Mr. Bentley had just driven into the yard with the new summer boarder. Mrs. Bentley and Agnes were peeping at her from behind the parlour curtains with the keen interest that they--shut in by their restricted farm life--always felt in any visitor from the outside world lying beyond their boundary of purple misted hills.
Mrs. Bentley was a plump, rosy-cheeked woman with a motherly smile. Agnes was a fair, slim schoolgirl, as tall as her mother, with a sweet face and a promise of peach blossom prettiness in the years to come. The arrival of a summer boarder was a great event in her quiet life.
"Ain't she pretty?" whispered Mrs. Bentley admiringly, as the girl came slowly up the green slope before the house. "I do hope she's nice. You can generally calculate on men boarders, but girls are doubtful. Preserve me from a cranky boarder! I've had enough of them. I kinder like her looks, though."
Ethel Lennox had paused at the front door as Mrs. Bentley and Agnes came into the hall. Agnes gazed at the stranger with shy, unenvious admiration; the latter stood on the stone step just where the big chestnut by the door cast flickering gleams and shadows over her dress and shining hair.
She was tall, and gowned in some simple white material that fell about her in graceful folds. She wore a cluster of pale pink roses at her belt, and a big, picturesque white hat shaded her face and the glossy, clinging masses of her red hair--hair that was neither auburn nor chestnut but simply red. Nor would anyone have wished it otherwise, having once seen that glorious mass, with all its wonderful possibilities of rippling luxuriance.
Her complexion was of that perfect, waxen whiteness that goes with burnished red hair and the darkest of dilated violet eyes. Her delicately chiselled features wore what might have been a somewhat too decided impress of spirit and independence, had it not been for the sweet mouth, red and dimpled and curving, that parted in a slow, charming smile as Mrs. Bentley came forward with her kindly welcome.
"You must be real tired, Miss Lennox. It's a long drive from the train down here. Agnes, show Miss Lennox up to her room, and tea will be ready when you come down."
Agnes came forward with the shy grace that always won friends for her, and the two girls went slowly up the broad, old-fashioned staircase, while Mrs. Bentley bustled away to bring in the tea and put a goblet of damask roses on the table.
"She looks like a picture, doesn't she, John?" she said to her husband. "I never saw such a face--and that hair too. Would you have believed red hair could be so handsome? She seems real friendly--none of your stuck-up fine ladies! I've had all I want of them, I can tell you!"
"Sh--sh--sh!" said Mr. Bentley warningly, as Ethel Lennox came in with her arm about Agnes.
She looked even more lovely without her hat, with the soft red tendrils of hair lying on her forehead. Mrs. Bentley sent a telegraphic message of admiration across the table to her husband, who was helping the cold tongue and feeling his way to a conversation.
"You'll find it pretty quiet here, Miss Lennox. We're plain folks and there ain't much going and coming. Maybe you don't mind that, though?"
"I like it. When one has been teaching school all the year in a noisy city, quiet seems the one thing to be desired. Besides, I like to fancy myself something of an artist. I paint and sketch a little when I have time, and Miss Courtland, who was here last summer, said I could not find a more suitable spot. So I came because I knew that mackerel fishing was carried on along the shore, and I would have a chance to study character among the fishermen."
"Well, the shore ain't far away, and it's pretty--though maybe us folks here don't appreciate it rightly, being as we're so used to it. Strangers are always going crazy over its 'picturesqueness,' as they call it. As for 'character,' I reckon you'll find all you want of that among the Pointers; anyway, I never seed such critters as they be. When you get tired of painting, maybe you can amuse yourself trying to get to the bottom of our mystery."
"Oh, have you a mystery? How interesting!"
"Yes, a mystery--a mystery," repeated Mr. Bentley solemnly, "that nobody hain't been able to solve so far. I've give it up--so has everyone else. Maybe you'll have better luck."
"But what is it?"
"The mystery," said Mr. Bentley dramatically, "is--Young Si. He's the mystery. Last spring, just when the herring struck in, a young chap suddenly appeared at the Point. He appeared--from what corner of the globe nobody hain't ever been able to make out. He bought a boat and a shanty down at my shore and went into a sort of mackerel partnership with Snuffy Curtis--Snuffy supplying the experience and this young fellow the cash, I reckon. Snuffy's as poor as Job's turkey; it was a windfall for him. And there he's fished all summer."
"But his name--Young Si?"
"Well, of course, that isn't it. He did give himself out as Brown, but nobody believes that's his handle--sounds unnatteral here. He bought his establishment from 'old Si,' who used to fish down there and was a mysterious old critter in a way too. So when this young fellow stepped in from goodness knows where, some of the Pointers christened him Young Si for a joke, and he never gets anything else. Doesn't seem to mind it. He's a moody, keep-to-himself sort of chap. Yet he ain't unpopular along shore, I believe. Snuffy was telling me they like him real well, considering his unsociableness. Anyways, he's as handsome a chap as I ever seed, and well eddicated too. He ain't none of your ordinary fishermen. Some of us kind of think he's a runaway--got into some scrape or another, maybe, and is skulking around here to keep out of jail. But wife here won't give in to that."
"No, I never will," said Mrs. Bentley firmly. "Young Si comes here often for milk and butter, and he's a perfect gentleman. Nobody'll ever convince me that he has done anything to be ashamed of, whatever's his reason for wasting his life down there at that shore."
"He ain't wasting his life," chuckled Mr. Bentley. "He's making money, Young Si is, though he don't seem to care about that a mite. This has been a big year for mackerel, and he's smart. If he didn't know much when he begun, he's ahead of Snuffy now. And as for work, I never saw his beat. He seems possessed. Up afore sunrise every blessed morning and never in bed till midnight, and just slaving away all between time. I said to him t'other day, says I: 'Young Si, you'll have to let up on this sort of thing and take a rest. You can't stand it. You're not a Pointer. Pointers can stand anything, but it'll kill you.'
"He give one of them bitter laughs of his. Says he: 'It's no difference if it does. Nobody'll care,' and off he walks, sulky like. There's something about Young Si I can't understand," concluded Mr. Bentley.
Ethel Lennox was interested. A melancholy, mysterious hero in a setting of silver-rimmed sand hills and wide blue sweeps of ocean was something that ought to lend piquancy to her vacation.
"I should like to see this prince in disguise," she said. "It all sounds very romantic."
"I'll take you to the shore after tea if you'd like," said Agnes eagerly. "Si's just splendid," she continued in a confidential aside as they rose from the table. "Pa doesn't half like him because he thinks there's something queer about him. But I do. He's a gentleman, as Ma says. I don't believe he's done anything wrong."* * * * *
Ethel Lennox sauntered out into the orchard to wait for Agnes. She sat down under an apple tree and began to read, but soon the book slipped from her hands and the beautiful head leaned back against the grey, lichened trunk of the old tree. The sweet mouth drooped wistfully. There was a sad, far-away look in the violet eyes. The face was not that of a happy girl, so thought Agnes as she came down the apple tree avenue.
But how pretty she is! she thought. Won't the folks around here stare at her! They always do at our boarders, but we've never had one like her.
Ethel sprang up. "I had no idea you would be here so soon," she said brightly. "Just wait till I get my hat."
When she came out they started off, and presently found themselves walking down a grassy, deep-rutted lane that ran through mown hay fields, green with their rich aftergrowth, and sheets of pale ripening oats and golden-green wheat, until it lost itself in the rolling sand hills at the foot of the slope.
Beyond the sand hills stretched the shining expanse of the ocean, of the faint, bleached blue of hot August seas, and reaching out into a horizon laced with long trails of pinkish cloud. Numberless fishing boats dotted the shimmering reaches.
"That furthest-off boat is Young Si's," said Agnes. "He always goes to that particular spot."
"Is he really all your father says?" asked Miss Lennox curiously.
"Indeed, he is. He isn't any more like the rest of the shore men than you are. He's queer, of course. I don't believe he's happy. It seems to me he's worrying over something, but I'm sure it is nothing wrong. Here we are," she added, as they passed the sand hills and came out on the long, level beach.
To their left the shore curved around in a semi-circle of dazzling whiteness; at their right stood a small grey fish-house.
"That's Young Si's place," said Agnes. "He lives there night and day. Wouldn't it make anyone melancholy? No wonder he's mysterious. I'm going to get his spyglass. He told me I might always use it."
She pushed open the door and entered, followed by Ethel. The interior was rough but clean. It was a small room, lighted by one tiny window looking out on the water. In one corner a rough ladder led up to the loft above. The bare lathed walls were hung with fishing jackets, nets, mackerel lines and other shore appurtenances. A little stove bore a kettle and a frying pan. A low board table was strewn with dishes and the cold remnants of a hasty repast; benches were placed along the walls. A fat, bewhiskered kitten, looking as if it were cut out of black velvet, was dozing on the window sill.
"This is Young Si's cat," explained Agnes, patting the creature, which purred joyously and opened its sleepy green eyes. "It's the only thing he cares for, I believe. Witch! Witch! How are you, Witch? Well, here's the spyglass. Let's go out and have a look. Si's catching mackerel," announced Agnes a few minutes later, after she had scrutinized each boat in turn, "and he won't be in for an hour yet. If you like, we have time for a walk up the shore."
The sun slipped lower and lower in the creamy sky, leaving a trail of sparkles that ran across the water and lost itself in the west. Sea gulls soared and dipped, and tiny "sand peeps" flitted along the beach. Just as the red rim of the sun dipped in the purpling sea, the boats began to come in.
"Most of them will go around to the Point," explained Agnes, with a contemptuous sweep of her hand towards a long headland running out before them. "They belong there and they're a rough crowd. You don't catch Young Si associating with the Pointers. There, he's getting up sail. We'll just have time to get back before he comes in."
They hurried back across the dampening sand as the sun disappeared, leaving a fiery spot behind him. The shore was no longer quiet and deserted. The little spot where the fishing house stood had suddenly started into life. Roughly clad boys were running hither and thither, carrying fish or water. The boats were hauled up on the skids. A couple of shaggy old tars, who had strolled over from the Point to hear about Young Si's catch, were smoking their pipes at the corner of his shanty. A mellow afterlight was shining over sea and shore. The whole scene delighted Ethel's artist eyes.
Agnes nudged her companion.
"There! If you want to see Young Si," she whispered, pointing to the skids, where a busy figure was discernible in a large boat, "that's him, with his back to us, in the cream-coloured boat. He's counting out mackerel. If you go over to that platform behind him, you'll get a good look when he turns around. I'm going to coax a mackerel out of that stingy old Snuffy, if I can."
She tripped off, and Ethel walked slowly over to the boats. The men stared at her in open-mouthed admiration as she passed them and walked out on the platform behind Young Si. There was no one near the two. The others were all assembled around Snuffy's boat. Young Si was throwing out the mackerel with marvellous rapidity, but at the sound of a footstep behind him he turned and straightened up his tall form. They stood face to face.
Young Si staggered back against the mast, letting two silvery bloaters slip through his hands overboard. His handsome, sunburned face was very white.
Ethel Lennox turned abruptly and silently and walked swiftly across the sand. Agnes felt her arm touched, and turned to see Ethel standing, pale and erect, beside her.
"Let us go home," said the latter unsteadily. "It is very damp here--I feel chilled."
"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Agnes penitently. "I ought to have told you to bring a shawl. It is always damp on the shore after sunset. Here, Snuffy, give me my mackerel. Thank you. I'm ready now, Miss Lennox."
They reached the lane before Agnes remembered to ask the question Ethel dreaded.
"Oh, did you see Young Si? And what do you think of him?"
Ethel turned her face away and answered with studied carelessness. "He seems to be quite a superior fisherman so far as I could see in the dim light. It was very dusky there, you know. Let us walk a little faster. My shoes are quite wet."
When they reached home, Miss Lennox excused herself on the plea of weariness and went straight to her room.* * * * *
Back at the shore Young Si had recovered himself and stooped again to his work. His face was set and expressionless. A dull red burned in each bronzed cheek. He threw out the mackerel mechanically, but his hands trembled.
Snuffy strolled over to the boat. "See that handsome girl, Si?" he asked lazily. "One of the Bentleys' boarders, I hear. Looks as if she might have stepped out of a picture frame, don't she?"
"We've no time to waste, Curtis," said Young Si harshly, "with all these fish to clean before bedtime. Stop talking and get to work."
Snuffy shrugged his shoulders and obeyed in silence. Young Si was not a person to be trifled with. The catch was large and it was late before they finished. Snuffy surveyed the full barrels complacently.
"Good day's work," he muttered, "but hard--I'm dead beat out. 'Low I'll go to bed. In the name o' goodness, Si, whar be you a-goin' to?"
Young Si had got into a dory and untied it. He made no answer, but rowed out from the shore. Snuffy stared at the dory blankly until it was lost in the gloom.
"Ef that don't beat all!" he ejaculated. "I wonder if Si is in his right senses? He's been actin' quar right along, and now to start off, Lord knows whar, at this hour o' night! I really don't believe it's safe to stay here alone with him."
Snuffy shook his unkempt head dubiously.
Young Si rowed steadily out over the dark waves. An eastern breeze was bringing in a damp sea fog that blurred darkly over the outlines of horizon and shore. The young fisherman found himself alone in a world of water and grey mist. He stopped rowing and leaned forward on his oars.
"To see her here, of all places!" he muttered. "Not a word, scarcely a look, after all this long heartbreak! Well, perhaps it is better so. And yet to know she is so near! How beautiful she is! And I love her more than ever. That is where the sting lies. I thought that in this rough life, amid all these rude associations, where nothing could remind me of her, I might forget. And now--"
He clenched his hands. The mist was all around and about him, creeping, impalpable, phantom-like. The dory rocked gently on the swell. From afar came the low persistent murmur of the ocean.* * * * *
The next day Ethel Lennox declined to visit Si's shore. Instead she went to the Point and sketched all day. She went again the next day and the next. The Point was the most picturesque part of the shore, she averred, and the "types" among its inhabitants most interesting. Agnes Bentley ceased to suggest another visit to Si's shore. She had a vague perception that her companion did not care to discuss the subject.
At the end of a week Mrs. Bentley remarked: "What in the world can have happened to Young Si? It's a whole week since he was here for milk or butter. He ain't sick, is he?"
Mr. Bentley chuckled amusedly.
"I 'low I can tell you the reason of that. Si's getting his stuff at Walden's now. I saw him going there twice this week. 'Liza Walden's got ahead of you at last, Mary."
"Well, I never did!" said Mrs. Bentley. "Well, Young Si is the first that ever preferred 'Liza Walden's butter to mine. Everyone knows what hers is like. She never works her salt half in. Well, Young Si's welcome to it, I'm sure; I wish him joy of his exchange."
Mrs. Bentley rattled her dishes ominously. It was plain her faith in Young Si had received a severe shock.
Upstairs in her room, Ethel Lennox, with a few undried tears glistening on her cheeks, was writing a letter. Her lips were compressed and her hand trembled:
"I have discovered that it is no use to run away from fate," she wrote. "No matter how hard we try to elude it, and how sure we are that we have succeeded, it will rise and meet us where we least expect it. I came down here tired and worn out, looking for peace and rest--and lo! the most disquieting element of my life is here to confront me.
"I'm going to confess, Helen. 'Open confession is good for the soul,' you know, and I shall treat myself to a good dose while the mood is on.
"You know, of course, that I was once engaged to Miles Lesley. You also know that that engagement was broken last autumn for unexplained reasons. Well, I will tell you all about it and then mail this letter speedily, before I change my mind.
"It is over a year now since Miles and I first became engaged. As you are aware, his family is wealthy, and noted for its exclusiveness. I was a poor school teacher, and you may imagine with what horror his relatives received the news of Miles's attentions to one whom they considered his inferior. Now that I have thought the whole matter over calmly, I scarcely blame them. It must be hard for aristocratic parents who have lavished every care upon a son, and cherished for him the highest hopes, when he turns from the women of his own order to one considered beneath him in station. But I did not view the subject in this light then; and instead of declining his attentions, as I perhaps should have done, I encouraged them--I loved him so dearly, Nell!--and in spite of family opposition, Miles soon openly declared his attachment.
"When his parents found they could not change his purpose, their affection for him forced them into outward acquiescence, but their reluctant condescension was gall and wormwood to me. I saw things only from my own point of view, and was keenly sensitive to their politely concealed disapprobation, and my offended vanity found its victim in Miles. I belonged to the class who admit and resent slights, instead of ignoring them, as do the higher bred, and I thought he would not see those offered to me. I grew cold and formal to him. He was very patient, but his ways were not mine, and my manner puzzled and annoyed him. Our relations soon became strained, and the trifle necessary for an open quarrel was easily supplied.
"One evening I went to a large At Home given by his mother. I knew but few and, as Miles was necessarily busy with his social duties to her guests, I was, after the first hurried greeting, left unattended for a time. Not being accustomed to such functions, I resented this as a covert insult and, in a fit of jealous pique, I blush to own that I took the revenge of a peasant maid and entered into a marked flirtation with Fred Currie, who had paid me some attention before my engagement. When Miles was at liberty to seek me, he found me, to all appearances, quite absorbed in my companion and oblivious of his approach. He turned on his heel and went away, nor did he come near me the rest of the evening.
"I went home angry enough, but so miserable and repentant that if Miles had been his usual patient self when he called the following evening I would have begged his forgiveness. But I had gone too far; his mother was shocked by my gaucherie, and he was humiliated and justly exasperated. We had a short, bitter quarrel. I said a great many foolish, unpardonable things, and finally I threw his ring at him. He gave me a startled look then, in which there was something of contempt, and went away without another word.
"After my anger had passed, I was wretchedly unhappy. I realized how unworthily I had acted, how deeply I loved Miles, and how lonely and empty my life would be without him. But he did not come back, and soon after I learned he had gone away--whither no one knew, but it was supposed abroad. Well, I buried my hopes and tears in secret and went on with my life as people have to do--a life in which I have learned to think, and which, I hope, has made me nobler and better.
"This summer I came here. I heard much about a certain mysterious stranger known as 'Young Si' who was fishing mackerel at this shore. I was very curious. The story sounded romantic, and one evening I went down to see him. I met him face to face and, Helen, it was Miles Lesley!
"For one minute earth, sky and sea reeled around me. The next, I remembered all, and turned and walked away. He did not follow.
"You may be sure that I now religiously avoid that part of the shore. We have never met since, and he has made no effort to see me. He clearly shows that he despises me. Well, I despise myself. I am very unhappy, Nell, and not only on my own account, for I feel that if Miles had never met me, his mother would not now be breaking her heart for her absent boy. My sorrow has taught me to understand hers, and I no longer resent her pride.
"You need hardly be told after this that I leave here in another week. I cannot fabricate a decent excuse to go sooner, or I would."
In the cool twilight Ethel went with Agnes Bentley to mail her letter. As they stopped at the door of the little country store, a young man came around the corner. It was Young Si. He was in his rough fishing suit, with a big herring net trailing over his shoulder, but no disguise could effectually conceal his splendid figure. Agnes sprang forward eagerly.
"Si, where have you been? Why have you never I been up to see us for so long?"
Young Si made no verbal reply. He merely lifted his cap with formal politeness and turned on his heel.
"Well, I never!" exclaimed Agnes, as soon as she recovered her powers of speech. "If that is how Young Si is going to treat his friends! He must have got offended at something. I wonder what it is," she added, her curiosity getting the better of her indignation.
When they came out they saw the solitary figure of Young Si far adown, crossing the dim, lonely shore fields. In the dusk Agnes failed to notice the pallor of her companion's face and the unshed tears in her eyes.* * * * *
"I've just been down to the Point," said Agnes, coming in one sultry afternoon about a week later, "and Little Ev said as there was no fishing today he'd take us out for that sail tonight if you wanted to go."
Ethel Lennox put her drawing away listlessly. She looked pale and tired. She was going away the next day, and this was to be her last visit to the shore.
About an hour before sunset a boat glided out from the shadow of the Point. In it were Ethel Lennox and Agnes, together with Little Ev, the sandy-haired, undersized Pointer who owned the boat.
The evening was fine, and an off-shore breeze was freshening up rapidly. They did not notice the long, dark bank of livid cloud low in the northwest.
"Isn't this glorious!" exclaimed Ethel. Her hat was straining back from her head and the red rings of her hair were blowing about her face.
Agnes looked about her more anxiously. Wiser in matters of sea and shore than her companion, there were some indications she did not like.
Young Si, who was standing with Snuffy their skids, lowered his spyglass with a start.
"It is Agnes Bentley and--and--that boarder of theirs," he said anxiously, "and they've gone out with Little Ev in that wretched, leaky tub of his. Where are their eyes that they can't see a squall coming up?"
"An' Little Ev don't know as much about managing a boat as a cat!" exclaimed Snuffy excitedly. "Sign 'em to come back."
Si shook his head. "They're too far out. I don't know that the squall will amount to very much. In a good boat, with someone who knew how to manage it, they'd be all right. But with Little Ev--" He began walking restlessly up and down the narrow platform.
The boat was now some distance out. The breeze had stiffened to a slow strong wind and the dull-grey level of the sea was whipped into white-caps.
Agnes bent towards Ethel. "It's getting too rough. I think we'd better go back. I'm afraid we're in for a thunder squall. Look at the clouds."
A long, sullen muttering verified her words.
"Little Ev," she shouted, "we want to go in."
Little Ev, thus recalled to things about him, looked around in alarm. The girls questioned each other with glances of dismay. The sky had grown very black, and the peals of thunder came louder and more continuously. A jagged bolt of lightning hurtled over the horizon. Over land and sea was "the green, malignant light of coming storm."
Little Ev brought the boat's head abruptly round as a few heavy drops of rain fell.
"Ev, the boat is leaking!" shrieked Agnes, above the wind. "The water's coming in!"
"Bail her out then," shouted Ev, struggling with the sail. "There's two cans under the seat. I've got to lower this sail. Bail her out."
"I'll help you," said Ethel.
She was very pale, but her manner was calm. Both girls bailed energetically.
Young Si, watching through the glass, saw them. He dropped it and ran to his boat, white and resolute.
"They've sprung a leak. Here, Curtis, launch the boat. We've got to go out or Ev will drown them."
They shot out from the shore just as the downpour came, blotting out sea and land in one driving sheet of white rain.
"Young Si is coming off for us," said Agnes. "We'll be all right if he gets here in time. This boat is going to sink, sure."
Little Ev was completely demoralized by fear. The girls bailed unceasingly, but the water gained every minute. Young Si was none too soon.
"Jump, Ev!" he shouted as his boat shot alongside. "Jump for your life!"
He dragged Ethel Lennox in as he spoke. Agnes sprang from one boat to the other like a cat, and Little Ev jumped just as a thunderous crash seemed to burst above them and air and sky were filled with blue flame.
The danger was past, for the squall had few difficulties for Si and Snuffy. When they reached the shore, Agnes, who had quite recovered from her fright, tucked her dripping skirts about her and announced her determination to go straight home with Snuffy.
"I can't get any wetter than I am," she said cheerfully. "I'll send Pa down in the buggy for Miss Lennox. Light the fire in your shanty, Si, and let her get dry. I'll be as quick as I can."
Si picked Ethel up in his strong arms and carried her into the fish-house. He placed her on one of the low benches and hurriedly began to kindle a fire. Ethel sat up dazedly and pushed back the dripping masses of her bright hair. Young Si turned and looked down at her with a passionate light in his eyes. She put out her cold, wet hands wistfully.
"Oh, Miles!" she whispered.
Outside, the wind shook the frail building and tore the shuddering sea to pieces. The rain poured down. It was already settling in for a night of storm. But, inside, Young Si's fire was casting cheery flames over the rude room, and Young Si himself was kneeling by Ethel Lennox with his arm about her and her head on his broad shoulder. There were happy tears in her eyes and her voice quivered as she said, "Miles, can you forgive me? If you knew how bitterly I have repented--"
"Never speak of the past again, my sweet. In my lonely days and nights down here by the sea, I have forgotten all but my love."
"Miles, how did you come here? I thought you were in Europe."
"I did travel at first. I came down here by chance, and resolved to cut myself utterly adrift from my old life and see if I could not forget you. I was not very successful." He smiled down into her eyes. "And you were going away tomorrow. How perilously near we have been to not meeting! But how are we going to explain all this to our friends along shore?"
"I think we had better not explain it at all. I will go away tomorrow, as I intended, and you can quietly follow soon. Let 'Young Si' remain the mystery he has always been."
"That will be best--decidedly so. They would never understand if we did tell them. And I daresay they would be very much disappointed to find I was not a murderer or a forger or something of that sort. They have always credited me with an evil past. And you and I will go back to our own world, Ethel. You will be welcome there now, sweet--my family, too, have learned a lesson, and will do anything to promote my happiness."
Agnes drove Ethel Lennox to the station next day. The fierce wind that had swept over land and sea seemed to have blown away all the hazy vapours and oppressive heats in the air, and the morning dawned as clear and fresh as if the sad old earth with all her passionate tears had cleansed herself from sin and stain and come forth radiantly pure and sweet. Ethel bubbled over with joyousness. Agnes wondered at the change in her.
"Good-bye, Miss Lennox," she said wistfully. "You'll come back to see us some time again, won't you?"
"Perhaps," smiled Ethel, "and if not, Agnes, you must come and see me. Some day I may tell you a secret."
About a week later Young Si suddenly vanished, and his disappearance was a nine-day's talk along shore. His departure was as mysterious as his advent. It leaked out that he had quietly disposed of his boat and shanty to Snuffy Curtis, sent his mackerel off and, that done, slipped from the Pointers' lives, never more to re-enter them.
Little Ev was the last of the Pointers to see him tramping along the road to the station in the dusk of the autumn twilight. And the next morning Agnes Bentley, going out of doors before the others, found on the doorstep a basket containing a small, vociferous black kitten with a card attached to its neck. On it was written: "Will Agnes please befriend Witch in memory of Young Si?"