Tom Tiddler's Ground



Here lies a most beautiful lady,
Light of heart and step was she;
I think she was the most beautiful lady
That ever was in the West Country.
But beauty vanishes, beauty passes.
However rare, so rare it be,
And when I crumble who shall remember
That lady of the West Country?


SHOULD you ask who brought prosperity to the Islands, — or brought it back after long years of estrangement, — nine islanders out of ten would answer, ‘The Mistress’; meaning the sad and beautiful lady who dwelt at Iniscaw, and now sang to herself, after having sung in capital cities to great audiences, with kings and queens eager to listen. In addition to her beauty and her voice (which in itself was a miracle) God had given her courage, so that she kept her light step; but she had lost her lightness of heart ever since she had found love too late and discovered, about the same time, that her voice was passing with her beauty.

She was Lady Proprietress of the Islands, holding them on a lease from Queen Victoria. ‘All those Her Majesty’s Territories and rocks,’ the legal wording ran, ‘together with all sounds, harbors, and sands within the circuit of the said Isles, and all lands, tenements, meadows, pastures, grounds, feedings, fishings, mines of tin, lead, and coals, and all profits of the same.’ — But there were no such mines, by the way, and by consequence no such profits. — ‘Also all marshes, void grounds, woods, underwoods, rents, reversions, services, and all other profits, rights, commodities, advantages, and emoluments within the said Isles; and a moiety of all shipwrecks, t he other moiety to be received by the Lords Commissioners of Admiralty.’

Her predecessor, being a man, had also been sole justiciary. She, as a woman, resigned the Commission of the Queen’s Peace into the hands of three Magistrates, with a solitary policeman to help them; but, for the rest, within her small realm she was a sovereign more absolute than Queen Victoria, who ruled somewhere on ‘ the Main ’ — a vaguely realized land, thirty miles away, discernible on clear mornings as a cloud upon the sea.

For the Islands, ridged with reefs and dotted with sentinel lighthouses, lie off the West Coast of England, well out in the Atlantic, in the mouth of the warm Gulf Stream. Six are inhabited, and contain, in all, less than three thousand acres suitable for grazing or tillage; the rest, eighteen or twenty, in number, are mere islets, rocky and barren, on which the seabirds breed.

The rock is granite, the soil light and friable, without width or depth for serious husbandry; and a hundred years ago the inhabitants subsisted almost wholly by fishery and by burning down the seaweed for ‘kelp,’ which went to Bristol to the making of glass and soap. Times had bettered when the increase of our sea-borne trade brought work to the pilots on St. Ann’s, the southernmost island, and every long spell of east - erly wind might be counted on to crowd the roadstead with vessels ‘waiting for orders.’ About that time, too, the farmers on St. Lide’s (the largest island), Iniscaw, Brefar, and Saaron had taken to growing early potatoes for the English market, planting them in shallowrows, with a bare covering of soil, — the Islands knew no frost, —and harvesting them a month ahead of growers on the mainland. During her girlhood — for the Lady was native to her realm — these operations had been in full swing, and she could remember the boats arriving in April with gangs of diggers hired over from England to save the crops, which in prosperous years would touch a thousand tons. But the potato-growing had withered under foreign competition, as steam had swept most of the old sailing vessels off the face of the waters. In brief, the Islands had fallen back into hard poverty when the Lady returned to them to take up her possessions.

Now, though she lived remote from the daily life of her people, anti in those early days was known to them for the most part as a voice singing wonderful songs to herself in her charmed garden amid the tide-races, the Lady was in fact a shrewd woman of business. She had noted, on her visits to London, that Londoners, as they grew prosperous, were growing ever fonder of flowers; that not only did the great houses, the hotels, the restaurants, require them for their dinner-tables, but even the poor clerk pinched his pocket for a bunch to carry home. One June morning, at the fag end of a masked ball at Covent Garden, she had spent a couple of hours in the flower-market, wandering in the early daylight from stall to stall as the carts rumbled in and the auction assembled; and the buyers and sellers had wondered at the businesslike questions this exquisite visitant, in satin gown and fancy shoes, put to them concerning prices, freights, discounts, demand, and supply.

She learned from them that the market was hungriest in early spring — between the New Year and Lent, when open-air flowers were few or none. She recalled the sweet narcissi that, at home in the islands, bloomed in late February and early March; not only the common Lent-lily, but tazetta — ‘Island Whites,’ or ‘Holy-vales,’ beneath the apple trees at Holy Vale Farm on St. Lide’s; ‘Grand Monarques’ within the tumble-down walls of the fort on Garrison Hill, ‘Island Whites’ again, intermixed with ‘Soleil d’or,’ in the meadow below her own Abbey House on Iniscaw, fringing the shores of the fresh-water lake that had served the monks for fish-pond. On her return to the Islands she had dropped a hint to Farmer Banford of Holy Vale that here, maybe, was a trade worth starting.

‘What!’ said he,‘in they old things?’

‘Ah,’ she replied, ‘because flowers are beautiful you think it womanish even to consider them!’

‘Beauty does n’t pay.' Farmer Banford shook his head.

‘You are wrong, my friend,’ she added, with one of her puzzling smiles. ‘And, what is more, many things that don’t pay are well worth paying for. I will leave this address with you, at any rate, and you can think it over.’

Next spring, early one fine February morning, as the small mail-packet, Lady of the Isles, was getting up steam for her return passage to the Main, Farmer Banford came along the quayside at Garland Town (harbor of St. Lide’s) with a huge bandbox of cardboard under his arm.

‘Hullo, Farmer!’ hailed Captain Frank, the skipper. ‘Bound across for England, hey?’

The farmer grinned. ‘Looks like the kind o’ trunk I’d be takin’, don’t it?’

‘What’s inside?’

‘Women’s notions. If you must know, my old missus have a-taken a bee in her cap, and I’m sendin’ it to Lutinon for the best advice.’

So Mrs. Banford’s cap-box traveled up to London, packed with three dozen bunches of ‘ Holy-vales’, and addressed

To Mr. Shillabear,
Fruit and Flower Merchant,
Covent Garden,
With speed. England.

We shall describe, as well as we may, what prosperity dawned for the Islands from the moment when Mr. Shillabear in Covent Garden lifted the lid of that fateful box. As the farmer’s luck spread with his story, and the whole archipelago turned to bulb-growing, all praised the Mistress, her woman’s wit, and her foresight.

Doubtless she deserved their praises. Yet the gods sometimes hide the secret of a gift and hide it under the obvious. Felix qui potuit verum cognoscere causas. — It was at least curious that the coming of prosperity should coincide with the coming of the child John Smith to the Islands.



Then round went the good ship
And thrice she went round;
When up there stood a guardsman,
A naked man and brown, —
Says, ‘ You are the Queen of Carthage
And gey young to drown;
But hold you my girdle
That goeth me around.
And we’ll swim to yon Island
As I will be bound’ . . .
‘Man, your girdle it is breaking!’
‘Nay, — ’t is strong yet and sound;
’T was my heart you felt a-breaking,
But here is dry ground.’
With the white sand she cover’d him,
Her wet hair she wound;
‘Deo-gracey,’ said Zenobia,
‘That I am not drown’d!’


THE mail boat that brought back a letter for Farmer Banford, and in the letter a postal order, arrived in St. Lide’s Pool three hours behind her time, having fought the last twelve miles of her passage against a westerly gale. The gale increased at nightfall, and between midnight and two in the morning blew a hurricane.

Soon after daybreak, in the midst of her dressing, word reached the Lady that a vessel was ashore on the west side of St. Ann’s, and fast breaking up. The message came from the coastguard on St. Lide’s, across the private cable laid for her between that island and Iniscaw.

On these occasions she was always prompt, yet not recklessly, being in fact as knowledgeable of wind and water as any of her seamen. She gazed southward from her window and decided that by the time her launch could be put under steam and worked down to the open sound, the wind — which had northered — would have allayed the seas running there and the traject would be made with little risk.

Nevertheless the small craft had shipped some bucketsful, and her fires had more than once been in danger, before she weathered the Smith Rocks, that lie off the northwest angle of St. Ann’s, and sheered down like a flying fish into smoother waters. The Lady steered, her sea cloak and blown hair drenched with spray.

‘Where is the wreck?’

She hailed a pilot-cutter that was tacking dead slow off the islets, with mainsail reefed and foresheet to windward. The pilots called back through a megaphone that, she had gone down somewhere under their keel, and they were creeping about for wreckage. The crew of the coast-guard gig, searching closer inshore to the southward, reported the missing vessel to be a barque,—an Italian, as they believed, — name unknown.

‘Any one saved?’
They shook their heads.
‘Lost —all hands,’ came the answer.

There would be flotsam, no doubt, close under the cliffs—a life-belt, maybe, or some fragment of a boat bearing the vessel’s name; but in the sea yet running the rocks could not be approached. The Lady gave orders to slow down and join in the search. By this, the northerly wind had disposed the storm-wrack, and, as they worked southward and opened Prillis Cove, the sun shone through. A small crowd of islanders — men and women — had gathered on the beach at the head of the cove, and the Lady steered in, if haply they might have news.

They had none. But, while she parleyed with them, over the high ground a woman came running against the wind, waving her arms and pointing southward. The launch was backed, turned, set going again on her way.

Beyond the next point lay another beach of clean white sand, on the upper part of which the cliffs cast their morning shadow; and there, a little outside the edge of the shadow, between it and the running dazzle of the waves, stood a group of three figures, stooping over a fourth. The Lady at first sight of them gave a start, made sign to one of her men in the stern-sheets, and yielding the helm to him, as he reached out a hand, drew her field-glass from the case slung at her hip, sighted it, and focused it on the group.

‘Set me ashore,’ she said quietly, fifteen seconds later, lowering the glass. Her face was white to the lips; but the crew did not notice this, so steadily she controlled her voice.

They ran the launch in, under the lee of the northerly cliff (where was least run in the waves), and grounded her on the steep-to beach. Two of them leaped over the bows and would have made a cradle of their hands to carry their mistress dry-shod, but she sprang after them and waded ashore, declining help.

An elderly man — a gentleman by his bearing — came down to the beach to meet her. He wore a brown garment, in length and shape somewhat like the soutane of a Roman Catholic priest. He saluted her gravely, respectfully, then lowered his eyes.

‘Is he dead?’ she asked, her gaze traveling past him to the body beside which his companions — elderly men, likewise, the pair of them dressed in ragged blue regimentals — were kneeling as they attempted to restore animation. They had turned it on its right side and were rubbing the naked body briskly, the one at work at the back beneath the shoulder-blade, the other on the legs from calf to ankle; for it lay with no clothing but trousers of dark sea-cloth, rolled tight and tied above the knees.

Dr. Hervey, the man in the soutane, answered with a gesture that might equally have meant ‘Yes,’ or ‘No.’

‘How did it happen?’

He cast a hesitating glance at her. Perhaps he was wondering — as she herself wondered — at the strange composure of her voice.

‘The Commandant and I were smoking a late pipe together when the rocket went up. He called out the two sergeants, and in twenty minutes we four were pulling out in the garrison boat, close in the wake of the coast-guard. But their gig is a new one and speedy, whereas ours, as you know and, moreover, we were none of us young men. We soon lost sight of them in the darkness and then, coming to open water and finding that she could not live in it, the Commandant gave orders to shape down for the back of the island. We fetched the lee of it just before the gale worsened, beached the boat in Menadhu Cove, and started to tramp across land. The wind by this time was incredible. On the high ground we had to make short rushes against it, drop on our hands and knees, catch breath, and make another rush. It took us till close upon daylight to cross to St. Ann’s. Down, then, the wind flew, almost without warning, and the rest was easy. We came down to Chapel Point as the day broke. There was no sign of a ship; but, about half a mile from shore, the Commandant spied a man swimming and pointed him out to us. The man was a Negro, and he swam superbly. We watched him, taking turns with the Commandant’s glass. He was black as coal, and strapped high on his shoulders — almost on the nape of the neck — he carried a small white bundle. He swam with his head, too, not straight for shore, but letting the tide carry him — only, of course, he could not know of the eddy-race that had begun to set, closer inshore. He met it and, after a minute, we could see that he was tiring. He made no headway at all, and this within five hundred yards of shore. The Commandant could not stand the sight of it, but stripped — for all we could do to prevent him — and swam out to help. The black man, when he reached him, would take no help, but passed over the bundle and swam in the Commandant’s wake, maybe for half a minute. The heart had gone out of his strokes, though, and presently he went out of sight without so much as a cry. At all events the Commandant could have heard none, for he swam on some way before looking back—I was watching all the while through the glass. When he looked the man had disappeared; he seemed to tread water for a while and to search about, but gave it up and headed for shore again, swiming sideways with one arm holding the bundle against his right shoulder. He brought it ashore just in that way, not once shifting his hold.'

‘But I do not understand, He is drowned, you say—'

‘ I do not say it. We ran down to the shoal-water to meet him and as he found footing he dropped into my arms; or rather, he thrust the bundle on me and fell, right there on the water’s edge.’

‘The bundle?’

Dr. Hervey turned and pointed. Some twenty yards up the beach lay a white object which she had taken for the dead man’s shirt, tossed there as they had stripped it from him. Why did she walk toward it. now, and not first toward the body? Why, instead of going straight to the body, had she stood inert, letting the tale fall on her ears half apprehended? She had been swift and resolute enough until the moment when her feet felt the shore. Already three of her crew were gathered beside the two old sergeants, gazing soberly down upon the dead, offering suggestions which — too well she knew — were vain. Her presence, too, would be vain, yet surely she should have been there.

For — after one girlish passion, outlasted and almost forgotten — this man, some years ago, had become the chief man in the world for her, the truest, the most honorable, as she knew in her heart that she had been the sovereign and only woman for him. Disparity of years, his poverty, his pride, had set the barrier, and she had never found courage to cast away shame and break it down. For years they had been able to meet and talk with an undisturbed courtesy.

Yet what no chance could then reveal
And neither would be first to own,
Let fate and courage now conceal
When truth could bring remorse alone.

Courage? It had been cowardice, rather, on her part, — or so she told herself. And the cowardice must go on, even now. She stepped to the bundle. It was of linen, soaked with salt water; and within it, stark-naked, twisting his small legs while he cried, lay an infant — a man-child. In the bass of the waves on the sand she had caught no sound of his treble wailing. She stooped and lifted him in her arms. With the edges of her cloak she wiped away some of the brine from the creases of his small body; and the child, ceasing his wail, looked up into her eyes and crowed with glee.

‘Venus the sea-born, mothering Cupid!’ muttered Dr. Hervey.

But at this moment the Lady, looking over her shoulder, thrust the child on him with a gesture of repugnance. Her eyes had fallen on the two old sergeants, who had laid their dead master over on his back and were vainly endeavoring to coax back the living breath, raising his arms and, anon, pressing the elbows back against the sides — all with the dull dogged motions of a military drill.

‘Ah, tell them to stop!’ she entreated. ‘He has had enough of it. Cannot they see that his heart is broken?’



Ubique. The dead Commandant had carved the word one day, in letters five feet long, out of the short turf on Garrison Hill where it slopes steeply from the Star Castle (as they call its antiquated small citadel) to the cliff overlooking the roadstead and the western islands. He had carved it in pure idlenesses an afternoon game to cheat the leisure enforced upon him since Government had dismantled his batteries, drafted his gunners off to the Main, and left him with two old sergeants — Sergeant Archelaus and Sergeant Treacher— to mark time, until the end of his days, by firing a gun at eight in the morning, another at sunset, and, in the interval, by ringing the bell over the gate of the fort, every three hours, to tell the time to the town below.

Ubique : it was the motto of his old corps, which he still served, — as they also serve who only stand and wait. When the thing was done he had a mind to efface it, but had again been too indolent. Now he was gone, and Sergeant Archelaus kept the letters religiously trimmed with a turf-cutter. Sergeant Archelaus, a bachelor, lived alone and looked after the white-washed empty barracks, on the summit of the hill. The other sergeant — Treacher — was a married man. He and his wife inhabited the Star Castle, and with them lived the boy whom every one knew as Jan.

Pending discovery of his true name the lady had christened him John Smith — Smith from the name of the rocks on which the vessel had split, and John because nothing could be more ordinary. For the rest she seemed to have taken a scunner (as the Scots say) at the helpless babe — an aversion not unmixed with a nameless fear. But something had to be done for him. There is no workhouse on the Islands; the rule that makes the aged, the infirm, the helpless, a sacred charge upon their own kindred works well enough in a community so small that everybody is more or less nearly related to everybody else, and tradition has ordered that all shipwrecked persons must be treated with a like hospitality. So, since Treacher had been present at the finding of the child, and as Mrs. Treacher was a comfortable woman who had reared children, to the Treachers little Jan was assigned by the Lady, whose word none disputed.

To be sure, his was a singular case. The ordinary outcast from the sea abides but a short time on the Islands, and in due course is returned to home and friends. But to any home, any friends — any origin, in short—of John Smith no clue could be discovered. The vessel proved to be an Italian barque, the Nostra Signora Del Rosario, Glasgow built, and formerly—under the name of Lochroyan — owned by a company of Glasgow merchants, in whose service she had made half a dozen passages round the Horn. A Genoese firm had purchased and renamed her, and her last port of sailing had been Genoa, whence she was bound, in ballast, for Fowey, there to load a cargo of China clay. So much the Lady discovered, through her agents and through Lloyds, but the Genoese owners could tell her nothing concerning the child. To their knowledge there had been no woman on board the Nostra Signora del Rosario either on this or her previous voyage (Genoa to Famagusta, port of Cyprus, and back).

So Jan lived with the Treachers until his eighth year, sleeping in the attic of the Star Castle, learning his letters in the elementary school down in Garland Town, and picking up a little Latin from Dr. Hervey, who had taken a fancy to the child and a whim to teach him.

His best opportunity for this came with the spring holidays, when the schools on the Islands were closed for a month, that the children might earn money during the daffodil harvest, the boys by picking flowers, the girls by tying them. Threepence a hundred bunches is the rate, and during these busy weeks no less than a million and a half of flowers will be picked on the Islands every day.

But no one hired Jan. He was a solitary shy boy, and perhaps people forgot him; or perhaps the Treachers, with their pension and their military past and their dignity as carekeepers of the Star Castle in Her Majesty’s name, looked on the new industry with contempt. Consequently Jan found these weeks the loneliest in the year, and on this spring morning was half-minded to rebel, having a craze for flowers.

But Dr. Hervey had come to remind him of his Latin lesson. The weather being so fine, they decided to take the lesson out-of-doors, on a rock a little below the flagstaff — Jan’s favorite perch; and there, on the slope at their feet, they found Sergeant Archelaus busy with his turf-cutting tool.

‘Hullo,’ nodded Sergeant Archelaus. ‘Come to talk your Latin? Well, here’s a piece of Latin for ye.’ He spelled out the word letter by letter, ‘ U-b-iq-u-e. — Now what does that mean?’

Everywhere,’ said the boy promptly. He was still in his declensions, but it seemed to him that he had known the word all his life; and yet he could not remember that he had ever inquired or been told its meaning.

‘Did I tell you that?’ asked Dr. Hervey.

‘No-o.’ Jan felt confused; he could not explain — for it seemed silly — that things were always happening to him in this way.

Everywhere” it. is,’said Sergeant Archelaus. ‘ ’T is the word o’ the R’yal Artillery, and their place is the right o’ the line. What’s Waterloo to your “ Everywhere”? I remember the Commandant carving out these very letters. When he’d finished he looks up and says, wi’ that smile o’ his, “‘ Everywhere,’ Archelaus, — and we two be here, of all places!”’

Dr. Hervey muttered some words in a foreign tongue.

‘What you say, sir, is always w’orth listenin’ to, but this time I did n’t catch,’ said Sergeant Archelaus, leaning on his turf-cutter.

‘I can accept the compliment for once, Archelaus, since it happens that I was quoting an old Greek, who said that “of illustrious men the whole earth is a sepulchre.’”

‘The Commandant was never illustrious, sir, — as you put it.’

‘Remarkable, then.’

‘No, nor remarkable. An’ did n’t want to be. He was just an officer and a gentleman, straight as a die and modest as a maid; and we did n’t wish for a better.’

Dr. Hervey filled his pipe gravely. Dr. Hervey’s degree, by the way, had nothing to do with medicine. There are men who seek out-of-the-way spots, such as the Islands, to hide their broken lives, and Dr. Hervey was one. He had been a professor of theology at a great Catholic university, noted therefor his learning and his caustic tongue. His outspokenness had made him enemies, and these (not without excuse) had arraigned a book of his, accusing it of ‘Modernism.’

It had ended, since he was obstinate and would neither explain nor retract, in his being expelled from his chair and laid under excommunication by Rome. The expulsion alone would have done him no incredible harm, since he possessed a competence and moreover, had made a name to command attention for whatever he chose to write. But the excommunication crushed him; for, like many a brusque man, he was sensitive, and like many a fatally-driven inquirer, he had a deep love of the Church and sense of her majesty: deeper than have ninety-nine in a hundred who pay her the service of lip and knee. He and his God alone knew what a comfort during the first bitterness of exile it had been to associate with the Commandant, so simple a gentleman, if, withal, somewhat slow-witted, a holy and humble man of heart, so true at the root, so patient of his own disappointed life, so helpful of other men.

‘You did n’t wish for a better, while you had the best,’ said Dr. Hervey, lighting his pipe very deliberately.

Jan watched the puffs of tobacco smoke: He owed his life to the man they were discussing, and he could only suppose that they must owe him a grudge for it. Sergeant Archelaus, indeed, whose temper did not improve with age, had more than once hinted that, though doubtless Providence had ordained this exchange of two lives, he for his part could not approve it.

‘I don’t want to speak irreverent, sir, but seemin’ to me, th’ Almighty might get a twinge, lookin’ down ’pon this plat o’ turf. “ Everywhere ” — Look ye, here the good gentleman carves it out, accusin’ nobody, writin’ down no more ’n his deserts; and him to spend his life in this God-forsaken hole which is next to Nowhere, and end by losin’ it for a child from Nowhere at all.’

‘That is no way to talk,’ said Dr. Hervey sternly, after a glance at the boy, who, gazing out over the sea, seemed not to hear.

‘A man must speak his thoughts, doctor.’

‘It depends how and when he speaks ’em.' If Dr. Hervey, in his own career, had always remembered this! ‘But what does “ Everywhere ” mean to the best of us finite men? Your John Wesley said, “All the world is my parish,” and a man as wise might answer, “Then my parish is all the world. ” ’

‘Good-mornin’, all!’ interrupted a voice.

The newcomer was P. C. Epaminondas Ward (locally ’Paminondas), sole policeman of the Islands, sexton, too, of St. Lide’s, town-crier, billposter, and public official in general, of Garland Town. ‘Good mornin’ sir!’

He touched his helmet to Dr. Hervey. ‘You’ll excuse my breakin’ in on your talk.’


‘It’s a thing I hate to do. There’s nothing like a good talk, and a man gets so few opportunities in the Force.’ Constable ’Paminondas was notoriously the first gossip in Garland Town. ‘But what might you ha’ been discussin’, making so bold?’

‘Nothing against Her Majesty’s peace, constable, I assure you,’ answered Dr. Hervey gravely. ‘In point of fact we were exercised over the difference between Everywhere and Nowhere, and I was trying to persuade Sergeant Archelaus that “ here ” is “everywhere” to a sensible man.’

‘That’s true enough, if you take me,’ agreed ’Paminondas; adding modestly, ‘but perhaps you’ll say that I’m an exception?’

Dr. Hervey muttered something polite.

‘I’m a thoughtful man, as by nature, sir,’ went on the constable, ‘and you’d be astonished what thoughts occur to me by night, when I goes poking around and all the rest o’ the world laid asleep. F’r instance, I climb to the top o’ the hill, here, and’t is midnight as you might say, in a manner of speakin’. Midnight it is, and all around the Islands, the great sea-lights shinin’, fixed-white, low down, on the Monk, white-revolvin’ on St. Ann’s, North Island winkin’ like a giant red eye, white flashes from the Stones, redwhite, red-white from the Wolf; not to mention the Longships, an’ the southeast sky runnin’ in flickers from the Lizard, like men shaking a double whip.

‘“There you go, all of ye,” I tells myself, “warnin’ mankind that here be the Islands.” And what be the Islands? says I, at the moment to all intents an’ purposes, but me, ’Paminondas Ward with a bull’s-eye at my navvle more or less —’

‘ There, Archelaus! ’

Dr. Hervey turned about in triumph; but Sergeant Archelaus, after first spitting wide, had resumed his turf-trimming.

‘ Now, maybe you ’re wondering what brings me here?’ suggested the constable. Meeting with no response, he continued, ‘Well, I don’t mind tellin’ you. It concerns the boy John Smith, in the form of a letter from her Ladyship. Her Ladyship sends word that Young Matthey Hender, on Brefar, wants an extry hand this fine season for the daffodil-pickin’, and John Smith is to go. I’ve just informed the Treachers.

‘Ho?’ Sergeant Archelaus paused again and looked up. ‘What did Treacher say?’

‘He made a communication to me’— began ’Paminondas in his best Petty Sessions manner.

‘D—n your eyes, I should n’t wonder.’

It should be mentioned here that the attitude of the garrison toward the proprietorship was traditionally hostile.

‘In a general way,’ said Constable ’Paminondas, magnanimously, ‘a man may d—n my eyes or he may not, as the case may be, and I takes it from whence it comes. The Force, in a manner of speakin’ is accustomed to such understandings, if I make myself clear. But as touching her Ladyship’s order, Treacher saw ’t was no use kickin’ against the pricks, an’ behaved himself conformably, as you might put it, in toto. Which the upshot is, as between you and me, that John Smith is to be sailed over to Brefar to-morrow afternoon at 4 P.M. and start pickin’ daffodils.’

‘Well, lad, that puts an end to Latin for a time,’ said Dr. Hervey, stopping down the tobacco in his pipe with a useful forefinger.

The boy did not answer; could not for the moment return his look. It would have been ungrateful to confess the truth, that he longed to escape and take his place among children as one of them. Here, on St. hide’s, he mingled with the children in school, but always as one set mysteriously apart. He adored the sight of them, but could make no friends; and the mere fact that he adored and saw them as so many bright angels running in the streets was proof that he could never be one of them. In years, their ages and his might be the same; in fact, he saw them through older, different eyes, yet yearned all the while to join them.

In Brefar, picking daffodils, there might be children to understand him better. Brefar, at all events, lay closer out toward the circumference of the circle hemming him in. The Star Castle, where he lodged with the Treachers, was a queer little octagonal building set close within a circumvallation shaped like an eight-pointed star. A platform, seven feet high, ran round the interior of this circumvallation, at about half its height of sixteen feet; and since the dwelling-house, twentyone feet in height, was separated, all round, from the platform by a miserable fosse no more than four feet wide, it follows that the lower rooms lay in perpetual gloom, and only the attic chambers peeped over the battlements across the sea. Still, and although its eaves were low, from his bedroom window the boy could watch the great sea-lights flashing, or occulting, protecting, inclosing him in a magic circle that he longed to pierce. He had come from Nowhere; and Nowhere lay somewhere beyond. He had some vague notions about God. The teacher down at the school said something about God every morning before marking the register, and the children regularly sang a hymn.

On the whole he felt pretty safe about God. But, ‘O God, who am I?’ was the child’s last thought before he dropped off in a healthy sleep. Toward dawn he stirred in a dream uncomfortably, raised himself on an elbow, turned his pillow, damp with tears, and snuggled down to sleep again.



IT was a voyage of delight; better — yes, far better — than all his expectations.

Sergeant Treacher, though of late years he seldom went on the sea, could handle a boat — as the Islanders allowed — ‘tidy well for a soldier-man,’ having been the Commandant’s mate on many a fishing expedition. He knew all the rocks and shoals, which everywhere among the Islands crop up in the most unexpected places.

The boat sped along, close-hauled to a brisk nor’-westerly breeze: across the roadstead, past the length of Saaron Island, and through the entrance of Cromwell’s Sound, between Iniscaw and Brefar. Jan, perched up to windward on an old military chest which contained his few shirts and changes of clothes (it bore the inscription ‘ R. A. 19590 Depot 19. Return to Store,' in white letters on lead color), drank in pure joy with the rush of air on his face.

At the mouth of the Sound the wind fell light, and headed them for a minute or two. The sail shook this side and that, and he had to duck his head to avoid the boom.

‘Slip over to leeward here,’ said the sergeant, as the boat lost way. ‘Peek your head over-side an’ maybe I’ll show ye something.’

Jan obeyed, and peeping over, was surprised to see a rocky ledge close below him. The weed on it floated within a foot or so of the surface.

‘Now, watch!’ commanded the Sergeant.

Picking up a boat-hook he jabbed the point of it smartly down amidst the weed. At once a long dark form shot out, darted away with quick gliding motion, and was lost—Jan could not tell whither.

‘See anything?’
‘I — I saw a snake.’
Sergeant Treacher chuckled.

‘“Snake!” says the child. What do you know about snakes?’

‘Nothing,’ Jan had to confess. He had never to his knowledge seen one before or even the picture of one — for there were no picture-books in the Star Castle. Yet he felt sure that this had been a snake.

‘Snake! — that’s a good un, too!’ chuckled Sergeant Treacher again, and fell silent, being a taciturn man by habit.

Jan lifted his head to ask, ‘What was the animal, if not a snake? Could n’t snakes live in the sea?’ when his eyes fell on a vision which hitherto the boat’s sail had concealed from him: the beautiful shore of Iniscaw, with the Abbey towers rising over a mass of rhododendrons and backed by tall spires of evergreen trees; and below the Abbey an inland lake where a whole herd of fawncolored cattle stood knee-deep, some gazing at the boat, others dipping their black muzzles to drink.

He had passed into Wonderland, and the spell was still on him as they sailed up by Brefar shore, close under whole fields of daffodils, golden in t he island’s shadow — small fields fenced round with dwarf hedges of escallonia and veronica. But the flowers had leaped these fences, it would seem; for colonies of them straggled along the edge of the cliffs and ran down to the beaches — these being bulbs discarded by the farmers at sorting-time and ‘heaved to cliff,’ to take their own chances.

They brought the boat ashore on a beach where Farmer Hender — ‘Young Matthey’ — stood awaiting them. He had a grave, not unkindly face, and was clad in earth-stained blue; but what impressed the child most was his hat — a top hat of rusty black silk, extraordinarily high in the crown. Later, Jan learned that this hat passed from father to son, and was.worn as a crown of authority by the reigning head of Chy-an-Chy Farm.

The farmer took charge of Jan, and, shouldering his box, — for, as he explained, to-morrow was ‘steamer day’ and no hands could be spared just then from the flower-picking, — led the way up a shelving coombe to the gray building or cluster of buildings fenced with tamarisks, and set about with numerous glass-houses. The windows of these houses were banked high with flowers, but over this screen Jan, as he passed, caught sight of a number of girls at work, bunching and tying the blooms. The door of the houseporch stood wide and he followed the farmer straight into the kitchen, where Mrs. Hender and a short middle-aged servant were engaged in setting out. tea for the workers.

The kitchen was large, and had an immense open fireplace, with kettles hanging upon long hooks and crocks mounted on brandises. A table twenty feet or so in length stood close against the long window-seat. From a baconrack fixed under the beams of the ceiling hung hams and sides of bacon, wrapped in dry bracken and paper, with strings and bags of dried herbs,— horehound, elder, mugwort, — specifics against various family ailments. The chimney-piece was flanked on the right by a dresser, on the left by a dark settle; and on the settle sat two very old men and an old woman, who regarded the boy — all three —with scarce so much as the blink of an eyelid, save that the old woman’s head nodded quickly, regularly, as though by clockwork. These old people gave him a scare, and for a while he found it hard to believe them alive.

The middle-aged servant — who had a large good-natured face and in shape resembled a full sack tied tightly about the middle — came bustling forward and offered to lend the‘maister’ a hand to carry the box upstairs.

‘Ay, do,’ said the mistress. ‘If it takes ye away from breakin’ creamjugs, it’ll be time well spent. — Mary Martha broke another cream-jug only five minutes ago, if you’ll believe me.’

‘That’s true,’ sighed Mary Martha, still broadly beaming, ‘I do seem to be very unfortunate in cream-jugs.’

‘Not to mention the four cups an’ saucers you scat to atoms on their way to the Wesleyan tea.’

’I am very unfortunate in cups an’ saucers,’ wailed Mary Martha.

‘Nor the cream-pan, last Wednesday week.’

‘Oh, don’t mention it, missis! I can’t bear no more.’

‘And now,’ persisted Mrs. Hender, addressing Jan, ‘ it’s candlesticks. Last Sunday a china one — one of a pair I bought at Penzance, and the dealer said they were exact copies of the pillars in Solomon’s Temple; an’ I mended that. But what was the use? Yesterday she lets fall the fellow to cn—’

‘ I do seem to be very unfortunate in candlesticks.’ Mary Martha’s tone of despair and her jolly smile, together, fairly upset the boy.

‘And in most everything else,’ snapped Mrs. Hender. ‘You would n’t think,’ she said, next minute, as Jan’s box went bumping up the stairs, Mary Martha knocking her end of it against the balusters, the wall, the edges of the treads — ‘you’d never think that woman had put up a five-pound tombstone over her late husband — now would you?’

It did seem astonishing, and Jan agreed, still with a nervous glance at the impassive old trio on the settle.

Five minutes later the work-people from the glass-houses came trooping in to tea. They crowded round the long table and upon forms by the hearth, where the men sat with mugs balanced on one knee, and on the other thick slices of bread and butter or a hunk of saffron cake.

Jan tried to count. The company numbered thirty-six or thirty-seven; he could not be sure, for he had been told to squeeze himself among the young people on the window-seat, and their chatter made counting difficult.

On his right sat a child of about his own age, who told him that her name was Annet, and that she had two sisters and a brother. She pointed them out. The sisters were called Linnet and Rennet; the brother, she explained, ‘just had to be Mark.’

Jan asked why; for a study of the boy’s face, which was dark of complexion and somewhat heavy, gave him no clue. Annet indicated the old people, who had been led forward from the settle and placed at the head of the board, where they sat chewing slowly like ruminant animals.

‘That’s great-gran’father Matthey; he’s Old Matthey, and ninety-four last birthday. And that ’s Un’ Matthey, Old Matthey’s son — my gran’father, of course — with Aun’ Deb next to him. She’s his wife, an’ father’s mother. Father is Young Matthey. That big man down at the bottom of the table is father’s eldest; we call him Little Matthey. He was married two years back; and Sister Liza — we call Little Matthey’s wife Sister Liza — is upstairs putting the baby to bed —and we call him Matthey’s Matthey.’

Jan agreed with her that for one family this was plenty of Mattheys, and that a Mark among them was a change at all events.

‘It must feel funny,’ said Annet, ‘to be like you, and have no father nor mother nor any belongings.’

Jan looked at her quickly, uneasily. But she was serious, it seemed, and did not mean to taunt him. At once — how do children learn these ways? — he began to put on airs and to look darkly romantic.

‘Don’t!’ he protested, sinking his voice to a confidential whisper. The success of it surprised him, it was so heartrending. As a matter of fact he had never felt any deep yearning over his unknown parents, though his yearning for an answer to the questions‘Who am I? From where in the world do I ccme?’ was persistent, often poignant, and sometimes kept him awake of nights in a horror of emptiness, of belonging to nowhere. But this, the first romantic adventure of his life, made his head swim, and he played up to it by being false.

Annet — she was a dark, pretty girl, with really beautiful eye-lashes — found him ‘interesting’ and carried him off after tea to the glass-house (now lit with oil lamps), where she taught him the simple mysteries of ‘bunching’ — setting up blooms in pyramidal bunches, a dozen to the bunch, with room for each perianth to expand; for the flowers are picked in bud while it is possible, kept in water under glass until partly open, and so packed; the wise grower timing them to reach the market just at the moment of their perfection. Moreover he thus avoids t he risk of the February storms that sweep in from the Atlantic, charged with brine, spotting the open blooms and rendering them unsalable. Annet told the boy all this, and much else concerning the daffodils, while her small hands worked away with eleven other pairs of hands, bunching and tying. At the far end of the glass-house three grown girls were packing away the bunches in shallow boxes of various sizes,—three, five, or six dozen to the box, — and at the head of the table where they worked stood a young man, receiving the full boxes, nailing down their covers, and affixing the labels. Twice, as Jan sat and watched, Mary Martha came bustling in with a kettle; for the water in which the flowers stood before being packed must be kept tepid — this was one of the secrets of Young Farmer Matthey’s success as a grower. And whenever the door of t he glasshouse was opened, the boy could hear the tap-tap of a hammer across the yard, from an outbuilding where new boxes were being fashioned and nailed together.

‘You may try your hand, if you will,’ said Annet graciously. ‘ Here is a pair of scissors. To-morrow, though, father ’ll set you to work on the pickin’ — that ’s the boys’ work. And while you are trying you might tell me a story.’

‘A story?’ Jan echoed blankly. ‘ But I don’t know any.’

Every one must know some kind of story,’ said Annet with firmness. ‘Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen and they were very sorry because they had no children—that’s how you begin.’

‘But I don’t see how it goes on, if they had no children — unless they go on being sorry.’

‘Silly! Of course they get a child in the end, and that’s what the story’s about. Now, you go on from there.’

‘Oh!’ said Jan, and began desperately, ‘Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen, and they were very sorry because they had no children; but of course they got a child in the end. He — came to them in a boat —’

Annet nodded. ‘That’s better.’

‘He came to them in a boat,’ repeated Jan. ‘On the way he looked over the boat, and far down in the sea he saw a snake swimming.’

‘Now you’re inventing,’ said Annet. ‘Well, never mind! One must n’t believe all one hears.’

‘But I saw one to-day,’ Jan protested.

‘Go along with you — a snake, swimming in the sea! Well, let’s hear what the snake said.’

‘He did n’t say anything. Sergeant Treacher pushed a boat-hook down among the seaweed —’

‘Who’s Sergeant Treacher?’

‘He’s — he’s called Treacher; and he’s a sergeant. He lives upon Garrison Hill on St. Lide’s, along with Mrs. Treacher, and looks after the Castle.’

‘How does he come into the story?’

‘ I don’t know that he comes into the story at all — at least not exactly,’ Jan confessed.

‘I’m tired of hearin’ about Sergeant Treacher,’ said Annet, ‘and I don’t call it telling a story when you leave me to do all the talking. But I must say,’ she added kindly, ‘you’ve made up that bunch very nicely, if it’s your first try. Who taught you to make that pretty knot?’

‘Sergeant Treacher—’the boy began; but at this point luckily some one called out from the far end of the glasshouse that the boxes were all finished. Fresh boxes would be ready after supper, when the elder women would start packing again, while the children went off to bed. So they trooped back to the kitchen.

At supper Annet could not help being mischievous. She told the children near that Jan on his way to Brefar had seen a snake in the sea; whereat he blushed furiously, which set the girls giggling, while an ugly tow-headed boy, across the table, burst into a guffaw, showing the gaps in his teeth.

Mrs. Hender, hearing the mirth, glanced down the board. ‘What’s amiss down there?’ she asked. ‘Annet, Annet, you’re not teasing the child, I hope?’

‘He says he’s seen a snake, missus,’ called out the tow-headed boy.

‘Lor’ mercy! Where?’

‘In the sea, here off Brefar,’ with another guffaw. ‘Brought up ’pon St. Lide’s, an’ not to know a conger!’

‘Aw, a conger, was it?’ said Mrs. Hender. ‘Yes, now, I dersay ’t was a conger he saw. They’re very like, now you come to mention it,’ she added, seeing poor Jan’s confusion.

He could not understand the laughter, but it overwhelmed him with shame and vexation, so that he wished he could slip beneath the table, and lower, till earth covered him.

‘There’s snakes on the Main, now,’ continued Mrs. Hender, ‘real adders and vipers. An’ that’s one reason why I never could bring myself to live in those parts. The thought come over me only last time I was over to Penzance — half-way up Market Jew Street it came over me with a rush, and there and then a funny feehn’ all round the bottom of my skirt, till I heard a rude man askin’ what was the price of calves ’pon the Islands.’

‘There was a snake over here, once upon a time — over here ’pon the Islands,’ broke in a high quavering voice. It proceeded from the old man, Un’ Matthey, and he spoke up as if a spring had been started somewhere within him.

Mrs. Hender rapped the table with the back of a fork. ‘Hush ’ee all, now — if you please! Un’ Matthey wants to tell a story.’

Conticuere omnes intentique ora tenebant.



‘There was a snake over ’pon St. Lide’s one time,’ said the old man, still in his high quaver, staring straight across the table; and Aun’ Deb, his old wife, kept nodding her head beside him, as if confirming the tale from the start.

‘The Snake lived in the middle of the Island, in Holy Vale; and there he lorded it free an’ easy till St. Lide came along and shut him up in a bag, out o’ harm’s way. After a time St. Lide took an’ went the way of all flesh, forgetting all about the Snake an’ the bag, that he’d left hangin’ from the branch of an apple tree.

‘In those days, St. Lide’s was a proper wilderness. All the folks that counted — kings and queens an’ suchlike — lived over this side, ’pon Brefar here and Saaron.’

‘Hear him!’ put in Mrs. Hender. ‘An’ Saaron nowadays but a land o’ desolation. Well did the Psalmist say, “What ups and downs in the world there be!”’

‘One day, hundreds o’ years after, a Saaron man went over to St. Lide’s, to shoot rabbits. He came on the bag hangin’ from the tree, an’ saw the inside of it movin’. “Hullo!” says he, “some careless fellow has left a bag o’ ferrets behind him. This ’ll come in very handy.” He whips out his knife, cuts open the bag, an’ out jumps a mons’rous big Snake an’ winds itself about his neck, ready to strangle him. “Hullo!” says the Saaron man, “you bain’t goin’ to kill me I hope?” — “Why not?” says the Snake. “Why, seemin’ to me, you owe me your liberty, not to say your life.” —“That’s true enough,” says the Snake, ‘ a wise man shut me up in that there bag, where for these hundreds o’ years I’ve been perishin’ of hunger.” — “Then how in the world could you be so ongrateful as for to kill me?” says the man from Saaron. “Well, that’s a pretty tale, I must say,” answers the Snake. “Hungry I am, and ongrateful I owns myself. But for ongratefulness where’s the like of man?” — “Let some judge decide atween us,” says the man from Saaron.

‘The Snake consented, an’ they set off together to hunt up a judge. The first they met was a Tree, an’ they stated their quarrel. “Now, O Tree, judge atween us,” says the Man. Says the Tree, “No trouble about that. In the summer’s heat man cools himself an’ his flocks under my branches; but soon as winter comes, he cuts the same down for fuel. Nothing in the world so ongrateful as man; throttle en,” says the Tree.

‘The man from Saaron cried out for another judge. “Very well,” the Snake agreed. They came to a Sheep. “You, Sheep, decide atween us!” “No trouble at all,” says the Sheep. “I gave that man my fleece to cover his back. In return he robbed my lambs from me and to-morrow he’ll turn me over to the slaughterer. Throttle en! says the Sheep.

‘But. the man from Saaron cried out for a fairer judge. They came to a Spring. She fairly choked when they put her the question. “ I’ve a hundred daughters,” she said, “that in pure good-natur’ turned this fellow’s mills, washed his flocks, an’ laid bare their ore for him along the bank. In return he defiled them. Throttle en, I say, an’ quick!”

‘Still the Man cried for another judge. They came to a Rabbit an’ stated the case. The Rabbit said to hisself, “Here’s a ticklish business— judgin’ atween a man and a snake.” He rubbed his nose for a bit to gain time. “ You’ve come to a mean critter an’ poor of understandin’,” says he after a while. “Would you mind settin’ out the quarrel from the start?” — “Well, to begin with,” says the Snake, “the Man found me in this here bag.” — “Oh, but you ’ll excuse me,”says the Rabbit, looking sideways for fear to meet the Snake’s eye, “in that tiny bag, did you say?” — “I’m not accustomed to have my word doubted by rabbits,” says the Snake, “ but I’ll forbear a bit yet, and give ye the proof.” He coiled himself back into the bag.

‘The Rabbit was n’ sayin’ anythin’, but his eyelids went flickety-flick, an’ the man from Saaron did n’ miss the hint. He sprang fore ’pon the bag an’ closed the neck o’ it with a twist!’

Here the old man struck his hands together and looked round on his audience with a know ing smile of triumph. His face for the moment had grown animated.

The company, too, clapped their hands as they laughed.

’Bravo, Un’ Matthey!’ they cried.

As Annet applauded, Jan plucked her by the sleeve.

‘But. that’s not the end of the story,’ he objected.


‘ There’s more to come — more about the Rabbit —’

‘ A lot you know about stories! Why, not an hour ago —’

‘ What’s the child saying?' asked her mother, who had taken the opportunity to step down to where the children sat, and was making forward for an empty centre-dish, to replenish it with thick bread and butter.

‘He says Un’ Matthey hasn’t finished yet.’

‘Well, and that’s true enough,’ said Mrs. Hender, who had heard the story many times. ‘But how came you so wise, little man?’

Jan could not tell. He had a queer sense — it had been haunting him ever since he landed and the farmer shouldered his box — that everything was happening as it had happened to him before — somewhere, at some time. It was impossible, of course; but with Annet especially he had once or twice forestalled the very words she would say next, and then, as she said them, the trick of her voice, some movement of the hands, some turn in the poise of her head, came back as parts of a halfremembered lesson. In just the same way scraps of Un’ Matthey’s story had come back, as it might be out of some dream the boy had dreamed and forgotten.

But, meanwhile, Un’ Matthey had resumed the story.

‘The man from Saaron went homealong, an’ the Rabbit sat by his hole an’ smiled to hisself, thinkin’ how clever he ’d been. He was still smilin’ there next day, when he looks up an’ sees the Man comin’ back, an’ with a hag in his hand — either the same bag or another. “Hullo!” thinks the Rabbit, “ he ’s bringin’ me a gift for my w ise judgment. Well, I deserve one! But,” says he, “gratitood has a knack of shrinkin’”; for he saw that, whatever the bag held, ’t was of no great size. The Man gripped it halfway down. The Man came close. “Good mornin’!” says he. “Yesterday I was in too much of a hurry to stay an’ thank you. A second Solomon you be, an’ no mistake.”—“In justice,as in other things, a body can but do his best,” answers the Rabbit, modest-like. “You deserve a reward, anyhow,” says the Man. “Justice is blind, my lord,” says the Rabbit, edgin’ up toward the bag.

‘The Man opened it; out jumped a ferret, and clk’ (here Un’ Alatthey made a sudden uncanny noise in his throat) ‘in two twos Master Rabbit lay stretched out dead as a doornail! The man from Saaron kicked the ferret away off the body.

‘“He’s very properly punished!” says the man from Saaron. “Justice ought to be without fear or favor; and his was n’ neither. But he’ll make very good eatin’.”’

Un’ Matthey had scarcely finished and been applauded when Young Matthey called for prayers. The farmer had pulled out his watch once or twice during the story, for in the daffodil season business is business. He himself read a chapter from the Bible, — to-night it was the story of the Shunammite’s son, — and afterwards put up an extempore prayer, when the family had dropped on their knees — all but the three old people, who sat in a row and with hands spread palm-down on the board, thumb touching thumb, much as children play the game of ‘Up Jenkins!’

The young folks on the window-seat slipped down and knelt with their faces to it. This, of course, brought Jan’s small legs calves-upward under the table; and, of a sudden, midway in the prayer, a sharp pinch almost made him cry aloud with pain. This was a trick played on him by the tow-headed boy, who had dodged beneath the form on the opposite side and, as he pinched, uttered a derisive hiss, meant to resemble a snake’s. But the trick was by no means a success, for the hiss itself ended in a squeak as a hand reached out after the joker, caught him by the ankle, and twisted it with a sharp wrench.

The farmer’s prayer, after invoking God’s blessing on the household in general, went on to ask a number of things in particular. It entreated that ‘Thy loving care may go with the steamer to-morrow, and prosper her’; whereupon all answered, ‘ Amen.’ It glanced at Mary Martha—‘That it may please Thee to lighten the burden of one in our midst lately afflicted with breakages.’ Jan himself was not let off — ‘And that Thy mercy may be tender upon a newcomer, a child to-day brought to the circle of these Thy servants.’ It took the farmer’s fields in their order, particularizing their crops (whether Emperors, M. J. Berkeleys, or Ornatuses), and separately asking favors for each.

In short it was just such a prayer as that of the Athenians, commended by Marcus Aurelius — Rain, rain, dear Zeus, down on the ploughed fields of the Athenians, and on the plains ! ‘In truth ’ (says the Emperor) ‘ we ought not to pray at all, or to pray in this direct and noble fashion.’

On its conclusion the farmer, rising from his knees with the rest, looked down along the board sternly with a masterful eye and demanded to know, ‘Who it was just now makin’ light of our supplications, under the table?’

There was a constrained silence — Young Farmer Matthey, not a doubt of it, was master in his own household — until the tow-headed boy stood up, yellow with fright, looking as though he desired the earth to open at his feet and cover him. At the same moment a dark, good-looking lad, seated beside him,—a boy probably two years his senior, — looked across at Jan with a smile.

‘Billing’s boy, is it?’ said Young Matthey, sternly. ‘Then you, Billing’s boy, will step over yonder and stand with your face to the corner, while the others pass out.’

The others passed out there and then, the elders to the glass-houses to finish the packing, the youngsters to bed. To Jan was assigned a small attic chamber, barely furnished, clean as a pin, smelling potently of onions that had been kept to dry, the winter through, on its naked floor. From its windows, between the eaves, he looked straight out upon the red sea-light on North Island; and, just within the edge of the frame, as he lay down in his bed, the far Stones lightship repeated its quick three flashes of white. They were the same lights he had watched from his garret window on St. Lide’s. But they were nearer; and it seemed to him that he was nearer the edge of the spell.

He dropped asleep. At intervals in his dreams he saw the face of the dark good-looking boy smiling at him across the table; while still through his dreams until midnight and after, sounded the tap-tap-tap of a hammer from the out-house, nailing boxes for the daffodils.

(To be concluded.)