once as wanted ter kiss me an' I hove th' back of me fist ter his
jaw, most shockin' hard. It give me sore knuckles, too, but I reckon a
girl kin allers take care of herself an' she has a mind ter."
I looked at her vigorous shoulders and was disposed to agree with her
statement. It is a splendid thing, Aunt Jennie, for girls to be strong
and sturdy enough to help themselves, sometimes, as well as to help
others. I have a notion that it is a good thing that the day is passing
away of the girls of the fainting sort who were brought up to backboards
and mincing manners. That girl has self-reliance and willingness stamped
all over her, and it is good to see.
The men were going well. At first I had been surprised at the slowness of
their gait, but I soon realized that they could keep it up all day, in
spite of their loads. Yet once an hour they stopped for a breathing spell
of a few minutes, during which they wiped their foreheads and sometimes
had a pull at their pipes. We no longer had any view of the sea. Below us
and to one side, Sweetapple River was brawling over rapids, resting in
pools, or riffling over shallows. It wound its way through a little
wooded valley, fairly well grown with small spruces and firs whose somber
greens were often relieved by the cheery, lighter hue of birches. The
junipers, as they call tamaracks in Newfoundland, were beginning to shed
their yellowing needles, and many of them were quite bare, or else dead,
with gnarled limbs fantastically twisted.
Several times we put up ptarmigans, that flew away with the curious
"brek-kek-kex" that is their rallying cry, showing white spots on their
dull-hued plumage, which would soon grow into the pure, snowy livery of
winter days. A few snipe flew up from the side of water-holes, with
shrill cries and twisting flights. Far away on the marsh we saw a flock
of geese, pasturing like so many sheep, while one of their number played
sentinel, perched high up on a hummock.
"When deer gets alongside o' geese they is happy," Sammy informed me.
"Th' caribou knows nothing kin get nigh so long as the honkers is keepin'
After this we were walking on one of many paths we had followed,
well-trodden and some inches below the level of the grey moss.
"I had no idea there would be enough people here to make these paths," I
said to Dr. Grant. "And why do so many of them cross from time to time?"
"They are made by the caribou, every one of them," he replied. "Most of
these have been abandoned for a long time. The people of the Cove
sometimes come as far as this, and by dint of firing their heavy sealing
guns loaded with slugs they may have made the deer shy. We shall soon see
plenty of tracks, for the hunters seldom go farther than this, Sammy
tells me. You see, they would have a hard time bringing the meat home.
They have to sled it out with dogs or carry it on their backs. We are
going farther, since we are not looking for a whole winter's provision."
The barren over which we traveled was beginning to be much wider, and the
clumps of straggling trees less frequent. Far away there was a range of
little mountains, tinted with purples and lavenders, rather indistinct in
the distant haze. The sun was lighting up bright spots where the peat
bogs held miniature lakes, among which were tiny islands of bushes and
low trees dotting the great marsh. Here and there small tamaracks stood
quite apart, as if their ragged dress had caused them to be ostracized by
the better clad spruces and firs.
Suddenly the men stopped near a little tree, and I saw that much of its
brown bark had been stripped off. On the white wood beneath there were
some curious dark red spots.
"A big stag has been rubbing his horns here within a day or two, Miss
Jelliffe," the doctor told me. "You ought to see one of them at work.
Their horns must itch desperately when they are ready to shed their
velvet, for they hook away at these saplings as if they were actually
fighting them. Such blows as they give; one can hear them quite far off.
Look at this place where the wood has actually been splintered off. These
marks are dried blood. And now look down at your feet. This fellow is
surely a big one, the ground is soft and he has left a huge track. You
will notice that the toes are widely separated, and that the dew claws
have also left their mark. No other deer than the caribou ever make that
fourfold imprint, and they only do it on muddy ground or in snow."
"How I wish I could see him!" I cried, excitedly.
He had taken out a pair of field glasses, and was sweeping the great
barren with them.
"One does not often see the stags on the marsh at this time of the year,"
he said. "They usually remain in their lairs among the alders on the
edges of ponds and streams. But I think I see something."
I strained my eyes in the same direction. Far away, against the sky-line,
I thought I discerned little dark dots which appeared to be moving, and
the doctor handed me the glasses.
"You are far-sighted," he said. "I see that your eyes have caught them.
Now take a nearer look at them."
"Oh! I can see them ever so plainly now," I exclaimed.
"They are two does with their fawns, I think," he said.
"I'm afraid you are mistaken," I told him. "One of them has antlers, but
not very large ones."
"Very true," he replied, "but the caribou does, alone in the whole deer
family, frequently have them. They are never as large as with the stags."
"I can see them feeding along quietly, with their noses on the ground,
and sometimes they look up, and now one of them is scratching her ear
with her hind foot. It is the prettiest thing I ever saw. Now they are
going on again, slowly. You are not going to try and kill them, are you?"
"A starving man may shoot anything for food," he answered, "but we must
look for something we would not be ashamed to kill."
So they lifted up their packs again, and we resumed our journey, until
hunger compelled us to stop near one of the little wooded islands growing
out of the silvery barren. Near at hand a tiny rivulet was tinkling, from
which the kettle was filled. Sammy and Yves cut down some tamarack sticks
while the doctor undid one of the packs and brought out a frying-pan and
some tin cups and plates. In a very few minutes the kettle was boiling
and bacon frying with a pleasant sputtering. There was bread and butter,
and a jar of marmalade.
"Thus far I entirely approve of caribou hunting," I declared. "I have an
idea that such a picnic as this must be the most delightful part of it."
The wind was blowing briskly, and the trees swaying to its caress.
Moose-birds began to gather around us, calling out with voices ranging
from the shrillest to deep raucous cries, sometimes changing to
imitations of other birds. They became very tame at once, and hopped
impudently among us, cocking up their saucy little heads and watching us.
Susie happened to put a little bacon on a piece of bread, beside her on
the clean moss, the better to handle a very hot cup of tea, and one of
the jays pounced upon it and dragged it away.
"Git out o' there, ye imp!" she cried. "Them birds would pick the nails
offen yer boots if they was good ter eat."
"They are ever so pretty," I said. "And oh! look at that poor little
chap. He hopped into the frying pan and scalded his toes."
The indignant bird flew away, uttering perfectly disgraceful language,
but the others seemed to be quite indifferent to his fate and remained,
bent on securing every discarded crumb.
After this a flight of yellow-leg snipe passed by. Dr. Grant began to
whistle their soft triple note and the wisp of birds circled in the air,
coming nearer and nearer until, becoming suspicious, they winged their
journey away. And then we were invaded by a troop of grosbeaks who
gathered in the neighboring bushes, their queer, tiny voices, seeming
quite out of place, coming out of such stocky, strong little bodies. In
the meanwhile a woodpecker was tap-tapping on a dead juniper. It was all
so very different from the cruel, ragged coast with its unceasing turmoil
of hungry waves breaking upon the cliffs. Here there reigned such a
wonderful peace, interrupted only by the song of birds. There were soft
outlines in the distance, and everywhere the scent of balsams. Of course
it was all very desolate; a vast swamp dominated by sterile ridges of
boulder-strewn hills; an immense land of peat-bogs and mosses, grey and
green and purplish, upon which only the caribou and the birds appeared
able to live. Yet it was no longer a place where the fury of the elements
was ever ready to unchain itself against poor people clinging to their
bare rocks. The breath of one's nostrils went ever so deep in one's
lungs, and one's muscles seemed to gather energy and respond ever so much
more efficiently than they ever did in big towns.
"I don't think I ever before realized the beauty of great waste places,"
I said. "It looks like a world infinite and wonderful, over which we
might be traveling in quest of some Holy Grail that should be hidden away
beyond those pink and mauve mountains."
The doctor smiled, in his quiet way.
"Yes," he said. "One feels as if one could understand the true purpose of
living, which should be the constant effort to attain something ever so
glorious that lies beyond, always beyond."
I wonder just what he meant by that, Aunt Jennie?
Soon our little caravan went on, and we began to see many tracks of
caribou, chiefly does and fawns. In low swampy places we several times
came across old wind-and rain-bleached antlers, shed in the late fall of
the previous year.
We had traveled for a couple of hours since luncheon when we stopped for
another breathing spell. Sammy was explaining the lie of the country to
the doctor, who nodded. Then the latter showed me a tiny valley where
ran, amid a tangle of alders and dwarf trees, a large brook that wandered
slowly, with many curves, to join the river far away on our right.
"At this time of the year there is not much chance of finding a stag in
the open," he said. "They remain in places like that, hidden in the
alders until it is time for them to wander off and make up their family
parties. Are you very tired, Miss Jelliffe?"
I assured him that I was still feeling ever so fit.
"We are only about a mile and a half from the place where we are to camp
for the night," he told me. "The others will go there and get things
ready. Frenchy can return here for my pack. If you would like to come
with me and hunt along the brook we should make it a somewhat longer
journey, owing to the many bends, but we should have a chance of getting
Of course I told him that I should like it ever so much, and we made our
way down a slope while the others continued along the ridge. Indeed I was
not tired at all. Notwithstanding the sodden moss in which our feet had
been sinking for hours, and the peaty black ooze that held one back, I
had no trouble in following Dr. Grant, who was carefully picking out the
After we reached the brook we went along the bank, but were soon
compelled to leave it owing to the impenetrable tangles of alders, around
which we had to circle. The doctor stopped to show me some tracks of
otters, and then we came to a place where the bank was steep, and a
little smooth path was worn down upon its face, leading into the water.
"An otter slide," he explained. "They run up the bank and toboggan down
into the water, again and again. It is a sort of game they play."
"How I should like to see them!" I exclaimed.
He put a finger up to his lips, enjoining silence, and led the way
towards a deep pool. Then he turned and lifted up his hand. We remained
motionless, hidden behind a rank growth of alders and reeds, and I
suddenly saw a little black head upon the water and caught the gleam of a
pair of bright eyes. Then came a splash, and the ruffled water smoothed
over. We waited, but never saw him again.
"That was a big, old, dog otter," said the doctor.
We continued on our winding way, finding a very few tracks of does and
fawns, but occasionally we came across the broad imprint of a big stag.
"He must be living somewhere around here," whispered my companion.
He looked very alert now, noting every sign and stopping to investigate
the waving of grasses and the motions of leaves. We peered in every
tangle of bush and shrub, and moved as silently as we possibly could.
We had slowly been following the stream for nearly an hour, and were on
the edge of the brook when the doctor quickly knelt down, and of course
I followed his example. He pointed towards some alders ahead of us.
"See those tops moving?" he whispered.
"I see them bending with the wind," I replied, in the same low voice.
"There is no wind here," he said. "It must be a stag or a bear in there."
We kept on watching and, Aunt Jennie, my heart was beating so with the
excitement of it that I could hardly keep still. But I insist that I was
not the least bit scared. I rather think that Dr. Grant impresses one as
a man who could take care of bears or anything else that might threaten
one. Presently, above the green leaves, appeared something that looked
like stout, reddish branches. We could see them only for an instant, and
then they went down again.
"It's a big, old stag," whispered the doctor.
"What shall we do?" I asked.
"I am going to give you a shot," he said.
"I shouldn't dare. I am sure I should miss," I answered.
"You must try. You know that you are the lucky one. I am going to leave
you here with the rifle and I shall crawl back a little way. If we went
on he would jump away on the other side of the alders and that would be
the last of him. I am going off to the right, and then I will walk slowly
towards him. The river is shallow here, and it is the only open spot. He
will surely jump in it, and probably stop for a second to see what is
coming, for he won't smell me. You will have a fine chance at him from
He placed the gun in my hands, already cocked, and was gone, noiselessly,
in an instant. I watched those bushes eagerly, and once again saw the big
tops of those antlers above the alders. Behind me everything was
wonderfully still, and I could hear the beating of my heart. The doctor
seemed to have been swallowed up by the wilderness, and I have never felt
so entirely alone as at that moment. An instant later I realized that a
strange thing was happening; I was no longer nervous, and my hands were
perfectly steady. After this, away to the right, I heard the faintest
crackling of branches and the horns appeared again, absolutely still for
a moment. Then another little branch cracked, and there was a turmoil in
the bushes, a splashing over the shallow, gravelly bottom of the little
stream, and the great, gray-brown body and white, arching neck of the
stag appeared, like a thing out of a fairy book. The head was noble,
poised on that snowy neck, and the antlers looked like a tangle of brush.
The lithe thing stopped, the sensitive ears went back, and he started
But the gun had gone up to my shoulder, Aunt Jennie, quite instinctively,
and for a fraction of a second I saw that wonderfully feathered neck
in the notch of the sight, then a brown place that was the beginning of
the shoulder, and I pulled the trigger. His long trot changed to a
furious, desperate gallop. A leap up the further bank carried him out of
my sight, and I was now so flurried that I never gave him a second shot.
Indeed I felt so badly that I wanted to sit down and have a good cry.
I heard the doctor, who was tearing through the bushes, just as Harry
Lawrence used to butt his way through a football line.
"You've got him," he yelled. "They never run like that unless mortally
wounded. We'll have him in a moment!"
"Do you really think so?" I cried, breathlessly.
"Come on and see for yourself," he answered, and in our turn we splashed
through the shallow water and found the track on the other side. This we
very carefully studied, so as to be able to distinguish it from others,
and then we went on, very cautiously, both walking on tiptoe. He was
ahead of me, with the cocked rifle in his hand, but after going a short
distance he stopped, suddenly, and began to fill his pipe, with the most
"Why don't you go on?" I asked, indignantly.
"Don't you think I deserve a pipe?" he said.
"You don't deserve anything," I told him. "I want my stag."
"_Mademoiselle est servie_" he said, laughing. "And you are indeed a most
lucky young woman."
"Where is it? Where is it?" I cried. "You are trying to be as mean as can
be just now, and I won't speak to you again to-day or any other day if
you don't stop."
But I was looking around as I spoke and suddenly, under a little clump of
birches, I saw something that made my heart beat fast again, and I dashed
away, shouting, as I verily believe, and running as fast as the deer when
I had last seen him. I had the advantage of the start and I beat the
doctor to the quarry. It was lying there, the most splendid thing you
ever saw, and I am sure I spoke in awed tones, as one does in a big
"I had no idea that it would be so big. Oh! The beautiful clean limbs!
And what a head! Those big flat horns in front that run down nearly to
his muzzle are just wonderful! It seems to me that I just saw him for a
second and pulled the trigger, and there was a little report that I
scarcely heard, just as if the gun was a little toy thing, and now he is
lying there and I don't know whether to be glad or sorry."
"You should be glad," he told me. "You might hunt for many months without
meeting with such a head as that. Now that it is all over it may seem a
bit tragic, but you must remember he was just a tremendous, handsome
brute, ready at all times to fight others to the death, to kill them in
his blind fury of jealousy. And those who fall to the gun may perhaps
have met the best end of all. Think of the poor old stags dragging
themselves to some tangle in order to escape the wolves or bears and
lynxes, and whose last glances reveal things creeping towards them or
great birds waiting to peck their eyes out. Man is seldom as cruel as
nature proves to be, for it is everywhere harsh and brutal. Little dramas
are constantly taking place under this very moss we tread, and those dear
little black-headed birds, over there in the bushes, are killing all day
long. You and I realize that the killing is the least part of the sport,
but we wanted meat and came out for it ourselves, instead of hiring
butchers to do the slaughtering for us. Moreover, you have a trophy which
you will take back with you, and which will be one more souvenir of
I felt that I was brightening up again.
"How beautiful it is!" I said again, quite consoled. "Look at that long,
white beard under his neck, and how deeply brown his cheeks are!"
"We must count the points," he proposed.
He went over them several times, with the greatest care.
"There are thirty-nine good ones," he said, "besides one or two little
ones that will hardly come up to the mark. It is a big beamy head with
broad flat horns. You will seldom see a better one, Miss Jelliffe."
We sat there for a moment, and presently heard some one coming through
the woods. It was the two men who were hurrying towards us.
"Camp ain't a quarter mile away," shouted Sammy. "Us heered the shot an'
come down. My, but that be a shockin' monstrous big stag. He's lucky,
ma'am, doctor is. I mistrust he don't miss often."
"Miss Jelliffe fired that shot, Sammy," announced the doctor.
"Well, now! It do beat all! So yer done it yerself, did yer, ma'am? I'll
fix him up now and bring th' head in by an' by. Don't yer be feared, I
knows how ter take a scalp off fine fer stuffin'. To-morrer we'll take
the meat. He's not long out of the velvet. Go right over ter the camp an'
shift yer wet boots. Frenchy he'll show yer. Kittle's bilin' an'
everything ready. It do be a fine day's work."
They all looked so happy that the last doubt left my mind. Frenchy was
positively beaming with delight, and I had to show them just where I
stood when I shot, and to explain everything. Then we trudged cheerfully
towards camp, keeping for a while by the edge of the brook, which we had
to cross again. We came to a tiny waterfall, and above it was the outlet
of a little lake, deep and placid-looking. Some black ducks were swimming
on it, not very far away, and I was shown a beaver's house.
"That's the real, wild outdoors that I love," I declared, stopping for a
moment. "How calm and still it all is. Look at the feathery smoke
drifting away over there. I suppose it is the camp."
For a moment there was a bit of bad going, over some wind-fallen trees,
and the doctor held out his hand for me.
"Thank you," I said. "It seems to me that I am all the time having to
thank you, you are always so kind. I must say that you are a perfectly
So we got to the camp, laughing, and Susie had to be told the story all
over again, while I changed shoes and stockings in the little tent, where
there was the thickest possible bed of fragrant balsam, covered with
It is getting late, Aunt Jennie, and I'll have to tell you the rest of it
another time. It was perfectly glorious.
Really I think it is a pity that Dr. Grant should bury himself in such a
place. He ought to live in our atmosphere, for he is entirely fitted for
So good night, Aunt Jennie, with best love from your
_From John Grant's Diary_
During the years that I spent abroad, in study, there were times when a
tremendous longing would come over me, so great that I was sorely tempted
to run away, even if for a few weeks only, and revel in the satisfaction
of my desire. It would seize upon me during long evenings, when I was
sometimes a little wearied with hard work. I hungered at such times for
the smoke of a camp-fire, for its resinous smells, for the distant calls
of night birds, for the crackling flames that cast strange lights upon
All this was ours on the evening we spent after our little caribou hunt.
Miss Jelliffe, who had had some slight experience with small target
rifles, made a good shot at a fine stag, and we were all very cheerful.
The fire burned brightly before the tent she shared with Susie, and the
dry dead pine with logs of long-burning birch crackled merrily. Over the
little lake, behind the dark conifers and the distant hills, the sun had
gone down in a glory of incandescent gold and crimson.
After we had finished our supper we all sat around the blaze and the
tales began, of big caribou and mighty salmon. Yet after a time, as
one always must in this country, we drifted off to stories of the
never-ending fight against mighty powers.
Very simply, in brief sentences, with short intervals to permit of more
accurate recollection, good old Sammy opened to us vistas of unending
fields of ice whereupon men slew the harp-seals, and pictured to us the
manner in which the toll of death sometimes turns against the slayers. He
also spoke of fishing schooners tossed by fierce gales, drifting by the
side of mountainous bergs of ice rimmed with foam from the billows lashed
in fury, and of seams that had opened as the ship spewed off its creeping
oakum. I am sure we could all see the men at the pumps, working until
their stiffened arms and frozen hands refused the bidding of brains
benumbed by cold and hunger.
"Yes, ma'am, it's hard, mighty hard, times and times, but when yer gets
through wid it ye'll still be there, if yer has luck, and them as doesn't
get ketched gets back ter th' wife an' young, 'uns, an' is thankful they
kin start all over again."
I saw how interested Miss Jelliffe was, and did my best to draw the man
out. Like most real fighters he was little inclined to live his own
combats over again, yet when he was once started it took little effort to
keep him going. After this I questioned Frenchy, very carefully, for he
is even less inclined than the other fishermen to talk about himself. I
have never known the secret, if there be one, in the life of this man,
alone of his people on this shore, with that child of his. He is always
ever so friendly, and looks at one with big, dog-like, trusting eyes, but
I have never sought to obtain a confidence he does not seem to be willing
to bestow on any one. For this reason I merely asked him whether he had
traveled much in foreign lands, as a sailor.
Then, as he puffed quietly at his pipe, the man gradually expanded just a
little, though never speaking of anything he had personally accomplished.
His tales, contrasting with Sammy's, took us to hot countries, with names
that were rather vague to us.
He led us up some rivers tenanted by strange beasts wallowing in fetid
mud which, when disturbed, sent forth bubbles that burst with foul odors,
and made more unbearable the tepid moisture one had to breathe. Hostile,
yellow people in strange garb slunk along the banks, hiding behind
bamboos and watching the boats rowed by white men nearly succumbing to
the torpor of the misty heat, while pulling with arms enfeebled by the
fevers of what he called _La Riviere Rouge_. There had been fighting,
nights and days of it, and once he had forgotten everything and awakened
on board a ship that was out of sight of land. Now the trade winds were
blowing, and many of the sick and wounded felt better, yet the great
sharks kept on following because of the long bundles that were daily
dropped overboard, done up in sail cloth and weighted at the feet. And
when one arrived in port there were poor old women who called for
Jean-Marie and for Joseph, and who sank fainting on the docks. But others
I could see that Miss Jelliffe was deeply interested in these tales of
things related very simply, very naturally, as if the sailor had spoken
of catching squid or under-running trawls. She wondered, as I did, why
this man who had sailed so many seas should have drifted here and taken
up his life in a strange land with the little yellow-haired boy in which
his heart was enwrapped.
Sammy and Susie listened open-mouthed to those tales of things they could
not realize or understand, for they could make little out of them, since
the man was often hard pushed for words, using a good many from his own
"Why don't you go back to your own country?" asked Miss Jelliffe, very
But he made no answer, pretending not to have heard her question. For an
instant she looked at him, then turned her head away. I also saw that a
strange moisture had gathered in the big man's eyes, lighted as they were
by the flames into which he peered, as if seeking in them lost things
that were past redeeming.
For some time we all remained very silent, as if oppressed by the awe of
these tales, and I had to take a desperate measure to change the trend of
thought. In a low voice I began to sing a lilting Irish melody with a
sweet refrain in which Miss Jelliffe joined, soon followed by Sammy's
deep tones and Susie's shrill ones, while Frenchy began to keep time with
a blackened pot-stick.
So it was only a few minutes before cheerful thoughts returned to us, as
the darkness deepened and the stars glittered, clear and close at hand.
Then we finally said good-night and Miss Jelliffe sought her tent,
attended by Susie.
We men went away to our lean-to, and talked a little longer before
stretching out for a sound night's sleep. And it seemed but a few
instants before we were up again, with the sunlight beginning to stream
over the distant hillocks towards the sea that was now hidden from us. I
took my rod to the outlet, where trout were rising, and returned soon to
find that coffee was being made while the men were cutting bacon and
chopping more wood.
Then Susie came to us, wanting some hot water and hurriedly returning to
the tent. Finally the flaps were turned aside and the young woman came
out, rosy of cheek and bright-eyed. Susie had a small fire before her
tent, and Miss Jelliffe held her hands before it for a moment. When she
came towards us I was kneeling on a small rock at the water's edge,
cleaning trout, while Frenchy was scraping away at the caribou head, the
scalp of which hung over a pole, to dry a little after a good salting.
Sammy was smiting away at an old pine log for more firewood.
"Good morning," she cried. "It is a perfect shame that you allowed me to
sleep so long. Oh! The beautiful trout! Where did you get them?"
I explained my capture, and told her that a few moments had been enough
to secure all that were needed for all hands. The two men grinned at her
delightedly, as she went up to them, happy and smiling, and she had to
inform them that she had spent a wonderful night of such sleep as no one
could possibly get outside of the wilderness.
"Isn't it all lovely and cheerful!" she exclaimed. "Now I insist on being
useful too. Won't you let me fry the trout?"
She knelt by the fire, holding a frying pan whose hollow handle had been
fitted with a long stick. The big dab of butter soon melted, and in a
moment the trout were crepitating and curling up in the pan, sending
forth heavenly odors.
"We can take our time," I told her, "for we will not look for another
stag to-day. All that meat is going to make a heavy load to take back."
"But it is a shame," she said, contritely. "You were going for a hunt,
and now that I have killed the stag you won't have any sport at all."
"I have had as good sport as any man has the right to expect," I said.
"Please don't believe that it all lies in pulling a trigger. It is just
this sort of thing that makes hunting glorious; the cheery fire and the
flapping tent doors, the breeze ruffling the lake, the sitting at night
by the fire and the tales we heard there. I will agree never to kill a
caribou again if you will only furnish me with such sport as this from
time to time."
"I was just thinking," she said, "that I am a law-breaker. I have no
license to kill caribou."
"I have no doubt that you may be forgiven if you will send the money to
St. John's and apply for a license. Then you can shoot two more, with an
"I will certainly send it," she replied, "but you ought to keep that
head, you know."
"No indeed, it is yours, and you must take it back with you to be
mounted. If I should ever return to New York I will ask you to allow me
to have a look at it."
"I shall never forgive you if you don't call," she answered, charmingly.
"But don't speak just now of going back to New York. I don't think I
shall ever leave a place with such regret. I simply refuse to think of
It was really delightful to see this splendid girl, brought up in the
most refined surroundings and yet so influenced by the glamour of the
outdoor life. To the strong and healthful there can be no attraction in
great towns that may not be dwarfed by the great pulsing of the lands
sought by the lovers of rod and gun. Here she had gathered new ideas and
unwonted thoughts. She is the best example I have ever seen of the
sturdy, beautiful girlhood of modern life, and is an utter pleasure to
After a time we started towards Sweetapple Cove. The meat, or as much of
it as we could carry, had all been tied up in packs. I was able to take a
good load of it and Susie trudged along, bearing the big caribou head
upon her shoulders.
"'Tain't much the weight on it," she said, "but it's clumsy. Them men has
all they kin lug an' I'm a goin' ter hoof it erlong wid this, jest ter
Walking back seemed quite a different thing. After leaving the little
lake we had climbed up, but now we were again on the great marshy barrens
which inclined down towards the sea.
"Now," said Miss Jelliffe, during a spell of resting, "I should be
utterly lost if I were alone. Nothing seems at all familiar and it is all
a great jumble of little green islands of vegetation, of grey moss that
is endless, of twisted junipers and lonely boulders. I don't know where I
am, but I am perfectly happy, since some one knows the way."
Of course I was only acquainted with the general lie of the land,
but the direction was quite clear to me. I wish everything was as
straight-forward and clear as the way to the Cove.
"I am quite ashamed of myself," she continued. "I am the only one who is
carrying nothing and is perfectly useless. I wonder your backs are not
broken with those tremendous loads."
But the two men only grinned.
"It is nothing when you get used to it," I said, "providing one ever
really gets used to a hard grind. But there are people to whom strong
physical effort is a punishment while others simply accept it, grit their
teeth, and carry the thing out."
"I suppose one has to learn how to accept things cheerfully," said Miss
Jelliffe. "My life has been such an easy one that I have never had to try
to bear heavy burdens."
"I am sure you will do it courageously, if ever the time comes," I
Then we took up our packs and went on, making rather slow progress, as we
were not pressed for time and the loads were heavy. In the middle of the
day we took our lunch near a little brook, and, after starting again, we
soon saw, from the summit of a little hill, the bright and glittering
sea. Before us descended the valley of Sweetapple River, looking like a
silvery ribbon winding in and out among the trees. To one side of us
there was a rocky hill, once swept by a storm of flames and now tenanted
only by the gaunt skeletons of charred firs and tamaracks. In the
mistiness ahead of us the coast line, with its grim outlines softened,
lost itself and melted away as if nature, in a kindly spirit, had sought
to throw a veil over brutal features and covered them with a mantle of
"This is ideally beautiful," said Miss Jelliffe. "I can understand that
you may hesitate to leave all this to return to the grime of great
Thus we returned to the Cove, and the girl hastened to her father, eager
to tell him of our hunt and to show him the great head. I went with her
to the house, and took pleasure in seeing the interest shown by the old
gentleman. He certainly is a good sportsman.
"If Helen hasn't thanked you enough," he said, "I want to put in my oar.
I am really extremely obliged to you for giving her such a good time."
I left in a short time and Miss Jelliffe put out her hand in her frank
and friendly way. I must say she is a girl in many thousands.
And now I wonder why I am writing all this. My diary, begun in
self-defence at a time when I expected to spend so dreary a time that an
addled and rusted brain would result unless I sought hard to keep it
employed, scarcely has an excuse for being, now. The Jelliffes and the
Barnetts, with the good people of the Cove, are surely enough to keep a
man interested in the world about him. It has simply become a silly
habit, this jotting down of idle words.
_From Miss Helen Jelliffe to Miss Jane Van Zandt_
_Dearest Aunt Jennie_:
I am writing again so soon because I don't think I can sleep, to-night.
I know that some people can't possibly slumber off when they are
over-tired. That must be the matter with me, though I never realized it.
We had no more hunting after we killed that caribou. That night we
camped, and I heard stories, from two poor, humble men, that made my head
just whirl, for they were really Odysseys, or sagas, or any of the big
tales one ever heard of. It would seem, Aunt Jennie, dear, as if the
world is not at all the prosy thing some people take it to be. I suppose
that the great knights and warriors are altogether out of it now, but I
find that it is running over with men one usually never hears of, who
accomplish tremendous things without the slightest accompaniment of drums
We started back after a night during which I slept like a dead thing, but
naturally I was the most alive girl you ever saw when I awoke. The men
went away to where we had left the dead stag and returned with big
haunches and other butcher-shop things, which they packed up in huge
loads. It appears that my lucky shot has contributed considerably to the
provisionment of Sweetapple Cove.
By the way, this place, which I once rather despised, looked most
attractive when we came down towards it from the hills. I could see the
beautiful, white _Snowbird_ at anchor, looking very small, and the
sunlight played on the brass binnacle which shone like a burning light.
Near it, very lowly and humble, rode the poor little fishing smacks that
are far more important to the world's welfare than our expensive
plaything. The crop of drying cod was spread out on the flakes, as usual,
and tiny specks of women and children were bending over them, turning the
fish, piling them up, bearing some of them away on hand-barrows, and
bringing fresh loads to scatter in the sun.
When we reached the house we found Daddy lying on the steamer chair. He
was engaged in deep converse with our skipper, who left at once. The
doctor only remained a few minutes, and then Susie appeared, her rubicund
face framed in the mighty antlers of my quarry. Daddy laughed heartily.
"The two Dianas of Sweetapple Cove!" he exclaimed. "My dear, you ought to
bear the bow and quiver and to sport the crescent on your queenly brow.
Now tell me all about it! How are you, and what kind of a time have you
had? I need not ask about the sport for you have brought the evidence
with you. Isn't it a wonderful head? I call it rather cruel to be
parading such things before a poor cripple."
"I'm sure glad enough ter get rid o' he," quoth Susie, with a sigh of
relief. "It lugs fair clumsy. I'll be goin' over ter Sammy's house now.
He've got the tenderlines in th' pack of he and ter-morrer ye's goin' ter
feed on something worth bitin' inter. Ef yer doesn't say so I'll be awful
fooled. And yer better shift yer stockin's right now, ma'am, 'cause
walkin' all day in the mash is bound ter soak yer feet spite o' good
boots. I'll be back in a minnut."
The good creature dashed away on her errand, and we were left to tell our
"It was perfectly splendid, Daddy," I told him. "I hope they have taken
good care of you and you were a dear to let me go. I have had such a
"I am delighted, my dear," he said, "but now you had better run away and
follow Susie's advice."
"Just a moment, Daddy," I pleaded. "I have had wet feet for two days and
a minute more won't hurt me. Indeed I killed the big caribou, and Dr.
Grant was ever so kind, as he always is. He said he would try to come in
for supper. Oh! You ought to have seen that big stag, and how proudly he
stepped out into that brook, all alert, and how he started to run. And
then I shot, and the doctor found him for me. It was wonderful!"
"That doctor is a fine fellow," said Dad.
Of course I agreed with him. It is quite amazing how Daddy has taken to
Dr. Grant, but then I don't see how one could help it. The doctor is a
very quiet man, excepting when he gets enthusiastic or mad about things,
and one thinks at first that he is rather distant in his manner. But when
you know him much better he comes right out and shows just as much red
blood as those boys at home. I wonder why he keeps on living at
So I went off to change my shoes and stockings, which were quite soaked
through, and then I sat again with Daddy and told him a lot more about
our trip. I wish I could have explained everything to him, but of course
I couldn't make him see the color of those far-away hills and the perfect
beauty of those great marshes. I told him all about the camp by the
little lake, and the winding distant river, and the cries of the
ptarmigans and the loons, and the finding of the stag.
"Helen dear," said Daddy, who had been looking at me in that keen way of
his, "I don't think I ever saw you so enthusiastic before. Your mind has
been fully opened to the charm of the wilderness, and that is something
that city people seldom understand. You were never so earnest before.
What is it? Are you developing new traits?"
Of course I laughed at this, and yet it seemed to me also as if something
were changed. I didn't quite know what Daddy meant, because it is
sometimes difficult to know whether he is jesting or in earnest. He once
told me that this was a rather good business asset.
"Well, Daddy," I finally said. "I am afraid you will have to take me
away, or I shall be falling so much in love with Sweetapple Cove that I
will never want to leave it again."
"We will leave to-morrow, if you want to," he said, in a rather abrupt
Do you know, Aunt Jennie, that when he said that I just gasped a little.
It suddenly seemed so strange that we would have to go away soon, and
that I might never see Sweetapple Cove again, and those dear Barnetts,
and all the people, for the whole lot of them appear to have a way of
stealing into one's heart.
"I don't really want to go at once, Daddy," I told him. "It will take a
few days to get used to the idea, and to get everything ready. And Dr.
Grant says that very soon you will be able to walk without a cane. Do let
us put it off for another week."
Daddy smiled vaguely, and finally nodded his consent. He is always so
good about trying to please me. So I went and got my knitting and sat
down at the foot of the big chair.
"I'm afraid I'll never finish it before we leave," I said, "and I doubt
whether I will ever quite solve the mystery of turning heels."
"That's too bad," said Daddy. "I expected to wear those things in
Virginia this fall, after quail, or on the Chesapeake when the
canvas-backs are flying."
"I am afraid you will have to buy some, Daddy," I answered.
So I sat beside him, at his feet, and I think my mood had changed a
little. Perhaps it was fatigue, which I didn't really feel. I suppose
that people can have things the matter with them without knowing anything
about it. Daddy's dear old hand rested for a moment on my head, and I had
to stop knitting. I don't think I ever felt so queerly before, and I had
to look over Sweetapple Cove and follow the flight of the gulls, until
the shadows grew quite long and the clouds became tinted with rose, and
Daddy asked me to get him a cigar, and I was glad he interrupted my silly
thoughts. I must have been really very tired.
* * * * *
I could only write a little while, last night. We had some caribou steak
which Daddy became quite enthusiastic over, but I didn't feel hungry, and
I went to bed early, but somehow I slept poorly. It is funny that one can
be tired for several days at a time. And to-day, Aunt Jennie, some queer
things have happened, and the life that has so often felt like dreams has
become very serious, and I have seen some of the inner working of events
such as make one feel that existence has cruel sides to it.
All this morning I dawdled about the house. I had expected Dr. Grant to
call and see Daddy, but he had been sent for, a short distance away, in
Rather late this afternoon he returned, and I strolled over towards the
cove when I saw the tiny schooner come in. It is a poor enough little
ship, but it is wonderful to think how it bears with it such comfort and
help to so many suffering people.
I was within a few yards of him, and he was lifting his cap when a
fisherman rushed up to him.
"Ye're wanted ter Atkins'," said the man. "They is a child there as is
awful sick. They brung 'un over from Edward's Bay, this mornin', an' th'
mother she be prayin' fer ye to come."
"All right," he answered. "Sammy, bring my bag up with you and I'll hurry
up at once."
He only smiled at me, in his pleasant way, for he rushed by me, running
up the rough path in great strides, and of course I could only go back to
our house, where I sat with Daddy on the porch.
From where I sat I could see Atkins' house. It is only a little way from
us, up the hill. There were a number of people assembled in front of it,
because whenever any one is hurt or very ill they are apt to gather
around, as people do sometimes in New York before a house where an
ambulance has stopped. Then I saw the doctor sprinting out towards
Sammy's house, whence he returned carrying another bag. Of course I have
several times helped him a little, in the last month, when Mrs. Barnett
didn't get in ahead of me, so I rose.
"I am going up to Atkins'," I told Dad. "I wonder what is the matter. I
shall only be gone a few minutes."
So I ran away, bare-headed, and rushed to the place, but before I reached
it Mrs. Barnett arrived there, all out of breath.
When I passed through the waiting people I heard Dr. Grant's voice, and
he spoke very angrily. I had never thought before that he could get quite
so mad. There was a swarm of women in the house, some of them with babies
in their arms, and a few children, among whom was Frenchy's little boy,
had also slipped in.
"Get out of here!" he was shouting, roughly. "All of you but the child's
mother and Mrs. Atkins. Haven't I told you it is dangerous? Do you want
to spread this thing about and kill off all your children? And you, Mrs.
Barnett, must give the example. I won't have you running chances with
those babies of yours. Do get out, like a dear woman, and chevy these
other ones out with you."
He was bustling them all out like a lot of hens, in his effective,
energetic way, and then he saw me.
"I want you to get out too, Miss Jelliffe," he ordered me. "This is a bad
case of diphtheria. The child is choking and I must relieve it at once."
I took a few steps back, rather resentfully, because I had never been
spoken to in that way before, and I thought it very rude of him, but I
did not leave the place. The doctor was very busy with some instruments
and perhaps had forgotten my presence.
He made the woman sit on a stool, with the little girl wrapped in a sheet
and sitting on her lap. I saw him take up a shiny instrument, which he
fastened in the baby's mouth, notwithstanding her struggles.
"Now hold her firmly," he ordered, "and you, Mrs. Atkins, get behind her
and take her head. Hold it steady, just this way. Never mind her crying."
But the little one wrenched herself away from the woman's grasp. The
breath entered its lungs with an awful long hoarse sound and the poor
little lips were very blue.
"For God's sake, hold her better," he cried again.
"I'm all of a tremble," said Mrs. Atkins, weeping. "She's sure goin' ter
die. I kin never hold her, she do be fightin' me so."
Of course there was only one thing to do. I ran out of the corner to
which I had retreated and pushed the foolish woman away and seized the
baby's head so that it could not move.
Dr. Grant stared at me, shaking his head, but I suppose I looked at him
defiantly, for I was really angry with him.
"This is all wrong, Miss Jelliffe," he said. "You should not expose
yourself to this infection."
He spoke so quietly that I became rather sorry I had been provoked at
him, but he paid no more heed to me. Once he placed a hand on one of
mine, to show me exactly how to hold the head, and then he took a long
handle to which something was fastened at right angles. The child's mouth
was widely opened by the gag he had inserted, and his left finger went
swiftly down into the child's throat and the instrument, pushed by his
right hand, followed, incredibly quick. There was just a rapid motion, I
heard the release of a catch, and then, suddenly, there was a terrifying
attack of violent coughing. But in a moment this ceased, the child lay
back quietly in her mother's arms, the color began to return to her lips,
and she was breathing quietly. Then we watched, in silence, and finally
the little head turned to one side and the baby closed her eyes, while
the poor woman's tears streamed down and even fell on the tiny face.
"She is all right for the time being," said Dr. Grant, in that quiet
voice of his, which I have heard change so quickly. "If she can only
resist until the antitoxine acts upon her we may pull her through. I am
greatly obliged to you, Miss Jelliffe. I am afraid your father will scold
us both for taking such chances with your health."
But by this time my eyes were full of tears also, I don't know why. I was
unsteady on my feet and held on to the back of a chair.
"I never saw anything like this before," I said. "I didn't quite realize
that it ever happened. The poor little thing was dying, and you did it
all so quickly! That thing went in like a flash, and then she coughed so
and I thought she was lost. And now she sleeps, and I am sure you have
saved her, and she must get well. How dreadful it was, at first, and how
wonderfully beautiful it is to be able to do such things! I am so glad!"
Wasn't it silly of me to get so excited, Aunt Jennie. But I suppose one
can't understand such happenings until one has witnessed them. I know
that I had taken the doctor's arm, without realizing what I was doing,
and found myself patting it, stupidly, like a silly, hysterical thing.
His face was very serious, just then, and he looked at me as if he had
been studying another patient. Then came that little smile of his, very
kindly, which made me feel better.
"I think you had better go now, Miss Jelliffe," he advised. "I beg you
not to expose yourself further. It is a duty you owe your good old father
and any one who cares for you."
Then I was myself again. The excitement of those tense moments had passed
away and I knew I had been a little foolish and that he spoke ever so
"I will go since you wish me to," I answered. "But I am ever so glad that
I was able to help you. You will come to supper, won't you?"
"I am afraid you will have to excuse me," he said. "I can hardly do so
now, for I must remain here and watch this child for some time. You will
please change all your clothing and have it hung out on the line, and
you will gargle your throat with something I will send you. I'll call
to-morrow and see your father, and give you the latest news of this
"I didn't know that you ever got so angry," I said, now prompted by some
spirit of mischief. "You were in a dreadful temper when I came in."
"Of course I was," he readily admitted. "But do you realize that this is
the continuation of an old story. This woman was in St. John's last week,
with the child, and I suppose they may have brought the disease from
there. Then the child became ill, the night before last, and she waits
until this morning to bring it over to me. When she reaches here she
finds me away, but of course every woman in the place strolls in, with
children in arms, to look on and give advice. We may be in for a fine
epidemic. I shall have to send to St. John's at once for a new supply of
antitoxine. I have only a little, and it is not very fresh. Atkins is
away with his schooner but he is expected to-morrow. I hope he turns up.
Thank you ever so much, Miss Jelliffe. Now please run away and follow my
So I left him and returned to the house and obeyed his orders. We soon
had supper, but when I told Daddy all about it, it was his turn to be
"That's all very well," he said, "but after all he could have found some
one else to help him and you had no business to disobey. When the time
comes for you to have babies of your own you can risk your life for them
as much as you please, but you have no right to run into danger now. You
are my only child, and I have no one else to love since your poor mother
died. Please don't do such things again. Grant was perfectly right in
trying to chase you away. He should have taken a stick to you."
Daddy's ruffled tempers are never proof against my method of smoothing
the raging seas. My arm around his neck and a kiss will make him eat out
of my hand, as Harry Lawrence puts it. Naturally he succumbed again and
in a minute was just as nice as ever.
We had only just finished our supper when Frenchy came in, leading his
little boy by the hand. He bore a letter which he gravely handed to Daddy
who, as usual, had to look into three or four pockets before he found his
glasses. Then he read, and his face became serious, as it always does
when he takes sudden decisions.
"Yves," he said, "will you oblige me by going down to the cove at once
and hailing the schooner. I want my captain to come over here."
Frenchy departed, after saluting as usual, his little fellow trotting
beside him, and Daddy, without a word, handed the letter to me. I read
_Dear Mr. Jelliffe_:
I had intended to see you to-morrow morning, and expect to do so, but I
believe it might be best for you to obtain my advice at once. Miss
Jelliffe has doubtless told you how she helped me with a case of
diphtheria, although I am sure she omitted to say how brave and helpful
she was. The danger to her is comparatively slight, I am sure, yet we
must not forget that such a danger exists. If you were to start to-morrow
morning you could be in St. John's before night. From there two days
would find you in Halifax and two more in New York, so that you would be
always near good care and advice.
With a little care and prudence in regard to your leg I am sure that you
can reach home quite safely.
With kindest regards,
Very sincerely yours,
I stared at Daddy, hardly knowing what to say.
"That boy has a lot of good sound horse-sense!" he exclaimed. "I am just
going to follow his advice. Bring me my check-book. I am going to make
out something for that little parson. He needs a place to give the folks
what he calls readings, and other things. He told me that two-fifty would
give him unutterable joy. I'll make it five hundred so that he can shout.
Now in regard to Dr. Grant...."
"Are we really going to-morrow, Daddy?" I interrupted.
"You bet we are going to-morrow, always providing that yacht of ours is
ready. I gave orders yesterday to have something done and...."
But I didn't listen any more. I went to the window and drew aside the
little curtain. Down below, in the cove, I could see the _Snowbird's_
anchor light, gleaming brilliantly. The windows of some of the houses
shed a sickly pale radiance, but beyond this everything was in darkness,
with just the faintest suggestion of enormous masses representing the
jagged cliffs. There was not a single star in the heavens, and all at
once everything seemed to be plunged in desolation. It felt as when one
awakes in the darkness from some beautiful dream. I knew then that I
would be actually home-sick for Sweetapple Cove when I returned to New
Please don't laugh at me, Aunt Jennie dear, you know I have had no one
but you to confide in since I have grown out of short skirts. Perhaps
it was this thing I saw in Atkins' house that has upset me so, and I
suppose that my life has always been too easy, and that I have not been
prepared to meet some of the grim horrors it can reveal to one.
I could not think of leaving without saying good-by to Mrs. Barnett. My
hand shook as I pushed a hatpin through my cap. Then I told Daddy where I
was going and ran out into the darkness.
When I reached the poor little house they insist on calling the rectory
the dear woman opened her arms to greet me, and I saw that her beautiful
eyes were filled with tears.
"What is the matter, dear?" I asked.
"I was a coward to-day," she cried. "Such an awful coward! I had no
business to leave when Dr. Grant told me to. I should have stayed and
helped. But when he spoke of diphtheria I couldn't help it and thought of
my little chaps. I have already seen that dreadful thing come and sweep
little lives away, just in a day or two. It took the one we buried on the
other side of the cove, and we saw it suffocating, helpless to aid. And
that's why I ran out, terror-stricken. But I hear that you held the baby
for him. You don't know what it is to have babies of your own, and were
not afraid. It is dreadful, you know, that fear that comes in a mother's
She looked quite weak when she sat down, in a poor, worn, upholstered
chair that was among the things they brought from England, and I sat on
the arm of it, beside her.
"I have changed all my clothes," I told her, "and I don't think I'm
dangerous. Now Daddy insists that we must leave to-morrow, and I'm
just broken-hearted about it. Dr. Grant wrote him that it would be better
for us to leave, but I don't want to go."
"Did the doctor write that?" she exclaimed.
"Yes, because there might be danger in my staying longer. Why can't I
share it with all the others who will have to stay here? I shall never
I suppose that we were both rather excited, and I know I had to dab my
eyes with my handkerchief. Then Mrs. Barnett forgot all about her own
worries, for she was patting me on the arm, looking at me intently all
the time, just as Daddy has been doing, in a queer way that I can't
"I daresay it will be best for both of you," she said, in that sweetest
voice of hers.
"Yes, I think Daddy wants to get back," I said, and she stared at me
again, as I rose and bade her good-by.
"Don't say it yet, dear," she told me, "I will certainly come down to see
you off in the morning. It has been so delightful to have had you here
all these weeks, and I shall miss you dreadfully when you are gone. I can
hardly bear to think of it."
So I kissed her and had to tear myself away. Like a pair of silly women
we were on the verge of tears once more, and there was nothing left for
me to do but to run.
It was perhaps some unusual effect of the night air, but I was quite
husky when I spoke to Daddy again.
"You will be glad to get back, won't you. Daddy?" I asked him. "It will
be so nice for you to go to the club again, and see all your old
He looked at me, and only nodded in a noncommittal way.
"I will leave you now," I said. "There is a lot of packing to do, and
that poor silly Susie is perfectly useless, since she heard we were
going. She is sitting on a stool in the kitchen and weeping herself into
a fit. Her nose is the reddest thing you ever saw. But you and I are old
travelers, aren't we, and used to quick changes? You remember, in Europe,
how we used to get to little towns and decide in a moment whether we
would stay or not, when we were tired of all those old museums and
But Daddy only patted my hand, and I have decided that he is a
wonderfully clever man. I am sure he understood that I was just forcing
myself to talk, and that he could say nothing that would make me feel
Then there was a knock at the door, and Stefansson came in with one of
his long faces.
"Good evening," said Daddy. "Have a cigar? The box is there on the table.
I have good news for you, since I know you don't enjoy this place much.
Too far from Long Island Sound, isn't it? I want to sail to-morrow
Our skipper's long Swedish face lengthened out a bit more, and he looked
a very picture of distress.
"But you told me yesterday that you were going to stay at least another
week, Mr. Jelliffe," he objected. "So to-day when the engineer he tells
me about bearings needing new packing, and about a connecting rod being a
bit loose, I told him to get busy."
"I'd like to know what you fellows were doing all the time in St.
John's?" asked Daddy, angrily.
"Engines always need looking after, Mr. Jelliffe," replied the skipper in
an injured tone that was not particularly convincing. "Of course I can
make him work all night, and to-morrow, with his helper, so that maybe we
can start day after to-morrow early. Everything is all apart now. If you
say so we can start under sail, but I know you don't like bucking against
contrary winds without a bit of steam to help, and this is a forsaken
coast to be knocking about, Mr. Jelliffe, and I'll be glad to get away
"Well, I suppose that a day or so won't make much difference," said
Daddy. "How's your coal?"
"Plenty coal, sir."
"All right, get those fellows at work in the engine room, Stefansson.
They haven't had much to do of late."
Our skipper departed and I was so happy that I wanted to dance. In the
kitchen Susie was washing dishes and assisting her work by intoning the
most doleful hymn. I turned up the lamp a little, and things seemed ever
so much more cheerful.
So I suppose that I have been ever so foolish. Just now I can hear Daddy
and Mr. Barnett saying good night, and I know that they have been
fighting tooth and nail over that chess board. And I hear Mr. Barnett
thanking Daddy, in a voice that is all choked up with emotion. I am so
glad to think the dear little man is happy. Isn't it too bad, Aunt
Jennie, that we can't all be happy all the time?
_From John Grant's Diary_
Here I am writing again, just for the purpose of trying to keep awake. A
fellow in my profession, in such places as this, is much like a billiard
ball that finds itself shot into all sorts of corners, without the
slightest ordering from any consciousness of its own. I left that child
at Atkins' doing fairly well, and have once more been compelled to make
one of those rather harrowing choices I dread. I had either to abandon
that child, though its mother is fairly intelligent and seems to
understand my instructions, fortunately, or to refuse to answer this
call, where another man with a large family is lying at the point of
It seems strange that I shall probably never see Miss Jelliffe again. The
yacht has been delayed for several days, and they did not start as they
expected to. But when I return I have no doubt that the _Snowbird_ will
be gone, and with it two charming people who will be but delightful
memories. I had thought to show Dora how willing I was to do what she
calls a man's work, and expected to accomplish it at the cost not only of
hard toil, which is an easy enough thing to get through with, but also at
the price of exile among dull people. I have had plenty of work, but for
the last two months there has not been a stupid moment. The girl's bright
intelligence and fine womanliness, the old gentleman's kindly and
practical ways, have made my visits to them ever so pleasant, and those
journeys to the barrens and the river have been delightful.
And now the Barnetts will be left, pleasanter companions by far than I
had any right to expect in this out-of-the-way corner of the island. And
then I always hope that Dora will soon be coming home, as she calls it,
and I will hasten away to her, and perhaps plead with her for the last
time. I do hope she will approve of the man's work; perhaps also of the
I last saw Miss Helen the day before yesterday morning, just before the
summons came for me to go to Edward's Bay, and she told me she hoped I
would return before her departure. She said it so kindly that I am rather
proud of having won the friendship of such a splendid girl.
Here I found a man with pneumonia, who has still a chance. His wife and
children are sleeping on the floor, all around me. Once more I am seeking
to preserve one life, that others may go on too, and I ordered the woman
to take a rest, for she has been up two nights.
When I last went to the Jellifies', after changing all my clothes, and
taking all possible precautions, I told her that the child was better,
and that I was under the impression that the antitoxine was having a
favorable effect. Also I informed her that I was going to start Atkins
off to St. John's for another supply in case the malady should spread,
for I only had about enough left for one bad case.
"I hope he makes good time," I said, "but of course one can never tell,
though he's a first rate man and can make his way into the cove in
weather of all kinds, barring an offshore gale. Fog doesn't bother him."
"You have had a sleepless night," she told me. "It must have been hard to
keep awake after all the work you have done in the last few days."
I assured her that I had enjoyed some sleep, having dozed off several
times on my chair. I had ordered Mrs. Atkins, under dire threats, to
awaken me at least every half hour, and she had obeyed fairly well.
"You know that we may perhaps be able to leave to-morrow," she said.
"Yes, it is best that you should," I told her. "Your father is quite well
able to stand the journey now. They can easily warp the schooner up to
the little dock so that he may walk aboard without trouble. I hope this
wind may change soon, for just now it looks rather threatening."
We were walking away from the house, in the direction of the cliff which
forms one of the iron-bound limits of the cove and extends out into the
open sea. Miss Jelliffe was very silent. It is easy to see that she
regrets the idea of leaving, but now something seemed to be oppressing
"You don't know how greatly I shall miss all this," she told me, in a low
voice. "It has been a simple existence full of a charm that has meant
more than all the golf and autos and dancing. I have regretted none of
the yachting or the Newport gayeties. None of those things compare at
all with what one finds in poor old Sweetapple Cove, with all its smell
of fish, or even its rains and fogs. These only blot out an outer world
that seems of little interest now, and after a while the sun always comes
I walked by her side, and after going for a short distance we sat upon a
rock and looked out over the ocean, which extended afar, under a sky that
was dark with mountainous masses of piled-up clouds. The great roll of
the sea struck the foot of the cliffs rather slowly, as if performing
some solemn function, and the swash of the returning water was like some
strange dirge. The very waves had lost their blueness and were tinted
with a leaden, muddy hue.
"It looks as if some awful storm were coming," said Miss Jelliffe.
"It may pass away," I answered, "but I don't generally shine as a weather
We sat there for some time, watching the ominous stirring of the clouds,
that seemed like an invading army whose might would soon be unleashed and
burst out with fierce violence. Then, in the distance, we saw a small
boat. The tan-hued sails flapped idly and one could see that the men were
"They are pulling for their lives," I said. "I hope they get in soon. It
looks as if they were coming from Edward's Bay. It is likely enough that
it is another call for me. All the boats belonging to the Cove are in, as
far as I can see. They all know very well what is coming."
"Then you will have to rush away again!" she exclaimed.
"It is all in the game," I answered. "One has to try to play it according
to the rules."
"Yes, and you try very hard," she said. "Those journeys over rough
waters, those nights of watching, the toil over hopeless cases, the
meager reward when devoted care has saved. It is surely a wonderful game,
and you play it well."
I have always been glad to see the enthusiasm of healthy and strong young
womanhood. The girls of to-day like to see a man's game played, and they
surely know how to help.
We continued to watch the small boat, which rose and fell to the swing of
the long rollers. The wind was beginning to rise a little, striking the
water with black squalls, and we saw the little sails grow rigid as the
boat careened and sped towards us like an affrighted bird.
"They will make it all right, thank goodness," I said.
After this we strolled back, to find Susie sitting on the little porch as
she mopped her face with her blue apron.
"Look at this silly girl," said Miss Jelliffe. "She has been weeping off
and on like a Niobe, and makes me feel like crying too. Among us poor
women tears are dreadfully contagious things, and I'm trying hard to
escape the infection."
"I can't help it," said the girl, showing a red nose and swollen eyes.
"Sweetapple Cove ain't a-goin' ter be the same place after you folks
goes. 'Course I knows ye'd have no room fer a girl like me over ter yer
place in Ameriky. 'Tain't my fault if we Newfoundlanders is said ter be
that green th' devil has to put us in th' smoke-house ter dry afore we'll
burn. Ye'd ought ter have hustled me hard an' said mean things ter me.
Then I'd 'a' been glad when ye left. It's a sight better ter say good
riddance ter bad rubbish than ter lose people one's fond of."
She was bravely trying to smile, and accused herself of being a silly
fool. Miss Jelliffe put her hand on the girl's shoulder.
"You never said you would like to go with us, Susie," she said. "I'll be
only too glad to take you if you want to come."
"Now don't be after foolin' me jest ter make me stop greetin' like a
silly calf!" exclaimed Susie. "Yer sure don't mean it, does yer?"
"Now I am determined to take you if I have to tie you up and have you
carried on board by the crew," laughed Miss Helen, whereupon a broad
smile illumined the girl's face.
"If I doesn't allers do what yer tells me to," she declared, "ye kin take
me by the scruff of me neck an' ship me back ter work on the flakes
again. Oh, Lord! I got ter run off an' tell the folks. I'll jest be back
in a minute."
She scampered up the path, scaring two goats and sending a hen flying
over some palings into a cabbage patch, while we entered the house.
"I am afraid I have come to say good-by, Mr. Jelliffe," I said to Mr.
Jelliffe. "I rather think that some one is coming for me to go to the
Bay, and I shall probably not be back in time to see you off. Be very
prudent about using your leg and have some one hold your arm when you
move about the yacht."
"Hold on!" exclaimed Mr. Jelliffe. "First I want to thank you ever so
much for the excellent care you have taken of me, and for your kindness
to Helen. You have been exceedingly good and attentive to us both. And I
want to say that I think you are doing fine work in this jumping-off
place, and it seems a pity that a man like you should be wasted here. Now
here's a bit of paper in this envelope, and you can spend it on codfish
or codfisherrnen, just as you please. Thank you again for my spliced leg,
it's a fine job."
He put out his hand, which I shook heartily. Indeed I felt very sorry
over this separation. These people are friends such as I have never had
yet, and the salt of the earth.
When I sought to open the door I was compelled to push hard against the
force of the fierce wind that had arisen during our conversation. The
rocky spurs which close in the cove were now a foaming mass over which
mighty combers were hurling themselves, to the shrieking of the gale.
I found Miss Jelliffe on the porch, with locks of her hair flying about
her pretty head.
"You are not going," she cried. "You can't possibly go off in such a
"I can see that no boat could leave the cove now," I replied, "but if I
should be badly wanted I might be able to make my way over there by
"Oh! I hope you won't go," she said. "It is a terrible storm."
Some men were coming towards us, their oilskins slatting in the wind that
sought to tear them from their backs.
"'Tis a hard bit of a blow, sir," said one of them. "It's too bad, for
they is Dicky Jones, as has seven young 'uns, and they says he is mortal
sick. The woman o' he she were bawlin' terrible fer us to go an' fetch
yer, an' we resked it, but now 'tain't no use, for there ain't no boat
could ever get out o' th' cove an' live."
The other man was Sammy, who nodded gravely, in confirmation.
I looked at the raging seas that were now leaping over the little strait
into our cove.
"I'll have to try and get there by land," I said.
"'Tis an awful long ways around," said Sammy. "Not as I says it can't be
"We's fair done with th' long pull we's had," said the messenger. "I
mistrust us men couldn't do it."
"You will stay here and rest," I told him. "I think I will have to try
"You goin' now?" asked Sammy.
"I'll be off in a few minutes."
"Then I goes wid yer, in course," said the sturdy old fellow. "I might be
hinderin' you a bit with th' walkin', 'count o' them long legs o' yourn,
but I knows th' way an' ye'll be safer from gettin' strayed."
So I ran up to Atkins', to see once more how the child was getting on,
finding everything satisfactory enough. I left some medicine and gave
careful directions, after which I returned to the Jelliffes' house. Miss
Helen was waiting, wrapped in a waterproof coat. Her head was bare, and
she did not appear to mind the gusts of rain which came down upon it,
driven under the porch by the gale.
"Good-by, oh! good-by!" she cried. "Thank you for everything and God be
She gave me a grip of the hand that was strong with a nervous force one
would hardly have deemed her capable of, and I left her regretfully, I
must say, for she had become such a comrade as a man seldom meets with.
Then Sammy and I started on our long walk over the ridges and barrens,
striking well inland. We had been gone but a few minutes before
Sweetapple Cove was blotted from our sight by the pelting rain that
spattered fiercely over our oilskins.
And now I am putting in another long night.
The storm still beats upon the roof and the wind is howling like some
unmerciful beast unleashed. The _Snowbird_ surely could not sail away
to-day, for the dawning is showing its first gleams through the tiny
window panes, and there is no sign of any change.
_From Miss Helen Jelliffe to Miss Jane Van Zandt_
_Dearest Aunt Jennie:_
Why does the world sometimes seem to turn the wrong way, so that
everything becomes miserably topsy-turvy? I have often had to struggle
to keep awake when writing you these long letters, which you say you are
so glad to get. But now I am writing because I am so dreadfully awake
that I don't feel as if I ever could sleep again.
It is now a week since Stefansson came up to the house, and the water
dripping from him ran down and joined the baby rivers that were rushing
down the little road before our house.
"I've come for orders, Mr. Jelliffe," he said.
"Orders! What orders?" asked Daddy, irascibly. "I'd like to know what
orders I can give except to wait till this fiendish weather gets better.
You don't expect to start in such a gale, do you?"
"We couldn't make it very well, sir, and that's a fact. I don't even
think I could take her out of the cove. If we could only get her clear of
the coast we'd be all right enough, but I wouldn't like to take chances."
"Who wants to take chances? Do you suppose I'm so anxious to go that I'm
going to risk all our lives? Come back or send word as soon as you think
it safe to start. That's all I want. I suppose everything is all right in
the engine room now."
Our skipper confirmed this and left. All day the storm gathered greater
fury, and has kept it up ever since. At times the rain stops, and the
great black clouds race desperately across the sky while the world
outside our little cove is a raging mass of spume that becomes wind-torn
and flies like huge snow flakes high up in the air. And then the rain
begins again, slanting and beating down wickedly, and I feel that no such
thing can ever have existed as clear skies and balmy breezes.
A number of hours ago, I don't really know how many, I was sitting with
Daddy, who looked very disconsolate. I am afraid that this long storm has
got on his nerves, or perhaps the poor dear is worrying about me. I think
he has been afraid that I might catch the disease from that sick child.
And now I am sure that his worries have increased ever so much, but what
can one do when it really becomes a matter of life and death to go out
and help, to the best of one's poor abilities? How could any one stand on
a river bank, with a rope, however frail, in one's hands, and obey even
one's father if he forbade you to throw it to a drowning child?
I am afraid I have again wandered off, as I so often do when I write to
you, Aunt Jennie. Well, we were there, and the lamp flickered, and the
rain just pelted the house so that it looked as if it were trying to wash
us down into the cove. But I heard a knock at the door, and listened, and
it came again. So I went and opened it to find Yves, with his long black
hair disheveled and his face a picture of awful anxiety. In the gesture
of his hands there was pitiful begging, and his voice came hoarsely as he
sought to explain his coming.
I interrupted him and bade him enter.
"Pardon," he said, "please pardon. Eet is de leetle bye. All day I wait.
I tink heem docteur maybe come back. But heem no come. Maybe you know
about leetle byes very seek. You help docteur once."
"I am afraid I know very little, my poor Yves," I cried, shaking my head.
"What is the matter with him, Frenchy?" asked Daddy.
"Me not know, monsieur," he answered. "Heem now cry out heem want _la
belle dame_. Heem lofe de yong lady. Seek all day, de poor leetle bye,
an' lie down and cry so moch! An' now heem terreeble red in ze face, an'
so hot, an' speak fonny. An' heem don' want eat noding, noding at all. So
I know mademoiselle she help fix heem leetle girl, de oder day, an' me
tink maybe she tell me what I do. All de oder womans dey know noding at
all, an' I hear Docteur say oder day zey all big fool. Please you
"I have to go, Daddy," I cried, and caught up my woollen cap and wrapped
myself up in my waterproof.
"I wish you wouldn't, daughter," said poor Daddy. "I am sure it must be
"I'm so sorry, Daddy, but I just have to go. I'll try to be back soon."
"But why doesn't he go for Mrs. Barnett?" asked Dad. "She knows all about
"Oh! I don't want her to be sent for. She has those dear little ones of
her own," I said.
Then I kissed him quickly and ran out into the darkness before he could
object any further. The wind just tore at me, and I had to seize
Frenchy's arm as we splashed through the puddles, with heads bent low,
leaning against the storm.
And so we reached the poor little shack Yves calls his home. On the floor
he had placed some pans that caught some of the drippings from the leaky
roof, and a piece of sail-cloth was stretched upon a homemade pallet
covered with an old caribou hide, upon which the poor little fellow was
lying. Unable to bear any heat he had cast away all his coverings, in the
fever that possessed him, and when I heard him moan and knelt beside him
he stretched out his arms to me, and his pleading face grew sweet with
"Heem too young to be widout moder ven seek," said Frenchy,
apologetically. "Heem moder is dead."
I bathed the hot little head, and the touch of my hand made the poor wee
thing more contented. After this I sent Frenchy to our house for some
alcohol, with which I washed the boy, who finally fell into a restless
Frenchy had placed his only chair near the pallet for me, and after a
while he drew up a big pail, on the bottom of which he sat, with his
elbows upon his knees and his jaws in the palm of his hands, staring at
the child. One could see that an immense fear was upon the man, but that
my presence was of some comfort to him. It really looks as if men in
trouble always seek help from women, and this poor fellow was now leaning
upon me, just as I had leaned on his big arm when we had made our way
through the storm. Something was tearing away at his heart-strings, and
after a time the pain of it, I think, opened the fount of his memories,
as if an irresistible desire had come upon him for the balm there is in
pouring them out.
How can I tell you all that he said? It was in fragments, disconnected,
and represented the great tragedy of a humble life. I remember that
several times, while he told it to me, my hand rested in sympathy upon
that great arm of his, that had now become very weak. It was at first
just the simplest little tale of love somewhere on the coast of Brittany,
and of vows exchanged before a Virgin that stretched out her arms towards
the sea. And then Yves was taken away upon a warship, and there were
tears and prayers for his return. He couldn't remember all the countries
from which he had sent letters, but after many months answers ceased to
Then a new recruit had joined, who belonged to his town, and informed him
that the family had moved away on the other side of the ocean, to St.
Pierre-Miquelon. So Yves had written, but still no letters came. But one
day it chanced that the cruiser was sent up there, to keep an eye on the
fisheries, and he was in a fever of waiting until they should arrive. On
the first day that he obtained shore leave he had wandered up and down
the little streets, and looked at names over _cafes_ and shops, and asked
questions of all who would listen to him. No one knew anything of
Jeanne-Marie Kermadec. At last one man remembered that a family of that
name had remained less than a year and had gone back to France.
Then he had wandered off again, and from the cafes comrades of his called
to him to join them, but he strolled on, and suddenly he had seen a
hollow-eyed woman enter a drinking-shop, and on her arm she bore a baby.
So of course he had followed her, feeling as if he had been very drunk.
But he had not had a drop. She had gone to a bleary man who sat at a
little table, with others, and tried to make him come out with her. But
the man swore at her, and the woman left, crying, and Yves had followed
her out into the street, and when he spoke she knew him, and cried
harder. So he had gone as far as her house, and then she wept on his
shoulder. Her people had gone away but she had remained, for her love had
gone out to this man and the Virgin on the hill was very far away. At
first she had been very happy, but now Yves could see what was happening,
and the baby was very hungry, for there was no bread in the house.
Then Yves had emptied his pocket on the table and gone away, very
unsteadily, and some of the men on his ship laughed at him. But perhaps
he was looking dangerous, because after he had glared at them once they
left him alone.
After this he had met Jeanne-Marie several times, but his ship soon left
on a trip to some places in Canada. In one of these there was a great
coal mine near the sea, and in another town perched queerly on a rock
they had anchored in the _Saint Laurent_. Yes, perhaps it was Quebec;
he knew the people spoke French there. Then after a time the cruiser had
returned to St. Pierre. He thought it might be better not to go back to
that house, but he found that he could not keep away.
It was some illness he did not know that killed her. Yes, he had been
there when she died, and had paid money to a doctor and to the priest.
Perhaps she just died of not having enough to eat, he didn't know. She
had asked him to kiss her before she died, and it was the only time since
he had left Brittany. Then Jeanne-Marie's husband had come into the
house, and borrowed five francs from him and was very maudlin, and asked
what the devil he was going to do with that brat, which cried all the
time. But the little one was quiet when Yves took it in his arms, so poor
Frenchy asked if he might take it, because he knew it would die if left
there. The man had laughed, so he had taken it on his arm and wandered
out in the street with it, and a quarter-master asked him what he was
doing with a baby. He answered that he didn't know, for one can't take
little ones away on warships. He had met a man from the French shore, who
told him there was a schooner from Newfoundland which had lost two men in
a blow, and needed a hand or two. Then he had gone and offered to ship
for nothing, if they would let him take the baby. Yes, they had laughed
at him, but the skipper was drunk and good-natured, and told him to come
aboard. He had done so at night, when no one was looking, and had with
him some milk that comes in cans. So they had sailed away for
Newfoundland, and he supposed it was as good a place as any for a man who
was now a deserter. Very likely they had looked for him a long time, and
had been surprised, for he was accounted a good man. Anyway it was
Jeanne-Marie's baby, and one could not leave it to be neglected and to
die, because Jeanne-Marie had loved it very much.
Of course he would never see France again, unless the boy died. If this
happened he would go and give himself up, because nothing would matter
any more. So many of his shipmates had gone to lands of black and yellow
people, and had never returned. They were dead, and some day he also
would be dead, and it made no difference.
I really think, Auntie dear, that he had quite forgotten me as he spoke,
low, haltingly, in mingled French and English words. He was just
rehearsing to himself something that had been all of his life, because
everything that had happened before, and the struggle for a living
afterwards, were of no moment. Through the poor man's ignorance, through
his wondrous folly, I could discern an immense love that had overpowered
him and broken him forever. He was an exile from his beloved land of
Brittany, and would never see its heather and gorse again, or the flaming
foxgloves that redden some of its fields.
And all this because of a little child that was the only thing left that
had belonged to the woman he had loved so greatly! He said that perhaps
that Virgin on the hills might still be looking far out over the waters,
and he knelt before a little crucifix which hung from a nail in the rough
boards of the walls. I heard him repeating, in a low voice, in soft quick
words, the prayers his faith led him to hope might be hearkened to by the
Lady of Sorrows, as she watched from that little hill on the other side
of the great sea.
The poor candle was guttering and the wind howled outside. I looked
around and saw the few clothes hanging from pegs, the rusty cracked
stove, the table made of rough boards, the bunk filled with dry moss and
seaweed, and then my eye caught one flaring note of color. It was a
gaudily hued print representing a woman holding aloft a tricolor flag,
and labelled _La Republique Francaise_! And the poor cheap picture was
all of the inheritance of this man, marooned and outlawed for the sake of
a woman and her dying kiss, which had been the only reward of all his
So I sat there, awed by the greatness of it all. There were no tears in
my eyes; indeed, it seemed too big a thing for tears, a revelation and an
outlook upon life so vast that it held me spell-bound. I had never
realized that love could be such a thing as that, feeding upon a mere sad
memory, able to take this rough viking of a man and toss him, a plaything
of its stupendous force, upon these barren rocks. Surely it was arrant
folly, utter insanity, but it showed that men's lives are not regulated
by clockwork, and that, however erring an ideal may be, the passions it
may inspire can bring out the greatness of manhood or the ardent devotion
It awed me to think that among the teeming millions of the earth there
were thousands upon thousands bound to potential outbursts of a love that
may slumber quietly until death or awake, great and inspiring in its
As the muttered prayers went on I watched the uneasy tossing of the
child, until Susie Sweetapple came in, hurried and dripping.
"You's got ter come home," she said. "Yer father he's bawlin' as how he
wants yer back. My, the poor mite of a young 'un! The face o' he looks
dreadful bad! D'ye know it's most midnight? Come erlong now, ma'am."
I rose, feeling very trembly about the knees. There was nothing that I
could do. I could not let poor Daddy worry any longer about me.
"Come for me, Yves," I told the man, "if he seems worse, or if there is
anything I can do."
He came to me, and I saw that his eyes were full of tears as I put my
hand out to him. He lifted it up to his lips with a sob.
So we two hurried back home. By this time the wind had abated a little,
and the moon was shining through some great rifts in the clouds, the
waters of the cove reflecting a shiny path. The road was no longer in
darkness; I could see it dimly, rising to higher ground.
I will write again very soon,
_From Mr. Walter B. Jelliffe to Miss Jane Van Zandt_
_My dear Jennie_:
You know I'm no great hand at letter writing when I have no stenographer
at hand. It may not be courteous of me to say I am writing to you because
I am the lonesomest old party you have seen in a half a century, but you
have your dear sister's sweet disposition, and I know you will forgive
me. I am all alone in this packing-box of a house, when I expected to be
at sea and sailing for Newport to say how d'you do on my way to New York.
I wanted to have the pleasure of seeing your kindly face and of having
you take that niece of yours in hand for a time. The girl is getting
beyond me, and when I want to bluster she looks at me just as her mother
used to and I get so weak that you could knock me over with a feather.
She looks so much like Dorothy that sometimes I have to pinch myself to
make sure it is not her mother sitting at the other end of the table.
When a man is sixty, and begins to think he owns his fair share of the
earth, or even a bit more, I daresay that it does him good to be humbled
a little, but it's a hard thing to become used to. Hitherto when Helen
wanted anything I always let her have it, for on the whole she has always
been sensible in her desires and requests, or maybe I have been an old
fool. Didn't some Frenchman say once that an old man is a fellow who
thinks himself wise because he's been a fool longer than other people?
Anyway, that's me! For the last few days I have been itching to scrap
with her, and I find she minds me about as much as the man in the moon.
Of course, Jennie, it is a disgruntled old brother-in-law who writes
this, and you will have to make allowances.
Would you believe that last night she went out and remained till after
midnight in a sailor's house, watching a sick child, after I had objected
to her doing so, as forcibly as I could? I had to send the queer female
native who looks after us to that shanty to bring her back, and the child
returned with swollen eyes and a drawn face that positively hurt me to
see. She has derived so much benefit from her stay here, and was looking
so splendidly just a few days ago, that I felt angry enough to have
whipped her, if a silly old chap like me could ever chastise a daughter
like Helen. At any rate I rushed her off to bed, and I know she never
went there for a long time. I have no doubt that instead of sleeping she
was probably scribbling to you.
This morning she was down before eight, and I will acknowledge that she
looked better than I had expected. Yet there were great dark rings under
her eyes, and I tried to look as disagreeable as possible. But you women
are too smart for an old fellow like me. She simply cuddled up to me as I
sat in the only armchair in Sweetapple Cove and put her arm around my
neck, and I could only grumble a little like a decrepit idiot.
Then she looked out of doors and rushed back again, and put on that crazy
woollen cap you crocheted for her, and opened the door to the kitchen,
where Susie was singing some hoarse ditty of her own, and told her that
she was going out again to see that child, and that she would be back in
a few minutes. That Susie showed her sense, and I'm going to give her a
"Ye'll not be doin' no sich thing," shrieked our domestic. "They be
plenty sickness already in th' Cove, an' Doctor not back yet. Ye'll jist
take yer coffee as is waitin' fer ye, an' not be goin' ter see illness on
a empty stummick. An' Captain he've been round ter say they is still
quite a jobble of a sea outside but he can make it fine, and he've steam
up. So it's good-by to th' Cove this fine marnin.'"
"Yes," I said hurriedly. "We're off just as soon as we've had breakfast
and the men have moved everything down to the yacht. It is a corking fine
day, and as we're all proof against sea-sickness we've got nothing to