Page images

best spot for the perc-please what is "No," she said, “but I must find its Latin name again?"

another place for perch. This is your Talbot repeated the massive words territory." with a smile. Cicely said them over to "Miss Lauriston," began Talbot. herself twice. "I shall remember them ('icely interrupted; bis tone threatnow," she declared. “I haven't fright. (ned seriousness. "My name isn't ened the fish away for you, have 1?" Lauriston, it's Neave," she corrected.

Talbot deemed it improbable, and Talbot was all apology. Incidentally asked her if she had been there long. he learned that she was not Miss "Oh, the duplicity of man," thought Neave, but Miss Cicely Weave, and she and replied out loud, "Only a few discovered suddenly that Cicely was minutes."

the prettiest Christian name he "Then I could only have been more knew. fortunate by a few minutes," he re "All this part is your territory, or turned with a touch of sarcasm at bis rather the house-boat's," she went on own expense.

to explain, “So we are going to move. Having seen the top-joint above the Aunt Charlotte doesn't like finding reeds Cicely understood him. “They people in the river when she takes an quite believed me about the fish," she early morning stroll. She wanted to digressed.

tell you to go, but we couldn't do that, "I hoped you were coming to catch so we're moving ourselves to-morrow some more," he hazarded.

morning." "I have come, you see." ('icely held Talbot remembered that Charles had herself in reserve.

related with much humor the sudden "Perhaps you would like to try my flight of a stout middle-aged party who rod ?" he suggested.

had surprised him at his morning "You are determined to instruct me?” swim. At breakfast the incident had she asked smiling.

awakened mirth; now, however, he "Surely, since you are here to be felt indignant with Charles who, it instructed," he returned.

was plain, lacked true chivalry and Cicely ate a chocolate and offered reasonable caution. him one. "l'nless you prefer your "Are you moving far?” he asked anxpipe,” she said. Talbot did; he sat iously. down and struck a match.

**About two miles, I think," she said. “Do you always keep it ready "Up stream?" filled?" she asked mischievously.

Cicely assented. Talbot became "Generally," he said without truth. thoughtful. “There's a place very like "I was wondering if you would come,” this in a field with a scare-crow in it," he observed irrelevantly.

was the result of his cogitation. “It's "It seems my fate to be instructed," on this bank and just about two miles she returned; "and now I have a repu- up-stream. You'll find a lot of perch tation to keep up as an angler."

there, I should say." "Fortune favored the fair," he ven- "You are sure I shouldn't be robbing tured.

you of a good pitch ?" she inquired de"In sending the brave to assist," she murely. laughed. “But now please give me an He assured her that she would be object-lesson, as I shall have so little robbing nobody, least of all himself. opportunity again."

As he intended to share the advan"Are you going back to town?" he tages of that chosen nook he was asked in alarm,

strictly within the truth.

Cicely thanked biw. "I shall try it and I left it in a hollow tree, and the some afternoou perhaps," she con- worm-tin's in a bush. I shall march ceded. She bent down over her choco. into camp quite in proper style.” late-box and disappeared from view The fish were now in the basket; under the brim of her hat. "He's Cicely had recovered her novels and really quite intelligent,” she was say- prepared to set out alone. ing to herself; "but I shan't go there “I believe you did expect me this the first afternoon. What would Aunt afternoon," said be. Charlotte think?"

Cicely held out her hand with a little Meanwhile Talbot was watching his blush. “Thanks very much for the float, since he found he could not perch,” she returned. watch anything better, and pursuing a One of her novels slipped; he caughi kindred train of thought which, to bis it and held it out to her. "And you own surprise, at last took shape in a left these behind? I am indeed question. "Did you expect to see me flattered," he said as she adjusted here this afternoon?" he asked her them. Cicely hurried away without suddenly.

replying. “Why should I?” Cicely thought he Talbot watched her till she had was advancing a little too far. She crossed the lock-bridge and disapanswered him with such supreme in- peared. She walked gracefully despite nocence that Talbot was staggered. her burdens and carried herself with He devoted his attention to his float. quite a dignity. She knew that his and not unsuccessfully. In fact he eyes followed her. "I wonder how I caught several perch, and what with shall see her next and when," he was this and the instructive conversation tbinking. that it occasioned the time passed rap- The miller's man roused him, by a idly. The sound of William's gong tactful tribute to Miss Cicely's good roused them to its lapse.

looks, for which he was justly and "You've brought me luck," said Tal richly rewarded. The wair of the torhot surveying his catch.

tured frying-pan smote clangorously "Then I shall claim one from you," on Talbot's ears, and he started off ('icely replied.

for the house-boat at a run. Only Talbot hastend to put them all it when he reached the stile did he reher disposal, but she would only ac member that he was, or would be concept two of medium size. A difficulty sidered, over-dressed. He stopped a rose in his mind; how was she to short and mechanically took off his carry them? "I've got a basket at the sash, tie, and straw hat, replacing mill," she confessed.

them by the leathern belt and the Talbot accompanied her thither. wide-a wake. It is to be feared that, "Your creel," he commented in sur- as he hid his straw hat carefully in the prise.

osier-bed, the duplicity of this action "I ought to have been fishing this was obscured by a half formulated afternoon,” she explained.

idea that loomed before him, immense, "But you've no rod?"

overwhelming, by whose side the hid"You see I can do without one."

ing of a straw hat would seem a piece “But-" he demurred and then hesi- of conspicuous candor. "If they move tated. The objection might be up to that back-water," he murmured, tactless.

"we-" but his thought was too revo"Well, I have a rod too," she cou- lutionary to be expressed in words, fessed, "so it's all right. It was so hot, even to himself.


Reports were made at lunch. Both

parties bad found spots that seemed Mr. Lauriston bad promised his wife suitable, and Martin had even found that he would not go far. She was all another farm which would supply for packing up the moment she had them with provisions. They decided, finished breakfast, during which meal therefore, to act on his report and to she had stated her case with such emmove the camp to a nook on the bank phasis and conviction that there was of another back-water some two miles positively no more to be said by any. higher up and to charter the farmer's body.

wagon for that purpose; it appeared Her husband, indeed, bad mildly re- that the lane would round to a point corded his opinion that there was no but a field away from the new camp. harm in a young man's diving off his ing-ground, a fact which materially own house-boat at so early an hour in lightened the task of transport. After the morning, especially as that young this, Cicely, as has been seen, anman could not have known that there nounced her intention of fishing and was a lady in the vicinity who might set out; when she had gone Mr. Lauobject to his so doing. But Mrs. Lau- riston in spite of the fatigues of the riston paid no attention to this view morning said something about a walk. of the matter. The shock had gone too a short one in deference to his wife's deep for argument or reason. It was anxiety about the packing. one of those cases in which the mar- He was rather glad that he had not vellous gift of intuition, which is the been obliged to meet Miss Cicely's exspecial privilege of her sex, shows it. pressive eyes as he mentioned what he selt superior to all the ordinary meth- was going to do; she knew too much, ods by which other human beings pro- and he felt that she was amused at his ceed to action. Mrs. Lauriston knew behavior. However much one may it was right to move, so move she absolve oneself to oneself, one still would; and her party would move with does not like one's righteous dealing to her.

be regarded with amused suspicion by On this, therefore, there was no pos- ' others. There might also in the back sibility of dispute, but in the matter of his mind have been a hardly realof packing up and starting forth the ized impression that his pretty niece a united efforts of the party could effect little despised what she must consider some small modification.

such crooked dealing. And so Mr. Lau"Where," asked her husband after riston set out for the house-boat a secconceding the main point, "are we to ond time unsuspected. His object in move to?"

going may readily be guessed; he felt "And what," asked Cicely, "is the that he owed it to the hospitable young good of beginning to pack up until we men at least to say good-bye. He had know that we can move somewhere?" appreciated Charles's tact in not re

“We had better find a place at once," turning his call. It argued a rare said Agatha.

power of sympathy in that young man This suggestion seemed sensible that he had accepted the intimation, and it was agreed that two search-par- which it had been impossible to give ties should be sent out; one, consisting in so many words, that Mr. Lauriston of Mr. Lauriston and Agatha, was to for domestic reasons must only be take the boat and go down stream, known as you know a man at the club, the other, consisting of Martin, was to the house-boat being the club. Morego up stream along the bank.

over, it need not necessarily be goodbye. Two miles are but two miles, stopped more than once to mop his if one is aware of the fact; but if he brow and rest. About two-thirds of merely disappeared without informing the way up he paused under the shade them that he was going they would of a small spreading oak, and turned not be aware of the fact, and then two to glance at the view before him. miles are no better than two hundred, Suddenly he became conscious that -and besides, they might feel hurt. something was moving over his bead

Some such thoughts as these passed and looked up. To his surprise le saw through his mind as he followed in a pair of white canvas shoes dangling Cicely's track rather later. He walked over a branch some twenty feet above past the little holly-tree and the useful him. Allowing his eye to travel uppollard without suspecting what se- wards he made out the figure of a crets of Cicely's they could reveal, and man, whose face in the shadow he when he reached the mill he turned could not at first distinguish; presto the left instead of to the right or he ently, however, his eyes became more might have discovered yet more of her accustomed to the shade and he was secrets. But at that moment Mr. Lau- able to trace the features of Sir Seyriston was fully occupied with his own. mour Haddon, who appeared to be When he reached the house-boat he about to light a cigarette. was disappointed to find it deserted. “Hullo," said Mr. Lauriston more Even the faithful William, whom than a little astonished. somehow he had come to regard as a Charles paused in the lighting of his kind of fixture like the fire-place, was cigarette and looked down. . "Hullo," absent. Mr. Lauriston went close to be returned. “Oh, it's Mr. Lauriston. the vessel and coughed rather loudly, How are you? It's a nice day, isn't thinking that some one might be in- it?" side, but in vain.

Mr. Lauriston felt a natural curiosHe wondered whether he should ity as to Charles's movements. He leave a card on the table to show that could not remember ever to have seen he had intended to do the right thing; any person of mature age up in a tree but there were several objections to before; and Charles, though fairly that course. A plain card might be young, was certainly no longer a boy. taken as an invitation to return his "Are you-bird-nesting?" he asked call, as a sign that the domestic dis- doubtfully. abilties, so tactfully appreciated, had "No," said Charles, “I'm looking for been removed, and that was far from a Gladstone bag.” being the case; he might put P. P. C. in "A what?" said Mr. Lauriston more the corner, but that would not be astonished than ever. strictly true, and he did not want to "A Gladstone bag," returned Charles, take formal leave; he might scribble “but it isn't here. Wait a minute; a line or two to explain matters, but I'm coming down." He quickly dea scribbled line or two have often con- scended from his perch, letting himstituted an incriminating document be- self down from branch to branch with fore now, especially to married men. an agility that Mr. Lauriston envied. No, Mr. Lauriston decided that he "You haven't seen a Gladstone bag could not leave a card.

about, I suppose?" said ('harles as he Rather disconsolate he determined to regained the earth. Mr. Lauriston deascend the knoll and gain the high nied having seen such a thing rather road; his walk must be a real one after emphatically and cast a dubious eye all. The ascent was steep, and he on his interrogator. "I have mislaid one," said Charles in explanation, cal sketch of the position they proposed He hesitated for a moment as to to occupy, which Charles faithfully whether he should take Mr. Lauriston committed to memory. "Two miles more fully into his confidence. But is no distance," commented Charles. after all, perhaps, he hardly knew him “You'll always know where to find suficiently well. The victim of a con- us. It'll be just far enough to make spiracy may be interesting but he is you thirsty." Charles spoke from his hardly heroic, and Charles wished to head rather than his heart; he himself be heroic in his relations with the had no objection to running or swimother camp. He decided not to be too ming one mile, but he hated walking expansive, though there was no harın two. in enlisting Mr. Lauriston's uncon- Mr. Lauriston was pleased.' This scious aid; in a case of this sort every was exactly the spirit in which he pair of eyes is of value. "If you had hoped to be met. “Thanks very should see a Gladstone bag anywhere much,” he said; "you may be sure I round here," he said nonchalantly, shall turn up again some fine day.” "you'll know it belongs to me."

Then in the generosity of his heart inMr. Lauriston promised hurriedly; spired perhaps by a sip of the cooling he was not sure whether Charles was beverage he added: "If you should intoxicated or mad, but in either case ever be in our neighborhood,-of course, it seemed wise to humor him, "Are you know," Mr. Lauriston realyou going anywhere in particular?" ized almost at once what he was sayasked the object of suspicion. "If not, ing and swallowed the rest of the sencome back and have a drink."

tence hurriedly. Mr. Lauriston did not refuse. When Charles, however, faithfully comone is doubtful of the sobriety or san. mitted the semi-invitation to memory, ity of a man whose physical strength though he had no immediate intention is at least twice as great as one's of availing himself of it; but the time, own, one does not refuse to oblige him he fondly reflected, would come and in trifles. Mr. Lauriston, moreover, when it did-a thought struck him. was thirsty. They soon reached the "By the way, if we should happen to encampment and seated themselves move too, you'll always be able to find comfortably each with a cooling bever- us. A houseboat can't be hidden very age in a long glass. Mr. Lauriston well.” accepted a cigarette, and soon forgot "Have you thought of moving?" Mr. bis suspicions of Charles's mental Lauriston asked. equilibrium. His host showed him "Oh, only some vague talk." Charles self eminently sane, and told him one dismissed the notion with a shrug. "It or two things connected with the City isn't probable, but one never knows." that were new to him; he did not “Well, I must be going back," said of course know that they were also Mr. Lauriston getting up slowly. new to Charles.

Charles accompanied him as far as Finally Mr. Lauriston reached a the stile. “There's always a chair, a point at which he could say that which glass, and a cigarette here," he said; he came to say. “We are moving our "don't forget. Oh and, I say, if you camp to another spot to-morrow," he should happen upon a Gladstone bag announced casually.

let me know, will you? I should be "Really?” said Charles. "Are you go awfully obliged." ing far away?"

Mr. Lauriston promised again and Mr. Lauriston gave a brief geographi- returned to his camp slowly, wonder

« PreviousContinue »