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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Portygee - Chapter 9
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The Portygee - Chapter 9 Post by :leonard063083 Category :Long Stories Author :Joseph Crosby Lincoln Date :May 2012 Read :1911

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The Portygee - Chapter 9

CHAPTER IX

The good-by call the following evening was, to him at least, not very satisfactory. Helen was tired, having been busy all day with the final preparations for leaving, and old Mr. Kendall insisted on being present during the entire visit and in telling long and involved stories of the trip abroad he had made when a young man and the unfavorable opinion which he had then formed of Prussians as traveling companions. Albert's opinion of Prussians was at least as unfavorable as his own, but his complete and even eager agreement with each of the old gentleman's statements did not have the effect of choking the latter off, but rather seemed to act as encouragement for more. When ten o'clock came and it was time to go Albert felt as if he had been listening to a lecture on the Hohenzollerns. "Great Scott, Helen," he whispered, as she came to the door with him, "I don't feel as if I had talked with you a minute. Why, I scarcely--"

But just here Mr. Kendall came hurrying from the sitting-room to tell of one incident which he had hitherto forgotten, and so even this brief interval of privacy was denied. But Albert made one more attempt.

"I'm going to run over to the station to-morrow morning to see you off," he called from the gate. "Good night."

The morning train left at nine o'clock, and at a quarter to nine Albert, who had kept his eye on the clock ever since eight, his hour of arriving at the office, called to Mr. Price.

"I say," he said, in a low tone and one as casual as he could assume, "I am going to run out for a few minutes. I'll be right back."

Issachar's response was as usual anything but low.

"Eh?" he shouted. "Goin' out? Where you goin'?"

"Oh, I'm just going out--er--on an errand."

"What kind of an errand? I was cal'latin' to run out myself for a little spell. Can't I do your errand for you?"

"No, no. . . There, there, don't bother me any more. I'm in a hurry."

"Hurry! So'm I in a hurry. I was cal'latin' to run acrost to the deepo and see Helen Kendall start for Boston. She's goin' this morning; did you know it?"

Before the somewhat flustered assistant bookkeeper could reply Captain Zelotes called from the inner office:

"Wouldn't wonder if that was where Al was bound, too," he observed. "And I was thinkin' of the same thing. Suppose we all go together. Labe'll keep shop, won't you, Labe?"

Mr. Keeler looked over his spectacles. "Eh?" he observed. "Oh, yes, yes . . . yes, yes, yes. And say good-by to Helen for me, some of you, if you happen to think of it. Not that 'twill make much difference to her," he added, "whether she gets my good-bys or not, but it might make some to me. . . . Um, yes, yes."

Mr. Price was eager to oblige.

"I'll tell her you sent 'em, Labe," he said, patronizingly. "Set your mind to rest; I'll tell her."

Laban's lip twitched. "Much obliged, Is," he chirruped. "That's a great relief! My mind's rested some already."

So, instead of going alone to the railway station, Albert made one of a delegation of three. And at the station was Mr. Kendall, and two of the school committee, and one or two members of the church sewing circle, and the president and secretary of the Society for the Relief of the French Wounded. So far from being an intimate confidential farewell, Helen's departure was in the nature of a public ceremony with speech-making. Mr. Price made most of the speeches, in fact the lower portion of his countenance was in violent motion most of the ten minutes.

"Take care of yourself, Helen," he urged loudly. "Don't you worry about your pa, we'll look out for him. And don't let none of them Boston fellers carry you off. We'll watch and see that Eddie Raymond and Al here don't get into mischief while you're gone. I . . . Crimustee! Jim Young, what in time's the matter with you? Can't ye see nothin'?"

This last outburst was directed at the driver of the depot-wagon, who, wheeling a trunk on a baggage truck, had bumped violently into the rear of Mr. Price's legs, just at the knee joint, causing their owner to bend backward unexpectedly, and with enthusiasm.

"Can't you see nothin' when it's right in front of ye?" demanded Issachar, righteously indignant.

Jim Young winked over his shoulder at Albert. "Sorry, Is," he said, as he continued toward the baggage car. "I didn't notice you WAS in front of me."

"Well, then, you'd better. . . . Eh? See here, what do you mean by that?"

Even after Mr. Price had thus been pushed out of the foreground, so to speak, Albert was denied the opportunity of taking his place by Helen's side. Her father had a few last messages to deliver, then Captain Zelotes shook her hand and talked for a moment, and, after that, the ladies of the sewing circle and the war work society felt it their duty to, severally and jointly, kiss her good-by. This last was a trying operation to watch.

Then the engine bell rang and the train began to move. Albert, running beside the platform of the last car, held up his hand for a farewell clasp.

"Good-by," he said, and added in a whisper, "You'll write, won't you?"

"Of course. And so must you. Good-by."

The last car and the handkerchief waving figure on its platform disappeared around the curve. The little group by the station broke up. Albert and his grandfather walked over to the office together.

"There goes a good girl, Al," was Captain Lote's only comment. "A mighty good capable girl."

Albert nodded. A moment later he lifted his hat to a group in a passing automobile.

"Who were those folks?" asked the Captain.

"The Fosdicks," was the reply. "The people who are going to build down by the Inlet."

It was Madeline and her mother. The latter had been serenely indifferent, but the young lady had smiled and bowed behind the maternal shoulders.

"Oh; that so?" observed Captain Zelotes, looking after the flying car with interest. "That's who 'tis, eh? Nice lookin', the young one, ain't she?"

Albert did not answer. With the noise of the train which was carrying Helen out of his life still ringing in his ears it seemed wicked even to mention another girl's name, to say nothing of commenting upon her good looks. For the rest of that day he was a gloomy spirit, a dark shadow in the office of Z. Snow and Co.

Before the end of another fortnight the season at South Harniss was definitely over. The hotel closed on the Saturday following the dance, and by October first the last of the cottages was locked and shuttered. The Kelseys went on the twentieth and the Fosdicks went with them. Albert met Madeline and Jane at the post-office in the evening of the nineteenth and there more farewells were said.

"Don't forget us down here in the sand, will you?" he suggested to Miss Fosdick. It was Jane Kelsey who answered.

"Oh, she won't forget," returned that young lady. "Why she has your photograph to remember you by."

Madeline colored becomingly and was, as Jane described it, "awfully fussed."

"Nonsense!" she exclaimed, with much indignation, "I haven't any such thing. You know I haven't, Jane."

"Yes, you have, my dear. You have a photograph of him standing in front of the drug store and looking dreamily in at--at the strawberry sundaes. It is a most romantic pose, really."

Albert laughed. He remembered the photograph. It was one of a series of snapshots taken with Miss Kelsey's camera one Saturday afternoon when a party of young people had met in front of the sundae dispensary. Jane had insisted on "snapping" everyone.

"That reminds me that I have never seen the rest of those photographs," he said.

"Haven't you?" exclaimed Jane. "Well, you ought to see them. I have Madeline's with me. It is a dream, if I do say it as I took it."

She produced the snapshot, which showed her friend standing beside the silver-leaf tree before the druggist's window and smiling at the camera. It was a good likeness and, consequently, a very pretty picture.

"Isn't it a dream, just as I said?" demanded the artist. "Honest now, isn't it?"

Albert of course declared it to be beyond praise.

"May I have this one?" he asked, on the impulse of the moment.

"Don't ask me, stupid," commanded Jane, mischievously. "It isn't my funeral--or my portrait, either."

"May I?" he repeated, turning to Madeline. She hesitated.

"Why--why yes, you may, if you care for it," she said. "That particular one is Jane's, anyway, and if she chooses to give it away I don't see how I can prevent her. But why you should want the old thing I can't conceive. I look as stiff and wooden as a sign-post."

Jane held up a protesting finger.

"Fibs, fibs, fibs," she observed. "Can't conceive why he should want it! As if you weren't perfectly aware that he will wear it next his heart and--Oh, don't put it in THAT pocket! I said next your heart, and that isn't on your RIGHT side."

Albert took the photograph home and stuck it between the frame and glass of his bureau. Then came a sudden remembrance of his parting with Helen and with it a twinge of conscience. He had begged her to have nothing to do with any other fellow. True she had refused to promise and consequently he also was unbound, but that made no difference--should not make any. So he put the photograph at the back of the drawer where he kept his collars and ties, with a resolve never to look at it. He did not look at it--very often.

Then came another long winter. He ground away at the bookkeeping--he was more proficient at it, but he hated it as heartily as ever--and wrote a good deal of verse and some prose. For the first time he sold a prose article, a short story, to a minor magazine. He wrote long letters to Helen and she replied. She was studying hard, she liked her work, and she had been offered the opportunity to tutor in a girls' summer camp in Vermont during July and August and meant to accept provided her father's health continued good. Albert protested violently against her being absent from South Harniss for so long. "You will scarcely be home at all," he wrote. "I shall hardly see you. What am I going to do? As it is now I miss you--" and so on for four closely written pages. Having gotten into the spirit of composition he, so to speak, gloried in his loneliness, so much so that Helen was moved to remonstrate. "Your letter made me almost miserable," she wrote, "until I had read it over twice. Then I began to suspect that you were enjoying your wretchedness, or enjoying writing about it. I truly don't believe anyone--you especially--could be quite as lonesome as all that. Honestly now, Albert, weren't you exaggerating a little? I rather think you were?"

He had been, of course, but it irritated him to think that she recognized the fact. She had an uncanny faculty of seeing through his every pretense. In his next letter he said nothing whatever about being lonesome.

At home, and at the office, the war was what people talked about most of the time. Since the Lusitania's sinking Captain Zelotes had been a battle charger chafing at the bit. He wanted to fight and to fight at once.

"We've got to do it, Mother," he declared, over and over again. "Sooner or later we've got to fight that Kaiser gang. What are we waitin' for; will somebody tell me that?"

Olive, as usual, was mild and unruffled.

"Probably the President knows as much about it as you and me, Zelotes," she suggested. "I presume likely he has his own reasons."

"Humph! When Seth Bassett got up in the night and took a drink out of the bottle of Paris Green by mistake 'Bial Cahoon asked him what in time he kept Paris Green in his bedroom for, anyhow. All that Seth would say was that he had his own reasons. The rest of the town was left to guess what those reasons was. That's what the President's doin'--keepin' us guessin'. By the everlastin', if I was younger I'd ship aboard a British lime-juicer and go and fight, myself!"

It was Rachel Ellis who caused the Captain to be a bit more restrained in his remarks.

"You hadn't ought to talk that way, Cap'n Lote," she said. "Not when Albert's around, you hadn't."

"Eh? Why not?"

"Because the first thing you know he'll be startin' for Canada to enlist. He's been crazy to do it for 'most a year."

"He has? How do you know he has?"

"Because he's told me so, more'n once."

Her employer looked at her.

"Humph!" he grunted. "He seems to tell you a good many things he doesn't tell the rest of us."

The housekeeper nodded. "Yes," she said gravely, "I shouldn't wonder if he did." A moment later she added, "Cap'n Lote, you will be careful, won't you? You wouldn't want Al to go off and leave Z. Snow and Company when him and you are gettin' on so much better. You ARE gettin' on better, ain't you?"

The captain pulled at his beard.

"Yes," he admitted, "seems as if we was. He ain't any wonder at bookkeepin', but he's better'n he used to be; and he does seem to try hard, I'll say that for him."

Rachael beamed gratification. "He'll be a Robert Penfold yet," she declared; "see if he isn't. So you musn't encourage him into enlistin' in the Canadian army. You wouldn't want him to do that any more'n the rest of us would."

The captain gazed intently into the bowl of the pipe which he had been cleaning. He made no answer.

"You wouldn't want him to do that, would you?" repeated the housekeeper.

Captain Lote blew through the pipe stem. Then he said, "No, I wouldn't . . . but I'm darn glad he's got the spunk to WANT to do it. We may get that Portygee streak out of him, poetry and all, give us time; eh, Rachael?"

It was the first time in months that he had used the word "Portygee" in connection with his grandson. Mrs. Ellis smiled to herself.

In April the arbutus buds began to appear above the leaf mold between the scrub oaks in the woods, and the walls of Fletcher Fosdick's new summer home began to rise above the young pines on the hill by the Inlet in the Bay Road. The Item kept its readers informed, by weekly installments, of the progress made by the builders.


The lumber for Mr. Fletcher Fosdick's new cottage is beginning to be hauled to his property on Inlet Hill in this town. Our enterprising firm of South Harniss dealers, Z. Snow & Co., are furnishing said lumber. Mr. Nehemiah Nickerson is to do the mason work. Mr. Fosdick shows good judgment as well as a commendable spirit in engaging local talent in this way. We venture to say he will never regret it.


A week later:


Mr. Fletcher Fosdick's new residence is beginning building, the foundation being pretty near laid.


And the following week:


The Fosdick mansion is growing fast. South Harniss may well be proud of its new ornament.


The rise in three successive numbers from "cottage" to "mansion" is perhaps sufficient to indicate that the Fosdick summer home was to be, as Issachar Price described it, "Some considerable house! Yes sir, by crimus, some considerable!"

In June, Helen came home for a week. At the end of the week she left to take up her new duties at the summer camp for girls in Vermont. Albert and she were together a good deal during that week. Anticipating her arrival, the young man's ardent imagination had again fanned what he delighted to think of as his love for her into flame. During the last months of the winter he had not played the languishing swain as conscientiously as during the autumn. Like the sailor in the song "is 'eart was true to Poll" always, but he had broken away from his self-imposed hermitage in his room at the Snow place several times to attend sociables, entertainments and, even, dances. Now, when she returned he was eagerly awaiting her and would have haunted the parsonage before and after working hours of every day as well as the evening, if she had permitted, and when with her assumed a proprietary air which was so obvious that even Mr. Price felt called upon to comment on it.

"Say, Al," drawled Issachar, "cal'late you've cut out Eddie Raymond along with Helen, ain't ye? Don't see him hangin' around any since she got back, and the way you was actin' when I see you struttin' into the parsonage yard last night afore mail time made me think you must have a first mortgage on Helen and her pa and the house and the meetin'-house and two-thirds of the graveyard. I never see such an important-lookin' critter in MY life. Haw, haw! Eh? How 'bout it?"

Albert did not mind the Price sarcasm; instead he felt rather grateful to have the proletariat recognize that he had triumphed again. The fly in his ointment, so to speak, was the fact that Helen herself did not in the least recognize that triumph. She laughed at him.

"Don't look at me like that, please, please, don't," she begged.

"Why not?" with a repetition of the look.

"Because it is silly."

"Silly! Well, I like that! Aren't you and I engaged? Or just the same as engaged?"

"No, of course we are not."

"But we promised each other--"

"No, we did not. And you know we didn't."

"Helen, why do you treat me that way? Don't you know that--that I just worship the ground you tread on? Don't you know you're the only girl in this world I could ever care for? Don't you know that?"

They were walking home from church Sunday morning and had reached the corner below the parsonage. There, screened by the thicket of young silver-leafs, she stopped momentarily and looked into his face. Then she walked on.

"Don't you know how much I care?" he repeated.

She shook her head. "You think you do now, perhaps," she said, "but you will change your mind."

"What do you mean by that? How do you know I will?"

"Because I know you. There, there, Albert, we won't quarrel, will we? And we won't be silly. You're an awfully nice boy, but you are just a boy, you know."

He was losing his temper.

"This is ridiculous!" he declared. "I'm tired of being grandmothered by you. I'm older than you are, and I know what I'm doing. Come, Helen, listen to me."

But she would not listen, and although she was always kind and frank and friendly, she invariably refused to permit him to become sentimental. It irritated him, and after she had gone the irritation still remained. He wrote her as before, although not quite so often, and the letters were possibly not quite so long. His pride was hurt and the Speranza pride was a tender and important part of the Speranza being. If Helen noted any change in his letters she did not refer to it nor permit it to influence her own, which were, as always, lengthy, cheerful, and full of interest in him and his work and thoughts.

During the previous fall, while under the new influence aroused in him by his discovery that Helen Kendall was "the most wonderful girl in the world," said discovery of course having been previously made for him by the unfortunate Raymond, he had developed a habit of wandering off into the woods or by the seashore to be alone and to seek inspiration. When a young poet is in love, or fancies himself in love, inspiration is usually to be found wherever sought, but even at that age and to one in that condition solitude is a marked aid in the search. There were two or three spots which had become Albert Speranza's favorites. One was a high, wind-swept knoll, overlooking the bay, about a half mile from the hotel, another was a secluded nook in the pine grove beside Carver's Pond, a pretty little sheet of water on the Bayport boundary. On pleasant Saturday afternoons or Sundays, when the poetic fit was on him, Albert, with a half dozen pencils in his pocket, and a rhyming dictionary and a scribbling pad in another, was wont to stroll towards one or the other of these two retreats. There he would sprawl amid the beachgrass or upon the pine-needles and dream and think and, perhaps, ultimately write.

One fair Saturday in late June he was at the first of these respective points. Lying prone on the beach grass at the top of the knoll and peering idly out between its stems at the water shimmering in the summer sun, he was endeavoring to find a subject for a poem which should deal with love and war as requested by the editor of the Columbian Magazine. "Give us something with a girl and a soldier in it," the editor had written. Albert's mind was lazily drifting in search of the pleasing combination.

The sun was warm, the breeze was light, the horizon was veiled with a liquid haze. Albert's mind was veiled with a similar haze and the idea he wanted would not come. He was losing his desire to find it and was, in fact, dropping into a doze when aroused by a blood-curdling outburst of barks and yelps and growls behind him, at his very heels. He came out of his nap with a jump and, scrambling to a sitting position and turning, he saw a small Boston bull-terrier standing within a yard of his ankles and, apparently, trying to turn his brindled outside in, or his inside out, with spiteful ferocity. Plainly the dog had come upon him unexpectedly and was expressing alarm, suspicion and disapproval.

Albert jerked his ankles out of the way and said "Hello, boy," in as cheerfully cordial a tone as he could muster at such short notice. The dog took a step forward, evidently with the idea of always keeping the ankles within jumping distance, showed a double row of healthy teeth and growled and barked with renewed violence.

"Nice dog," observed Albert. The nice dog made a snap at the nearest ankle and, balked of his prey by a frenzied kick of the foot attached to the ankle, shrieked, snarled and gurgled like a canine lunatic.

"Go home, you ugly brute," commanded the young man, losing patience, and looking about for a stone or stick. On the top of that knoll the largest stone was the size of a buckshot and the nearest stick was, to be Irish, a straw.

"Nice doggie! Nice old boy! Come and be patted! . . . Clear out with you! Go home, you beast!"

Flatteries and threats were alike in their result. The dog continued to snarl and growl, darting toward the ankles occasionally. Evidently he was mustering courage for the attack. Albert in desperation scooped up a handful of sand. If worst came to worst he might blind the creature temporarily. What would happen after that was not clear. Unless he might by a lucky cast fill the dog's interior so full of sand that--like the famous "Jumping Frog"--it would be too heavy to navigate, he saw no way of escape from a painful bite, probably more than one. What Captain Zelotes had formerly called his "Portygee temper" flared up.

"Oh, damn you, clear out!" he shouted, springing to his feet.

From a little way below him; in fact, from behind the next dune, between himself and the beach, a feminine voice called his name.

"Oh, Mr. Speranza!" it said. "Is it you? I'm so glad!"

Albert turned, but the moment he did so the dog made a dash at his legs, so he was obliged to turn back again and kick violently.

"Oh, I am so glad it is you," said the voice again. "I was sure it was a dreadful tramp. Googoo loathes tramps."

As an article of diet that meant, probably. Googoo--if that was the dog's name--was passionately fond of poets, that was self-evident, and intended to make a meal of this one, forthwith. He flew at the Speranza ankles. Albert performed a most undignified war dance, and dashed his handful of sand into Googoo's open countenance. For a minute or so there was a lively shindy on top of that knoll. At the end of the minute the dog, held tightly in a pair of feminine arms, was emitting growls and coughs and sand, while Madeline Fosdick and Albert Speranza were kneeling in more sand and looking at each other.

"Oh, did he bite you?" begged Miss Fosdick.

"No . . . no, I guess not," was the reply. "I--I scarcely know yet. . . . Why, when did you come? I didn't know you were in town."

"We came yesterday. Motored from home, you know. I--be still, Goo, you bad thing! It was such a lovely day that I couldn't resist going for a walk along the beach. I took Googoo because he does love it so, and--Goo, be still, I tell you! I am sure he thinks you are a tramp, out here all alone in the--in the wilderness. And what were you doing here?"

Albert drew a long breath. "I was half asleep, I guess," he said, "when he broke loose at my heels. I woke up quick enough then, as you may imagine. And so you are here for the summer? Your new house isn't finished, is it?"

"No, not quite. Mother and Goo and I are at the hotel for a month. But you haven't answered my question. What were you doing off here all alone? Have you been for a walk, too?"

"Not exactly. I--well, I come here pretty often. It is one of my favorite hiding places. You see, I . . . don't laugh if I tell you, will you?"

"Of course not. Go on; this is very mysterious and interesting."

"Well, I come here sometimes on pleasant days, to be alone--and write."

"Write? Write poetry, do you mean?"

"Yes."

"Oh, how wonderful! Were you writing when I--when Goo interrupted you?"

"No; I had made two or three attempts, but nothing that I did satisfied me. I had just about decided to tear them up and to give up trying for this afternoon."

"Oh, I hope you won't tear them up. I'm sure they shouldn't be. Perhaps you were not in a proper mood to judge, yourself."

"Perhaps not. Perhaps they might look a little less hopeless to some one else. But that person would have to be really interested, and there are few people in South Harniss who know or care anything about poetry."

"I suppose that is true. I--I don't suppose you would care to show them to me, would you?"

"Why," eagerly, "would you really care to see them?"

"Indeed I should! Not that my judgment or advice is worth anything, of course. But I am very, very fond of poetry, and to see how a real poet wrote would be wonderful. And if I could help you, even the least little bit, it would be such an honor."

This sort of thing was balm to the Speranza spirit. Albert's temperamental ego expanded under it like a rosebud under a summer sun. Yet there was a faint shadow of doubt--she might be making fun of him. He looked at her intently and she seemed to read his thoughts, for she said:

"Oh, I mean it! Please believe I do. I haven't spoken that way when Jane was with me, for she wouldn't understand and would laugh, but I mean it, Mr. Speranza. It would be an honor--a great honor."

So the still protesting and rebellious Googoo was compelled to go a few feet away and lie down, while his mistress and the young man whom he had attempted to devour bent their heads together over a scribbling-pad and talked and exclaimed during the whole of that hour and a full three-quarters of the next. Then the distant town clock in the steeple of the Congregational church boomed five times and Miss Fosdick rose to her feet.

"Oh," she said, "it can't really be five o'clock, can it? But it is! What WILL mother fancy has become of me? I must go this minute. Thank you, Mr. Speranza. I have enjoyed this so much. It has been a wonderful experience."

Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were shining. She had grown handsomer than ever during the winter months. Albert's eyes were shining also as he impulsively seized her hand.

"Thank you, Miss Fosdick," he said. "You have helped me more than I can tell you. I was about to give up in despair before you came, and now--now I KNOW I shall write the best thing I have ever done. And you will be responsible for it."

She caught her breath. "Oh, not really!" she exclaimed. "You don't mean it, really?"

"Indeed I do! If I might have your help and sympathy once in awhile, I believe--I believe I could do almost anything. Will you help me again some day? I shall be here almost every pleasant Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Will you come again?"

She hesitated. "I--I'll see; perhaps," she answered hurriedly. "But I must go now. Come, Goo."

She hastened away, down the knoll and along the beach toward the hotel. Googoo followed her, turning occasionally to cast diabolical glances at the Speranza ankles. Albert gazed until the graceful figure in the trim sport costume disappeared behind the corner of the point of the beach. Just at the point she paused to wave to him. He waved in return. Then he tramped homeward. There was deep sand beneath his feet and, later, pine-needles and grass. They were all alike to him, for he was traveling on air.

That evening at supper his radiant appearance caused comment.

"What makes you look so happy, Albert?" asked his grandmother. "Seems to me I never saw you look so sort of--well, glorified, as you might say. What is the reason?"

The glorified one reddened and was confused. He stammered that he did not know, he was not aware of any particular reason.

Mrs. Ellis beamed upon him. "I presume likely his bookkeepin' at the office has been goin' pretty well lately," she suggested.

Captain Zelote's gray eyes twinkled. "Cal'late he's been makin' up more poetry about girls," was his offering. "Another one of those pieces about teeth like pearls and hair all curls, or somethin' like that. Say, Al, why don't you poetry-makin' fellers try a new one once in a while? Say, 'Her hair's like rope and her face has lost hope.' Eh? Why not, for a change?"

The protests on the part of Olive and the housekeeper against the captain's innovation in poetry-making had the effect of distracting attention from Albert's "glorified" appearance. The young man himself was thankful for the respite.

That night before he retired he took Madeline Fosdick's photograph from the back of the drawer among the ties and collars and looked at it for five minutes at least. She was a handsome girl, certainly. Not that that made any difference to him. And she was an intelligent girl; she understood his poetry and appreciated it. Yes, and she understood him, too, almost as well as Helen. . . . Helen! He hastily returned the Fosdick photograph to the drawer; but this time he did not put it quite so near the back.

On the following Saturday he was early at the knoll, a brand-new scribbling-pad in his pocket and in his mind divine gems which were later, and with Miss Fosdick's assistance, to be strung into a glittering necklace of lyric song and draped, with the stringer's compliments, about the throat of a grateful muse. But no gems were strung that day. Madeline did not put in an appearance, and by and by it began to rain, and Albert walked home, damp, dejected, and disgusted. When, a day or two later, he met Miss Fosdick at the post office and asked why she had not come he learned that her mother had insisted upon a motor trip to Wapatomac that afternoon.

"Besides," she said, "you surely mustn't expect me EVERY Saturday."

"No," he admitted grudgingly, "I suppose not. But you will come sometimes, won't you? I have a perfectly lovely idea for a ballad and I want to ask your advice about it."

"Oh, do you really? You're not making fun? You mean that my advice is really worth something? I can't believe it."

He convinced her that it was, and the next Saturday afternoon they spent together at the inspiration point among the dunes, at work upon the ballad. It was not finished on that occasion, nor on the next, for it was an unusually long ballad, but progress was made, glorious progress.

And so, during that Summer, as the Fosdick residence upon the Bay Road grew and grew, so did the acquaintanceship, the friendship, the poetic partnership between the Fosdick daughter and the grandson of Captain Zelotes Snow grow and grow. They met almost every Saturday, they met at the post office on week evenings, occasionally they saw each other for a moment after church on Sunday mornings. Mrs. Fletcher Fosdick could not imagine why her only child cared to attend that stuffy little country church and hear that prosy Kendall minister drone on and on. "I hope, my dear, that I am as punctilious in my religious duties as the average woman, but one Kendall sermon was sufficient for me, thank you. What you see in THAT church to please you, _I can't guess."

If she had attended as often as Madeline did she might have guessed and saved herself much. But she was busy organizing, in connection with Mrs. Seabury Calvin, a Literary Society among the summer people of South Harniss. The Society was to begin work with the discussion of the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. Mrs. Fosdick said she doted on Tagore; Mrs. Calvin expressed herself as being positively insane about him. A warm friendship had sprung up between the two ladies, as each was particularly fond of shining as a literary light and neither under any circumstances permitted a new lion to roar unheard in her neighborhood, provided, of course, that the said roarings had been previously endorsed and well advertised by the critics and the press.

So Mrs. Fosdick was too busy to accompany Madeline to church on Sunday or to walk on Saturday, and the young lady was left to wander pretty much at her own sweet will. That sweet will led her footsteps to trails frequented by Albert Speranza and they walked and talked and poetized together. As for Mr. Fletcher Fosdick, he was busy at his office in New York and came to South Harniss only for infrequent week-ends.

The walks and talks and poetizings were innocent enough. Neither of the partners in poesy had the least idea of anything more than being just that. They liked each other, they had come to call each other by their Christian names, and on Albert's bureau Madeline's photograph now stood openly and without apology. Albert had convinced himself there was nothing to apologize for. She was his friend, that was all. He liked to write and she liked to help him--er--well, just as Helen used to when she was at home. He did not think of Helen quite as often as formerly, nor were his letters to her as frequent or as long.

So the summer passed and late August came, the last Saturday afternoon of that month. Albert and Madeline were together, walking together along the beach from the knoll where they had met so often. It was six o'clock and the beach was deserted. There was little wind, the tiny waves were lapping and plashing along the shore, and the rosy light of the sinking sun lay warm upon the water and the sand. They were thinking and speaking of the summer which was so near its end.

"It has been a wonderful summer, hasn't it?" said Albert.

"Yes, wonderful," agreed Madeline.

"Yes, I--I--by George, I never believed a summer could be so wonderful."

"Nor I."

Silence. Then Albert, looking at her, saw her eyes looking into his and saw in them--

He kissed her.

That morning Albert Speranza had arisen as usual, a casual, careless, perfectly human young fellow. He went to bed that night a superman, an archangel, a demi-god, with his head in the clouds and the earth a cloth of gold beneath his feet. Life was a pathway through Paradise arched with rainbows.

He and Madeline Fosdick loved each other madly, devotedly. They were engaged to be married. They had plighted troth. They were to be each other's, and no one else's, for ever--and ever--and ever.

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