Part 2 out of 3
He advanced to the middle of the room, and stopped. There was something
so solemn and unchancy about him that his sister put a handful of forks
and spoons on the table and stood looking at him. Then he said, slowly:
"I come a-maying through the wood,
A-for to find my queen;
She must be glad and she must be good,
And the fairest ever seen.
And now have I no further need
To seek for loveliness;
She standeth at my side indeed--
With which he produced the wreath of Mayflowers, and, flinging himself
suddenly upon her with a hug not specified in the rite, cast it upon her
chestnut locks and twined himself joyfully around her. Phil, quite
overcome, collapsed into the nearest chair, Kirk, May-flowers and all,
and it was there that Ken found them, rapturously embracing each other,
the May Queen bewitchingly pretty with her wreath over one ear. "I
didn't make it up," Kirk said, at supper. "The Maestro did--or at least
he said the Folk taught him one like it. I can't remember the thanking
one he sang before the feast. And Ken, he says _your_ name's good
Anglo-Saxon and means 'a defender of his kindred.'"
"It does, does it?" said Ken. "You'll get so magicked over there some
time that we'll never see you again; or else you'll come back cast into
a spell, and there'll be no peace living with you."
"No, I won't," Kirk said. "And I like it. It makes things more
"I should _think so_," said Ken--secretly, perhaps, a shade envious of
the Maestro's ability.
As he locked up Applegate Farm that night, he stopped for a moment at
the door to look at the misty stars and listen to the wind in the
"'A defender of his kindred,'" he murmured. "_H'm!"_
* * * * *
Hardly anything is more annoying than a mysterious elder brother. That
Ken was tinkering at the _Flying Dutchman_ (as he had immediately called
the power-boat, on account of its ghostly associations) was evident to
his brother and sister, but why he should be doing so they could not
"We can't afford to run around in her as a pleasure yacht," Felicia
said. "Are you going to sell her?"
"I am not," Ken would say, maddeningly, jingling a handful of bolts in
his pocket; "not I."
The patch in the _Flying Dutchman_ was not such as a boat-builder would
have made, but it was water-tight, and that was the main point. The
motor required another week of coaxing; all Ken's mechanical ingenuity
was needed, and he sat before the engine, sometimes, dejected and
indignant. But when the last tinkering was over, when frantic spinnings
of the flywheel at length called forth a feeble gasp and deep-chested
gurgle from the engine, Ken clapped his dirty hands and danced alone on
the rocks like a madman.
He took the trial trip secretly--he did not intend to run the risk of
sending Phil and Kirk to that portion of Davy Jones' locker reserved for
Asquam Bay. But when he landed, he ran, charging through baybush and
alder, till he tumbled into Felicia on the door-step of Applegate Farm.
"I didn't want to tell you until I found out if she'd work," he gasped,
having more enthusiasm than breath. "You might have been disappointed.
But she'll go--and _now_ I'll tell you what she and I are going to do!"
On a morning late in May, a train pulled into the Bayside station, which
was the rail terminal for travelers to Asquam, and deposited there a
scattering of early summer folk and a pile of baggage. The Asquam
trolley-car was not in, and would not be for some twenty minutes; the
passengers grouped themselves at the station, half wharf, half platform,
and stared languidly at the bay, the warehouse, and the empty track down
which the Asquam car might eventually be expected to appear. It did not;
but there did appear a tall youth, who approached one of the groups of
travelers with more show of confidence than he felt. He pulled off his
new yachting-cap and addressed the man nearest him:
"Are you going to Asquam, sir?"
"I am, if the blamed trolley-car ever shows up." "Have you baggage?"
"Couple of trunks."
"Are you sending them by the electric freight?"
"No other way _to_ send them," said the man, gloomily. "I've been here
before. I've fortified myself with a well-stocked bag, but I sha'n't
have a collar left before the baggage comes. As for my wife--"
"I can get your luggage to Asquam in a bit over an hour," said the
businesslike young gentleman.
The somewhat bored group lifted interested heads. They, too, had trunks
doomed to a mysterious exile at the hands of the electric freight.
"I'm Sturgis," said the youth, "of the Sturgis Water Line. I have a
large power-boat built for capacity, not looks. Your baggage will be
safe in a store-room at the other end,"--Captain Sturgis here produced a
new and imposing key,--"and will be taken to your hotel or cottage by a
reliable man with a team at the usual rate of transfer from the trolley.
My charges are a little higher than the trolley rates, but you'll have
your baggage before luncheon, instead of next week." A murmuring arose
in the group.
"Let's see your vessel, Cap," said another man.
Ken led the way to a boat skid at the foot of the wharf, and pointed out
the _Flying Dutchman_, unpainted, but very tidy, floating proudly beside
"I have to charge by bulk rather than weight," said the proprietor of
the Sturgis Water Line, "and first come, first served."
"Have you a license?" asked a cautious one.
Ken turned back a lapel and showed it, with the color rushing suddenly
to his face.
But the upshot of it was, that before the Asquam car--later than
usual--arrived at Bayside, the _Flying Dutchman_ was chugging out into
the bay, so loaded with trunks that Ken felt heartily for the Irishman,
who, under somewhat similar circumstances, said "'t was a merrcy the
toide wasn't six inches hoigher!" Out in the fairway, Ken crouched
beside his engine, quite thankful to be alone with his boat and the
harvest of trunks--so many more than he had hoped to have. For this was
the first trip of the Sturgis Water Line, and its proprietor's heart,
under the new license, had pounded quite agonizingly as he had
approached his first clients.
Down at Asquam, the room on the wharf under the harbor-master's shop
stood waiting to receive outgoing or incoming baggage; at the wharf, Hop
would be drawn up with his old express-wagon. For Hop was the shore
department of the Line, only too glad to transport luggage, and in so
doing to score off Sim Rathbone, who had little by little taken Hop's
trade. He and Ken had arranged financial matters most amicably; Ken was
to keep all his profits, Hop was to charge his usual rates for transfer,
but it was understood that Hopkins, and he alone, was shore agent of the
Sturgis Water Line, and great was his joy and pride.
Ken, on this first day, helped the old man load the trunks, rode with
him to their various destinations, saw them received by unbelieving and
jubilant owners, and then tore back to Applegate Farm, exultant and
joyful. Having no breath for words, he laid before Felicia, who was
making bread, four dollars and a half (six trunks at seventy-five cents
apiece), clapped the yachting cap over Kirk's head, and cut an ecstatic
pigeon-wing on the kitchen floor. "One trip!" gasped Phil, touching the
money reverently with a doughy finger. "And you're going to make two
round trips every day! That's eighteen dollars a day! Oh, Ken, it's a
hundred and twenty-five dollars a week! Why, we're--we're millionaires!"
Ken had found his breath, and his reason.
"What a little lightning calculator!" he said. "Don't go so fast,
Philly; why, your castle scrapes the clouds! This time of year I won't
carry _any_ baggage on the up trips--just gasolene wasted; and there's
the rent of the dock and the store-room,--it isn't much, but it's quite
a lot off the profit,--and gas and oil, and lots of trips when I sha'n't
be in such luck. But I _do_ think it's going to work--and pay, even if
it's only fifteen or twenty dollars a week."
Whereupon Felicia called him a lamb, and kissed him, and he submitted.
That night they had a cake. Eggs had been lavished on it to produce its
delectable golden smoothness, and sugar had not been stinted.
"It's a special occasion," Felicia apologized, "to celebrate the Sturgis
Water Line and honor Captain Kenelm Sturgis--defender of his kindred,"
she added mischievously.
"Cut it!" muttered Ken; but she took it to mean the cake, and handed him
a delicious slice.
"All right," said Ken. "Let's feast. But don't be like the girl with the
pitcher of milk on her head, Phil."
* * * * *
If you suppose that Miss Felicia Sturgis was lonely while her brother,
the captain, was carrying on his new watery profession, you are quite
mistaken. She hadn't time even to reflect whether she was lonely or not.
She had no intention of letting Applegate Farm sink back to the untidy
level of neglect in which she had found it, and its needs claimed much
of her energy. She tried to find time in which to read a little, for she
felt somewhat guilty about the unceremonious leave she had taken of her
schooling. And there was cookery to practise, and stockings to mend,
and, oh dear, such a number of things!
But Kirk's education filled the most important place, to her, in the
scheme of things at Asquam. If she had not been so young, and so
ambitious, and so inexperienced, she might have faltered before the task
she set herself, temporary though it might be. Long before the Sturgis
Water Line had hung out its neat shingle at the harbor-master's wharf;
before the Maestro and music had made a new interest in Kirk's life;
while Applegate Farm was still confusion--Felicia had attacked the
Braille system with a courage as conscientious as it was unguided. She
laughed now to think of how she had gone at the thing--not even studying
out the alphabet first. In the candle-light, she had sat on the edge of
her bed--there was no other furniture in the room--with one of Kirk's
books on her knee. Looking at the dots embossed on the paper conveyed
nothing to her; she shut her eyes, and felt the page with a forefinger
which immediately seemed to her as large as a biscuit. Nothing but the
dreadful darkness, and the discouraging little humps on the paper which
would not even group themselves under her fingers! Felicia had ended her
first attempt at mastering Braille, in tears--but not altogether over
her own failure.
"Oh, it must be hideous for him!" she quavered to the empty room;
And she opened her eyes, thankful to see even good candle-light on bare
walls, and the green, star-hung slip of sky outside the window. But
somehow the seeing of it had made her cry again.
Next day she had swallowed her pride and asked Kirk to explain to her a
few of the mysteries of the embossed letters. He was delighted, and
picked the alphabet, here and there, from a page chosen at random in the
big book. The dots slunk at once into quite sensibly ordered ranks, and
Felicia perceived a reason, an excuse for their existence.
She learned half the alphabet in an hour, and picked out _b_ and _h_ and
_l_ joyfully from page after page. Three days later she was reading,
"The cat can catch the mouse"--as thrilled as a scientist would be to
discover a new principle of physics. Kirk was thrilled, also, and
applauded her vigorously.
"But you're looking at it, and that's easier," he said. "And you're
growner-up than me."
Felicia confessed that this was so.
And now what a stern task-mistress she had become! She knew all the long
words in the hardest lessons, and more too. There was no escaping
school-time; it was as bad as Miss Bolton. Except that she was
Felicia--and that made all the difference in the world. Kirk labored
for her as he had never done for Miss Bolton, who had been wont to say,
"If only he would _work_--" The unfinished sentence always implied
untold possibilities for Kirk.
But Felicia was not content that Kirk could read the hardest lessons
now. They plunged into oral arithmetic and geography and history, to
which last he would listen indefinitely while Phil read aloud. And
Felicia, whose ambition was unbounded,--as, fortunately, his own
was,--turned her attention to the question of writing. He could write
Braille, with a punch and a Braille slate,--yes, indeed!--but who of the
seeing world could read it when he had done? And he had no conception of
our printed letters; they might as well have been Chinese symbols. He
would some day have a typewriter, of course, but that was impossible
now. Phil, nothing daunted by statements that the blind never could
write satisfactorily, sent for the simplest of the appliances which make
it possible for them to write ordinary characters, and she and Kirk set
to work with a will.
On the whole, those were very happy mornings. For the schoolroom was in
the orchard--the orchard, just beginning to sift scented petals over
the lesson papers; beginning to be astir with the boom of bees, and the
fluttering journeys of those busy householders, the robins. The high,
soft grass made the most comfortable of school benches; an upturned box
served excellently for a desk; and here Kirk struggled with the elusive,
unseen shapes of A. B. C--and conquered them! His first completed
manuscript was a letter to his mother, and Phil, looking at it, thought
all the toil worth while. The letter had taken long, but Felicia had not
helped him with it.
I AM WRITING THIS M
YSELF A ROBIN IS SINGI
NG NEARME BECAUSE HE H
AS THREE EGGS WHICH FI
L FOUND YESTERDAY. I H
OPE YOU AREBETTER DEAR
AND CAN COME BACK SOON
YOUR KIRK XXXXXXXXXXXX
Mrs. Sturgis's feelings, on reading this production, may be imagined.
She wept a little, being still not herself, and found heart, for the
first time, to notice that a robin was singing outside her own window.
There is no question but that Kirk's days were really the busiest of
the Sturgis family's. For no sooner did the Three R's loose their hold
on him at noon, than the Maestro claimed him for music after lunch,
three times a week. Rather tantalizing music, for he wasn't to go near
the piano yet. No, it was solfeggio, horrid dry scales to sing, and
rhythm, and notation. But all was repaid when the Maestro dropped to the
piano-stool and filled a half-hour with music that made Kirk more than
ever long to master the scales. And there was tea, always, and slow,
sun-bathed wanderings in the garden, hand in hand with the Maestro.
He must hear, now, all about the Sturgis Water Line, and Ken's yachting
cap with the shiny visor, and how Kirk had taken the afternoon trip
three times, and how--if the Maestro didn't know it already--the sound
of water at the bow of a boat was one of the nicest noises there was.
"There are those who think so," said the old gentleman. "Kirk, tell Ken
not to let the sea gain a hold on him. He loves it, does he not?"
"Yes," said Kirk, aghast at the sudden bitter sorrow in the gentle
voice. "Why?" "The sea is a tyrant. Those she claims, she never
releases. I know."
He stood among the gently falling blossoms of the big quince-tree by the
terrace. Then he suddenly drew Kirk to him, and said:
"I spoke of the garden being filled, to me, with the memory of children;
did I not?"
Kirk remembered that he had--on May-day.
"A little boy and a little girl played here once," said the Maestro,
"when the pools were filled, and the garden paths were trim. The little
girl died when she was a girl no longer. The boy loved the sea too well.
He left the garden, to sail the seas in a ship--and I have never seen
"Was he your little boy?" Kirk hardly dared ask it.
"He was my little boy," said the Maestro. "He left the garden in the
moonlight, and ran away to the ships. He was sixteen. Tell Kenelm not to
love the sea too much."
"But Ken wouldn't go away from Phil and me," said Kirk; "I _know_ he
Kirk knew nothing of the call that the looming gray sails of the
_Celestine_ had once made.
"I thought," said the Maestro, "that the other boy would not leave his
sister and his father." He roused himself suddenly. "Perhaps I do Ken
injustice. I want to meet the gallant commander of the _Flying
Dutchman_. It seems absurd that such close neighbors have not yet met.
Bring him--and Felicia, when you come again. We'll drink to the success
of the Sturgis Water Line. And don't dare to tell me, next time, that
you never heard of the scale of A flat major, my little scamp!"
Kirk, to whom the Maestro's word was law, delivered his message very
solemnly to Ken, who laughed.
"Not much fear of my cultivating too strong an affection for Mud Ocean,
as navigated by the _Dutchman_. If I had a chance to see real water and
real ships, it might be different."
"But how horrid of his son never to let him know--poor old gentleman!"
said Felicia, who was putting on her hat at the window.
"Probably the old gentleman was so angry with him in the beginning that
he didn't dare to, and now he thinks he's dead," Ken said.
"Who thinks who's dead?" Phil asked. "You 'd never make a rhetorician."
"I should hope not!" said her brother. "Why, the sailor thinks his
father's dead. Get your hat, Kirk."
"We're going to an auction," Felicia explained.
"A 'vandew'," Ken corrected. "You and Phil are, that is, to buy shoes
and ships and sealing-wax, and a chair for my room that won't fall down
when I sit in it, and crockery ware--and I guarantee you'll come home
with a parlor organ and a wax fruit-piece under a glass case."
Phil scoffed and reproved him, and he departed, whistling "Rocked in the
Cradle of the Deep," lugubriously. His brother and sister caught up with
him, and they all walked together toward Asquam, Ken bound for his boat,
and the others for the "vendu," which was held at an old farm-house
where Winterbottom Road joined Pickery Lane.
Many ramshackle old wagons were already drawn up in the barn-yard and
hitched to trees along the cart track. Their owners were grouped in the
dooryard around the stoves and tables and boxes of "articles too
numerous to mention," chattering over the merits and flaws of mattresses
and lamps, and sitting in the chairs to find out whether or not they
were comfortable. A bent old farmer with a chin-beard, stood chuckling
over an ancient cradle that leaned against a wash-tub.
"There's one most 's old 's I be!" he said, addressing the world at
large; "fust thing I 'member, I crawled outen one like thet!"
The auctioneer was selling farm tools and stock at the other side of the
house, and most of the men-folks were congregated there--tall, solemn
people, still wearing winter mufflers--soberly chewing tobacco and
comparing notes on the tools. Felicia and Kirk, though they would have
liked well enough to own the old white horse and the Jersey heifers,
felt themselves unable to afford live stock, and stayed in the dooryard.
Among the furniture so mercilessly dragged from its familiar
surroundings to stand on the trampled grass, was a little, square,
weathered thing, which Felicia at first failed to recognize as the
inevitable melodeon. It lacked all the plush and gewgaws of the parlor
organ of commerce; such a modest, tiny gray box might easily have passed
for a kitchen chest.
Felicia pushed back the cover, and, pressing a pedal with one foot,
gave forth the chords of her favorite, "How should I your true love
know?" The organ had a rather sweet old tone, unlike the nasal and
somewhat sanctimonious drone of most melodeons, and Felicia, hungry for
the piano that had not been brought to Asquam, almost wished she could
buy it. She remembered Ken's prophecy--"you'll come home with a
melodeon"--and turned away, her cheeks all the pinker when she found the
frankly interested eyes of several bumpkins fixed upon her. But Kirk was
not so ready to leave the instrument.
"Why don't we get that, Phil?" he begged. "We _must_ have it; don't you
"It will go for much more than we can afford," said Felicia. "And you
have the Maestro's piano. Listen! They're beginning to sell the things
"But _you_ haven't the Maestro's piano!" Kirk protested, clinging very
tightly to her hand in the midst of all this strange, pushing crowd.
The people were gathering at the sunny side of the house; the
auctioneer, at the window, was selling pots and candles and
pruning-shears and kitchen chairs. Felicia felt somehow curiously
aloof, and almost like an intruder, in this crowd of people, all of whom
had known each other for long years in Asquam. They shouted pleasantries
across intervening heads, and roared as one when somebody called
"'Lisha" bought an ancient stovepipe hat for five cents and clapped it
on his head, adding at least a foot to his already gaunt and towering
height. She felt, too, an odd sense of pathos at the sight of all these
little possessions--some of them heirlooms--being pulled from the old
homestead and flaunted before the world. She did not like to see two or
three old women fingering the fine quilts and saying they'd be a good
bargain, for "Maria Troop made every stitch on 'em herself, and she
allus was one to have lastin' things." Poor little Mrs. Troop was there,
tightly buttoned up in her "store clothes," running hither and thither,
and protesting to the auctioneer that the "sofy" was worth "twicet as
much's Sim Rathbone give for 't."
A fearful crash of crockery within brought her hand to her heart, and a
voice from the crowd commented jocularly, "Huh! Breakin' up
housekeepin'!" Even Mrs. Troop smiled wryly, and the crowd guffawed.
"Now here," bellowed the auctioneer, "is a very fine article sech as you
don't often see in _these_ days. A melodeon, everybody, a parlor organ,
in size, shape, and appearance very unusual, so to _say_."
"Ain't it homely!" a female voice remarked during the stout auctioneer's
pause for breath.
"Not being a musician, ladies and gents, I ain't qualified to let you
hear the tones of this instrument, _but_--I am sure it will be an
ornament to any home and a source of enjoyment to both old and _young_.
Now--what'll you give me for this fine old _organ_?"
"Seventy-five cents," a deep voice murmured.
"Got your money with you, Watson?" the auctioneer inquired bitingly. "I
am ashamed of this offer, folks, but nevertheless, I am offered
seventy-five cents--_seventy-five cents_, for this fine old instrument.
The melodeon climbed to two dollars, with comparative rapidity. The
bidders were principally men, whose wives, had they been present, would
probably have discouraged the bidding, on the score that it was
impossible to have that thing in the house, when Jenny's had veneer
candle-stands and plush pedals. Felicia was just beginning to wonder
whether entering into the ring would push the melodeon too high, and the
auctioneer was impatiently tapping his heel on the soap-box platform,
when a clear and deliberate voice remarked:
"Two dollars and ten cents."
Several heads were turned to see the speaker, and women peeped over
their husbands' shoulders to look. They saw a child in green
knickerbockers and a gray jersey, his hand in that of a surprised young
girl, and his determined face and oddly tranquil eyes turned
purposefully to the auctioneer.
"Make it a quarter," said a man lounging against the leader-pipe.
"Two and a quarter," said the auctioneer. "I'm bid two dollars and a
quarter for the organ."
"Two dollars and fifty cents," said the young bidder, a shade of
excitement now betraying itself in his voice. The girl opened her mouth,
perhaps to protest, and then closed it again. "Two-fifty!" bawled the
auctioneer. "Two-fifty? Going--any more? Going--going--" he brought his
big hands together with a slap, "_Gone!_ at two dollars _and_ fifty
cents, to--who's the party, Ben?"
Ben, harassed, pencil in mouth, professed ignorance.
"Kirkleigh Sturgis," said the owner of the musical instrument,
"Mister Sturgis," said the auctioneer, while Ben scribbled. "Step right
up, young man. Give Ben your money and put your pianner in your pocket.
Now folks, the next article--"
Kirk and Felicia, not to speak of the organ, two chairs, a wash-basin, a
frying-pan, two boxes of candles, a good mop, and a pot of soft soap,
were all carted home by the invaluable Hop. They met Ken, in from his
second trip, in the middle of Winterbottom Hill, and they gave him a
"Oh, if you knew what you're sitting on!" Phil chuckled.
"Good heavens! Will it go off?" cried Ken, squirming around to look down
at his seat. "I thought it was a chest, or something."
"It's--a melodeon!" Phil said weakly. "A melodeon! Oh, ye gods and
little fishes!" shouted Ken. "Oh, my prophetic soul!" and he laughed all
the way to Applegate Farm.
But while Felicia was clattering pans in the kitchen, and Ken went
whistling through the orchard twilight to the well, the purchaser of the
organ felt his way to it, not quite sure, yet, of its place by the
window. He sat down in front of it, and pressed the stiff old pedals.
His careful fingers found a chord, and the yellow notes responded with
their sweet, thin cadence--the _vox humana_ stop was out. He pulled, by
chance, the diapason, and filled the room with deep, shaken notes. Half
frightened at the magic possibilities, he slipped from the chair and ran
out into the young May night, to whisper to it something of the love and
wonder that the Maestro's music was stirring in him. Here in the twilit
dooryard he was found by his brother, who gave him the hand unoccupied
by the bucket and led him in to the good, wholesome commonplaces of
hearth-fire and supper and the jolliest of jokes and laughter.
FAME COMES COURTING
At first, each day in the old house had been an adventure. That could
not last, for even the most exciting surroundings become familiar when
they are lived in day after day. Still, there are people who think every
dawn the beginning of a new adventure, and Felicia, in spite of pots and
pans, was rather of this opinion.
It was, for instance, a real epoch in her life when the great old
rose-bush below the living-room windows budded and then bloomed. She had
watched it anxiously for weeks, and tended it as it had not been tended
for many years. It bloomed suddenly and beautifully,--"out of sheer
gratitude," Ken said,--and massed a great mound of delicate color
against the silver shingles of the west wall. It bore the sweet, small,
old-fashioned roses that flower a tender pink and fade gracefully to
bluish white. Felicia gathered a bunch of them for the Maestro, who had
bidden the three to come for tea. Neither Ken nor Felicia had, as yet,
met Kirk's mysterious friend, and were still half inclined to think him
a creature of their brother's imagination.
And, indeed, when they met him, standing beside the laden tea-table on
the terrace, they thought him scarcely more of an actuality, so utterly
in keeping was he with the dreaming garden and the still house. Felicia,
who had not quite realized the depth of friendship which had grown
between this old gentleman and her small brother, noted with the
familiar strangeness of a dream the proprietary action with which the
Maestro drew Kirk to him, and Kirk's instant and unconscious response.
These were old and dear friends; Ken and Felicia had for a moment the
curious sensation of being intruders in a forgotten corner of enchanted
land, into which the likeness of their own Kirk had somehow strayed. But
the feeling passed quickly. The Maestro behind the silver urn was a
human being, after all, talking of the Sturgis Water Line--a most
delightful human being, full of kindliness and humor. Kirk was really
their own, too. He leaned beside Felicia's chair, stirring his tea and
she slipped an arm about him, just to establish her right of possession.
The talk ran on the awakening of Applegate Farm, the rose-bush, lessons
in the orchard, many details of the management of this new and exciting
life, which the Maestro's quiet questioning drew unconsciously from the
"We've been talking about nothing but ourselves, I'm afraid," Felicia
said at last, with pink cheeks. She rose to go, but Kirk pulled her
sleeve. No afternoon at the Maestro's house was complete for him without
music, it seemed, and it was to the piano that the Maestro must go;
please, please! So, through the French windows that opened to the
terrace, they entered the room which Kirk had never been able to
describe, because he had never seen it. Ken and Phil saw it now--high
and dim and quiet, with book-lined walls, and the shapes of curious and
beautiful things gleaming here and there from carved cabinet and table.
The Maestro sat down at the piano, thought for a moment, and then,
smiling, rippled into the first bars of a little air which none of his
listeners had ever before heard. Eerily it tripped and chimed and lilted
to its close, and the Maestro swung about and faced them, smiling still,
"What does it mean?" he asked. "I am very curious to know. Is it merely
a tune--or does it remind you of something!"
The Sturgises pondered. "It's like spring," Felicia said; "like little
"Yes, it is," Ken agreed. "It's a song of some sort, I think--that is,
it ought to have words. And it's spring, all right. It's like--it's
"It's like those toads!" Kirk said suddenly. "Don't you know? Like
little bells and flutes, far off--and fairies."
The Maestro clapped his hands.
"I have not forgotten how, then," he said. "It _has_ words, Kenelm. I
hope--I hope that you will not be very angry with me."
He played the first twinkling measures again, and then began to sing:
"Down in the marshes the sounds begin
Of a far-away fairy violin,
Faint and reedy and cobweb thin."
Cobweb thin, the accompaniment took up the
plaintive chirping till the Maestro sang the
"I say," said Ken, bolt upright in his chair. "I _say!_"
"_Are_ you angry?" asked the Maestro. He flung out his hands in a
pleading gesture. "Will he forgive me, Kirk?"
"Why, why--it's beautiful, sir!" Ken stammered. "It's only--that I
don't see how you ever got hold of those words. It was just a thing I
made up to amuse Kirk. He made me say it to him over and over, about
fifty-nine times, I should say, till I'm sure I was perfectly sick of
"Having heard it fifty-nine times," said the old gentleman, "he was able
to repeat it to me, and I took the opportunity to write it off on a bit
of paper, because, my dear boy, I liked it."
"A lovely, scrumptious tune," said Kirk. "It makes it nicer than ever."
"What do you say," said the Maestro, "to our giving this unsurpassed
song to the world at large?"
"Do you mean having it printed?" Felicia asked quickly, "Oh, what fun!"
She beamed at Ken, who looked happy and uncomfortable at once.
"I'm afraid I'm too unknown, sir," he said. "I--I never thought of such
"Perhaps," said the Maestro, with a smile, "the composer is sufficiently
well known to make up for the author's lack of fame."
Ken's face grew a shade redder. "Of course," he stammered. "Oh, I beg
"Then the permission is granted?"
Quite naturally, Ken granted it, with what he thought ill-worded thanks,
and the Sturgises walked home across the meadow without knowing on what
"A real author!" Felicia said. "I _told_ you that wasn't a pome, when I
first heard it."
But Ken chose to be severe and modest, and frowned on the "Toad
Song"--as it was familiarly called--for a topic of conversation. And as
weeks slid by, the whole affair was almost forgotten at Applegate Farm.
Those were weeks during which the Maestro, from the shadowy hero of
Kirk's tales, became a very real part of this new life that was slowly
settling to a familiar and loved existence. The quiet garden and the
still old house became as well known to Ken and Felicia as to their
brother, and, indeed, the Maestro might often have been seen in the
living-room at Applegate Farm, listening to Kirk's proud performance on
the melodeon, and eating one of Phil's cookies.
VENTURES AND ADVENTURES
Ken had not much time for these visits. The Sturgis Water Line was so
popular that he could not even find a spare day or two in which to haul
out the _Dutchman_ and give her the "lick of paint" she needed. He had
feared that, with the filling of the cottages at the beginning of the
season, business would fall off, but so many weekly visitors came and
went at the hotels that the _Dutchman_ rarely made a trip entirely
empty, and quite often she was forced to leave, till the next time, a
little heap of luggage which even her wide cockpit could not carry.
Sometimes Ken made an extra trip, which brought him back to the pier at
Asquam as the first twilight was gathering.
He had just come in from such an "extra," one day during the busy Fourth
of July weekend, and climbed out upon the wharf when the shadows of the
pile-heads stretched darkly up the streetway. Hop fastened the
tail-board of his wagon behind the last trunk, rubbed his hands, and
"Wife sent ye down some pie. Thought ye desarved it a'ter runnin' up 'n'
down all day."
He produced the pie, wrapped up in a paper, from under the seat, and
presented it to Ken with a flourish and a shuffle that were altogether
characteristic. Supper was waiting at Applegate Farm, Ken knew, but the
pie--which was a cherry one, drippy and delectable--was not to be
resisted, after long hours on the water. He bit into it heartily as he
left Asquam and swung into Pickery Lane.
He hurried along, still wrapped in the atmosphere which had surrounded
him all day. He felt still the lift of the boat over the short swell, he
smelled the pleasant combination of salt, and gasolene, and the whiff of
the hayfields, and his eyes still kept the glare and the blue, and the
swinging dark shape of the _Dutchman's_ bows as he headed her down the
bay. Just before he reached Winterbottom Road, he saw, rather vaguely
through the twilight, the figures of a man and a small boy, coming
toward him. They had, apparently, seen him, also, for the man walked
more quickly for a step or two, then stopped altogether, and finally
turned sharply off the road and swung the child over a stone wall, with
a quick remark which Ken did not hear.
He did hear, however, the child's reply, for it was in a clear and
well-known voice. It said: "I don't think _this_ can be the way. I
didn't come over a wall."
The remainder of the cherry pie dropped to the dust of the Winterbottom
Road. Not more than three gigantic leaps brought Ken to the spot; he
vaulted the wall with a clean and magnificent spring that would have won
him fame at school. The man was a stranger, as Ken had thought--an
untidy and unshaven stranger. He was not quite so tall as Ken, who
seized him by the arm.
"May I ask where you're going?" roared Ken, at which the small boy
leaped rapturously, fastened himself to Ken's coat-tail, and cried:
"Oh, I'm so glad it's you! I started to come and meet you, and I walked
farther than I meant, and I got lost, and I met this person, and he said
he'd take me home, and--" "Shut up!" said Ken. "_And let go of me!"_ at
which Kirk, thoroughly shocked, dropped back as though he could not
believe his ears.
"I was takin' the kid home," muttered the man, "just like he says."
"Why were you going in exactly the opposite direction, then?" Ken
As he leaped abreast of the man, who was trying to back away, the day's
receipts of the Sturgis Water Line jingled loudly in his trousers
pocket. The stranger, whose first plan had been so rudely interfered
with, determined on the instant not to leave altogether empty-handed,
and planted a forcible and unexpected blow on the side of Ken's head.
Ken staggered and went down, and Kirk, who had been standing dangerously
near all this activity, went down on top of him. It so happened that he
sprawled exactly on top of the trousers pocket aforesaid, and when the
man sought, with hasty and ungentle hands, to remove him from it, Kirk
launched a sudden and violent kick, in the hope of its doing some
Kirk's boots were stout, and himself horrified and indignant; his heel
caught the stranger with full force in the temple, and the man, too,
was added to the prostrate figures in the darkening field. Two of them
did not long remain prostrate. Ken lurched, bewildered, to his feet, and
seeing his foe stretched by some miracle upon the ground, he bundled
Kirk over the wall and followed giddily. Stumbling down the shadowy
road, with Kirk's hand in his, he said:
"That was good luck. I must have given the gentleman a crack as he got
"He was trying to steal your money, I think," Kirk said. "I was lying on
top of you, so I kicked him, hard."
"Oh, _that_ was it, was it?" Ken exclaimed. "Well, very neat work, even
if not sporting. By the way, excuse me for speaking to you the way I
did, but it wasn't any time to have a talk. You precious, trusting
little idiot, don't you know better than to go off with the first person
who comes along?"
"He said he'd take me home," Kirk said plaintively. "I told him where it
"You've got to learn," said his brother, stalking grimly on in the dusk,
"that everybody in the world isn't so kind and honest as the people
you've met so far. That individual going to take you goodness knows
where, and not let us have you back till we'd paid him all the money we
have in the world. If I hadn't come along just as that particular
moment, that's what would have happened."
Kirk sniffed, but Ken went on relentlessly:
"What were you doing outside the gate, any-way? You're not allowed
there. I don't like your going to the Maestro's, even, but at least it's
a safe path. There are automobiles on Winterbottom Road, and they
suppose that you can see 'em and get out of their way. I'm afraid we'll
have to say that you can't leave the house without Phil or me."
Ken was over-wrought, and forgot that his brother probably was, also.
Kirk wept passionately at last, and Ken, who could never bear to see his
tears, crouched penitent in the gloom of the road, to dry his eyes and
murmur tender apologies. At the gate of the farm, Ken paused suddenly,
and then said:
"Let's not say anything about all this to Phil; she'd just be worried
and upset. What do you say?"
"Don't let's," Kirk agreed. They shook hands solemnly, and then turned
to the lighted windows of Applegate Farm. But it would not have been so
easy to keep the unpleasant adventure secret, or conceal from Felicia
that something had been wrong, if she herself had not been so obviously
cherishing a surprise. She had thought that Kirk was waiting at the gate
for Ken, and so had been spared any anxiety on that score. She could
hardly wait for Ken to take off his sweater and wash his hands. Supper
was on the table, and it was to something which lay beside her elder
brother's plate that her dancing eyes kept turning.
Ken, weary with good cause, sat down with a sigh, and then leaned
forward as if an electric button had been touched somewhere about his
"What--well, by Jiminy!" shouted Ken. "I never believed it, never!"
"It's real," Phil said excitedly; "it looks just like a real one."
"_What?"_ Kirk asked wildly; "tell me what!"
Ken lifted the crisp new sheet of music and stared at it, and then read
aloud the words on the cover.
"_Fairy Music_," it said--and his name was there, and the Maestro's, and
"_net price, 60c_" "like a real one," indeed. And within were flights
of printed notes, and the words of the "Toad Pome" in cold black and
white. And above them, in small italics, "_Dedicated to Kirkleigh
"Just like Beethoven's things to the Countess von Something, don't you
know!" Phil murmured, awed and rapturous.
When Ken laid the pages down at last, Kirk seized on them, and though
they could mean nothing to him but the cool smoothness of paper and the
smell of newly dried printers' ink, he seemed to get an immense
satisfaction from them.
But the surprise was not yet over. Beneath the copy of the song lay a
much smaller bit of paper, long, narrow, and greenish. It bore such
words as _Central Trust Company_, and _Pay to the Order of Kenelm
Sturgis_. The sum which was to be paid him was such as to make Ken put a
hand dramatically to his forehead. He then produced from his pocket the
money which had so nearly gone off in the pocket of the stranger, and
stacked it neatly beside his plate.
"One day's bone labor for man and boat," he said. "Less than a quarter
as much as what I get for fifteen minutes' scribbling."
"And the Maestro says there'll be more," Felicia put in; "because there
are royalties, which I don't understand."
"But," said Ken, pursuing his line of thought, "I can depend on the
_Dutchman_ and my good right arm, and I _can't_ depend on the Pure Flame
of Inspiration, or whatever it's called, so methinks the Sturgis Water
Line will make its first trip at 8:30 promptly to-morrow morning, as
advertised. All the same," he added jubilantly, "what a tremendous lark
it is, to be sure!"
And he gave way suddenly to an outburst of the sheer delight which he
really felt, and, leaping up, caught Felicia with one hand and Kirk with
the other. The three executed for a few moments a hilarious
ring-around-a-rosy about the table, till Felicia finally protested at
the congealing state of the supper, and they all dropped breathless to
their seats and fell to without more words.
After supper, Felicia played the Toad Song on the melodeon until it ran
in all their heads, and Kirk could be heard caroling it, upstairs, when
he was supposed to be settling himself to sleep.
It was not till Ken was bending over the lamp, preparatory to blowing it
out, that Phil noticed the bruise above his eye.
"How did you get that, lamb?" she said, touching Ken's forehead,
illuminated by the lamp's glow.
Ken blew out the flame swiftly, and faced his sister in a room lit only
by the faint, dusky reflection of moonlight without.
"Oh, I whacked up against something this afternoon," he said. "I'll put
some witch-hazel on it, if you like."
"I'm so _awfully_ glad about the Toad Song," whispered Felicia, slipping
her hand within his arm. "Good old brother!"
"Good old Maestro," said Ken; and they went arm in arm up the steep
Ken lighted his sister's candle for her, and took his own into the room
he shared with Kirk. There was no fear of candle-light waking Kirk. He
was very sound asleep, with the covers thrown about, and Ken stood
looking at him for some time, with the candle held above his brother's
tranquil face. "I wonder where he'd have been sleeping to-night if I
hadn't come along just about when I did?" mused Ken. "The innocent
little youngster--he never supposed for a minute that the rapscallion
would do anything but take him home. How's he ever going to learn all
the ways of the wicked world? And what _ever_ possessed him to shoot off
the Toad Pome to the Maestro?"
Ken put the candle on the bureau and undid his necktie.
"The blessed little goose!" he added affectionately.
There is nothing like interesting work to make time pass incredibly
quickly. For the Sturgises were interested in all their labors, even the
"chores" of Applegate Farm. It goes without saying that Kirk's
music--which was the hardest sort of work--absorbed him completely; he
lived in a new world. So, almost before they could believe it, September
came, filling the distance with tranquil haze, and mellowing the flats
to dim orange, threaded with the keen blue inlets of the bay. Asters
began to open lavender stars at the door-stone of Applegate Farm; tall
rich milkweed pressed dusty flower-bunches against the fence, and the
sumach brandished smoldering pyramids of fire along the roadsides.
Ken came home late, whistling, up from Asquam. Trade for the Sturgis
Water Line was heavy again just now; the hotels and cottages were being
vacated every day, and more baggage than the _Dutchman_ could carry lay
piled in the Sturgis "warehouse" till next morning. Ken's whistle
stopped as he swung into Winterbottom Road and began to climb the hill.
Just at the crest of the rise, where the pale strip of road met the
twilight of the sky, the full moon hung, a golden disc scarcely more
luminous than the sky around it. As he moved up the hill, it moved also,
till it floated clear of the dark juniper-trees and stood high above
them. Crickets were taking up their minor creaking, and there was no
Through the half dusk, the white chimneys of Applegate Farm showed
vaguely, with smoke rising so lazily that it seemed almost a stationary
streak of blue across the trees. What a decent old place it was, thought
Ken. Was it only because it constituted home? No; they had worked to
make it so, and it had ripened and expanded under their hands.
"I shouldn't mind Mother's seeing it, now," Ken reflected.
He sighed as he remembered the last difficult letter which he and Phil
had composed--a strictly truthful letter, which said much and told
nothing. He wondered how much longer the fiction would have to be
sustained; when the doctor at Hilltop would sanction a revelation of all
that had been going on since that desolate March day, now so long ago.
As Ken neared the house, he heard the reedy voice of the organ, and,
stopping beside the lighted window, looked in. Felicia was mending
beside the lamp; Kirk sat at the melodeon, rapturously making music.
From the somewhat vague sweetness of the melody, Ken recognized it as
one of Kirk's own compositions--without beginning, middle, or end, but
with a gentle, eerie harmony all its own. The Maestro, who was
thoroughly modern in his instruction, if old-school himself, was
teaching composition hand in hand with the other branches of music, and
he allowed himself, at times, to become rather enthusiastic. "Even if I
didn't want him to make music of his own," he told Felicia, "I couldn't
stop him. So I supply the bricks and mortar for the foundation. He might
as well build his little tunes rightly from the beginning. He will go
far--yes, far. It is sheer harmony." And the Maestro would sigh deeply,
and nod his fine head.
Ken, remembering these words with some awe, studied his brother's face,
through the pane, and then came quietly in at the door. Kirk left his
tune unfinished, and launched himself in the direction of Ken, who
scooped him into his arms.
"Do you know, Phil," Ken said, voicing at once the thought he had felt
all the way up Winterbottom Road; "do you know, I think, after all, this
is the very best thing we could have done."
"What?" Phil asked, not being a mind-reader.
"_This,"_ Ken said, sweeping his arm about the lamplit room. "This
place. We thought it was such a horrible mistake, at first. It _was_ a
sort of venture to take."
"A happy venture," Felicia murmured, bending over her sewing. "But it
wouldn't have been so happy if the defender of his kindred hadn't slaved
on the high seas 'for to maintain his brither and me,' like _Henry
Martin_ in the ballad."
"Oh, fiddlestick!" said Ken. "Who wants to loaf around? Speaking of
loaf, I'm hungry."
"Supper's doing itself on the stove," Phil said. "Look lively with the
Kirk did so,--his efficiency as a table-setter had long since been
proved,--and Ken, as the weary breadwinner, stretched out in a chair.
"Did you happen to remember," said Felicia, coming to the door, spoon in
hand, "that the Kirk has a birthday this week?"
"It _has_?" exclaimed Ken. "I say, I'd forgotten."
"It's going to be nine; think of that!" said Phil. "Woof! My kettle's
boiling over!" She made a hasty exit, while Ken collared his brother and
looked him over.
"Who'd ha' thunk it!" he said. "Well, well, what's to be done about
"Lots," said Felicia, suddenly appearing with the supper. "_Lots!"_
THE NINE GIFTS
Two evenings later, Ken confronted his sister at the foot of the stairs
as she came down from seeing Kirk to bed.
"Where," said Ken, "is your Braille slate?"
"_What,"_ said Felicia, "do you want with a Braille slate, if I may
"You mayn't," said Ken, conclusively.
"But it makes a difference," Phil argued. "If you want to write Braille
with it,--which seems unlikely,--I'll consider. But if you want it to
prop open the door with, or crack nuts on, or something, you can't have
"I can think of lots better things to crack nuts on than a Braille
slate," said Ken. "I want to use it for its rightful purpose. Come now,
my girl, out with it!"
"Wish you luck," said Felicia, going to the educational shelf; "here it
Ken eyed it mistrustfully--a slab of wood, crossed by a movable metal
strip which was pierced with many small, square openings. "Also," said
Ken, "the alphabet of the language."
"American Uncontracted, or Revised, Grade One and a Half?" Phil asked
"They sound equally bad, but if there's any choice, give me the easiest.
Sounds like geological survey stuff."
Phil rummaged again, and brought to light an alphabet which she had made
for herself in her early Braille days.
"And the paper and stuff you use," Ken demanded.
"_Here,_ take everything!" cried Felicia, thrusting out handfuls of
irrelevant books and papers. "Stop asking for things in dribbles."
Ken settled himself at the table, scowled at the embossed alphabet, and
then clamped a piece of the heavy paper into the slate. He grasped the
little punch firmly, and, with a manner vigorous, if not defiant, he set
"You just poke holes in the paper through the squares, eh, and they turn
"The squares don't turn into humps; the holes do. Don't whack so hard."
There was silence for a short time, broken only by Ken's mutterings and
the click of the stylus. Felicia looked up, then gazed meditatively
across the table at the enterprise.
"Is it for a Hebrew person?" she inquired gently.
"_Hebrew?"_ Ken said; "I should rather say not. Why?"
"You're writing it backward--like Yiddish."
"I'm doing it from left to right, which is the way one usually writes,"
said Ken, in a superior tone. "You're looking at it upside-down. You're
"The holes," said Felicia, mildly, "in order to become readable humps on
the other side, have to be punched right to left."
"Oh!" said Ken. After a moment of thought he exclaimed, somewhat
indignant: "You mean to say, then, that you have to reverse the
positions of all these blooming dots, besides writing 'em backward?"
"You have to read 'em one way, and write 'em another, and remember 'em
"And--and Kirk does that?"
"Yes; and he knows Revised, Grade One and a Half, too, and our alphabet
besides, and embossed music, a little, and arithmetic, and--"
"Don't," said Ken. "It makes a fellow feel cheap."
With which he removed the paper and clamped in a fresh sheet. The work
progressed silently; Ken occasionally gnashed his teeth and tore away
the paper, but after a time the mistakes grew fewer, and Felicia,
looking across at her brother's brown, handsome face, found it tranquil
and sober, an earnest absorption in his gray eyes and a gently whimsical
smile about his mouth. She knew of whom he was thinking, and smiled
tenderly herself as she watched his big hand plod systematically and
doggedly across the unfamiliar way. Bedtime found Ken elated and
exhibiting to his sister several neatly embossed sheets of paper.
"'All day my--'" read Felicia.
"Murder!" cried Ken. "I forgot you could read the stuff! Go to bed, go
At a rather early hour the next morning, Felicia was awakened by the
stealthy approach to her bedside of a small and cautious figure in
pajamas. It stood quite still beside the bed, listening to find out
whether or not she was asleep. She spread her arms noiselessly, and
then flung them about the pajamaed one. When the confusion of kisses,
hugs, and birthday greetings had subsided, and Kirk was tucked under the
quilt, he said:
"Now see me a story."
"But I can't--not like Ken," Felicia protested.
"Oh, _Phil_!" Kirk said in a tone of withering reproach. "Silly! A
birthday special one, please."
Felicia thought for some time; then she said:
"It's not very nice, but it's a sort of birthday one. It's called The
"One for each year," said Kirk, wriggling comfortably.
"Exactly. Once upon a time there was a nice person who lived in an old
house on a hill. One autumn day was his birthday, but he wasn't thinking
of any gifts, because there could be no one to give him anything, and he
was quite poor--as far as gold and silver went. So he was feeling just a
little sad, because people like to have gifts. He came downstairs and
unlocked his door, and opened it to the beautiful young day all strung
with dew--" "Could he see it?" asked Kirk.
"No," said Felicia, "he couldn't."
"Then it _was_ me."
"We-e-ll," said his sister, "possibly. But when he opened the door, in
came the wind, all as fresh and dewy as a dawn-wind can be. It ruffled
up his hair, and fluttered the curtains at the windows, and ran all
about the room. Then it said:
"'I am the wind. I give you the breath of the dawn, and the first sigh
of the waking fields and hedge-rows, and the cool stillness of the
forest that is always awake. Take my birthday kiss upon your forehead!'
"And that was the First Gift. The person was quite surprised, but he was
very much pleased, too. He went out and brought in some bread and milk
for his breakfast, and then he went to get some water at the well. There
was a gentle, delicious warmth all about in the air, and a far-off,
round voice said:
"'I am the sun. I wrap you in a glowing mantle of warmth and light. I
make the earth grow and sing for you. It is I who wake the dawn-wind and
the birds. Take my warm kiss on your upturned face.'
"And that was the Second Gift. The person thanked the sun very much,
and went in, with his heart all warmed, to eat his breakfast. As he sat
eating, in at the window came all manner of little sounds--twitterings
and sighings and warblings and rustlings, and all the little voices said
"'We are the sounds of the open. We are the birds in the russet meadow,
and the whispering of the orchard trees, the cheep of the crickets in
the long grass, and the whole humming, throbbing voice of out-of-doors.
Take our kiss upon your waiting senses.'
"That was the Third Gift. The person ran out at the door to thank the
little sounds, when what should meet him but a host of the most
"'We are the smell of the tawny grass, and the good tang of the
wood-smoke. We are the fragrance of ripening apples in the orchard, and
honeysuckle over the wall. We are the clean, cool, mellowing atmosphere
of September. Breathe our sweetness!'
"That was the Fourth Gift. To be sure, the nice person was quite
overwhelmed by this time, for he never had expected such a thing. As he
stooped to thank the delicious scents, he touched a little clump of
asters by the door-stone.
"'Greeting!' they piped. 'We are the flowers. We are the asters by the
door, and burnished goldenrod in the orchard; trumpeting honeysuckle on
the fence, sumach burning by the roadside, juicy milkweed by the gate.
Take our cool, green kiss on your gentle fingers!'
"He stroked their little purple heads, and flung himself down beside
them for a moment, to thank them. As he did so, a big, warm voice came
from beneath him:
"'I am the earth. I am the cool clasp of the tall grass by the gate. I
am the crispness of the heath-grass on the upland. I will rock you to
sleep on my great, grass-carpeted breast. I will give you rest and
security. Take my great kiss on your body.'
"That was the Sixth Gift. Dear me! the person was delighted. He lay with
his cheek to the good earth's heart, thanking it, when a big gusty voice
came swinging out of the east.
"'I am the sea. I give you the sound of water about the boat's bow, and
the cry of the gulls; the wet, salt smack of me, the damp fog on your
face, and the call out into the wide places.'
"The person jumped up and turned his face to the blue glint of the bay,
and thanked the sea for the Seventh Gift. Then he went into the house to
tidy up the hearth. As he came into the room, a queer, gentle, melodious
voice, which seemed to come from the organ, said:
"'I am Music. I hold the key to enchantment. It is I who will sum up for
you all the other gifts and make them mine--and yours. Take my kiss
within your soul.'
"And that was the Eighth Gift," Felicia paused.
"But the ninth?" Kirk whispered.
"I'm trying to think of it."
Kirk clapped his hands suddenly.
"_I_ know what it was!" he cried. "Don't you? Oh, _don't_ you, Phil?"
"No, I don't. What was it?"
"Shall I finish?" Kirk asked.
"And the person said, 'Thank you,' to the organ," Kirk proceeded
gleefully; "and then in the door what should stand but a beautiful lady.
And _she_ said: 'I'm your sister Felicia--Happiness.' And _that_ was the
most best gift of _all_!"
"Naughty person!" said Felicia. "After all those really nice gifts!
But--but if you will have it that, she said, 'Take my kiss upon your
heart of hearts.' Oh, Kirk--darling--I love you!"
Flowers twined Kirk's chair at the breakfast table--golden honeysuckle,
a sweet, second blooming, and clematis from the Maestro's hedge. Kirk
hung above it, touching, admiring, breathing the sweetness of the
honeysuckle; aware, also, of many others of the Nine Gifts already
perceptible about the room. But his fingers encountered, as he reached
for his spoon, a number of more substantial presents stacked beside his
plate. There was the green jersey which Felicia had been knitting at
privately for some time. He hauled it on over his head at once, and
emerged from its embrace into his sister's. There was, too, a model
boat, quite beautifully rigged and fitted, the painstaking care with
which it was fashioned testifying to the fact that Ken had not been
quite so forgetful of his brother's approaching birthday as he had
seemed to be. "She's called the _Celestine_," said Ken, as Kirk's
fingers sought out rapturously the details of the schooner. "It's
painted on her stern. She's not rigged according to Hoyle, I'm afraid; I
was rather shaky about some of it."
"She has a flag," Kirk crowed delightedly. "Two of 'em! And a little
anchor--and--" he became more excited as he found each thing: "oh, Ken!"
There was another gift--a flat one. A book of five or six short stories
and poems that Kirk had loved best to hear his sister read--all written
out in Braille for him in many of Felicia's spare hours. Now he could
read them himself, when Phil had no time to give him. Breakfast was
quite neglected; the cereal grew cold. Kirk, who had not, indeed,
expected so much as the nine gifts of Phil's tale, was quite overcome by
these things, which his brother and sister had feared were little
enough. There was one thing more--some sheets of paper covered with
Braille characters, tucked beside Kirk's plate.
"That's Ken's handiwork," Felicia said, hastily disclaiming any finger
in the enterprise. "I don't know _what_ you may find!"
"It's perfectly all right, now," Ken protested. "You'll see! You can
read it, can't you, Kirk?"
Kirk was frowning and laughing at once.
"It's a little bit funny," he said. "But I didn't know you could do it
at all. Oh, listen to it!"
He declaimed this, with some pauses:
"TO MY RELATIVE, K. S.
"While I am at my watery work
All up and down the bay,
I think about my brother Kirk
A million times a day.
"All day my job seems play to me,
My duties they are light,
Because I know I'm going to see
My brother Kirk that night.
"I ponder over, at my biz,
How nice he is
(That smile of his!),
And eke his cheerful, open phiz.
"And also I am proud of him,
I sing the praises loud of him,
And all the wondering multitude
At once exclaims: 'Gee Whiz!'"
"It seems this relative of mine
Is going to have a fete.
They tell me that he'll now be nine,
Instead of half-past eight.
How simply fine!
We'll dance and dine!
We'll pass the foaming bowl of wine!
"And here's our toast
(We proudly boast.
There isn't any need to urge us):
_Hip, Hip, Hooray for Kirkleigh Sturgis_!"
Ken gave the three cheers promptly, and then said: "That one's silly.
The other's the way I really feel. Oh, don't read it aloud!"
Kirk, who had opened his mouth to begin the next page, closed it again,
and followed the lines of Braille silently. This is what he read:
"At eight o'clock on the day you were born,
I found a fairy under a thorn;
He looked at me hard, he looked at me queerly,
And he said, 'Ah, Ken, you shall love him dearly.'
"I was then myself but a wee small lad,
But I well remember the look that he had;
And I thought that his words came wondrous true,
For whom could I love more dear than you?
"To-day at dawn I was out alone,
I found a wee fairy beside a stone;
And he said, as he looked at me, far above him,
'Ah, Ken, you have only begun to love him!'"
There could be no possible answer to this but
a rush from Kirk and an onslaught of hugs,
from which it was long before Ken could disentangle
"Oh, what have I done!" Ken cried. "Yes, of course I mean it, silly! But
do, do have a care--we 're all mixed up with the marmalade and the
oatmeal, as it is!"
Ken had proclaimed the day a half-holiday for himself, but Kirk was to
go with him on the morning trip, and Phil, too, if she wanted to go. She
did want, so Applegate Farm was locked up, and three radiant Sturgises
walked the warm, white ribbon of Winterbottom Road to the _Dutchman_.
Kirk was allowed to steer the boat, under constant orders from Ken, who
compared the wake to an inebriated corkscrew. He also caught a fish over
the stern, while Ken was loading up at Bayside. Then, to crown the day's
delight, under the door at Applegate, when they returned, was thrust a
silver-edged note from the Maestro, inviting them all to supper at his
house, in honor of the occasion.
"ROSES IN THE MOONLIGHT"
The Maestro's house wore always a mantle of gentle aloofness, like
something forgotten among its over-grown garden paths. To Kirk, it was a
place under a spell; to the others, who could see its grave,
vine-covered, outer walls and its dim interior crowded with strange and
wonderful things, it seemed a lodging place for memories, among which
the Maestro moved as if he himself were living a remembered dream.
On this rich September afternoon, they found him standing on the upper
terrace, waiting for them. He took Kirk's hand, offered his arm
gallantly to Felicia, and they all entered the high-studded hall, where
the firelight, reaching rosy shafts from the library, played
catch-as-catch-can with the shadows.
Supper, a little later, was served in the dining-room--the first meal
that the Sturgises had eaten there. Tall candles burned in taller silver
candlesticks; their light flowed gently across the gleaming cloth,
touched the Maestro's white hair, and lost itself timidly in the dim
area outside the table. Kirk was enthroned in a big carved chair at the
foot of the table, very grave and happy, with a candle at either side.
"A fit shrine for devotion," murmured the Maestro, looking across at
him, and then, turning, busied himself vigorously with the carving.
It was a quite wonderful supper--banquet would have been a more fitting
name for it, the Sturgises thought. For such food was not seen on the
little table at Applegate Farm. And there was raspberry wine, in which
to drink Kirk's health, and the Maestro stood up and made a beautiful
speech. There was also a cake, with nine candles flaring bravely,--no
one had ever before thought to give Kirk a birthday cake with candles
that he could not see, and he was deeply impressed.
And after it was all over, they gathered content about the library fire,
and the Maestro went to the piano.
"Kirk," he said quietly, "I have no very exciting present for you. But
once, long ago, I made a song for a child on his birthday. He was just
as old as you. He has no longer any need of it--so I give it, my dear,
to you. It is the greatest gift I have to give."
In the silence that followed, there crept into the firelit room the
star-clear notes of a little prelude. Then the Maestro sang softly:
"Roses in the moonlight,
To-night all thine,
Pale in the shade, and bright
In the star-shine;
Roses and lilies white,
Dear child of mine!
My heart I give to thee,
This day all thine;
At thy feet let it be--
It is the sign
Of all thou art to me,
But the poor Maestro could not finish the verse. He swung about on the
piano-stool, trying to frame a laughing apology. Kirk went to him
instantly, both hands outstretched in his haste. His fingers found the
Maestro's bowed shoulders; his arms went tight about the Maestro's
neck. In his passionately whispered confidence the old gentleman must
have found solace, for he presently smiled,--a real smile,--and then
still keeping Kirk beside him, began playing a sonata. Ken and Felicia,
sunk unobtrusively in the big chairs at the hearth, were each aware of a
subtle kindredship between these two at the piano--a something which
they could not altogether understand.
"He brings out a side of Kirk that we don't know about," Felicia
thought. "It must be the music. Oh, what music!"
It was difficult to leave a place of such divine sounds, but Kirk's
bedtime was long past, and the moon stood high and cold above the
"Is it shining on all the empty pools and things?" Kirk asked, at the
"Yes, and on the meadow, and the silver roof of Applegate Farm," Phil
"'Roses in the moonlight, to-night all thine,'" Kirk sang dreamily.
"Do you mean to say you can sing it so soon?" Ken gasped.
"He ran away in the moonlight," Kirk murmured. "Away to sea. Would you,
Ken?" "Not if I had a father like the Maestro, and a brother like you,"
said Ken, fitting the key to the door of Applegate Farm.
A very few days after Kirk had begun on his new year, he and Felicia
went into Asquam to collect a few things of which the farm-house stood
in need. For there had been a hint that Mrs. Sturgis might soon leave
Hilltop, and Felicia was determined that Applegate Farm should wear its
best face for her mother, who did not, as yet, even know of its
existence. A great many little things, which Felicia had long been
meaning to buy, now seemed to find a legitimate hour for their purchase.
So she and Kirk went the round of the Asquam Utility Emporium, B. B.
Jones Co., and the Beacon Light Store, from each of which places of
business they emerged with another package.
"I told Ken we'd meet him at the boat," Felicia said, "so we might as
well walk over there now, and all come home together. Oh, how thick the
"Is it?" Kirk said. "Oh, yes, there goes the siren."
"I can hardly see the _Dutchman_, it's so white at the end of the pier.
Ken isn't there he must have gone with Hop to see about something."
"Let's wait in the boat," Kirk suggested. "I love the gluggy way it
sounds, and the way it sloshes up and down."
They put the bundles on the wharf and climbed into the boat. The water
slapped vigorously against its side, for the tide was running, and
above, a wraith-like gull occasionally dropped one creaking, querulous
"Goodness!" Felicia exclaimed, "with all our shopping, I forgot the
groceries! I'll run back. I'll not be a minute. Tell Ken when he comes."
She scrambled up the steps and ran down the pier, calling back to Kirk:
"Stay just where you are!"
There were more people in the grocery store than Felicia had ever seen
there, for it was near the closing hour. She was obliged to wait much
longer than she had expected. When she returned to the wharf, Ken was
not in sight. Neither was the _Flying Dutchman_.
"How queer!" Phil thought. "Ken must have taken her out. How funny of
him; they knew I was coming right back."
She sat down on a pile-head and began humming to herself as she counted
over her packages and added up her expenditure. She looked up presently,
and saw Ken walking toward her. He was alone. Even then, it was a whole
second before there came over her a hideous, sickening rush of fear.
She flew to meet him. "Where's the boat--_Ken_, where's the boat?"
"The boat? I left her temporarily tied up. What's the mat--" At that
moment he saw the empty gray water at the pier head. Two breathless
voices spoke together:
"He was in the boat," Felicia gasped hoarsely. "I ran back after the
Ken was at the end of the wharf in one agonized leap. In another second
he had the frayed, wet end of rope in his hand.
"That salvaged line!" he said. "Phil, couldn't you _see_ that only her
stern line was made fast? I left her half-moored till I came back. That
rope was rotten, and it got jammed in here and chafed till it parted."
"It's my fault," Felicia breathed.
"Mine," Ken snapped. "Oh, my heavens! look at the fog!" "And the tide?"
Felicia hardly dared ask.
"Going out--to sea."
A blank, hideous silence followed, broken only by the reiterated warning
of the dismal siren at the lighthouse.
"It's like looking for a needle in a haystack. A boat would have to comb
every foot of the bay in this fog, and night's coming. How long have you
Felicia looked at her watch. She was astonished to find it had been over
half an hour.
"Heaven knows where the boat could have got to in half an hour," Ken
muttered, "with this tide. And the wind's going to sea, too."
Felicia shook him wildly by the arm. "Do you realize--Kirk's in that
boat!" she moaned. "Kirk's _in_ that boat--do you realize it?"
Ken tore himself free.
"No, I don't want to realize it," he said in a harsh, high voice. "Get
back to the house, Phil! You can't do anything. I'm going to the harbor
master now--I'm going everywhere. I may not be back to-night." He gave
her a little push, "Go, Phil."
But he ran after her. "Poor old Phil--mustn't worry," he said gently.
"Get back to the farm before it's dark and have it all cheerful for us
when we come in--Kirk and I."
And then he plunged into the reek, and Felicia heard the quick beat of
his steps die away down the wharf.
The harbor master was prompt in action, but not encouraging. He got off
with Ken in his power boat in surprisingly short order. The coast guard,
who had received a very urgent telephone message, launched the
surf-boat, and tried vainly to pierce the blank wall of fog--now
darkening to twilight--with their big searchlight. Lanterns, lost at
once in the murk, began to issue from wharf-houses as men started on
foot up the shore of the bay.
Ken, in the little hopeless motor-boat, sat straining his eyes beyond
the dripping bow, till he saw nothing but flashes of light that did not
exist. The _Flying Dutchman_--the _Flying Dutchman_--why had he not
known that she must be a boat of ill omen? Joe Pasquale--drowned in
February. "We got him, but we never did find his boat"--"cur'ous
tide-racks 'round here--cur'ous tide-racks."
The harbor master was really saying that now, as he had said it before.
Yes, the tide ran cruelly fast beside the boat, black and swirling and
deep. A gaunt something loomed into the light of the lantern, and made
Ken's heart leap. It was only a can-buoy, lifting lonely to the swell.
Far off, the siren raised its mourning voice.
"THE SEA IS A TYRANT"
Ken stumbled into the open door of Applegate Farm at three the next
morning. Felicia was asleep in a chair by the cold ashes of the fire. A
guttering candle burned on the table. She woke instantly and stared at
him with wide eyes.
"What is it?" she said, and then sprang up. "Alone?"
"Yes," Ken said. "Not yet. I'm going back in a little while. I wanted to
tell you how everybody is working, and all."
She ran to bring him something to eat, while he flung himself down
before the hearth, dead tired.
"The fog's still down heavy," he said, when she came back. "The coast
guard's been out all night. There are men on shore, too, and some other
"But the tide was running out," Phil said. "He's gone. Kirk's--gone,
Ken!" "No," Ken said, between his teeth. "No, Phil. Oh, no, no!". He
got up and shook himself. "Go to bed, now, and _sleep_. The idea of
sitting up with a beastly cold candle!"
He kissed her abruptly and unexpectedly and stalked out at the door, a
weary, disheveled figure, in the first pale, fog-burdened gleam of dawn.
It was some time after the _Flying Dutchman_ parted her one insufficient
mooring-rope before Kirk realized that the sound of the water about her
had changed from a slap to a gliding ripple. There was no longer the
short tug and lurch as she pulled at her painter and fell back; there
was no longer the tide sound about the gaunt piles of the wharf. Kirk, a
little apprehensive, stumbled aft and felt for the stern-line. It gave
in his hand, and the slack, wet length of it flew suddenly aboard,
smacking his face with its cold and slimy end. He knew, then, what had
happened, but he felt sure that the boat must still be very near the
wharf--perhaps drifting up to the rocky shore between the piers. He
clutched the gunwale and shouted: "Ken! Oh, Ken!" He did not know that
he was shouting in exactly the wrong direction, and the wind carried his
voice even farther from shore. His voice sounded much less loud than he
had expected. He tried calling Felicia's name, but it seemed even less
resonant than Ken's. He stopped calling, and stood listening. Nothing
but the far-off fog-siren, and the gulls' faint cries overhead. The wind
was blowing fresher against his cheek, for the boat was in mid-channel
by this time. The fog clung close about him; he could feel it on the
gunwale, wet under his hands; it gathered on his hair and trickled down
his forehead. The broken rope slid suddenly off the stern sheets and
twined itself clammily about his bare knee. He started violently, and
then picked it off with a shiver.
[Illustration: The slack length of it flew suddenly aboard]
The lighthouse siren, though still distant, sounded nearer, which meant
that the boat was drifting seaward. Kirk realized that, all at once, and
gave up his shouting altogether. He sat down in the bottom of the boat,
clasped his knees, and tried to think. But it was not easy to think. He
had never in his life wanted so much to _see_ as he did now. It was so
different, being alone in the dark, or being in it with Ken or Felicia
or the Maestro on the kind, warm, friendly land. He remembered quite well
how the Maestro had said: "The sea is a tyrant. Those she claims, she
The sea's voice hissed along the side of the boat, now,--the voice of a
monster ready to leap aboard,--and he couldn't see to defend himself! He
flung his arms out wildly into his eternal night, and then burst
suddenly into tears. He cried for some time, but it was the thought of
Ken which made him stop. Ken would have said, "Isn't there enough salt
water around here already, without such a mess of tears?"
That was a good idea--to think about Ken. He was such a definite, solid,
comforting thing to think about. Kirk almost forgot the stretch of cold
gray water that lay between them now. It wasn't sensible to cry,
any-way. It made your head buzzy, and your throat ache. Also, afterward,
it made you hungry. Kirk decided that it was unwise to do anything at
this particular moment which would make him hungry. Then he remembered
the hardtack which Ken kept in the bow locker to refresh himself with
during trips. Kirk fumbled for the button of the locker, and found it
and the hardtack. He counted them; there were six. He put five of them
back and nibbled the other carefully, to make it last as long as
The air was more chill, now. Kirk decided that it must be night, though
he didn't feel sleepy. He crawled under the tarpaulin which Ken kept to
cover the trunks in foul weather. In doing so, he bumped against the
engine. There was another maddening thing! A good, competent engine,
sitting complacently in the middle of the boat, and he not able to start
it! But even if he had known how to run it, he reflected that he
couldn't steer the boat. So he lay still under the tarpaulin, which was
dry, as well as warm, and tried to think of all sorts of pleasant
things. Felicia had told him, when she gave him the green sweater on his
birthday, that a hug and kiss were knit in with each stitch of it, and
that when he wore it he must think of her love holding him close. It
held him close now; he could feel the smooth soft loop of her hair as
she bent down to say good-night; he could hear her sing, "_Do-do, p'tit
That was a good idea--to sing! He clasped his hands nonchalantly behind
his head, and began the first thing that came to his mind:
"Roses in the moonlight
To-night all thine,
Pale in the shade--"
But he did not finish. For the wind's voice was stronger, and the waves
drowned the little tune, so lonely there in the midst of the empty
water. Kirk cried himself to sleep, after all.
He could not even tell when the night gave way to cold day-break, for
the fog cloaked everything from the sun's waking warmth. It might have
been a week or a month that he had drifted on in the _Flying
Dutchman_--it certainly seemed as long as a month. But he had eaten only
two biscuits and was not yet starved, so he knew that it could not be
even so much as a week. But he did not try to sing now. He was too cold,
and he was very thirsty. He crouched under the tarpaulin, and presently
he ate another hardtack biscuit. He could not hear the lighthouse
fog-signal at all, now, and the waves were much bigger under the boat.
They lifted her up, swung her motionless for a moment, and then let her
slide giddily into the trough of another sea. "Even if I reached a
desert island," Kirk thought mournfully, "I don't know what I'd do.
People catch turkles and shoot at parrots and things, but they can see
what they're doing."
The boat rolled on, and Kirk began to feel quite wretchedly sick, and
thirstier than ever. He lay flat under the tarpaulin and tried to count
minutes. Sixty, quite fast--that was one minute. Had he counted two
minutes, now, or was it three? Then he found himself counting on and
on--a hundred and fifty-one, a hundred and fifty-two.
"I wish I'd hurry up and die," said poor Kirk out loud.
Then his darkness grew more dark, for he could no longer think straight.
There was nothing but long swirling waves of dizziness and a rushing
"Phil," Kirk tried to say. "Mother."
At about this time, Ken was standing in the government wireless station,
a good many miles from Asquam. He had besieged an astonished young
operator early in the morning, and had implored him to call every ship
at sea within reach. Now, in the afternoon, he was back again, to find
out whether any replies had come.
"No boat sighted," all the hurrying steamers had replied. "Fog down
heavy. Will keep look-out."
Ken had really given up all hope, long before. Yet--could he ever give
up hope, so long as life lasted? Such strange things had happened--Most
of all, he could not let Phil give up. Yet he knew that he could not
keep on with this pace much longer--no sleep, and virtually no food. But
then, if he gave up the search, if he left a single thing undone while
there was still a chance, could he ever bear himself again? He sat in a
chair at the wireless station, looking dully at the jumping blue spark.
"Keep on with it, please," he said. "I'm going out in a boat again."
"The fog's lifting, I think," said the operator.
"Oh, thank the Lord!" groaned Ken. "It was that--the not being able to
Yes--Kirk had felt that, too.
At Applegate Farm, Felicia wandered from room to room like a shadow,
mechanically doing little tasks that lay to her hand. She was alone in
her distress; they had not yet told the Maestro of this disaster, for
they knew he would share their grief. Felicia caught the sound of a
faint jingling from without, and moved slowly to the gate, where Mr.
Hobart was putting the mail into the box. She opened her mother's letter
listlessly as she walked back to the house, and sat down upon the
door-step to read it--perhaps it would take her mind for a moment, this
odd, unconscious letter, addressed even to a house which no longer
sheltered them. But the letter smote her with new terror.
"Oh, if you only knew, my dear, dear chicks, what it
will be to escape this kindly imprisonment--what it will
mean to see you all again! I can hardly wait to come
up the dear old familiar path to 24 Westover Street and
hug you all--I'll hug Ken, even if he hates it, and Kirk,
my most precious baby! They tell me I must be very
careful still, but I know that the sight of you will be
all that I need for the finishing remedy. So expect me,
then, by the 12.05 on Wednesday, and good-by till then,
my own dears."
Felicia sat on the door-stone, transfixed. Her mother coming home, on
Wednesday--so much sooner than they had expected! She did not even know
of the new house; and if she were to come to a home without Kirk--if
there were never to be Kirk! Almost a week remained before Wednesday;
how could she be put off? What if the week went by without hope; no
hope, ever? Felicia sat there for hours, till the sun of late afternoon
broke through the fog at last, and the mellow fields began one by one to
reappear, reaching into the hazy distance. Felicia rose and went slowly
into the house. On top of the organ lay the book of stories and poems
she had written out in Braille for Kirk. It lay open, as he had left it,
and she glanced at the page.
"When the voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,
And everything else is still.
Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of the night arise.'". .. .
Felicia gave up the struggle with her grief. Leaving the door of
Applegate Farm wide, she fled blindly to the Maestro. He was playing to
himself and smiling when she crept into the library, but he stopped
instantly when he saw her face. Before she could help herself, she had
told him everything, thrust her mother's letter into his hand, and then
gave way to the tears she had fought so long. The Maestro made no sign
nor motion. His lips tightened, and his eyes blazed suddenly, but that
He was all solicitude for Felicia. She must not think of going back to
the empty farm-house. He arranged a most comfortable little supper
beside the fire, and even made her smile, with his eager talk, all
ringing with hope and encouragement. And finally he put her in charge of
his sympathetic little housekeeper, who tucked her up in a great, dark,
Left alone in the library, the Maestro paced unsteadily up and down. "It
is the sea that takes them!" he whispered. "It took my son; now it has
taken one whom I loved as my son."
He sank down upon the piano-stool and gazed at the sheet of music on the
music-rack. It was Kirk's last exercise, written out carefully in the
embossed type that the Maestro had been at such pains to learn and
teach. Something like a sob shook the old musician. He raised clenched,
trembling fists above his head, and brought them down, a shattering
blow, upon the keyboard. Then he sat still, his face buried in his arms
on the shaken piano. Felicia, lying stiff and wide-eyed in the great
bed above, heard the crash of the hideous discord, and shuddered. She
had been trying to remember the stately, comforting words of the prayer
for those in peril on the sea, but now, frightened, she buried her face
in the pillow.
"Oh, dear God," she faltered. "You--You must bring him back--You
THE _CELESTINE_ PLAYS HER PART
"He's a deader," said one of the men, pulling off his watch-cap.
"No, he ain't," said another. "He's warm."
"But look at his eyes," said the first. "They ain't right."
"Where's the old man?" inquired one.
"Skipper's taking a watch below, arter the fog; don't yer go knockin'
him up now, Joe."
"Wait till the mate comes. Thunder, why don't yer wrop somep'n round the
kid, you loon?"
The big schooner was getting under way again. The mate's voice spoke
sharply to the helmsman.
"Helm up--steady. Nothing off--stead-y."
Then he left the quarter-deck and strode rapidly down to the little
group amidships. He was a tall man, with a brown, angular face, and
deep-set, rather melancholy, blue eyes. His black hair was just
beginning to gray above his temples, and several lines, caused more by
thought than age, scored his lean face.
"What have we picked up, here, any-way?" he demanded. "Stand off, and
let me look."
There was not much to see--a child in a green jersey, with blown, damp
hair and a white face.
"You tink he's dead?" A big Swede asked the question.
The mate plunged a quick hand inside the green sweater.
"No, he's not. But he's blind. Get out with that stuff, Jolak, what d'ye
think this is? Get me some brandy, somebody."
Jolak retired with the pickled cabbage he had offered as a restorative.
No one looked to see where the brandy came from on a ship where none was
supposed to be but in the medicine chest. It came, however, without
delay, and the mate opened the flask.
"Now," he said, when he had poured some of its contents down the child's
throat, and lifted him from the deck, "let me through."
The first thing of which Kirk was conscious was a long, swinging motion,
unlike the short roll of the _Dutchman_. There was also a complex
creaking and sighing, a rustling and rattling. There was a most curious,
half-disagreeable, half-fascinating smell. Kirk lay quietly on something
which seemed much softer and warmer than the bottom of the _Flying
Dutchman_, and presently he became aware of a soft strumming sound, and
of a voice which sang murmurously:
"Off Cape de Gatte
I lost my hat,
And where d'ye think I found it?
In Port Mahon
Under a stone
With all the girls around it."
"I like that," said Kirk, in a small voice. "Go on."
But the singing stopped immediately, and Kirk feared that he had only
dreamed it, after all. However, a large, warm hand was laid quite
substantially on his forehead, and the same voice that had been singing,
"H'm! Thought you 'd have another go at the old world, after all?"
"Where is this?" Kirk asked.
"This is the four-mast schooner _Celestine,_ returning from South
America. I am Martin, mate of said schooner--at your service. Hungry?"
"That's funny," said Kirk; "the boat Ken gave me is called the
_Celestine_. And _she's_ a four-masted schooner. Where's Ken?"
"I'm sorry--I don't know. Hungry?"
"I think I am," said Kirk.
Certainly the mate of the _Celestine_ had a most strong and comfortable
arm wherewith to raise a person. He administered bread and hot condensed
milk, and Kirk began to realize that he was very hungry indeed.
"Now you go to sleep," Mr. Martin advised, after his brief manner.
Yes, Kirk was quite warm and cozy, but very much bewildered, and
desirous of asking a hundred questions. These the mate forbade.
"You go to sleep," he commanded.
"Then please sing another tune," Kirk said. "What was that you were
"Violin," said Mr. Martin. "Fiddle. I was plunking it like a banjo. Now
I'll play it, if you'll stop talking."
Kirk did, and the mate began to play. His music was untaught, and he
himself had made up the strange airs he played. They sighed fitfully
through the little cabin like the rush of wind and water without;
blended with it, mingled with the hundred little voices of the ship. The
_Celestine_ slipped on up the coast, singing softly to herself, and Kirk
fell asleep with the undulating wail of the violin and the whisper of
water filling his half-awakened senses.
He woke abruptly, much later, and called for Felicia suddenly; then,
recollecting hazily where he was, for Mr. Martin. Hearing no sound, he
was frightened, and cried out in remembered terror.
"Steady!" said the mate's voice. "What's the trouble?"
"I don't know," said Kirk. "I--I think I need to talk to somebody. There
hasn't been anybody for so long."
"Well, go ahead," said the mate. "I'm in my bunk. If you think there's
room enough, I'll put you in here. More sociable, rather."
There was not much room, but Kirk was so thankful to clasp a human being
once more, that he did not care how narrow the quarters might be. He put
his cheek against the mate's arm, and they lay silent, the man very
stiff and unyielding. "The Maestro would like to hear you play," Kirk
murmured. "He loves queer tunes like that. He even likes the ones I make
"Oh, you make up tunes, do you?"
"Little ones. But he makes wonderful ones,--and he plays wonderfully,
Kirk told him--at great length. He likewise unburdened his heart, which
had been steeped so long in loneliness and terror, and recounted the
wonder and beauty of Applegate Farm, and Felicia and Ken, and the model
ship, and the Maestro's waiting garden, and all that went to make up his
dear, familiar world, left so long ago, it seemed.
"But," he said rather mournfully, "I don't know whether I shall ever see
any of them again, if we just keep on sailing and sailing. Are you going
back to South America again?"
The mate laughed a little. "No," he said. "The _Celestine's_ going to
Bedford. We can't put her off her course to drop you at Asquam--harbor's
no good, anyhow. My time's up when she docks. I'll take you home."
"Have you always been mate of the _Celestine_?" Kirk inquired.
"I have not," said Mr. Martin. "I signed aboard of her at Rio this trip,
to get up into the Christian world again. I've been deckhand and seaman
and mate on more vessels than I can count--in every part of the
uncivilized world. I skippered one ship, even--pestilential tub that she
He fell silent after this speech, longer than any he had made so far.
"Then I'll get home," Kirk said. "_Home_. Can't we let 'em know, or
anything? I suppose they've been worrying."
"I think it likely that they have," said the mate. "No, this ship's got
no wireless. I'll send 'em a telegram when we dock to-morrow."