Part 4 out of 6
noise from the spy's island. It would last for a time, stop, and
Hutchins said it was woodpeckers; but Tish looked at me
"Wireless!" she said. "What did I tell you?"
That decided her next move, for that evening she put some tea
and canned corn and a rubber blanket into the canoe; and in fear
and trembling I went with her.
"It's going to rain, Lizzie," she said, "and after all, that
detective may be surly; but he's doing his duty by his country.
It's just as heroic to follow a spy up here, and starve to death
watching him, as it is to storm a trench--and less showy. And
I've something to tell him."
The canoe tilted just then, and only by heroic effort, were we
able to calm it.
"Then why not go comfortably in the motor boat?"
Tish stopped, her paddle in the air. "Because I can't make that
dratted engine go," she said, "and because I believe Hutchins
would drown us all before she'd take any help to him. It's my
belief that she's known him somewhere. I've seen her sit on a
rock and look across at him with murder in her eyes."
A little wind had come up, and the wretched canoe was leaking,
the chewing gum having come out. Tish was paddling; so I was
compelled to sit over the aperture, thus preventing water from
coming in. Despite my best efforts, however, about three inches
seeped in and washed about me. It was quite uncomfortable.
The red-haired man was asleep when we landed. He had hung the
comfort over a branch, like a tent, and built a fire at the end
of it. He had his overcoat on, buttoned to the chin, and his
head was on his suit-case. He sat up and looked at us, blinking.
"We've brought you some tea and some canned corn," Tish said;
"and a rubber blanket. It's going to rain."
He slid out of the tent, feet first, and got up; but when he
tried to speak he sneezed. He had a terrible cold.
"I might as well say at once," Tish went on, "that we know why
you are here--"
"The deuce you do!" he said hoarsely.
"We do not particularly care about you, especially since the way
you acted to a friendly and innocent cat--one can always judge a
man by the way he treats dumb animals; but we sympathize with
your errand. We'll even help if we can."
"Then the--the person in question has confided in you?"
"Not at all," said Tish loftily. "I hope we can put two and two
together. Have you got a revolver?"
He looked startled at that. "I have one," he said; "but I guess
I'll not need it. The first night or two a skunk hung round;
two, in fact--mother and child--but I think they're gone."
"Would you like some fish?"
"My God, no!"
This is a truthful narrative. That is exactly what he said.
"I'll tell you what I do need, ladies," he went on: ""If you've
got a spare suit of underwear over there, I could use it. It'd
stretch, probably. And I'd like a pen and some ink. I must have
lost my fountain pen out of my pocket stooping over the bank to
wash my face."
"Do you know the wireless code?" Tish asked suddenly.
"I have every reason to believe," she said impressively, "that
one of the great trees on that island conceals a wireless
"I see!" He edged back a little from us both.
"I should think," Tish said, eyeing him, "that a knowledge of
the wireless code would be essential to you in your occupation."
"We--we get a smattering of all sorts of things," he said; but
he was uneasy--you could see that with half an eye.
He accompanied us down to the canoe; but once, when Tish turned
suddenly, he ducked back as though he had been struck and
changed color. He thanked us for the tea and corn, and said he
wished we had a spare razor--but, of course, he supposed not.
"I suppose the--the person in question will stay as long as you
do?" he asked, rather nervously.
"It looks like it," said Tish grimly. "I've no intention of
being driven away, if that's what you mean. We'll stay as long
as the fishing's good."
He groaned under his breath. "The whole d--d river is full of
fish," he said. "They crawled up the bank last night and ate all
the crackers I'd saved for to-day. Oh, I'll pay somebody out for
this, all right! Good gracious, ladies, your boat's full of
"It has a hole in it," Tish replied and upturned it to empty it.
When he saw the hole his eyes stuck out. "You can't go out in
that leaky canoe! It's suicidal!"
"Not at all," Tish assured him. "My friend here will sit on the
leak. Get in quick, Lizzie. It's filling."
The last we saw of the detective that night he was standing on
the bank, staring after us. Afterward, when a good many things
were cleared up, he said he decided that he'd been asleep and
dreamed the whole thing--the wireless, and my sitting on the
hole in the canoe, and the wind tossing it about, and everything-
- only, of course, there was the tea and the canned corn!
We did our first fishing the next day. Hutchins had got the
motor boat going, and I put over the spoon I had made from the
feather duster. After going a mile or so slowly I felt a tug,
and on drawing my line in I found I had captured a large fish. I
wrapped the line about a part of the engine and Tish put the
barrel hoop with the netting underneath it. The fish was really
quite large-- about four feet, I think--and it broke through the
netting. I wished to hit it with the oar, but Hutchins said that
might break the fin and free it. Unluckily we had not brought
Tish's gun, or we might have shot it.
At last we turned the boat round and went home, the fish
swimming alongside, with its mouth open. And there Aggie, who is
occasionally almost inspired, landed the fish by the simple
expedient of getting out of the boat, taking the line up a bank
and wrapping it round a tree. By all pulling together we landed
the fish successfully. It was forty-nine inches by Tish's tape
Tish did not sleep well that night. She dreamed that the fish
had a red mustache and was a spy in disguise. When she woke she
declared there was somebody prowling round the tent.
She got her shotgun and we all sat up in bed for an hour or so.
Nothing happened, however, except that Aggie cried out that
there was a small animal just inside the door of the tent. We
could see it, too, though faintly. Tish turned the shotgun on it
and it disappeared; but the next morning she found she had shot
one of her shoes to pieces.
It was the day Tish began her diary that we discovered the red-
haired man's signal. Tish was compelled to remain at home most
of the day, breaking in another pair of shoes, and she amused
herself by watching the river and writing down interesting
things. She had read somewhere of the value of such records of
10 A.M. Gull on rock. Very pretty. Frightened away by
the McDonald person, who has just taken up his customary
position. Is he reading or watching this camp?
10.22. Detective is breakfasting--through glasses, he
is eating canned corn. Aggie--pickerel, from bank.
10.40. Aggie's cat, beside her, has caught a small
fish. Aggie declares that the cat stole one of her worms
and held it in the water. I think she is mistaken.
11. Most extraordinary thing--Hutchins has asked
permission to take pen and ink across to the detective!
11.20. Hutchins is still across the river. If I did not
know differently I should say she and the detective are
quarreling. He is whittling something. Through glasses,
she appears to stamp her foot.
11.30. Aggie has captured a small sunfish. Hutchins is
still across the river. He seems to be appealing to her
for something--possibly the underwear. We have none to
11.40. Hutchins is an extraordinary girl. She hates men,
evidently. She has had some sort of quarrel with the
detective and has returned flushed with battle. Mr.
McDonald called to her as she passed, but she ignored
12, noon. Really, there is something mysterious about
all this. The detective was evidently whittling a
flagpole. He has erected it now, with a red silk
handkerchief at end. It hangs out over the water. Aggie-
-bass, but under legal size.
1.15 P.M. The flag puzzles Hutchins. She is covertly
watching it. It is evidently a signal-- but to whom? Are
the secret-service men closing in on McDonald?
2. On consulting map find unnamed lake only a few miles
away. Shall investigate to-morrow.
3. Steamer has just gone. Detective now has canoe, blue
in color. Also food. He sent off his letter.
4. Fed worms. Lizzie thinks they know me. How kindness
is its own reward! Mr. McDonald is drawing in his
anchor, which is a large stone fastened to a rope. Shall
Tish's notes ended here. She did not take the bath after all,
for Mr. McDonald made us a call that afternoon.
He beached the green canoe and came up the rocks calmly and
smilingly. Hutchins gave him a cold glance and went on with what
she was doing, which was chopping a plank to cook the fish on.
He bowed cheerfully to all of us and laid a string of fish on a
"I brought a little offering," he said, looking at Hutchins's
back. "The fishing isn't what I expected but if the young lady
with the hatchet will desist, so I can make myself heard, I've
found a place where there are fish! This biggest fellow is three
and a quarter pounds."
Hutchins chopped harder than ever, and the plank flew up,
striking her in the chest; but she refused all assistance,
especially from Mr. McDonald, who was really concerned. He
hurried to her and took the hatchet out of her hand, but in his
excitement he was almost uncivil.
"You obstinate little idiot!" he said. "You'll kill yourself
To my surprise, Hutchins, who had been entirely unemotional
right along, suddenly burst into tears and went into the tent.
Mr. McDonald took a hasty step or two after her, realizing, no
doubt, that he had said more than he should to a complete
stranger; but she closed the fly of the tent quite viciously and
left him standing, with his arms folded, staring at it.
It was at that moment he saw the large fish, hanging from a
tree. He stood for a moment staring at it and we could see that
he was quite surprised.
"It is a fish, isn't it?" he said after a moment. "I-I thought
for a moment it was painted on something."
He sat down suddenly on one of our folding-chairs and looked at
the fish, and then at each of us in turn.
"You know," he said, "I didn't think there were such fish! I--
you mustn't mind my surprise." He wiped his forehead with his
handkerchief. "Just kick those things I brought into the river,
will you? I apologize for them."
"Forty-nine inches," Tish said. "We expect to do better when we
really get started. This evening we shall go after its mate,
which is probably hanging round."
"Its mate?" he said, rather dazed. "Oh, I see. Of course!"
He still seemed to doubt his senses, for he went over and
touched it with his finger. "Ladies," he said, "I'm not going
after the- the mate. I couldn't land it if I did get it. I am
going to retire from the game--except for food; but I wish, for
the sake of my reason, you'd tell me what you caught it with."
Well, you may heartily distrust a person; but that is no reason
why you should not answer a simple question. So I showed him the
thing I had made--and he did not believe me!
"You're perfectly right," he said. "Every game has its secrets.
I had no business to ask. But you haven't caught me with that
feather-duster thing any more than you caught that fish with it.
I don't mind your not telling me. That's your privilege. But
isn't it rather rubbing it in to make fun of me?"
"Nothing of the sort!" Aggie said angrily. "If you had caught it-
"My dear lady," he said, "I couldn't have caught it. The mere
shock of getting such a bite would have sent me out of my boat
in a swoon." He turned to Tish. "I have only one
disappointment," he said, "that it wasn't one of _our_ worms
that did the work."
Tish said afterward she was positively sorry for him, he looked
so crestfallen. So, when he started for his canoe she followed
"Look here," she said; "you're young, and I don't want to see
you get into trouble. Go home, young man! There are plenty of
others to take your place."
He looked rather startled. "That's it exactly," he said, after a
moment. "As well as I can make out there are about a hundred. If
you think," he said fiercely, raising his voice, "that I'm going
to back out and let somebody else in, I'm not. And that's flat."
"It's a life-and-death matter," said Tish.
"You bet it's a life-and-death matter."
"And--what about the--the red-headed man over there?"
His reply amazed us all. "He's harmless," he said. "I don't like
him, naturally; but I admire the way he holds on. He's making
the best of a bad business."
"Do you know why he's here?"
He looked uneasy for once.
"Well, I've got a theory," he replied; but, though his voice was
calm, he changed color.
"Then perhaps you'll tell me what that signal means?"
Tish gave him the glasses and he saw the red flag. I have never
seen a man look so unhappy.
"Holy cats!" he said, and almost dropped the glasses. " Why, he--
he must be expecting somebody!"
"So I should imagine," Tish commented dryly. "He sent a letter
by the boat to-day."
"The h--l he did!" And then: "That's ridiculous! You're
mistaken. As a--as a matter of fact, I went over there the other
night and commandeered his fountain pen."
So it had not fallen out of his pocket!
"I'll be frank, ladies," he said. "It's my object just now to
keep that chap from writing letters. It doesn't matter why, but
He was horribly cast down when we told him about Hutchins and
the pen and ink.
"So that's it!" he said gloomily. "And the flag's a signal, of
course. Ladies, you have done it out of the kindness of your
hearts, I know; but I think you have wrecked my life."
He took a gloomy departure and left us all rather wrought up.
Who were we, as Tish said, to imperil a fellow man? And another
thing- -if there was a reward on him, why should we give it to a
red- haired detective, who was rude to harmless animals and ate
canned corn for breakfast?
With her customary acumen Tish solved the difficulty that very
"The simplest thing," she said, "of course, would be to go over
during the night and take the flag away; but he may have more
red handkerchiefs. Then, too, he seems to be a light sleeper,
and it would be awkward to have him shoot at us."
She sat in thought for quite a while. Hutchins was watching the
sunset, and seemed depressed and silent. Tish lowered her voice.
"There's no reason why we shouldn't have a red flag, too," she
said. "It gives us an even chance to get in on whatever is about
to happen. We can warn Mr. McDonald, for one thing, if any one
comes here. Personally I think he is unjustly suspected."
[But Tish was to change her mind very soon.]
We made the flag that night, by lantern light, out of Tish's red
silk petticoat. Hutchins was curious, I am sure; but we
explained nothing. And we fastened it obliquely over the river,
like the one on the other side.
Tish's change of heart, which occurred the newt morning, was due
to a most unfortunate accident that happened to her at nine
o'clock. Hutchins, who could swim like a duck, was teaching Tish
to swim, and she was learning nicely. Tish had put a life-
preserver on, with a clothes-line fastened to it, and Aggie was
sitting on the bank holding the rope while she went through the
Having completed the lesson Hutchins went into the woods for red
raspberries, leaving Tish still practicing in the water with
Aggie holding the rope. Happening to sneeze, the line slipped
out of her hand, and she had the agonizing experience of seeing
Tish carried away by the current.
I was washing some clothing in the river a few yards down the
stream when Tish came floating past. I shall never forget her
expression or my own sense of absolute helplessness.
"Get the canoe," said Tish, "and follow. I'm heading for Island
She was quite calm, though pale; but, in her anxiety to keep
well above the water, she did what was almost a fatal thing--she
pushed the life-preserver lower down round her body. And having
shifted the floating center, so to speak, without warning her
head disappeared and her feet rose in the air.
For a time it looked as though she would drown in that position;
but Tish rarely loses her presence of mind. She said she knew at
once what was wrong. So, though somewhat handicapped by the
position, she replaced the cork belt under her arms and emerged
Aggie had started back into the woods for Hutchins; but, with
one thing and another, it was almost ten before they returned
together. Tish by that time was only a dot on the horizon
through the binocular, having missed Island Eleven, as she
explained later, by the rope being caught on a submerged log,
which deflected her course.
We got into the motor boat and followed her, and, except for a
most unjust sense of irritation that I had not drowned myself by
following her in the canoe, she was unharmed. We got her into
the motor boat and into a blanket, and Aggie gave her some
blackberry cordial at once. It was some time before her teeth
ceased chattering so she could speak. When she did it was to
announce that she had made a discovery.
"He's a spy, all right!" she said. "And that Indian is another.
Neither of them saw me as I floated past. They were on Island
Eleven. Mr. McDonald wrote something and gave it to the Indian.
It wasn't a letter or he'd have sent it by the boat. He didn't
even put it in an envelope, so far as I could see. It's probably
Well, we took her home, and she had a boiled egg at dinner.
The rest of us had fish. It is one of Tish's theories that fish
should only be captured for food, and that all fish caught must
be eaten. I do not know when I have seen fish come as easy.
Perhaps it was the worms, which had grown both long and fat, so
that one was too much for a hook; and we cut them with scissors,
like tape or ribbon. Aggie and I finally got so sick of fish
that while Tish's head was turned we dropped in our lines
without bait. But, even at that, Aggie, reeling in her line to
go home, caught a three- pound bass through the gills and could
not shake it off.
We tried to persuade Tish to lie down that afternoon, but she
"I'm not sick," she said, "even if you two idiots did try to
drown me. And I'm on the track of something. If that was a
letter, why didn't he send it by the boat?"
Just then her eye fell on the flagpole, and we followed her
horrified gaze. The flag had been neatly cut away!
Tish's eyes narrowed. She looked positively dangerous; and
within five minutes she had cut another flag out of the back
breadth of the petticoat and flung it defiantly in the air. Who
had cut away the signal--McDonald or the detective? We had
planned to investigate the nameless lake that afternoon, Tish
being like Colonel Roosevelt in her thirst for information, as
well as in the grim pugnacity that is her dominant
characteristic; but at the last minute she decided not to go.
"You and Aggie go, Lizzie," she said. "I've got something on
"Tish!" Aggie wailed. "You'll drown yourself or something."
"Don't be a fool!" Tish snapped. "There's a portage, but you and
Lizzie can carry the canoe across on your heads. I've seen
pictures of it. It's easy. And keep your eyes open for a
wireless outfit. There's one about, that's sure!"
"Lots of good it will do to keep our eyes open," I said with
some bitterness, "with our heads inside the canoe!"
We finally started and Hutchins went with us. It was Hutchins,
too, who voiced the way we all felt when we had crossed the
river and were preparing for what she called the portage.
"She wants to get us out of the way, Miss Lizzie," she said.
"Can you imagine what mischief she's up to?"
"That is not a polite way to speak of Miss Tish, Hutchins," I
said coldly. Nevertheless, my heart sank.
Hutchins and I carried the canoe. It was a hot day and there was
no path. Aggie, who likes a cup of hot tea at five o'clock, had
brought along a bottle filled with tea, and a small basket
containing sugar and cups.
Personally I never had less curiosity about a lake. As a matter
of fact I wished there was no lake. Twice--being obliged, as it
were, to walk blindly and the canoe being excessively heavy--I,
who led the way, ran the front end of the thing against the
trunk of a tree, and both Hutchins and I sat down violently,
under the canoe as a result of the impact.
To add to the discomfort of the situation Aggie declared that we
were being followed by a bear, and at the same instant stepped
into a swamp up to her knees. She became calm at once, with the
calmness of despair.
"Go and leave me, Lizzie!" she said. "He is just behind those
bushes. I may sink before he gets me--that's one comfort."
Hutchins found a log and, standing on it, tried to pull her up;
but she seemed firmly fastened. Aggie went quite white; and,
almost beside myself, I poured her a cup of hot tea, which she
drank. I remember she murmured Mr. Wiggins's name, and
immediately after she yelled that the bear was coming.
It was, however, the detective who emerged from the bushes. He
got Aggie out with one good heave, leaving both her shoes gone
forever; and while she collapsed, whimpering, he folded his arms
and stared at all of us angrily.
"What sort of damnable idiocy is this?" he demanded in a most
Aggie revived and sat upright.
"That's our affair, isn't it?" said Hutchins curtly.
"Not by a blamed sight!" was his astonishing reply.
"The next time I am sinking in a morass, let me sink," Aggie
said, with simple dignity.
He did not speak another word, but gave each of us a glance of
the most deadly contempt, and finished up with Hutchins.
"What I don't understand," he said furiously, "is why you have
to lend yourself to this senile idiocy. Because some old women
choose to sink themselves in a swamp is no reason why you should
Aggie said afterward only the recollection that he had saved her
life prevented her emptying the tea on him. I should hardly have
"Naturally," she said in a voice thick with fury, "you are in a
position to insult these ladies, and you do. But I warn you, if
you intend to keep on, this swamp is nothing. We like it here.
We may stay for months. I hope you have your life insured."
Perhaps we should have understood it all then. Of course Charlie
Sands, for whom I am writing this, will by this time, with his
keen mind, comprehend it all; but I assure you we suspected
How simple, when you line it up: The country house and the
garden hose; the detective, with no camp equipment; Mr. McDonald
and the green canoe; the letter on the train; the red flag; the
girl in the pink tam-o'-shanter--who has not yet appeared, but
will shortly; Mr. McDonald's incriminating list--also not yet,
How inevitably they led to what Charlie Sands has called our
The detective, who was evidently very strong, only glared at
her. Then he swung the canoe up on his head and, turning about,
started back the way we had come. Though Hutchins and Aggie were
raging, I was resigned. My neck was stiff and my shoulders
ached. We finished our tea in silence and then made our way back
to the river.
I have now reached Tish's adventure. It is not my intention in
this record to defend Tish. She thought her conclusions were
correct. Charlie Sands says she is like Shaw--she has got a
crooked point of view, but she believes she is seeing straight.
And, after a while, if you look her way long enough you get a
sort of mental astigmatism.
So I shall confess at once that, at the time, I saw nothing
immoral in what she did that afternoon while we were having our
adventure in the swamp.
I was putting cloths wrung out of arnica and hot water on my
neck when she came home, and Hutchins was baking biscuit--she
was a marvelous cook, though Aggie, who washed the dishes,
objected to the number of pans she used.
Tish ignored both my neck and the biscuits, and, marching up the
bank, got her shotgun from the tent and loaded it.
"We may be attacked at any time," she said briefly; and, getting
the binocular, she searched the river with a splendid sweeping
glance. "At any time. Hutchins, take these glasses, please, and
watch that we are not disturbed."
"I'm baking biscuit, Miss Letitia."
"Biscuit!" said Tish scornfully. "Biscuit in times like these?"
She walked up to the camp stove and threw the oven door open;
but, though I believe she had meant to fling them into the
river, she changed her mind when she saw them.
"Open a jar of honey, Hutchins," she said, and closed the oven;
but her voice was abstracted. "You can watch the river from the
stove, Hutchins," she went on. "Miss Aggie and Miss Lizzie and I
must confer together."
So we went into the tent, and Tish closed and fastened it.
"Now," she said, "I've got the papers."
"The ones Mr. McDonald gave that Indian this morning. I had an
idea he'd still have them. You can't hurry an Indian. I waited
in the bushes until he went in swimming. Then I went through his
"Tish Carberry!" cried Aggie.
"These are not times to be squeamish," Tish said loftily. "I'm
neutral; of course; but Great Britain has had this war forced on
her and I'm going to see that she has a fair show. I've ordered
all my stockings from the same shop in London, for twenty years,
and squarer people never lived. Look at these--how innocent they
look, until one knows!"
She produced two papers from inside her waist. I must confess
that, at first glance, I saw nothing remarkable.
"The first one looks," said Tish, "like a grocery order. It's
meant to look like that. It's relieved my mind of one thing--
McDonald's got no wireless or he wouldn't be sending cipher
messages by an Indian."
It was written on a page torn out of a pocket notebook and the
page was ruled with an inch margin at the left. This was the
1 Dozen eggs.
20 Yards fishing-line.
1 pkg. Needles--anything to sew a button on.
1 doz. A B C bass hooks.
3 lbs. Meat--anything so it isn't fish.
1 bot. Ink for fountain pen.
3 Tins sardines.
Well, I could not make anything of it; but, of course, I have
not Tish's mind. Aggie was almost as bad.
"What's an extractor?" she asked.
"Exactly!" said Tish. "What is an extractor? Is the fellow going
to pull teeth? No! He needed an _e_; so he made up a word."
She ran her finger down the first letters of the second column.
"D-y-n-a-m-i-t-e!" she said triumphantly. "Didn't I tell you?"
Well, there it was--staring at us. I felt positively chilled. He
looked so young and agreeable, and, as Aggie said, he had such
nice teeth. And to know him for what he was--it was tragic! But
that was not all.
"Add the numbers!" said Tish. "Thirty-one tons, perhaps, of
dynamite! And that's only part," said Tish. "Here's the most
damning thing of all--a note to his accomplice!"
"Damning" is here used in the sense of condemnatory. We are none
of us addicted to profanity.
We read the other paper, which had been in a sealed envelope,
but without superscription. It is before me as I write, and I am
copying it exactly:--
I shall have to see you. I'm going crazy! Don't you
realize that this is a matter of life and death to me?
Come to Island Eleven to-night, won't you? And give me a
chance to talk, anyhow. Something has got to be done and
done soon. I'm desperate!
Aggie sneezed three times in sheer excitement; for anyone can
see how absolutely incriminating the letter was. It was not
signed, but it was in the same writing as the list.
Tish, who knows something about everything, said the writing
denoted an unscrupulous and violent nature.
"The _y_ is especially vicious," she said. "I wouldn't trust a
man who made a _y_ like that to carry a sick child to the
The thing, of course, was to decide at once what measures to
take. The boat would not come again for two days, and to send a
letter by it to the town marshal or sheriff, or whatever the
official is in Canada who takes charge of spies, would be
another loss of time.
"Just one thing," said Tish. "I'll plan this out and find some
way to deal with the wretch; but I wouldn't say anything to
Hutchins. She's a nice little thing, though she is a fool about
a motor boat. There's no case in scaring her."
For some reason or other, however, Hutchins was out of spirits
"I hope you're not sick, Hutchins?" said Tish.
"No, indeed, Miss Tish."
"You're not eating your fish."
"I'm sick of fish," she said calmly. "I've eaten so much fish
that when I see a hook I have a mad desire to go and hang myself
"Fish," said Tish grimly, "is good for the brain. I do not care
to boast, but never has my mind been so clear as it is to-
Now certainly, though Tish's tone was severe, there was nothing
in it to hurt the girl; but she got up from the cracker box on
which she was sitting, with her eyes filled with tears.
"Don't mind me. I'm a silly fool," she said; and went down to
the river and stood looking out over it.
It quite spoiled our evening. Aggie made her a hot lemonade and,
I believe, talked to her about Mr. Wiggins, and how, when he was
living, she had had fits of weeping without apparent cause. But
if the girl was in love, as we surmised, she said nothing about
it. She insisted that it was too much fish and nervous strain
about the Mebbe.
"I never know," she said, "when we start out whether we're going
to get back or be marooned and starve to death on some island."
Tish said afterward that her subconscious self must have taken
the word "marooned" and played with it; for in ten minutes or so
her plan popped into her head.
"'Full-panoplied from the head of Jove,' Lizzie," she said.
"Really, it is not necessary to think if one only has faith. The
supermind does it all without effort. I do not dislike the young
man; but I must do my duty."
Tish's plan was simplicity itself. We were to steal his canoe.
"Then we'll have him," she finished. "The current's too strong
there for him to swim to the mainland."
"He might try it and drown," Aggie objected. "Spy or no spy,
he's somebody's son."
"War is no time to be chicken-hearted," Tish replied.
I confess I ate little all that day. At noon Mr. McDonald came
and borrowed two eggs from us.
"I've sent over to a store across country, by my Indian guide,
philosopher, and friend," he said, "for some things I needed;
but I dare say he's reading Byron somewhere and has forgotten
"Guide, philosopher, and friend!" I caught Tish's eye. McDonald
had written the Updike letter! McDonald had meant to use our
respectability to take him across the border!
We gave him the eggs, but Tish said afterward she was not
deceived for a moment.
"The Indian has told him," she said, "and he's allaying our
suspicions. Oh, he's clever enough! "Know the Indian mind and my
own!'" she quoted from the Updike letter. "'I know Canada
thoroughly.' 'My object is not money.' I should think not!"
Tish stole the green canoe that night. She put on the life
preserver and we tied the end of the rope that Aggie had let
slip to the canoe. The life- preserver made it difficult to
paddle, Tish said, but she felt more secure. If she struck a
rock and upset, at least she would not drown; and we could start
after her at dawn with the Mebbe.
"I'll be somewhere down the river," she said, "and safe enough,
most likely, unless there are falls."
Hutchins watched in a puzzled way, for Tish did not leave until
"You'd better let me follow you with the launch, Miss Tish," she
said. "Just remember that if the canoe sinks you're tied to it."
"I'm on serious business to-night, Hutchins," Tish said
ominously. "You are young, and I refuse to trouble your young
mind; but your ears are sharp. If you hear any shooting, get the
boat and follow me."
The mention of shooting made me very nervous. We watched Tish as
long as we could see her; then we returned to the tent, and
Aggie and I crocheted by the hanging lantern. Two hours went by.
At eleven o'clock Tish had not returned and Hutchins was in the
motor boat, getting it ready to start.
"I like courage, Miss Lizzie," she said to me; "but this thing
of elderly women, with some sort of bug, starting out at night
in canoes is too strong for me. Either she's going to stay in at
night or I'm going home."
"Elderly nothing!" I said, with some spirit. "She is in the
prime of life. Please remember, Hutchins, that you are speaking
of your employer. Miss Tish has no bug, as you call it."
"Oh, she's rational enough," Hutchins retorted: "but she is a
woman of one idea and that sort of person is dangerous."
I was breathless at her audacity.
"Come now, Miss Lizzie," she said, "how can I help when I don't
know what is being done? I've done my best up here to keep you
comfortable and restrain Miss Tish's recklessness; but I ought
to know something."
She was right; and, Tish or no Tish, then and there I told her.
She was more than astonished. She sat in the motor boat, with a
lantern at her feet, and listened.
"I see," she said slowly. "So the--so Mr. McDonald is a spy and
has sent for dynamite to destroy the railroad! And--and the red-
haired man is a detective! How do you know he is a detective?"
I told her then about the note we had picked up from beside her
in the train, and because she was so much interested she really
seemed quite thrilled. I brought the cipher grocery list and the
other note down to her.
"It's quite convincing, isn't it?" she said. "And--and exciting!
I don't know when I've been so excited."
She really was. Her cheeks were flushed. She looked exceedingly
"The thing to do," she said, "is to teach him a lesson. He's
young. He mayn't always have had to stoop to such--such
criminality. If we can scare him thoroughly, it might do him a
lot of good."
I said I was afraid Tish took a more serious view of things and
would notify the authorities. And at that moment there came two
or three shots--then silence.
I shall never forget the ride after Tish and how we felt when we
failed to find her; for there was no sign of her. The wind had
come up, and, what with seeing Tish tied to that wretched canoe
and sinking with it or shot through the head and lying dead in
the bottom of it, we were about crazy. As we passed Island
Eleven we could see the spy's camp-fire and his tent, but no
At four in the morning we gave up and started back, heavy-
hearted. What, therefore, was our surprise to find Tish sitting
by the fire in her bathrobe, with a cup of tea in her lap and
her feet in a foot-tub of hot water! Considering all we had gone
through and that we had obeyed orders exactly, she was
distinctly unjust. Indeed, at first she quite refused to speak
to any of us.
"I do think, Tish," Aggie said as she stood shivering by the
fire, "that you might at least explain where you have been. We
have been going up and down the river for hours, burying you
over and over."
Tish took a sip of tea, but said nothing.
"You said," I reminded her, "that if there was shooting, we were
to start after you at once. When we heard the shots, we went, of
Tish leaned over and, taking the teakettle from the fire, poured
more water into the foot-tub. Then at last she turned to speak.
"Bring some absorbent cotton and some bandages, Hutchins," she
said. "I am bleeding from a hundred wounds. As for you"--she
turned fiercely on Aggie and me--"the least you could have done
was to be here when I returned, exhausted, injured, and weary;
but, of course, you were gallivanting round the lake in an
upholstered motor boat."
Here she poured more water into the foot-tub and made it much
too hot. This thawed her rather, and she explained what was
wrong. She was bruised, scratched to the knees, and with a bump
the size of an egg on her forehead, where she had run into a
The whole story was very exciting. It seems she got the green
canoe without any difficulty, the spy being sound asleep in his
tent; but about that time the wind came up and Tish said she
could not make an inch of progress toward our camp.
The chewing gum with which we had repaired our canoe came out at
that time and the boat began to fill, Tish being unable to sit
over the leak and paddle at the same time. So, at last, she gave
up and made for the mainland.
"The shooting," Tish said with difficulty, "was by men from the
Indian camp firing at me. I landed below the camp, and was
making my way as best I could through the woods when they heard
me moving. I believe they thought it was a bear."
I think Tish was more afraid of the Indians, in spite of their
sixty-three steel engravings and the rest of it, than she
pretended, though she said she would have made herself known,
but at that moment she fell over a fallen tree and for fifteen
minutes was unable to speak a word. When at last she rose the
excitement was over and they had gone back to their camp.
"Anyhow," she finished, "the green canoe is hidden a couple of
miles down the river, and I guess Mr. McDonald is safe for a
time. Lizzie, you can take a bath to-morrow safely."
Tish sat up most of the rest of the night composing a letter to
the authorities of the town, telling them of Mr. McDonald and
enclosing careful copies of the incriminating documents she had
During the following morning the river was very quiet. Through
the binocular we were able to see Mr. McDonald standing on the
shore of his island and looking intently in our direction, but
naturally we paid no attention to him.
The red-haired man went in swimming that day and necessitated
our retiring to the tent for an hour and a half; but at noon
Aggie's naturally soft heart began to assert itself.
"Spy or no spy," she said to Tish, "we ought to feed him."
"Huh!" was Tish's rejoinder. "There is no sense is wasting good
food on a man whose hours are numbered."
We were surprised, however, to find that Hutchins, who had
detested Mr. McDonald, was rather on Aggie's side.
"The fact that he has but a few more hours," she said to Tish,
"is an excellent reason for making those hours as little
wretched as possible."
It was really due to Hutchins, therefore, that Mr. McDonald had
a luncheon. The problem of how to get it to him was a
troublesome one, but Tish solved it with her customary sagacity.
"We can make a raft," she said, "a small one, large enough to
hold a tray. By stopping the launch some yards above the island
we can float his luncheon to him quite safely."
That was the method we ultimately pursued and it worked most
Hutchins baked hot biscuits; and, by putting a cover over the
pan, we were enabled to get them to him before they cooled.
We prepared a really appetizing luncheon of hot biscuits,
broiled ham, marmalade, and tea, adding, at Aggie's
instructions, a jar of preserved peaches, which she herself had
Tish made the raft while we prepared the food, and at exactly
half-past twelve o'clock we left the house. Mr. McDonald saw us
coming and was waiting smilingly at the upper end of the island.
"Great Scott!" he said. "I thought you were never going to hear
me. Another hour and I'd have made a swim for it, though it's
suicidal with this current. I'll show you where you can come in
so you won't hit a rock."
Hutchins had stopped the engine of the motor boat and we threw
out the anchor at a safe distance from the shore.
"We are not going to land," said Tish, "and I think you know
perfectly well the reason why."
"Oh, now," he protested; "surely you are going to land! I've had
an awfully uncomfortable accident--my canoe's gone."
"We know that," Tish said calmly. "As a matter of fact, we took
Mr. McDonald sat down suddenly on a log at the water's edge and
looked at us.
"Oh!" he said.
"You may not believe it," Tish said, "but we know everything--
your dastardly plot, who the red-haired man is, and all the
destruction and wretchedness you are about to cause."
"Oh, I say!" he said feebly. "I wouldn't go as far as that. I'm--
I'm not such a bad sort."
"That depends on the point of view," said Tish grimly.
Aggie touched her on the arm then and reminded her that the
biscuits were getting cold; but Tish had a final word with him.
"Your correspondence has fallen into my hands, young man," she
said, "and will be turned over to the proper authorities."
"It won't tell them anything they don't know," he said doggedly.
"Look here, ladies: I am not ashamed of this thing. I--I am
proud of it. I am perfectly willing to yell it out loud for
everybody to hear. As a matter of fact, I think I will."
Mr. McDonald stood up suddenly and threw his head back; but here
Hutchins, who had been silent, spoke for the first time.
"Don't be an idiot!" she said coldly. "We have something here
for you to eat if you behave yourself."
He seemed to see her then for the first time, for he favored her
with a long stare.
"Ah!" he said. "Then you are not entirely cold and heartless?"
She made no reply to this, being busy in assisting Aggie to
lower the raft over the side of the boat.
"Broiled ham, tea, hot biscuits, and marmalade," said Aggie
gently. "My poor fellow, we are doing what we consider our duty;
but we want you to know that it is hard for us--very hard."
When he saw our plan, Mr. McDonald's face fell; but he stepped
out into the water up to his knees and caught the raft as it
Before he said "Thank you" he lifted the cover of the pan and
saw the hot biscuits underneath.
"Really," he said, "it's very decent of you. I sent off a
grocery order yesterday, but nothing has come."
Tish had got Hutchins to start the engine by that time and we
were moving away. He stood there, up to his knees in water,
holding the tray and looking after us. He was really a pathetic
figure, especially in view of the awful fate we felt was
He called something after us. On account of the noise of the
engine, we could not be certain, but we all heard it the same
"Send for the whole d--d outfit!" was the way it sounded to us.
"It won't make any difference to me."
The last thing I recall of Mr. McDonald that day is seeing him
standing there in the water, holding the tray, with the teapot
steaming under his nose, and gazing after us with an air of
bewilderment that did not deceive us at all.
As I look back, there is only one thing we might have noticed at
the time. This was the fact that Hutchins, having started the
engine, was sitting beside it on the floor of the boat and
laughing in the cruelest possible manner. As I said to Aggie at
the time: "A spy is a spy and entitled to punishment if
discovered; but no young woman should laugh over so desperate a
I come now to the denouement of this exciting period. It had
been Tish's theory that the red-haired man should not be taken
into our confidence. If there was a reward for the capture of
the spy, we ourselves intended to have it.
The steamer was due the next day but one. Tish was in favor of
not waiting, but of at once going in the motor boat to the town,
some thirty miles away, and telling of our capture; but Hutchins
claimed there was not sufficient gasoline for such an excursion.
That afternoon we went in the motor launch to where Tish had
hidden the green canoe and, with a hatchet, rendered it useless.
The workings of the subconscious mind are marvelous. In the
midst of chopping, Tish suddenly looked up.
"Have you noticed," she said, "that the detective is always
watching our camp?"
"That's all he has to do," Aggie suggested.
"Stuff and nonsense! Didn't he follow you into the swamp? Does
Hutchins ever go out in the canoe that he doesn't go out also?
I'll tell you what has happened: She's young and pretty, and
he's fallen in love with her."
I must say it sounded reasonable. He never bothered about the
motor boat, but the instant she took the canoe and started out
he was hovering somewhere near.
"She's noticed it," Tish went on. "That's what she was
quarreling about with him yesterday."
"How are we to know," said Aggie, who was gathering up the
scraps of the green canoe and building a fire under them--"how
are we to know they are not old friends, meeting thus in the
wilderness? Fate plays strange tricks, Tish. I lived in the same
street with Mr. Wiggins for years, and never knew him until one
day when my umbrella turned wrong side out in a gust of wind."
"Fate fiddlesticks!" said Tish. "There's no such thing as fate
in affairs of this sort. It's all instinct--the instinct of the
race to continue itself."
This Aggie regarded as indelicate and she was rather cool to
Tish the balance of the day.
Our prisoner spent most of the day at the end of the island
toward us, sitting quietly, as we could sec through the glasses.
We watched carefully, fearing at any time to see the Indian
paddling toward him.
[Tish was undecided what to do in such an emergency, except to
intercept him and explain, threatening him also with having
attempted to carry the incriminating papers. As it happened,
however, the entire camp had gone for a two-days' deer hunt, and
before they returned the whole thing had come to its surprising
Late in the afternoon Tish put her theory of the red-haired man
to the test.
"Hutchins," she said, "Miss Lizzie and I will cook the dinner if
you want to go in the canoe to Harvey's Bay for water-lilies."
Hutchins at once said she did not care a rap for water-lilies;
but, seeing a determined glint in Tish's eye, she added that she
would go for frogs if Tish wanted her out of the way.
"Don't talk like a child!" Tish retorted. "Who said I wanted you
out of the way?"
It is absolutely true that the moment Hutchins put her foot into
the canoe the red-haired man put down his fishing-rod and rose.
And she had not taken three strokes with the paddle before he
was in the blue canoe.
Hutchins saw him just then and scowled. The last we saw of her
she was moving rapidly up the river and the detective was
dropping slowly behind. They both disappeared finally into the
bay and Tish drew a long breath.
"Typical!" she said curtly. "He's sent here to watch a dangerous
man and spends his time pursuing the young woman who hates the
sight of him. When women achieve the suffrage they will put none
but married men in positions of trust."
Hutchins and the detective were still out of sight when supper-
time came. The spy's supper weighed on us, and at last Tish
attempted to start the motor launch. We had placed the supper
and the small raft aboard, and Aggie was leaning over the edge
untying the painter,--not a man, but a rope,--when unexpectedly
the engine started at the first revolution of the wheel.
It darted out to the length of the rope, where it was checked
abruptly, the shock throwing Aggie entirely out and into the
stream. Tish caught the knife from the supper tray to cut us
loose, and while Tish cut I pulled Aggie in, wet as she was. The
boat was straining and panting, and, on being released, it
sprang forward like a dog unleashed.
Aggie had swallowed a great deal of water and was most
disagreeable; but the Mebbe was going remarkably well, and there
seemed to be every prospect that we should get back to the camp
in good order. Alas, for human hopes! Mr. McDonald was not very
"You know," he said as he waited for his supper to float within
reach, "you needn't be so blamed radical about everything you
do! If you object to my hanging round, why not just say so? If
I'm too obnoxious I'll clear out."
"Obnoxious is hardly the word," said Tish. "How long am I to be
"I shall send letters off by the first boat."
He caught the raft just then and examined the supper with
"Of course things might be worse," he said; "but it's dirty
treatment, anyhow. And it's darned humiliating. Somebody I know
is having a good time at my expense. It's heartless! That's what
Well, we left him, the engine starting nicely and Aggie being
wrapped in a tarpaulin; but about a hundred yards above the
island it began to slow down, and shortly afterward it stopped
altogether. As the current caught us, we luckily threw out the
anchor, for the engine refused to start again. It was then we
saw the other canoes.
The girl in the pink tam-o'-shanter was in the first one.
They glanced at us curiously as they passed, and the P.T.S.--
that is the way we grew to speak of the pink tam-o'-shanter--
raised one hand in the air, which is a form of canoe greeting,
probably less upsetting to the equilibrium than a vigorous
waving of the arm.
It was just then, I believe, that they saw our camp and headed
for it. The rest of what happened is most amazing. They stopped
at our landing and unloaded their canoes. Though twilight was
falling, we could see them distinctly. And what we saw was that
they calmly calmly took possession of the camp.
"Good gracious!" Tish cried. "The girls have gone into the tent!
And somebody's working at the stove. The impertinence!"
Our situation was acutely painful. We could do nothing but
watch. We called, but our voices failed to reach them. And Aggie
took a chill, partly cold and partly fury. We sat there while
they ate the entire supper!
They were having a very good time. Now and then somebody would
go into the tent and bring something out, and there would be
shrieks of laughter.
[We learned afterward that part of the amusement was caused by
Aggie's false front, which one of the wretches put on as a
It was while thus distracted that Aggie suddenly screamed, and a
moment later Mr. McDonald climbed over the side and into the
"Don't be alarmed!" he said. "I'll go back and be a prisoner
again just as soon as I've fired the engine. I couldn't bear to
think of the lady who fell in sitting here indefinitely and
taking cold." He was examining the engine while he spoke. "Have
visitors, I see," he observed, as calmly as though he were not
dripping all over the place.
"Intruders, not visitors!" Tish said angrily. "I never saw them
"Rather pretty, the one with the pink cap. May I examine the
gasoline supply?" There was no gasoline. He shrugged his
shoulders. "I'm afraid no amount of mechanical genius I intended
to offer you will start her," he said; "but the young lady--
Hutchins is her name, I believe?--will see you here and come
after you, of course."
Well, there was no denying that, spy or no spy, his presence was
a comfort. He offered to swim back to the island and be a
prisoner again, but Tish said magnanimously that there was no
hurry. On Aggie's offering half of her tarpaulin against the
wind, which had risen, he accepted.
"Your Miss Hutchins is reckless, isn't she?" he said when he was
comfortably settled. "She's a strong swimmer; but a canoe is
uncertain at the best."
"She's in no danger," said Tish. "She has a devoted admirer
watching out for her."
"The deuce she has!" His voice was quite interested. "Why, who
"Your detective," said Aggie softly. "He's quite mad about her.
The way he follows her and the way he looks at her--it's
Mr. McDonald said nothing for quite a while. The canoe party had
evidently eaten everything they could find, and somebody had
brought out a banjo and was playing.
Tish, unable to vent her anger, suddenly turned on Mr. McDonald.
"If you think," she said, "that the grocery list fooled us, it
"That's what I said."
"How did you get my grocery list?"
So she told him, and how she had deciphered it, and how the word
"dynamite" had only confirmed her early suspicions.
His only comment was to say, "Good Heavens!" in a smothered
"It was the extractor that made me suspicious," she finished.
"What were you going to extract? Teeth?"
"And so, when my Indian was swimming, you went through his
things! It's the most astounding thing I ever--My dear lady, an
extractor is used to get the hooks out of fish. It was no
cipher, I assure you. I needed an extractor and I ordered it.
The cipher you speak of is only a remarkable coincidence."
"Huh!" said Tish. "And the paper you dropped in the train--was
that a coincidence?"
"That's not my secret," he said, and turned sulky at once.
"Don't tell me," Tish said triumphantly, "that any young man
comes here absolutely alone without a purpose!"
"I had a purpose, all right; but it was not to blow up a
Apparently he thought he had said too much, for he relapsed into
silence after that, with an occasional muttering.
It was eight o'clock when Hutchins's canoe came into sight. She
was paddling easily, but the detective was far behind and moving
She saw the camp with its uninvited guests, and then she saw us.
The detective, however, showed no curiosity; and we could see
that he made for his landing and stumbled exhaustedly up the
bank. Hutchins drew up beside us. "He'll not try that again, I
think," she said in her crisp voice. "He's out of training. He
panted like a motor launch. Who are our visitors?"
Here her eyes fell on Mr. McDonald and her face set in the dusk.
"You'll have to go back and get some gasoline, Hutchins."
"What made you start out without looking?"
"And send the vandals away. If they wait until I arrive, I'll be
likely to do them some harm. I have never been so outraged."
"Let me go for gasoline in the canoe," said Mr. McDonald. He
leaned over the thwart and addressed Hutchins. "You're worn
out," he said. "I promise to come back and be a perfectly well-
behaved prisoner again."
"I'm wet. The exercise will warm me."
"Is it possible," she said in a withering tone that was lost on
us at the time, "that you brought no dumb-bells with you?"
If we had had any doubts they should have been settled then; but
we never suspected. It is incredible, looking back.
The dusk was falling and I am not certain of what followed. It
was, however, something like this: Mr. McDonald muttered
something angrily and made a motion to get into the canoe.
Hutchins replied that she would not have help from him if she
died for it. The next thing we knew she was in the launch and
the canoe was floating off on the current. Aggie squealed; and
Mr. McDonald, instead of swimming after the thing, merely folded
his arms and looked at it.
"You know," he said to Hutchins, "you have so unpleasant a
disposition that somebody we both know of is better off than he
thinks he is!"
Tish's fury knew no bounds, for there we were marooned and two
of us wet to the skin. I must say for Hutchins, however, that
when she learned about Aggie she was bitterly repentant, and
insisted on putting her own sweater on her. But there we were
and there we should likely stay.
It was quite dark by that time, and we sat in the launch,
rocking gently. The canoeing party had lighted a large fire on
the beach, using the driftwood we had so painfully accumulated.
We sat in silence, except that Tish, who was watching our camp,
said once bitterly that she was glad there were three beds in
the tent. The girls of the canoeing party would be comfortable.
After a time Tish turned on Mr. McDonald sharply. "Since you
claim to be no spy," she said, "perhaps you will tell us what
brings you alone to this place? Don't tell me it's fish--I've
seen you reading, with a line out. You're no fisherman."
He hesitated. "No," he admitted. "I'll be frank, Miss Carberry.
I did not come to fish."
"What brought you?"
"Love," he said, in a low tone. "I don't expect you to believe
me, but it's the honest truth."
"Love!" Tish scoffed.
"Perhaps I'd better tell you the story," he said. "It's long and-
- and rather sad."
"Love stories," Hutchins put in coldly, "are terribly stupid,
except to those concerned."
"That," he retorted, "is because you have never been in love.
You are young and--you will pardon the liberty?--attractive; but
you are totally prosaic and unromantic."
"Indeed!" she said, and relapsed into silence.
"These other ladies," Mr. McDonald went on, "will understand the
strangeness of my situation when I explain that the--the young
lady I care for is very near; is, in fact, within sight."
"Good gracious!" said Aggie. "Where?"
"It is a long story, but it may help to while away the long
night hours; for I dare say we are here for the night. Did any
one happen to notice the young lady in the first canoe, in the
We said we had--all except Hutchins, who, of coarse, had not
seen her. Mr. McDonald got a wet cigarette from his pocket and,
finding a box of matches on the seat, made an attempt to dry it
over the flames; so his story was told in the flickering light
of one match after another.
"I am," Mr. McDonald said, as the cigarette steamed, "the son of
poor but honest parents. All my life I have been obliged to
labor. You may say that my English is surprisingly pure, under
such conditions. As a matter of fact, I educated myself at
night, using a lantern in the top of my father's stable."
"I thought you said he was poor," Hutchins put in nastily. "How
did he have a stable?"
"He kept a livery stable. Any points that are not clear I will
explain afterward. Once the thread of a narrative is broken, it
is difficult to resume, Miss Hutchins. Near us, in a large
house, lived the lady of my heart."
"The pink tam-o'-shanter girl!" said Aggie. "I begin to
"But," he added, "near us also lived a red-headed boy. She liked
him very much, and even in the long-ago days I was fiercely
jealous of him. It may surprise you to know that in those days I
longed--fairly longed--for red hair and a red mustache."
"I hate to interrupt," said Hutchins; "but did he have a
mustache as a boy?"
He ignored her. "We three grew up together. The girl is
beautiful- -you've probably noticed that--and amiable. The one
thing I admire in a young woman is amiability. It would not, for
instance, have occurred to her to isolate an entire party on the
bosom of a northern and treacherous river out of pure temper."
"To think," said Aggie softly, "that she is just over there by
the camp-fire! Don't you suppose, if she loves you, she senses
"That's it exactly," he replied in a gloomy voice, "if she loves
me! But does she? In other words, has she come up the river to
meet me or to meet my rival? She knows we are here. Both of us
have written her. The presence of one or the other of us is the
real reason for this excursion of hers. But again the question
Here the match he was holding under the cigarette burned his
fingers and he flung it overboard with a violent gesture.
"The detective, of coarse," said Tish. "I knew it from the
beginning of your story."
"The detective," he assented. "You see his very profession
attracts. There's an element of romance in it. I myself have
kept on with my father and now run the--er--livery stable. My
business is a handicap from a romantic point of view.
"I am aware," Mr. McDonald went on, "that it is not customary to
speak so frankly of affairs of this sort; but I have two
reasons. It hurts me to rest under unjust suspicion. I am no
spy, ladies. And the second reason is even stronger. Consider my
desperate position: In the morning my rival will see her; he
will paddle his canoe to the great rock below your camp and sing
his love song from the water. In the morning I shall sit here
helpless-- ill, possibly--and see all that I value in life slip
out of my grasp. And all through no fault of my own! Things are
so evenly balanced, so little will shift the weight of her
favor, that frankly the first one to reach her will get her."
I confess I was thrilled. And even Tish was touched; but she
covered her emotion with hard common sense.
"What's her name?" she demanded.
"Considering my frankness I must withhold that. Why not simply
refer to her as the pink tam-o'-shanter--or, better still and
more briefly, the P.T.S.? That may stand for pink tam-o'-
shanter, or the Person That Smiles,--she smiles a great deal,--
or--or almost anything."
"It also stands," said Hutchins, with a sniff, "for Pretty Tall
Tish considered her skepticism unworthy in one so young, and
told her so; on which she relapsed into a sulky silence.
In view of what we knew, the bonfire at our camp and the small
figure across the river took on a new significance.
As Aggie said, to think of the red-haired man sleeping calmly
while his lady love was so near and his rival, so to speak,
_hors de combat!_ Shortly after finishing his story, Mr.
McDonald went to the stern of the boat and lifted the anchor
"It is possible," he said, "that the current will carry us to my
island with a little judicious management. Even though we miss
it, we'll hardly be worse off than we are."
It was surprising we had not thought of it before, for the plan
succeeded admirably. By moving a few feet at a time and then
anchoring, we made slow but safe progress, and at last touched
shore. We got out, and Mr. McDonald built a large fire, near
which we put Aggie to steam. His supper, which he had not had
time to eat, he generously divided, and we heated the tea.
Hutchins, however, refused to eat.
Warmth and food restored Tish's mind to its usual keenness. I
recall now the admiration in Mr. McDonald's eyes when she
suddenly put down the sandwich she was eating and exclaimed:--
"The flags, of course! He told her to watch for a red flag as
she came up the river; so when the party saw ours they landed.
Perhaps they still think it is his camp and that he is away
"That's it, exactly," he said. "Think of the poor wretch's
excitement when he saw your flag!"
Still, on looking back, it seems curious that we overlooked the
way the red-headed man had followed Hutchins about. True, men
are polygamous animals, Tish says, and are quite capable of
following one woman about while they are sincerely in love with
somebody else. But, when you think of it, the detective had
apparently followed Hutchins from the start, and had gone into
the wilderness to be near her, with only a suitcase and a
mackintosh coat; which looked like a mad infatuation.
[Tish says she thought of this at the time, and that; from what
she had seen of the P.T.S., Hutchins was much prettier. But she
says she decided that men often love one quality in one girl and
another in another; that he probably loved Hutchins's beauty and
the amiability of the P.T.S. Also, she says, she reflected that
the polygamy of the Far East is probably due to this tendency in
the male more than to a preponderance of women.]
Tish called me aside while Mr. McDonald was gathering firewood.
"I'm a fool and a guilty woman, Lizzie," she said. "Because of
an unjust suspicion I have possibly wrecked this poor boy's
I tried to soothe her. "They might have been wretchedly unhappy
together, Tish," I said; "and, anyhow, I doubt whether he is
able to support a wife. There's nothing much in keeping a livery
"There's only one thing that still puzzles me," Tish observed:
"granting that the grocery order was a grocery order, what about
We might have followed this line of thought, and saved what
occurred later, but that a new idea suddenly struck Tish. She is
curious in that way; her mind works very rapidly at times, and
because I cannot take her mental hurdles, so to speak, she is
"Lizzie," she said suddenly, "did you notice that when the
anchor was lifted, we drifted directly to this island? Don't
stare at me like that. Use your wits."
When I failed instantly to understand, however, she turned
abruptly and left me, disappearing in the shadows.
For the next hour nothing happened. Tish was not in sight and
Aggie slept by the fire. Hutchins sat with her chin cupped in
her hands, and Mr. McDonald gathered driftwood.
Hutchins only spoke once. "I'm awfully sorry about the canoe,
Miss Lizzie," she said; "it was silly and--and selfish. I don't
always act like a bad child. The truth is, I'm rather upset and
nervous. I hate to be thwarted--I'm sorry I can't explain any
I was magnanimous. "I'm sure, until to-night, you've been
perfectly satisfactory," I said; "but it seems extraordinary
that you should dislike men the way you do."
She only eyed me searchingly.
It is my evening custom to prepare for the night by taking my
switch off and combing and braiding my hair; so, as we seemed to
be settled for the night, I asked Mr. McDonald whether the camp
afforded an extra comb. He brought out a traveling-case at once
from the tent and opened it.
"Here's a comb," he said. "I never use one. I'm sorry this is
all I can supply."
My eyes were glued to the case. It was an English traveling-
case, with gold-mounted fittings. He saw me staring at it and
"Nice bag, isn't it?" he said. "It was a gift, of course. The--
the livery stable doesn't run much to this sort of thing."
But the fine edge of suspicion had crept into my mind again.
Tish did not return to the fire for some time. Before she came
back we were all thoroughly alarmed. The island was small, and a
short search convinced us that she was not on it!
We wakened Aggie and told her, and the situation was very
painful. The launch was where we had left it. Mr. McDonald
looked more and more uneasy.
"My sane mind tells me she's perfectly safe," he said. "I don't
know that I've ever met a person more able to take care of
herself; but it's darned odd--that's all I can say."
Just as he spoke a volley of shots sounded from up the river
near our camp, two close together and then one; and somebody
It was very dark. We could see lanterns flashing at our camp and
somebody was yelling hoarsely. One lantern seemed to run up and
down the beach in mad excitement, and then, out of the far-off
din, Aggie, whose ears are sharp, suddenly heard the splash of a
I shall tell Tish's story of what happened as she told it to
Charlie Sands two weeks or so later.
"It is perfectly simple," she said, "and it's stupid to make
such a fuss over it. Don't talk to me about breaking the law!
The girl came; I didn't steal her."
Charlie Sands, I remember, interrupted at that moment to remind
her that she had shot a hole in the detective's canoe; but this
only irritated her.
"Certainly I did," she snapped; "but it's perfectly idiotic of
him to say that it took off the heel of his shoe. In that stony
country it's always easy to lose a heel."
But to return to Tish's story:--
"It occurred to me," she said, "that, if the launch had drifted
to Mr. McDonald's island, the canoe might have done so too; so I
took a look round. I'd been pretty much worried about having
called the boy a spy when he wasn't, and it worried me to think
that he couldn't get away from the place. I never liked the red-
haired man. He was cruel to Aggie's cat--but we've told you
"I knew that in the morning the detective would see the P.T.S.,
as we called her, and he could get over and propose before
breakfast. But when I found the canoe--yes, I found it-- I
didn't intend to do anything more than steal the detective's
"Is that all?" said Charlie Sands sarcastically. "You disappoint
me, Aunt Letitia! With all the chances you had--to burn his
pitiful little tent, for instance, or steal his suitcase--"
"But on my way," Tish went on with simple dignity, "it occurred
to me that I could move things a step farther by taking the girl
to Mr. McDonald and letting him have his chance right away.
Things went well from the start, for she was standing alone,
looking out over the river. It was dark, except for the
starlight, and I didn't know it was she. I beached the canoe and
she squealed a little when I spoke to her."
"Just what," broke in Charlie Sands, "does one say under such
circumstances? Sometime I may wish to abduct a young woman and
it is well to be prepared."
"I told her the young man she had expected was on Island Eleven
and had sent me to get her. She was awfully excited. She said
they'd seen his signal, but nothing of him. And when they'd
found a number of feminine things round they all felt a little--
well, you can understand. She went back to get a coat, and while
she was gone I untied the canoes and pushed them out into the
river. I'm thorough, and I wasn't going to have a lot of people
interfering before we got things fixed."
It was here, I think, that Charlie Sands gave a low moan and
collapsed on the sofa. "Certainly!" he said in a stifled voice.
"I believe in being thorough. And, of course, a few canoes more
or less do not matter."
"Later," Tish said, "I knew I'd been thoughtless about the
canoes; but, of course, it was too late then."
"And when was it that you assaulted the detective?"
"He fired first," said Tish. "I never felt more peaceable in my
life. It's absurd for him to say that he was watching our camp,
as he had every night we'd been there. Who asked him to guard
us? And the idea of his saying he thought we were Indians
stealing things, and that he fired into the air! The bullets
sang past me. I had hardly time to get my revolver out of my
"And then?" asked Charlie Sands.
"And then," said Tish, "we went calmly down the river to Island
Eleven. We went rapidly, for at first the detective did not know
I had shot a hole in his canoe, and he followed us. It stands to
reason that if I'd shot his heel off he'd have known there was a
hole in the boat. Luckily the girl was in the bottom of the
canoe when she fainted or we might have been upset."
It was at this point, I believe, that Charlie Sands got his hat
and opened the door.
"I find," he said, "that I cannot stand any more at present,
Aunt Tish. I shall return when I am stronger."
So I shall go back to my own narrative. Really my justification
is almost complete. Any one reading to this point will realize
the injustice of the things that have been said about us.
We were despairing of Tish, as I have said, when we heard the
shots and then the approach of a canoe. Then Tish hailed us.
"Quick, somebody!" she said. "I have a cramp in my right leg."
[The canoeing position, kneeling as one must, had been always
very trying for her. She frequently developed cramps, which only
a hot footbath relieved.]
Mr. McDonald waded out into the water. Our beach fire
illuminated the whole scene distinctly, and when he saw the
P.T.S. huddled in the canoe he stopped as though he had been
"How interesting!" said Hutchins from the bank, in her cool
I remember yet Tish, stamping round on her cramped limb and
smiling benevolently at all of us. The girl, however, looked
startled and unhappy, and a little dizzy. Hutchins helped her to
a fallen tree.
"Where--where is he?" said the P.T.S.
Tish stared at her. "Bless the girl!" she said. "Did you think I
meant the other one?"
"I--What other one?"
Tish put her hand on Mr. McDonald's arm. "My dear girl," she
said, "this young man adores you. He's all that a girl ought to
want in the man she loves. I have done him a grave injustice and
he has borne it nobly. Come now--let me put your hand in his and
say you will marry him."
"Marry him!" said the P.T.S. "Why, I never saw him in my life
We had been so occupied with this astounding scene that none of
us had noticed the arrival of the detective. He limped rapidly
up the bank--having lost his heel, as I have explained--and,
dripping with water, confronted us. When a red-haired person is
pale, he is very pale. And his teeth showed.
He ignored all of us but the P.T.S., who turned and saw him, and
went straight into his arms in the most unmaidenly fashion.
"By Heaven," he said, "I thought that elderly lunatic had taken
you off and killed you!"
He kissed her quite frantically before all of us; and then, with
one arm round her, he confronted Tish.
"I'm through!" he said. "I'm done! There isn't a salary in the
world that will make me stay within gunshot of you another day."
He eyed her fiercely. "You are a dangerous woman, madam," he
said. "I'm going to bring a charge against you for abduction and
assault with intent to kill. And if there's any proof needed
I'll show my canoe, full of water to the gunwale."
Here he kissed the girl again.
"You--you know her?" gasped Mr. McDonald, and dropped on a tree-
trunk, as though he were too weak to stand.
"It looks like it, doesn't it?"
Here I happened to glance at Hutchins, and she was convulsed
with mirth! Tish saw her, too, and glared at her; but she seemed
to get worse. Then, without the slightest warning, she walked
round the camp-fire and kissed Mr. McDonald solemnly on the top
of his head.
"I give it up!" she said. "Somebody will have to marry you and
take care of you. I'd better be the person."
"But why was the detective watching Hutchins? " said Charlie
Sands. "Was it because he had heard of my Aunt Letitia's
reckless nature? I am still bewildered."
"You remember the night we got the worms?"
"I see. The detective was watching all of you because you stole
"Stole nothing!" Tish snapped. "That's the girl's house. She's
the Miss Newcomb you read about in the papers. Now do you
"Certainly I do. She was a fugitive from justice because the cat
found dynamite in the woods. Or--perhaps I'm a trifle confused,
but--Now I have it! She had stolen a gold-mounted traveling-bag
and given it to McDonald. Lucky chap! I was crazy about Hutchins
myself. You might tip her the word that I'm badly off for a
traveling-case myself. But what about the P.T.S.? How did she
happen on the scene?"
"She was engaged to the detective, and she was camping down the
river. He had sent her word where he was. The red flag was to
help her find him."
Tish knows Charlie Sands, so she let him talk. Then:--
"Mr. McDonald was too wealthy, Charlie," she said; "so when she
wanted him to work and be useful, and he refused, she ran off
and got a situation herself to teach him a lesson. She could
drive a car. But her people heard about it, and that wretched
detective was responsible for her safety. That's why he followed
"I should like to follow her about myself," said Charlie Sands.
"Do you think she's unalterably decided to take McDonald, money
and all? He's still an idler. Lend me your car, Aunt Tish.
There's a theory there; and--who knows?"
"He is going to work for six months before she marries him,"
Tish said. "He seems to like to work, now he has started."
She rang the bell and Hannah came to the door.
"Hannah," said Tish calmly, "call up the garage and tell
McDonald to bring the car round. Mr. Sands is going out."
MY COUNTRY TISH OF THEE--
We had meant to go to Europe this last summer, and Tish would
have gone anyhow, war or no war, if we had not switched her off
onto something else. "Submarines fiddlesticks!" she said. "Give
me a good life preserver, with a bottle of blackberry cordial
fastened to it, and the sea has no terrors for me."
She said the proper way to do, in case the ship was torpedoed,
was to go up on an upper deck, and let the vessel sink under
"Then without haste," she explained, "as the water rises about
one, strike out calmly. The life-belt supports one, but swim
gently for the exercise. It will prevent chilling. With a
waterproof bag of crackers, and mild weather, one could go on
comfortably for a day or two."
I still remember the despairing face Aggie turned to me. It was
December then, and very cold.
However, she said nothing more until January. Early in that
month Charlie Sands came to Tish's to Sunday dinner, and we were
all there. The subject came up then.
It was about the time Tish took up vegetarianism, I remember
that, because the only way she could induce Charlie Sands to
come to dinner was to promise to have two chops for him.
Personally I am not a vegetarian. I am not and never will be. I
took a firm stand except when at Tish's home. But Aggie followed
Tish's lead, of course, and I believe lived up to it as far as
possible, although it is quite true that, stopping in one day
unexpectedly to secure a new crochet pattern, I smelled broiling
steak. But Aggie explained that she merely intended to use the
juice from a small portion, having had one of her weak spells,
the balance to go to the janitor's dog.
However, this is a digression.
"Europe!" said Charlie Sands. "Forget it! What in the name of
the gastric juice is this I'm eating?"
It was a mixture of bran, raisins, and chopped nuts, as I recall
it, moistened with water and pressed into a compact form. It was
Tish's own invention. She called it "Bran-Nut," and was talking
of making it in large quantities for sale.
Charlie Sands gave it up with a feeble gesture. "I'm sorry, Aunt
Letitia," he said at last; "I'm a strong man ordinarily, but by
the time I've got it masticated I'm too weak to swallow it. If--
if one could have a stream of water playing on it while working,
it would facilitate things."
"The Ostermaiers," said Aggie, "are going West."
"Good for the Ostermaiers," said Charlie Sands. "Great idea. See
America first. 'My Country Tish of Thee,' etc. Why don't you
three try it?"
Tish relinquished Europe slowly.
"One would think," Charlie Sands said, "that you were a German
being asked to give up Belgium."
"What part of the West?" she demanded. "It's all civilized,
"The Rocky Mountains," said Charlie Sands, "will never be
Tish broke off a piece of Bran-Nut, and when she thought no one
was looking poured a little tea over it. There was a gleam in
her eye that Aggie and I have learned to know.
"Mountains!" she said. "That ought to be good for Aggie's hay
"I'd rather live with hay fever," Aggie put in sharply, "than
cure it by falling over a precipice."
"You'll have to take a chance on that, of course," Charlie Sands
said. "I'm not sure it will be safe, but I am sure it will be
Oh, he knew Tish well enough. Tell her a thing was dangerous,
and no power could restrain her.
I do not mind saying that I was not keen about the thing. I had
my fortune told years ago, and the palmist said that if a
certain line had had a bend in it I should have been hanged. But
since it did not, to be careful of high places.
"It's a sporting chance," said Charlie Sands, although I was
prodding him under the table. "With some good horses and a bag
of this--er--concentrated food, you would have the time of your
This was figurative. We are all of us round fifty.
"The--the Bran-Nut," he said, "would serve for both food and
ammunition. I can see you riding along, now and then dropping a
piece of it on the head of some unlucky mountain goat, and
watching it topple over into eternity. I can see--"
"Riding!" said Aggie. "Then I'm not going. I leave never been on
a horse and I never intend to be."
"Don't be a fool," Tish snapped. "If you've never been on a
horse, it's time and to spare you got on one."
Hannah had been clearing the table with her lips shut tight.
Hannah is an old and privileged servant and has a most
unfortunate habit of speaking her mind. So now she stopped
"You take my advice and go, Miss Tish," she said. "If you ride a
horse round some and get an appetite, you'll go down on your
knees and apologize to your Maker for the stuff we've been
eating the last four weeks." She turned to Charlie Sands, and
positively her chin was quivering. "I'm a healthy woman," she
said, "and I work hard and need good nourishing food. When it's
come to a point where I eat the cat's meat and let it go
hungry," she said, "it's time either I lost my appetite or Miss
Tish went away."
Well, Tish dismissed Hannah haughtily from the room, and the
conversation went on. None of us had been far West, although
Tish has a sister-in-law in, Toledo, Ohio. But owing to a
quarrel over a pair of andirons that had been in the family for