Part 4 out of 4
worry over. Of course you're all played out after that nursing all night,
and are a foolish girl, but I suppose one can't keep women away from
those jobs. Sit right down and have your breakfast."
"I'll have to see that child before we leave, Daddy," she said,
"and--and--and then I will be all ready."
She spoke in such a queer way that I was positively alarmed. I am sure I
have never seen her look like that.
"What's the matter?" I asked her. "You speak in such a weary, discouraged
way that you must be getting ill. You have simply tired yourself to death
over that boy of Frenchy's. By George! But I'll be glad when we get away
from this place!"
And then the minx looked at me, just as sweetly as ever, and her voice
had that little caressing tone of hers.
"Don't worry, dear Daddy, I'll have plenty of rest at sea," she told me.
So we had our breakfast, very pleasantly, and I was thanking my stars
that all our troubles would be over in no time, little thinking that
they were just beginning. So I rose, and took my stout cane, very proud
of showing the population how nicely I could walk, and went out on the
porch, ready to go on board the yacht. The men were coming up to get our
baggage and the furniture we had taken from the _Snowbird_, and Susie
was ready to boss them. Then Helen, who had run upstairs, came down and
"I'll help you down the road, Daddy," she said, "and after that I'll run
back to Frenchy's. I hear that Mr. Barnett went off somewhere in the
middle of the night, so as to return in time to see us off. He will be
back soon, and an hour or so won't matter, will it? The _Snowbird_
doesn't run on a schedule, Dad."
I looked at my watch, it was a quarter to nine.
"We're off by ten," I said. "First thing I know we won't get away till
afternoon if I listen to you another minute."
We had gone but a very little way down the road, which is nothing but a
deplorable sort of goat-path or gutter running down the side of the hill,
when we saw Dr. Grant coming down from Sammy's house, and the old
fisherman was remonstrating with him. My dear Jennie, it gave me the
shock of my life! The young man was actually staggering, and I
immediately decided that he was drunker than a whole batch of lords.
"Yer isn't fit ter be goin'," the old fellow was objecting. "Ye jist come
back ter th' house an' git ter bed, where ye belongs. Ye'll get a mite
o' sleep an' feel better. 'Tain't fair ter be goin' again right off. You
can't hardly be a-holdin' of yerself up."
Of course all this made me positive that the doctor had been hitting a
bottle pretty hard, and I was angry and sorry that Helen should see it
too, because she's taken a huge liking to that chap, and hitherto I could
hardly blame her. When I turned to her she was staring at him, and looked
as if some one had hit her with a club.
"It is too bad, daughter," I said. "I would never have thought that he
was that kind of a man."
Then the poor girl grabbed my arm with a clutch which actually hurt.
The doctor and the old man were coming very near. I saw the lad look up
at us, and it was really pathetic to see how he tried to straighten
himself up and steady his gait as he took his cap off, with a shaking
"It's really too bad," I said again.
And then Helen just stared at me for an instant, shaking her head.
"I don't believe it," she cried. "I won't believe it."
She let go my arm and dashed away from me. I could see that the poor
child was moved again by that instinct of helpfulness which you dear
women have, and by the sense of loyalty to friends which girls like Helen
"Oh! What is the matter?" she cried.
Then I saw the doctor move back, and hold up his hand as if seeking to
"Go back! Don't come near me," he said, hoarsely, and hurried on,
unsteadily, while she stood there, dumbfounded, unable to understand.
I saw her sense of helplessness grow into resentment and wounded pride.
The poor little girl was hurt, Jennie, deeply hurt.
Our men had already invaded the house and were carrying the things away,
and the population of Sweetapple Cove was gathering, for our departure
was even a more wonderful event than our arrival. There was not a house
in the Cove that Helen had not visited, and she has made friends with
every last Tom, Dick and Harry in the place, and their wives and
children. I know that the women have appreciated her friendly interest in
their humble lives. Some little children were howling, possibly at the
prospect of being henceforth deprived of the sweets she has distributed
among them. All the fish-houses and the flakes were deserted, though it
was a fine drying day. The men came towards us, with slightly embarrassed
timidity, and I shook hands all around as they grinned at us and wished
us a good journey. They actually wanted to carry me down to the yacht.
So I took Helen's arm again, after declining their kind offers, and began
my slow descent to the cove.
My poor girl was walking very erect, and she often smiled at the people
who surrounded us. But I could see that it took the greatest effort on
her part. I'm sure she was impatient to be gone and wanted to shut
herself up in her stateroom. It was so hard, Jennie, to see the dear
child whose nature has ever been such a happy, cheery one, and who has
never seemed to have a moment's suffering in her life, give such evidence
of pain and sorrow.
It was at this moment, Jennie, that the suspicion entered my soul, that I
had been wrong in letting her enjoy so much of the society of this young
man, who is certainly a fine, attractive fellow when in his right mind.
Isn't it wonderful how young people become attracted by one another, and
their heads and hearts get filled while we old people can only worry, for
whether they choose well or ill it always ends in our being left alone.
I noticed that Frenchy and Sammy were not among the people who crowded
about us to say good-by. I looked for them in vain, and was a bit hurt
that they should be absent, for we have become very fond of them. Helen
was also searching the friendly faces, and I knew that she missed them.
Her head was held high up, and but for the little curling up of her lip,
in which her teeth bit hard, she would have looked a picture of serene
indifference. We were nearing Frenchy's shack, in front of which the path
leads to the cove, and finally we were opposite the ramshackle place. It
must be very dreadful to a girl, who has learned to admire a man, perhaps
even to love him, to discover that her idol has feet of clay. She had
allowed the best of her nature, I could see it now, to be drawn in
admiration and regard towards a man she deemed unworthy. That odor of the
fish-houses had always been bad enough before, but now it seemed to rise
in her nostrils and sicken her. And now, Jennie, I can only repeat Puck's
words, "What fools we mortals be!"
That man Frenchy rushed out of the door as we were going by. His face
looked as if he had been suffering tortures.
"Please, please!" he cried. "Come, vite, heem Docteur hawful seek. Me no
can stan' it no more! You so good in de las' night, mademoiselle, now
please come in, for de lofe of _le bon Dieu_!"
And then the strain that had been on the heart of my poor girl seemed to
give way, suddenly. The tension was released, like a powerful spring,
and the hardness went out of her face. She dropped my arm and dashed past
the man who sought her help, and entered the place, where I followed as
fast as my leg would let me.
First she looked towards the child, which I suppose she expected to see
under a sheet that would have just revealed the stark little form, but
the little thing was smiling at her, weakly.
"_Je vous aime bien_" he said.
Then her eyes filled with tears, and she turned towards the man who, with
a gesture of his hand, had swept her from his path. He had arisen on her
entrance, and leaned hard on the back of the chair. To my surprise he
spoke quite composedly, and I realized I had made an awful mistake.
"This is all wrong, Miss Jelliffe," he said. "I tried to prevent Yves
from calling you. The child has diphtheria and you must leave at once."
The man's voice was frightfully hoarse, and he unconsciously put his hand
up to his throat. She looked at him without answering. Then she went up
to the little table and picked up a small vial she had noticed.
"Antitoxine, seven thousand units," she read. Then she took up a small
glass syringe armed with a bright steel needle, and stared at it.
"You have given it to the child?" she asked.
"Yes, just a few minutes ago," he answered. "We only left Edward's Bay at
sunrise. The man is getting well. I was told of this case and went up to
Sammy's for the antitoxine."
"But it was the last you had!" she cried, "and Atkins has only been able
to start this morning for more, and the wind is very bad for him. It may
be days before he returns."
The man shrugged his shoulders, very slightly, and Helen went up to him,
scrutinizing his face, silently. Then she put her fingers on the wrist
that was supporting his hand on the back of the chair.
"I am not well," he said, "and I wish you would leave. I think I will
have to let Mrs. Barnett into this mess. She's away at Goslett's house,
where they expect a baby."
"How long have you known that you had diphtheria too?" asked Helen, and I
could detect in her voice an intensity of reproof that was wonderful, for
she was scolding the man, just as excited mothers sometimes scold a
little one that has fallen down and hurt itself.
"I was beginning to feel it last night," he answered, "but please go away
now, for it is dangerous."
Then he addressed me.
"Mr. Jelliffe, do take her away. I hear that she was here last night and
remained for hours. You will take her away to St. John's at once, and
have her given a preventive injection. Now please hurry off."
I could see that the poor chap's voice rasped his throat painfully. His
two hands dropped to his side, with the palms turned forward, in a feeble
gesture of entreaty.
"You knew this morning that you had it," said Helen again. "And you only
had that vial and used it all for the boy."
He nodded, with another slight shrug of his shoulders.
"I see that you have been playing the game!" she said quietly.
Then she turned to me, seizing one of my arms.
"Hurry!" she cried. "You must hurry, Daddy. Why don't you go on? He has
diphtheria, and perhaps half the people here will have it now. Perhaps he
is going to die! Come, Daddy, you must hurry. The _Snowbird_ will take
you to St. John's and you must buy antitoxine, a lot of it, and come back
with it at once. And you should get a doctor, and a nurse or two, and I
will stay here, and please don't look at me that way! Do hurry, Daddy!
Oh! I was forgetting your poor leg. Never mind, take your time, Daddy,
but as soon as you are on board make them hurry. Susie will stay with me.
A few days won't matter, Daddy!"
"Oh! Daughter. Please come," I implored her. "I promise that I will send
the yacht back at once with a doctor and everything."
She looked at me in amazed surprise.
"But how can I leave now, Dad?" she asked. "Don't you understand that a
lot of people may die if you don't get help at once, and of course I must
stay. You will do your best, won't you? Come, dear, and let me help you
down the path. You can be gone in a few minutes."
"Leave you here!" I exclaimed, indignantly. "You are crazy, girl! I'll
stay with you, of course. Here, some of you fellows, run down to the cove
and tell my skipper to come here at once."
So I stood there, just outside the door, watching a man scramble down the
road, who finally returned with Stefansson. Helen stood perfectly still,
except for the toe of one of her boots, which was tapping a tattoo on the
"Get the _Snowbird_ under weigh at once," I shouted. "Run up to St.
John's and buy all the antitoxine you can get hold of, any amount,
barrels of it, if it comes that way. And bring a doctor back with you.
Promise him all the money he wants. And get a nurse, or a couple of them,
or a dozen. Regular trained nurses, you understand. Yes, it's antitoxine
I want. Write it down. It's the stuff they use for diphtheria. Then get
back here at once. Carry all the sail she'll bear and all the steam
she'll take. Look lively and don't waste a minute. Here, you Sammy! Go
aboard too and help pilot her back if it's dark or foggy. Good luck to
you and jump her for all she's worth!"
I suppose I spoke like a crazy man, but the two started down hill.
Stefansson, who has long legs, only beat the old fellow by a skip and a
jump. Then I saw the men casting off the hawsers, and the thin film of
smoke became black, and the good old _Snowbird_ shook herself. I was
tickled to see how a crew of chaps used to count seconds in racing were
handling her. She was moving, the smoke pouring thicker and thicker from
her funnel, and the screw began to churn hard. Then her sharp bowsprit
turned around a little, till it was aimed at that cleft between the
rocks. She gathered speed and struck the billowing seas outside and
turned a bit. Then the big sails began to rise, as did the jibs, and I
saw a man run out to the end of the bowsprit as a thick white rope ran up
to the fore topmast head and broke out into a fleecy white cloud of silk.
Then, under the great balloon jib topsail my little ship flew off like a
scared bird and disappeared behind the edges of the cliffs.
"Byes, did yer ever see the like o' that?" shouted an old fisherman,
enthusiastically. "My, but Sammy's a lucky dog ter be gettin' sich a
sail. I'd give a quintal fer the chance."
I must say that I was pleased with this expert appreciation, and began to
"But why didn't we send the doctor on her?" I suddenly asked. "He would
have been attended to sooner. We could have taken him with us."
"He wouldn't have gone," said Helen, whose cheeks had now become red with
excitement. "He would never leave until some one came to take his place.
He thinks he can still help that child of Frenchy's."
So after a time we returned to the house we had thought we were seeing
the last of, and it seemed very different, having been dismantled of many
things which were now lying on the dock.
Helen sat down for a moment, putting her elbows on the table and resting
her face on her hands. So of course I went to her, and stroked her head,
and she looked at me with eyes that were full of tears.
"I'm ashamed," she said. "At first I thought just as you did. I was sure
he had been drinking. And he seemed so awfully rude when he motioned me
away. But he could hardly drag himself, the poor fellow, and he was
trying to keep me away from him, because he was afraid for me."
She was utterly disconsolate, and I could only keep on stroking the
child's head as I used to, when she came to seek consolation for babyish
sorrows. Of course I was worried about her, and realized how helpless I
was. She hadn't grown over night, naturally, yet something appeared to
have been added to her stature. She was a woman now, full of the
instincts of womanhood, and she was escaping from my influence. Her life
was shaping itself independently of me. It is pretty tough, Jennie, to
see one's ewe lamb slipping away. She loves me dearly, I know it, but she
is now flowering into something that will never be entirely mine again,
and the realization of it is cutting my heart.
After a moment she was restless again, and we went out on the porch. We
could hear Susie Sweetapple messing about in her kitchen, whose destinies
she again cheerfully controls, and presently some men came down the road,
carrying a bed.
"'Un says he've got ter have his bed at Frenchy's," one of them explained
"'Un's scared to give the diphtherias ter Sammy's young 'uns."
They started again, wiping their brows, for the late September day was
growing warm, and soon after we saw a small boat entering the cove and
Helen, who seems to know everything about this place, declared that it
was not one of our boats, as she calls the fleet at Sweetapple Cove. It
reached the dock and a man jumped out while the sails were still
Susie had stuck her head out of the window.
"'Un's parson comin'," she announced.
Mr. Barnett hastened towards us as fast as his little legs would carry
him. He passed Frenchy's house, not knowing that the doctor was there,
and stopped in surprise when he saw us.
"I thought I was too late!" he exclaimed. "We saw the _Snowbird_ flying,
miles away, and I thought I should never see you again."
"The doctor is at Frenchy's!" cried Helen. "He is dreadfully ill. Please
go and see what you can do for him."
"I'll go at once," he replied. "We intercepted the mail-boat and I have a
letter for you, Mr. Jelliffe, and one for the doctor. I hear he saved
that man's life, over to the Bay. Been up with him day and night. You
can't understand what it means to us to have a man like him here, who
permeates us all with his own brave confidence. The blessing of it! It
was a terrible storm that he went through when he walked over to the Bay.
It is an awful country, and his steps were surely guided over pitfalls
The little man is quite admirable in the sturdiness of his faith, in the
power of his belief, that is the one supreme ideal always before him, and
I shook hands with him.
"But I fear he is very ill now. A boy just told me they had to carry him
from his boat, when he returned this morning."
"I'll go with you now to Frenchy's," said Helen.
"Are you not afraid?" asked the little parson.
"Are you?" she asked, just a little rudely, I fear.
"With me it is a matter of duty and love, you know," he replied.
"With me also," she said, with head bent down. Then she looked up again.
"I don't think you have any better right to expose yourself than I," she
said, with spirit. "You have children of your own, and a wife to think
of. Your life is a full one, rounded out and devoted to a work that is
very great. Mine is only beginning; nothing has come from it yet; I have
done nothing. It all lies before me and I won't stand aloof as if I were
outside of laboring humanity, while there is sickness to be fought. I'm
going with you."
She came to me.
"I hope you don't think I'm very bad, Daddy?" she said. "I'm sorry to
give you so much trouble, but something tells me I must go. I just have
I looked at her, as she walked rapidly away with the parson, and then sat
down on the steamer chair that had been brought up again, and for the
first time I felt that age was creeping up on me. It looks as if all of
us, ill or hale, poor or rich, are but the playthings of nature, bits of
flotsam on the ocean of human passions. Your poor dear sister, Jennie,
died young, and I believe that her life with me was a happy one as long
as she was spared. After a little while Helen began to fill some of the
emptiness she had left, but now there come again to me memories of a
sweet face, uplifted lovingly to my own, and I am overcome with a sense
of loss indescribable. And yet this is mingled with some pride. My
daughter is no doll-like creature, no romantic, unpractical fool destined
to be nothing but a clog to the man who may join his life to hers. She
will never lag behind and cry for help, and hers will be the power to
walk side by side with him. She can never be a mere bauble, and will play
her own part.
Oh! Jennie. The pluck of the child, the readiness with which she wants to
give the best of herself because she thinks it right and just, and
because she refuses to concede to others a monopoly of helpful love!
That young man, if he lives, will be a fit mate for any woman, but I
swear to you that if it comes to that I will insist upon paying the
salary of some man to take his place. I want my girl nearer to me than in
After a time I pulled out the letter Mr. Barnett had handed me. It was
from that young rascal Harry Lawrence. He says he's heard from you about
that caribou shooting, and wants to come up anyway and find out how I
look after my tough summer in this neck of the woods, and he's never
been to Newfoundland anyway, etc., etc.
Of course that boy cares as much for my looks as for those of the
Egyptian Sphinx. At one time I really hoped that Helen and he, since she
would have to leave me some day, might grow fond of one another. I know
how devoted he is to my girl, but I'm afraid she has made her own choice.
I must write to Harry that we shall be leaving before long and that it
will be too late for him to come now,--as, indeed, it is. What puzzles me
is that, on his own part, that doctor never has seemed to be anything but
a good friend to Helen. I suppose I was an old fool, and never saw things
that went on under my nose. Poor Harry, he's such a splendid lad, and his
father was my dearest friend, as you know.
Helen has been gone for hours, and I'm going to send Susie after her. In
the meanwhile I have sought to possess my soul in patience by writing
_From Miss Helen Jelliffe to Miss Jane Van Zandt_
_Dearest Aunt Jennie_:
It is very disturbing to think that one has, in some ways, been a very
naughty bad girl, and yet to be utterly unable to see how one could have
acted any differently.
It is my fault that we are still here, though we were all ready to start,
and were on our way to the yacht when we discovered that Dr. Grant had
just returned from one of the outports and was dreadfully ill. He has
been so kind to us that it was utterly impossible for us to leave him at
such a time and I just had to insist on delaying our departure, and of
course I made poor Daddy very miserable. The _Snowbird_ had to wing its
flight away without us, hastening to seek help. We needed succor ever so
badly, so very badly that if one of those strange vows of ancient days
could have hastened her return by one little hour I would willingly have
undertaken to drag myself on my knees along scores of miles of this
rock-strewn shore. I begged Dad to send her, and he did, at once, for he
was only too glad to do anything he could for the doctor, but he has been
so dreadfully anxious on my account, and was so eager to take me away at
once to some big place where I could be treated if I fell ill. You
understand, of course, that I am not ill at all, and never was better in
my life, and that there is no reason at all to be afraid for me.
Mr. Barnett and I left the house yesterday morning to go to the
Frenchman's place, where the doctor has insisted on remaining. I was
quite surprised to see a number of people around the poor little shack.
They all knew that Dr. Grant was very ill, and were gathered there with
anxious faces. They simply looked worried to death. Isn't it wonderful,
Aunt Jennie, how some people have the faculty of causing themselves to be
loved by every one? Of course, his coming here has been such a great
thing for these poor fishermen that they have learned to regard him as
their best friend, one whose loss would be a frightful calamity. He
certainly has never spared himself in their behalf.
Mr. Barnett stopped to shake hands with a few of them, and I heard little
bits of their talk, which made me feel very unhappy.
"I jist seen Frenchy little whiles ago," one of them was saying, "and
they wuz tears runnin' erlong the face o' he. Yes, man, he were cryin'
like a young 'un, though some does say as his bye be better. Things must
sure be awful bad with th' doctor."
The fisherman brandished his splitting knife as he spoke, and, with his
torn oilskins dripping with blood and slime he was a terrible-looking
figure, until his arms fell to his side and he stood there, an abject
picture of dejection.
Then I heard a woman's voice. She is a poor thing whose husband and two
sons were "ketched" last year, as they say, by these dreadful seas, and
some think that her brain is a little affected.
"I mistrust as they is times when th' Lord 'Un's kept too busy ter be
tendin' ter all as needs Him bad," she cried.
"Hush, woman!" an old man reproved her. "Ye'll be temptin' the wrath o'
God on all of us wid sich talkin's."
The poor creature stopped, awed by the dread possibilities of bringing
down further punishment upon the Cove, and began to weep in silence.
The men had removed their sou'westers and their caps when we came up to
them. I believe that our arrival relieved them a little from their fears.
They have such a touching faith in all who have been kind and friendly to
them. It looked as if our coming was something material that they could
lean upon, for, in their ignorance, they deem us capable of achieving
wonderful things. I am certain that they firmly believe that their little
parson is able to intercede with higher powers far more effectively than
they possibly can, with their humble prayers. So a few of them returned
to their fish-houses, and women and children hastened back to the flakes,
since the sun was shining and the cod must be dried even if the heavens
fall. I remember that when we entered the house I was very nervous and
afraid. It is very natural, Aunt Jennie, for a girl to be frightened when
she has never seen much sickness before, and one is lying helpless who
has always been such a kind friend.
His little iron bed had been put up in a corner of the room, and the
doctor was lying upon it, with his face very red. His breathing came very
hard and rapidly, and it was horribly distressing to see a man brought to
such a state, who, a few days ago, was so full of life and strength. Yet
when he saw me he made an effort to rise to a sitting position, and his
eyes brightened, but he looked anxiously at me.
"You haven't gone yet," he said, hoarsely. "And you, Barnett, have you no
regard for your little chaps? You have no right to be here, and Frenchy
is looking after me all right."
"You keep your breath to cool your porridge, boy," said the little
parson. "I'm in charge now."
What a queer sort of freemasonry there must be among strong men, Aunt
Jennie, which allows them to say gruff things to one another in friendly
tones. The sick man seemed to recognize the little parson's authority and
lay back, exhausted and conquered.
"I've done all I could," he said.
I was so sorry to hear the tone of discouragement in his voice. He is
just a man, Aunt Jennie, with a man's weaknesses and a man's strength,
and for the moment the latter had forsaken him. I suppose that some of
his self-reliance had gone, for after a moment he smiled at us, and
doubtless was glad to have friends with him and was comforted by their
I could not help marvelling at the efficiency of the little parson, who,
before they had a doctor here, was compelled to do the best he could to
take care of sick people, assisted by his wife. He questioned the doctor,
who wearily told him of some things that might be done for him, but
without appearing to care. Mr. Barnett ran out of the house and up to
Sammy's, returning with some bottles. He looked at labels ever so
carefully and mixed some drugs with water, after which he wound some
cotton on a stick to make a sort of a brush.
"Now sit up a little and let me fix your throat," he said. "Yes, you've
got to take some of your own medicine now, old fellow. Frenchy, you get
behind him and hold him up. The light is poor here; better bring your
candle. Miss Jelliffe, hold it just this way for me. That's good. Now
open your mouth, my boy."
He swabbed the throat, in which there were ugly, white patches, so
conscientiously that it brought on severe coughing, and after this he
compelled the doctor to swallow some medicine.
"If keeping at it will do you any good, old man, you may depend on me.
And now we'll have a look at that kiddie."
I looked around the room, where there was an awful penury of all sorts of
things, so that I went up to our house and brought back some provisions.
I am afraid that I established a corner in milk, for I took nearly all
that the poor, lone, lean cow of Sweetapple Cove could provide.
When Mr. Barrett finally sat down I noticed that he looked quite weary
"Now you must go to our house," I told him, "and get Susie to give you
something to eat. I am sure that you have had nothing since last night,
and I won't have you falling ill too. I have arranged it all, so please
don't say anything but just go, and don't hurry back. There is plenty of
time and poor Daddy would be so glad to see you. I am sure it would do
him a lot of good. I can watch both the patients perfectly well. And,
Frenchy, you must go too and Susie will look after you. You look
perfectly starved, and I'm sure you've forgotten to have any breakfast.
Make him go with you, Mr. Barnett!"
They protested a little, but finally went out, reluctantly.
Of course I have always looked after Daddy's comfort a good deal, but
when you have plenty of servants it is very easy to do, especially when
one has also an Aunt Jennie to come around from time to time and put fear
in their hearts, when they don't behave. But it seemed to me that this
was really the first time that I had tried to take charge of things,
although it didn't really amount to anything. I suppose it comes quite
naturally to a woman to boss things a little in a household.
But now all I could do was to sit down by the bed, with my hands folded
in my lap. I have seen so many women do this for hours at a time, Aunt
Jennie, and I could never understand how they did it without an awful
attack of the fidgets. But now I think I have found the solution. I am
persuaded that these women just sit down quietly, and that the strength
flows back into them in some mysterious way, and presently they become as
strong as ever, just as happens with those storage batteries of the
automobile, which are all the time having to be recharged. I don't
exactly know what the folded hands have to do with it, but they are
certainly an indispensable part of the process.
Dr. Grant rested quietly enough, and sometimes, when he opened his eyes,
I saw that he looked at me, in a strange, sad way. But he was exhausted
by the malady and the hard work of the previous days, and seemed too
utterly weary to be suffering much pain. At times the little boy would
moan, and I would go to him. It would only take a passing of my hand over
the little forehead, or a drink of water, to quiet him again. The poor
wee man loves me, I think, and I hope he will never know what a tragedy
he is responsible for, but, indeed, I hope he will learn, some day, that
this great, rough fisherman, Yves, has laid down all of his life for him.
When the child was quiet I would return and sit again by the doctor.
After a short time Mr. Barnett and Yves returned, and were soon followed
by Daddy and Susie, whose sturdy arm supported him. Poor Dad! He was
looking aged and worried, and I felt ever so sorry for him.
Susie's way of speaking to people is invariably to address them as if
they were rather deaf, and as if no one else could possibly hear.
"Yis, sor," she was saying, "it's jist as you says, a real crazy, foolish
thing. But fur as I kin see them kind o' things is what makes up the most
o' folk's lives. They is some gits ketched all by theirselves, and others
gits ketched tryin' ter help others, and some niver gits ketched at all
an' dies peaceful in the beds o' they. If there didn't no one take
chances th' world wouldn't hardly be no fit place ter live in."
I suppose that Daddy could find no reply to such philosophy. He was
doubtless very angry on my account, and I am sure he had been giving
Susie a piece of his mind, all the way down. He entered the shack,
ordering Susie to remain outside.
"Don't you dare come in," he said, quite exasperated. "I have no doubt at
all that you will have to look after all the rest of us when we get ill.
You can go back to your pots and pans or wait for me out of doors, just
as you wish."
Then he came in, closing the door behind him, and looked around the room,
profoundly disgusted. Mr. Barnett was again engaged in swabbing throats
while Frenchy supported the patients and I held a bottle in whose neck a
candle had been planted. No one could pay much attention to him just
then. Poor old Dad! He thinks that because the first emigrant in our
family dates back a couple of hundred years or so we are something rather
special in the way of human beings, and I know very well that he thought
it most degrading for a daughter of his to be in such a miserable place.
Of course it is really very clean, Aunt Jennie, because Yves has been
trained on a man o' war, where the men spend nearly all of their time
scrubbing things. I have seen them so often at Newport, where they wash
down the decks even when it is pouring cats and dogs. The poor dear was
rather red in the face, by which I recognized the fact that he was
holding himself in for fear of an explosion.
But you know that there never was a better man than Dad, and he got all
over this in a moment. Of course he had come with the firm intention of
explaining to the poor doctor what a fine mess he had made of things, but
as soon as he saw that poor, pinched face on the pillow he changed
entirely. Quite a look of alarm came over his countenance, and he was
certainly awfully sorry. I have an idea that people who have never been
very ill, and who have never seen many sick people possess a little
egotism which it takes experience to drive out of them. He had surely
never thought that poor Dr. Grant would look so ill, and his bit of
temper melted away at once. He forced himself to take the hand that was
nearest to him.
"I hope you are doing very well," he said, with a queer accent of
timidity that was really very foreign to his nature.
"They are taking splendid care of me," answered Dr. Grant, with an effort
that made him cough.
Daddy smiled at him, in a puzzled sort of way, and then turned to the
child's couch, gazing at it curiously. Mr. Barnett stood at his side.
"He doesn't look as ill as..."
He whispered this as he pointed to the bed where the doctor was lying.
"The boy is getting well," answered the parson, in a low voice. "He had a
large dose of antitoxine and it is beginning to show its effect."
"Ah? Just so," said Daddy, weakly.
Then he looked around the room again, quite helplessly.
"Is there anything that I could do?" he asked in a general way.
"Nothing, Daddy," I said. "Thank you ever so much for coming, but there
is nothing you can do now. I would go home if I were you. I promise that
I will return in time for supper."
Then Daddy looked around again, as if all his habitual splendid assurance
and decisiveness of manner had forsaken him. After this he tiptoed his
way to the door, outside of which Susie was waiting. I followed him,
because I knew he would feel better if I just put my hand on his arm for
a moment and assured him that I was feeling perfectly well.
The girl pointed out at sea.
"It's a-comin' on dreadful foggy," she said, gloomily.
Daddy and I looked at one another, and we stared at the dark pall that
was sweeping in, raw and chilly. Of course we at once knew its
significance. It must surely detain the _Snowbird_ on its return journey.
Just then an old fisherman came up, touching his cap.
"Beggin' yer pardon, sor," he said. "Is yer after findin' th' doctor
gettin' any better?"
"I can hardly tell you," answered Daddy, impatiently. "I know very little
about such things, but he looks very badly to me."
"Oh! The pity of it!" exclaimed the man. "I tells yer, sor, it's a sad
day, a real sad day fer Sweetapple Cove."
"Damn Sweetapple Cove!" Daddy shouted right in the poor fellow's face
with such energy that he leaped back in alarm.
But Susie had taken hold of Daddy's arm.
"Now you come erlong o' me, sor," she said, soothingly, as if she had
spoken to a child. "Don't yer be gettin' excited. Yer needs a good cup o'
tea real bad, I'm a-thinkin', and a smoke. Yer ain't had a seegar to-day,
and men folks is apt to get awful grumpy when they doesn't get ter smoke.
Come erlong now, there's a good man."
Strange to say, Daddy went with her, willingly enough, after I had kissed
him. He didn't resent Susie's manner at all. As I watched he stopped
after going a few yards, and looked out at sea, beyond the entrance of
the cove. Everything was disappearing in a dull greyness that was
beginning to blot out the rocky cliffs, and he turned to the girl.
"My boat will never get back to-night," he said, "and I suppose that
to-morrow will be worse. It always is. I wonder whether there is another
such beastly country in the world?"
"I've heerd tell," remarked Susie, sagaciously, "as how they is some
places as has been fixed so them as lives in 'em will sure know what a
good place Heaven is when they gits to it."
_Dr. Frank Johnson to Mrs. Charlotte Johnson_
I had expected to sail away from St. John's on the twentieth to return to
you before resuming the hard search for something to keep together the
body and soul which struggling young doctors without means have so hard a
time to maintain in their proper relation. Since the old _Chandernagore_
limped into St. John's with its bow stove in, after that terrible
collision, and the underwriters decided that she was hopelessly damaged,
my prospects have been those of a man living on a pittance and merely
entitled to his passage home and a trifle of salary.
A ship-surgeon utterly stranded can hardly be a very merry soul, and the
day before yesterday I was strolling rather disconsolately about the
docks, when I saw a stunning yacht come in. She was a sight to feast
one's eyes on, and until the last moment was under a cloud of sail while
her funnel belched black smoke. For a few minutes I saw some of the
smartest handling of canvas it has ever been given me to behold. As she
came on the great, silken, light sails fluttered, shrank and disappeared
as if by magic; her headway stopped and the screw ceased its throbbing.
She was just like a grand, white bird folding its wings and going to
sleep. But even before she had ceased to move a boat was overboard and
four men were at the sweeps, pulling for shore. A few minutes later I was
passing in front of Simpson & Co., the big ship-chandlers who were the
_Chandernagore's_ agents, when one of the clerks came out and ran towards
"Won't you come in?" he asked, excitedly. "There is the skipper of that
white yacht that just came in who wants a doctor at once, and at any
cost. We supplied that boat after she left dry-dock here, some weeks ago.
She belongs to regular swells, awfully rich people."
"Is the man hurt or ill?" I asked.
"No, he's all right. There is sickness at a little outport, diphtheria, I
hear, and they want a man at once. Money's no object."
It really seemed as if a bit of luck might be coming my way, at last.
Indeed I wanted badly to see your dear face again, and that silver hair
I think so beautiful, but here was a prospect of sailing away on that
stunning little ship and of earning some badly needed money, so that I
felt like whooping with joy. I leaped through the open door and saw a
very gold-laced man who was talking very fast to the head of the firm.
"Here's just the man you want," said the latter. "He's a first-rate young
chap who will go anywhere and do anything. His skipper of the
_Chandernagore_ swears by him. I can send for him, if you like."
"No time for that," interrupted the yacht's captain. "There is diphtheria
at Sweetapple Cove, and a doctor there who is nearly dead with it, I
believe. I've sent our mate for all the antitoxine he can buy, and he's
driving around to all the druggists in the place. We also want a nurse,
several nurses, all you can get. I'm keeping steam up and will start the
minute you're ready."
"And the remuneration," suggested Mr. Simpson.
"Anything he wants to ask," said the captain, hurriedly, turning again to
me; "just get a move on you, young man. Run off and get some nurses;
promise any money they want to charge, and I won't wait over an hour."
He saw a cab passing in the street and ran out to hail it.
"Here," he said, "get into this thing and hunt for nurses."
In his excitement he actually pushed me out of the shop and I jumped in
the cab, without the slightest idea of where I might find the desired
nurses. At the nearest pharmacy, however, I obtained a couple of
addresses. I 'phoned to the hospital but there was none there who could
be spared. On following up my clues I found both nurses away on cases.
More telephoning brought the information that several might be had in a
day or two, and finally I called up Simpson & Co., who informed me that
the skipper was tearing his hair at the delay.
"He says you're to return at once. You can kill the cab-horse if you want
to. He'll pay for it."
These were the last words I heard. I dashed off to the little hotel where
I stayed, for my trunk, and soon we were galloping along the peaceful
streets, here and there encumbered by pony-carts laden with vast piles of
codfish, and finally reached the chandlery.
"Well?" asked the captain, rushing out.
"Not a nurse to be had to-day," I announced. "To-morrow or next day
several may be disengaged."
There was an ejaculation excusable under the circumstance and the skipper
grabbed my arm.
"I won't wait a minute," he said. "I've got a doctor, that's the main
thing, and all the antitoxine in the place. Come along."
We jumped in the cab, which drove off rapidly, and in a minute we reached
the dock, where the yawl was waiting. Two of the men grabbed my trunk and
put it on board and the skipper tossed a banknote to the driver, without
waiting for change, and we were off.
The men pulled towards the yacht, and they must have been watching for us
on board for I heard the clanking of the small donkey engine and the
anchor-chain stiffened and began to draw in, fast. We scrambled on board,
the trunk was tumbled in, and before the yawl was half way up to the
davits we were steaming away.
"Come up on the bridge if you want to, Doctor," the captain called down
to me, civilly.
I accepted his invitation and ran up the steps. At his side stood a
grizzled old man with a seamed, kindly face and the wrinkled eyes of the
men who spend their lives searching through fog and darkness.
"Good day, sor," he said to me. "You're a man as is real sore needed at
"I hope I may be of service," I answered.
"Ye will be, God willin'," he assured me.
By this time we had gathered full speed and were steaming fast between
the narrow headlands. The pilot was dropped a little later, without
slackening our way much. We had passed swiftly by the crowded flakes
which clung to the steep, rocky shore, inextricably mixed with
battered-looking fish-houses. As soon as we struck the swelling seas
outside we saw many little smacks engaged in fishing. We bore no canvas,
for the wind was against us on the return journey. Then I noticed that
the skipper was looking anxiously ahead, where, at a distance, a low
fog-pall was gathering.
"Yes, sor," said the old man, guessing at his thoughts, "it's a-comin' on
real thick, but we's goin' ter pull her through."
I ran below and got my oilskins out of my trunk, which I discovered in a
beautiful little state-room, prettily furnished and dainty-looking indeed
to a surgeon of tramp steamers. I did not waste much time in inspecting
it, however, as I was interested in our progress towards that ominous
bank of fog. When I reached the bridge again I was conscious of the moist
chill of northern mists, and saw that the vapor was closing down upon us
fast. The land astern was disappearing in a grey haze, while ahead the
thickness was becoming more and more impenetrable. The skipper kept
walking from end to end of the bridge, restlessly, and I could sympathize
with him. He was in a hurry, a deadly hurry, which he had shown plainly
enough from the first moment my eyes had rested upon him, and now this
mist was rendering all his haste futile, as far as I could see. Every
moment now I expected to see him ring down to the engine room for reduced
speed, but we kept on going, doggedly, blindly, until at last we were
pitching over long, smooth swells that were covered by a blanket of murk.
"We'll have to slow down, Sammy!" he suddenly cried, impatiently, to the
old man. "That fog's too much for us, and getting worse every minute."
"Keep on a bit yet," advised the latter. "'Tis all clear goin' fer a
whiles, and we's too close inshore ter run into any big craft. They'll
all be standin' out to sea."
I could see that the captain was torn between his keen desire to keep on
speeding and his fear for the safety of his beautiful ship. He was
utterly unable to keep still more than a minute at a time, but the old
fisherman looked as cool and collected as if he had been puffing at his
rank old pipe within the four walls of a house.
And those minutes seemed very long, then, as they always do when men are
laden with the weight of constant suspense. Presently even the grey and
blue waters our sharp bow was cleaving lost their color and the whole
world was dismal, and grey, and dripping.
This went on for long hours, as it seemed to me, and finally the captain
could stand it no longer.
"I'm going to ring for half speed," he shouted. "We can't keep this up,
"Let be, let be fer a whiles," the old man counselled again. "I knows
jist where I be. I'll not be runnin' ye ashore, lad."
And the yacht kept on for a long, long time, cleaving the grey water and
the fog, between which there was no difference now. It was really a
spooky thing, even if a sporting one, to be dashing at fifteen knots
through that wall of vapor. Our steam whistle was sounding constantly,
and old Sammy listened with his grey head cocked to one side, in a tense
attitude of constant attention.
"We's gettin' nigh," he said, quietly. "I knows the sound o' he."
Then, after a long, wailing blast, he suddenly lifted up his hand.
"Port a bit till I tells yer," he called. "That'll do. Keep her so."
The next sobbing cry of the siren brought a dull prolonged echo that
reverberated in the air.
"I knowed we must be gettin' close to un," he said; "now we'll be havin'
all open water again fer a whiles."
The captain was tremulous with the excitement he bravely sought to
suppress, and my own heart was certainly in my throat. We were all
straining our eyes at this moment, and all at once we dimly had revealed
to us something like the shadow of a great ghost-like mass that slipped
by us, very fast, with a roar of the great swells bursting loudly at its
"Thunder! you Sammy!" shrieked the skipper. "I won't have you taking such
chances. I'm just as crazy to get there as you are but I'll be hanged if
I'm going to smash my ship."
"We's all right now, Cap'en," answered the old man, quietly; "I sure
knows all right what we is doin'."
The captain had taken the wheel, and he glared at his binnacle like a
wild man. Now and then he gave a swift look around him, nervously, but
the old man's assurance had some effect upon him. Yet once I heard him
"Any man who ever catches me cruising around this country again can have
me locked up in an asylum. After I get shut of this job they can get some
one else if they ever want to come back."
And still the fog seemed to deepen, and the moisture dripped from
everything, and the very air seemed hard to breathe. The darkness began
to come and all our lights were burning, while the siren continued to
moan. Several times, in answer to it, we faintly heard mournful sounds of
fishermen's horns, and once we blindly swerved just in time to avoid
running down a tiny schooner.
"Beggin' yer pardon, sor," the old man said to me, "seem' as how ye ain't
busy it might be yer wouldn't mind startin' a bit of prayer as how we
don't smash up one o' them poor fellows. We jist got ter take some
chances, fer I mistrust th' Lord he be wantin' ter save that doctor o'
ours an' only needs be asked the right way."
We were now shooting through that fog like lost wild things, like the
ducks and geese bewildered of a stormy night, which mangle themselves
against the wire nettings of light houses. Now and then the land abeam
would give forth response to the booming of our whistle. The old man
Sammy had taken the wheel and his grim face was frozen into an expression
of desperate energy, as his keen little grey eyes peered through the
murk. By this time there was a heavy roll and our tall spars were
slashing at the mist as if seeking to cut down an unseen enemy. Every
man on board was under a nervous tension, conscious that a big thing was
being done. For a time there had been something akin to fear in all
our hearts, but after a while it left us, to make room for the delirium
of blind, reckless speed.
And then, suddenly, like a flash, the captain grasped the old fellow's
"Slow down, man," he shrieked. "I bet all I've got you don't know where
you are, and I can hear waves breaking ashore."
But Sammy lifted up his hand, with an authority that seemed inspired, and
gave another pull at the whistle cord. It brought forth a sound that was
repeated, again and again, confusedly. For a frightfully long half minute
we kept up our speed; then the bell jingled in the engine-room and we
slowed down a little. Under the old fisherman's hands the wheel began to
spin around while we breathlessly watched him aim the ship at the furious
breakers inshore, at the foot of dark cliffs.
"For God's sake! What are you doing?" yelled the captain.
The bell rang in the engine room to slow down and suddenly, on both sides
of us, appeared like devouring jaws great mass of rock upon which the
huge rollers were crashing in a smother of spume. Between them the yacht
slipped, gracefully, and this time the siren's shriek was like a
victorious cry. The bell sounded again and the _Snowbird_, after her long
swift flight, came to a stop between the hilly sides of Sweetapple Cove,
where men's voices roared indistinctly at us, and their forms stood dimly
revealed by twinkling lanterns.
And now, mother dear, I am writing at the bedside of a man lying in a
poor little hut, whom I shall leave soon for a few hours of badly needed
rest. I shall stop for the moment, but I have a great deal more to say.
_From Miss Helen Jelliffe to Miss Jane Van Zandt_
It is again the little girl to whom you have been a mother for so many
years who comes to you now, to lay her weary head upon your dear shoulder
and seek from you the kindness and sympathy you have always so freely
Last night I slept. Yes, slept like some dead thing that never cared
whether it ever returned to life, but which would awaken, at times,
stupidly, and toss until oblivion returned. I don't exactly know what it
is that affects me so. It may be the long watching, I suppose, and the
uneasiness of a heart that has lost its owner, and seeks and seeks again,
turning for comfort like a poor lost dog to every face which may prove
friendly. Just now things seem to be in such a dreadful tangle that I can
not even find a thread of it that I can unravel.
Late in the evening, the day before yesterday, I was sitting by the bed
where Dr. Grant was lying, and the conviction kept on growing upon me
that he was becoming worse all the time. I could not help whispering my
fears to Mr. Barnett, who gulped when he answered, as if he also knew
what it is to have that dreadful lump in one's throat.
The long, weary hours dragged themselves along, and presently the doctor
began to speak, and we bent forward to listen, because it was not very
loud and he spoke fast. At first it was all a jumble of delirious words,
but suddenly he looked at me and shook his head.
"My own poor darling," he said. "I am afraid that the sea has 'ketched'
me, and that I shall never make that cove again."
Then he was still again, so very still that I was afraid, and the tears
came and my head went down in my lap, between my hands, and the world
became so full of bitterness that I did not feel as if I could stand it
for another minute. The dear little parson put his hand on my shoulder,
in that curiously gentle way of his.
"We must be strong," he told me, "and we must pray for power to endure."
He then rose, quietly, and moistened the doctor's lips and his brow while
I looked on, feeling that I was the most desolate and helpless thing in
the world, and as if I could weep for ever. And then all of a sudden,
through the recurring booming voices of the waves breaking on the cliffs
outside, burst out the shrill voice of the _Snowbird's_ siren and I
rushed to the door. Frenchy followed me, and I was so weak that I hung
upon his big arm. In the sodden blur of everything I saw our boat coming
in, like a great white ghost, and there were more blasts of her whistle.
She knew what a welcome awaited her and how we had despaired of her
In the darkness I could see that people were rushing out of their houses,
cheering, and I heard piercing cries of women.
"Th' white ship she've come back," some of them were screaming.
They were scrambling down towards the landing, just hoping that they
might in some way be of service. The yacht had lost her headway but the
propeller was still churning, and I could see that she was turning around
to her mooring. Then I heard them putting the yawl overboard. Lights were
breaking out of some of the fish-house windows, and lanterns swung on the
little dock, and at last I dimly saw the rowboat coming. I ran down also,
with Frenchy, and met Stefansson.
"I got all of that stuff there was in St. John's," he said, "and this
gentleman is the doctor. We hunted high and low for a nurse but couldn't
get one right off."
But what cared I for nurses just then? Was I not ready to do all that a
woman possibly could? Was there a nurse in the world as ready as I to lay
down her very life for her patient?
I seized the doctor's hand. I had never been so glad in all my life to
see any one. He looked just like a big boy, but he represented renewed
hope, the possibility of the achievement of a longing so shrewd that it
was a bitter pain to endure it.
"You are going to help us save him!" I cried.
"I will most gladly do all I possibly can," he answered, very simply and
These doctors are really very nice people, Aunt Jennie dear. They speak
to you so hopefully, and there seems to be something in them that makes
you feel that you want to lean upon them and trust them.
When I had a better look at this one he appeared to be really very
young, and perhaps just a little gawky, and he wore the most appreciably
store-clothes, and the funniest little black string of a neck-tie. Isn't
it queer that silly things should enter one's head at such times? But he
looked like a fine, strong, honest boy, and I liked him for coming, and
when he smiled at me I really thought he had a very nice face, and one
that gave one the impression that he knew things, too.
"Please hurry," I said. "Come with me quick. Dr. Grant is dying, you
know. I am sure he is dying, but perhaps those things you have brought
will make him well again."
"I hope so," answered that doctor boy, and together we ran up the path to
that poor little hut that holds all the world for me, perhaps a dying
world, like those I have been told are fading away in the heavens.
He wasn't a bit out of breath, though I was panting when we reached the
shack. He cast a quick look about him, and just nodded briskly to Mr.
Barnett, like a man who has no leisure for small talk. He first went up
to the little boy's bed, and looked at the parson, enquiringly.
"He's getting better," said the latter.
At once the new doctor turned away and stood by John's bed. I must say
John now, Auntie dear, just when you and I are talking together. Perhaps
it will only be for a few hours, or a day or two, that he can be John to
me, in my heart and soul, for after that he may be only a memory, a
killing one, as I feel now.
For a moment he stood there, immobile, looking at John, noting that awful
grey color, and the rapid, hard breathing that sometimes comes in little
sobs. And then he felt the pulse, coolly, and counted the respirations,
in so calm a way that I began to feel like shrieking to him to do
something. But all this really took but a very short time. He went to the
little table, on which a lamp was burning, rather dimly, and opened the
package which contained all those vials they had brought from St. John's.
Captain Sammy had just come in, and stood near the door, and he sought my
eyes for some message of comfort, but I could only shake my head sadly.
"This lamp gives a very poor light," said Dr. Johnson.
At once the old man leaped out and sprinted towards the nearest
neighbor's. There he dashed in, seized the lamp around which the family
sat at their evening meal, and rushed out again, leaving them in total
darkness. Of course it went out in the wind and had to be lighted again,
and I noticed that the young doctor gave a calm, curious glance at me,
and Frenchy, and that his eyes swiftly took in all of the poor, sordid,
I stood in a corner, out of the way, for now it seemed to me that I was
of very little moment. This man was going to do everything that really
mattered, and I would only sit by the bed, afterwards, and watch, and try
and do things to help.
Dr. Johnson filled a syringe with the antitoxine and injected the stuff
in Dr. Grant's arm, which looked awfully white, and then he turned to me.
"You need not stay any longer, Miss Jelliffe," he said, civilly. "I shall
watch him all night."
"You are not going to drive me away?" I cried.
Then he looked at me again, curiously, and there was a tiny little nod of
his head, as if he had just understood something, after which he took the
poor little chair and pushed it near the bed.
"Won't you sit down?" he said, so gently that my eyes filled with tears,
and again everything was blurred as I blundered to the seat.
He did some other things, and mixed medicines that he took out of a black
bag, and made John take some. After this he sat down on a wooden box,
near me, and watched in silence, and I felt that he was a friend. Mr.
Barnett left, promising to return soon, and we remained there, listening
to the quick breathing, and dully hearing the long, low booming of the
great waves outside, till I fancied they were saying things to me, which
I could not understand.
After a time Susie came in.
"Yer father says won't you please come in an' have yer supper," she said.
"I knows ye'd rather stay here, but there ain't no jobs folks kin do
better starvin' than when they's had their grub. An' th' poor dear man
wants yer that bad it makes me feel sorry fer him."
"You ought to go and have something to eat, and rest a little, Miss
Jelliffe," said the doctor. "This young person appears to have some
rather sensible ideas, and you can return whenever you want to."
So I rose, because it wasn't fair to poor old Dad to leave him alone all
the time. Of course it was hurting me to leave, but it would also have
hurt to think that he would be having his supper all alone, so sadly.
"You will let me know if...."
"Of course I will," interrupted the doctor boy. "You may depend on me.
I'll send the big chap here over, if there is any change."
"You are very good," I said. "I think--I think you are a very nice
To my surprise he blushed just a little.
"Thank you," he said. "Thank you very much."
There was a smile on his face, and I think I managed to smile a little
too, and then I went off with Susie.
"They is some o' th' old women as tells about love medicines as can make
folks jist crazy fer one another," she said, as we walked away, rapidly.
"Seems ter me 'twould be good enough if some o' them doctors found out
some drug as worked t'other way. This bein' in love is harder'n the
teethache, an' is enough ter make one feel like hopin' ter be an old
"Perhaps it does, Susie," I assented.
"Come in," cried Dad, as I pushed the door open. "Glad to see you, Helen.
I hope the poor chap's better. I just had Stefansson up here, and he says
that old Sammy tried his best to drown them all and smash the yacht to
kindling. But he admitted that the way the old fellow slapped her through
was a marvel. But next year he's going back to racing boats; says he's
had enough of cruising."
He looked at me, as I sank wearily in a chair, too tired to answer.
"What's the matter, daughter?" he asked. "You are not ill, are you?"
He rose and came towards me, his dear loving face full of concern, and I
jumped up too and kissed him.
"That's my own dear little girl," he said, much comforted. "And--and
Helen dear, I don't suppose you will want to sail to-morrow, will you, or
in a day or two?"
There was something very pleading in his voice, it seemed to me.
"Perhaps in a day or two it won't--it won't matter much what I shall do,
Daddy dear," I answered.
He took me and pressed me to his breast and I felt as if many years were
passing away, and I was again the desolate little girl who used to come
to him with her woes, when a kitten died or a doll was broken. He sat
again in his armchair, and I rested on the arm.
"Let us talk as in the old days, girlie," he said. "Let us be the loving
friends we've been all these years. I want to see you happy. Your
happiness is the only thing in the world that really concerns me now. To
obtain it for you I would spend my last cent and give the last drop of my
blood. You believe me, don't you?"
"Indeed I do, Daddy dear," I answered. "I don't deserve such kindness.
I'm afraid I am a very selfish girl."
"You haven't an atom of selfishness in you, Helen. You are a woman, a
true, strong, loving woman. We shall remain here as long as you want to.
Now that there is another doctor here I am not so much afraid for you. If
Grant should--should not recover, your old Dad's love may comfort you.
And if, as I earnestly hope, he does get well, then come to me and tell
me what you want. It shall be yours, girlie, with all my love. That's
what I wanted to say."
I slipped off the arm of the chair, and sat down at his feet, looking up
at him, through the blur that was in my eyes.
"I--I hardly dare hope he will get well, Daddy," I said, "and--and I
don't know yet whether he loves me or not. This evening, in his delirium,
he called me his darling, but never before this has he ever said a word
of love to me. He's just been a friend to me, Daddy, such a friend!"
"How can he help loving you?" said the dear old man.
But I did not answer, and for a time we remained in silence, watching the
wood fire in the tiny chimney, until Susie came in.
"Th' kittle's biled," she announced. "Me cousin Hyatt he've brung some
meat off'n the mash, an' I briled some."
"I'm not very hungry, Susie," I told her.
"Nor me neither, ma'am, with all them goin'-ons," she confided. "But
what's th' use o' despisin' any of th' Lord's blessin's, specially when
they gits kinder scarce?"
So Daddy and I had our supper together, very comfortably, and really I
did manage to eat a little, because the thought struck me that a girl
couldn't possibly be beyond all hope of comfort as long as she had such a
Dad, and I did my best to be brave. But soon after we had finished I
became very restless and nervous, and Dad looked at me and patted my
"I expect you'd better run along, my dear," he told me. "But you must
really try to have some rest to-night. If that doctor promised to sit up
you might just as well have a little sleep. You mustn't be ill, you know,
for we all need you too much for that."
So I kissed him and hurried back to the shack, overtaking Mr. Barnett,
who was also going there. Frenchy met us at the door.
"Mebbe heem Docteur no die now, _hein_! Mebbe heem leeve now. I think
heem no die. What you think?"
"We hope and pray he may get well, my good man," answered the parson.
We went in, and Dr. Johnson rose.
"I can see no change as yet," he said, "but then it is hardly possible
that any should occur so soon. At any rate he is no worse."
So Mr. Barnett and I sat down by the bed, and Dr. Johnson went away for
some supper; I am sure he must have been nearly starving.
"He's been muttering a good deal," said the doctor before leaving, "but
that is of no very great moment. The important thing is to watch him to
prevent his getting out of bed, if he should become excitable. We must
have no undue strain on his weakened heart."
So the little parson and I sat quietly by the patient, who appeared to be
sleeping, and for a long time there was no sound at all, and I think we
dreaded to move lest the slightest noise might rouse him.
But after a time, so suddenly that it startled me, came the hoarse, low
voice that was so painful to hear, and I bent further forward to listen.
At first the words were disconnected, with queer interruptions, so that
they possessed no meaning, but presently I was listening, breathlessly.
He appeared to be giving orders.
"You, Sammy, cast away the lines! Look lively there! Time, time, time!"
he muttered. Then he seemed to be waiting for something and began again.
"I told you to be ready! The years, do you hear me? You are wasting the
years. She's good for sixty miles an hour and it will take forty million
years to reach the nearest star, where Helen waits. Can't make it, you
say? Don't I see her beckoning!"
Then he turned his head, slightly, as if he were addressing some one very
"One has to have patience," he said. "They don't understand, and their
fingers are all thumbs, and the hawser is fouling my propeller, and
Helen calls, and--and I can do nothing."
His head, that had been slightly uplifted, fell back again, and two great
drops gathered in the dark, sunken eyes and slowly ran down the hollowed
Mr. Barnett turned to me. In his eyes there was a strange look of
apprehension, as when one awaits yet fears an answer. But there was
nothing that I could say to him. My heart was beating as though ready to
burst. I cared nothing then for the little man who stared at me, and sank
on my knees beside my poor unconscious John, lifting his limp hand to my
_From Miss Helen Jelliffe to Miss Jane Van Zandt_
_Aunt Jennie_, _darling_:
Isn't the world just the most wonderful place? No one knows it at all
until after it has played battledore and shuttlecock with them, and they
have been tossed to and fro for a long time. Weren't those old Persians
wonderful people? Of course they had no means of knowing the real truth
but it surely was the next thing to it to worship the dear sun. It goes
away and leaves things dark and dismal, and there may be hail and sleet
and rain, and the outlook is all dark, but presently the clouds move and
the fog blows away and the path of light twinkles over the big ocean and
the very grasses of the hillsides perk up and the birds try to split
their little throats with song. They are all sun-worshippers.
Of course you want to know at once how it all came about. I am still
shaky and uncertain, as if I had just been awakened. Sometimes I hardly
believe that it is the real truth that I behold, but merely some vision
that must pass away like the gold and the crimson of the fading day.
John is getting well! I feel that I want to shout it farther than the
voice of man ever carried before. I wish that wonderful Marconi could set
all these little waves he makes in the air to vibrating at once and carry
over the whole world the tidings that my John is going to live! Of course
there were a few very dreadful days, and some nights that were agony, and
that nice little doctor lost his red cheeks and looked pale and wan, and
of course I was very, very tired. That dear Mrs. Barnett or her husband
were always with me, and no one could ever make Frenchy leave the place
for a minute, and old Sammy hovered around constantly. The people walked
about the tiny village as if it had been a town smitten by a great
pestilence, as used to happen in those old dark ages. There have been no
more cases, because the doctor has injected some of that stuff in the
arms of all who had been in the slightest degree exposed, and it doesn't
hurt very much, Aunt Jennie.
But the amazing day was the one upon which I arose, before dawn, because
they had just forced me to go to bed the night before, and I hurried down
to Frenchy's, in the keen cold air, and met Dr. Johnson who was quietly
pacing the road and smoking his pipe, which must have been very bad for
him so early in the morning. But then I think we have all lost count of
hours. When he heard my steps he turned quickly, and his cheeks looked
quite pink again, perhaps owing to the cold, and his eyes were just as
bright as bright could be, and he just ran towards me. I think my hands
began to shake, for I had lost all memory of what a happy face looked
like, I think, and the sight of his was like something that strikes one
full in the chest and takes one's breath away.
He just grabbed both my hands, because he is such a nice friendly boy.
"Do you mean to tell me...." I began, but he interrupted me.
"Indeed I certainly do," he answered, speaking ever so quickly. "You had
not been gone for more than a couple of hours when he opened his eyes and
looked at me, very much puzzled, and made a little effort to rise, which
of course I checked at once, though his pulse and temperature had gone
down, and he looked a lot better.
"'You just keep still, old man,' I told him. 'Now is just the time to
look out for sudden heart failure, so you must keep still, and have a
good swig of this stuff, and try and have a nap. You've given us a proper
scare, I can tell you, but now you're right side up.'
"And would you believe it, Miss Jelliffe, that big Frenchman jumped off
his bunk and stared at him, and then he grabbed me and kissed me on both
cheeks as if I'd been another blessed frog-eater, and I wanted to punch
his nose but compromised by shaking hands instead. I could just have
danced a hornpipe. And by this time Dr. Grant has taken a whole lot of
nourishment, and got a good deal of real sleep during the night, and now
he's behaving first-rate. I left Frenchy sitting near him, a short time
ago, and came out to smoke the pipe of peace with all the world."
"You have saved him!" I cried.
"Well, we've all helped," he said. "It really looks now as if he were
quite out of danger, because there is an immense change for the better,
and that's a whole lot. I'll just take a peep in now to see if he's
awake, because we mustn't disturb him if he isn't."
He left me standing in front of the poor little building, within whose
walls we all had spent such terrible hours, and went in on tiptoe.
Frenchy came out in his stocking-feet, the most disheveled man you ever
saw, and suddenly I felt as if I were about to fall, in spite of the joy
his eyes betrayed, and I grasped his big, hairy arm. But I felt better in
a moment. The immense newborn sun was rising out of the waters, a huge,
great, blood-hued thing, and the sky was aflame at last--after the awful,
somber days, and seemed to burst out with tidings of great joy, like that
wondrous star in the East.
And then the little parson came trotting down the road, for he is the
most active little man you ever saw, and when he looked into our faces he
stretched out his hands, and we grasped them happily.
"Oh! Mr. Barnett," I told him. "Indeed, it seems too good to be true."
"Dear young lady," he said, "nothing is ever too good to be true."
He was looking far away at the flaming sky, as if beyond it he had been
able to discern some wonderful vision. He surely believes in infinite
goodness, Aunt Jennie. His whole life is based upon his trust in it, and
it is very beautiful. His words carried with them a world of hope, and
suddenly I felt as if some great blessing were perhaps hovering above,
like the big, circling sea-birds, and might descend to me.
Then Dr. Johnson came out and greeted the little parson, who has taken a
great liking to him. Despite the great, dark circles around his eyes,
strained as they had been by so many weary hours of watching, the young
man's face was merry and boyish, for all that it gives promise of
splendid manliness, and it was good to see. As he came to us his steps
showed no signs of the fatigue he must have felt.
"He's awake," he announced. "He must have a great deal of rest and quiet
just now, but I am sure your presence would give him pleasure, Miss
Jelliffe. You won't let him talk very much, will you?"
"No," I promised, and could find no other words.
I moved towards the door, slowly, expecting the others to follow me, but
they never stirred. It was as if by some common consent they had
acknowledged some right of mine to enter alone. Suddenly my limbs began
to drag under me, as if I had been a tottering, old woman. I wondered
what his first look would say to me, what the first word from his lips
would portend? It seemed as if I were going in there like one who sought
some hidden treasure, knowing which door it lay behind but stricken with
fear lest some unseen Cerberus might be crouching in wait for the rash
seeker after happiness. Oh! Aunt Jennie! The tenseness of that moment!
The feeling that, like the _Snowbird_ a few days ago, I was moving
through a fog-hidden world of peril!
My nails were dug into the palms of my hands as I entered the shack, and
his head turned slowly as I came in, and in his eyes I saw the confession
his babbling had revealed to me. But then an expression of pain came
also, that made me involuntarily look at Frenchy's little crucifix on the
So I just kneeled down by him, and once more took that poor thin hand
within my own. I spoke very low, and in such a shaky voice, but very
quick, for fear I might not be able to continue.
"Don't give up hope," I said. "We despaired for so many long days, and
now you are getting well again, and the dear sun is rising from the
mists, and the world is very beautiful, and I long to make it more
beautiful for you."
I saw two big tears gathering in the corners of the poor sunken eyes, and
the long white hand pressed mine, weakly, and that mark of the pangs of
the crucified passed away.
"You must lie very still," I continued, "and let us make you well and
strong again, for you've made dear Sweetapple Cove now, after being
nearly 'ketched' by those dreadful seas, and I know that our little ship
is coming safely to port."
For a moment he could only close his eyes, as if the poor, little,
dawning light that was beginning to come through the windows had been too
bright for him, but his hand pressed mine again. Then he looked at me
once more, eagerly, as if he longed for other words of mine.
"No," I said. "One mustn't talk too much to people who have been so
dreadfully ill, and really I can say nothing more now. Indeed I have said
all I could, because a woman can't let her happiness fly away on account
of--of people who are too proud to speak, but--but you can whisper a word
There were three of them that came from his lips, those three thrilling
words I had despaired of ever hearing from him.
"And I also love you, John, with all my heart and soul," I answered.
Then we were very still for some time, and presently some one coughed
rather hard outside, and fumbled with the door, and the nice doctor boy
"I mustn't allow you people to talk too long," he said. "It is time he
had a good drink of milk, and after that he must have some more sleep,
and we'll have him topside up in no time."
Then Mr. Barnett came in too, but he never said a word. There was just a
glance, a pressure of hands, and that was all, but it seemed to mean ever
so much to them.
So after a short time I went away, and the bright sun was streaming down
upon our poor, little, smelly Sweetapple Cove, that was really like a
corner of Paradise.
And now, Aunt Jennie, several more days have gone by, and John is getting
stronger and stronger every hour.
Yesterday, for the first time, he sat up in a long deck chair that had
been brought up from the _Snowbird_, and I sat beside him, with my
knitting, which was only a pretence, for it lay on my lap, idly. It
seemed to me that I had a million things to talk about, but when I spoke
he answered in brief little weary words, so that I became afraid I might
tire him. There is no porch to the little house, so he sat indoors in
front of the widely opened door, whence he could see the cove, glittering
in the sunshine, and the flakes covered with the silver-grey fish that
We remained in silence for a long time, and my hand rested on his, that
was stretched out on the arm of the chair. Then he turned to me.
"Dearest," he said, "I am but sorry company for you, after all these days
of devoted attention on your part."
"You are my own dear John," I answered. "I wish--I wish I knew that you
were as happy as I."
"Listen, Helen," he said. "There is something that you must know."
And then, slowly, he told me a tale that began with his boyhood. There
was a little girl, and he was very fond of her, and many times he told
her she must be his little wife. And always she assented, so that
gradually, as the years went by, it had become a habit of his mind to
think of the days to come, when they would be married. Then he had gone
away to a little college. When he returned for the holidays he always saw
her again, but when he spoke of marrying her she blushed, and was timid,
for she was passing away from childhood. In later days he saw less of
her, but he always wrote long letters to his little comrade. After a few
years he went abroad to study, but they corresponded often, telling of
their plans and ambitions. One day he heard that she was going to New
York to become a trained nurse, and he had finished his work abroad, so
he took a steamer and went there too. On the days when she was at liberty
for a few hours he met her, and those ideas of his boyhood became
stronger than ever, and he asked her to marry him. Her reply was that
they were too young yet and that they must wait, for she had no idea of
becoming married for the present, because there were many things she
wanted to do, and while she was ever so fond of him as a friend she did
not think she loved him, though some day she might. But he had always
thought it would be just a matter of time, for he had considered it a
settled thing. Then he had come to Sweetapple Cove, and written to her
often, for he expected her to return to Newfoundland soon. Her letters
came rather seldom, for she was working very hard.
"And now, when she comes," he continued, "I shall have to tell her it was
all a ghastly mistake on my part. I shall have to tell her the truth,
brutally, frankly. I will have to say that I really never loved her; that
it was a boy's idea that continued into a man's thoughts, until one day
he realized that he loved another woman."
"But she really never loved you, John," I exclaimed. "If she had she
never would have allowed you to go away."
"I hope to God she never did!" he exclaimed. "But in those old days I
asked her to be my wife, and I told her I would wait for her. And she
has always been very fond of me, at least as a good friend, and--and--who
knows? I hate the idea that I must perhaps inflict pain upon her, some
But I shook my head, obstinately.
"No, she never loved you," I insisted. "I know now how people love. It is
a desire to cling to one, to be ever with him, to share with him toil,
and pain, and hunger, joyfully, happily, for all the days and days to
come. And when you have to leave me I shall be restless and nervous, like
that poor dear Mrs. Barnett, until you come back and I can be glad again.
Oh! John! That girl never loved you!"
Just then the little parson's wife came up, smilingly as ever.
"Are you two having lover's quarrels already?" she asked.
"No," I answered, "I was explaining to him that no other woman ever
could--or--or ever would...."
"Oh! My dear," she interrupted, "the explanation of obvious things is one
of the most delightful privileges of the engaged state, and I won't
interrupt you any more. I'm going to see the new Burton baby, and, by the
way, here is a lot of stuff for Dr. Grant, that has been accumulating.
I suppose he may be allowed to show a faint interest in his mail, at
least after his nurse leaves him. Good-by, you dear children."
She put a large bundle of papers and letters in John's lap, and went
away, waving her hand cheerily. John didn't pay the slightest attention
to his correspondence at first, for we began to discuss some plans we
were making for a little house, but after a few moments he idly turned
over the medical papers, and the pamphlets and circulars, and suddenly
his eyes fell on a letter, that was addressed in big bold characters.
I knew at once that it was from that girl, and a little shudder came over
me. I rose and walked away towards Frenchy's child, who was now well and
playing with a long-suffering woolly pup, and began to talk to him. But
all the time I was watching and listening. I suppose one can't help doing
such things. Then I heard him calling me, and I hurried back.
He held the letter out to me.
"Read it, Helen?" he asked me.
"Please," I said, "just tell me about it. It is her own letter, John, and
meant for you only."
"She tells me I have been the best friend a girl ever had, and that if
she gives me pain it will not be without a pang on her own part. She says
that the object of her being on earth is now revealed to her."
"Yes," I answered, "and then...."
"Then she announces her coming marriage with Dr. Farquhar, the man who
has been in charge of the medical work of the Settlement."
"You must write and tell her how happy you are to hear the good news,
John, and you must tell her our plans. And I want to talk very seriously
to you, John."
"What is it, dear?" he asked.
"Well," I said, "I want to say that you have been very bad, because you
didn't believe me, or you only believed a little bit, when I told you she
didn't love you. Now I expect you to have a great deal of respect for my
opinions, in future."
He promised, and said I was perfectly wonderful, and that he was the
happiest man in the world. And then, Aunt Jennie, we sat again ever so
long without saying more than a few words. And the stillness was like
bars of a wonderful music whose notes one can't remember but which
leaves in one's heart an impression of glorious melody. One can't write
of such things, for I am sure that ink never flowed from a pen able
really to describe that which lies in the hearts of men and women at such
And then Daddy came, smiling all over, for he spoke the truth indeed when
he said my happiness was his only concern. He's the dearest Daddy in
all the world.
Dr. _Johnson to Mrs. Charlotte Johnson_
You will rejoice to know that your son is now a happy man. At one time
the wrecking of the old _Chandernagore_ bade fair to make me despair of
ever being able to justify the sacrifices you underwent to help me with
my education. And now things look so bright and splendid that I can
scarcely believe the marvelous luck that has befallen me.
Dr. Grant is strong and well again. He is a fine fellow who has been
doing great work in this place, and I have actually been chosen to
continue it during his absence of a few months. Mr. Jelliffe and he sent
for me, a few days ago, after I returned from a trip to a near outport to
see a sick woman, and asked me if I were willing to undertake it. They
also said that they were about to build a small hospital here, and that
there would doubtless be work enough for two men during most of the year.
They offered me a steady compensation sufficient to mean surcease from
worry and an opportunity to take a little care of you at last. And the
best part of it all lies in the character of the work, which is a fine
one, and in the delightful people I shall be associated with. Mrs.
Barnett is a woman whom you would dearly love, and her husband is of the
pick of men. Dr. Grant will spend the greater part of the year here, and
Sweetapple Cove is bustling with the changes that are taking place. A big
schooner-load of lumber has just arrived, with a few workmen, to begin at
once rearing the new hospital and the house the Grants are to build for
I am alone now, for the beautiful _Snowbird_ has gone away, followed by
fervent wishes for her safe journey home.
Very early yesterday little two-masted smacks began to arrive from
neighboring outports, and the tiny harbor was crowded with them. They
fluttered out all their poor little bits of bunting, gaily, and the
visitors wore their best clothes. I doubt if so great a holiday ever took
place before in this part of the island. The _Snowbird_, from bowsprit to
topmasts, and down again to the end of the long main-boom, was bright
with waving signals and pennants.
The people were crowding on the little road, to see the bride come forth
on the arm of her father. Visions had come to me of her all in white, as
all brides were clad whom I have ever seen before. But she appeared in
her garments of every day, as if she needed no finery to make her more
beautiful in the eyes of all. You should have seen her, little mother! A
wonderful woman indeed, straight and fairly tall, with frank, friendly
eyes that always look straight at one. Her voice has also notes that can
be of exquisite tenderness, as I heard them in that poor little hut of
Frenchy's. Her hair is a great, fine, chestnut mass in which are blended
the most perfect hues of auburns and rich browns. And withal she is
exquisitely simple in her manner, utterly unaffected, and her laughter
carries joy with it into the hearts of others. The people here simply
adore her, from the youngest child to the most tottering old dame. And I
am sure they love her not only for herself but also in gratitude for the
happiness she is bestowing upon a man who has long ago made his way into
She had insisted upon being married in this humble village, among the
fishermen who had learnt to cherish her and her husband-to-be, and when
we reached the little church it was already full to overflowing. People
stood on tiptoe at the open windows, and crowded at the door. We all
stood when she arrived with Mr. Jelliffe, and she walked to the little
altar with smiles and friendly nods to all.
And then the service began, and Mr. Barnett was manifestly pale with
emotion. At first his voice was just the least bit husky, but soon it
cleared as the majestic words fell from his lips.
I sat near Mrs. Barnett, who wept a little. I could understand this,
mother, for there was something that moved one's heart in the beholding
of that man and that woman, who had never given others aught but the best
of themselves, preparing to continue hand in hand to make the world more
beautiful for others.
It was over very soon and the two walked down the aisle. Old Sammy rushed
out and waved his arms frantically towards the cove, whereupon the little
brass gun boomed and the flag saluted, as if the _Snowbird_ also thrilled
with the general rejoicing.
Dr. Grant and his wife stepped out into the road, which passes by the
door of the little church. The wedding reception was held there, for the
Cove has no walls capable of holding all their friends. Mrs. Barnett, who
had come out upon my arm, was the first to kiss the bride, but other
women were thus favored, even poor decrepit old things in whose houses
she had carried the sunshine of her presence.
Susie Sweetapple, worthy descendant of the earliest settler, stood
modestly to one side, with a very red nose, for she had been weeping
"Are you not going to kiss me also, Susie?" asked her mistress.
The little servant came forth, with shining red eyes showing utmost
delight, and was kissed affectionately. When she retired, to make room
for others, I heard her speaking to her old mother.
"Belike I'll not be washin' me face fer a month now. I'll not be wantin'
ter scrub that kiss away."
Then I noticed that the bride was searching the crowd, and appeared to be
disappointed because some one was missing! Finally she discovered that
Frenchman Yves, who watched so endlessly and devotedly for days and days,
and beckoned to him.
He came forward, timidly, and the glorious young woman stretched out her
hands to him. His own trembled as he took them.
"_La Sainte Vierge vous benisse_" he said.
She thanked him, sweetly, as she does all things, and lifted his little
boy up in her arms, and kissed him, tenderly.
"_Je vous aime_" declared the little chap.
"What's th' laddie sayin'?" a man asked me.
"He says he loves her," I answered.
"We all does that," he cried. "We all loves every hair o' th' heads o'
Finally the crowd moved down towards the cove. The flakes that had been
deserted, that morning, became tenanted again by an eager crowd, and on
the sharply slanted roofs of the little fish-houses some boys secured
The yacht had been warped to the little dock, and there was a gangplank
over which our three dear friends went on board. There was a good deal
more of fervent handshaking, and the plank was withdrawn. The siren
shrieked its farewell as the ship began to move, and the little gun
saluted the Cove.
She moved out, slowly increasing her speed, and her great white wings
began to unfold since, once outside, the breeze alone would carry them.
On the rocks at the entrance stood men with heavy sealing guns, whose
crashing detonations thundered a farewell. The bits of bunting ran up
and down the masts of the little schooners at anchor, and everywhere
gaily colored handkerchiefs were fluttering.
And so she headed out into the open sea, growing dimmer in the haze of
the glorious day, until she passed out of our vision, bearing away the
love and blessings of Sweetapple Cove.