Part 3 out of 6
"You will not be kidnaped," she said shortly. "I cannot imagine
any one safer than you are in that costume."
Well, I made my way along the trail as rapidly as I could. It
was twenty miles there and back and I've seen the day when two
city blocks would send me home to soak my feet in hot water. But
the sandals were easy to walk in and my calico skirt was short
I had no paper to write my message on, of course, but on the way
I gathered a large white fungus and I scraped a note on it with
a pin. With the fungus under mp arm I walked briskly along,
planning an omelet with the eggs, if we got any, and gathering
mushrooms here and there. It was the mushrooms that led me to
the discovery of a camping-place that was prehistoric in its
primitiveness--a clearing, surrounded by low bushes, and in the
center a fireplace of stones with a fire smouldering. At one
side a heap of leaves and small twigs for a bed, a stump for a
seat, and lying on top of it a sort of stone axe, made by
inserting a sharp stone into the cleft of a sapling and tying it
into place with a wild-grape tendril. Pegged out on the ground
to cure was a rabbit skin, indifferently scraped. It made our
aluminum kettle and canvas tepee look like a marble-vestibuled
apartment on Riverside Drive.
The whole thing looked pitiful, hungry. I thought of Tish sitting
on a stone inviting her soul, while rabbits came from miles round
to stick their heads through our nooses and hang themselves for
our dinner; and it seemed to me that we should share our plenty.
I thought it probable that the gentleman of the woods lived here,
and from the appearance of the place he carried all his
possessions with him when he wore his bathing-trunks. If I had
been in any doubt, the sight of Aggie's wire hairpin, sharpened
and bent into a serviceable fishhook, decided me. I scratched a
message for him on another fungus and left it:--
If you need anything come to the Indian tepee at the
lake. We have no clothing to spare, but are always glad
to help in time of trouble.
(Signed) ONE OF THE SIMPLE LIFERS.
I went on after that and about noon reached our point of exodus
from the wagon. I was tired and hot and I kept thinking of my
little dining-room at home, with the electric fan going, and
iced cantaloupe, and nobody worrying about her soul or thinking
her own thoughts, and no rabbits.
Our suitcases were safe enough in the hollow tree, and I thought
the spring wagon had been back already, for there were fresh
tracks. This discouraged me and I sat down on a log to rest. It
was then that I heard the girl crying.
She was crying softly, but in the woods sounds travel. I found
her on her face on the pine needles about twenty yards away,
wailing her heart out into a pink automobile veil, and she was
so absorbed in her misery that I had to stoop and touch her
before she looked up.
"Don't cry," I said. "If you are lost, I can direct you to a
She looked up at me, and from being very red and suffused she
went quite pale. It seems that with my bare legs and sandals and
my hair down, which was Tish's idea for making it come in thick
and not gray, and what with my being sunburned and stained with
berries, she thought I was a wild woman. I realized what was
"Don't be alarmed," I said somewhat grimly. "I'm rational
enough; if I hop about instead of walking, it's because I'm the
tomb of more rabbits than I care to remember, but aside from
that I'm all right. Are you lost?"
She sat up, still staring, and wiped her eyes.
"No. I have a machine over there among the trees. Are there--are
there plenty of rabbits in the woods? "
"Thousands." She was a pretty little thing, very young, and
dressed in a white motor coat with white shoes and hat.
"There aren't many berries," I admitted. "The birds eat 'em. We
get the ones they don't fancy."
Now I didn't think for a moment that she was worried about my
diet, but she was worried about the food supply in the woods,
that was sure. So I sat down on a stump and told her about
puffballs, and what Tish had read about ants being edible but
acid, and that wood mice, roasted and not cooked too dry, were
good food, but that Aggie had made us liberate the only ones we
had caught, because a man she was once engaged to used to carry
a pet mouse in his pocket.
Nothing had really appealed to her until I mentioned Mr.
Wiggins. Then unexpectedly she began to cry again. And after
that I got the whole story.
It seems she was in love with a young man who was everything a
young man ought to be and had money as well. But the money was
the barrier really, for the girl's father wouldn't believe that
a youth who played polo, and did not have to work for a living,
and led cotillons, and paid calls in the afternoon could have
really good red blood in him. He had a man in view for her, she
said, one who had made his money himself, and had to have his
valet lay out his clothes for fear he'd make a mistake. Once the
valet had to go to have a tooth pulled and the man had to
decline a dinner.
"Father said," finished the little girl tearfully, "that if
Percy--that's his name, and it counted against him too--that if
Percy was a real man he'd do something. And then he hap-happened
on a book of my small brother's, telling how people used to live
in the woods, and kill their own food and make their own fire--"
"The 'Young Woodsman,' of course," I put in.
"And how the strong survived, but the weak succumbed, and he
said if Percy was a man, and not a t-tailor's dummy, he'd go out
in the woods, j-just primitive man, without anything but a pair
of bathing trunks, and keep himself alive for a month. If he s-
stood the test father was willing to forget the 'Percy.' He said
that he knew Mr. Willoughby could do it--that's the other man--
and that he'd come in at the end of the time with a deed for the
forest and mortgages on all the surrounding camps."
"And Percy agreed?"
"He didn't want to. He said it took mentality and physical
endurance as well as some courage to play polo. Father said it
did--on the part of the pony. Then s-some of the men heard of
it, and there were bets on it--ten to one he wouldn't do it and
twenty to one he couldn't do it. So Percy decided to try. Father
was so afraid that some of the campers and guides would help him
that he had notices sent out at Mr. Willoughby's suggestion
offering a reward if Percy could be shown to have asked any
assistance. Oh, I know he's sick in there somewhere, or starving
I had had a great light break over me, and now I stooped and
patted the girl on the shoulder.
"Dead! Certainly not," I said. "I saw him last night."
"Well, not exactly saw him--there wasn't much light. But he's
alive and well, and--do you really want him to win?"
"Do I?" She sat up with shining eyes. "I don't care whether he
owns anything in the world but the trunks. If I didn't think I'd
add to his troubles I'd go into the woods this minute and find
him and suffer with him."
"You'd have to be married to him first," I objected, rather
But she looked at me with her cheeks as red strawberries. "Why?"
she demanded. "Father's crazy about primitive man--did primitive
man take his woman to church to be married, with eight brides
maids and a reception after the ceremony? Of course not. He
grabbed her and carried her off."
"Good Heavens! You're not in earnest?" "I think I am," she said
slowly. "I'd rather live in the woods with Percy and no ceremony
than live without him anywhere in the world. And I'll bet
primitive man would have been wiped off the earth if he hadn't
had primitive woman to add her wits to his strength. If Percy
only had a woman to help him!"
"My dear," I said solemnly, "he has! He has, not one, but
It took me some time to explain that Percy was not supporting a
harem in the Maine woods; but when at last she got my idea and
that the other two classed with me in beauty and attractiveness,
she was overjoyed.
"But Percy promised not to ask for help," she said suddenly.
"He needn't. My dear, go away and stop worrying about Percy--
he's all right. When is the time up?"
"In three weeks."
"I suppose father and the Willoughby person will come to meet
"Yes, and all the fellows from the club who have put money up on
him. We're going to motor over and father's bringing the
physical director of the athletic club. He's not only got to
survive, but he's got to be in good condition."
"He'll be in good condition," I said grimly. "Does he drink and
"A little, not too much. Oh, yes, I had forgotten!" She opened
up a little gold cigarette case, which she took from her pocket,
and extracted a handful of cigarettes.
"If you are going to see him," she said, "you might put them
where he'll find them?"
"But that's not giving them to him."
"My dear child," I said sternly, "Percy is going to come out of
these woods so well and strong that he may not have to work, but
he'll want to. And he'll not smoke anything stronger than corn-
silk, if we're to take charge of this thing."
She understood quickly enough and I must say she was grateful.
She was almost radiant with joy when I told her how capable Tish
was, and that she was sure to be interested, and about Aggie's
hay fever and Mr. Wiggins and the rabbit snares. She leaned over
and kissed me impulsively.
"You dear old thing!" she cried. "I know you'll look after him
and make him comfortable and--how old is Miss Letitia?"
"Something over fifty and Aggie Pilkington's about the same,
although she won't admit it."
She kissed me again at that, and after looking at her wrist
watch she jumped to her feet.
"Heavens!" she said. "It's four o'clock and my engine has been
running all this time!"
She got a smart little car from somewhere up the road, and the
last I saw of her she was smiling back over her shoulder and the
car running on the edge of a ditch.
"You are three darlings!" she called back. "And tell Percy I
love him--love him--love him!"
I thought I'd never get back to the lake. I was tired to begin
with, and after I'd gone about four miles and was limping with a
splinter in my heel and no needle to get it out with, I found I
still had the fungus message to the spring-wagon person under my
It was dark when I got back and my nerves were rather unstrung,
what with wandering from the path here and there, with nothing
to eat since morning, and running into a tree and taking the
skin off my nose. When I limped into camp at last, I didn't care
whether Percy lived or died, and the thought, of rabbit stew
made my mouth water.
It was not rabbit, however. Aggie was sitting alone by the fire,
waving a brand round her head to keep off mosquitoes, and in
front of her, dangling from the spit, were a dozen pairs of
frogs' legs in a row.
I ate six pairs without a question and then I asked for Tish.
"Catching frogs," said Aggie laconically, and flourished the
"Pulling them off the trees. Where do you think she gets them?"
A large mosquito broke through her guard at that moment and she
flung the torch angrily at the fire.
"I'm eaten alive!" she snapped. "I wish to Heaven I had smallpox
or something they could all take and go away and die."
The frogs' legs were heavenly, although in a restaurant I loathe
the things. I left Aggie wondering if her hay fever wasn't
contagious through the blood and hoping the mosquitoes would get
it and sneeze themselves to death, and went to find Tish.
She was standing in the margin of the lake up to her knees in
water, with a blazing torch in one hand and one of our tent
poles in the other. Tied to the end the pole was a grapevine
line, and a fishing-hook made of a hairpin was attached to it.
Her method, which it seems she'd heard from Charlie Sands and
which was not in the "Young Woodsman," was simple and effectual.
"Don't move," she said tensely when she heard me on the bank.
"There's one here as big as a chicken!"
She struck the flare forward, and I could see the frog looking
at it and not blinking. He sat in a sort of heavenly ecstasy,
like a dog about to bay at the moon, while the hook dangled just
at his throat.
"I'm half-ashamed to do it, Lizzie, it's so easy," she said
calmly, still tickling the thing's throat with the hook. "Grab
him as I throw him at you. They slip off sometimes."
The next instant she jerked the hook up and caught the creature
by the lower jaw. It was the neatest thing I have ever seen.
Tish came wading over to where I stood and examined the frog.
"If we only had some Tartare sauce!" she said regretfully. "I
wish you'd look at my ankle, Lizzie. There's something stuck to
The something was a leech. It refused to come off, and so she
carried both frog and leech back to the camp. Aggie said on no
account to pull a leech off, it left its teeth in and the teeth
went on burrowing, or laid eggs or something. One must leave it
on until it was full and round and couldn't hold any more, and
then it dropped off.
So all night Tish kept getting up and going to the fire to see
if it was swelling. But toward morning she fell asleep and it
dropped off, and we had a terrible feeling that it was somewhere
in our blankets.
But the leech caused less excitement that evening than my story
of Percy and the little girl in the white coat. Aggie was
entranced, and Tish had made Percy a suit of rabbit skin with a
cap to match and outlined a set of exercises to increase his
chest measure before I was half through with my story.
But Percy did not appear, although we had an idea teat he was
not far off in the woods. We could hear a crackling in the
undergrowth, but when we called mere was no reply. Tish was
eating a frog's leg when the idea came to her.
"He'll never come out under ordinary circumstances in that--er--
costume," she said. "Suppose we call for help. He'll probably
come bounding. Help!" she yelled, between bites, as one may say.
"Help! Fire! Police!"
"Help!" cried Aggie. "Percy, help!" It sounded like "Mercy,
It worked like a charm. The faint cracking became louder,
nearer, turned from a suspicion to a certainty and from a
certainty to a fact. The bushes parted and Percy stood before
us. All he saw was three elderly women eating frogs' legs round
a fire under a cloud of mosquitoes. He stopped, dum-founded, and
in that instant we saw that he didn't need the physical
exercises, but that, of course, he did need the rabbit-skin
"Great Scott!" he panted. "I thought I heard you calling for
"So we did," said Tish, "but we didn't need it. Won't you sit
He looked dazed and backed toward the bushes.
"I--I think," he said, "if there's nothing wrong I'd better not--
"Fiddlesticks!" Tish snapped. "Are you ashamed of the body the
Lord gave you? Don't you suppose we've all got skins? And didn't
I thrash my nephew, Charlie Sands, when he was almost as big as
you and had less on, for bathing in the river? Sit down, man,
and don't be a fool."
He edged toward the fire, looking rather silly, and Aggie passed
him a frog's leg on a piece of bark.
"Try this, Percy," she said, smiling.
At the name he looked ready to run. "I guess you've seen the
notices," he said, "so you'll understand I cannot accept any
food or assistance. I'm very grateful to you, anyhow."
"You may take what food you find, surely," said Aggie. "If you
find a roasted frog's leg on the ground--so--there's nothing to
prevent you eating it, is there?"
"Nothing at all," said Percy, and picked it up. "Unless, of
"It's not a trap, young man," said Tish. "Eat it and enjoy it.
There are lots more where it carne from."
He relaxed at that, and on Tish's bringing out a blanket from
the tent to throw over his shoulders he became almost easy. He
was much surprised to learn that we knew his story, and when I
repeated the "love him" message, he seemed to grow a foot taller
and his eyes glowed.
"I'm holding out all right," he said. "I'm fit physically. But
the thing that gets my goat is that I'm to come out clothed.
Dorothea's father says that primitive man, with nothing but his
hands and perhaps a stone club, fed himself, made himself a
shelter, and clothed himself in skins. Skins! I'm so big that
two or three bears would hardly be enough. I did find a hole
that I thought a bear or two might fall into, and got almost
stung to death robbing a bee tree to bait the thing with honey.
But there aren't any bears, and if there were how'd I kill 'em?
Wait until they starve to death?"
"Rabbits!" said Tish.
He looked down at himself and he seemed very large in the
firelight. "Dear lady," he said, "there aren't enough rabbits in
the county to cover me, and how'd I put 'em together? I was a
fool to undertake the thing, that's all."
"But aren't you in love with her?" asked Aggie.
"Well, I guess I am. It isn't that, you know. I'm a good bit
worse than crazy about her. A man might be crazy about a mint
julep or a power boat, but--he'd hardly go into the woods in his
skin and live on fish until he's scaly for either of them. If I
don't get her, I don't want to live. That's all."
He looked so gloomy and savage that we saw he meant it, and
Aggie was perceptibly thrilled. Trish, however, was thinking
hard, her eyes on the leech. "Was there anything in the
agreement to prevent your accepting any suggestions?"
He pondered. "No, I was to be given no food, drink, shelter, or
any weapon. The old man forgot fire--that's how I came to beg
"Fire and brains," reflected Tish. "We've given you the first
and we've plenty of the second to offer. Now, young man, this is
my plan. We'll give you nothing but suggestions. If now and then
you find a cooked meal under that tree, that's accident, not
design, and you'd better eat it. Can you sew?"
"I'm like the Irishman and the fiddle--I never tried, but I
guess I can." He was much more cheerful.
"Do you have to be alone?"
"I believe he took that for granted, in this costume."
"Will it take you long to move over here?"
"I think I can move without a van," he said, grinning. "My sole
worldly possessions are a stone hatchet and a hairpin fishhook."
"Get them and come over," commanded Tish. "When you leave this
forest at the end of the time you are going to be fed and
clothed and carry a tent; you will have with you smoked meat and
fish; you will carry under your arm an Indian clock or sundial;
you will have a lamp--if we can find a clamshell or a broken
bottle-- and you will have a fire-making outfit with your
monogram on it."
"But, my dear friend," he said, "I am not supposed to have any
"Assistance!" Tish snapped. "Who said assistance? I'm providing
the brains, but you'll do it all yourself."
He moved over an hour or so later and Tish and I went into the
tent to bed. Somewhat later, when she limped to the fire to see
how the leech was filling up, he and Aggie were sitting together
talking, he of Dorothea and Aggie of Mr. Wiggins. Tish said they
were both talking at the same time, neither one listening to the
other, and that it sounded like this:--"She's so sweet and
trusting and honest--well, I'd believe what she said if she--"
"--fell off a roof on a rainy day and was picked up by a man
with a horse and buggy quite unconscious."
The next three weeks were busy times for Percy. He wore Tish's
blanket for two days, and then, finding it in the way, he
discarded it altogether. Seen in daylight it was easy to
understand why little Dorothea was in love with him. He was a
handsome young giant, although much bitten by mosquitoes and
scratched with briers.
The arrangement was a good one all round. He knew of things in
the wood we'd never heard of--wild onions and artichokes, and he
had found a clump of wild cherry trees. He made snares of the
fibers of tree bark, and he brought in turtles and made plates
out of the shells. And all the time he was working on his
outfit, curing rabbit skins and sewing them together with fibers
under my direction.
When he'd made one sleeve of his coat we had a sort of
celebration. He'd found an empty bottle somewhere in the woods,
and he had made a wild-cherry decoction that he declared was
cherry brandy, keeping it in the sun to ferment. Well, he
insisted on opening the brandy that day and passing it round. We
had cups made of leaves and we drank to his sleeve, although the
stuff was villainous. He had put the sleeve on, and it looked
rather inadequate. "Here's fun," he said joyously. "If my
English tailor could see this sleeve he'd die of envy. A
sleeve's not all of a coat, but what's a coat without a sleeve?
Look at it-- grace, ease of line, and beauty of material."
Aggie lifted her leaf.
"To Dorothea!" she said. "And may the sleeve soon be about her."
Tish thought this toast was not delicate, but Percy was
enchanted with it.
It was on the evening of the fourth day of Percy's joining our
camp that the Willoughby person appeared. It happened at a most
inauspicious tune. We had eaten supper and were gathered round
the camp-fire and Tish had put wet leaves on the blaze to make a
smudge that would drive the mosquitoes away. We were sitting
there, Tish and I coughing and Aggie sneezing in the smoke, when
Percy came running through the woods and stopped at the foot of
a tree near by.
"Bring a club, somebody," he yelled. "I've treed the back of my
Tish ran with one of the tent poles. A tepee is inconvenient for
that reason. Every time any one wants a fishing-pole or a
weapon, the tent loses part of its bony structure and sags like
the face of a stout woman who has reduced. And it turned out
that Percy had treed a coon. He climbed up after it, taking
Tish's pole with him to dislodge it, and it was at that moment
that a man rode into the clearing and practically fell off his
horse. He was dirty and scratched with brambles, and his once
immaculate riding- clothes were torn. He was about to take off
his hat when he got a good look at us and changed his mind.
"Have you got anything to eat?" he asked. "I've been lost since
noon yesterday and I'm about all in."
The leaves caught fire suddenly and sent a glow into Percy's
tree. I shall never forget Aggie's agonized look or the way Tish
flung on more wet leaves in a hurry.
"I'm sorry," she said, "but supper's over."
"But surely a starving man--"
"You won't starve inside of a week," Tish snapped. "You've got
enough flesh on you for a month."
He stared at her incredulously.
"But, my good woman," he said, "I can pay for my food. Even you
itinerant folk need money now and then, don't you? Come, now,
cook me a fish; I'll pay for it. My name is Willoughby--J. K.
Willoughby. Perhaps you've heard of me."
Tish cast a swift glance into the tree. It was in shadow again
and she drew a long breath. She said afterward that the whole
plan came to her in the instant of that breath.
"We can give you something," she said indifferently. "We have a
stewed rabbit, if you care for it."
There was a wild scramble in the tree at that moment, and we
thought all was over. We learned later that Percy had made a
move to climb higher, out of the firelight, and the coon bad
been so startled that he almost fell out. But instead of looking
up to investigate, the stranger backed toward the fire.
"Only a wildcat," said Tish. "They'll not come near the fire."
"Near!" exclaimed Mr. Willoughby. "If they came any nearer,
they'd have to get into it!"
"I think," said Tish, "that if you are afraid or them--although
you are safe enough if you don't get under the trees; they jump
down, you know--that you would better stay by the fire to-night.
In the morning we'll start you toward a road."
All night with Percy in the tree! I gave her a savage glance,
but she ignored me.
The Willoughby looked up nervously, and of course there were
trees all about.
"I guess I'll stay," he agreed. "What about that rabbit?"
I did not know Tish's plan at that time, and while Aggie was
feeding the Willoughby person and he was grumbling over his
food, I took Tish aside.
"Are you crazy?" I demanded. "Just through your idiocy Percy
will have to stay in that tree all night--and he'll go to sleep,
likely, and fall out."
Tish eyed me coldly.
"You are a good soul, Lizzie," she observed, "but don't overwork
your mind. Go back and do something easy--let the Willoughby
cross your palm with silver, and tell his fortune. If he asks
any questions I'm queen of the gypsies, and give him to
understand that we're in temporary hiding from the law. The
worse he thinks of us the better. Remember, we haven't seen
"I'm not going to lie," I said sternly.
"Pooh!" Tish sneered. "That wretch came into the woods to gloat
over his rival's misery. The truth's too good for him."
I did my best, and I still have the silver dollar he gave me. I
told him I saw a small girl, who loved him but didn't realize it
yet, and there was another man.
"Good gracious," I said, "there must be something wrong with
your palm. I see the other man, but he seems to be in trouble.
His clothing has been stolen, for he has none, and he is hungry,
"Ha!" said Mr. Willoughby, looking startled. "You old gypsies
beat the devil! Hungry, eh? Is that all?"
The light flared up again and I could see clearly the pale spot
in the tree, which was Percy. But Mr. Willoughby's eyes were on
"He has about decided to give up something--I cannot see just
what," I said loudly. "He seems to be in the air, in a tree,
perhaps. If he wishes to be safe he should go higher."
Percy took the hint and moved up, and I said that was all there
was in the palm. Soon after that Mr. Willoughby stretched out on
the ground by the fire, and before long he was asleep.
During the night I heard Tish moving stealthily about in the
tepee and she stepped on my ankle as she went out. I fell asleep
again as soon as it stopped aching. Just at dawn Tish came back
and touched me on the shoulder.
"Where's the blackberry cordial?" she whispered I sat up
"Has Percy fallen out of the tree?"
"No. Don't ask any questions, Lizzie. I want it for myself. That
dratted horse fell on me."
She refused to say any more and lay down groaning. But I was too
worried to sleep again. In the morning Percy was gone from the
tree. Mr. Willoughby had more rabbit and prepared to leave the
forest. He offered Tish a dollar for the two meals and a bed,
and Tish, who was moving about stiffly, said that she and her
people took no money for their Hospitality. Telling fortunes was
one thing, bread and salt was another. She looked quite haughty,
and the Willoughby person apologized and went into the woods to
get his horse.
The horse was gone!
It was rather disagreeable for a time. He plainly thought we'd
taken it, although Tish showed him that the end of the strap had
been chewed partly through and then jerked free.
"If the creature smelled a wildcat," she said, "nothing would
hold it. None of my people ever bring a horse into this part of
"Humph!" said Mr. Willoughby. "Well, I'll bet they take a few
He departed on foot shortly after, very disgusted and
suspicious. We showed him the trail, and the last we saw of him
he was striding along, looking up now and then for wildcats.
When he was well on his way, Percy emerged from the bushes. I
had thought that he had helped Tish to take the Willoughby
horse, but it seems he had not, and he was much amazed when Tish
came through the wood leading the creature by the broken strap.
"I'll turn it loose," she said to Percy, "and you can capture
it. It will make a good effect for you to emerge from the forest
on horseback, and anyhow, what with the rabbit skin, the tent,
and the sundial and the other things, you have a lot to carry.
You can say you found it straying in the woods and captured it."
Percy looked at her with admiration not unmixed with reverence.
"Miss Letitia," he said solemnly, "if it were not for Dorothea,
I should ask you to marry me. I'd like to have you in my
I am very nearly to the end of my narrative.
Toward the last Percy was obliged to work far into the night,
for of course we could not assist him. He made a full suit of
rabbit skins sewed with fibers, and a cap and shoes of coonskin
to match. The shoes were cut from a bedroom-slipper pattern that
Tish traced in the sand on the beach, and the cap had an eagle
feather in it. He made a birch-bark knapsack to hold the fish he
smoked and a bow and arrow that looked well but would not shoot.
When he had the outfit completed, he put it on, with the stone
hatchet stuck into a grapevine belt and the bow and arrow over
his shoulder, and he looked superb.
"The question is," he reflected, trying to view himself in the
edge of the lake: "Will Dorothea like it? She's very keen about
clothes. And gee, how she hates a beard!"
"You could shave as the Indians do," Tish said.
"With a clamshell."
He looked dubious, but Tish assured him it was feasible. So he
hunted a clamshell, a double one, Tish requested, and brought it
"I'd better do it for you," said Tish. "It's likely to be slow,
but it is sure."
He was eyeing the clamshell and looking more and snore uneasy.
"You're not going to scrape it off?" he asked anxiously. "You
know, pumice would be better for that, but somehow I don't like
"Nothing of the sort," said Tish. "The double clamshell merely
forms a pair of Indian nippers. I'm going to pull it out."
But he made quite a fuss about it, and said he didn't care
whether the Indians did it or not, he wouldn't. I think he saw
how disappointed Tish was and was afraid she would attempt it
while he slept, for he threw the Indian nippers into the lake
and then went over and kissed her hand.
"Dear Miss Tish," he said; "no one realizes more than I your
inherent nobility of soul and steadfastness of purpose. I admire
them both. But if you attempt the Indian nipper business, or to
singe me like a chicken while I sleep, I shall be--forgive me,
but I know my impulsiveness of disposition--I shall be really
vexed with you."
Toward the last we all became uneasy for fear hard work was
telling on him physically. He used to sit cross- legged on the
ground, sewing for dear life and singing Hood's "Song of the
Shirt" in a doleful tenor.
"You know," he said, "I've thought once or twice I'd like to do
something--have a business like other fellows. But somehow
dressmaking never occurred to me. Don't you think the expression
of this right pant is good? And shall I make this gore bias or
on the selvage?"
He wanted to slash one trouser leg.
"Why not?" he demanded when Tish frowned him down. "It's awfully
fetching, and beauty half-revealed, you know. Do you suppose my
breastbone will ever straighten out again? It's concave from
It was after this that Tish made him exercise morning and
evening and then take a swim in the lake. By the time he was to
start back, he was in wonderful condition, and even the horse
looked saucy and shiny, owing to our rubbing him down each day
with dried grasses.
The actual leave-taking was rather sad. We'd grown to think a
lot of the boy and I believe he liked us. He kissed each one of
us twice, once for himself and once for Dorothea, and flushed a
little over doing it, and Aggie's eyes were full of tears.
He rode away down the trail like a mixture of Robinson Crusoe
and Indian brave, his rubbing-fire stick, his sundial with
burned figures, and his bow and arrow jingling, his eagle
feather blowing back in the wind, and his moccasined feet thrust
into Mr. Willoughby's stirrups, and left us desolate. Tish
watched him out of sight with set lips and Aggie was whimpering
on a bank.
"Tish," she said brokenly, "does he recall anything to you?"
"Only my age," said Tish rather wearily, "and that I'm an
elderly spinster teaching children to defy their parents and
committing larceny to help them."
"To me," said Aggie softly, "he is young love going out to seek
his mate. Oh, Tish, do you remember how Mr. Wiggins used to ride
by taking his work horses to be shod!"
We went home the following day, which was the time the spring-
wagon man was to meet us. We started very early and were
properly clothed and hatted when we saw him down the road.
The spring- wagon person came on without hurry and surveyed us
as he came.
"Well, ladies," he said, stopping before us, "I see you pulled
it off all right."
"We've had a very nice time, thank you," said Tish, drawing on
her gloves. "It's been rather lonely, of course."
The spring-wagon person did not speak again until he had reached
the open road. Then he turned round.
"The horse business was pretty good," he said. "You ought to hev
seen them folks when he rode out of the wood. Flabbergasted
ain't the word. The was ding-busted."
Tish whispered to us to show moderate interest and to say as
little as possible, except to protest our ignorance. And we got
the story at last like this:--
It seems the newspapers had been full of the attempt Percy was
to make, and so on the day before quite a crowd had gathered to
see him come out of the wood.
"Ten of these here automobiles," said the spring-wagon person,
"and a hay-wagon full of newspaper fellows from the city with
cameras, and about half the village back home walked out or druv
and brought their lunches--sort of a picnic. I kep' my eye on
the girl and on a Mr. Willoughby.
"The story is that Willoughby who was the father's choice--
Willoughby was pale and twitching and kep' moving about all the
time. But the girl, she just kep' her eyes on the trail and
waited. Noon was the time set, or as near it as possible.
"The father talked to the newspaper men mostly. 'I don't think
he'll do it, boys!' he said. 'He's as soft as milk and he's
surprised me by sticking it out as long as he has. But mark my
words, boys,' he said, 'he's been living on berries and things
he could pick up off the ground, and if his physical condition's
bad he loses all bets!"
"It seems that, just as he said it, somebody pulled out a watch
and announced "noon." And on the instant Percy was seen riding
down the trail and whistling. At first they did not know it was
he, as they lead expected him to arrive on foot, staggering with
fatigue probably. He rode out into the sunlight, still
whistling, and threw an unconcerned glance over the crowd.
He looked at the trees, and located north by the moss on the
trunks, the S.-W. P. said, and unslinging his Indian clock he
held it in front of him, pointing north and south. It showed
exactly noon. It was then, and not until then, that Percy
addressed the astonished crowd.
"Twelve o'clock, gentlemen," he said. "My watch is quite
Nobody said anything, being, as the S.-W. P. remarked, struck
dumb. But a moment afterward the hay-wagon started a cheer and
the machines took it up. Even the father "let loose," as we
learned, and the little girl sat back in her motor car and
smiled through her tears.
But Willoughby was furious. It seems he had recognized the
horse. "That's my horse," he snarled. "You stole it from me."
"As a matter of fact," Percy retorted, "I found the beast
wandering loose among the trees and I'm perfectly willing to
return him to you. I brought him out for a purpose."
"To make a Garrison finish!"
"Not entirely. To prove that you violated the contract by going
into the forest to see if you could find me and gloat over my
misery. Instead you found--By the way, Willoughby, did you see
"Those three hags are in this!" said Willoughby furiously. "Are
you willing to swear you made that silly outfit?"
"I am, but not to you."
"And at that minute, if you'll believe me," said the S.-W. P.,
"the girl got out of her machine and walked right up to the
Percy fellow. I was standing right by and I heard what she said.
It was, curious, seeing he'd had no help and had gone in naked,
as you may say, and came out clothed head to foot, with a horse
and weapons and a watch, and able to make fire in thirty-one
seconds, and a tent made of about a thousand rabbit skins."
Tish eyed him coldly.
"What did she say?" she demanded severely. "She said: 'Those
three dear old things!'" replied the S.-W. P. "And she said: 'I
hope you kissed them for me.'"
"He did indeed," said Aggie dreamily, and only roused when Tish
nudged her in a rage.
Charlie Sands came to have tea with us yesterday at Tish's. He
is just back from England and full of the subject.
"But after all," he said, "the Simple Lifers take the palm.
Think of it, my three revered and dearly beloved spinster
friends; think of the peace, the holy calm of it! Now, if you
three would only drink less tea and once in a while would get
back to Nature a bit, it would be good for you. You're all too
"Probably," said Tish, pulling down her sleeves to hide her
sunburned hands. "But do you think people have so much time in
"Time!" he repeated. "Why, what is there to do?"
Just then the doorbell rang and a huge box was carried in. Tish
had a warning and did not wish to open it, but Charlie Sands
insisted and cut the string. Inside were three sets of sable
furs, handsomer than any in the church, Tish says, and I know
I've never seen any like them.
Tish and I hid the cards, but Aggie dropped her, and Charlie
Sands pounced on it.
"'The sleeve is now about Dorothea,'" he read aloud, and then,
turning, eyed us all sternly.
"Now, then," said Charlie Sands, "out with it! What have you
been up to this time?"
Tish returned his gaze calmly. "We have been in the Maine woods
in the holy calm," she said. "As for those furs, I suppose a
body may buy a set of furs if she likes." This, of course, was
not a lie. "As for that card, it's a mistake." Which it was
"But--Dorothea!" persisted Charlie Sands.
"Never in my life knew anybody named Dorothea. Did you, Aggie?"
"Never," said Aggie firmly.
Charlie Sands apologized and looked thoughtful. On Tish's
remaining rather injured, he asked us all out to dinner that
night, and almost the first thing he ordered was frogs' legs.
Aggie got rather white about the lips.
"I--I think I'll not take any," she said feebly. "I--I keep
thinking of Tish tickling their throats with the hairpin, and
We glared at her, but it was too late. Charlie Sands drew up his
chair and rested his elbows on the table.
"So there was a Percy as well as a Dorothea!" he said
cheerfully. "I might have known it. Now we'll have the story!"
The Adventure of the Red-Headed Detective, the Lady Chauffeur,
and the Man Who Could Not Tell the Truth
It is easy enough, of course, to look back on our Canadian
experience and see where we went wrong. What I particularly
resent is the attitude of Charlie Sands.
I am writing this for his benefit. It seems to me that a clean
statement of the case is due to Tish, and, in less degree, to
Aggie and myself.
It goes back long before the mysterious cipher. Even the
incident of our abducting the girl in the pink tam-o'-shanter
was, after all, the inevitable result of the series of
occurrences that preceded it.
It is my intention to give this series of occurrences in their
proper order and without bias. Herbert Spencer says that every
act of one's life is the unavoidable result of every act that
has preceded it.
Naturally, therefore, I begin with the engagement by Tish of a
girl as chauffeur; but even before that there were contributing
causes. There was the faulty rearing of the McDonald youth, for
instance, and Tish's aesthetic dancing. And afterward there was
Aggie's hay fever, which made her sneeze and let go of a rope at
a critical moment. Indeed, Aggie's hay fever may be said to be
one of the fundamental causes, being the reason we went to
It was like this: Along in June of the year before last, Aggie
suddenly announced that she was going to spend the summer in
"It's the best thing in the world for hay fever," she said,
avoiding Tish's eye. "Mrs. Ostermaier says she never sneezed
once last year. The Northern Lights fill the air with ozone, or
something like that."
"Fill the air with ozone!" Tish scoffed. "Fill Mrs. Ostermaier's
skull with ozone, instead of brains, more likely!"
Tish is a good woman--a sweet woman, indeed; but she has a vein
of gentle irony, which she inherited from her maternal
grandfather, who was on the Supreme Bench of his country.
However, that spring she was inclined to be irritable. She could
not drive her car, and that was where the trouble really
Tish had taken up aesthetic dancing in Mareb, wearing no stays
and a middy blouse and short skirt; and during a fairy dance,
where she was to twirl on her right toes, keeping the three
other limbs horizontal, she twisted her right lower limb
severely. Though not incapacitated, she could not use it
properly; and, failing one day to put on the brake quickly, she
drove into an open-front butter-and-egg shop.
[This was the time one of the newspapers headed the article:
"Even the Eggs Scrambled."]
When Tish decided to have a chauffeur for a time she advertised.
There were plenty of replies, but all of the applicants smoked
cigarettes--a habit Tish very properly deplores. The idea of
securing a young woman was, I must confess, mine.
"Plenty of young women drive cars," I said, "and drive well.
And, at least, they don't light a cigarette every time one stops
to let a train go by."
"Huh!" Tish commented. "And have a raft of men about all the
Nevertheless, she acted on the suggestion, advertising for a
young woman who could drive a car and had no followers. Hutchins
She was very pretty and not over twenty; but, asked about men,
her face underwent a change, almost a hardening. "You'll not be
bothered with men," she said briefly. "I detest them!"
And this seemed to be the truth. Charlie Sands, for instance,
for whose benefit this is being written, absolutely failed to
make any impression on her. She met his overtures with cold
disdain. She was also adamant to the men at the garage,
succeeding in having the gasoline filtered through a chamois
skim to take out the water, where Tish had for years begged for
the same thing without success.
Though a dashing driver, Hutchins was careful. She sat on the
small of her back and hurled us past the traffic policemen with
[Her name was really Hutchinson; but it took so long to say it
at the rate she ran the car that Tish changed it to Hutchins.]
Really the whole experiment seemed to be an undoubted success,
when Aggie got the notion of Canada into her head. Now, as it
happened, owing to Tish's disapproval, Aggie gave up the Canada
idea in favor of Nantucket, some time in June; but she had not
reckoned with Tish's subconscious self. Tish was interested that
spring in the subconscious self.
You may remember that, only a year or so before, it had been the
[She became convinced that if one were sufficiently earnest one
could go through closed doors and see into solids. In the former
ambition she was unsuccessful, obtaining only bruises and
disappointment; but she did develop the latter to a certain
extent, for she met the laundress going out one day and, without
a conscious effort, she knew that she had the best table napkins
pinned to her petticoat. She accused the woman sternly--and she
"Nantucket!" said Tish. "Why Nantucket?"
"I have a niece there, and you said you hated Canada."
"On the contrary," Tish replied, with her eyes partly shut, "I
find that my subconscious self has adopted and been working on
the Canadian suggestion. What a wonderful thing is this buried
and greater ego! Worms, rifles, fishing-rods, 'The Complete
Angler,' mosquito netting, canned goods, and sleeping-bags, all
in my mind and in orderly array!"
"Worms!" I said, with, I confess, a touch of scorn in my voice.
"If you will tell me, Tish Carberry--"
"Life preservers," chanted Tish's subconscious self, "rubber
blankets, small tent, folding camp-beds, a camp-stove, a meat-
saw, a wood-saw, and some beads and gewgaws for placating the
Indians." Then she opened her eyes and took up her knitting.
"There are no worms in Canada, Lizzie, just as there are no
snakes in Ireland. They were all destroyed during the glacial
"There are plenty of worms in the United States," I said with
spirit. "I dare say they could crawl over the border--unless, of
course, they object to being British subjects."
She ignored me, however, and, getting up, went to one of her
bureau drawers. We saw then that her subconscious self had
written down lists of various things for the Canadian excursion.
There was one headed Foodstuffs. Others were: Necessary
Clothing: Camp Outfit; Fishing-Tackle; Weapons of Defense: and
Diversions. Under this last heading it had placed binoculars,
yarn and needles, life preservers, a prayer-book, and a cribbage-
"Boats," she said, "we can secure from the Indians, who make
them, I believe, of hollow logs. And I shall rent a motor boat.
Hutchins says she can manage one. When she's not doing that she
can wash dishes."
[We had been rather chary of motor boats, you may remember,
since the time on Lake Penzance, when something jammed on our
engine, and we had gone madly round the lake a number of times,
with people on various docks trying to lasso us with ropes.]
Considering that it was she who had started the whole thing, and
got Tish's subconscious mind to working, Aggie was rather
"Huh!" she said. "I can't swim, and you know it, Tish. Those
canoe things turn over if you so much as sneeze in them."
"You'll not sneeze," said Tish. "The Northern Lights fill the
air with ozone."
Aggie looked at me helplessly; but I could do nothing. Only the
year before, Tish, as you may recall, had taken us out into the
Maine woods without any outfit at all, and we had lived on
snared rabbits, and things that no Christian woman ought to put
into her stomach. This time we were at least to go provisioned
"Where are we going?" Aggie asked.
"Far from a white man," said Tish. "Away from milk wagons and
children on velocipedes and the grocer calling up every morning
for an order. We'll go to the Far North, Aggie, where the red
man still treads his native forests; we'll make our camp by some
lake, where the deer come at early morning to drink and fish
leap to see the sunset."
Well, it sounded rather refreshing, though I confess that, until
Tish mentioned it, I had always thought that fish leaped in the
evening to catch mosquitoes.
We sent for Hutchins at once. She was always respectful, but
never subservient. She stood in the doorway while Tish
"How far north?" she said crisply. Tish told her. "We'll have no
cut-and-dried destination," she said. "There's a little steamer
goes up the river I have in mind. We'll get off when we see a
"Are you going for trout or bass?"
Tish was rather uncertain, but she said bass on a chance, and
Hutchins nodded her approval.
"If it's bass, I'll go," she said. "I'm not fond of trout-
"We shall have a motor boat. Of course I shall not take the
Hutchins agreed indifferently. "Don't you worry about the motor
boat," she said. "Sometimes they go, and sometimes they don't.
And I'll help round the camp; but I'll not wash dishes."
"Why not?" Tish demanded.
"The reason doesn't really matter, does it? What really concerns
you is the fact."
Tish stared at her; but instead of quailing before Tish's
majestic eye she laughed a little.
"I've camped before," she said. "I'm very useful about a camp. I
like to cook; but I won't wash dishes. I'd like, if you don't
mind, to see the grocery order before it goes."
Well, Aggie likes to wash dishes if there is plenty of hot
water; and Hannah, Tish's maid, refusing to go with us on
account of Indians, it seemed wisest to accept Hutchins's
Hannah's defection was most unexpected. As soon as we reached
our decision, Tish ordered beads for the Indians; and in the
evenings we strung necklaces, and so on, while one of us read
aloud from the works of Cooper. On the second evening thus
occupied, Hannah, who is allowed to come into Tish's sitting-
room in the evening and knit, suddenly burst into tears and
refused to go.
"My scalp's as good to me as it is to anybody, Miss Tish," she
said hysterically; and nothing would move her.
She said she would run no risk of being cooked over her own camp-
fire; and from that time on she would gaze at Tish for long
periods mournfully, as though she wanted to remember how she
looked when she was gone forever.
Except for Hannah, everything moved smoothly. Tish told Charlie
Sands about the plan, and he was quite enthusiastic.
"Great scheme!" he said. "Eat a broiled black bass for me. And
take the advice of one who knows: don't skimp on your fishing-
tackle. Get the best. Go light on the canned goods, if
necessary; but get the best reels and lines on the market.
Nothing in life hurts so much," he said impressively, "as to get
a three-pound bass to the top of the water and have your line
break. I've had a big fellow get away like that and chase me a
mile with its thumb on its nose." This last, of course, was
He went away whistling. I wish he had been less optimistic. When
we came back and told him the whole story, and he sat with his
mouth open and his hair, as he said, crackling at the roots, I
reminded him with some bitterness that he had encouraged us. His
only retort was to say that the excursion itself had been
harmless enough; but that if three elderly ladies, church
members in good standing, chose to become freebooters and
pirates the moment they got away from a corner policeman, they
need not blame him.
The last thing he said that day in June was about fishing-worms.
"Take 'em with you," he said. "They charge a cent apiece for
them up there, assorted colors, and there's something stolid and
British about a Canadian worm. The fish aren't crazy about 'em.
On the other hand, our worms here are--er--vivacious, animated.
I've seen a really brisk and on-to-its-job United States worm
reach out and clutch a bass by the gills."
I believe it was the next day that Tish went to the library and
read about worms. Aggie and I had spent the day buying tackle,
according to Charlie Sands's advice. We got some very good rods
with nickel-plated reels for two dollars and a quarter, a dozen
assorted hooks for each person, and a dozen sinkers. The man
wanted to sell us what he called a "landing net," but I took a
good look at it and pinched Aggie.
"I can make one out of a barrel hoop and mosquito netting," I
whispered; so we did not buy it.
Perhaps he thought we were novices, for he insisted on showing
us all sorts of absurd things--trolling- hooks, he called them;
gaff hooks for landing big fish and a spoon that was certainly
no spoon and did not fool us for a minute, being only a few
hooks and a red feather. He asked a dollar and a quarter for it!
[I made one that night at home, using a bit of red feather from
a duster. It cost me just three cents. Of that, as of Hutchins,
Aggie, whose idea of Canada had been the Hotel Frontenac, had
grown rather depressed as our preparations proceeded. She
insisted that night on recalling the fact that Mr. Wiggins had
been almost drowned in Canada.
"He went with the Roof and Gutter Club, Lizzie," she said, "and
he was a beautiful swimmer; but the water comes from the North
Pole, freezing cold, and the first thing he knew--"
The telephone bell rang just then. It was Tish.
"I've just come from the library, Lizzie," she said. "We'd
better raise the worms. We've got a month to do it in. Hutchins
and I will be round with the car at eight o'clock to-night.
Night is the time to get them."
She refused to go into details, but asked us to have an electric
flash or two ready and a couple of wooden pails. Also she said
to wear mackintoshes and rubbers. Just before she rang off, she
asked me to see that there was a package of oatmeal on hand, but
did not explain. When I told Aggie she eyed me miserably.
"I wish she'd be either more explicit or less," she said. "We'll
be arrested again. I know it!"
[Now and then Tish's enthusiasms have brought us into collision
with the law--not that Tish has not every respect for law and
order, but that she is apt to be hasty and at times almost
"You remember," said Aggie, "that time she tried to shoot the
sheriff, thinking he was a train robber? She started just like
this--reading up about walking-tours, and all that. I--I'm
I was staying with Aggie for a few days while my apartment was
being papered. To soothe Aggie's nerves I read aloud from
Gibbon's "Rome" until dinner-time, and she grew gradually
"After all, Lizzie," she said, "she can't get us into mischief
with two wooden pails and a package of oatmeal."
Tish and Hutchins came promptly at eight and we got into the
car. Tish wore the intent and dreamy look that always preceded
her enterprises. There was a tin sprinkling-can, quite new, in
the tonneau, and we placed our wooden pails beside it and the
oatmeal in it. I confess I was curious, but to my inquiries Tish
made only one reply:--
Now I do not like worms. I do not like to touch them. I do not
even like to look at them. As the machine went along I began to
have a creepy loathing of them. Aggie must have been feeling the
same way, for when my hand touched hers she squealed.
Over her shoulder Tish told her plan. She said it was easy to
get fishing-worms at night and that Hutchins knew of a place a
few miles out of town where the family was away and where there
would be plenty.
"We'll put them in boxes of earth," she said, "and feed them
coffee or tea grounds one day and oatmeal water the next. They
propagate rapidly. We'll have a million to take with us. If we
only have a hundred thousand at a cent apiece, that's a clear
saving of a thousand dollars."
"We could sell some," I suggested sarcastically; for Tish's
enthusiasms have a way of going wrong.
But she took me seriously. "If there are any fishing clubs
about," she said, "I dare say they'll buy them; and we can turn
the money over to Mr. Ostermaier for the new organ."
Tish had bought the organ and had an evening concert with it
before we turned off the main road into a private drive.
"This is the place," Hutchins said laconically.
Tish got out and took a survey. There was shrubbery all round
and a very large house, quite dark, in the foreground.
"Drive onto the lawn, Hutchins," she said. "When the worms come
up, the lamps will dazzle them and they'll be easy to capture."
We bumped over a gutter and came to a stop in the middle of the
"It would be better if it was raining," Tish said. "You know,
yourself, Lizzie, how they come up during a gentle rain. Give me
I do not wish to lay undue blame on Hutchins, who was young; but
it was she who suggested that there would probably be a garden
hose somewhere and that it would save time. I know she went with
Tish round the corner of the house, and that they returned in
ten minutes or so, dragging a hose.
"I broke a tool-house window," Tish observed, "but I left fifty
cents on the sill to replace it. It's attached at the other end.
Run back, Hutchins, and turn on the water; but not too much. We
needn't drown the little creatures."
Well, I have never seen anything work better. Aggie, who had
refused to put a foot out of the car, stood up in it and held
the hose. As fast as she wet a bit of lawn, we followed with the
pails. I spread my mackintosh out and knelt on it.
The thing took skill. The worms had a way of snapping back into
their holes like lightning.
Tish got about three to my one, and talked about packing them in
moss and ice, and feeding them every other day. Hutchins,
however, stood on the lawn, with her hands in her pockets, and
watched the house.
Suddenly, without warning, Aggie turned the hose directly on my
left ear and held it there.
"There's somebody coming!" she cried. "Merciful Heavens, what'll
I do with the hose?"
"You can turn it away from me!" I snapped.
So she did, and at that instant a young man emerged from the
He did not speak at once. Probably he could not. I happened to
look at Hutchins, and, for all her usual savoir-faire, as
Charlie Sands called it, she was clearly uncomfortable.
Tish, engaged in a struggle at that moment and sitting back like
a robin, did not see him at once.
"Well!" said the young man; and again: "Well, upon my word!"
He seemed out of breath with surprise; and he took off his hat
and mopped his head with a handkerchief. And, of course, as
though things were not already bad enough, Aggie sneezed at that
instant, as she always does when she is excited; and for just a
second the hose was on him.
It was unexpected and he almost staggered. He looked at all of
us, including Hutchins, and ran his handkerchief round inside
his collar. Then he found his voice.
"Really," he said, "this is awfully good of you. We do need rain-
- don't we?"
Tish was on her feet by that time, but she could not think of
anything to say.
"I'm sorry if I startled you," said the young man. "I--I'm a bit
"There is nothing to make a fuss about!" said Hutchins crisply.
"We are getting worms to go fishing."
"I see," said the young man. "Quite natural, I'm sure. And where
are you going fishing?"
Hutchins surprised us all by rudely turning her back on him.
Considering we were on his property and had turned his own hose
on him, a little tact would have been better.
Tish had found her voice by that time. "We broke a window in the
tool- house," she said; "but I put fifty cents on the sill."
"Thank you," said the young man.
Hutchins wheeled at that and stared at him in the most
disagreeable fashion; but he ignored her.
"We are trespassing," said Tish; "but I hope you understand. We
thought the family was away."
"I just happened to be passing through," he explained. "I'm
awfully attached to the place--for various reasons. Whenever I'm
in town I spend my evenings wandering through the shrubbery and
"I think the lamps are going out," said Hutchins sharply. "If
we're to get back to town--"
"Ah!" he broke in. "So you have come out from the city?"
"Surely," said Hutchins to Tish, "it is unnecessary to give this
gentleman any information about ourselves! We have done no
"Except the window," he said.
"We've paid for that," she said in a nasty tone; and to Tish:
"How do we know this place is his? He's probably some newspaper
man, and if you tell him who you are this whole thing will be in
the morning paper, like the eggs."
"I give you my word of honor," he said, "that I am nothing of
the sort; in fact, if you will give me a little time I'd--I'd
like to tell all about myself. I've got a lot to say that's
highly interesting, if you'll only listen."
Hutchins, however, only gave him a cold glance of suspicion and
put the pails in the car. Then she got in and sat down.
"I take it," he said to her, "that you decline either to give or
to receive any information."
He sighed then, Aggie declares.
"Of course," he said, "though I haven't really the slightest
curiosity, I could easily find out, you know. Your license
"Are under the cushion I'm sitting on," said Hutchins, and
started the engine.
"Really, Hutchins," said Tish, "I don't see any reason for being
so suspicious. I have always believed in human nature and seldom
have I been disappointed. The young man has done nothing to
justify rudeness. And since we are trespassing on his place--"
"Huh!" was all Hutchins said.
The young man sauntered over to the car, with his hands thrust
into this coat pockets. He was nice-looking, especially then,
when he was smiling.
"Hutchins!" he said. "Well, that's a clue anyhow. It--it's an
uncommon name. You didn't happen to notice a large 'No-
Trespassing!' sign by the gate, did you?"
Hutchins only looked ahead and ignored him. As Tish said
afterward, we had a good many worms, anyhow; and, as the young
man and Hutchins had clearly taken an awful dislike to each
other at first sight, the best way to avoid trouble was to go
home. So she got into the car. The young man helped her and took
off his hat.
"Come out any time you like," he said affably. "I'm not here at
all in the daytime, and the grounds are really rather nice. Come
out and get some roses. We've some pretty good ones--English
importations. If you care to bring some children from the
tenements out for a picnic, please feel free to do it. We're not
Hutchins rudely started the car before he had finished; but he
ignored her and waved a cordial farewell to the rest of us.
"Bring as many as you like," he called. "Sunday is a good day.
Ask Miss--Miss Hutchins to come out and bring some friends
We drove back at the most furious rate. Tish was at last
compelled to remonstrate with Hutchins.
"Not only are we going too fast," she said, "but you were really
rude to that nice young man."
"I wish I had turned the hose on him and drowned him!" said
Hutchins between her teeth.
Hutchins brought a newspaper to Tish the next morning at
breakfast, and Tish afterwards said her expression was
positively malevolent in such a young and pretty woman.
The newspaper said that an attempt had beer made to rob the
Newcomb place the night before, but that the thieves had
apparently secured nothing but a package of oatmeal and a tin
sprinkling-can, which they had abandoned on the lawn. Some
color, however, was lent to the fear that they had secured an
amount of money, from the fact that a silver half-dollar had
been found on the window sill of a tool-house. The Newcomb
family was at its summer home on the Maine coast.
"You see," Hutchins said to Tish, "that man didn't belong there
at all. He was just impertinent and--laughing in his sleeve."
Tish was really awfully put out, having planned to take the
Sunday school there for a picnic. She was much pleased, however,
at Hutchins's astuteness.
"I shall take her along to Canada," she said to me. "The girl
has instinct, which is better than reason. Her subconsciousness
is unusually active."
Looking back, as I must, and knowing now all that was in her
small head while she whistled about the car, or all that was
behind her smile, one wonders if women really should have the
vote. So many of them are creatures of sex and guile. A word
from her would have cleared up so much, and she never spoke it!
Well, we spent most of July in getting ready to go. Charlie
Sands said the mosquitoes and black flies would be gone by
August, and we were in no hurry.
We bought a good tent, with a diagram of how to put it up, some
folding camp-beds, and a stove. The day we bought the tent we
had rather a shock, for as we left the shop the suburban youth
passed us. We ignored him completely, but he lifted his hat.
Hutchins, who was waiting in Tish's car, saw him, too, and went
quite white with fury.
Shortly after that, Hannah came in one night and said that a man
was watching Tish's windows. We thought it was imagination, and
Tish gave her a dose of sulphur and molasses--her liver being
"Probably an Indian, I dare say," was Tish's caustic comment.
In view of later developments, however, it is a pity we did not
investigate Hannah's story; for Aggie, going home from Tish's
late one night in Tish's car, had a similar experience,
declaring that a small machine had followed them, driven by a
heavy-set man with a mustache. She said, too, that Hutchins,
swerving sharply, had struck the smaller machine a glancing blow
and almost upset it.
It was about the middle of July, I believe, that Tish received
the following letter:--
Madam: Learning that you have decided to take a fishing-
trip in Canada, I venture to offer my services as guide,
philosopher, and friend. I know Canada thoroughly; can
locate bass, as nearly as it lies in a mortal so to do;
can manage a motor launch; am thoroughly at home in a
canoe; can shoot, swim, and cook--the last indifferently
well; know the Indian mind and my own--and will carry
water and chop wood.
I do not drink, and such smoking as I do will, if I am
engaged, be done in the solitude of the woods.
I am young and of a cheerful disposition. My object is
not money, but only expenses paid and a chance to forget
a recent and still poignant grief. I hope you will see
the necessity for such an addition to your party, and
allow me to subscribe myself, madam,
Your most obedient servant,
Tish was much impressed; but Hutchins, in whose judgment she
began to have the greatest confidence, opposed the idea.
"I wouldn't think of it," she said briefly.
"Why? It's a frank, straightforward letter."
"He likes himself too much. And you should always be suspicious
of anything that's offered too cheap."
So the Updike application was refused. I have often wondered
since what would have been the result had we accepted it!
The worms were doing well, though Tish found that Hannah
neglected them, and was compelled to feed them herself. On the
day before we started, we packed them carefully in ice and moss,
and fed them. That was the day the European war was declared.
"Canada is at war," Tish telephoned. "The papers say the whole
country is full of spies, blowing up bridges and railroads."
"We can still go to the seashore," I said. "The bead things will
do for the missionary box to Africa."
"Seashore nothing!" Tish retorted. "We're going, of course,--
just as we planned. We'll keep our eyes open; that's all. I'm
not for one side or the other, but a spy's a spy."
Later that evening she called again to say there were rumors
that the Canadian forests were bristling with German wireless
"I've a notion to write J. Updike, Lizzie, and find out whether
he knows anything about wireless telegraphy," she said, "only
there's so little time. Perhaps I can find a book that gives the
[This is only pertinent as showing Tish's state of mind. As a
matter of fact, she did not write to Updike at all.]
Well, we started at last, and I must say they let us over the
border with a glance; but they asked us whether we had any
firearms. Tish's trunk contained a shotgun and a revolver; but
she had packed over the top her most intimate personal
belongings, and they were not disturbed.
"Have you any weapons?" asked the inspector.
"Do we look like persons carrying weapons?" Tish demanded
haughtily. And of course we did not. Still, there was an untruth
of the spirit and none of us felt any too comfortable. Indeed,
what followed may have been a punishment on us for deceit and
Aggie had taken her cat along--because it was so fond of fish,
she said. And, between Tish buying ice for the worms and Aggie
getting milk for the cat, the journey was not monotonous; but on
returning from one of her excursions to the baggage-car, Tish
put a heavy hand on my shoulder.
"That boy's on the train, Lizzie!" she said. "He had the
impudence to ask me whether I still drive with the license
plates under a cushion. English roses--importations!" said Tish,
and sniffed. "You don't suppose he went into that tent shop and
asked about us?"
"He might," I retorted; "but, on the other hand, there's no
reason why our going to Canada should keep the rest of the
United States at home!"
However, the thing did seem queer, somehow. Why had he told us
things that were not so? Why had he been so anxious to know who
we were? Why, had he asked us to take the Sunday-school picnic
to a place that did not belong to him?
"He may be going away to forget some trouble. You remember what
he said about happier days," said Tish.
"That was Updike's reason too," I relied. "Poignant grief!"
For just a moment our eyes met. The same suspicion had occurred
to us both. Well, we agreed to say nothing to Aggie or Hutchins,
for fear of upsetting them, and the next hour or so was
Hutchins read and Aggie slept. Tish and I strung beads for the
Indians, and watched the door into the next car. And, sure
enough, about the middle of the afternoon he appeared and stared
in at us. He watched us for quite a time, smoking a cigarette as
he did so. Then he came in and bent down over Tish.
"You didn't take the children out for the picnic, did you?" he
"I did not!" Tish snapped.
"I'm sorry. Never saw the place look so well!"
"Look here," Tish said, putting down her beads; "what were you
doing there that night anyhow? You don't belong to the family."
He looked surprised and then grieved.
"You've discovered that, have you?" he said. "I did, you know--
word of honor! They've turned me off; but I love the old place
still, and on summer nights I wander about it, recalling happier
Hutchins closed her book with a snap, and he sighed.
"I perceive that we are overheard," he said. "Some time I hope
to tell you the whole story. It's extremely sad. I'll not spoil
the beginning of your holiday with it."
All the time he had been talking he held a piece of paper in his
hand. When he left us Tish went back thoughtfully to her beads.
"It just shows, Lizzie," she said, "how wrong we are to trust to
appearances. That poor boy--"
I had stooped into the aisle and was picking up the piece of
paper which he had accidentally dropped as he passed Hutchins. I
opened it and read aloud to Tish and Aggie, who had wakened:--
"'Afraid you'll not get away with it! The red-haired man in the
car behind is a plain-clothes man.'"
Tish has a large fund of general knowledge, gained through
Charlie Sands; so what Aggie and I failed to understand she
interpreted at once.
"A plain-clothes man," she explained, "is a detective dressed as
a gentleman. It's as plain as pikestaff! The boy's received this
warning and dropped it. He has done something he shouldn't and
is escaping to Canada!"
I do not believe, however, that we should have thought of his
being a political spy but for the conductor of the train. He
proved to be a very nice person, with eight children and a
toupee; and he said that Canada was honeycombed with spies in
the pay of the German Government.
"They're sending wireless messages all the time, probably from
remote places," he said. "And, of course, their play now is to
blow up the transcontinental railroads. Of course the railroads
have an army of detectives on the watch."
"Good Heavens!" Aggie said, and turned pale.
Well, our pleasure in the journey was ruined. Every time the
whistle blew on the engine we quailed, and Tish wrote her will
then and there on the back of an envelope. It was while she was
writing that the truth came to her.
"That boy!" she said. "Don't you see it all? That note was a
warning to him. He's a spy and the red-haired man is after him."
None of us slept that night though Tish did a very courageous
thing about eleven o'clock, when she was ready for bed. I went
with her. We had put our dressing-gowns over our nightrobes, and
we went back to the car containing the spy.
He had not retired, but was sitting alone, staring ahead
moodily. The red-haired man was getting ready for bed, just
opposite. Tish spoke loudly, so the detective should hear.
"I have come back," Tish said, "to say that we know everything.
A word to the wise, Mister Happier Days! Don't try any of your
He sat, with his mouth quite open, and stared at us: but the red-
haired man pretended to hear nothing and took off his other
None of us slept at all except Hutchins. Though we had told her
nothing, she seemed inherently to distrust the spy. When, on
arriving at the town where we were to take the boat, he offered
to help her off with Aggie's cat basket, which she was carrying,
she snubbed him.
"I can do it myself," she said coldly; "and if you know when
you're well off you'll go back to where you came from. Something
might happen to you here in the wilderness."
"I wish it would," he replied in quite a tragic manner.
[As Tish said then, a man is probably often forced by
circumstances into hateful situations. No spy can really want to
be a spy with every brick wall suggesting, as it must, a firing-
Well, to make a long story short, we took the little steamer
that goes up the river three times a week to take groceries and
mail to the logging-camps, and the spy and the red-haired
detective went along. The spy seemed to have quite a lot of
luggage, but the detective had only a suitcase.
Tish, watching the detective, said his expression grew more and
more anxious as we proceeded up the river. Cottages gave place
to logging-camps and these to rocky islands, with no sign of
life; still, the spy stayed on the steamer, and so, of course,
did the detective.
Tish went down and examined the luggage. She reported that the
spy was traveling under the name of McDonald and that the
detective's suitcase was unmarked. Mr. McDonald had some boxes
and a green canoe. The detective had nothing at all. There were
no other passengers.
We let Aggie's cat out on the boat and he caught a mouse almost
immediately, and laid it in the most touching manner at the
detective's feet; but he was in a very bad humor and flung it
over the rail. Shortly after that he asked Tish whether she
intended to go to the Arctic Circle.
"I don't know that that's any concern of yours," Tish said.
"You're not after me, you know."
He looked startled and muttered something into his mustache.
"It's perfectly clear what's wrong with him," Tish said. "He's
got to stick to Mr. McDonald, and he hasn't got a tent in that
suitcase, or even a blanket. I don't suppose he knows where his
next meal's coming from."
She was probably right, for I saw the crew of the boat packing a
box or two of crackers and an old comfort into a box; and Aggie
overheard the detective say to the captain that if he would sell
him some fishhooks he would not starve anyhow.
Tish found an island that suited her about three o'clock that
afternoon, and we disembarked. Mr. McDonald insisted on helping
the crew with our stuff, which they piled on a large flat rock;
but the detective stood on the upper deck and scowled down at
us. Tish suggested that he was a woman-hater.
"They know so many lawbreaking women," she said, "it's quite
Having landed us, the boat went across to another island and
deposited Mr. McDonald and the green canoe. Tish, who had talked
about a lodge in some vast wilderness, complained at that; but
when the detective got off on a little tongue of the mainland,
in sight of both islands, she said the place was getting crowded
and she had a notion to go farther.
The first thing she did was to sit on a box and open a map. The
Canadian Pacific was only a few miles away through the woods!
Hutchins proved herself a treasure. She could work all round the
three of us; she opened boxes and a can of beans for supper with
the same hatchet, and had tea made and the beans heated while
Tish was selecting a site for the tent.
But--and I remembered this later--she watched the river at
intervals, with her cheeks like roses from the exertion. She was
really a pretty girl--only, when no one was looking, her mouth
that day had a way of setting itself firmly, and she frowned at
We, Hutchins and I, set up the stove against a large rock, and
when the teakettle started to boil it gave the river front a
homy look. Sitting on my folding-chair beside the stove, with a
cup of tea in my hand and a plate of beans on a doily on a
packing-box beside me, I was entirely comfortable. Through the
glasses I could see the red- haired man on the other shore
sitting on a rock, with his head in his hands; but Mr. McDonald
had clearly located on the other side of his island and was not
Aggie and Tish were putting up the tent, and Hutchins was
feeding the tea grounds to the worms, which had traveled
comfortably, when I saw a canoe coming up the river. I called to
Tish about it.
"An Indian!" she said calmly. "Get the beads, Aggie; and put my
shotgun on that rock, where he can see it." She stood and
watched him. "Primitive man, every inch of him!" she went on.
"Notice his uncovered head. Notice the freedom, almost the
savagery, of the way he uses that paddle. I wish he would sing.
You remember, in Hiawatha, how they sing as they paddle along?"
She got the beads and went to the water's edge; but the Indian
stooped just then and, picking up a Panama hat, put it on his
"I have called," he said, "to see whether I can interest you in
a set of books I am selling. I shall detain you only a moment.
Sixty-three steel engravings by well-known artists; best hand-
made paper; and the work itself is of high educational value."
Tish suddenly put the beads behind her back and said we did not
expect to have any time to read. We had come into the wilderness
to rest our minds.
"You are wrong, I fear," said the Indian. "Personally I find
that I can read better in the wilds than anywhere else. Great
thoughts in great surroundings! I take Nietzsche with me when I
Tish had the wretched beads behind her all the time; and, to
make conversation, more than anything else, she asked about
venison. He shrugged his shoulders. J. Fenimore Cooper had not
prepared us for an Indian who shrugged his shoulders.
"We Indians are allowed to kill deer," he said; "but I fear you
are prohibited. I am not even permitted to sell it."
"I should think," said Tish sharply, "that, since we are miles
from a game warden, you could safely sell us a steak or two."
He gazed at her disapprovingly. "I should not care to break the
law, madam," he said.
Then he picked up his paddle and took himself and his scruples
and his hand-made paper and his sixty-three steel engravings
down the river.
"Primitive man!" I said to Tish, from my chair. "Notice the
freedom, almost the savagery, with which he swings that paddle."
We had brought a volume of Cooper along, not so much to read as
to remind us how to address the Indians. Tish said nothing, but
she got the book and flung it far out into the river.
There were a number of small annoyances the first day or two.
Hutchins was having trouble with the motor launch, which the
steamer had towed up the day we came, and which she called the
"Mebbe." And another civilized Indian, with a gold watch and a
cigarette case, had rented us a leaky canoe for a dollar a day.
[We patched the leak with chewing gum, which Aggie always
carried for indigestion; and it did fairly well, so long as the
Then, on the second night, there was a little wind, and the tent
collapsed on us, the ridgepole taking Aggie across the chest. It
was that same night, I think, when Aggie's cat found a porcupine
in the woods, and came in looking like a pincushion.
What with chopping firewood for the stove, and carrying water,
and baling out the canoe, and with the motor boat giving one
gasp and then dying for every hundred times somebody turned over
the engine, we had no time to fish for two days.
The police agent fished all day from a rock, for, of course, he
had no boat; but he seemed to catch nothing. At times we saw him
digging frantically, as though for worms. What he dug with I do
not know; but, of course, he got no worms. Tish said if he had
been more civil she would have taken something to him and a can
of worms; but he had been rude, especially to Aggie's cat, and
probably the boat would bring him things.
What with getting settled and everything, we had not much time
to think about the spy. It was on the third day, I believe, that
he brought his green canoe to the open water in front of us and
anchored there, just beyond earshot.
He put out a line and opened a book; and from that time on he
was a part of the landscape every day from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. At
noon he would eat some sort of a lunch, reading as he ate.
He apparently never looked toward us, but he was always there.
It was the most extraordinary thing. At first we thought he had
found a remarkable fishing-place; but he seemed to catch very
few fish. It was Tish, I think, who found the best explanation.
"He's providing himself with an alibi," she stated. "How can he
be a spy when we see him all day long? Don't you see how clever
It was the more annoying because we had arranged a small core
for soap-and-water bathing, hanging up a rod for bath-towels and
suspending a soap-dish and a sponge-holder from an overhanging
branch. The cove was well shielded by brush and rocks from the
island, but naturally was open to the river.
It was directly opposite this cove that Mr. McDonald took up his
This compelled us to bathe in the early morning, while the water
was still cold, and resulted in causing Aggie a most
uncomfortable half-hour on the fourth morning of our stay.
She was the last one in the pool, and Tish absent-mindedly took
her bathrobe and slippers back to the camp when she went. Tish
went out in the canoe shortly after. She was learning to use
one, with a life preserver on--Tish, of course, not the canoe.
And Mr. McDonald arriving soon after, Aggie was compelled to sit
in the water for two hours and twenty minutes. When Hutchins
found her she was quite blue.
This was the only disagreement we had all summer: Aggie's
refusing to speak to Tish that entire day. She said Mr. McDonald
had seen her head and thought it was some sort of swimming
animal, and had shot at her.
Mr. McDonald said afterward he knew her all the time, and was
uncertain whether she was taking a cure for something or was
trying to commit suicide. He said he spent a wretched morning.
At five o'clock that evening we began to hear a curious tapping