Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership




Title:      Jane of Lantern Hill
Author:     L. M. Montgomery
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0200881.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
Character set encoding:     Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit
Date first posted:          November 2002
Date most recently updated: November 2002

This eBook was produced by: Don Lainson dlainson@sympatico.ca
Production notes: Nil

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this
file.

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at
http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html

To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      Jane of Lantern Hill
Author:     L. M. Montgomery







TO THE MEMORY OF "LUCKY"

THE CHARMING AFFECTIONATE COMRADE OF FOURTEEN YEARS





1


Gay street, so Jane always thought, did not live up to its name.
It was, she felt certain, the most melancholy street in Toronto . . .
though, to be sure, she had not seen a great many of the Toronto
streets in her circumscribed comings and goings of eleven years.

Gay Street should be a GAY street, thought Jane, with gay, friendly
houses, set amid flowers, that cried out, "How do you do?" to you
as you passed them, with trees that waved hands at you and windows
that winked at you in the twilights.  Instead of that, Gay Street
was dark and dingy, lined with forbidding, old-fashioned brick
houses, grimy with age, whose tall, shuttered, blinded windows
could never have thought of winking at anybody.  The trees that
lined Gay Street were so old and huge and stately that it was
difficult to think of them as trees at all, any more than those
forlorn little things in the green pails by the doors of the
filling station on the opposite corner.  Grandmother had been
furious when the old Adams house on that corner had been torn down
and the new white-and-red filling station built in its place.  She
would never let Frank get petrol there.  But at that, Jane thought,
it was the only gay place on the street.

Jane lived at 60 Gay.  It was a huge, castellated structure of
brick, with a pillared entrance porch, high, arched Georgian
windows, and towers and turrets wherever a tower or turret could be
wedged in.  It was surrounded by a high iron fence with wrought-
iron gates . . . those gates had been famous in the Toronto of an
earlier day . . . that were always closed and locked by Frank at
night, thus giving Jane a very nasty feeling that she was a
prisoner being locked in.

There was more space around 60 Gay than around most of the houses
on the street.  It had quite a bit of lawn in front, though the
grass never grew well because of the row of old trees just inside
the fence . . . and quite a respectable space between the side of
the house and Bloor Street; but it was not nearly wide enough to
dim the unceasing clatter and clang of Bloor, which was especially
noisy and busy where Gay Street joined it.  People wondered why old
Mrs Robert Kennedy continued to live there when she had oodles of
money and could buy one of those lovely new houses in Forest Hill
or in the Kingsway.  The taxes on a lot as big as 60 Gay must be
ruinous and the house was hopelessly out of date.  Mrs Kennedy
merely smiled contemptuously when things like this were said to
her, even by her son, William Anderson, the only one of her first
family whom she respected, because he had been successful in
business and was rich in his own right.  She had never loved him,
but he had compelled her to respect him.

Mrs Kennedy was perfectly satisfied with 60 Gay.  She had come
there as the bride of Robert Kennedy when Gay Street was the last
word in streets and 60 Gay, built by Robert's father, one of the
finest "mansions" in Toronto.  It had never ceased to be so in her
eyes.  She had lived there for forty-five years and she would live
there the rest of her life.  Those who did not like it need not
stay there.  This, with a satirically amused glance at Jane, who
had never said she didn't like Gay Street.  But grandmother, as
Jane had long ago discovered, had an uncanny knack of reading your
mind.

Once, when Jane had been sitting in the Cadillac, one dark, dingy
morning in a snowy world, waiting for Frank to take her to St
Agatha's, as he did every day, she had heard two women, who were
standing on the street-corner, talking about it.

"Did you ever see such a dead house?" said the younger.  "It looks
as if it had been dead for ages."

"That house died thirty years ago, when Robert Kennedy died," said
the older woman.  "Before that it was a lively place.  Nobody in
Toronto entertained more.  Robert Kennedy liked social life.  He
was a very handsome, friendly man.  People could never understand
how he came to marry Mrs James Anderson . . . a widow with three
children.  She was Victoria Moore to begin with, you know, old
Colonel Moore's daughter . . . a very aristocratic family.  But she
was pretty as a picture then and was she crazy about him!  My dear,
she worshipped him.  People said she was never willing to let him
out of her sight for a moment.  And they said she hadn't cared for
her first husband at all.  Robert Kennedy died when they had been
married about fifteen years . . . died just after his first baby
was born, I've heard."

"Does she live all alone in that castle?"

"Oh, no.  Her two daughters live with her.  One of them is a widow
or something . . . and there's a granddaughter, I believe.  They
say old Mrs Kennedy is a terrible tyrant, but the younger daughter
. . . the widow . . . is gay enough and goes to everything you see
reported in Saturday Evening.  Very pretty . . . and can she dress!
She was the Kennedy one and took after her father.  She must hate
having all her fine friends coming to Gay Street.  It's worse than
dead . . . it's decayed.  But I can remember when Gay Street was
one of the most fashionable residential streets in town.  Look at
it now."

"Shabby genteel."

"Hardly even that.  Why, 58 Gay is a boarding-house.  But old Mrs
Kennedy keeps 60 up very well, though the paint is beginning to
peel off the balconies, you notice."

"Well, I'm glad I don't live on Gay Street," giggled the other, as
they ran to catch the car.

"You may well be," thought Jane.  Though, if she had been put to
it, she could hardly have told you where she would have liked to
live if not at 60 Gay.  Most of the streets through which she drove
to St Agatha's were mean and uninviting, for St Agatha's, that very
expensive and exclusive private school to which grandmother sent
Jane, now found itself in an unfashionable and outgrown locality
also.  But St Agatha's didn't mind that . . . St Agatha's would
have been St Agatha's, you must understand, in the desert of
Sahara.

Uncle William Anderson's house in Forest Hill was very handsome,
with landscaped lawns and rock gardens, but she wouldn't like to
live there.  One was almost terrified to walk over the lawn lest
one do something to Uncle William's cherished velvet.  You had to
keep to the flat stepping-stones path.  And Jane wanted to run.
You couldn't run at St Agatha's either, except when you were
playing games.  And Jane was not very good at games.  She always
felt awkward in them.  At eleven she was as tall as most girls of
thirteen.  She towered above the girls of her class.  They did not
like it and made Jane feel that she fitted in nowhere.

As for running at 60 Gay . . . had anybody ever run at 60 Gay?
Jane felt as if mother must have . . . mother stepped so lightly
and gaily yet that you thought her feet had wings.  But once, when
Jane had dared to run from the front door to the back door,
straight through the long house that was almost half the length of
the city block, singing at the top of her voice, grandmother, who
she had thought was out, had emerged from the breakfast-room and
looked at her with the smile on her dead-white face that Jane
hated.

"What," she said in the silky voice that Jane hated still more, "is
responsible for this outburst, Victoria?"

"I was running just for the fun of it," explained Jane.  It seemed
so very simple.  But grandmother had just smiled and said, as only
grandmother could say things:

"I wouldn't do it again if I were you, Victoria."

Jane never did it again.  That was the effect grandmother had on
you, though she was so tiny and wrinkled . . . so tiny that lanky,
long-legged Jane was almost as tall as she was.

Jane hated to be called Victoria.  Yet everybody called her that,
except mother, who called her Jane Victoria.  Jane knew somehow
that grandmother resented that . . . knew that for some reason
unknown to her, grandmother hated the name of Jane.  Jane liked it
. . . always had liked it . . . always thought of herself as Jane.
She understood that she had been named Victoria after grandmother,
but she did not know where the Jane had come from.  There were no
Janes in the Kennedys or Andersons.  In her eleventh year she had
begun to suspect that it might have come from the Stuart side.  And
Jane was sorry for that, because she did not want to think she owed
her favourite name to her father.  Jane hated her father in so far
as hatred could find place in a little heart that was not made for
hating anybody, even grandmother.  There were times Jane was afraid
she did hate grandmother, which was dreadful, because grandmother
was feeding and clothing and educating her.  Jane knew she ought to
love grandmother, but it seemed a very hard thing to do.
Apparently mother found it easy; but, then, grandmother loved
mother, which made a difference.  Loved her as she loved nobody
else in the world.  And grandmother did not love Jane.  Jane had
always known that.  And Jane felt, if she did not yet know, that
grandmother did not like mother loving her so much.

"You fuss entirely too much about her," grandmother had once said
contemptuously, when mother was worried about Jane's sore throat.

"She's all I have," said mother.

And then grandmother's old white face had flushed.

"I am nothing, I suppose," she said.

"Oh, mother, you know I didn't mean THAT," mother had said
piteously, fluttering her hands in a way she had which always made
Jane think of two little white butterflies.  "I meant . . . I meant
. . . she's my only child. . . ."

"And you love that child . . . his child . . . better than you love
me!"

"Not better . . . only differently," said mother pleadingly.

"Ingrate!" said grandmother.  It was only one word, but what venom
she could put into a word.  Then she had gone out of the room,
still with that flush on her face and her pale blue eyes
smouldering under her frosty hair.



2


"Mummy," said Jane as well as her swelled tonsils would let her,
"why doesn't grandmother want you to love me?"

"Darling, it isn't like that," said mother, bending over Jane, her
face like a rose in the light of the rose-shaded lamp.

But Jane knew it was like that.  She knew why mother seldom kissed
her or petted her in grandmother's presence.  It made grandmother
angry with a still, cold, terrible anger that seemed to freeze the
air about her.  Jane was glad mother didn't often do it.  She made
up for it when they were alone together . . . but then they were so
very seldom alone together.  Even now they would not have very long
together, for mother was going out to a dinner party.  Mother went
out almost every evening to something or other and almost every
afternoon too.  Jane always loved to get a glimpse of her before
she went out.  Mother knew this and generally contrived that Jane
should.  She always wore such pretty dresses and looked so lovely.
Jane was sure she had the most beautiful mother in the whole world.
She was beginning to wonder how any one so lovely as mother could
have a daughter so plain and awkward as herself.

"You'll never be pretty . . . your mouth is too big," one of the
girls at St Agatha's had told her.

Mother's mouth was like a rosebud, small and red, with dimples
tucked away at the corners.  Her eyes were blue . . . but not an
icy blue like grandmother's.  There is such a difference in blue
eyes.  Mother's were just the colour of the sky on a summer morning
between the great masses of white clouds.  Her hair was a warm,
wavy gold and to-night she was wearing it brushed away from her
forehead, with little bunches of curls behind her ears and a row of
them at the nape of her white neck.  She wore a dress of pale
yellow taffeta, with a great rose of deeper yellow velvet at one of
her beautiful shoulders.  Jane thought she looked like a lovely
golden princess, with the slender flame of the diamond bracelet on
the creamy satin of her arm.  Grandmother had given her the
bracelet last week for her birthday.  Grandmother was always giving
mother such lovely things.  And she picked out all her clothes for
her . . . wonderful dresses and hats and wraps.  Jane did not know
that people said Mrs Stuart was always rather overdressed, but she
had an idea that mother really liked simpler clothes and only
pretended to like better the gorgeous things grandmother bought for
her for fear of hurting grandmother's feelings.

Jane was very proud of mother's beauty.  She thrilled with delight
when she heard people whisper, "Isn't she lovely?"  She almost
forgot her aching throat as she watched mother put on the rich
brocaded wrap, just the colour of her eyes, with its big collar of
grey fox.

"Oh, but you're sweet, mummy," she said, putting up her hand and
touching mother's cheek as mother bent down and kissed her.  It was
like touching a rose-leaf.  And mother's lashes lay on her cheeks
like silken fans.  Some people, Jane knew, looked better farther
off; but the nearer you were to mother, the prettier she was.

"Darling, do you feel very sick?  I hate to leave you but . . ."

Mother didn't finish her sentence but Jane knew she meant,
"Grandmother wouldn't like it if I didn't go."

"I don't feel very sick at all," said Jane gallantly "Mary will
look after me."

But after mother had gone, with a swish of taffeta, Jane felt a
horrible lump in her throat that had nothing to do with her
tonsils.  It would be so easy to cry . . . but Jane would not let
herself cry.  Years ago, when she had been no more than five, she
had heard mother say very proudly, "Jane never cries.  She never
cried even when she was a tiny baby."  From that day Jane had been
careful never to let herself cry, even when she was alone in bed at
night.  Mother had so few things to be proud of in her: she must
not let her down on one of those few things.

But it was dreadfully lonely.  The wind was howling along the
street outside.  The tall windows rattled drearily and the big
house seemed full of unfriendly noises and whispers.  Jane wished
Jody could come in and sit with her for a while.  But Jane knew it
was useless to wish for that.  She could never forget the only time
Jody had come to 60 Gay.

"Well, anyhow," said Jane, trying to look on the bright side of
things in spite of her sore throat and aching head, "I won't have
to read the Bible to them to-night."

"Them" were grandmother and Aunt Gertrude.  Very seldom mother
because mother was nearly always out.  But every night before Jane
went to bed she had to read a chapter in the Bible to grandmother
and Aunt Gertrude.  There was nothing in the whole twenty-four
hours that Jane hated doing more than that.  And she knew quite
well that that was just why grandmother made her do it.

They always went into the drawing-room for the reading and Jane
invariably shivered as she entered it.  That huge, elaborate room,
so full of things that you could hardly move about in it without
knocking something over, always seemed cold even on the hottest
night in summer.  And on winter nights it was cold.  Aunt Gertrude
took the huge family Bible, with its heavy silver clasp, from the
marble-topped centre table and laid it on a little table between
the windows.  Then she and grandmother sat, one at each end of the
table, and Jane sat between them at the side, with Great-
grandfather Kennedy scowling down at her from the dim old painting
in its heavy, tarnished gilt frame, flanked by the dark blue velvet
curtains.  That woman on the street had said that Grandfather
Kennedy was a nice friendly man but his father couldn't have been.
Jane always thought candidly that he looked as if he would enjoy
biting a nail in two.

"Turn to the fourteenth chapter of Exodus," grandmother would say.
The chapter varied every night, of course, but the tone never did.
It always rattled Jane so that she generally made a muddle of
finding the right place.  And grandmother, with the hateful little
smile which seemed to say, "So you can't even do this as it should
be done," would put out her lean, crapy hand, with its rich old-
fashioned rings, and turn to the right place with uncanny
precision.  Jane would stumble through the chapter, mispronouncing
words she knew perfectly well just because she was so nervous.
Sometimes grandmother would say, "A little louder if you please,
Victoria.  I thought when I sent you to St Agatha's they would at
least teach you to open your mouth when reading even if they
couldn't teach you geography and history."  And Jane would raise
her voice so suddenly that Aunt Gertrude would jump.  But the next
evening it might be, "Not quite so loud, Victoria, if you please.
We are not deaf."  And poor Jane's voice would die away to little
more than a whisper.

When she had finished grandmother and Aunt Gertrude would bow their
heads and repeat the Lord's Prayer.  Jane would try to say it with
them, which was a difficult thing because grandmother was generally
two words ahead of Aunt Gertrude.  Jane always said "Amen"
thankfully.  The beautiful prayer, haloed with all the loveliness
of age-long worship, had become a sort of horror to Jane.

Then Aunt Gertrude would close the Bible and put it back in exactly
the same place, to the fraction of a hair, on the centre table.
Finally Jane had to kiss her and grandmother good night.
Grandmother would always remain sitting in her chair and Jane would
stoop and kiss her forehead.

"Good night, grandmother."

"Good night, Victoria."

But Aunt Gertrude would be standing by the centre table and Jane
would have to reach up to her, for Aunt Gertrude was tall.  Aunt
Gertrude would stoop just a little and Jane would kiss her narrow
grey face.

"Good night, Aunt Gertrude."

"Good night, Victoria," Aunt Gertrude would say in her thin, cold
voice.

And Jane would get herself out of the room, sometimes lucky enough
not to knock anything over.

"When I grow up I'll never, never read the Bible or say that
prayer," she would whisper to herself as she climbed the long,
magnificent staircase which had once been the talk of Toronto.

One night grandmother had smiled and said, "What do you think of
the Bible, Victoria?"

"I think it is very dull," said Jane truthfully.  The reading had
been a chapter full of "knops" and "taches," and Jane had not the
least idea what knops or taches were.

"Ah!  But do you think your opinion counts for a great deal?" said
grandmother, smiling with paper-thin lips.

"Why did you ask me for it then?" said Jane, and had been icily
rebuked for impertinence when she had not had the least intention
of being impertinent.  Was it any wonder she went up the staircase
that night fairly loathing 60 Gay?  And she did not want to loathe
it.  She wanted to love it . . . to be friends with it . . . to do
things for it.  But she could not love it . . . it wouldn't be
friendly . . . and there was nothing it wanted done.  Aunt Gertrude
and Mary Price, the cook, and Frank Davis, the houseman and
chauffeur, did everything for it.  Aunt Gertrude would not let
grandmother keep a housemaid because she preferred to attend to the
house herself.  Tall, shadowy, reserved Aunt Gertrude, who was so
totally unlike mother that Jane found it hard to believe they were
even half-sisters, was a martinet for order and system.  At 60 Gay
everything had to be done in a certain way on a certain day.  The
house was really frightfully clean.  Aunt Gertrude's cold grey eyes
could not tolerate a speck of dust anywhere.  She was always going
about the house putting things in their places and she attended to
everything.  Even mother never did anything except arrange the
flowers for the table when they had company and light the candles
for dinner.  Jane would have liked the fun of doing that.  And Jane
would have liked to polish the silver and cook.  More than anything
else Jane would have liked to cook.  Now and then, when grandmother
was out, she hung about the kitchen and watched good-natured Mary
Price cook the meals.  It all seemed so easy. . . .  Jane was sure
she could do it perfectly if she were allowed.  It must be such fun
to cook a meal.  The smell of it was almost as good as the eating
of it.

But Mary Price never let her.  She knew the old lady didn't approve
of Miss Victoria talking to the servants.

"Victoria fancies herself as domestic," grandmother had once said
at the midday Sunday dinner where, as usual, Uncle William Anderson
and Aunt Minnie and Uncle David Coleman and Aunt Sylvia Coleman and
their daughter Phyllis were present.  Grandmother had such a knack
of making you feel ridiculous and silly in company.  All the same,
Jane wondered what grandmother would say if she knew that Mary
Price, being somewhat rushed that day, had let Jane wash and
arrange the lettuce for the salad.  Jane knew what grandmother
would do.  She would refuse to touch a leaf of it.

"Well, shouldn't a girl be domestic?" said Uncle William, not
because he wanted to take Jane's part but because he never lost an
opportunity of announcing his belief that a woman's place was in
the home.  "Every girl should know how to cook."

"I don't think Victoria wants very much to learn how to cook," said
grandmother.  "It is just that she likes to hang about kitchens and
places like that."

Grandmother's voice implied that Victoria had low tastes and that
kitchens were barely respectable.  Jane wondered why mother's face
flushed so suddenly and why a strange, rebellious look gleamed for
a moment in her eyes.  But only for a moment.

"How are you getting on at St Agatha's, Victoria?" asked Uncle
William.  "Going to get your grade?"

Jane did not know whether she was going to get her grade or not.
The fear haunted her night and day.  She knew her monthly reports
had not been very good . . . grandmother had been very angry over
them and even mother had asked her piteously if she couldn't do a
little better.  Jane had done the best she could, but history and
geography were so dull and drab.  Arithmetic and spelling were
easier.  Jane was really quite brilliant in arithmetic.

"Victoria can write wonderful compositions, I hear," said
grandmother sarcastically.  For some reason Jane couldn't fathom at
all, her ability to write good compositions had never pleased
grandmother.

"Tut, tut," said Uncle William.  "Victoria could get her grade
easily enough if she wanted to.  The thing to do is to study hard.
She's getting to be a big girl now and ought to realize that.  What
is the capital of Canada, Victoria?"

Jane knew perfectly well what the capital of Canada was but Uncle
William fired the question at her so unexpectedly and all the
guests stopped eating to listen . . . and for the moment she
couldn't remember for her life what the name was.  She blushed . . .
stammered . . . squirmed.  If she had looked at mother she would
have seen that mother was forming the world silently on her lips
but she could not look at any one.  She was ready to die of shame
and mortification.

"Phyllis," said Uncle William, "tell Victoria what the capital of
Canada is."

Phyllis promptly responded:  "Ottawa."

"O-t-t-a-w-a," said Uncle William to Jane.  Jane felt that they
were all, except mother, watching her for something to find fault
with and now Aunt Sylvia Coleman put on a pair of nose-glasses
attached to a long black ribbon and looked at Jane through them as
if wishing to be sure what a girl who didn't know the capital of
her country was really like.  Jane, under the paralysing influence
of that stare, dropped her fork and writhed in anguish when she
caught grandmother's eye.  Grandmother touched her little silver
bell.

"Will you bring Miss Victoria another fork, Davis?" she said in a
tone implying that Jane had had several forks already.

Uncle William put the piece of white chicken meat he had just
carved off on the side of the platter.  Jane had been hoping he
would give it to her.  She did not often get white meat.  When
Uncle William was not there to carve, Mary carved the fowls in the
kitchen and Frank passed the platter around.  Jane seldom dared to
help herself to white meat because she knew grandmother was
watching her.  On one occasion when she had helped herself to two
tiny pieces of breast grandmother had said:

"Don't forget, my dear Victoria, there are other people who might
like a breast slice, too."

At present Jane reflected that she was lucky to get a drumstick.
Uncle William was quite capable of giving her the neck by way of
rebuking her for not knowing the capital of Canada.  However, Aunt
Sylvia very kindly gave her a double portion of turnip.  Jane
loathed turnip.

"You don't seem to have much appetite, Victoria," said Aunt Sylvia
reproachfully when the mound of turnip had not decreased much.

"Oh, I think Victoria's appetite is all right," said grandmother,
as if it were the only thing about her that was all right.  Jane
always felt that there was far more in what grandmother said than
in the words themselves.  Jane might then and there have broken her
record for never crying, she felt so utterly wretched, had she not
looked at mother.  And mother was looking so tender and sympathetic
and understanding that Jane spunked up at once and simply made no
effort to eat any more turnip.

Aunt Sylvia's daughter Phyllis, who did not go to St Agatha's but
to Hillwood Hall, a much newer but even more expensive school,
could have named not only the capital of Canada but the capital of
every province in the Dominion.  Jane did not like Phyllis.
Sometimes Jane thought drearily that there must be something the
matter with her when there were so many people she didn't like.
But Phyllis was so condescending . . . and Jane hated to be
condescended to.

"Why don't you like Phyllis?" grandmother had asked once, looking
at Jane with those eyes that, Jane felt, could see through walls,
doors, everything, right into your inmost soul.  "She is pretty,
lady-like, well behaved and clever . . . everything that you are
not," Jane felt sure grandmother wanted to add.

"She patronizes me," said Jane.

"Do you really know the meaning of all the big words you use, my
dear Victoria?" said grandmother.  "And don't you think that . . .
possibly . . . you are a little jealous of Phyllis?"

"No, I don't think so," said Jane firmly.  She knew she was not
jealous of Phyllis.

"Of course, I must admit she is very different from that Jody of
yours," said grandmother.  The sneer in her voice brought an angry
sparkle into Jane's eyes.  She could not bear to hear any one sneer
at Jody.  And yet what could she do about it?



3


She and Jody had been pals for a year.  Jody matched Jane's eleven
years of life and was tall for her age, too . . . though not with
Jane's sturdy tallness.  Jody was thin and weedy and looked as if
she had never had enough to eat in her life . . . which was very
likely the case, although she lived in a boarding-house--58 Gay,
which had once been a fashionable residence and was now just a
dingy three-story boarding-house.

One evening in the spring of the preceding year Jane was out in the
back yard of 60 Gay, sitting on a rustic bench in an old disused
summer-house.  Mother and grandmother were both away and Aunt
Gertrude was in bed with a bad cold, or else Jane would not have
been sitting in the back yard.  She had crept out to have a good
look at the full moon . . . Jane had her own particular reasons for
liking to look at the moon . . . and the white blossoming cherry-
tree over in the yard of 58.  The cherry-tree, with the moon
hanging over it like a great pearl, was so beautiful that Jane felt
a queer lump in her throat when she looked at it . . .  almost as
if she wanted to cry.  And then . . . somebody really was crying
over in the yard of 58.  The stifled, piteous sounds came clearly
on the still, crystal air of the spring evening.

Jane got up and walked out of the summer-house and around the
garage, past the lonely dog-house that had never had a dog in it
. . . at least, in Jane's recollection . . . and so to the fence
that had ceased to be iron and become a wooden paling between 60 and
58.  There was a gap in it behind the dog-house where a slat had
been broken off amid a tangle of creeper and Jane, squeezing through
it, found herself in the untidy yard of 58.  It was still quite
light and Jane could see a girl huddled at the root of the cherry-
tree, sobbing bitterly, her face in her hands.

"Can I help you?" said Jane.

Though Jane herself had no inkling of it, those words were the
keynote of her character.  Any one else would probably have said,
"What is the matter?"  But Jane always wanted to help: and, though
she was too young to realize it, the tragedy of her little
existence was that nobody ever wanted her help . . . not even
mother, who had everything heart could wish.

The child under the cherry-tree stopped sobbing and got on her
feet.  She looked at Jane and Jane looked at her and something
happened to both of them.  Long afterwards Jane said, "I knew we
were the same kind of folks."  Jane saw a girl of about her own
age, with a very white little face under a thick bang of black hair
cut straight across her forehead.  The hair looked as if it had not
been washed for a long time but the eyes underneath it were brown
and beautiful, though of quite a different brown from Jane's.
Jane's were goldy-brown like a marigold, with laughter lurking in
them, but this girl's were very dark and very sad . . . so sad that
Jane's heart did something queer inside of her.  She knew quite
well that it wasn't right that anybody so young should have such
sad eyes.

The girl wore a dreadful old blue dress that had certainly never
been made for her.  It was too long and too elaborate and it was
dirty and grease-spotted.  It hung on the thin little shoulders
like a gaudy rag on a scarecrow.  But the dress mattered nothing to
Jane.  All she was conscious of was those appealing eyes.

"Can I help?" she asked again.

The girl shook her head and the tears welled up in her big eyes.

"Look," she pointed.

Jane looked and saw between the cherry-tree and the fence what
seemed like a rudely made flower-bed strewn over with roses that
were ground into the earth.

"Dick did that," said the girl.  "He did it on purpose . . .
because it was my garden.  Miss Summers had them roses sent her
last week . . . twelve great big red ones for her birthday . . .
and this morning she said they were done and told me to throw them
in the garbage pail.  But I couldn't . . . they were still so
pretty.  I come out here and made that bed and stuck the roses all
over it.  I knew they wouldn't last long . . . but they looked
pretty and I pretended I had a garden of my own . . . and now . . .
Dick just come out and stomped all over it . . . and LAUGHED."

She sobbed again.  Jane didn't know who Dick was but at that moment
she could cheerfully have wrung his neck with her strong, capable
little hands.  She put her arm about the girl.

"Never mind.  Don't cry any more.  See, we'll break off a lot of
little cherry boughs and stick them all over your bed.  They're
fresher than the roses . . . and think how lovely they'll look in
the moonlight."

"I'm scared to do that," said the girl.  "Miss West might be mad."

Again Jane felt a thrill of understanding.  So this girl was afraid
of people, too.

"Well, we'll just climb up on that big bough that stretches out and
sit there and admire it," said Jane.  "I suppose that won't make
Miss West mad, will it?"

"I guess she won't mind that.  Of course she's mad at me anyhow to-
night because I stumbled with a tray of tumblers when I was waiting
on the supper table and broke three of them.  She said if I kept on
like that . . . I spilled soup on Miss Thatcher's silk dress last
night . . . she'd have to send me away."

"Where would she send you?"

"I don't know.  I haven't anywhere to go.  But she says I'm not
worth my salt and she's only keeping me out of charity."

"What is your name?" asked Jane.  They had scrambled up into the
cherry-tree as nimbly as pussy cats and its whiteness enclosed and
enfolded them, shutting them away into a fragrant world all their
own.

"Josephine Turner.  But every one calls me Jody."

Jody!  Jane liked that.

"Mine's Jane Stuart."

"I thought it was Victoria," said Jody.  "Miss West said it was."

"It's Jane," said Jane firmly.  "At least, it's Jane Victoria but
_I_ am Jane.  And now"--briskly--"let's get acquainted."

Before Jane went back through the gap that night she knew
practically all there was to be known about Jody.  Jody's father
and mother were dead . . . had been dead ever since Jody was a
baby.  Jody's mother's cousin, who had been the cook at 58, had
taken her and was permitted to keep her at 58 if she never let her
out of the kitchen.  Two years ago Cousin Millie had died and Jody
had just "stayed on."  She helped the new cook . . . peeling
potatoes, washing dishes, sweeping, dusting, running errands,
scouring knives . . . and lately had been promoted to waiting on
the table.  She slept in a little attic cubby-hole which was hot in
summer and cold in winter, she wore cast-off things the boarders
gave her and went to school every day there was no extra rush.
Nobody ever gave her a kind word or took any notice of her . . .
except Dick who was Miss West's nephew and pet and who teased and
tormented her and called her "charity child."  Jody hated Dick.
Once when everybody was out she had slipped into the parlour and
picked out a little tune on the piano but Dick had told Miss West
and Jody had been sternly informed that she must never touch the
piano again.

"And I'd love to be able to play," she said wistfully.  "That and a
garden's the only things I want.  I do wish I could have a garden."

Jane wondered again why things were so criss-cross.  She did not
like playing on the piano but grandmother had insisted on her
taking music lessons and she practised faithfully to please mother.
And here was poor Jody hankering for music and with no chance at
all of getting it.

"Don't you think you could have a bit of a garden?" said Jane.
"There's plenty of room here and it's not too shady, like our yard.
I'd help you make a bed and I'm sure mother would give us some
seeds. . . ."

"It wouldn't be any use," said Jody drearily.  "Dick would just
stomp on it, too."

"Then I'll tell you," said Jane resolutely, "we'll get a seed
catalogue . . . Frank will get me one . . . and have an IMAGINARY
garden."

"Ain't you the one for thinking of things?" said Jody admiringly.
Jane tasted happiness.  It was the first time any one had ever
admired her.



4


Of course it was no time before grandmother knew about Jody.  She
made a great many sweetly sarcastic speeches about her but she
never actually forbade Jane going over to play with her in the yard
of 58.  Jane was to be a good many years older before she
understood the reason for that . . . understood that grandmother
wanted to show any one who might question it that Jane had common
tastes and liked low people.

"Darling, is this Jody of yours a nice little girl?" mother had
asked doubtfully.

"She is a very nice little girl," said Jane emphatically.

"But she looks so uncared for . . . positively dirty. . . ."

"Her face is always clean and she never forgets to wash behind her
ears, mummy.  I'm going to show her how to wash her hair.  Her hair
would be lovely if it was clean . . . it's so fine and black and
silky.  And may I give her one of my jars of cold cream. . . .
I've two, you know . . . for her hands?  They're so red and chapped
because she has to work so hard and wash so many dishes."

"But her clothes. . . ."

"She can't help her clothes.  She just has to wear what's given her
and she never has more than two dresses at a time . . . one to wear
every day and one to go to Sunday school in.  Even the Sunday
school one isn't very clean . . . it was Mrs Bellew's Ethel's old
pink one and she spilled coffee on it.  And she has to work so hard
. . . she's a regular little slave, Mary says.  I like Jody very
much, mummy.  She's sweet."

"Well" . . . mother sighed and gave way.  Mother always gave way if
you were firm enough.  Jane had already discovered that.  She
adored mother but she had unerringly laid her finger on the weak
spot in her character.  Mother couldn't "stand up to" people.  Jane
had heard Mary say that to Frank one time when they didn't think
she heard and she knew it was true.

"She'll go with the last one that talks to her," said Mary.  "And
that's always the old lady."

"Well, the old lady's mighty good to her," said Frank.  "She's a
gay little piece."

"Gay enough.  But is she happy?" said Mary.

"Happy?  Of course, mummy is happy," Jane had thought indignantly
. . . all the more indignantly because, away back in her mind, there
was lurking a queer suspicion that mother, in spite of her dances
and dinners and furs and dresses and jewels and friends, wasn't
happy.  Jane couldn't imagine why she had this idea.  Perhaps a
look in mother's eyes now and then . . . like something shut up in
a cage.

Jane could go over and play in the yard of 58 in the spring and
summer evenings after Jody had finished washing stacks of dishes.
They made their "imaginary" garden, they fed crumbs to the robins
and the black and grey squirrels, they sat up in the cherry-tree
and watched the evening star together.  And talked!  Jane, who
could never find anything to say to Phyllis, found plenty to say to
Jody.

There was never any question of Jody coming to play in the yard of
60.  Once, early in their friendship, Jane had asked Jody to come
over.  She had found Jody crying under the cherry-tree again and
discovered that it was because Miss West had insisted on her
putting her old Teddy bear in the garbage pail.  It was, Miss West
said, utterly worn out.  It had been patched until there was no
more room for patches and even shoe buttons couldn't be sewn any
more into its worn-out eye-sockets.  Besides, she was too old to be
playing with Teddy bears.

"But I've nothing else," sobbed Jody.  "If I had a doll, I wouldn't
mind.  I've always wanted a doll . . . but now I'll have to sleep
alone away up there . . . and it's so lonesome."

"Come over to our house and I'll give you a doll," said Jane.

Jane had never cared much for dolls because they were not alive.
She had a very nice one which Aunt Sylvia had given her the
Christmas she was seven but it was so flawless and well dressed
that it never needed to have anything done for it and Jane had
never loved it.  She would have loved better a Teddy bear that
needed a new patch every day.

She took Jody, wide-eyed and enraptured, through the splendours of
60 Gay and gave her the doll which had reposed undisturbed for a
long time in the lower drawer of the huge black wardrobe in Jane's
room.  Then she had taken her into mother's room to show her the
things on mother's table . . . the silver-backed brushes, the
perfume bottles with the cut-glass stoppers that made rainbows, the
wonderful rings on the little gold tray.  Grandmother found them
there.

She stood in the doorway and looked at them.  You could feel the
silence spreading through the room like a cold, smothering wave.

"What does this mean, Victoria . . . if I am allowed to ask?"

"This is . . . Jody," faltered Jane.  "I . . . I brought her over
to give her my doll.  She hasn't any."

"Indeed?  And you have given her the one your Aunt Sylvia gave
you?"

Jane at once realized that she had done something quite
unpardonable.  It had never occurred to her that she was not at
liberty to give away her own doll.

"I have not," said grandmother, "forbidden you to play with this
. . . this JODY in her own lot.  What is in the blood is bound to
come out sooner or later.  But . . .  if you don't mind . . .
please don't bring your riff-raff here, my dear Victoria."

Her dear Victoria got herself and poor hurt Jody away as best she
could, leaving the doll behind them.  But grandmother did not get
off scot-free for all that.  For the first time the worm turned.
Jane paused for a moment before she went out of the door and looked
straight at grandmother with intent, judging brown eyes.

"You are not fair," she said.  Her voice trembled a little but she
felt she had to say it, no matter how impertinent grandmother
thought her.  Then she followed Jody down and out with a strange
feeling of satisfaction in her heart.

"I ain't riff-raff," said Jody, her lips quivering.  "Of course I'm
not like you. . . . Miss West says you're PEOPLE . . . but my folks
were respectable.  Cousin Millie told me so.  She said they always
paid their way while they were alive.  And I work hard enough for
Miss West to pay my way."

"You aren't riff-raff and I love you," said Jane.  "You and mother
are the only people in the whole world I love."

Even as she said it a queer little pang wrung Jane's heart.  It
suddenly occurred to her that two people out of all the millions in
the world . . . Jane never could remember the exact number of
millions but she knew it was enormous . . . were very few to love.

"And I like loving people," thought Jane.  "It's nice."

"I don't love anybody but you," said Jody, who forgot her hurt
feelings as soon as Jane got her interested in building a castle
out of all the old tin cans in the corner of the yard.  Miss West
hoarded her tin cans for a country cousin who made some mysterious
use of them.  He had not been in all winter and there were enough
cans to build a towering structure.  Dick kicked it down next day,
of course, but they had had the fun of building it.  They never
knew that Mr Torrey, one of the 58 boarders who was a budding
architect, saw the castle, gleaming in the moonlight, when he was
putting his car in the garage and whistled over it.

"That's rather an amazing thing for those two kids to build," he
said.

Jane, who should have been asleep, was lying wide awake that very
moment, going on with the story of her life in the moon which she
could see through her window.

Jane's "moon secret," as she called it, was the one thing she
hadn't shared with mother and Jody.  She couldn't, somehow.  It was
her very own.  To tell about it would be to destroy it.  For three
years now Jane had been going on dream voyages to the moon.  It was
a shimmering world of fancy where she lived very splendidly and
sated some deep thirst in her soul at unknown, enchanted springs
among its shining silver hills.  Before she had found the trick of
going to the moon, Jane had longed to get into the looking-glass as
Alice did.  She used to stand so long before her mirror hoping for
the miracle to happen that Aunt Gertrude said Victoria was the
vainest child she had ever seen.

"Really?" said grandmother, as if mildly inquiring what Jane could
possibly have to be vain about.

Eventually Jane had sadly concluded that she could never get into
the looking-glass world, and then one night, when she was lying
alone in her big unfriendly room, she saw the moon looking in at
her through one of the windows . . . the calm, beautiful moon that
was never in a hurry; and she began to build for herself an
existence in the moon, where she ate fairy food and wandered
through fairy fields, full of strange white moon-blossoms, with the
companions of her fancy.

But even in the moon Jane's dreams ran true to the ruling passion.
Since the moon was all silver it had to be polished every night.
Jane and her moon friends had no end of fun polishing up the moon,
with an elaborate system of rewards and punishments for extra good
polishers and lazy ones.  The lazy ones were generally banished to
the other side of the moon . . . which Jane had read was very dark
and very cold.  When they were allowed back, chilled to the bone,
they were glad to warm themselves up by rubbing as hard as they
could.  Those were the nights when the moon seemed brighter than
usual.  Oh, it was fun!  Jane was never lonely in bed now except on
nights when there was no moon.  The clearest sight Jane knew was
the thin crescent in the western sky that told her her friend was
back.  She was supported through many a dreary day by the hope of
going on a moon spree at night.



5


Up to the age of ten Jane had believed her father was dead.  She
could not recall that anybody had ever told her so, but if she had
thought about it at all she would have felt quite sure of it.  She
just did not think about it . . . nobody ever mentioned him.  All
she knew about him was that his name must have been Andrew Stuart,
because mother was Mrs Andrew Stuart.  For anything else, he might
as well never have existed as far as Jane was concerned.  She did
not know much about fathers.  The only one she was really
acquainted with was Phyllis's father, Uncle David Coleman, a
handsome, oldish man with pouches under his eyes, who grunted at
her occasionally when he came to Sunday dinners.  Jane had an idea
his grunts were meant to be friendly and she did not dislike him,
but there was nothing about him that made her envy Phyllis for
having a father.  With a mother so sweet and adorable and loving,
what did one want of a father?

Then Agnes Ripley came to St Agatha's.  Jane liked Agnes well
enough at first, though Agnes had stuck her tongue out at Jane
rather derisively on the occasion of their first meeting.  She was
the daughter of somebody who was called "the great Thomas Ripley"
. . . he had built "railroads and things" . . . and most of the St
Agatha's girls paid court to her and plumed themselves if she
noticed them.  She was much given to "secrets," and it came to be
thought a great honour among the St Agathians if Agnes told you a
secret.  Therefore Jane was conscious of a decided thrill when one
afternoon on the playground Agnes came up to her and said, darkly
and mysteriously, "I know a secret."

"I know a secret" is probably the most intriguing phrase in the
world.  Jane surrendered to its allure.

"Oh, tell me," she implored.  She wanted to be admitted to that
charmed inner circle of girls who had been told one of Agnes's
secrets; and she wanted to know the secret for its own sake.
Secrets must always be wonderful, beautiful things.

Agnes wrinkled up her fat little nose and looked important.

"Oh, I'll tell you some other time."

"I don't want to hear it some other time.  I want to hear it now,"
pleaded Jane, her marigold eyes full of eager radiance.

Agnes's little elfish face, framed in its straight brown hair, was
alive with mischief.  She winked one of her green eyes at Jane.

"All right.  Don't blame me if you don't like it when you hear it.
Listen."

Jane listened.  The towers of St Agatha's listened.  The shabby
streets beyond listened.  It seemed to Jane that the whole world
listened.  She was one of the chosen . . . Agnes was going to tell
her a secret.

"Your father and mother don't live together."

Jane stared at Agnes.  What she had said didn't make any sense.

"Of course they don't live together," she said.  "My father is
dead."

"Oh, no, he isn't," said Agnes.  "He's living down in Prince Edward
Island.  Your mother left him when you were three years old."

Jane felt as if some big cold hand were beginning to squeeze her
heart.

"That . . . isn't . . . true," she gasped.

"'Tis, too.  I heard Aunt Dora telling mother all about it.  She
said your mother married him just after he came back from the war,
one summer when your grandmother took her down to the Maritimes.
Your grandmother didn't want her to.  Aunt Dora said everybody knew
it wouldn't last long.  He was poor.  But it was you that made the
most trouble.  You should never have been born.  Neither of them
wanted you, Aunt Dora said.  They fought like cat and dog after
that and at last your mother just up and left him.  Aunt Dora said
she would likely have divorced him only divorces are awful hard to
get in Canada and anyhow all the Kennedys think divorce is a
dreadful thing."

The hand was gripping Jane's heart so tightly now that she could
hardly breathe.

"I . . . I don't believe it," she said.

"If that's how you're going to talk when I tell you a secret, I'll
never tell you another one, Miss Victoria Stuart," said Agnes,
reddening with rage.

"I don't want to hear any more," said Jane.

She would never forget what she had heard.  It couldn't be true . . .
it couldn't.  Jane thought the afternoon would never end.  St
Agatha's was a nightmare.  Frank had never driven so slowly home.
The snow had never looked so grimy and dirty along the dingy
streets.  The wind had never been so grey.  The moon, floating high
in the sky, was all faded and paper-white but Jane didn't care if
it was never polished again.

An afternoon tea was in progress at 60 Gay when she arrived there.
The big drawing-room, decorated lavishly with pale pink snapdragons
and tulips and maidenhair fern, was full of people.  Mother, in
orchid chiffon, with loose trailing lace sleeves, was laughing and
chatting.  Grandmother, with blue-white diamonds sparkling in her
hair, was sitting on her favourite needle-point chair, looking, so
one lady said, "Such an utterly sweet silver-haired thing, just
like a Whistler mother."  Aunt Gertrude and Aunt Sylvia were
pouring tea at a table covered with Venetian lace, where tall pink
tapers were burning.

Straight through them all Jane marched to mother.  She did not care
how many people were there . . . she had one question to ask and it
must be answered at once.  At once.  Jane could not bear her
suspense another moment.

"Mummy," she said, "is my father alive?"

A strange, dreadful hush suddenly fell over the room.  A light like
a sword flashed into grandmother's blue eyes.  Aunt Sylvia gasped
and Aunt Gertrude turned an unbecoming purple.  But mother's face
was as if snow had fallen over it.

"Is he?" said Jane.

"Yes," said mother.  She said nothing more.  Jane asked nothing
more.  She turned and went out and up the stairs blindly.  In her
own room she shut the door and lay down very softly on the big
white bearskin rug by the bed, her lace buried in the soft fur.
Heavy black waves of pain seemed rolling over her.

So it was true.  All her life she had thought her father dead while
he was living . . . on that far-away dot on the map which she had
been told was the province of Prince Edward Island.  But he and
mother did not like each other and she had not been wanted.  Jane
found that it was a very curious and unpleasant sensation to feel
that your parents hadn't wanted you.  She was sure that all the
rest of her life she would hear Agnes's voice saying, "You should
never have been born."  She hated Agnes Ripley . . . she would
always hate her.  Jane wondered if she would live to be as old as
grandmother and how she could bear it if she did.

Mother and grandmother found her there when everybody had gone.

"Victoria, get up."

Jane did not move.

"Victoria, I am accustomed to be obeyed when I speak."

Jane got up.  She had not cried . . . hadn't somebody ages ago said
that "Jane never cried" . . . but her face was stamped with an
expression that might have wrung anybody's heart.  Perhaps it
touched even grandmother, for she said, quite gently for her:

"I have always told your mother, Victoria, that she ought to tell
you the truth.  I told her you were sure to hear it from someone
sooner or later.  Your father is living.  Your mother married him
against my wish and lived to repent it.  I forgave her and welcomed
her back gladly when she came to her senses.  That is all.  And in
future when you feel an irresistible urge to make a scene while we
are entertaining, will you be good enough to control the impulse
until our guests are gone?"

"Why didn't he like me?" asked Jane dully.

When all was said and done, that seemed to be what was hurting
most.  Her mother might not have wanted her either, to begin with,
but Jane knew that mother loved her now.

Mother suddenly gave a little laugh so sad that it nearly broke
Jane's heart.

"He was jealous of you, I think," she said.

"He made your mother's life wretched," said grandmother, her voice
hardening.

"Oh, I was to blame, too," cried mother chokingly.

Jane, looking from one to the other, saw the swift change that came
over grandmother's face.

"You will never mention your father's name in my hearing or in your
mother's hearing again," said grandmother.  "As far as we are
concerned . . .  as far as YOU are concerned . . . he is dead."

The prohibition was unnecessary.  Jane didn't want to mention her
father's name again.  He had made mother unhappy, and so Jane hated
him and put him out of her thoughts completely.  There were just
some things that didn't bear thinking of and father was one of
them.  But the most terrible thing about it all was that there was
something now that could not be talked over with mother.  Jane felt
it between them, indefinable but there.  The old perfect confidence
was gone.  There was a subject that must never be mentioned and it
poisoned everything.

She could never bear Agnes Ripley and her cult of "secrets" again
and was glad when Agnes left the school, the great Thomas having
decided that it was not quite up-to-date enough for his daughter.
Agnes wanted to learn tap-dancing.



6


It was a year now since Jane had learned that she had a father . . .
a year in which Jane had just scraped through as far as her grade
was concerned. . . . Phyllis had taken the prize for general
proficiency in her year and did Jane hear of it! . . . had
continued to be driven to and from St Agatha's, had tried her best
to like Phyllis and had not made any great headway at it, had
trysted with Jody in the back yard twilights and had practised her
scales as faithfully as if she liked it.

"Such a pity you are not fonder of music," said grandmother.  "But
of course, how could you be?"

It was not so much what grandmother said as how she said it.  She
made wounds that rankled and festered.  And Jane was fond of music
. . . she loved to listen to it.  When Mr Ransome, the musical
boarder at 58, played on his violin in his room in the evenings, he
never dreamed of the two enraptured listeners he had in the back
yard cherry-tree.  Jane and Jody sat there, their hands clasped,
their hearts filled with some nameless ecstasy.  When winter came
and the bedroom window was shut, Jane felt the loss keenly.  The
moon was her only escape then and she slipped away to it oftener
than ever, in long visitations of silence which grandmother called
"sulks."

"She has a very sulky disposition," said grandmother.

"Oh, I don't think so," faltered mother.  The only times she ever
dared to contradict grandmother were in defence of Jane.  "She's
just rather . . . sensitive."

"Sensitive!"  Grandmother laughed.  Grandmother did not often
laugh, which Jane thought was just as well.  As for Aunt Gertrude,
if she had ever laughed or jested it must have been so long ago
that nobody remembered it.  Mother laughed when people were about
. . . little tinkling laughs that Jane could never feel were real.
No, there was not much real laughter at 60 Gay, though Jane, with
her concealed gift for seeing the funny side of things, could have
filled even that big house with laughter.  But Jane had known very
early that grandmother resented laughter.  Even Mary and Frank had
to giggle very discreetly in the kitchen.

Jane had shot up appallingly in that year.  She was rather more
angular and awkward.  Her chin was square and cleft.

"It gets more like HIS every day," she once heard grandmother
saying bitterly to Aunt Gertrude.  Jane winced.  In her bitter new
wisdom she suspected that "his" was her father's chin and she
straightway detested hers.  Why couldn't it have been a pretty
rounded one like mother's?

The year was very uneventful.  Jane would have called it monotonous
if she had not as yet been unacquainted with the word.  There were
only three things in it that made much impression on her . . . the
incident of the kitten, the mysterious affair of Kenneth Howard's
picture and the unlucky recitation.

Jane had picked the kitten up on the street.  One afternoon Frank
had been in a great hurry to get somewhere on time for grandmother
and mother and he had let Jane walk home from the beginning of Gay
Street when he was bringing her from St Agatha's.  Jane walked
along happily, savouring this rare moment of independence.  It was
very seldom she was allowed to walk anywhere alone . . . to walk
anywhere at all, indeed.  And Jane loved walking.  She would have
liked to walk to and from St Agatha's or, since that really was too
far, she would have liked to go by street-car.  Jane loved
travelling on a streetcar.  It was fascinating to look at the
people in it and speculate about them.  Who was that lady with the
lovely shimmering hair?  What was the angry old woman muttering to
herself about?  Did that little boy like having his mother clean
his face with her handkerchief in public?  Did that jolly looking
little girl have trouble getting her grade?  Did that man have
toothache and did he ever look pleasant when he hadn't it?  She
would have liked to know all about them and sympathize or rejoice
as occasion required.  But it was very seldom any resident of 60
Gay had a chance to go on a street-car.  There was always Frank
with the limousine.

Jane walked slowly to prolong the pleasure.  It was a cold day in
late autumn.  It had been miserly of its light from the beginning,
with a dim ghost of sun peering through the dull grey clouds, and
now it was getting dark and spitting snow.  The lights gleamed out:
even the grim windows of Victorian Gay were abloom.  Jane did not
mind the bitter wind but something else did.  Jane heard the most
pitiful, despairing little cry and looked down to see the kitten,
huddled miserably against an iron fence.  She bent and picked it up
and held it against her face.  The little creature, a handful of
tiny bones in its fluffed-out Maltese fur, licked her cheek with an
eager tongue.  It was cold, starving, forsaken.  Jane knew it did
not belong to Gay Street.  She could not leave it there to perish
in the oncoming stormy night.

"Goodness sake, Miss Victoria, wherever did you get that?"
exclaimed Mary, when Jane entered the kitchen.  "You shouldn't have
brought it in.  You know your grandmother doesn't like cats.  Your
Aunt Gertrude got one once but it clawed all the tassels off the
furniture and it had to go.  Better put that kitten right out, Miss
Victoria."

Jane hated to be called "Miss Victoria," but grandmother insisted
on the servants addressing her so.

"I CAN'T put it out in the cold, Mary.  Let me give it some supper
and leave it here till after dinner.  I'll ask grandmother to let
me keep it.  Perhaps she will if I promise to keep it out here and
in the yard.  You wouldn't mind it round, would you, Mary?"

"I'd like it," said Mary.  "I've often thought a cat would be great
company . . . or a dog.  Your mother had a dog once but it got
poisoned and she would never have another."

Mary did not tell Jane that she firmly believed the old lady had
poisoned the dog.  You didn't tell children things like that and
anyway she couldn't be dead sure of it.  All she was sure of was
that old Mrs Kennedy had been bitterly jealous of her daughter's
love for the dog.

"How she used to look at it when she didn't know I saw her,"
thought Mary.

Grandmother and Aunt Gertrude and mother were taking in a couple of
teas that day so Jane knew she could count on at least an hour yet.
It was a pleasant hour.  The kitten was happy and frolicsome,
having drunk milk until its little sides tubbed out almost to the
bursting point.  The kitchen was warm and cosy.  Mary let Jane chop
the nuts that were to be sprinkled over the cake and cut the pears
into slim segments for the salad.

"Oh, Mary, blueberry pie!  Why don't we have it oftener?  You can
make such delicious blueberry pie."

"There's some who can make pies and some who can't," said Mary
complacently.  "As for having it oftener, you know your grandmother
doesn't care much for any kind of pie.  She says they're
indigestible . . . and my father lived to be ninety and had pie for
breakfast every morning of his life!  I just make it occasional for
your mother."

"After dinner I'll tell grandmother about the kitten and ask her if
I may keep it," said Jane.

"I think you'll have your trouble for your pains, you poor child,"
said Mary as the door closed behind Jane.  "Miss Robin ought to
stand up for you more than she does . . . but there, she's always
been under the thumb of her mother.  Any way, I hope the dinner
will go well and keep the old dame in good humour.  I wisht I
hadn't made the blueberry pie after all.  It's lucky she won't know
Miss Victoria fixed the salad . . . what folks don't know never
hurts them."

The dinner did not go well.  There was a tension in the air.
Grandmother did not talk . . . evidently some occurrence of the
afternoon had put her out.  Aunt Gertrude never talked at any time.
And mother seemed uneasy and never once tried to pass Jane any of
the little signals they had . . . the touched lip . . . the lifted
eyebrow . . . the crooked finger . . . that all meant "honey
darling" or "I love you" or "consider yourself kissed."

Jane, burdened by her secret, was even more awkward than usual, and
when she was eating her blueberry pie she dropped a forkful of it
on the table.

"This," said grandmother, "might have been excused in a child of
five.  It is absolutely inexcusable in a girl of your age.
Blueberry stain is almost impossible to get out and this is one of
my best table-cloths.  But of course that is a matter of small
importance."

Jane gazed at the table in dismay.  How such a little bit of pie
could have spread itself over so much territory she could not
understand.  And of course it had to be at this inauspicious moment
that a little purry furry creature escaped the pursuing Mary,
skittered across the dining-room and bounded into Jane's lap.
Jane's heart descended to her boots.

"Where did that cat come from?" demanded grandmother.

"I mustn't be a coward," thought Jane desperately.

"I found it on the street and brought it in," she said bravely . . .
defiantly, grandmother thought.  "It was so cold and hungry . . .
look how thin it is, grandmother.  Please may I keep it?  It's such
a darling.  I won't let it trouble you . . . I'll . . ."

"My dear Victoria, don't be ridiculous.  I really supposed you knew
we do not keep cats here.  Be good enough to put that creature out
at once."

"Oh, not out on the street, grandmother, PLEASE.  Listen to the
sleet . . . it would die."

"I expect you to obey me without argument, Victoria.  You cannot
have your own way all the time.  Other people's wishes must be
considered occasionally.  Please oblige me by making no further
fuss over a trifle."

"Grandmother," began Jane passionately.  But grandmother lifted a
little wrinkled, sparkling hand.

"Now, now, don't work yourself into a state, Victoria.  Take that
thing out at once."

Jane took the kitten to the kitchen.

"Don't worry, Miss Victoria.  I'll get Frank to put it in the
garage with a rug to lie on.  It will be quite comfy.  And to-
morrow I'll find a good home for it at my sister's.  She's fond of
cats."

Jane never cried, so she was not crying when mother slipped rather
stealthily into her room for a good-night kiss.  She was only tense
with rebellion.

"Mummy, I wish we could get away . . . just you and I.  I hate this
place, mummy, I hate it."

Mother said a strange thing and said it bitterly:  "There is no
escape for either of us now."



7


Jane could never understand the affair of the picture.  After her
hurt and anger passed away she was just hopelessly puzzled.  Why
. . . WHY . . . should the picture of a perfect stranger matter to
anybody at 60 Gay . . . and to mother, least of all?

She had come across it one day when she was visiting Phyllis.
Every once in so long Jane had to spend an afternoon with Phyllis.
This one was no more of a success than the former ones had been.
Phyllis was a conscientious hostess.  She had shown Jane all her
new dolls, her new dresses, her new slippers, her new pearl
necklace, her new china pig.  Phyllis was collecting china pigs and
apparently thought any one "dumb" who was not interested in china
pigs.  She had patronized and condescended even more than usual.
Consequently Jane was stiffer than usual and both of them were in
agonies of boredom.  It was a relief to all concerned when Jane
picked up a Saturday Evening and buried herself in it, though she
was not in the least interested in the society pages, the
photographs of brides and debutantes, the stock market or even in
the article, "Peaceful Adjustment of International Difficulties,"
by Kenneth Howard, which was given a place of honour on the front
page.  Jane had a vague idea that she ought not to be reading
Saturday Evening.  For some unknown reason grandmother did not
approve of it.  She would not have a copy of it in her house.

But what Jane did like was the picture of Kenneth Howard on the
front page.  The moment she looked at it she was conscious of its
fascination.  She had never seen Kenneth Howard . . . she had no
idea who he was or where he lived . . . but she felt as if it were
the picture of someone she knew very well and liked very much.  She
liked everything about it . . . his odd peaked eyebrows . . . the
way his thick rather unruly hair sprang back from his forehead . . .
the way his firm mouth tucked in at the corners . . . the slightly
stern look in the eyes which yet had such jolly wrinkles at the
corners . . . and the square, cleft chin which reminded Jane so
strongly of something, she couldn't remember just what.  That chin
seemed like an old friend.  Jane looked at the face and drew a long
breath.  She knew, right off, that if she had loved her father
instead of hating him she would have wanted him to look like Kenneth
Howard.

Jane stared at the picture so long that Phyllis became curious.

"What are you looking at, Jane?"

Jane suddenly came to life.

"May I have this picture, Phyllis . . . please?"

"Whose picture?  Why . . . that?  Do you know him?"

"No.  I never heard of him before.  But I like the picture."

"I don't."  Phyllis looked at it contemptuously.  "Why . . . he's
old.  And he isn't a bit handsome.  There's a lovely picture of
Norman Tait on the next page, Jane . . . let me show it to you."

Jane was not interested in Norman Tait nor any other screen star.
Grandmother did not approve of children going to the movies.

"I'd like this picture if I may have it," she said firmly.

"I guess you can have it," condescended Phyllis.  She thought Jane
"dumber" than ever.  How she did pity such a dumb girl!  "I guess
nobody here wants THAT picture.  I don't like it a bit.  He looks
as if he was laughing at you behind his eyes."

Which was a bit of surprising insight on the part of Phyllis.  That
was just how Kenneth Howard did look.  Only it was nice laughter.
Jane felt she wouldn't mind a bit being laughed at like that.  She
cut the picture carefully out, carried it home, and hid it under
the pile of handkerchiefs in her top bureau drawer.  She could
hardly have told why she did not want to show it to anybody.
Perhaps she did not want any one to ridicule the picture as Phyllis
had done.  Perhaps it was just because there seemed some strange
bond between her and it . . . something too beautiful to be talked
about to any one, even mother.  Not that there was much chance of
talking to mother about anything just now.  Never had mother been
so brilliant, so gay, so beautifully dressed, so constantly on the
go to parties and teas and bridges.  Even the goodnight kiss had
become a rare thing . . . or Jane thought it had.  She did not know
that always when her mother came in late, she tiptoed into Jane's
room and dropped a kiss on Jane's russet hair . . . lightly so as
not to waken her.  Sometimes she cried when she went back to her
own room but not often, because it might show at breakfast and old
Mrs Robert Kennedy did not like people who cried o' nights in her
house.

For three weeks the picture and Jane were the best of friends.  She
took it out and looked at it whenever she could . . . she told it
all about Jody and about her tribulations with her homework and
about her love for mother.  She even told it her moon secret.  When
she lay lonely in her bed, the thought of it was company.  She
kissed it good night and took a peep at it the first thing in the
morning.

Then Aunt Gertrude found it.

The moment Jane came in from St Agatha's that day she knew
something was wrong.  The house, which always seemed to be watching
her, was watching her more closely than ever, with a mocking,
triumphant malice.  Great-grandfather Kennedy scowled more darkly
than ever at her from the drawing-room wall.  And grandmother was
sitting bolt-upright in her chair flanked by mother and Aunt
Gertrude.  Mother was twisting a lovely red rose to pieces in her
little white hands but Aunt Gertrude was staring at the picture
grandmother was holding.

"MY picture!" cried Jane aloud.

Grandmother looked at Jane.  For once her cold blue eyes were on
fire.

"Where did you get this?" she said.

"It's mine," cried Jane.  "Who took it out of my drawer?  Nobody
had any business to do that."

"I don't think I like your manner, Victoria.  And we are not
discussing a problem in ethics.  I asked a question."

Jane looked down at the floor.  She had no earthly idea why it
seemed such a crime to have Kenneth Howard's picture but she knew
she was not going to be allowed to have it any more.  And it seemed
to Jane that she just could not bear that.

"Will you be kind enough to look at me, Victoria?  And to answer my
question?  You are not tongue-tied, by any chance, I suppose."

Jane looked up with stormy and mutinous eyes.

"I cut it out of a paper . . . out of Saturday Evening."

"That rag!"  Grandmother's tone consigned Saturday Evening to
unfathomable depths of contempt.  "Where did you see it?"

"At Aunt Sylvia's," retorted Jane, plucking up spirit.

"Why did you cut this out?"

"Because I liked it."

"Do you know who Kenneth Howard is?"

"No."

"'No, grandmother,' if you please.  Well, I think it is hardly
necessary to keep the picture of a man you don't know in your
bureau drawer.  Let us have no more of such absurdity."

Grandmother lifted the picture in both hands.  Jane sprang forward
and caught her arm.

"Oh, grandmother, don't tear it up.  You mustn't.  I want it
terribly."

The moment she said it, she knew she had made a mistake.  There had
never been much chance of getting the picture back but what little
there had been was now gone.

"Have you gone completely mad, Victoria?" said grandmother . . . to
whom nobody had ever said, "You mustn't," in her whole life before.
"Take your hand off my arm, please.  As for this . . ." grandmother
tore the picture deliberately into four pieces and threw them on
the fire.  Jane, who felt as if her heart were being torn with it,
was on the point of a rebellious outburst when she happened to
glance at mother.  Mother was pale as ashes, standing there with
the leaves of the rose she had torn to pieces strewing the carpet
around her feet.  There was such a dreadful look of pain in her
eyes that Jane shuddered.  The look was gone in a moment but Jane
could never forget that it had been there.  And she knew she could
not ask mother to explain the mystery of the picture.  For some
reason she could not guess at, Kenneth Howard meant suffering to
mother.  And somehow that fact stained and spoiled all her
beautiful memories of communion with the picture.

"No sulks now.  Go to your room and stay there till I send for
you," said grandmother, not altogether liking Jane's expression.
"And remember that people who belong here do not read Saturday
Evening."

Jane had to say it.  It really said itself.

"I don't belong here," said Jane.  Then she went to her room, which
was huge and lonely again, with no Kenneth Howard smiling at her
from under the handkerchiefs.

And this was another thing she could not talk over with mother.
She felt just like one big ache as she stood at her window for a
long time.  It was a cruel world . . . with the very stars laughing
at you . . . twinkling mockingly at you.

"I wonder," said Jane slowly, "if any one was ever happy in this
house."

Then she saw the moon . . . the new moon, but not the thin silver
crescent the new moon usually was.  This was just on the point of
sinking into a dark cloud on the horizon and it was large and dull
red.  If ever a moon needed polishing up this one did.  In a moment
Jane had slipped away from all her sorrows . . . two hundred and
thirty thousand miles away.  Luckily grandmother had no power over
the moon.



8


Then there was the affair of the recitation.

They were getting up a school programme at St Agatha's to which
only the families of the girls were invited.  There were to be a
short play, some music and a reading or two.  Jane had secretly
hoped to be given a part in the play, even if it were only one of
the many angels who came and went in it, with wings and trailing
white robes and home-made haloes.  But no such good luck.  She
suspected that it was because she was rather bony and awkward for
an angel.

Then Miss Semple asked her if she would recite.

Jane jumped at the idea.  She knew she could recite rather well.
Here was a chance to make mother proud of her and show grandmother
that all the money she was spending on Jane's education was not
being wholly wasted.

Jane picked a poem she had long liked in spite, or perhaps because,
of its habitant English, "The Little Baby of Mathieu," and plunged
enthusiastically into learning it.  She practised it in her room
. . . she murmured lines of it everywhere until grandmother asked her
sharply what she was muttering about all the time.  Then Jane shut
up like a clam.  Nobody must suspect . . . it was to be a "surprise"
to them all.  A proud and glad surprise for mother.  And perhaps
even grandmother might feel a little pleased with her if she did
well.  Jane knew she would meet with no mercy if she didn't do well.

Grandmother took Jane down to a room in Marlborough's big
department store . . . a room that had panelled walls, velvety
carpets and muted voices . . . a room that Jane didn't like,
somehow.  She always felt smothered in it.  And grandmother got her
a new dress for the concert.  It was a very pretty dress . . . you
had to admit grandmother had a taste in dresses.  A dull green silk
that brought out the russet glow of Jane's hair and the gold-brown
of her eyes.  Jane liked herself in it and was more anxious than
ever to please grandmother with her recitation.

She was terribly worried the night before the concert.  Wasn't she
a little hoarse?  Suppose it got worse?  It did not . . . it was
all gone the next day.  But when Jane found herself on the concert
platform facing an audience for the first time, a nasty little
quiver ran down her spine.  She had never supposed there would be
so many people.  For one dreadful moment she thought she was not
going to be able to utter a word.  Then she seemed to see Kenneth
Howard's eyes, crinkling with laughter at her.  "Never mind them.
Do your stuff for ME," he seemed to be saying.  Jane got her mouth
open.

The St Agatha staff were quite amazed.  Who could have supposed
that shy, awkward Victoria Stuart could recite any poem so well,
let alone a habitant one?  Jane herself was feeling the delight of
a certain oneness with her audience . . . a realization that she
had captured them . . . that she was delighting them . . . until
she came to the last verse.  Then she saw mother and grandmother
just in front of her.  Mother, in her lovely new blue fox furs,
with the little wine hat Jane loved tilted on one side of her head,
was looking more frightened than proud, and grandmother . . . Jane
had seen that expression too often to mistake it.  Grandmother was
furious.

The last verse, which should have been the climax, went rather
flat.  Jane felt like a candle-flame blown out, though the applause
was hearty and prolonged, and Miss Semple behind the scenes
whispered, "Excellent, Victoria, excellent."

But there were no compliments on the road home.  Not a word was
said . . . that was the dreadful part of it.  Mother seemed too
frightened to speak and grandmother preserved a stony silence.  But
when they got home she said:

"Who put you up to that, Victoria?"

"Put me up to what?" said Jane in honest bewilderment.

"Please don't repeat my questions, Victoria.  You know perfectly
well what I mean."

"Is it my recitation?  No one.  Miss Semple asked me to recite, and
I picked the recitation myself because I liked it," said Jane.  It
might even be said she retorted it.  She was hurt . . . angry . . .
a little "pepped up" because of her success.  "I thought it would
please you.  But you are never pleased with anything I do."

"Don't be cheaply theatrical, please," said grandmother.  "And in
future if you HAVE to recite," very much as she might have said,
"if you have to have smallpox" . . . "please choose poems in decent
English.  I do not care for patois."

Jane didn't know what patois was, but it was all too evident that
she had made a mess of things somehow.

"Why was grandmother so angry, mummy?" she asked piteously, when
mother came in to kiss her good night, cool, slim and fragrant, in
a dress of rose crêpe with little wisps of lace over the shoulders.
Mother's blue eyes seemed to mist a little.

"Someone she . . . did not like . . . used to be . . . very good at
reading habitant poetry.  Never mind, heart's delight.  You did
splendidly.  I was proud of you."

She bent down and took Jane's face in her hands.  Mother had such a
dear way of doing that.

So, in spite of everything, Jane went very happily through the
gates of sleep.  After all, it does not take much to make a child
happy.



9


The letter was a bolt from the blue.  It came one dull morning in
early April . . . but such a bitter, peevish, unlovely April . . .
more like March in its disposition than April.  It was Saturday, so
there would be no St Agatha's and when Jane wakened in her big
black walnut bed she wondered just how she would put in the day
because mother was going to a bridge and Jody was sick with a cold.

Jane lay a little while, looking through the window, where she
could see only dull grey sky and old tree tops having a fight with
the wind.  She knew that in the yard below the window on the north
there was still a lingering bank of dirty grey snow.  Jane thought
dirty snow must be the dreariest thing in the world.  She hated
this shabby end of winter.  And she hated the bedroom where she had
to sleep alone.  She wished she and mother could sleep together.
They could have such lovely times talking to each other with no one
else to hear, after they went to bed or early in the morning.  And
how lovely it would be when you woke up in the night to hear
mother's soft breathing beside you and cuddle to her just a wee
bit, carefully, so as not to disturb her.

But grandmother would not let mother sleep with her.

"It is unhealthy for two people to sleep in the same bed,"
grandmother had said with her chill, unsmiling smile.  "Surely in a
house of this size everybody can have a room to herself.  There are
many people in the world who would be grateful for such a
privilege."

Jane thought she might have liked the room better if it had been
smaller.  She always felt lost in it.  Nothing in it seemed to be
related to her.  It always seemed hostile, watchful, vindictive.
And yet Jane always felt that if she were allowed to do things for
it . . . sweep it, dust it, put flowers in it . . . she would begin
to love it, huge as it was.  Everything in it was huge . . . a huge
black walnut wardrobe like a prison, a huge chest of drawers, a
huge walnut bedstead, a huge mirror over the massive black marble
mantelpiece . . . except a tiny cradle which was always kept in the
alcove by the fireplace . . . a cradle that grandmother had been
rocked in.  Fancy grandmother a baby!  Jane just couldn't.

Jane got out of bed and dressed herself under the stare of several
old dead grands and greats hung on the walls.  Below on the lawn
robins were hopping about.  Robins always made Jane laugh . . .
they were so saucy, so sleek, so important, strutting over the
grounds of 60 Gay just as if it were any common yard.  Much they
cared for grandmothers!

Jane slipped down the hall to mother's room at the far end.  She
was not supposed to do this.  It was understood at 60 Gay that
mother must not be disturbed in the mornings.  But mother, for a
wonder, had not been out the night before and Jane knew she would
be awake.  Not only was she awake but Mary was just bringing in her
breakfast tray.  Jane would have loved to do this for mother but
she was never allowed.

Mother was sitting up in bed wearing the daintiest breakfast jacket
of tea-rose crêpe de Chine edged with cobwebby beige lace.  Her
cheeks were just the colour of her jacket and her eyes were fresh
and dewy.  Mother, Jane reflected proudly, looked as lovely when
she got up in the mornings as she did before she went to bed.

Mother had chilled melon balls in orange juice instead of cereal,
and she shared them with Jane.  She offered half of her toast, too,
but Jane knew she must save some appetite for her own breakfast and
refused it.  They had a lovely time, laughing and talking beautiful
nonsense, very quietly, so as not to be overheard.  Not that either
of them ever put this into words; but both knew.

"I wish it could be like this every morning," thought Jane.  But
she did not say so.  She had learned that whenever she said
anything like that mother's eyes darkened with pain and she would
not hurt mother for the world.  She could never forget the time she
had heard mother crying in the night.

She had wakened up with toothache and had crept down to mother's
room to see if mother had any toothache drops.  And, as she opened
the door ever so softly, she heard mother crying in a dreadful
smothered sort of way.  Then grandmother had come along the hall
with her candle.

"Victoria, what are you doing here?"

"I have toothache," said Jane.

"Come with me and I will get you some drops," said grandmother
coldly.

Jane went . . . but she no longer minded the toothache.  Why was
mother crying?  It couldn't be possible she was unhappy . . .
pretty, laughing mother.  The next morning at breakfast mother
looked as if she had never shed a tear in her life.  Sometimes Jane
wondered if she had dreamed it.

Jane put the lemon verbena salts into the bath water for mother and
got a pair of new stockings, thin as dew gossamers, out of the
drawer for her.  She loved to do things for mother and there was so
little she could do.

She had breakfast alone with grandmother, Aunt Gertrude having had
hers already.  It is not pleasant to eat a meal alone with a person
you do not like.  And Mary had forgotten to put salt in the
oatmeal.

"Your shoe-lace is untied, Victoria."

That was the only thing grandmother said during the meal.  The
house was dark.  It was a sulky day that now and then brightened up
a little and then turned sulkier than ever.  The mail came at ten.
Jane was not interested in it.  There was never anything for her.
Sometimes she thought it would be nice and exciting to get a letter
from somebody.  Mother always got no end of letters . . .
invitations and advertisements.  This morning Jane carried the mail
into the library where grandmother and Aunt Gertrude and mother
were sitting.  Jane noticed among the letters one addressed to her
mother in a black spiky handwriting which Jane was sure she had
never seen before.  She hadn't the least idea that that letter was
going to change her whole life.

Grandmother took the letters from her and looked them over as she
always did.

"Did you close the vestibule door, Victoria?"

"Yes."

"Yes what?"

"Yes, grandmother."

"You left it open yesterday.  Robin, here is a letter from Mrs
Kirby . . . likely about that bazaar.  Remember it is my wish that
you have nothing to do with it.  I do not approve of Sarah Kirby.
Gertrude, here is one for you from Cousin Mary in Winnipeg.  If it
is about that silver service she avers my mother left her, tell her
I consider the matter closed.  Robin, here is . . ."

Grandmother stopped abruptly.  She had picked up the black-handed
letter and was looking at it as if she had picked up a snake.  Then
she looked at her daughter.

"This is from . . . him," she said.

Mother dropped Mrs Kirby's letter and turned so white that Jane
involuntarily sprang towards her but was barred by grandmother's
outstretched arm.

"Do you wish me to read it for you, Robin?"

Mother trembled piteously but she said, "No . . . no . . . let
me . . ."

Grandmother handed the letter over with an offended air and mother
opened it with shaking hands.  It did not seem as if her face could
turn whiter than it was, but it did as she read it.

"Well?" said grandmother.

"He says," gasped mother, "that I must send Jane Victoria to him
for the summer . . . that he has a right to her sometimes. . . ."

"Who says?" cried Jane.

"Do not interrupt, Victoria," said grandmother.  "Let me see that
letter, Robin."

They waited while grandmother read it.  Aunt Gertrude stared
unwinkingly ahead of her with her cold grey eyes in her long white
face.  Mother had dropped her head in her hands.  It was only three
minutes since Jane had brought the letters in and in those three
minutes the world had turned upside down.  Jane felt as if a gulf
had opened between her and all humankind.  She knew now without
being told who had written the letter.

"So!" said grandmother.  She folded the letter up, put it in its
envelope, laid it on her table and carefully wiped her hands with
her fine lace handkerchief.

"You won't let her go, of course, Robin."

For the first time in her life Jane felt at one with grandmother.
She looked imploringly at mother with a curious feeling of seeing
her for the first time . . . not as a loving mother or affectionate
daughter but as a woman . . . a woman in the grip of some terrible
emotion.  Jane's heart was torn by another pang in seeing mother
suffer so.

"If I don't," she said, "he may take her from me altogether.  He
could, you know.  He says . . ."

"I have read what he says," said grandmother, "and I still tell you
to ignore that letter.  He is doing this simply to annoy you.  He
cares nothing for her . . . he never cared for anything but his
scribbling."

"I'm afraid . . ." began mother again.

"We'd better consult William," said Aunt Gertrude suddenly.  "This
needs a man's advice."

"A man!" snapped grandmother.  Then she seemed to pull herself up.
"You may be right, Gertrude.  I shall lay the matter before William
when he comes to supper to-morrow.  In the meantime we shall not
discuss it.  We shall not allow it to disturb us in the least."

Jane felt as if she were in a nightmare the rest of the day.
Surely it must be a dream . . . surely her father could not have
written her mother that she must spend the summer with him, a
thousand miles away in that horrible Prince Edward Island which
looked on the map to be a desolate little fragment in the jaws of
Gaspé and Cape Breton . . . with a father who didn't love her and
whom she didn't love.

She had no chance to say anything about it to mother . . .
grandmother saw to that.  They all went to Aunt Sylvia's luncheon
. . . mother did not look as if she wanted to go anywhere . . . and
Jane had lunch alone.  She couldn't eat anything.

"Does your head ache, Miss Victoria?" Mary asked sympathetically.

Something was aching terribly but it did not seem to be her head.
It ached all the afternoon and evening and far on into the night.
It was still aching when Jane woke the next morning with a
sickening rush of remembrance.  Jane felt that it might help the
ache a little if she could only have a talk with mother, but when
she tried mother's door it was locked.  Jane felt that mother
didn't want to talk to her about this and that hurt worse than
anything else.

They all went to church . . . an old and big and gloomy church on a
downtown street where the Kennedys had always gone.  Jane was
rather fond of going to church for the not very commendable reason
that she had some peace there.  She could be silent without someone
asking her accusingly what she was thinking of.  Grandmother had to
let her alone in church.  And if you couldn't be loved, the next
best thing was to be let alone.

Apart from that Jane did not care for St Barnabas's.  The sermon
was beyond her.  She liked the music and some of the hymns.
Occasionally there was a line that gave her a thrill.  There was
something fascinating about coral strands and icy mountains, tides
that moving seemed asleep, islands that lifted their fronded palms
in air, reapers that bore harvest treasures home and years like
shadows on sunny hills that lie.

But nothing gave Jane any pleasure to-day.  She hated the pale
sunshine that sifted down between the chilly, grudging clouds.
What business had the sun even to try to shine while her fate hung
in the balance like this?  The sermon seemed endless, the prayers
dreary, there was not even a hymn line she liked.  But Jane put up
a desperate prayer on her own behalf.

"Please, dear God," she whispered, "make Uncle William say I
needn't be sent to him."

Jane had to live in suspense as to what Uncle William would say
until the Sunday supper was over.  She ate little.  She sat looking
at Uncle William with fear in her eyes, wondering if God really
could have much influence over him.  They were all there . . .
Uncle William and Aunt Minnie, Uncle David and Aunt Sylvia, and
Phyllis; and after supper they all went to the library and sat in a
stiff circle while Uncle William put on his glasses and read the
letter.  Jane thought every one must hear the beating of her heart.

Uncle William read the letter . . . turned back and read a certain
paragraph twice . . . pursed his lips . . . folded up the letter
and fitted it into its envelope . . . took off his glasses . . .
put them into their case and laid it down . . . cleared his throat
and reflected.  Jane felt that she was going to scream.

"I suppose," said Uncle William at last, "that you had better let
her go."

There was a good deal more said, though Jane said nothing.
Grandmother was very angry.

But Uncle William said, "Andrew Stuart could take her altogether if
he had a mind to.  And, knowing him for what he is, I think he very
likely would if you angered him.  I agree with you, mother, that he
is only doing this to annoy us, and when he sees that it has not
annoyed us and that we are taking it quite calmly he will probably
never bother about her again."

Jane went up to her room and stood alone in it.  She saw with eyes
of despair the great, big, unfriendly place.  She saw herself in
the big mirror reflected in another dim unfriendly room.

"God," said Jane distinctly and deliberately, "is no good."



10


"I think your father and mother might have got on if it hadn't been
for you," said Phyllis.

Jane winced.  She hadn't known that Phyllis knew about her father.
But it seemed that everybody had known except her.  She did not
want to talk about him but Phyllis was bent on talking.

"I don't see," said Jane miserably, "why I made so much difference
to them."

"Mother says your father was jealous because Aunt Robin loved you
so much."

This, thought Jane, was a different yarn from the one Agnes Ripley
had told.  Agnes had said her mother hadn't wanted her.  What was
the truth?  Perhaps neither Phyllis nor Agnes knew it.  Anyhow,
Jane liked Phyllis's version better than Agnes's.  It was dreadful
to think you ought never to have been born . . . that your mother
wasn't glad to have you.

"Mother says," went on Phyllis, finding that Jane had nothing to
say, "that if you lived in the States Aunt Robin could get a
divorce easy as wink, but it's harder in Canada."

"What is a divorce?" asked Jane, remembering that Agnes Ripley had
used the same word.

Phyllis laughed condescendingly.

"Victoria, don't you know anything?  A divorce is when two people
get unmarried."

"Can people get unmarried?" gasped Jane to whom it was an entirely
new idea.

"Of course they can, silly.  Mother says your mother ought to go to
the States and get a divorce but father says it wouldn't be legal
in Canada and anyway the Kennedys don't believe in it.  Father says
grandmother wouldn't allow it either, for fear Aunt Robin would
just go and marry somebody else."

"If . . . if mother got a divorce does that mean that he wouldn't
be my father any more?" querried Jane hopefully.

Phyllis looked dubious.

"I shouldn't suppose it would make any difference that way.  But
whoever she married would be your stepfather."

Jane did not want a stepfather any more than she wanted a father.
But she said nothing again and Phyllis was annoyed.

"How do you like the idea of going to P. E. Island, Victoria?"

Jane was not going to expose her soul to the patronizing Phyllis.

"I don't know anything about it," she said shortly.

"_I_ do," said Phyllis importantly.  "We spent a summer there two
years ago.  We lived in a big hotel on the north shore.  It's quite
a pretty place.  I daresay you'll like it for a change."

Jane knew she would hate it.  She tried to turn the conversation
but Phyllis meant to thrash the subject out.

"How do you suppose you'll get along with your father?"

"I don't know."

"He likes clever people, you know, and you're not very clever, are
you, Victoria?"

Jane did not like being made feel like a worm.  Phyllis always made
her feel like that . . . when she didn't make her feel like a
shadow.  And there was not a bit of use in getting mad with her.
Phyllis never got mad.  Phyllis, everybody said, was such a sweet
child . . . had such a lovely disposition.  She just went on
condescending.  Jane sometimes thought if they could have just one
good fight she would like Phyllis better.  Jane knew mother was a
bit worried because she didn't make more friends among girls of her
own age.

"You know," went on Phyllis, "that was one of the things. . . .
Aunt Robin thought she couldn't talk clever enough for him."

The worm turned.

"I am not going to talk any more about my mother . . . or him,"
said Jane distinctly.

Phyllis sulked a little and the afternoon was a failure.  Jane was
more thankful than usual when Frank came to take her home.

Little was being said at 60 Gay about Jane's going to the Island.
How quickly the days flew by!  Jane wished she could hold them
back.  Once, when she had been very small, she had said to mother,
"Isn't there any way we can stop time, mummy?"

Jane remembered that mother had sighed and said, "We can never stop
time, darling."

And now time just went stonily on . . . tick tock, tick tock . . .
sunrise, sunset, ever and ever nearer to the day when she would be
torn away from mother.  It would be early in June . . . St Agatha's
closed earlier than the other schools.  Grandmother took Jane to
Marlborough's late in May and got some very nice clothes for her
. . . much nicer than she had ever had before.  Under ordinary
circumstances Jane would have loved her blue coat and the smart
little blue hat with its tiny scarlet bow . . . and a certain
lovely frock of white, eyelet-embroidered in red, with a smart red
leather belt.  Phyllis had nothing nicer than that.  But now she
had no interest in them.

"I don't suppose she'll have much use for very fine clothes down
there," mother had said.

"She shall go fitted out properly," said grandmother.  "He shall
not need to buy clothes for her, of that I shall make sure.  And
Irene Fraser shall have no chance to comment.  I suppose he has
some kind of a hovel to live in or he would not have sent for her.
Did any one ever tell you, Victoria, that it is not proper to
butter your whole slice of bread at once?  And do you think it
would be possible, just for a change, to get through a meal without
letting your napkin slip off your knee continually?"

Jane dreaded meal-times more than ever.  Her preoccupation made her
awkward and grandmother pounced on everything.  She wished she need
never come to the table, but unluckily one cannot live without
eating a little.  Jane ate very little.  She had no appetite and
grew noticeably thinner.  She could not put any heart into her
studies and she barely made the Senior Third while Phyllis passed
with honours.

"As was to be expected," said grandmother.

Jody tried to comfort her.

"After all, it won't be so long.  Only three months, Jane."

Three months of absence from a beloved mother and three months'
presence with a detested father seemed like an eternity to Jane.

"You'll write me, Jane?  And I'll write you if I can get any
postage stamps.  I've got ten cents now . . . that Mr Ransome gave
me.  That will pay for three stamps anyhow."

Then Jane told Jody a heart-breaking thing.

"I'll write you often, Jody.  But I can write mother only once a
month.  And I'm never to mention him."

"Did your mother tell you that?"

"No, oh, no!  It was grandmother.  As if I'd want to mention him."

"I hunted up P. E. Island on the map," said Jody, her dark velvet-
brown eyes full of sympathy.  "There's such an awful lot of water
round it.  Ain't you afraid of falling over the edge?"

"I don't believe I'd mind if I did," said Jane dismally.



11


Jane was to go to the Island with Mr and Mrs Stanley who were going
down to visit a married daughter.  Somehow Jane lived through the
last days.  She was determined she would not make any fuss because
that would be hard on mother.  There were no more good-night
confidences and caressings . . . no more little tender loving words
spoken at special moments.  But Jane, somehow, knew the two reasons
for this.  Mother could not bear it, for one thing, and, for
another, grandmother was resolved not to permit it.  But on Jane's
last night at 60 Gay mother did slip in when grandmother was
occupied by callers below.

"Mother . . . mother!"

"Darling, be brave.  After all, it is only three months and the
Island is a lovely spot.  You may . . . if I'd known . . . once I
. . . oh, it doesn't matter now.  Nothing matters.  Darling, there's
one thing I must ask you to promise.  You are never to mention me
to your father."

"I won't," choked Jane.  It was an easy promise.  She couldn't
imagine herself talking to him about mother.

"He will like you better if . . . if . . . he thinks you don't love
me too much," whispered mother.  Down went her white lids over her
blue eyes.  But Jane had seen the look.  She felt as if her heart
was bursting.

The sky at sunrise was blood-red but it soon darkened into sullen
grey.  At noon a drizzle set in.  "I think the weather is sorry at
your going away," said Jody.  "Oh, Jane, I'll miss you so.  And . . .
I don't know if I'll be here when you come back.  Miss West says
she's going to put me in an orphanage, and I don't want to be put
in an orphanage, Jane.  Here's the pretty shell Miss Ames brought
from the West Indies for me.  It's the only pretty thing I have.  I
want you to have it because if I go to the orphanage I s'pose
they'll take it away from me."

The train left for Montreal at eleven that night and Frank took
Jane and her mother to the station.  She had kissed grandmother and
Aunt Gertrude good-bye dutifully.

"If you meet your Aunt Irene Fraser down on the Island remember me
to her," said grandmother.  There was an odd little tone of
exultation in her voice.  Jane felt that grandmother had got the
better of Aunt Irene in some way, at some time, and wanted it
rubbed in.  It was as if she had said, "She will remember me."  And
who was Aunt Irene?

60 Gay seemed to scowl at her as they drove away.  She had never
liked it and it had never liked her, but she felt drearily as if
some gate of life were shut behind her when the door closed.  She
and mother did not talk as they drove along over the elfish
underground city that comes into view under the black street on a
rainy night.  She was determined she would not cry and she did not.
Her eyes were wide with dismay but her voice was cool and quiet as
she said good-bye.  The last Robin Stuart saw of her was a gallant,
indomitable little figure waving to her as Mrs Stanley herded her
into the door of the Pullman.

They reached Montreal in the morning and left at noon on the
Maritime Express.  The time was to come when the very name of
Maritime Express was to thrill Jane with ecstasy but now it meant
exile.  It rained all day.  Mrs Stanley pointed out the mountains
but Jane was not having any mountains just then.  Mrs Stanley
thought her very stiff and unresponsive and eventually left her
alone . . . for which Jane would have thanked God, fasting, if she
had ever heard of the phrase.  Mountains!  When every turn of the
wheels was carrying her farther away from mother!

The next day they went down through New Brunswick, lying in the
grey light of a cheerless rain.  It was raining when they got to
Sackville and transferred to the little branch line that ran down
to Cape Tormentine.

"We take the car ferry there across to the Island," Mrs Stanley
explained.  Mrs Stanley had given up trying to talk to her.  She
thought Jane quite the dumbest child she had ever encountered.  She
had not the slightest inkling that Jane's silence was her only
bulwark against wild, rebellious tears.  And Jane WOULD NOT cry.

It was not actually raining when they reached the Cape.  As they
went on board the car ferry the sun was hanging, a flat red ball,
in a rift of clouds to the west.  But it soon darkened down again.
There was a grey choppy strait under a grey sky with dirty rags of
clouds around the edges.  By the time they got on the train again
it was pouring harder than ever.  Jane had been seasick on the way
across and was now terribly tired.  So this was Prince Edward
Island . . . this rain-drenched land where the trees cringed before
the wind and the heavy clouds seemed almost to touch the fields.
Jane had no eyes for blossoming orchard or green meadow or soft-
bosomed hills with scarfs of dark spruce across their shoulders.
They would be in Charlottetown in a couple of hours, so Mrs Stanley
said, and her father was to meet her there.  Her father, who didn't
love her, as mother said, and who lived in a hovel, as grandmother
said.  She knew nothing else about him.  She wished she knew
something . . . anything.  What did he look like?  Would he have
pouchy eyes like Uncle David?  A thin, sewed-up mouth like Uncle
William?  Would he wink at the end of every sentence like old Mr
Doran when he came to call on grandmother?

She was a thousand miles away from mother and felt as if it were a
million.  Terrible waves of loneliness went over her.  The train
was pulling into the station.

"Here we are, Victoria," said Mrs Stanley in a tone of relief.



12


As Jane stepped from the train to the platform a lady pounced on
her with a cry of "Is THIS Jane Victoria . . . can this be my DEAR
little Jane Victoria?"

Jane did not like to be pounced on . . . and just then she was not
feeling like anybody's Jane Victoria.

She drew herself away and took in the lady with one of her
straight, deliberate glances.  A very pretty lady of perhaps forty-
five or fifty, with large, pale blue eyes and smooth ripples of
auburn hair around her placid creamy face.  Was this Aunt Irene?

"Jane, if you please," she said politely and distinctly.

"For all the world like her grandmother Kennedy, Andrew," Aunt
Irene told her brother the next morning.

Aunt Irene laughed . . . an amused little gurgle.

"You dear funny child!  Of course it can be Jane.  It can be just
whatever you like.  I am your Aunt Irene.  But I suppose you've
never heard of me?"

"Yes, I have."  Jane kissed Aunt Irene's cheek obediently.
"Grandmother told me to remember her to you."

"Oh!"  Something a little hard crept into Aunt Irene's sweet voice.
"That was very kind of her . . . VERY kind indeed.  And now I
suppose you're wondering why your father isn't here.  He started
. . . he lives out at Brookview, you know . . . but that dreadful
old car of his broke down half-way.  He phoned in to me that he
couldn't possibly get in to-night but would be along early in the
morning and would I meet you and keep you for the night.  Oh, Mrs
Stanley, you're not going before I've thanked you for bringing our
dear little girl safely down to us.  We're so much obliged to you."

"Not at all.  It's been a pleasure," said Mrs Stanley, politely and
untruthfully.  She hurried away, thankful to be relieved of the odd
silent child who had looked all the way down as if she were an
early Christian martyr on her path to the lions.

Jane felt herself alone in the universe.  Aunt Irene did not make a
bit of difference.  Jane did not like Aunt Irene.  And she liked
herself still less.  What was the matter with her?  Couldn't she
like anybody?  Other girls liked some of their uncles and aunts at
least.

She followed Aunt Irene out to the waiting taxi.

"It's a terrible night, lovey . . . but the country needs rain . . .
we've been suffering for weeks . . . you must have brought it
with you.  But we'll soon be home.  I'm so glad to have you.  I've
been telling your father he ought to let you stay with me anyhow.
It's really foolish of him to take you out to Brookview.  He only
boards there, you know . . . two rooms over Jim Meade's store.  Of
course, he comes to town in the winter.  But . . . well, perhaps
you don't know, Jane darling, how very determined your father can
be when he makes up his mind."

"I don't know anything about him," said Jane desperately.

"I suppose not.  I suppose your mother has never talked to you
about him?"

"No," Jane answered reluctantly.  Somehow, Aunt Irene's question
seemed charged with hidden meaning.  Jane was to learn that this
was characteristic of Aunt Irene's questions.  Aunt Irene squeezed
Jane's hand, which she had held ever since she had helped her into
the taxi, sympathetically.

"You poor child!  I know exactly how you feel.  And I couldn't feel
it was the right thing for your father to send for you.  I'm sure I
don't know why he did it.  I couldn't fathom his motive . . .
although your father and I have always been very close to each
other . . . very close, lovey.  I am ten years older than he is and
I've always been more like a mother to him than a sister.  Here we
are at home, lovey."

Home!  The house into which Jane was ushered was cosy and sleek,
just like Aunt Irene herself, but Jane felt about as much at home
as a sparrow alone on an alien house-top.  In the living-room Aunt
Irene took off her hat and coat, patted her hair and put her arm
around Jane.

"Now let me look you over.  I hadn't a chance in the station, and I
haven't seen you since you were three years old."

Jane didn't want to be looked over and shrank back a little
stiffly.  She felt that she was being appraised and in spite of
Aunt Irene's kindness of voice and manner she sensed that there was
something in the appraisal not wholly friendly.

"You are not at all like your mother.  She was the prettiest thing
I ever saw.  You are like your father, darling.  And now we must
have a bite of supper."

"Oh, no, please no," cried Jane impulsively.  She knew she couldn't
swallow a mouthful . . . it was misery to think of trying.

"Just a bite . . . just one little bite," said Aunt Irene
persuasively as if coaxing a baby.  "There's such a nice chocolate
peppermint cake.  I really made it for your father.  He's just like
a boy in some ways, you know . . . such a sweet tooth.  And he has
always thought my chocolate cakes just about perfection.  Your
mother did try so hard to learn to make them like mine . . . but
. . . well, it's a gift.  You have it or you haven't.  One really
couldn't expect a lovely little doll like her to be a cook . . . or
a manager either for that matter and I told your father that often
enough.  Men don't always understand, do they?  They expect
everything in a woman.  Sit here, Janie."

Perhaps the "Janie" was the last straw.  Jane was not going to be
"Janied."

"Thank you, Aunt Irene," she said very politely and very
resolutely, "but I can't eat anything and it wouldn't be any use at
all to try.  Please may I go to bed?"

Aunt Irene patted her shoulder.

"Of course, you poor darling.  You're all tired out and everything
so strange.  I know how hard it is for you.  I'll take you right
upstairs to your room."

The room was very pretty, with hangings of basket-weave rose-
patterned cretonne and a silk-covered bed so smooth and sleek that
it looked as if it had never been slept in.  But Aunt Irene deftly
removed the silk spread and turned down the sheets.

"I hope you'll have a good sleep, lovey.  You don't know what it
means to me to have you sleeping under my roof . . . Andrew's
little girl . . . my only niece.  And I was always so fond of your
mother . . . but . . . well, I don't quite think she ever really
liked me.  I always felt she didn't, but I never let it make any
difference between us.  She didn't like to see me and your father
talking much together . . . I always realized that.  She was so
much younger than your father . . . a mere child . . . it was
natural for him to turn to me for advice as he'd always been used
to do.  He always talked things over with me first.  She was a
little jealous, I think . . . she could hardly help that, being Mrs
Robert Kennedy's daughter.  Never let yourself be jealous, Janie.
It wrecks more lives than anything else.  Here's a puff, lovey, if
you're chilly in the night.  A wet night in P. E. Island is apt to
be cool.  Good night, lovey."

Jane stood alone in the room and looked about her.  The bed lamp
had a lamp-shade painted with roses with a bead fringe.  For some
reason Jane couldn't endure that lamp-shade.  It was too smooth and
pretty just like Aunt Irene.  She went to it and put out the light.
Then she went to the window.  Beat, beat went the rain on the
panes.  Splash, splash went the rain on the roof of the veranda.
Beyond it Jane could see nothing.  Her heart swelled.  This black,
alien, starless land could never be home to her.

"If I only had mother," she whispered.  But, though she felt that
something had taken her life and torn it apart, she did not cry.



13


Jane was so tired after the preceding sleepless nights on the train
that she went to sleep almost at once.  But she wakened while it
was still night.  The rain had ceased.  A bar of shining light lay
across her bed.  She slipped out from between Aunt Irene's perfumed
sheets and went to the window.  The world had changed.  The sky was
cloudless and a few shining, distant stars looked down on the
sleeping town.  A tree not far away was all silvery bloom.
Moonlight was spilling over everything from a full moon that hung
like an enormous bubble over what must be a bay or harbour and
there was one splendid, sparkling trail across the water.  So there
was a moon in Prince Edward Island, too.  Jane hadn't really
believed it before.  And polished to the queen's taste.  It was
like seeing an old friend.  That moon was looking down on Toronto
as well as Prince Edward Island.  Perhaps it was shining on Jody,
asleep in her little attic room, or on mother coming home late from
some gay affair.  Suppose she were looking at it at this very
moment!  It no longer seemed a thousand miles to Toronto.

The door opened and Aunt Irene came in, in her nightdress.

"Lovey, what is the matter?  I heard you moving about and was
afraid you were ill."

"I just got up to look at the moon," said Jane.

"You funny childy!  Haven't you seen moons before?  You gave me a
real fright.  Now go back to bed like a darling.  You want to look
bright and fresh for father when he comes, you know."

Jane didn't want to look bright and fresh for anybody.  Was she
always to be spied upon?  She got into bed silently and was tucked
in for the second time.  But she could not sleep again.

Morning comes at last, be the night ever so long.  The day that was
to be such a marvellous day for Jane began like any other.  The
mackerel clouds . . . only Jane didn't know then they were mackerel
clouds . . . in the eastern sky began to take fire.  The sun rose
without any unusual fuss.  Jane was afraid to get up too early for
fear of alarming Aunt Irene again but at last she rose and opened
the window.  Jane did not know she was looking out on the loveliest
thing on earth . . . a June morning in Prince Edward Island . . .
but she knew it all seemed like a different world from last night.
A wave of fragrance broke in her face from the lilac hedge between
Aunt Irene's house and the next one.  The poplars in a corner of
the lawn were shaking in green laughter.  An apple-tree stretched
out friendly arms.  There was a far-away view of daisy-sprinkled
fields across the harbour where white gulls were soaring and
swooping.  The air was moist and sweet after the rain.  Aunt
Irene's house was on the fringe of the town and a country road ran
behind it . . . a road almost blood-red in its glistening wetness.
Jane had never imagined a road coloured like that.

"Why . . . why, P. E. Island is a pretty place," thought Jane half
grudgingly.

Breakfast was the first ordeal and Jane was no hungrier than she
had been the night before.

"I don't think I can eat anything, Aunt Irene."

"But you must, lovey.  I'm going to love you but I'm not going to
spoil you.  I expect you've always had a little too much of your
own way.  Your father may be along almost any minute now.  Sit
right down here and eat your cereal."

Jane tried.  Aunt Irene had certainly prepared a lovely breakfast
for her.  Orange juice . . . cereal with thick golden cream . . .
dainty triangles of toast . . . a perfectly poached egg . . . apple
jelly between amber and crimson.  There was no doubt Aunt Irene was
a good cook.  But Jane had never had a harder time choking down a
meal.

"Don't be so excited, lovey," said Aunt Irene with a smile as to
some very young child who needed soothing.

Jane did not think she was excited.  She had merely a queer,
dreadful, empty feeling which nothing, not even the egg, seemed
able to fill up.  And after breakfast there was an hour when Jane
discovered that the hardest work in the world is waiting.  But
everything comes to an end and when Aunt Irene said, "There's your
father now," Jane felt that everything had come to an end.

Her hands were suddenly clammy but her mouth was dry.  The ticking
of the clock seemed unnaturally loud.  There was a step on the path
. . . the door opened . . . someone was standing on the threshold.
Jane stood up but she could not raise her eyes . . . she could not.

"Here's your baby," said Aunt Irene.  "Isn't she a little daughter
to be proud of, 'Drew?  A bit too tall for her age perhaps, but . . ."

"A russet-haired jade," said a voice.

Only four words . . . but they changed life for Jane.  Perhaps it
was the voice more than the words . . . a voice that made
everything seem like a wonderful secret just you two shared.  Jane
came to life at last and looked up.

Peaked eyebrows . . . thick reddish-brown hair springing back from
his forehead . . . a mouth tucked in at the corners . . . square
cleft chin . . . stern hazel eyes with jolly looking wrinkles
around them.  The face was as familiar to her as her own.

"Kenneth Howard," gasped Jane.  She took a quite unconscious step
towards him.

The next moment she was lifted in his arms and kissed.  She kissed
him back.  She had no sense of strangerhood.  She felt at once the
call of that mysterious kinship of soul which has nothing to do
with the relationships of flesh and blood.  In that one moment Jane
forgot that she had ever hated her father.  She liked him . . . she
liked everything about him from the nice tobaccoey smell of his
heather-mixture tweed suit to the firm grip of his arms around her.
She wanted to cry but that was out of the question so she laughed
instead . . . rather wildly, perhaps, for Aunt Irene said
tolerantly, "Poor child, no wonder she is a little hysterical."

Father set Jane down and looked at her.  All the sternness of his
eyes had crinkled into laughter.

"Are you hysterical, my Jane?" he said gravely.

How she loved to be called "my Jane" like that!

"No, father," she said with equal gravity.  She never spoke of him
or thought of him as "he" again.

"Leave her with me a month and I'll fatten her up," smiled Aunt
Irene.

Jane felt a quake of dismay.  Suppose father did leave her.
Evidently father had no intention of doing anything of the sort.
He pulled her down on the sofa beside him and kept his arm about
her.  All at once everything was all right.

"I don't believe I want her fattened up.  I like her bones."  He
looked at Jane critically.  Jane knew he was looking her over and
didn't mind.  She only hoped madly that he would like her.  Would
he be disappointed because she was not pretty?  Would he think her
mouth too big?  "Do you know you have nice little bones, Janekin?"

"She's got her Grandfather Stuart's nose," said Aunt Irene.  Aunt
Irene evidently approved of Jane's nose but Jane had a disagreeable
feeling that she had robbed Grandfather Stuart of his nose.  She
liked it better when father said:

"I rather fancy the way your eyelashes are put on, Jane.  By the
way, do you like to be Jane?  I've always called you Jane but that
may be just pure cussedness.  You've a right to whatever name you
like.  But I want to know which name is the real YOU and which the
shadowy little ghost."

"Oh, I'm Jane," cried Jane.  And was she glad to be Jane!

"That's settled then.  And suppose you call me dad?  I'm afraid I'd
make a terribly awkward father but I think I could be a tolerable
dad.  Sorry I couldn't get in last night but my jovial,
disreputable old car died right on the road.  I managed to restore
it to life this morning . . . at least long enough to hop into town
like a toad . . . our mode of travelling added to the gaiety of P.
E. Island . . . but I'm afraid it's got to go into a garage for a
while.  After dinner we'll drive across the Island, Jane, and get
acquainted."

"We're acquainted now," said Jane simply.  It was true.  She felt
that she had known dad for years.  Yes, "dad" was nicer than
"father."  "Father" had unpleasant associations . . . she had hated
father.  But it was easy to love dad.  Jane opened the most secret
chamber of her heart and took him in . . . nay, found him there.
For dad was Kenneth Howard and Jane had loved Kenneth Howard for a
long, long time.

"This Jane person," dad remarked to the ceiling, "knows her
onions."



14


Jane found that waiting for something pleasant was very different
from waiting for something unpleasant.  Mrs Stanley would not have
known her with the laughter and sparkle in her eyes.  If the
forenoon seemed long it was only because she was in such a hurry to
be with dad again . . . and away from Aunt Irene.  Aunt Irene was
trying to pump her . . . about grandmother and mother and her life
at 60 Gay.  Jane was not going to be pumped, much to Aunt Irene's
disappointment.  Questioned she never so cleverly, Jane had a
disconcerting "yes" or "no" for every question and still more
disconcerting silence for suggestive remarks that were disguised
questions.

"So your Grandmother Kennedy is good to you, Janie?"

"Very good," said Jane unflinchingly.  Well, grandmother WAS good
to her.  There were St Agatha's and the music lessons and the
pretty clothes, the limousine and the balanced meals as evidence.
Aunt Irene had looked carefully at all her clothes.

"She never had any use for your father, you know, Janie.  I thought
perhaps she might take her spite out on you.  It was really she
that made all the trouble between him and your mother."

Jane said nothing.  She would not talk about that secret bitterness
to Aunt Irene.  Aunt Irene gave up in disgust.

Dad came back at noon without his car but with a horse and buggy.

"It's going to take all day to fix it.  I'm borrowing Jed Carson's
rig and he'll take it back when he brings the car and Jane's trunk
out to-morrow.  Did you ever have a buggy ride, my Jane?"

"You're not going without your dinners," said Aunt Irene.

Jane enjoyed that dinner, having eaten next to nothing ever since
she left Toronto.  She hoped dad wouldn't think her appetite
terrible.  For all she knew he was poor . . . that car hadn't
looked like wealth . . . and another mouth to fill might be
inconvenient.  But dad himself was evidently enjoying his dinner
. . . especially that chocolate peppermint cake.  Jane wished she
knew how to make chocolate peppermint cake, but she made up her
mind that she would never ask Aunt Irene how to make it.

Aunt Irene made a fuss over dad.  She purred over him . . .
actually purred.  And dad liked her purring and her honey-sweet
phrases just as well as he had liked her cake.  Jane saw that
clearly.

"It isn't really fair to the child to take her out to that
Brookview boarding-house of yours," said Aunt Irene.

"Who knows but I'll get a house of my own for the summer?" said
dad.  "Do you think you could keep house for me, Jane?"

"Yes," said Jane promptly.  She COULD.  She knew how a house should
be kept even if she had never kept one.  There are people who are
born knowing things.

"Can you cook?" asked Aunt Irene, winking at dad, as if over some
delicious joke.  Jane was pleased to see that dad did not wink
back.  And he saved her the ordeal of replying.

"Any descendant of my mother's can cook," he said.  "Come, my Jane,
put on thy beautiful garments and let's be on our way."

As Jane came downstairs in her hat and coat she could not help
hearing Aunt Irene in the dining-room.

"She's got a secretive strain in her, Andrew, that I confess I
don't like."

"Knows how to keep her own counsel, eh?" said dad.

"It's more than that, Andrew.  She's deep . . . take my word for
it, she's deep.  Old Lady Kennedy will never be dead while she is
alive.  But she is a very dear little girl for all that, Andrew . . .
we can't expect her to be faultless . . . and if there is anything I
can do for her you have only to let me know.  Be patient with her,
Andrew.  You know she's never been taught how to love you."

Jane fairly gritted her teeth.  The idea of her having to be taught
"how to love" dad!  It was . . . why, it was funny!  Jane's
annoyance with Aunt Irene dissolved in a little chuckle, as low-
pitched and impish as an owl's.

"DO be careful of poison ivy," Aunt Irene called after them as they
drove away.  "I'm told there is so much of it in Brookview.  DO
take good care of her, Andrew."

"You've got it wrong end foremost, Irene, like all women.  Any one
could see with half an eye that Jane is going to take care of ME."

A blithe soul was Jane as they drove away.  The glow at her heart
went with her across the Island.  She simply could not believe that
only a few hours had elapsed since she had been the most miserable
creature in the world.  It was jolly to ride in a buggy, just
behind a little red mare whose sleek hams Jane would have liked to
bend forward and slap.  She did not eat up the long red miles as a
car would have done, but Jane did not want them eaten up.  The road
was full of lovely surprises . . . a glimpse of far-off hills that
seemed made of opal dust . . . a whiff of wind that had been
blowing over a clover field . . . brooks that appeared from nowhere
and ran off into green shadowy woods where long branches of spicy
fir hung over the laced water . . . great white cloud mountains
towering up in the blue sky . . . a hollow of tipsy buttercups . . .
a tidal river unbelievably blue.  Everywhere she looked there was
something to delight her.  Everything seemed just on the point of
whispering a secret of happiness.  And there was something else . . .
the sea tang in the air.  Jane sniffed it for the first time . . .
sniffed again . . . drank it in.

"Feel in my right-hand pocket," said dad.

Jane explored and found a bag of caramels.  At 60 Gay she was not
allowed to eat candy between meals . . . but 60 Gay was a thousand
miles away.

"We're neither of us much for talking, it seems," said dad.

"No, but I think we entertain each other very well," said Jane, as
distinctly as she could with her jaws stuck together with caramel.

Dad laughed.  He had such a nice understanding laugh.

"I can talk a blue streak when the spirit moves me," he said.
"When it doesn't I like people to let me be.  You're a girl after
my own heart, Jane.  I'm glad I was predestined to send for you.
Irene argued against it.  But I'm a stubborn dud, my Jane, when I
take a notion into my noddle.  It just occurred to me that I wanted
to get acquainted with my daughter."

Dad did not ask about mother.  Jane was thankful he did not . . .
and yet she knew it was all wrong that he did not.  It was all
wrong that mother had asked her not to speak of her to him.  Oh,
there were too many things all wrong but one thing was indisputably
and satisfyingly right.  She was going to spend a whole summer with
dad and they were here together, driving over a road which had a
life of its own that seemed to be running through her veins like
quicksilver.  Jane knew that she had never been in any place or any
company that suited her so well.

The most delightful drive must end.

"We'll soon be at Brookview," said dad.  "I've been living at
Brookview this past year.  It is still one of the quiet places of
the earth.  I've a couple of rooms over Jim Meade's store.  Mrs Jim
Meade gives me my meals and thinks I'm a harmless lunatic because I
write."

"What do you write, dad?" asked Jane, thinking of "Peaceful
Adjustment of International Difficulties."

"A little of everything, Jane.  Stories . . . poems . . . essays
. . . articles on all subjects.  I even wrote a novel once.  But I
couldn't find a publisher.  So I went back to my pot-boilers.
Behold a mute inglorious Milton in your dad.  To you, Jane, I will
confide my dearest dream.  It is to write an epic on the life of
Methuselah.  What a subject!  Here we are."

"Here" was a corner where two roads crossed and in the corner was a
building which was a store at one end and a dwelling place at the
other.  The store end was open to the road but the house end was
fenced off with a paling and a spruce hedge.  Jane learned at once
and for ever the art of getting out of a buggy and they went
through a little white gate, with a black wooden decoy duck on one
of its posts, and up a red walk edged with ribbon grass and big
quahaug shells.

"Woof, woof," went a friendly little brown and white dog sitting on
the steps.  A nice gingery smell of hot cookies floated out of the
door as an elderly woman came out . . . a trim body wearing a white
apron edged with six-inch-deep crochet lace and with the reddest
cheeks Jane had ever seen on anybody in her life.

"Mrs Meade, this is Jane," said dad, "and you see now why I shall
have to shave every morning after this."

"Dear child," said Mrs Meade and kissed her.  Jane liked her kiss
better than Aunt Irene's.

Mrs Meade at once gave Jane a slice of bread and butter and
strawberry jam to "stay her stomach" till supper.  It was wild-
strawberry jam and Jane had never tasted wild-strawberry jam in her
life before.  The supper table was spread in a spotless kitchen
where all the big windows were filled with flowering geraniums and
begonias with silver-spotted leaves.

"I like kitchens," thought Jane.

Through another door that opened into a garden was a far-away view
of green pastures to the south.  The table in the centre of the
room was covered with a gay red and white checked cloth.  There was
a fat, squat little bean-pot full of golden-brown beans before Mr
Meade who gave Jane a liberal helping, besides a big square of
fluffy cornmeal cake.  Mr Meade looked very much like a cabbage in
spectacles and flying jibs but Jane liked him.

Nobody found fault with Jane for things done or left undone.
Nobody made her feel silly and crude and always in the wrong.  When
she finished her johnny-cake Mr Meade put another slice on her
plate without even asking her if she wanted it.

"Eat all you like but pocket nothing," he told her solemnly.

The brown and white dog sat beside her, looking up with hungry
hopeful eyes.  Nobody took any notice when Jane fed him bits of
johnny-cake.

Mr and Mrs Meade did most of the talking.  It was all about people
Jane had never heard of, but somehow she liked to listen.  When Mrs
Meade said in a solemn tone that poor George Baldwin was very ill
with an ulster in his stomach, Jane's eyes and dad's laughed to
each other though their faces remained as solemn as Mrs Meade's.
Jane felt warm and pleasant all over.  It was jolly to have someone
to share a joke with.  Fancy laughing with your eyes at any one in
60 Gay!  She and mother exchanged glimmers but they never dared
laugh.

The east was paling to moonrise when Jane went to bed in Mrs
Meade's spare-room.  The bureau and the wash-stand were very cheap,
the bed an iron one enamelled in white, the floor painted brown.
But there was a gorgeous hooked rug of roses and ferns and autumn
leaves on it, the prim starched lace curtains were as white as
snow, the wallpaper was so pretty . . . silver daisy clusters on a
creamy ground with circles of pale blue ribbon round them . . . and
there was a huge scarlet geranium with scented velvety leaves on a
stand before one of the windows.

There was something friendly about the room.  Jane slept like a top
and was up and down in the morning when Mrs Meade was lighting the
kitchen fire.  Mrs Meade gave Jane a big fat doughnut to stay her
stomach till breakfast and sent her out into the garden to wait
till dad came down.  It lay in the silence of the dewy morning.
The wind was full of wholesome country smells.  The little flower-
beds were edged with blue forget-me-nots and in one corner was a
big clump of early, dark red peonies.  Violets and plots of red and
white daisies grew under the parlour windows.  In a near field cows
were cropping gold-green grass and a dozen little fluffy chicks
were running about.  A tiny yellow bird was tilting on a spirea
spray.  The brown and white dog came out and followed Jane about.
A funny, two-wheeled cart, such as Jane had never seen before, went
by on the road and the driver, a lank youth in overalls, waved to
her as to an old friend.  Jane promptly waved back with what was
left of her doughnut.

How blue and high the sky was!  Jane liked the country sky.  "P. E.
Island is a lovely place," thought Jane, not at all grudgingly.
She picked a pink cabbage rose and shook the dew from it all over
her face.  Fancy washing your face with a rose!  And then she
remembered how she had prayed that she might not come here.

"I think," said Jane decidedly, "that I should apologize to God."



15


"We must go and buy us a house soon, duck," said dad, jumping right
into the middle of the subject as Jane was to find was his habit.

Jane turned it over in her mind.

"Is 'soon' to-day?" she asked.

Dad laughed.

"Might as well be.  This happens to be one of the days when I like
myself reasonably well.  We'll start as soon as Jed brings our
car."

Jed did not bring the car till noon so they had dinner before they
set out, and Mrs Meade gave Jane a bag of butter cookies to stay
their stomachs till supper-time.

"I like Mrs Meade," Jane told dad, a pleasant warmth filling her
soul as she realized that here was somebody she did like.

"She's the salt of the earth," agreed dad, "even if she does think
the violet ray is a girl."

The violet ray might have been a girl for anything Jane knew to the
contrary . . . or cared.  It was enough to know that dad and she
were off in a car that would have given Frank a conniption at
sight, bouncing along red roads that were at once friendly and
secretive, through woods that were so gay and bridal with wild
cherry-trees sprinkled through them and over hills where velvet
cloud-shadows rolled until they seemed to vanish in little hollows
filled with blue.  There were houses on every side in that pleasant
land and they were going to buy one. . . .  "Let's buy a house,
Jane" . . . just like that, as one might have said, "Let's buy a
basket."  Delightful!

"As soon as I knew you were coming I began inquiring about possible
houses.  I've heard of several.  We'll take a look at them all
before we decide.  What kind of a house would you like, Jane?"

"What kind of a house can you afford?" said Jane gravely.

Dad chuckled.

"She's got some of the little common sense still left in the
world," he told the sky.  "We can't pay a fancy price, Jane.  I'm
not a plutocrat.  On the other hand, neither am I on relief.  I
sold quite a lot of stuff last winter."

"'Peaceful Adjustment of International Difficulties'," murmured
Jane.

"What's that?"

Jane told him.  She told him how she had liked Kenneth Howard's
picture and cut it out.  But she did not tell him that grandmother
had torn it, nor about the look in mother's eyes.

"Saturday Evening is a good customer of mine.  But let us return to
our muttons.  Subject to the fluctuations of the market, what kind
of a house would you like, my Jane?"

"Not a big one," said Jane, thinking of the enormous 60 Gay.  "A
little house . . . with some trees around it . . . young trees."

"White birches?" said dad.  "I rather fancy a white birch or two.
And a few dark green spruces for contrast.  And the house must be
green and white to match the trees.  I've always wanted a green and
white house."

"Couldn't we paint it?" asked Jane.

"We could.  Clever of you to think of that, Jane.  I might have
turned down our predestined house just because it was mud colour.
And we must have at least one window where we can see the gulf."

"Will it be near the gulf?"

"It must be.  We're going up to the Queen's Shore district.  All
the houses I've heard about are up there."

"I'd like it to be on a hill," said Jane wistfully.

"Let's sum up . . . a little house, white and green or to be made
so . . . with trees, preferably birch and spruce . . . a window
looking seaward . . . on a hill.  That sounds very possible . . .
but there is one other requirement.  There must be magic about it,
Jane . . . lashings of magic . . . and magic houses are scarce,
even on the Island.  Have you any idea at all what I mean, Jane?"

Jane reflected.

"You want to feel that the house is YOURS before you buy it," she
said.

"Jane," said dad, "you are too good to be true."

He was looking at her closely as they went up a hill after crossing
a river so blue that Jane had exclaimed in rapture over it . . . a
river that ran into a bluer harbour.  And when they reached the top
of the hill, there before them lay something greater and bluer
still that Jane knew must be the gulf.

"Oh!" she said.  And again, "Oh!"

"This is where the sea begins.  Like it, Jane?"

Jane nodded.  She could not speak.  She had seen Lake Ontario, pale
blue and shimmering, but this . . . this?  She continued to look at
it as if she could never have enough of it.

"I never thought anything could be so blue," she whispered.

"You've seen it before," said dad softly.  "You may not know it but
it's in your blood.  You were born beside it, one sweet, haunted
April night . . . you lived by it for three years.  Once I took you
down and dipped you in it, to the horror of . . . of several
people.  You were properly baptized before that in the Anglican
church in Charlottetown . . . but that was your real baptism.  You
are the sea's child and you have come home."

"But you didn't like me," said Jane, before she thought.

"Not like you!  Who told you that?"

"Grandmother."  She had not been forbidden to mention grandmother's
name to him.

"The old . . ." dad checked himself.  A mask seemed to fall over
his face.

"Let us not forget we are house-hunting, Jane," he said coolly.

For a little while Jane felt no interest in house-hunting.  She
didn't know what to believe or whom to believe.  She thought dad
liked her now . . . but did he?  Perhaps he was just pretending.
Then she remembered how he had kissed her.

"He does like me now," she thought.  "Perhaps he didn't like me
when I was born but I know he does now."  And she was happy again.



16


House-hunting, Jane decided, was jolly.  Perhaps it was really more
the pleasure of the driving and talking and being silent with dad
that was jolly, for most of the houses on dad's list were not
interesting.  The first house they looked at was too big; the
second was too small.

"After all, we must have room to swing the cat," said dad.

"Have you a cat?" demanded Jane.

"No.  But we can get one if you like.  I hear the kitten crop is
tops this year.  Do you like cats?"

"Yes."

"Then we'll have a bushel of them."

"No," said Jane, "two."

"And a dog.  I don't know how you feel about dogs, Jane, but if
you're going to have a cat, I must have a dog.  I haven't had a dog
since . . ."

He stopped short again, and again Jane had the feeling that he had
been just on the point of saying something she wanted very much to
hear.

The third house looked attractive.  It was just at the turn of a
wooded road dappled with sunshine through the trees.  But on
inspection it proved hopeless.  The floors were cut and warped and
slanted in all directions.  The doors didn't hang right.  The
windows wouldn't open.  There was no pantry.

There was too much gingerbread about the fourth house, dad said,
and neither of them looked twice at the fifth . . . a dingy,
square, unpainted building with a litter of rusty cans, old pails,
fruit baskets, rags and rubbish all over its yard.

"The next on my list is the old Jones house," said dad.

It was not so easy to find the old Jones house.  The new Jones
house fronted the road boldly, but you had to go past it and away
down a deep-rutted, neglected lane to find the old one.  You could
see the gulf from the kitchen window.  But it was too big and both
dad and Jane felt that the view of the back of the Jones barns and
pig-sty was not inspiring.  So they bounced up the lane again,
feeling a little dashed.

The seventh house seemed to be all a house should be.  It was a
small bungalow, new and white, with a red roof and dormer windows.
The yard was trim though treeless; there were a pantry and a nice
cellar and good floors.  And it had a wonderful view of the gulf.

Dad looked at Jane.

"Do you sense any magic about this, my Jane?"

"Do YOU?" challenged Jane.

Dad shook his head.

"Absolutely none.  And, as magic is indispensable, no can do."

They drove away, leaving the man who owned the house wondering who
them two lunatics were.  What on earth was magic?  He must see the
carpenter who had built the house and find out why he hadn't put
any in it.

Two more houses were impossible.

"I suppose we're a pair of fools, Jane.  We've looked at all the
houses I've heard of that are for sale . . . and what's to be done
now?  Go back and eat our words and buy the bungalow?"

"Let's ask this man who is coming along the road if he knows of any
house we haven't seen," said Jane composedly.

"The Jimmy Johns have one, I hear," said the man.  "Over at Lantern
Hill.  The house their Aunt Matilda Jollie lived in.  There's some
of her furniture in it, too, I hear.  You'd likely git it
reasonable if you jewed him down a bit.  It's two miles to Lantern
Hill and you go by Queen's Shore."

The Jimmy Johns and a Lantern Hill and an Aunt Matilda Jollie!
Jane's thumbs pricked.  Magic was in the offing.

Jane saw the house first . . . at least she saw the upstairs window
in its gable end winking at her over the top of a hill.  But they
had to drive around the hill and up a winding lane between two
dikes, with little ferns growing out of the stones and young
spruces starting up along them at intervals.

And then, right before them, was the house . . . THEIR house!

"Dear, don't let your eyes pop quite out of your head," warned dad.

It squatted right against a little steep hill whose toes were lost
in bracken.  It was small . . . you could have put half a dozen of
it inside 60 Gay.  It had a garden, with a stone dike at the lower
end of it to keep it from sliding down the hill, a paling and a
gate, with two tall white birches leaning over it, and a flat-stone
walk up to the only door, which had eight small panes of glass in
its upper half.  The door was locked but they could see in at the
windows.  There was a good-sized room on one side of the door,
stairs going up right in front of it, and two small rooms on the
other side whose windows looked right into the side of the hill
where ferns grew as high as your waist, and there were stones lying
about covered with velvet green moss.

There was a bandy-legged old cook-stove in the kitchen, a table and
some chairs.  And a dear little glass-paned cupboard in the corner
fastened with a wooden button.

On one side of the house was a clover field and on the other a
maple grove, sprinkled with firs and spruces, and separated from
the house lot by an old, lichen-covered board fence.  There was an
apple-tree in the corner of the yard, with pink petals falling
softly, and a clump of old spruces outside the garden gate.

"I like the pattern of this place," said Jane.

"Do you suppose it's possible that the view goes with the house?"
said dad.

Jane had been so taken up with her house that she had not looked at
the view at all.  Now she turned her eyes on it and lost her breath
over it.  Never, never had she seen . . . had she dreamed anything
so wonderful.

Lantern Hill was at the apex of a triangle of land which had the
gulf for its base and Queen's Harbour for one of its sides.  There
were silver and lilac sand-dunes between them and the sea,
extending into a bar across the harbour where great, splendid, blue
and white waves were racing to the long sun-washed shore.  Across
the channel a white lighthouse stood up against the sky and on the
other side of the harbour were the shadowy crests of purple hills
that dreamed with their arms around each other.  And over it all
the indefinable charm of a Prince Edward Island landscape.

Just below Lantern Hill, skirted by spruce barrens on the harbour
side and a pasture field on the other, was a little pond . . .
absolutely the bluest thing that Jane had ever seen.

"Now, that is my idea of a pond," said dad.

Jane said nothing at first.  She could only look.  She had never
been there before but it seemed as if she had known it all her
life.  The song the sea-wind was singing was music native to her
ears.  She had always wanted to "belong" somewhere and she belonged
here.  At last she had a feeling of home.

"Well, what about it?" said dad.

Jane was so sure the house was listening that she shook her finger
at him.

"Sh . . . sh," she said.

"Let's go down to the shore and talk it over," said dad.

It was about fifteen minutes' walk to the outside shore.  They sat
down on the bone-white body of an old tree that had drifted from
heaven knew where.  The snapping salty breeze whipped their faces;
the surf creamed along the shore; the wee sand-peeps flitted
fearlessly past them.  "How clean salt air is!" thought Jane.

"Jane, I have a suspicion that the roof leaks."

"You can put some shingles on it."

"There's a lot of burdocks in the yard."

"We can root them out."

"The house may have once been white . . ."

"It can be white again."

"The paint on the front door is blistered."

"Paint doesn't cost very much, does it?"

"The shutters are broken."

"Let's fix them."

"The plaster is cracked."

"We can paper over it."

"Who knows if there's a pantry, Jane?"

"There are shelves in one of the little rooms on the right.  I can
use that for a pantry.  The other little room would do you for a
study.  You'd have to have some place to write, wouldn't you?"

"She's got it all planned out," dad told the Altantic.  But added,
"That big maple wood is a likely place for owls."

"Who's afraid of owls?"

"And what about magic, my Jane?"

Magic!  Why, the place was simply jammed with magic.  You were
falling over magic.  Dad knew that.  He was only talking for the
sake of talking.  When they went back Jane sat down on the big red
sandstone slab which served as a doorstep, while dad went through
the maple wood by a little twisted path the cows had made to see
Jimmy John--otherwise Mr J. J. Garland.  The Garland house could be
seen peeping around the corner of the maples--a snug, butter-
coloured farmhouse decently dressed in trees.

Jimmy John came back with dad, a little fat man with twinkling grey
eyes.  He hadn't been able to find the key but they had seen the
ground floor and he told them there were three rooms upstairs with
a spool bed in one of them and a closet in each of them.

"And a boot-shelf under the stairs."

They stood on the stone walk and looked at the house.

"What are you going to do with me?" said the house as plainly as
ever a house spoke.

"What is your price?" said dad.

"Four hundred with the furniture thrown in for good measure," said
Jimmy John, winking at Jane.  Jane winked rakishly back.  After
all, grandmother was a thousand miles away.

"Bang goes saxpence," said dad.  He did not try to "jew" Jimmy John
down.  That he could buy all this loveliness for four hundred
dollars was enough luck.

Dad handed over fifty dollars and said the rest would be paid next
day.

"The house is yours," said Jimmy John with an air of making them a
present of it.  But Jane knew the house had always been theirs.

"The house . . . and the pond . . . and the harbour . . . and the
gulf!  A good buy," said dad.  "And half an acre of land.  All my
life I've wanted to own a bit of land . . . just enough to stand on
and say, 'This is mine.'  And now, Jane, it's brillig."

"Four o'clock in the afternoon."  Jane knew her Alice too well to
be caught tripping on that.

Just as they were leaving, a pocket edition of Jimmy John, with a
little impudent face came tearing through the maple grove with the
key which had turned up in his absence.  Jimmy John handed it to
Jane with a bow.  Jane clutched it tightly all the way back to
Brookview.  She loved it.  Think what it would open for her!

They discovered they were hungry, having forgotten all about
dinner, so they fished out Mrs Meade's butter cookies and ate them.

"You'll let me do the cooking, dad?"

"Why, you'll have to.  _I_ can't."

Jane glowed.

"I wish we could move in to-morrow, dad."

"Why not?  I can get some bedding and some food.  We can go on from
there."

"I just can't bear to have this day go," said Jane.  "It doesn't
seem as if there could ever be another so happy."

"We've got to-morrow, Jane . . . let me see . . . we've got about
ninety-five to-morrows."

"Ninety-five," gloated Jane.

"And we'll do just as we want to inside of decency.  We'll be clean
but not too clean.  We'll be lazy but not too lazy . . . just do
enough to keep three jumps ahead of the wolf.  And we'll never have
in our house that devilish thing known as an intermittent alarm
clock."

"But we must have some kind of a clock," said Jane.

"Timothy Salt down at the harbour mouth has an old ship's clock.
I'll get him to lend it to us.  It only goes when it feels like it,
but what matter?  Can you darn my socks, Jane?"

"Yes," said Jane, who had never darned a sock in her life.

"Jane, we're sitting on the top of the world.  It was a piece of
amazing luck, your asking that man, Jane."

"It wasn't luck.  I KNEW he'd know," said Jane.  "And oh, dad, can
we keep the house a secret till we've moved in?"

"Of course," agreed dad.  "From every one except Aunt Irene.  We'll
have to tell her, of course."

Jane said nothing.  She had not known till dad spoke that it was
really from Aunt Irene she wished to keep it secret.

Jane didn't believe she would sleep that night.  How could one go
to sleep with so many wonderful things to think of?  And some that
were very puzzling.  How could two people like mother and dad hate
each other?  It didn't make sense.  They were both so lovely in
different ways.  They must have loved each other once.  What had
changed them?  If she, Jane, only knew the whole truth, perhaps she
could do something about it.

But as she drifted off into dreams of spruce-shadowed red roads
that all led to dear little houses, her last conscious thought was
"I wonder if we can get our milk at the Jimmy Johns'."



17


They "moved in" the next afternoon.  Dad and Jane went to town in
the forenoon and got a load of canned stuff and some bedding.  Jane
also got some gingham dresses and aprons.  She knew none of the
clothes grandmother had bought for her would be of any use at
Lantern Hill.  And she slipped into a bookstore unbeknown to dad
and bought a Cookery for Beginners.  Mother had given her a dollar
when she left and she was not going to take any chances.

They called to see Aunt Irene but Aunt Irene was out, and Jane had
her own reasons for being pleased about this but she kept them to
herself.  After dinner they tied Jane's trunk and suitcase on the
running-boards and bounced off to Lantern Hill.  Mrs Meade gave
them a box of doughnuts, three leaves of bread, a round pat of
butter with a pattern of clover-leaves on it, a jar of cream, a
raisin pie and three dried codfish.

"Put one in soak to-night and broil it for your breakfast in the
morning," she told Jane.

The house was still there.  Jane had been half afraid it would be
stolen in the night.  It seemed so entirely desirable to her that
she couldn't imagine any one else not wanting it.  She felt so
sorry for Aunt Matilda Jollie who had had to die and leave it.  It
was hard to believe that, even in the golden mansions, Aunt Matilda
Jollie wouldn't miss the house on Lantern Hill.

"Let me unlock the door, please, dad."  She was trembling with
delight as she stepped over the threshold.

"This . . . this is home," said Jane.  Home . . . something she had
never known before.  She was nearer crying then than she had ever
been in her life.

They ran over the house like a couple of children.  There were
three rooms upstairs . . . a quite large one to the north, which
Jane decided at once must be father's.

"Wouldn't you like it yourself, blithe spirit?  The window looks
over the gulf."

"No, I want this dear little one at the back.  I want a LITTLE
room, dad.  And the other one will do nicely for a guest-room."

"Do we need a guest-room, Jane?  Let me remind you that the measure
of any one's freedom is what he can do without."

"Oh, but of course we need a guest-room, dad."  Jane was quite
tickled over the thought.  "We'll have company sometimes, won't
we?"

"There isn't a bed in it."

"Oh, we'll get one somewhere.  Dad, the house is glad to see us . . .
glad to be lived in again.  The chairs just want someone to sit
on them."

"Little sentimentalist!" jeered dad.  But there was understanding
laughter behind his eyes.

The house was surprisingly clean.  Jane was to learn later that as
soon as they knew Aunt Matilda Jollie's house was sold, Mrs Jimmy
John and Miranda Jimmy John had come over, got in at one of the
kitchen windows and given the whole place a Dutch cleaning from top
to bottom.  Jane was almost sorry the house was clean.  She would
have liked to clean it.  She wanted to do everything for it.

"I am as bad as Aunt Gertrude," she thought.  And a little glimmer
of understanding of Aunt Gertrude came to her.

There was nothing to do just now but put the mattresses and clothes
on the beds, the cans in the kitchen cupboard, and the butter and
cream in the cellar.  Dad hung Mrs Meade's codfish on the nails
behind the kitchen stove.

"We'll have sausages for supper," Jane was saying.

"Janekin," said dad, clutching his hair in dismay, "I forgot to buy
a frying-pan."

"Oh, there's an iron frying-pan in the bottom of the cupboard,"
said Jane serenely.  "And a three-legged cooking-pot," she added in
triumph.

There was nothing about the house that Jane did not know by this
time.  Dad had kindled a fire in the stove and fed it with some of
Aunt Matilda Jollie's wood, Jane keeping a watchful eye on him as
he did it.  She had never seen a fire made in a stove before but
she meant to know how to do it herself next time.  The stove was a
bit wobbly on one of its feet but Jane found a piece of flat stone
in the yard which fitted nicely under it and everything was
shipshape.  Dad went over to the Jimmy Johns' to borrow a pail of
water--the well had to be cleaned out before they could use it--and
Jane set the table with a red and white cloth like Mrs Meade's and
the dishes dad had got at the five-and-ten.  She went out to the
neglected garden and picked a bouquet of bleeding-heart and June
lilies for the centre.  There was nothing, to hold them but Jane
found a rusty old tin can somewhere, swathed it in a green silk
scarf she had dug out of her trunk--it was an expensive silk scarf
Aunt Minnie had given her--and arranged her flowers in it.  She cut
and buttered bread, she made tea and fried the sausages.  She had
never done anything of the kind before but she had not watched Mary
for nothing.

"It's good to get my legs under my own table again," said dad, as
they sat down to supper.

"I suppose," thought Jane wickedly, "if grandmother could see me
eating in the kitchen--and liking it--she would say it was just my
low tastes."

Aloud all she said was . . . but she nearly burst with pride as she
said it . . . "How do you take your tea, dad?"

There was a tangle of sunbeams on the bare white floor.  They could
see the maple wood through the east window, the gulf and the pond
and the dunes through the north, the harbour through the west.
Winds of the salt seas were blowing in.  Swallows were swooping
through the evening air.  Everything she looked at belonged to dad
and her.  She was mistress of this house--her right there was none
to dispute.  She could do just as she wanted to without making
excuses for anything.  The memory of that first meal together with
dad in Aunt Matilda Jollie's house was to be "a thing of beauty and
a joy for ever."  Dad was so jolly.  He talked to her just as if
she were grown up.  Jane felt sorry for any one who didn't have her
father.

Dad wanted to help her wash the dishes but Jane would none of it.
Wasn't she to be the housekeeper?  She knew how Mary washed dishes.
She had always wanted to wash dishes . . . it must be such fun to
make dirty plates clean.  Dad had bought a dish-pan that day, but
neither of them had thought about a dish-cloth or dish-towels.
Jane got two new undervests out of her trunk and slit them open.

At sunset Jane and dad went down to the outside shore . . . as they
were to do almost every night of that enchanted summer.  All along
the silvery curving sand ran a silvery curving wave.  A dim, white-
sailed vessel drifted past the bar of the shadowy dunes.  The
revolving light across the channel was winking at them.  A great
headland of gold and purple ran out behind it.  At sunset that cape
became a place of mystery to Jane.  What lay beyond it?  "Magic
seas in fairylands forlorn?"  Jane couldn't remember where she had
heard or read that phrase but it suddenly came alive for her.

Dad smoked a pipe . . . which he called his "Old Contemptible" . . .
and said nothing.  Jane sat beside him in the shadow of the bones
of an old vessel and said nothing.  There was no need to say
anything.

When they went back to the house they discovered that though dad
had gotten three lamps he had forgotten to get any coal-oil for
them or any petrol for his study lamp.

"Well, I suppose we can go to bed in the dark for once."

No need of that.  Indefatigable Jane remembered she had seen a
piece of an old tallow candle in the cupboard drawer.  She cut it
in two, stuck the pieces in the necks of two old glass bottles,
likewise salvaged from the cupboard, and what would you ask more?

Jane looked about her tiny room, her heart swelling with
satisfaction.  There were as yet only the spool bed and a little
table in it; the ceiling was stained with old leaks and the floor
was slightly uneven.  But this was the first room to be her very
own, where she need never feel that someone was peeping at her
through the key-hole.  She undressed, blew out her candle and
looked out of the window from which she could almost have touched
the top of the steep little hill.  The moon was up and had already
worked its magic with the landscape.  A mile away the lights of the
little village at Lantern Corners shone.  To the right of the
window a young birch-tree seemed a-tiptoe trying to peer over the
hill.  Soft, velvety shadows moved among the bracken.

"I am going to pretend this is a magic window," thought Jane, "and
sometime when I look out of it I shall see a wonderful sight.  I
shall see mother coming up that road looking for the lights of
Lantern Hill."

Dad had picked a good mattress, and Jane was bone-tired after her
strenuous day.  But how lovely it was to lie in this comfortable
little spool bed--neither Jane nor the Jimmy Johns knew that Aunt
Matilda Jollie had been offered fifty dollars by a collector for
that bed--and watch the moonlight patterning the walls with birch-
leaves and know that dad was just across the little "landing" from
you, and that outside were free hills and wide, open fields where
you could run wherever you liked, none daring to make you afraid,
spruce barrens and shadowy sand-dunes, instead of an iron fence and
locked gates.  And how quiet it all was--no honking, no glaring
lights.  Jane had pushed the window open and the scent of fern came
in.  Also a strange, soft far-away sound--the moaning call of the
sea.  The night seemed to be filled with it.  Jane heard it and
something deep down in her responded to it with a thrill that was
between anguish and rapture.  Why was the sea calling?  What was
its secret sorrow?

Jane was just dropping off to sleep when a terrible remembrance
tore through her mind.  She had forgotten to put the codfish to
soak.

Two minutes later the codfish was soaking.



18


Jane, to her horror, slept in next morning, and when she rushed
downstairs she saw an extraordinary sight . . . dad coming over
from the Jimmy Johns' with a rocking-chair on his head.  He also
had a gridiron in his hand.

"Had to borrow one to broil the codfish on, Jane.  And Mrs Jimmy
John made me take the chair.  She said it belonged to Aunt Matilda
Jollie and they had more rocking-chairs than they had time to sit
in.  I made the porridge and it's up to you to broil the codfish."

Jane broiled it and her face as well, and it was delicious.  The
porridge was a bit lumpy.

"Dad isn't a very good cook, I guess," thought Jane affectionately.
But she did not say so and she heroically swallowed all the lumps.
Dad didn't; he ranged them along the edge of his plate and looked
at her quizzically.

"I can write, my Jane, but I can't make porridgeable porridge."

"You won't have to make it after this.  I'll never sleep in again,"
said Jane.

There is no pleasure in life like the joy of achievement.  Jane
realized that in the weeks that followed, if she did not put it in
just those words.  Old Uncle Tombstone, the general handy man of
the Queen's Shore district, whose name was really Tunstone and who
hadn't a niece or nephew in the world, papered all the rooms for
them, patched the roof and mended the shutters, painted the house
white with green trim and taught Jane how, when and where to dig
for clams.  He had a nice old rosy face with a fringe of white
whisker under his chin.

Jane, bubbling over with energy, worked like a beaver, cleaning up
after Uncle Tombstone, arranging the bits of furniture as dad
brought them home, and getting curtains up all over the house.

"That girl can be in three places at once," said dad.  "I don't
know how she manages it. . . .  I suppose there really is such a
thing as witchcraft."

Jane was very capable and could do almost anything she tried to do.
It was nice to live where you could show how capable you were.
This was her own world and she was a person of importance in it.
There was joy in her heart the clock round.  Life here was one
endless adventure.

When Jane was not cleaning up she was getting the meals.  She
studied her Cookery for Beginners every spare moment and went about
muttering, "All measurements are level," and things like that.
Because she had watched Mary and because it was born in her to be a
cook, she got on amazingly well.  From the very first her biscuits
were never soggy or her roast underdone.  But one day she flew too
high and produced for dessert something that a charitable person
might have called a plum pudding.  Uncle Tombstone ate some of it
and had to have the doctor that night--or so he said.  He brought
his own dinner the next day--cold bacon and cold pancakes tied up
in a red handkerchief, and told Jane he was on a diet.

"That pudding of yours yesterday, miss, it was a mite too rich.
My stomach ain't used to Toronto cookery.  Them there vitamins
now. . . .  I reckon you have to be brought up on them for them to
agree with you."

To his cronies he averred that the pudding would have given the
rats indigestion.  But he liked Jane.

"Your daughter is a very superior person," he told dad.  "Most of
the girls nowadays are all tops and no taters.  But she's superior--
yes, sir, she's superior."  How dad and Jane laughed over that.
Dad called her "Superior Jane" in a tone of mock awe till the joke
wore out.

Jane liked Uncle Tombstone, too.  In fact, nothing in her new life
amazed her more than the ease with which she liked people.  It
seemed as if every one she met was sealed of her tribe.  She
thought it must be that the P. E. Islanders were nicer, or at least
more neighbourly, than the Toronto people.  She did not realize
that the change was in herself.  She was no longer rebuffed,
frightened, awkward because she was frightened.  Her foot was on
her native heath and her name was Jane.  She felt friendly towards
all the world and all the world responded.  She could love all she
wanted to . . . everybody she wanted to . . . without being accused
of low tastes.  Probably grandmother would not have recognized
Uncle Tombstone socially; but the standards of 60 Gay were not the
standards of Lantern Hill.

As for the Jimmy Johns, Jane felt as if she must have known them
all her life.  They were so called, she discovered, because Mr
James John Garland had a James Garland to the north-east of him and
a John Garland to the south-west of him, and so had to be
distinguished in some way.  Her first forenoon at Lantern Hill all
the Jimmy Johns came galloping over in a body.  At least, the young
fry galloped with the three dogs . . . a brindled bull-terrier, a
golden collie and a long brown dog who was just a dog.  Mrs Jimmy
John, who was as tall and thin as her Jimmy John was short and fat,
with very wise, gentle grey eyes, walked briskly, carrying in her
arms a baby as fat as a sausage.  Miranda Jimmy John, who was
sixteen, was as tall as her mother and as fat as her father.  She
had had a double chin at ten and nobody would ever believe that she
was secretly overflowing with romance.  Polly Jimmy John was Jane's
age but looked younger because she was short and thin.  "Punch"
Jimmy John who had brought the key was thirteen.  There were the
eight-year-old twins . . . the George twin and the Ella twin . . .
their bare chubby legs all spotted with mosquito bites.  And every
one of them had a pleasant smile.

"Jane Victoria Stuart?" said Mrs Jimmy John with a questioning
smile.

"Jane!" said Jane, with such an intonation of triumph that the
Jimmy Johns all stared at her.

"Jane, of course," smiled Mrs Jimmy John.  Jane knew she was going
to like Mrs Jimmy John.

Everybody except the baby had brought a present for Jane.  Mrs
Jimmy John gave her a lamb skin dyed red for a bedside rug.
Miranda brought her a little fat white jug with pink roses on its
sides, Punch brought her some early radishes, Polly brought her a
rooted geranium slip and the twins brought a toad apiece "for her
garden."

"You have to have toads in your garden for luck," explained Punch.

Jane felt it would never do to let her first callers go home
without something to eat, especially when they had come bearing
gifts.

"Mrs Meade's pie will go round if I don't take a piece," she
thought.  "The baby won't want any."

The baby DID want some but Mrs Jimmy John shared hers with him.
They sat around in the kitchen on the chairs and on the sandstone
doorstep and ate the pie while Jane radiated hospitality.

"Come over whenever you can, dear," Mrs Jimmy John told her.  Mrs
Jimmy John thought Jane pretty young to be keeping house for
anybody.  "If there's any way we can help you, we'll be glad to."

"Will you teach me how to make bread?" said Jane coolly.  "We can
get it at the Corners of course but dad likes home-made bread.  And
what kind of cake flour would you recommend?"

Jane got acquainted with the Snowbeams also that week.  The Solomon
Snowbeams were a rather neglected rapscallion family who lived in a
ramshackle house where the spruce barrens ran down to a curve of
the harbour shore known as Hungry Cove.  Nobody knew how Solomon
Snowbeam contrived to feed his family . . . he fished a little and
"worked out" a little and shot a little.  Mrs Snowbeam was a big,
pink, overblown woman and Caraway Snowbeam, "Shingle" Snowbeam,
Penny Snowbeam and "Young John" Snowbeam were impudent, friendly
little creatures who certainly did not looked starved.  Millicent
Mary Snowbeam, aged six, was neither impudent nor friendly.
Millicent Mary was, so Polly Garland told Jane, not all there.  She
had blank, velvety nut-brown eyes . . . all the Snowbeams had
beautiful eyes . . . reddish golden hair and a dazzling complexion.
She could sit for hours without speaking--perhaps that was why the
chattering Jimmy Johns thought her not all there--with her fat arms
clasped around her fat knees.  She seemed to be possessed of a dumb
admiration for Jane and haunted Lantern Hill all that summer,
gazing at her.  Jane did not mind her.

If Millicent Mary did not talk, the rest of the Snowbeams made up
for it.  At first they were inclined to resent Jane a bit, thinking
she must know everything because she came from Toronto and would be
putting on airs about it.  But when they discovered she hardly knew
anything . . . except the little Uncle Tombstone had taught her
about clams . . . they became very friendly.  That is to say, they
asked innumerable questions.  There was no false delicacy about any
of the Snowbeams.

"Does your pa put live people in his stories?" asked Penny.

"No," said Jane.

"Everybody round here says he does.  Everybody's scared he'll put
them in.  He'd better not put US in if he doesn't want his snoot
busted.  I'm the toughest boy in Lantern Hill."

"Do you think you are interesting enough to put in a story?" asked
Jane.

Penny was a little scared of her after that.

"We've been wanting to see what you looked like," said Shingle, who
wore overalls and looked like a boy but wasn't, "because your pa
and ma are divorced, ain't they?"

"No," said Jane.

"Is your pa a widow then?" persisted Shingle.

"No."

"Does your ma live in Toronto?"

"Yes."

"Why doesn't she live here with your pa?"

"If you ask me any more questions about my parents," said Jane,
"I'll get dad to put you into one of his stories--every one of
you."

Shingle was cowed but Caraway took up the tale.

"Do you look like your mother?"

"No.  My mother is the most beautiful woman in Toronto," said Jane
proudly.

"Do you live in a white marble house at home?"

"No."

"Ding-dong Bell said you did," said Caraway in disgust.  "Ain't he
the awful liar?  And I s'pose you don't have satin bedspreads
either?"

"We have silk ones," said Jane.

"Ding-dong said you had satin."

"I see the butcher bringing your dinner up the lane," said Young
John.  "What are you having?"

"Steak."

"My stars!  We never have steak . . . nothing but bread and
molasses and fried salt pork.  Dad says he can't look a pig in the
face 'thout grunting and mam says let him bring her home something
else and she'll be mighty glad to cook it.  Is that a cake you're
making?  Say, will you let me lick out the pan?"

"Yes, but stand back from the table.  Your shirt is all over
chaff," ordered Jane.

"Ain't you the bossy snip?" said Young John.

"Foxy-head," said Penny.

They all went home mad because Jane Stuart had insulted Young John.
But they all came back next day and forgivingly helped her weed and
clean up her garden.  It was hard work and it was a hot day so that
their brows were wet with honest sweat long before they had done it
to Jane's taste.  If anybody had made them work as hard as that
they would have howled to high heaven; but when it was for fun . . .
why, it WAS fun.

Jane gave them the last of Mrs Meade's cookies.  She meant to try a
batch of her own next day anyhow.

Jane had already decided that there was never a garden in the world
like hers.  She was crazy about it.  An early, old-fashioned yellow
rose-bush was already in bloom.  Shadows of poppies danced here and
there.  The stone dike was smothered in wild rose-bushes starred
with crimson bud-sheaths.  Pale lemon lilies and creamy June lilies
grew in the corners.  There were ribbon-grass and mint, bleeding-
heart, prince's feather, southernwood, peonies, sweet balm, sweet
may, sweet-william, all with sated velvet bees humming over them.
Aunt Matilda Jollie had been content with old-fashioned perennials
and Jane loved them too, but she made up her mind that by hook or
crook she would have some annuals next summer.  Jane, at the
beginning of this summer, was already planning for next.

In a very short time she was to be full of garden lore and was
always trying to extract information about fertilizers from anybody
who knew.  Mr Jimmy John gravely advised well-rotted cow manure and
Jane dragged basketfuls of it home from his barnyard.  She loved to
water the flowers . . . especially when the earth was a little dry
and they drooped pleadingly.  The garden rewarded her . . . she was
one of those people at whose touch things grow.  No weed was ever
allowed to show its face.  Jane got up early every morning to weed.
It was wonderful to wake as the sun came over the sea.

The mornings at Lantern Hill seemed different from the mornings
anywhere else--more morningish.  Jane's heart sang as she weeded
and raked and hoed and pruned and thinned out.

"Who taught you these things, woman?" asked dad.

"I think I've always known them," said Jane dreamily.

The Snowbeams told Jane their cat had kittens and she could have
one.  Jane went down to choose.  There were four and the poor lean
old mother cat was so proud and happy.  Jane picked a black one
with a pansy face--a really pansy face, so dark and velvety, with
round golden eyes.  She named it Peter on the spot.  Then the Jimmy
Johns, not to be outdone, brought over a kitten also.  But this
kitten was already named Peter and the Ella twin wept frantically
over the idea of anybody changing it.  So dad suggested calling
them First Peter and Second Peter--which Mrs Snowbeam thought was
sacrilegious.  Second Peter was a dainty thing in black and silver,
with a soft white breast.  Both Peters slept at the foot of Jane's
bed and swarmed over dad the minute he sat down.

"What is home without a dog?" said dad, and got one from old
Timothy Salt at the harbour mouth.  They named him Happy.  He was a
slim white dog with a round brown spot at the root of his tail, a
brown collar and brown ears.  He kept the Peters in their place and
Jane loved him so much it hurt her.

"I like living things around me, dad."

Dad brought home the ship clock with the dog.  Jane found it useful
to time meals by, but as far as anything else was concerned there
was really no such thing as time at Lantern Hill.

By the end of a week Jane knew the geography and people of Lantern
Hill and Lantern Corners perfectly.  Every hill seemed to belong to
somebody . . . Big Donald's hill . . . Little Donald's hill . . .
Old Man Cooper's hill.  She could pick out Big Donald Martin's farm
and Little Donald Martin's farm.  Every household light she could
see from the hill-top had its own special significance.  She knew
just where to look to see Min's ma's light sparkle out every night
from the little white house in a misty fold of the hills.  Min
herself, an owl-eyed gipsy scrap, full of ginger, was already a
bosom friend of Jane's.  Jane knew that Min's colourless ma was
entirely unimportant except as a background for Min.  Min never
would wear shoes or stockings in summer and her bare feet twinkled
over the red roads to Lantern Hill every day.  Sometimes Elmer
Bell, better known as Ding-dong, came with her.  Ding-dong was
freckled and his ears stuck out but he was popular, though pursued
through life by some scandalous tale of having sat in his porridge
when he was an infant.  When Young John wanted to be especially
annoying he yelled at Ding-dong, "Sot in your porridge, you did--
sot in your porridge!"

Elmer and Min and Polly Garland and Shingle and Jane were all
children of the same year and they all liked each other and snubbed
each other and offended each other and stood up for each other
against the older and younger fry.  Jane gave up trying to believe
she hadn't always been friends with them.  She remembered the woman
who had called Gay Street dead.  Well, Aunt Matilda Jollie's house
wasn't dead.  It was alive, every inch of it.  Jane's friends
swarmed all over it.

"You're so nice you ought to have been born in P. E. Island," Ding-
dong told her.

"I was," said Jane triumphantly.



19


One day a blue two-wheeled cart lumbered up the lane and left a big
packing-box in the yard.

"A lot of my mother's china and silver are in that, Jane," said
dad.  "I thought you might like to have them.  You were named after
her.  They've been packed up ever since . . ."

Dad suddenly stopped and the frown that Jane always wanted to
smooth out came over his brow.

"They've been packed up for years."

Jane knew perfectly well that he had started to say, "ever since
your mother went away," or words to that effect.  She had a sudden
realization of the fact that this was not the first time dad had
helped fix up a home . . . not the first time he had been nicely
excited over choosing wallpaper and curtains and rugs.  He must
have had it all before with mother.  Perhaps they had had just as
much fun over it as dad and she were having now . . . more.  Mother
must have been sweet over fixing up her own home.  She never had
anything to say over the arrangements at 60 Gay.  Jane wondered
where the house dad and mother had lived in was . . . the house
where she had been born.  There were so many things she would have
liked to ask dad if she had dared.  But he was so nice.  How could
mother ever have left him?

It was great fun unpacking Grandmother Stuart's box.  There were
lovely bits of glass and china in it . . . Grandmother Stuart's
dinner-set of white and gold . . . slender-stemmed glass goblets
. . . quaint pretty dishes of all kinds.  And silver!  A tea-set,
forks, spoons--"Apostle" spoons--salt-cellars.

"That silver does need cleaning," said Jane in rapture.  What fun
she would have cleaning it and washing up all those dainty and
delicate dishes.  Polishing up the moon was nothing to this.  In
fact, the moon life had lost its old charm.  Jane had enough to do
keeping her house spotless without going on moon sprees.  Anyhow,
the Island moons never seemed to need polishing.

There were other things in the box . . . pictures and a delightful
old framed motto worked in blue and crimson wool.  "May the peace
of God abide in this house."  Jane thought this was lovely.  She
and dad had endless palavers as to where the pictures should go,
but eventually they were all hung and made such a difference.

"As soon as you hang a picture on a wall," said dad, "the wall
becomes your friend.  A blank wall is hostile."

They hung the motto in Jane's room and every night when she went to
bed and every morning when she got up Jane read it over like a
prayer.

The beds blossomed out in wonderful patchwork quilts after that box
came home.  There were three of them that Grandmother Stuart had
pieced . . . an Irish Chain, a Blazing Star and a Wild Goose.  Jane
put the Wild Goose on dad's bed, the blue Irish Chain on her own,
and the scarlet Blazing Star on the boot-shelf against the day when
they would have a bed for the spare-room.

They found a bronze soldier on horseback in the box and a shiny
brass dog.  The soldier went up on the clock-shelf but dad said the
dog must go on his desk to keep his china cat in order.  Dad's desk
had been brought from Mr Meade's and was set up in the "study" . . .
an old shining mahogany desk with sliding shelves and secret
drawers and pigeonholes.  The cat sat on one corner . . . a white,
green-spotted cat with a long snaky neck and gleaming diamond eyes.
For some reason Jane could not fathom, dad seemed to prize the
thing.  He had carried it all the way from Brookview to Lantern
Mill in his hand so that it shouldn't get broken.

Jane's own particular booty was a blue plate with a white bird
flying across it.  She would eat every meal off it after this.  And
the old hour-glass, with its golden sands, on its walnut base was
charming.

"Early eighteenth century," said dad.  "My great-grandfather was a
U. E. Loyalist and this hour-glass was about all he had when he
came to Canada . . . that and an old copper kettle.  I wonder . . .
yes, here it is.  More polishing for you, Jane.  And here's an old
bowl of blue and white striped china.  Mother mixed her salads in
it."

"I'll mix mine in it," said Jane.

There was a little box at the very bottom of the big box.  Jane
pounced on it.

"Dad, what's this?"

Dad took it from her.  There was a strange look on his face.

"That?  Oh, that's nothing."

"Dad, it's a Distinguished Service Medal!  Miss Colwin had one in
her room at St Agatha's . . . her brother won it in the Great War.
Oh, dad, you . . . you . . ."

Jane was breathless with pride over her discovery.

Dad shrugged his shoulders.

"You can never deceive your faithful Jane, says she.  I won it at
Passchendaele.  Once I was proud of it.  It seemed to mean
something when . . . throw it out."

Dad's voice was oddly savage but Jane was not afraid of it . . .
any more than she was afraid of his quick brief spurts of temper.
Just a flash and a snap like lightning from a summer cloud, then
sunshine again.  He had never been angry with her but he and Uncle
Tombstone had had a spat or two.

"I won't throw it out.  I'm going to keep it, dad."

Dad shrugged.

"Well, don't let me see it then."

Jane put it on her bureau and gloated over it every day.  But she
was so excited over the contents of the box that she put icing
sugar instead of salt in the Irish stew she made for dinner and her
humiliation robbed her for a time of her high delight in life.
Happy liked the stew, though.



20


"Let's entertain, my Jane.  A very old friend of mine, Dr Arnett,
is in Charlottetown.  I'd like to invite him out for supper and a
night.  Can we manage it?"

"Of course.  But we must get a bed for the guestroom.  We've got
the chest of drawers and the looking-glass and the wash-stand, but
no bed.  You know we heard Little Donalds had a bed to sell."

"I'll see to all that.  But about the supper, Jane?  Shall we be
extravagant?  Shall we buy a chicken . . . two chickens . . . from
Mrs Jimmy John?  If we do, can you cook them?"

"Of course.  Oh, let me plan it, dad!  We'll have cold chicken and
potato salad.  I know exactly how Mary made potato salad . . . I've
often helped her peel the potatoes . . . and hot biscuits . . . you
must get me a can of Flewell's Baking Powder at the Corners, dad
. . . Flewell's, mind . . . it's the only one you can rely on" . . .
already Jane was an authority on baking powders . . . "and wild
strawberries and cream.  Min and I found a bed of wild strawberries
down the hill yesterday.  We ate a lot but we left plenty."

Unluckily Aunt Irene came the very afternoon they were expecting Dr
Arnett.  She passed them in her car as Jane and her father were
carrying an iron bedstead up the lane.  Dad had bought it from
Little Donald and Little Donald had left it at the end of the lane
because he was in too much of a hurry to bring it all the way.  It
was a windy day, and Jane had her head tied up in an old shawl of
Aunt Matilda Jollie's because she had had a slight toothache the
night before.  Aunt Irene looked quite horrified but kissed them
both as they came into the yard.

"So you've bought old Tillie Jollie's house, 'Drew?  What a funny
little place!  Well, I think you might have spoken to me about it
first."

"Jane wanted it kept a secret . . . Jane loves secrets," dad
explained lightly.

"Oh, Jane's secretive enough," said Aunt Irene, shaking a finger
tenderly at Jane.  "I hope it's only 'secretive' . . . but I do
think you're a little inclined to be sly."

Aunt Irene was smiling, but there was an edge to her voice.  Jane
thought she would almost prefer grandmother's venom.  You didn't
have to look as if you liked that.

"If I had known I would have advised against it strongly, Andrew.
I hear you paid four hundred for it.  Jimmy John simply cheated
you.  Four hundred for a little old shack like this!  Three would
have been enough."

"But the view, Irene . . . the view.  The extra hundred was for the
view."

"You're so impractical, Andrew," shaking a laughing finger at him
in his turn.  At least, you felt the finger laughed.  "Jane, you'll
have to hold the purse-strings.  If you don't, your father will be
penniless by the fall."

"Oh, I think we'll be able to make both ends meet, Irene.  If not,
we'll pull them as close together as possible.  Jane's a famous
little manager.  She looketh well to the ways of her household and
eateth not the bread of idleness."

"Oh, Jane!"  Aunt Irene was kindly amused over Jane.  "If you had
to have a house, 'Drew, why didn't you get one near town?  There's
a lovely bungalow out at Keppock . . . you could have rented it for
the summer.  I could have been near you then to help . . . and
advise. . . ."

"We like the north shore best.  Jane and I are both owls of the
desert and pelicans of the wilderness.  But we both like onions so
we hit it off together.  Why, we've even hung the pictures without
quarrelling.  That's phenomenal, you know."

"It isn't any joking matter, Andrew."  Aunt Irene was almost
plaintive.  "How about your food supplies?"

"Jane digs clams," said dad solemnly.

"Clams!  Do you expect to live on clams?"

"Why, Aunt Irene, the fishman calls every week and the butcher from
the Corners comes twice a week," said Jane indignantly.

"Darrrling!"  Aunt Irene became patronizing in an instant.  She
patronized everything . . . the guest-room and the ruffled curtains
of yellow net Jane was so proud of . . . "a dear little closet,"
she called it sweetly. . . .  She patronized the garden . . . "such
a darling old-fashioned spot, isn't it, Jane?" . . .  She
patronized the boot-shelf. . . .  "Really, Aunt Matilda Jollie had
all the conveniences, hadn't she, lovey?"

The only thing she didn't patronize was the Apostle spoons.  There
was something acid in her sweetness when she spoke of them.

"I always think mother intended _I_ should have them, 'Drew."

"She gave them to Robin," said 'Drew quietly.

Jane felt a tingle go over her.  This was the first time she had
heard dad mention mother's name.

"But when she left . . ."

"We won't discuss it, Irene, if you please."

"Of course not, dear one.  I understand.  Forgive me.  And now, Jane
lovey, I'll borrow an apron and help you get ready for Dr Arnett.
Bless her little heart, trying to get ready for company all by
herself."

Aunt Irene was amused at her . . . Aunt Irene was laughing at her.
Jane was furious and helpless.  Aunt Irene took smiling charge.
The chickens were already cooked and the salad was already made but
she insisted on making the biscuits and slicing the chickens and
she would not hear of Jane going for wild strawberries.

"Luckily I brought a pie with me.  I knew Andrew would like it.
Men like something substantial, you know, lovey."

This maddened Jane.  She vowed in her heart that she would learn
pie-making in a week's time.  Meanwhile she could only submit.
When Dr Arnett came, Aunt Irene, a smiling and gracious hostess,
made him welcome.  Aunt Irene, still more smiling and gracious, sat
at the head of the table and poured the tea and was charmed because
Dr Arnett took a second helping of potato salad.  Both men enjoyed
the pie.  Dad told Aunt Irene she was the best pie-maker in Canada.

"Eating is not such bad fun after all," said dad, with a faint air
of surprise, as if he had just discovered the fact, thanks to the
pie.  Bitterness overflowed the heart of Jane.  At that moment she
could cheerfully have torn everybody in pieces.

Aunt Irene helped Jane wash the dishes before she went away.  Jane
thanked her stars that she and Min had walked to Lantern Corners
three days before and bought towels.  What would Aunt Irene have
said if she had had to wipe dishes with an undervest?

"I have to go now, lovey . . . I want to get home before dark.  I
do wish you were nearer me . . . but I'll come out as often as I
can.  I don't know what your mother would have done without me many
a time, poor child.  'Drew and Dr Arnett are off to the shore. . . .
I daresay they'll argue and shout at each other there most of
the night.  Andrew shouldn't leave you here alone like this.  But
men are like that . . . so thoughtless."

And Jane adored being left alone.  It was so lovely to have a
chance to talk to yourself.

"I don't mind it, Aunt Irene.  And I LOVE Lantern Hill."

"You're easily pleased" . . . as if she were a dear little fool to
be so easily pleased.  Somehow Aunt Irene had the most extraordinary
knack of making you feel that what you liked or thought or did was
of small account.  And how Jane did resent her airs of authority in
dad's house!  Had she acted that way when mother was with dad?  If
she had . . .

"I've brought you a cushion for your living-room, lovey. . . ."

"It's a kitchen," said Jane.

. . . "And I'll bring my old chintz chair the next time I come--for
the spare-room."

Jane, remembering the "dear little closet," permitted herself one
satisfaction.

"I think there'll hardly be room for it," she said.

She eyed the cushion malevolently when Aunt Irene had gone.  It was
so new and gorgeous it made everything look faded and countrified.

"I think I'll stow it away on the boot-shelf," said Jane with a
relish.



21


It was a sultry night and Jane went out and up and sat on the hill
. . . "to get back into herself," as she expressed it.  She had
really been out of herself ever since the morning, more or less,
because she had burned the toast for breakfast and walked in the
humiliation of it all day.  Cooking the chickens had been a bit of
a strain . . . the wood-stove oven was not like that of Mary's
electric range . . . and making up the guest-room bed under Aunt
Irene's amused eyes--"fancy this baby having a spare-room," they
seemed to say--had been worse.  But now she was blessedly alone
again and there was nothing to prevent her sitting on the hill in
the cool velvet night as long as she wanted to.  The wind was
blowing from the south-west and brought with it the scent of Big
Donald's clover field.  All the Jimmy Johns' dogs were barking
together.  The great dune that they called the Watch Tower was
scalloping up against the empty north sky.  Beyond it sounded the
long, low thunder of the surf.  A silver moth of dusk flew by,
almost brushing her face.  Happy had gone with dad and Dr Arnett
but the Peters came skittering up the hill and played about her.
She held their purring silken flanks against her face and let them
bite her cheeks delicately.  It was all like a fairytale come true.

When she went back into the house Jane was her own woman again.
Who cared for smooth, smiling Aunt Irene?  She, Jane Stuart, was
mistress at Lantern Hill; and she would learn to make pie-crust,
that she would, by the three wise monkeys, as dad was so fond of
saying.

Since dad was out, Jane sat down at his desk and wrote a page or
two of her letter to mother.  At first she hadn't known how she
could live if she could write to mother only once a month.  Then it
occurred to her that though she could mail a letter only once a
month, she could write a little of it every day.

"We had company for supper," wrote Jane.  Being forbidden to
mention dad she got around it by adopting the style royal.  "Dr
Arnett and Aunt Irene.  Did you like Aunt Irene, mummy?  Did she
make you feel stupid?  I cooked the chickens but Aunt Irene thought
pie was better than strawberries.  Don't you think wild
strawberries would be more elegant than pie, mummy?  I never tasted
wild strawberries before.  They are delicious.  Min and I know
where there is a bed of them.  I'm going to get up early to-morrow
morning and pick some for breakfast.  Min's ma says if I can pick
enough of them she will show me how to make them up into jam.  I
like Min's ma.  Min likes her, too.  Min only weighed three and a
half pounds when she was born.  Nobody thought she'd live.  Min's
ma has a pig she is feeding for their winter pork.  She let me feed
it yesterday.  I like feeding things, mummy.  It makes you
important to feed things.  Pigs have great appetities.  So have I.
There's something in the Island air, I guess.

"Miranda Jimmy John can't bear to be joked about being fat.
Miranda milks four of the cows every night.  The Jimmy Johns have
fifteen cows.  I haven't got acquainted with them yet.  I don't
know whether I'll like cows or not.  I think they have an
unfriendly look.

"The Jimmy Johns have big hooks in the kitchen rafters to hang hams
on.

"The Jimmy John baby is so funny and solemn.  It has never laughed
yet although it is nine months old.  They are worried about it.  It
has long curly black eyelashes.  I didn't know babies were so
sweet, mummy.

"Shingle Snowbeam and I have found a robin's nest in one of the
little spruce-trees behind the house.  There are four blue eggs in
it.  Shingle says we must keep it a secret from Penny and Young
John or they would blow the eggs.  Some secrets are nice things.

"I like Shingle now.  Her real name is Marilyn Florence Isabel.
Mrs Snowbeam says the only thing she could give her children was
real fancy names.

"Shingle's hair is almost white but her eyes are just the right
kind of blue, something like yours, mummy.  But nobody could have
quite such nice eyes as you.

"Shingle is ambishus.  She is the only one of the Snowbeams that
has any ambishun.  She says she is going to make a lady of herself
or die in the attempt.  I told her if she wanted to be a lady she
must never ask personal questions and she is not going to do it any
more.  But Caraway isn't particular whether she is a lady or not so
she asks them and Shingle hears the answers.  I don't like Young
John Snowbeam much.  He makes snoots.  But he can pick up sticks
with his toes.

"I like the sound of the wind here at night, mummy.  I like to lie
awake just to listen to it.

"I made a plum pudding one day last week.  It would have been very
successful if it had succeeded.  Mrs Jimmy John says I should have
steamed it, not boiled it.  I don't mind Mrs Jimmy John knowing
about my mistakes.  She has such sweet eyes.

"It's such fun to boil potatoes in a three-legged iron pot, mummy.

"The Jimmy Johns have four dogs.  Three who go everywhere with them
and one who stays home.  We have one dog.  Dogs are very nice,
mummy.

"Step-a-yard is the name of the Jimmy Johns' hired man.  Not his
real name of course.  Miranda says he has been in love all his life
with Miss Justina Titus and knows it's quite hopeless because Miss
Justina is faithful to the memory of Alec Jacks who was killed in
the Great War.  She still wears her hair pompadore, Miranda says,
because that is how she wore it when she said good-bye to Alec.  I
think that is touching, mummy.

"Mummy darling, I love to think you'll read this letter and hold it
in your hands."

It did not give Jane so much pleasure to reflect that grandmother
would read it, too.  Jane could just see grandmother's thin-lipped
smile over parts of it.  "Well, like takes to like, you know,
Robin.  Your daughter has always had the knack of making friends
with the wrong people.  Snoots!"

"How nice it would be," thought Jane, as she took a flying leap
into bed for the fun of it, "if mummy was down there with dad
instead of Dr Arnett and they would be coming back to me soon.  It
must have been that way once."

It was in the wee sma's that Andrew Stuart showed his guest to the
neat guest-room where Jane had set Grandmother Stuart's blue and
white bowl full of crimson peonies on the little table.  Then he
tiptoed into Jane's room.  Jane was sound asleep.  He bent over her
with such love radiating from him that Jane felt it and smiled in
her sleep.  He touched one tumbled lock of russet-brown hair.

"It is well with the child," said Andrew Stuart.



22


With the help of Cookery for Beginners, Mrs Jimmy John's advice and
her own "gumption," Jane learned to make pie-crust surprisingly
soon and surprisingly well.  She did not mind asking Mrs Jimmy John
for advice, whereas she would have died before she would have asked
Aunt Irene.  Mrs Jimmy John was a wise, serene creature, with a
face full of kindliness and wisdom.  She had the reputation in
Lantern Hill of never getting upset over anything, even church
suppers.  She did not laugh when Jane come over, white with
despair, because a cake had fallen or a lemon filling had run all
over the plate and dad had quirked a humorous eyebrow over it.  In
truth, Jane, for all her natural flair for cooking, would have made
a good many muddles if it had not been for Mrs Jimmy John.

"I'd use a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch instead of a level one,
Jane."

"It says all measurements are level," said Jane doubtfully.

"You can't always go by what the books say," said Step-a-yard, who
was as much interested in Jane's progress as any one.  "Just use
gumption.  Cooks are born, not made, I've always said, and you're a
born one or I miss my guess.  Them codfish balls you made the other
day were the owl's whiskers."

The day Jane achieved unaided a dinner of roast lamb with dressing,
creamed peas and a plum pudding that even Uncle Tombstone could
have eaten was the proudest day of her life.  What bliss to have
dad pass his plate with "A little more of the same, Jane.  What
matter the planetesimal hypothesis or the quantum theory compared
to such a dinner?  Come, Jane, don't tell me you're ignorant of the
quantum theory.  A woman may get by without knowing about the
planetesimal hypothesis but the quantum theory, Jane, is a
necessity in any well-regulated household."

Jane didn't mind when dad ragged her.  If she didn't know what the
quantum theory was, she did know the plum pudding was good.  She
had got the recipe from Mrs Big Donald.  Jane was a great forager
for recipes, and counted that day lost whose low-descending sun
didn't see her copying a new one on the blank leaves at the back of
Cookery for Beginners.  Even Mrs Snowbeam contributed one for rice
pudding.

"Only kind we ever get," said Young John.  "It's cheap."

Young John always came in for the "scrapings."  He had some sixth
sense whereby he always knew when Jane was going to make a cake.
The Snowbeams thought it was great fun when Jane named all her
cooking utensils.  The tea-kettle that always danced on the stove
when it was coming to a boil was Tipsy, the frying-pan was Mr
Muffet, the dish-pan was Polly, the stew-pan was Timothy, the
double boiler was Booties, the rolling-pin was Tillie Tid.

But Jane met her Waterloo when she tried to make doughnuts.  It
sounded so easy . . . but even the Snowbeams couldn't eat the
result.  Jane, determined not to be defeated, tried again and
again.  Everybody took an interest in her tribulations over the
doughnuts.  Mrs Jimmy John suggested and Min's ma gave hints.  The
storekeeper at the Corners sent her a new brand of lard.  Jane had
begun by frying them in Timothy, then she tried Mr Muffet.  No use.
The perverse doughnuts soaked fat every time.  Jane woke up in the
lone of the night and worried about it.

"This won't do, my adored Jane," said dad.  "Don't you know that
worry killed the widow's cat?  Besides, people are telling me that
you are old for your years.  Just turn yourself into a wind-song,
my Jane, and think no more on doughnuts."

In fact, Jane never did learn to make really good doughnuts . . .
which kept her humble and prevented her showing off when Aunt Irene
came.  Aunt Irene came quite often.  Sometimes she stayed all
night.  Jane hated to put her in the beloved guest-room.  Aunt
Irene was always so delicately amused over Jane's having a guest-
room.  And Aunt Irene thought it just too funny to find Jane
splitting kindlings.

"Dad mostly does it but he's been busy writing all day and I
wouldn't disturb him," said Jane.  "Besides, I like to split
kindling."

"What a little philosopher it is!" said Aunt Irene, trying to kiss
her.

Jane went crimson to the ears.

"Please, Aunt Irene, I don't like to be kissed."

"A nice thing to say to your own aunt, lovey" . . . speaking
volumes by an amused lift of her fair eyebrows.  Smooth, smiling
Aunt Irene would never get angry.  Jane thought she might have
liked her better after a good fight with her.  She knew dad was a
little annoyed with her because she and Aunt Irene didn't click
better and that he thought it must be her fault.  Perhaps it was.
Perhaps it was very naughty of her not to like Aunt Irene.  "Trying
to patronize us," Jane thought indignantly.  It was not so much
what she said as the way she said it . . . as if you were just
playing at being a house-keeper for dad.

Sometimes they went to town and had dinner with Aunt Irene . . .
gorgeous dinners certainly.  At first Jane writhed over them.  But
as the weeks went on, she began to feel she could hold her own even
with Aunt Irene when it came to getting up a meal.

"You're wonderful, lovey, but you have too much responsibility.  I
keep telling your father that."

"I like responsibility," said Jane huffily.

"Don't be so sensitive, lovey" . . . as if it were a crime.

If Jane couldn't learn to make doughnuts she had no trouble
learning to make jam.

"I love making jam," she said, when dad asked her why she bothered.
Just to go into the pantry and look at shelf after shelf of ruby
and amber jams and jellies gave her the deep satisfaction of a job
well done.  Morning after morning she got up early to go
raspberrying with Min or the Snowbeams.  Later on, Lantern Hill
reeked with the spicy smells of pickles.  When Jennie Lister at the
Corners was given a jam and pickle shower before her wedding, Jane
went proudly with the others and took a basket full of jellies and
pickles.  She had great fun at the shower, for by this time she
knew everybody and everybody knew her.  A walk to the village was a
joy . . . she could stop to chat now with every one she met and
every dog would pass the time of day with her.  Jane thought almost
everybody was nice in a way.  There were so many different kinds of
niceness.

She found no difficulty in talking to anybody on any subject.  She
liked to play with the young fry but she liked to talk to the older
people.  She could hold the most enthralling discussions with Step-
a-yard on green feed and the price of pork and what made cows chew
wood.  She walked round Jimmy John's farm with him every Sunday
morning and judged the crops.  Uncle Tombstone taught her how to
drive a horse and buggy.

"She could cramp a wheel after one showing," he told the Jimmy
Johns.

Step-a-yard, not to be outdone, let her drive a load of hay into
Jimmy John's big barn one day.

"Couldn't 'a' done it better myself.  You've got a feeling for
horses, Jane."

But Jane's favourite boy friend was old Timothy Salt who lived down
near the harbour's mouth in a low-eaved house under dark spruces.
He had the jolliest, shrewdest old face of wrinkled leather that
Jane had ever seen, with deep-sunk eyes that were like wells of
laughter.  Jane would sit with him for hours while he opened
quahaugs and told her tales of old disaster on the sea, fading old
legends of dune and headland, old romances of the north shore that
were like misty wraiths.  Sometimes other old fishermen and sailors
were there swapping yarns.  Jane sat and listened and shooed
Timothy's tame pig away when it came too near.  The salt winds blew
around her.  The little waves on the harbour would run so fleetly
from the sunset and later on the fishing boats would be bobbing to
the moon.  Sometimes a ghostly white fog would come creeping up
from the dunes, the hills across the harbour would be phantom hills
in the mist, and even ugly things would be lovely and mysterious.

"How's life with ye?" Timothy would say gravely and Jane would tell
him just as gravely that life was very well with her.

Timothy gave her a glass box full of corals and sea-shells from the
West and the East Indies.  He helped her drag up flat stones from
the shore to make paths in her garden.  He taught her to saw and
hammer in nails and swim.  Jane swallowed most of the Atlantic
Ocean learning to swim or thought she did, but she learned, and ran
home, a wet delighted creature, to brag to dad.  And she made a
hammock out of barrel staves that was the talk of Lantern Hill.

"That child will stick at nothing," said Mrs Snowbeam.

Timothy swung it between two of the spruces for her . . . dad
wasn't much good at doing things like that, though he told her he
would do it if she would get him a rhyme for silver.

Timothy taught her to discern the signs of the sky.  Jane had never
felt acquainted with the sky before.  To stand on Lantern Hill and
see the whole sky around you was wonderful.  Jane could sit for
hours at the roots of the spruces gazing at sky and sea, or in some
happy golden hollow among the dunes.  She learned that a mackerel
sky was a sign of fine weather and mare's tails meant wind.  She
learned that red sky at morning foretokened rain, as did the dark
firs on Little Donald's hill when they looked so near and clear.
Jane welcomed rain at Lantern Hill.  She had never liked rain in
the city but here by the sea she loved it.  She loved to listen to
it coming down in the night on the ferns outside her window; she
liked the sound and the scent and the freshness of it.  She loved
to get out in it . . . get sopping wet in it.  She liked the
showers that sometimes fell across the harbour, misty and purple,
when it was quite fine on the Lantern Hill side.  She even liked
thunderstorms, when they passed out to sea beyond the bar of the
shadowy dunes, and didn't come too close.  But one night there was
a terrible one.  Blue swords of lightning stabbed the darkness . . .
thunder crackled all about Lantern Hill.  Jane was crouching in
bed, her head buried in a pillow, when she felt dad's arm go around
her.  He lifted her up and held her close to him, displacing an
indignant pair of Peters.

"Frightened, my Jane?"

"No-o-o," lied Jane valiantly.  "Only . . . it isn't decent."

Dad shouted with laughter.

"You've got the word.  Thunder like that is an insult to decency.
But it will soon pass . . . it is passing now.  'The pillars of
heaven tremble and are astonished at His reproof.'  Do you know
where that is found, Jane?"

"It sounds like the Bible," said Jane, as soon as she got her
breath after a crash that must have split the hill in two.  "I
don't like the Bible."

"Not like the Bible?  Jane, Jane, this will never do.  If any one
doesn't like the Bible there's something wrong either with him or
with the way he was introduced to it.  We must do something about
it.  The Bible is a wonderful book, my Jane.  Full of corking good
stories and the greatest poetry in the world.  Full of the most
amazingly human 'human nature.'  Full of incredible, ageless wisdom
and truth and beauty and common sense.  Yes, yes, we'll see about
it.  I think the worst of the storm is over . . . and to-morrow
morning we'll hear the little waves whispering to each other again
in the sunlight and there'll be a magic of silver wings over the
bar when the gulls go out.  I shall begin the second canto of my
epic on Methuselah's life and Jane will swither in delightful
anguish trying to decide whether to have breakfast indoors or out.
And all the hills will be joyful together . . . more of the Bible,
Jane.  You'll love it."

Perhaps so . . . though Jane thought it would really need a
miracle.  Anyhow, she loved dad.  Mother still shone on her life,
like a memory of the evening star.  But dad was . . . dad!

Jane dropped asleep again and had a terrible dream that she
couldn't find the onions and dad's socks with the blue toes that
needed mending.



23


After all Jane found it did not require a miracle to make her like
the Bible.  She and dad went to the shore every Sunday afternoon
and he read to her from it.  Jane loved those Sunday afternoons.
They took their suppers with them and ate them squatted on the
sand.  She had an inborn love of the sea and all pertaining to it.
She loved the dunes . . . she loved the music of the winds that
whistled along the silvery solitude of the sand-shore . . . she
loved the far dim shores that would be jewelled with home-lights on
fine blue evenings.  And she loved dad's voice reading the Bible to
her.  He had a voice that would make anything sound beautiful.
Jane thought if dad had had no other good quality at all, she must
have loved him for his voice.  And she loved the little comments he
made as he read . . . things that made the verses come alive for
her.  She had never thought that there was anything like that in
the Bible.  But then, dad did not read about knops and taches.

"'When all the morning stars sang together' . . . the essence of
creation's joy is in that, Jane.  Can't you hear that immortal
music of the spheres?  'Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon and thou,
moon, in the vale of Ajalon.'  Such sublime arrogance, Jane . . .
Mussolini himself couldn't rival that.  'Here shall thy proud waves
be stayed' . . . look at them rolling in there, Jane . . . 'so far
and no farther' . . . the majestic law to which they yield
obedience never falters or fails.  'Give me neither poverty nor
riches' . . . the prayer of Agar, son of Jakeh.  A sensible man was
Agar, my Jane.  Didn't I tell you the Bible was full of common
sense?  'A fool uttereth all his mind.'  Proverbs is harder on the
fool than on anybody else, Jane . . . and rightly.  It's the fools
that make all the trouble in the world, not the wicked.  'Whither
thou goest I will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy
people shall be my people and thy God my God; where thou diest will
I die and there will I be buried; the Lord do so to me and more
also if aught but death part thee and me.'  The high-water mark of
the expression of emotion in any language that I'm acquainted with,
Jane . . . Ruth to Naomi . . . and all such simple words.  Hardly
any of more than one syllable . . . the writer of that verse knew
how to marry words as no one else has ever done.  And he knew
enough not to use too many of them.  Jane, the most awful as well
as the most beautiful things in the world can be said in three
words or less . . . 'I love you' . . . 'he is gone' . . . 'he is
come' . . . 'she is dead' . . . 'too late' . . . and life is
illumined or ruined.  'All the daughters of music shall be brought
low' . . . aren't you a little sorry for them, Jane . . . those
foolish, light-footed daughters of music?  Do you think they quite
deserved such a humiliation?  'They have taken away my lord and I
know not where they have laid him' . . . that supreme cry of
desolation!  'Ask for the old paths and walk therein and ye shall
find rest.'  Ah, Jane, the feet of some of us have strayed far from
the old paths . . . we can't find our way back to them, much as we
may long to.  'As cold water to a thirsty soul so is good news from
a far country.'  Were you ever thirsty, Jane . . . really thirsty
. . . burning with fever . . . thinking of heaven in terms of cold
water?  I was, more than once.  'A thousand years in thy sight is
but as yesterday when it is past and as a watch in the night.'
Think of a Being like that, Jane, when the little moments torture
you.  'Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.'
The most terrible and tremendous saying in the world, Jane . . .
because we are all afraid of truth and afraid of freedom . . .
that's why we murdered Jesus."

Jane did not understand all dad said but she put it all away in her
mind to grow up to.  All her life she was to have recurring flashes
of insight when she recalled something dad had said.  Not only of
the Bible but of all the poetry he read to her that summer.  He
taught her the loveliness of words . . . dad read words as if he
tasted them.

"'Glimpses of the moon' . . . one of the immortal phrases of
literature, Jane.  There are phrases with sheer magic in them. . . ."

"I know," said Jane.  "'On the road to Mandalay' . . . I read that
in one of Miss Colwin's books . . . and 'horns of elfland faintly
blowing.'  That gives me a beautiful ache."

"You have the root of the matter in you, Jane.  But, oh, my Jane,
why . . . why . . . did Shakespeare leave his wife his second best
bed?"

"Perhaps because she liked it best," said Jane practically.

"'Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings' . . . to be sure.  I
wonder if that eminently sane suggestion has ever occurred to the
commentators who have agonized over it.  Can you guess who the dark
lady was, Jane?  You know when a poet praises a woman she is
immortal . . . witness Beatrice . . . Laura . . . Lucasta . . .
Highland Mary.  All talked about hundreds of years after they are
dead because great poets loved them.  The weeds are growing over
Troy but we remember Helen."

"I suppose she didn't have a big mouth," said Jane wistfully.

Dad kept a straight face.

"Not too small a one, Jane.  You couldn't imagine goddess Helen
with a rosebud mouth, could you?"

"IS my mouth too big, dad?" implored Jane.  "The girls at St
Agatha's said it was."

"Not too big, Jane.  A generous mouth . . . the mouth of a giver,
not a taker . . . a frank, friendly mouth . . . with very well-cut
corners, Jane.  No weakness about them . . . you wouldn't have
eloped with Paris, Jane, and made all that unholy mess.  You would
have been true to your vows, Jane . . . in spirit as well as in
letter, even in this upside-down world."

Jane had the oddest feeling that dad was thinking of mother, not of
Argive Helen.  But she was comforted by what he said about her
mouth.

Dad did not always read from the masters.  One day he took to the
shore a thin little volume of poems by Bernard Freeman Trotter.

"I knew him overseas . . . he was killed . . . listen to his song
about the poplars, Jane.


     "And so I sing the poplars and when I come to die
      I will not look for jasper walls but cast about my eye
      For a row of wind-blown poplars against an English sky.
     "What will you want to see when you get to heaven,


Jane?"

"Lantern Hill," said Jane.

Dad laughed.  It was so delightful to make dad laugh . . . and so
easy.  Though a good many times Jane didn't know exactly what he
was laughing at.  Jane didn't mind that a bit . . . but sometimes
she wondered if mother had minded it.

One evening after dad had been spouting poetry until he was tired
Jane said timidly, "Would you like to hear me recite, dad?"

She recited "The Little Baby of Mathieu."  It was easy . . . dad
made such a good audience.

"You can do it, Jane.  That was good.  I must give you a bit of
training along that line, too.  I used to be rather good at
interpreting the habitant myself."

"Someone she did not like used to be rather good at reading
habitant poetry" . . . Jane remembered who had said that.  She
understood another thing now.

Dad had rolled over to where he could see their house in a gap in
the twilit dunes.

"I see the Jimmy Johns' light . . . and the Snowbeam light at
Hungry Cove . . . but our house is dark.  Let's go home and light
it up, Jane.  And is there any of that apple-sauce you made for
supper left?"

So they went home together and dad lighted his petrol lamp and sat
down at his desk to work on his epic of Methuselah . . . or
something else . . . and Jane got a candle to light her to bed.
She liked a candle better than a lamp.  It went out so graciously
. . . the thin trail of smoke . . . the smouldering wick, giving one
wild little wink at you before it left you in the dark.

When dad had converted Jane to the Bible, he set about making
history and geography come alive for her.  She had told him she
always found those subjects hard.  But soon history no longer
seemed a clutter of dates and names in some dim, cold antiquity but
became a storied road of time when dad told her old tales of wonder
and the pride of kings.  When he told the simplest incident with
the sound of the sea in his voice, it seemed to take on such a
colouring of romance and mystery that Jane knew she could never
forget it.  Thebes . . . Babylon . . . Tyre . . . Athens . . .
Galilee . . . were places where real folks lived . . . folks she
knew.  And, knowing them, it was easy to be interested in
everything pertaining to them.  Geography, which had once meant
merely a map of the world, was just as fascinating.

"Let's go to India," dad would say . . . and they went . . . though
Jane would sew buttons on dad's shirts all the way.  Min's ma was
hard on buttons.  Soon Jane knew all the fair lands far, far away
as she knew Lantern Hill . . . or so it seemed to her after she had
journeyed through them with father.

"Some day, Jane, you and I will really go and see them.  The Land
of the Midnight Sun . . . doesn't that phrase fascinate you,
Jane? . . . far Cathay . . . Damascus . . . Samarkand . . . Japan in
cherry-blossom time . . . Euphrates among its dead empires . . .
moonrise over Karnak . . . lotus vales in Kashmir . . . castles on
the banks of the Rhine.  There's a villa in the Apennines . . . 'the
cloudy Apennines' . . . I want you to see, my Jane.  Meanwhile,
let's draw a chart of Lost Atlantis."

"Next year I'll be beginning French," said Jane.  "I think I'll
like that."

"You will.  You'll wake up to the fascination of languages.  Think
of them as doors opening into a stately palace for you.  You'll
even like Latin, dead and all as it is.  Isn't a dead language
rather a sad thing, Janet?  Once it lived and burned and glowed.
People said loving things in it . . . bitter things . . . wise and
silly things in it.  I wonder who was the very last person to utter
a sentence in living Latin.  Jane, how many boots would a centipede
need if a centipede needed boots?"

That was dad all over.  Tender . . . serious . . . dreamy . . . and
then a tag of some delightful nonsense.  But Jane knew just how
grandmother would have liked that.

Sundays were interesting at Lantern Hill not only because of the
Bible readings with dad but because she went to the Queen's Shore
church with the Jimmy Johns in the mornings.  Jane liked it
tremendously.  She put on the little green linen jumper dress
grandmother had bought her and carried a hymn-book proudly.  They
went across the fields by a path that wound around the edge of Big
Donald's woods, through a cool back pasture where sheep grazed,
down the road past Min's ma's house, where Min joined them, and
finally along a grassy lane to what was called "the little south
church" . . . a small white building set in a grove of beech and
spruce where lovable winds seemed always purring.  Anything less
like St Barnabas's could hardly be imagined but Jane liked it.  The
windows were plain glass and you could see out of them right into
the woods and past the big wild cherry-tree that grew close up to
the church.  Jane wished she could have seen it in blossom time.
All the people had what Step-a-yard called their Sunday faces on
and Elder Tommy Perkins looked so solemn and other-worldly that
Jane found it almost impossible to believe that he was the same man
as the jolly Tommy Perkins of weekdays.  Mrs Little Donald always
passed her a peppermint over the top of the pew and though Jane
didn't like peppermints she seemed to like that one.  There was,
she reflected, something so nice and religious about its flavour.

For the first time Jane could join in the singing of the hymns and
she did it lustily.  Nobody at 60 Gay had ever supposed Jane could
sing; but she found that she could at least follow a tune and was
duly thankful therefor, as otherwise she would have felt like an
outsider at the Jimmy Johns' "sing-songs" in their old orchard on
Sunday evenings.  In a way Jane thought the sing-songs the best
part of Sunday.  All the Jimmy Johns sang like linnets and
everybody could have his or her favourite hymn in turn.  They sang
what Step-a-yard, who carried a tremendous bass, called "giddier"
hymns than were sung in church, out of little dog-eared, limp-
covered hymn-books.  Sometimes the stay-at-home dog tried to sing,
too.  Beyond them was the beauty of a moonlit sea.

They always ended up with "God Save the King" and Jane went home,
escorted to the door of Lantern Hill by all the Jimmy Johns and the
three dogs who didn't stay at home.  Once dad was sitting in the
garden, on the stone seat Timothy Salt had built for her, smoking
his Old Contemptible and "enjoying the beauty of the darkness," as
he said.  Jane sat down beside him and he put his arm around her.
First Peter prowled darkly around them.  It was so still they could
hear the cows grazing in Jimmy John's field and so cool that Jane
was glad of the warmth of father's tweed arm across her shoulders.
Still and cool and sweet . . . and in Toronto at that moment every
one was gasping in a stifling heat wave, so the Charlottetown paper
had said yesterday.  But mother was with friends in Muskoka.  It
was poor Jody who would be smothering in that hot little attic
room.  If only Jody were here!

"Jane," dad was saying, "should I have sent for you last spring?"

"Of course," said Jane.

"But should I?  Did it hurt . . . anybody?"

Jane's heart beat more quickly.  It was the first time dad had ever
come so near to mentioning mother.

"Not very much . . . because I would be home in September."

"Ah, yes.  Yes, you will go back in September."

Jane waited for something more but it did not come.



24


"Do you ever see anything of Jody?" wrote Jane to mother.  "I
wonder if she is getting enough to eat.  She never says she isn't
in her letters . . . I've had three . . . but sometimes they sound
hungry to me.  I still love her best of all my friends but Shingle
Snowbeam and Polly Garland and Min are very nice.  Shingle is
making great progress.  She always washes behind her ears now and
keeps her nails clean.  And she never throws spit balls though she
thinks it was great fun.  Young John throws them.  Young John is
collecting bottle caps and wears them on his shirt.  We are all
saving bottle caps for him.

"Miranda and I decorate the church every Saturday night with
flowers.  We have a good many of our own and we get some from the
Titus ladies.  We go over on Ding-dong's brother's truck to get
them.  They live at a place called Brook Valley.  Isn't that a nice
name?  Miss Justina is the oldest and Miss Violet the youngest.
They are both tall and thin and very ladylike.  They have a lovely
garden, and if you want to stand in well with them, Miranda says
you must compliment them on their garden.  Then they will do
anything for you.  They have a cherry walk which is wonderful in
spring, Miranda says.  They are both pillows in the church and
every one respects them highly, but Miss Justina has never forgiven
Mr Snowbeam because he once called her 'Mrs' when he was absent-
minded.  He said he would have thought she'd be pleased.

"Miss Violet is going to teach me hemstitching.  She says every
lady ought to know how to sew.  Her face is old but her eyes are
young.  I am very fond of them both.

"Sometimes they quarrel.  They have had a bad time this summer over
a rubber plant that was their mother's who died last year.  They
both think it ugly but sacred and would never dream of throwing it
away, but Miss Violet thinks that now their mother is gone they
could keep it in the back hall, but Miss Justina said, no, it must
stay in the parlour.  Sometimes they would not speak to each other
on account of it.  I told them I thought they might keep it in the
parlour one week and in the back hall one week, turn about.  They
were very much struck with the idea and adopted it and now
everything is smooth at Brook Valley.

"Miranda sang 'Abide with Me' in church last Sunday night.  (They
have preaching at night once a month.)  She says she loves to sing
because she always feels thin when she sings.  She is so fat she is
afraid she will never have any beaus but Step-a-yard says no fear,
the men like a good armful.  Was that coarse, mummy?  Mrs Snowbeam
says it was.

"We sing every Sunday night in the Jimmy Johns' orchard--all sacred
songs of course.  I like the Jimmy Johns' orchard.  The grass is so
nice and long there and the trees grow just as they like.  The
Jimmy Johns have such fun together.  I think a big family is
splendid.

"Punch Jimmy John is teaching me how to run across a stubble-field
on bare feet so it won't hurt.  I go barefoot sometimes here.  The
Jimmy Johns and Snowbeams all do.  It's so nice to run through the
cool wet grass and wriggle your toes in the sand and feel wet mud
squashing up between them.  You don't mind, do you, mother?

"Min's ma does our washing for us.  I'm sure I could do it but I am
not allowed to.  Min's ma does washing for all the summer boarders
at the Harbour Head, too.  Min's ma's pig was very sick but Uncle
Tombstone doctored it up and cured it.  I'm so glad it got well,
for if it had died I don't know what Min and her ma would have to
live on next winter.  Min's ma is noted for her clam chowder.  She
is teaching me how to make it.  Shingle and I dig the clams.

"I made a cake yesterday and ants got in the icing.  I was so
mortyfied because we had company for supper.  I wish I knew how to
keep ants in their place.  But Uncle Tombstone says I can make soup
that IS soup.  We are going to have chicken for dinner to-morrow.
I've promised to save the neck for Young John and a drumstick for
Shingle.  And oh, mother, the pond is full of trout.  We catch them
and eat them.  Just fancy catching fish in your own pond and frying
them for supper.

"Step-a-yard has false teeth.  He always takes them out and puts
them in his pocket when he eats.  When he is out of an evening and
they give him lunch, he always says, 'Thanks, I'll call again,' but
if they don't, he never goes back.  He says he has to be self-
respecting.

"Timothy Salt lets me look through his spy-glass.  It's such fun
looking at things through the wrong end.  They seem so small and
far away as if you were in another world.

"Polly and I found a bed of sweet grass on the sandhills yesterday.
I've picked a bunch to take back for you, mother.  It's nice to put
among handkerchiefs, Miss Violet Titus says.

"We named the Jimmy Johns' calves to-day.  We called the pretty
ones after people we like and the ugly ones after people we don't
like.

"Shingle and Polly and I are to sell candy at the ice-cream social
in the Corners hall next week.

"We all made a fire of driftwood on the shore the other night and
danced about it.

"Penny Snowbeam and Punch Jimmy John are very busy now bugging
potatoes.  I don't like potato bugs.  When Punch Jimmy John said I
was a brave girl because I wasn't afraid of mice, Penny said, 'Oh
ho, put a bug on her and see how brave she'll be.'  I am glad Punch
did not put me to the test because I am afraid I could not have
stood it.

"The front door had got sticky so I borrowed Step-a-yard's plane
and fixed it.  I also patched Young John's trousers.  Mrs Snowbeam
said she'd run out of patches and his little bottom was almost
bare.

"Mrs Little Donald is going to show me how to make marmalade.  She
puts hers up in such dinky little stone jars her aunt left her, but
I'll have to put mine in sealers.

"Uncle Tombstone got me to write a letter to his wife who is
visiting in Halifax.  I started it 'My dear wife' but he said he
never called her that and it might give her a turn and I'd better
put 'Dear Ma.'  He says he can write himself but it is the spelling
sticks him.

"Mummy, I love you, love you, love you."

Jane laid her head down on the letter and swallowed a lump in her
throat.  If only mother were here . . . with her and daddy . . .
going swimming with them . . . lying on the sand with them . . .
eating fresh trout out of the pond with them . . . laughing with
them over the little household jokes that were always coming up . . .
running with them under the moon . . . how beautiful everything
would be!



25


Little Aunt Em had sent word to Lantern Hill that Jane Stuart was
to come and see her.

"You must go," said dad.  "Little Aunt Em's invitations are like
those of royalty in this neck of the woods."

"Who is little Aunt Em?"

"Blest if I know exactly.  She's either Mrs Bob Barker or Mrs Jim
Gregory.  I never can remember which of them was her last husband.
Anyway, it doesn't matter . . . everybody calls her Little Aunt Em.
She's about as high as my knee and so thin she once blew over the
harbour and back.  But she's a wise old goblin.  She lives on that
little side-road you were asking about the other day and does
weaving and spinning and dyeing rug rags.  Dyes them in the good
old-fashioned way with herbs and barks and lichens.  What Little
Aunt Em doesn't know about the colours you can get that way isn't
worth knowing.  They never fade.  Better go this evening, Jane.
I've got to get the third canto of my Methuselah epic done this
evening.  I've only got the young chap along as far as his first
three hundred years."

At first Jane had believed with a touching faith in that epic of
Methuselah.  But now it was just a standing joke at Lantern Hill.
When dad said he must knock off another canto, Jane knew he had to
write some profound treatise for Saturday Evening and must not be
disturbed.  He did not mind having her around when he wrote poetry--
love lyrics, idylls, golden sonnets--but poetry did not pay very
well and Saturday Evening did.

Jane set out after supper for Little Aunt Em's.  The Snowbeams, who
had already missed one excitement that afternoon, wanted to go with
her in a body, but Jane refused their company.  Then they were all
mad and--with the exception of Shingle who decided it wasn't
ladylike to push yourself in where you weren't wanted and went home
to Hungry Cove--persisted in accompanying Jane for quite a
distance, walking close to the fence in exaggerated awe and calling
out taunts as she marched disdainfully down the middle of the road.

"Ain't it a pity her ears stick out?" said Penny.

Jane knew her ears didn't stick out so this didn't worry her.  But
the next thing did.

"S'posen you meet a crocodile on the side-road?" called Caraway.
"That'd be worse than a cow."

Jane winced.  How in the world did the Snowbeams know she was
afraid of cows?  She thought she had hidden that very cleverly.

The Snowbeams had got their tongues loosened up now and peppered
Jane with a perfect barrage of insults.

"Did you ever see such a high-and-lofty, stuck-up minx?"

"Proud as a cat driving a buggy, ain't you?"

"Too grand for the likes of us."

"I always said you'd a proud mouth."

"Do you think Little Aunt Em will give you any lunch?"

"If she does I know what it will be," yelled Penny.  "Raspberry
vinegar and two cookies and a sliver of cheese.  Yah!  Who'd eat
that?  Yah!"

"I'll bet you're afraid of the dark."

Jane, who was not in the least afraid of the dark, still preserved
a withering silence.

"You're a foreigner," said Penny.

Nothing else they had said mattered.  Jane knew her Snowbeams.  But
this infuriated her.  She--a foreigner!  In her own darling Island
where she had been born!  She stopped short at Penny.

"Just you wait," she said with concentrated venom, "till the next
time any of you want to scrape a bowl."

The Snowbeams all stopped short.  They had not thought of this.
Better not rile Jane Stuart any more.

"Aw, we didn't mean to hurt your feelings . . . honest," protested
Caraway.  They promptly started homeward but the irrepressible
Young John yelled, "Good-bye, Collarbones," as he turned.

Jane, after she had shrugged off the Snowbeams, had a good time
with herself on that walk.  That she could go where she liked over
the countryside, unhindered, uncriticized, was one of the most
delightful things about her life at Lantern Hill.  She was glad of
an excuse to explore the side-road where Little Aunt Em lived.  She
had often wondered where it went to--that timid little red road,
laced with firs and spruces, that tried to hide itself by twisting
and turning.  The air was full of the scent of sun-warmed grasses
gone to seed, the trees talked all about her in some lost sweet
language of elder days, rabbits hopped out of the ferns and into
them.  In a little hollow she saw a faded sign by the side of the
road . . . straggling black letters on a white board, put up years
agone by an old man, long since dead.  "Ho, every one that
thirsteth come ye to the waters."  Jane followed the pointing
finger down a fairy path between the trees and found a deep clear
spring, rimmed in by mossy stones.  She stooped and drank, cupping
the water in her brown palm.  A squirrel was impudent to her from
an old beech and Jane sassed him back.  She would have liked to
linger there but the western sky above the tree-tops was already
filled with golden rays, and she must hasten.  When she passed up
out of the brook hollow, she saw Little Aunt Em's house curled up
like a cat on the hillside.  A long lane led up to it, edged with
clumps of white and gold life-everlasting.  When Jane reached the
house she found Little Aunt Em spinning on a little wheel set
before her kitchen door, with a fascinating pile of silvery wool
rolls lying on the bench beside her.  She stood up when Jane opened
the gate--she was really a little higher than dad's knee but she
was not so tall as Jane.  She wore an old felt hat that had
belonged to one of her husbands on her rough, curly grey head, and
her little black eyes twinkled in a friendly fashion in spite of
her blunt question.

"Who are you?"

"I'm Jane Stuart."

"I knew it," said Aunt Em in a tone of triumph.  "I knew it the
minute I saw you walking up the lane.  You can always tell a Stuart
anywhere you see him by his walk."

Jane had her own way of walking . . . quickly but not jerkily,
lightly but firmly.  The Snowbeams said she strutted but Jane did
not strut.  She felt very glad that Little Aunt Em thought she
walked like the Stuarts.  And she liked Little Aunt Em at first
sight.

"You might come and sit down a spell if you've a mind to," said
Little Aunt Em, offering a wrinkled brown hand.  "I've finished
this lick of work I was doing for Mrs Big Donald.  Ah, I'm not up
to much now but I was a smart woman in my day, Jane Stuart."

Not a floor in Aunt Em's house was level.  Each one sloped in a
different direction.  It was not notoriously tidy but there was a
certain hominess about it that Jane liked.  The old chair she sat
down in was a friend.

"Now we can have a talk," said Little Aunt Em.  "I'm in the humour
for it to-day.  When I'm not, nobody can get a word out of me.  Let
me get my knitting.  I neither tat, sew, embroider nor crochet, but
the hull Maritimes can't beat me knitting.  I've been wanting to
see you for some time . . . everybody's talking about you.  I'm
hearing you're smart.  Mrs Big Donald says you can cook like a blue
streak.  Where did you learn it?"

"Oh, I guess I've always known how," said Jane airily.  Not under
torture would she have revealed to Little Aunt Em that she had
never done any cooking before she came to the Island.  That might
reflect on mother.

"I didn't know you and your dad was at Lantern Hill till Mrs Big
Donald told me last week at Mary Howe's funeral.  I don't get
anywhere much now 'cept to funerals.  I always make out to get to
them.  You see everybody and hear all the news.  Soon as Mrs Big
Donald told me I made up my mind I'd see you.  What thick hair
you've got!  And what nice little ears!  You have a mole on your
neck . . . that's money by the peck.  You don't look like your ma,
Jane Stuart.  I knew her well."

Jane's spine felt tickly.

"Oh, did you?" breathlessly.

"I did.  They lived in a house at the Harbour Head, and I was
living there too, on a bit of a farm, beyant the barrens.  It was
just after I'd married my second, worse luck.  The way the men get
round you!  I used to take butter and eggs to your ma and I was in
the house the night you were born . . . a wonderful fine night it
was.  How is your ma?  Pretty and silly as ever?"

Jane tried to resent mother being called silly but couldn't manage
it.  Somehow, you couldn't resent anything Little Aunt Em said.
She twinkled at you so.  Jane suddenly felt that she could talk to
Little Aunt Em about mother . . . ask her things she had never been
able to ask any one.

"Mother is well . . . oh, Aunt Em, can you tell me . . . I MUST
find out . . . why didn't father and mother go on living together?"

"Now you're asking, Jane Stuart!"  Aunt Em scratched her head with
a knitting-needle.  "Nobody ever knew rightly.  Every one had a
different guess."

"Did they . . . were they . . . did they really love each other to
begin with, Aunt Em?"

"They did.  Make no mistake about that, Jane Stuart.  They hadn't a
lick of sense between them but they were crazy about each other.
Will you have an apple?"

"And why didn't it last?  Was it me?  They didn't want me?"

"Who said so?  I know your ma was wild with joy when you was born.
Wasn't I there?  And I always thought your pa uncommon fond of you,
though he had his own way of showing it."

"Then why . . . why . . .?"

"Lots of people thought your Grandmother Kennedy was at the bottom
of it.  She was dead against them marrying, you know.  They were
staying at the big hotel on the south shore that summer after the
war.  Your dad was just home.  It was love at first sight with him.
I dunno's I blamed him.  Your ma was the prettiest thing I ever did
see . . . like a little gold butterfly she was.  That little head
of hers sorter shone like."

Oh, didn't Jane know it!  She was seeing that wonderful knot of
pale luminous gold at the nape of mother's white neck.

"And her laugh . . . it was a little tinkling, sparkling, young
laugh.  Does she laugh like that yet, Jane Stuart?"

Jane didn't know what to say.  Mother laughed a great deal . . .
very tinkly . . . very sparkly . . . but was it young?

"Mother laughs a good deal," she said carefully.

"She was spoiled of course.  She'd always had everything she
wanted.  And when she wanted your pa . . . well, she had to have
him too.  For the first time in her life, I'm guessing, she wanted
something her mother wouldn't get for her.  The old madam was dead
against it.  Your ma couldn't stand up to her but she ran away with
your pa.  Old Mrs Kennedy went back to Toronto in a towering rage.
But she kept writing to your ma and sending her presents and
coaxing her to go for visits.  Your pa's folks weren't any more in
favour of the match than your ma's.  He could have had any Island
girl he liked.  One in particular . . . Lilian Morrow.  She was
yaller and spindling then but she's grown into a handsome woman.
Never married.  Your Aunt Irene favoured her.  I've always said it
was that two-faced Irene made more trouble than your grandmother.
She's poison, that woman, just sweet poison.  Even when she was a
girl she could say the most p'isonous things in the sweetest way.
But she had your pa roped and tied . . . she'd always petted and
pampered him . . . men are like that, Jane Stuart, every one of
them, clever or stupid.  He thought Irene was perfection and he'd
never believe she was a mischief-maker.  Your pa and ma had their
ups and downs, of course, but it was Irene put the sting into them,
wagging that smooth tongue of hers . . . 'She's only a child,
'Drew' . . . when your dad was wanting to believe he'd married a
woman, not a child.  'You're so young, lovey' . . . when your ma
was feeling scared she'd never be old and wise enough for your pa.
And patronizing her . . . she'd patronize God, that one . . .
running her house for her . . . not that your ma knew much about it
. . . that was one of her troubles, I guess . . . she'd never been
taught how to manage or connive . . . but a woman don't like
another woman sailing in putting things to rights.  I'd have sent
her off with a flea in her ear . . . but your ma had darn too
little spunk . . . she couldn't stand up to Irene."

Of course, mother couldn't stand up to Aunt Irene . . . mother
couldn't stand up to any one.  Jane bit deep into a juicy apple
rather savagely.

"I wonder," she said, as if more to herself than to Little Aunt Em,
"if father and mother would have been happier if they had married
other people."

"No, they wouldn't," said Aunt Em sharply.  "They was meant for
each other, whatever spoiled it.  Don't you go thinking different,
Jane Stuart.  'Course they fought!  Who don't?  The times I've had
with my first and second!  If they'd been let alone they'd likely
have worked it out sooner or later.  At the last, when you was
rising three, your ma went to Toronto to visit the old madam and
never come back.  That's all anybody knows about it, Jane Stuart.
Your pa sold the house and went for a trip round the world.
Leastwise, that's what they said but I ain't believing the world is
round.  If it was, when it turned round all the water would fall
out of the pond, wouldn't it?  Now, I'm going to get you a bite to
eat.  I've got some cold ham and pickled beets and there's red
currants in the garden."

They ate the ham and beets and then went out to the garden for the
currants.  The garden was an untidy little place, sloping to the
south, which somehow contrived to be pleasant.  There was
honeysuckle over the paling . . . "to bring the humming-birds,"
said Little Aunt Em and white and red hollyhocks against the dark
green of a fir coppice and rampant tiger-lilies along the walk.
And one corner was rich in pinks.

"Nice out here, ain't it?" said Little Aunt Em.  "It's a fine,
marvellous world . . . oh, it's a very fine, marvellous world.
Don't you like life, Jane Stuart?"

"Yes," agreed Jane heartily.

"I do.  I smack my lips over life.  I'd like to go on living for
ever and hearing the news.  Always a tang to the news.  Some of
these days I'm going to scrape up enough spunk to go in a car.
I've never done it yet, but I will.  Mrs Big Donald says it's the
dream of her life to go up in an airy-plane but I draw the line at
sky-hooting.  What if the engine stopped going while you was up
there?  How are you going to get down?  Well, I'm glad you come,
Jane Stuart.  We're both wove out of the same yarn."

Little Aunt Em gave Jane a bunch of pansies and a handful of
geranium slips when she went away.

"It's the right time of the moon to plant them," she said.  "Good-
bye, Jane Stuart.  May you never drink out of an empty cup."

Jane walked home slowly, thinking over several things.  She loved
being out alone at night.  She liked the great white clouds that
occasionally sailed over the stars.  She felt, as she always felt
when alone with the night, that she shared some lovely secret with
the darkness.

Then the moon rose . . . a great honey-hued moon.  The fields all
about were touched with her light.  The grove of pointed firs on an
eastern hill was like a magic town of slender steeples.  Jane
tripped along gaily, singing to herself, while her black shadow ran
before her on the moonlit road.  And then, just around a turn, she
saw cows before her.  One of them, a big black one with a strange
white face, was standing squarely in the middle of the road.

Jane came out in gooseflesh.  She could not try to pass those cows
. . . she could not.  The only thing to do was to execute a
flanking movement by climbing the fence into Big Donald's pasture
and going through it until she was past the cows.  Ingloriously
Jane did so.  But half-way along the field she suddenly stopped.

"How can I blame mother for not standing up to grandmother when I
can't stand up to a few cows?" she thought.

She turned and went back.  She climbed the fence into the road.
The cows were still there.  The white-faced one had not moved.
Jane set her teeth and walked on with steady, gallant eyes.  The
cow did not budge.  Jane went past it, head in air.  When she was
beyond the last cow, she turned and looked back.  Not a cow of them
had paid her the slightest attention.

"To think I was afraid of you," said Jane contemptuously.

And there was Lantern Hill and the silver laughter of the harbour
underneath the moon.  Jimmy John's little red heifer was in the
yard and Jane drove it out fearlessly.

Dad was scribbling furiously when she peeped into the study.
Ordinarily Jane would not have interrupted him but she remembered
that there was something she ought to tell him.

"Dad, I forgot to tell you the house caught fire this afternoon."

Dad dropped his pen and stared at her.

"Caught fire?"

"Yes, from a spark that fell on the roof.  But I went up with a
pail of water and put it out.  It only burned a little hole.  Uncle
Tombstone will soon fix it.  The Snowbeams were awful mad they
missed it."

Dad shook his head helplessly.

"What a Jane!" he said.

Jane, having discharged her conscience and being hungry again after
her walk, made a meal off a cold fried trout and went to bed.



26


"I like a patch of excitement about once a week," dad would say and
then they would get into the old car, taking Happy with them and
leaving milk for the Peters, travelling east, west and sideways, as
the road took them.  Monday was generally the day for these
gaddings.  Every day meant something at Lantern Hill.  Tuesday Jane
mended, Wednesday she polished the silver, Thursday she swept and
dusted downstairs, Friday upstairs, Saturday she scrubbed the floor
and did extra baking for Sunday.  On Monday, as dad said, they just
did fool things.

They explored most of the Island that way, eating their meals by
the side of the road whenever they felt hungry.  "For all the world
like a pair of gipsies," condescended Aunt Irene smilingly.  Jane
knew Aunt Irene held her responsible for the vagabondish ways dad
was getting into now.  But Jane was beginning to fence herself
against Aunt Irene by a sturdy little philosophy of her own.  Aunt
Irene felt it, though she couldn't put it into words.  If she could
have, she would have said that Jane looked at her and then, quietly
and politely, shut some door of her soul in her face.

"I can't get near to her, Andrew," she complained.

Dad laughed.

"Jane likes a clear space round her . . . as I do."

They did not often include Charlottetown in their Mondays, but one
day in late August they pacified Aunt Irene by having supper with
her.  Another lady was there . . . a Miss Morrow to whom Jane took
no great fancy . . . perhaps because when she smiled at Jane she
looked too much like a toothpaste advertisement.  Perhaps because
dad seemed to like her.  He and she laughed and chaffed a great
deal.  She was tall and dark and handsome, with rather prominent
brown eyes.  And she tried so hard to be nice to Jane that it was
almost painful.

"Your father and I have always been great friends.  So we should be
friends, too."

"An old sweetheart of your father's, lovey," Aunt Irene whispered
to Jane when Miss Morrow had gone, attended to the gate by father.
"If your mother hadn't come along . . . who knows?  Even yet . . .
but I don't know if a United States divorce would be legal in P. E.
Island."

They stayed in to see a picture and it was late when they left for
home.  Not that that mattered.  The Peters wouldn't care.

"We'll take the Mercer road home," said dad.  "It's a base-line
road and not many houses along it but I'm told it's simply lousy
with leprechauns.  Perhaps we'll manage to see one, skipping madly
out of reach of the car lights.  Keep your eyes peeled, Jane."

Leprechauns or no leprechauns, the Mercer road was not a very good
place to be cast away in.  As they were rocking joyously down a
dark narrow hill, shadowy with tall firs and spruces, the car
stopped short, never to go again . . . at least, not until
something decisive had been done to its innards.  So dad decided
after much fruitless poking and probing.

"We're ten miles from a garage and one from the nearest house where
every one will be asleep, Jane.  It's after twelve.  What shall we
do?"

"Sleep in the car," said Jane coolly.

"I know a better plan.  See that old barn over there?  It's Jake
Mallory's back barn and full of hay.  I've a yen for sleeping in a
hay loft, Jane."

"I think that will be fun," agreed Jane.

The barn was in a pasture field that had "gone spruce."  Tiny trees
were feathering up all over it . . . at least, they looked like
trees in the soft darkness.  Maybe they were really leprechauns,
squatting there.  There was a loft filled with clover hay and they
lay down on it before the open window where they could watch the
stars blazing down.  Happy lay cuddled up to Jane and was soon
dreaming blissfully of rabbits.

Jane thought father had gone to sleep, too.  Somehow, she couldn't
sleep; she didn't especially want to.  She was at one and the same
time very happy and a little miserable.  Happy because she was
there with dad under the spell of the moonless night.  Jane rather
liked a night with no moon.  You got closer to the secret moods of
the fields then; and there were such beautiful mysterious sounds on
a dark night.  They were too far inland to hear the haunting rhythm
of the sea, but there were whispers and rustles in the poplars
behind the barn . . . "there's magic in the poplars when the wind
goes through," remembered Jane . . . and sounds like fairy
footsteps pattering by.  Who knew but that the elves were really
out in the fern?  And each far wooded hill with a star for its
friend seemed listening . . . listening . . . couldn't you hear it,
too, if you listened?  Jane had never, before she came to the
Island, known how beautiful night could be.

But along with all this she was thinking of what Aunt Irene had
said about Miss Morrow and a United States divorce.  Jane felt that
she was haunted by those mysterious United States divorces.  Hadn't
Phyllis talked of them?  Jane wished peevishly that the United
States would keep their divorces at home.

Little Aunt Em had told her that father could have had lots of
girls.  Jane rather liked to speculate on those girls father might
have had, secure in the knowledge that he could never have them
now.  But Miss Morrow made them seem disagreeably real.  Had dad
held her hand a shade too long when he said good-bye?  Somehow,
life was all snarled up.

Jane suppressed several sighs and then allowed one to escape her.
Instantly dad turned over and a lean, strong hand touched hers.

"It seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that something is
bothering my Superior Jane.  Tell Happy about it and I'll listen
in."

Jane lay very still and silent.  Oh, if she could only tell him
everything--find out everything she wanted so much to know!  But
she couldn't.  There was a barrier between them.

"Did your mother teach you to hate me, Jane?"

Jane's heart gave a bound that almost choked her.  She had promised
mother that SHE wouldn't mention her name to dad and she had kept
that promise.  It was dad who had done the mentioning.  Would it be
wrong to allow him?

Jane decided then and there to take a chance on it.

"No, oh, no, dad.  I didn't even know you were alive until about a
year and a half ago."

"You didn't!  Ah, that would be your grandmother's doings.  And who
told you then that I was?"

"A girl in school.  And I thought you couldn't have been good to
mother or she wouldn't have . . . left . . . you and I did hate you
then for that.  But nobody ever told me to hate you . . . only
grandmother said you had sent for me just to annoy mother.  You
didn't . . . did you, dad?"

"No.  I may be selfish, Jane, no doubt I am . . . I was told so
more than once . . . but I'm not so selfish as that.  I thought you
were being brought up to hate me and I didn't think that fair.  I
thought you ought to have a chance to like me if you could.  That
was why I sent for you.  Your mother and I made a failure of our
marriage, Jane, as many other young fools have done.  That is the
bare bones of it."

"But why . . . why . . . mother is so sweet. . . ."

"You don't need to tell me how sweet she is, Jane.  When I first
saw her, I was just out of the mud and stench and obscenity of the
trenches and I thought she was a creature from another star.  I had
never been able to understand the Trojan War before that.  Then I
realized that Helen of Troy might have been worth fighting for if
she were like my Robin of the golden hair.  And her eyes.  All blue
eyes are not beautiful, but hers were so lovely that they made you
feel that no eyes other than blue were worth looking at.  Her
lashes did things to me you wouldn't believe.  She wore a green
dress the first time I saw her . . . well, if any other girl had
worn the dress, it would have been a green dress and nothing more.
On Robin it was magic . . . mystery . . . the robe of Titania.  I
would have kissed the hem of it."

"And did she fall in love with you, dad?"

"Something like that.  Yes, she must have loved me for a while.  We
ran away, you know . . . her mother had no use for me.  I don't
think she'd have liked any man who took Robin from her . . . but I
was poor and a nobody so I was quite impossible.

"I asked Robin one moonlight night to come away with me.  The old
moonlight enchantment did not fail.  Never trust yourself in
moonlight, Superior Jane.  If I'd my way I'd lock everybody up on
moonlight nights.  We went to live at the Harbour Head and we were
happy . . . why, I found a new word for sweetheart every day . . .
I discovered I was a poet . . . I babbled of pools and grots, Jane
. . . yes, we were happy that first year.  I've always got that . . .
the gods themselves can't take THAT from me."

Dad's voice was almost savage.

"And then," said Jane bitterly, "I came . . . and neither of you
wanted me . . . and you were never happy again."

"Never let any one tell you that, Jane.  I admit I didn't want you
terribly . . . I was so happy I didn't want any third party around.
But I remember when I saw your big round eyes brighten the first
time you picked me out in a roomful of other men.  Then I knew how
much I wanted you.  Perhaps your mother wanted you too much . . .
at any rate she didn't seem to want any one else to love you.  You
wouldn't have thought I had any rights in you at all.  She was so
wrapped up in you that she hadn't any time or love left for me.  If
you sneezed she was sure you were taking pneumonia and thought me
heartless because I wouldn't go off the deep end about it.  She
seemed afraid even to let me hold you for fear I'd drop you.  Oh
well, it wasn't all you.  I suppose by that time she had found she
had married some mythical John Doe of her imagination and that he
had turned out to be no dashing hero but just a very ordinary
Richard Roe.  There were so many things . . . I was poor and we had
to live by my budget. . . .  I wasn't going to have my wife live on
money her mother sent her. . . .  I made her send it back.  I will
say she was quite willing to.  But we began quarrelling over
trifles . . . oh, you know I've a temper, Jane.  I remember once I
told her to shut her head . . . but every normal husband says that
to his wife at least once in his life, Jane.  I don't wonder that
hurt her . . . but she was hurt by so many things I never thought
would hurt her.  Perhaps I don't understand women, Jane."

"No, you don't," agreed Jane.

"Eh!  What!"  Dad seemed a bit startled and only half pleased over
Jane's candid agreement with him.  "Well, upon my word . . . well,
we won't argue it.  But Robin didn't understand me either.  She was
jealous of my work . . . she thought I put it before her. . . .  I
know she was secretly glad when my book was rejected."

Jane remembered that mother had thought dad was jealous, too.

"Don't you think Aunt Irene had something to do with it, dad?"

"Irene?  Nonsense!  Irene was her best friend.  And your mother was
jealous of my love for Irene.  Your mother couldn't help being a
little jealous . . . HER mother was the most jealous creature that
ever breathed.  It was a disease with her.  In the end Robin went
back to Toronto for a visit . . . and when she got there, she wrote
me that she was not coming back."

"Oh, dad!"

"Well, I suppose her mother got round her.  But she had stopped
loving me.  I knew that.  I didn't want to see hate growing in the
eyes where I had seen love.  That is a terrible thing, Jane.  So I
didn't answer the letter."

"Oh, dad . . . if you had . . . if you had asked her . . ."

"I agree with Emerson that the highest price you can pay for a
thing is to ask for it.  Too high sometimes.  A year later I
weakened . . . I did write and ask her to come back.  I knew it had
been as much my fault as hers . . . I'd teased her . . . once I
said you had a face like a monkey . . . well, you had, Jane, at
that time. . . .  I'll swear you had.  I never got any answer.  So
I knew it was no use."

A question came into Jane's head.  Had mother ever seen that
letter?

"It's all best as it is, Jane.  We weren't suited to each other. . . .
I was ten years her senior and the war had made me twenty.  I
couldn't give her the luxuries and good times she craved.  She was
very . . . wise . . . to discard me.  Let's not discuss it further,
Jane.  I merely wanted you to know the rights of it.  And you must
not mention anything I've said to your mother.  Promise me that,
Jane."

Jane promised dismally.  There were so many things she wanted to
say and she couldn't say them.  It mightn't be fair to mother.

But she had to falter, "Perhaps . . . it isn't too late yet, dad."

"Don't get any foolish notions like that into your russet head, my
Jane.  It IS too late.  I shall never again ask Mrs Robert
Kennedy's daughter to come back to me.  We must make the best of
things as they are.  You and I love each other . . . I am to be
congratulated on that."

For a moment Jane was perfectly happy.  Dad loved her . . . she was
sure of it at last.

"Oh, dad, can't I come back next summer . . . every summer?" she
burst out eagerly.

"Do you really want to, Jane?"

"Yes," said Jane eloquently.

"Then we'll have it so.  After all, if Robin has you in the winter,
I should have you in the summer.  She needn't grudge me that.  And
you're a good little egg, Jane.  In fact, I think we're both rather
nice."

"Dad" . . . Jane had to ask the question . . . she had to go right
to the root of the matter . . . "do you . . . love . . . mother
still?"

There was a moment of silence during which Jane quaked.  Then she
heard dad shrug his shoulders in the hay.

"'The rose that once has blown for ever dies,'" he said.

Jane did not think that was an answer at all but she knew it was
all she was going to get.

She turned things over in her mind before she went to sleep.  So
dad hadn't sent for her just to annoy mother.  But he didn't
understand mother.  That habit of his . . . ragging you . . . she,
Jane, liked it but perhaps mother hadn't understood.  And father
hadn't liked it because he thought mother neglected him for her
baby.  And he couldn't see through Aunt Irene.  And was this what
mother had cried about that night in the darkness?  Jane couldn't
bear to think of mother crying in the dark.

Between Little Aunt Em and dad she now knew a good deal she had not
known before but . . .

"I'd like to hear mummy's side of it," was Jane's last thought as
she finally fell asleep.

There was a pearl-like radiance of dawn over the eastern hills when
she awoke . . . awoke knowing something she had not known when she
went to sleep.  Dad still loved mother.  There was no further
question in Jane's mind about that.

Dad was still asleep but she and Happy slipped down the ladder and
out.  Surely there had never before been a day that dawned so
beautifully.  The old pasture around the barn was the quietest
place Jane had ever seen, and on the grass between the little
spruces . . . spruces by day all right whatever they were by night
. . . were gossamers woven on who knew what fairy loom.  Jane was
washing her face in morning dew when dad appeared.

"It is the essence of adventure to see the break of a new day,
Jane.  What may it not be ushering in?  An empire may fall to-day
. . . a baby may be born who will discover a cure for cancer . . .
a wonderful poem may be written. . . ."

"Our car will have to be fixed," reminded Jane.

They walked a mile to a house and telephoned a garage.  Some time
before noon the car was on its legs again.

"Watch our smoke," said dad.

Home . . . and the Peters welcoming them back . . . the gulf
singing . . . Millicent Mary toddling adoringly in at the gate.  It
was a lovely August day but the Jimmy John wheat-field was tawny
gold and September was waiting behind the hills . . . and September
meant Toronto and grandmother and St Agatha's again where she would
be on the edge of things instead of hunting with the pack as here.
The ninety-five to-morrows had shrunk to only a few.  Jane sighed
. . . then shook herself.  What was the matter with her?  She loved
mother . . . she longed to see her . . . but . . .

"I want to stay with dad," said Jane.



27


August slipped into September.  Jimmy John began to summer fallow
the big pasture field below the pond.  Jane liked the look of the
fresh red furrows.  And she liked Mrs Jimmy John's flock of white
geese swimming about the pond.  There had been a time when Jane had
kept a flock of white swans on a purple lake in the moon, but now
she preferred the geese.  Day by day the wheat-and oat-fields
became more golden.  Then Step-a-yard mowed the Jimmy John wheat.
The Peters grew so fat catching evicted field-mice that dad told
Jane she would really have to put them on a slimming diet.

Summer was ended.  A big storm marked the ending, preceded by a
week of curiously still weather.  Step-a-yard shook his head and
didn't like it.  Something uncommon was brewing, he said.

The weather all summer had behaved itself well . . . days of sun
and days of friendly rain.  Jane had heard of the north shore
storms and wanted to see one.  She got her wish with a vengeance.

One day the gulf changed sulkily from blue to grey.  The hills were
clear and sharp, foretelling rain.  The sky to the north-east was
black, the clouds were dark with bitter wind.

"Lots of int'resting weather coming . . . don't hold me responsible
for it," warned Step-a-yard when Jane started home from the Jimmy
Johns'.  She literally blew along the path and felt that if Lantern
Hill hadn't stood in the way she might have emulated Little Aunt
Em's reputed exploit of blowing over the harbour.  There was a
wild, strange, hostile look all over the world.  The very trees
seemed strangers in the oncoming storm.

"Shut the doors and windows tight, Jane," said dad.  "Our house
will just laugh at the east wind."

The storm broke presently and lasted for two days.  The wind that
night didn't sound like wind at all . . . it sounded like the roar
of a wild beast.  For two days you could see nothing but a swirl of
grey rain over a greyer sea . . . hear nothing but the tremendous
music of huge breakers booming against the stubborn rocks of lower
Queen's Shore.  Jane liked it all after she got used to it.
Something in her thrilled to it.  And they were very cosy, sitting
before their fire of white birchwood those wild nights, while the
rain poured against the window and the wind roared and the gulf
thundered.

"This is something like, Jane," said dad puffing at the Old
Contemptible with a Peter on either shoulder.  "Mankind must have
its hearth-fire after all.  It's a cold life warming yourself
before other people's stoves."

And then he told Jane that he had decided to keep on living at
Lantern Hill.

Jane gave a gasp of joy and relief.  At first it had been vaguely
understood that when Jane went dad would shut up Lantern Hill and
go to town for the winter; and Jane had consequently been cumbered
with certain worries.

What would become of her windowful of geraniums?  The Jimmy Johns
had enough of their own to look after.  Dad would take Happy with
him but what about the Peters?  And the house itself . . . the
thought of its unlighted windows was unbearable.  It would be so
lonely . . . so deserted.

"Oh, dad, I'm so glad . . . I couldn't bear to think of it missing
us.  But won't you . . . how about your meals?"

"Oh, I can get up a bite for myself, I daresay."

"I'm going to teach you to fry a steak and boil potatoes before I
go," said Jane resolutely.  "You can't starve then."

"Jane, you'll beat your husband . . . I know you will.  It is no
use trying to teach me to cook.  Remember our first porridge.  I
daresay the Jimmy Johns won't see me starve.  I'll arrange for one
good meal a day there.  Yes, I'm staying on here, Jane.  I'll keep
the heart of Lantern Hill beating for you.  I'll water the
geraniums and see that the Peters don't get rheumatism in their
legs.  But I can't imagine what the place will be like without
you. . . ."

"You WILL miss me a little, won't you, dad?"

"A little!  My Jane is trying to be humorous.  But one consolation
is that I'll likely get a little real work done on my Methuselah
epic.  I won't have so many interruptions.  And I'll be able to
growl without getting dirty looks."

"You may just have one growl a day," grinned Jane.  "Oh, I'm so
glad I made lots of jam.  The pantry is full of it."

It was the next night dad showed her the letters.  He was at his
desk with Second Peter snoozing at his feet when Jane went in after
washing the supper dishes.  He was leaning his head on his hand and
Jane thought with a sudden pang that he looked old and tired.  The
cat with the green spots and the diamond eyes was winking at him.

"Where did you get that cat, dad?"

"Your mother gave it to me . . . for a joke . . . before we were
married.  We saw it in a shop-window and were taken by the
weirdness of it.  And here . . . here are some letters I wrote her,
Jane . . . one week she and her mother went over to Halifax.  I
found them to-night when I was cleaning out a drawer.  I've been
laughing at myself . . . the bitterest kind of laughter in the
world.  You'll laugh, too, Jane.  Listen . . .  'To-day I tried to
write a poem to you, Robin, but it is not finished because I could
not find words fine enough, as a lover could not find raiment
dainty enough for his bride.  The old words that other men have
used in singing to their loves seemed too worn and common for you.
I wanted new words, crystal clear or coloured only by the iris of
light.  Not words that have been stamped and stained with all the
hues of other men's thoughts' . . . wasn't I a sentimental fool,
Jane? . . . 'I watched the new moon to-night, Robin.  You told me
you always watched the new moon set.  It has been a bond between us
ever since. . . .  Oh, how dear and human and girlish and queenly
you are . . . half saint and half very womanly woman. . . .  It is
so sweet to do something for one we love, even if it be only
opening a door for her to pass through or handing her a book. . . .
You are like a rose, my Robin . . . like a white tea-rose by
moonlight. . . ."

"I wonder if any one will ever compare me to a rose," thought Jane.
It didn't seem likely.  She couldn't think of any flower she
resembled.

"She didn't care enough about those letters to take them with her,
Jane.  After she went away I found them in the drawer of the little
desk I had given her."

"But she didn't know she wasn't coming back then, dad."

Second Peter snarled as if he had been pushed aside by a foot.

"Didn't she?  I think she did."

"I'm sure she didn't."  Jane was sure, though she couldn't have
given any reason for her sureness.  "Let me take them back to her."

"No!"  Dad brought his hand down so heavily on his desk that he
hurt himself and winced.  "I'm going to burn them."

"Oh, no, no."  Somehow Jane couldn't bear to think of those letters
being burned.  "Give them to me, dad.  I won't take them to Toronto
. . . I'll leave them in my table drawer . . . but please don't
burn them."

"Well!"  Dad pushed the letters over to her and picked up a pen, as
if dismissing the subject of the letters and her at the same time.
Jane went out slowly, looking back at him.  How she loved him . . .
she loved even his shadow on the wall . . . his lovely clear-cut
shadow.  How could mother ever have left him?

The storm spent itself that night with a wild red sunset and a
still wilder north-west wind . . . the wind of fine weather.  The
beach was still a maelstrom of foam the next day and the shadows of
wild black clouds kept tearing over the sands, but the rain had
ceased and the sun shone between the clouds.  The harvest fields
were drenched and tangled, the ground in the Jimmy John orchard was
covered with apples . . . and the summer was ended.  There was an
indefinable change over everything that meant autumn.



28


Those last few days were compounded of happiness and misery for
Jane.  She did so many things she loved to do and would not do
again until next summer . . . and next summer seemed a hundred
years away.  It was funny.  She hadn't wanted to come and now she
didn't want to go.  She cleaned everything up and washed every dish
in the house and polished all the silver and scoured Mr Muffet and
Company till their faces shone.  She felt lonely and left out when
she heard the Jimmy Johns and the Snowbeams talking about the
cranberrying in October, and when dad said, "I wish you could see
those maples over yonder against that spruce hill in two weeks'
time," and she realized that in two weeks' time there would be a
thousand miles between them . . . well, it seemed to her that she
just couldn't bear it.

Aunt Irene came out one day when Jane was house-cleaning furiously.

"Aren't you tired of playing at housekeeping yet, lovey?"

But that true Aunt Irenian touch could not disturb Jane.

"I'm coming back next summer," said Jane triumphantly.

Aunt Irene sighed.

"I suppose that would be nice . . . in some ways.  But so many
things may happen before then.  It's a whim of your father's to
live here now, but we don't know when he'll take another.  Still,
we can always hope for the best, can't we, lovey?"

The last day came.  Jane packed her trunk, not forgetting a jar of
very special wild-strawberry jam she was taking home to mother and
two dozen russet apples Polly Snowbeam had given her for her own
and Jody's consumption.  Polly knew all about Jody and sent her her
love.

They had a chicken dinner--the Ella twin and the George twin had
brought the birds over with Miranda's compliments, and Jane
wondered when she would have a slice off the breast again.  In the
afternoon she went down alone to say good-bye to the shore.  She
could hardly bear the loneliness of the waves lapping on the beach.
The sound and the tang and the sweep of the sea would not let her
go.  She knew the fields and the windy golden shore were a part of
her.  She and her Island understood each other.

"I belong here," said Jane.

"Come back soon.  P. E. Island needs you," said Timothy Salt,
offering her the quarter of an apple on the point of his knife.
"You will," he added.  "The Island's got into your blood.  It does
that to some folks."

Jane and dad had expected a last quiet evening together but instead
there was a surprise party.  All Jane's particular friends, old and
young, came, even Mary Millicent who sat in a corner all the
evening, staring at Jane, and never spoke a word.  Step-a-yard came
and Timothy Salt and Min and Min's ma and Ding-dong Bell and the
Big Donalds and the Little Donalds and people from the Corners that
Jane didn't know knew her.

Every one brought her a farewell gift.  The Snowbeams clubbed
together and brought her a white plaster of Paris plaque to hang on
her bedroom wall.  It cost twenty-five cents and had a picture of
Moses and Aaron on it in blue turbans and red gowns . . . and Jane
saw grandmother looking at it!  Little Aunt Em could not come but
she sent word to Jane Stuart that she would save some hollyhock
seeds for her.  They had a very gay evening, although all the girls
cried after they had sung, "For she's a jolly good fellow."
Shingle Snowbeam cried so much into the tea towel with which she
was helping Polly to dry the dishes that Jane had to get a dry one
out.

Jane did not cry but she was thinking, "It's the last good time
I'll have for ages.  And everybody has been so lovely to me."

"You don't know how much I'm feeling this, Jane, right here in my
heart," said Step-a-yard patting his stomach.

Dad and Jane sat up a little while after the folks had gone.

"They love you here, Jane."

"Polly and Shingle and Min are going to write to me every week,"
said Jane.

"You'll get the news of the Hill and the Corners then," said dad
gently.  "You know I can't write to you, Jane . . . not while
you're living in that house."

"And grandmother won't let me write to you," said Jane sadly.

"But as long as you know there's a dad and I know there's a Jane,
it won't matter too much, will it?  I'll keep a diary, Jane, and
you can read it when you come next summer.  It will be like getting
a bundle of letters all at once.  And while we'll think of each
other in general quite often, let's arrange one particular time for
it.  Seven o'clock in the evening here is six in Toronto.  At seven
o'clock every Saturday night I'll think of you and at six you think
of me."

It was like dad to plan something like that.

"And, dad, will you sow some flower seeds for me next spring?  I
won't be here in time to do it.  Nasturtiums and cosmos and phlox
and marigolds . . . oh, Mrs Jimmy John will tell you what to get,
and I'd like a little patch of vegetables, too."

"Consider it done, Queen Jane."

"And can I have a few hens next summer, dad?"

"Those hens are hatched already," said dad.

He squeezed her hand.

"We've had a good time, haven't we, Jane?"

"We've LAUGHED so much together," said Jane, thinking of 60 Gay
where there was no laughter.  "You won't forget to send for me next
spring, will you, dad?"

"No," was all dad said.  "No" is sometimes a horrible word but
there are times when it is beautiful.

They had to get up early the next morning because dad was going to
drive Jane to town to catch the boat train and meet a certain Mrs
Wesley who was going to Toronto.  Jane thought she could travel
very well by herself, but for once dad was adamant.

The morning sky was red with trees growing black against it.  The
old moon was visible, like a new moon turned the wrong way, above
the birches on Big Donald's hill.  It was still misty in the
hollows.  Jane bade every room farewell and just before they left
dad stopped the clock.

"We'll start it again when you come back, Janekin.  My watch will
do me for the winter."

The purring Peters had to be said good-bye to but Happy went to
town with them.  Aunt Irene was at the station and so was Lilian
Morrow, the latter all perfume and waved hair.  Dad seemed glad to
see her; he walked up and down the platform with her.  She called
him "'Drew."  You could hear the apostrophe before it like a coo or
a kiss.  Jane could have done very well without Miss Morrow to see
her off.

Aunt Irene kissed her twice and cried.

"Remember you always have a friend in ME, lovey" . . . as if she
thought Jane had no other.

"Don't look so woebegone, dear," smiled Lilian Morrow.  "Remember
you're going home."

Home!  "Home is where the heart is."  Jane had heard or read that.
And she knew she was leaving her heart on the Island with dad, to
whom she presently said goodbye with all the anguish of all the
good-byes that have ever been said in her voice.

Jane watched the red shores of the Island from the boat until they
were only a dim blue line against the sky.  And now to be Victoria
again!

When Jane went through the gates of the Toronto station, she heard
a laugh she would have known anywhere.  There was only one such
laugh in the world.  And there was mother, in a lovely new crimson
velvet wrap with a white fur collar and underneath a dress of white
chiffon embroidered with brilliants.  Jane knew this meant that
mother was going out to dinner . . . and she knew grandmother had
not allowed mother to break her engagement for the sake of spending
Jane's first evening home with her.  But mother, smelling of
violets, was holding her tight, laughing and crying.

"My dearest . . . my very own little girl.  You're home again.  Oh,
darling, I've missed you so. . . .  I've missed you so."

Jane hugged mother fiercely . . . mother as beautiful as ever, her
eyes as blue as ever, though, as Jane saw instantly, a little
thinner than she had been in June.

"Are you glad to be back, darling?"

"So glad to be with you again, mummy," said Jane.

"You've grown . . . why, darling, you're up to my shoulder . . .
and such a lovely tan.  But I can never let you go away again . . .
never."

Jane kept her own counsel about that.  She felt curiously changed
and grown-uppish as she went through the big lighted station with
mother.  Frank was waiting with the limousine and they went home
through the busy, crowded streets to 60 Gay.  60 Gay was neither
busy nor crowded.  The clang of the iron gates behind her seemed a
knell of doom.  She was re-entering prison.  The great, cold, still
house struck a chill to her spirit.  Mother had gone on to the
dinner and grandmother and Aunt Gertrude were meeting her.  She
kissed Aunt Gertrude's narrow white face and grandmother's soft
wrinkled one.

"You've grown, Victoria," said grandmother icily.  She did not like
Jane looking into her eyes on the level.  And grandmother saw at a
glance that Jane had somehow learned what to do with her arms and
legs and was looking entirely too much mistress of herself.  "Don't
smile with your lips closed, if you please.  I've never really been
able to see the charm of 'La Gioconda.'"

They had dinner.  It was six o'clock.  Down home it would be seven.
Dad would be . . . Jane felt she could not swallow a mouthful.

"Will you be good enough to pay attention when I am speaking to
you, Victoria?"

"I beg your pardon, grandmother."

"I am asking you what you wore this summer.  I have looked into
your trunk and the clothes you took with you don't seem to have
been worn at all."

"Only the green linen jumper suit," said Jane.  "I wore it to
church and the ice-cream social.  I had gingham dresses to wear at
home.  I kept house for father, you know."

Grandmother wiped her lips daintily with her napkin.  It seemed as
if she were wiping some disagreeable flavour off them.

"I am not inquiring about your rural activities" . . . Jane saw
grandmother looking at her hands. . . .  "It will be wise for you
to forget them. . . ."

"But I'm going back next summer, grandmother. . . ."

"Be kind enough not to interrupt me, Victoria.  And as you must be
tired after your journey, I would advise you to go to bed at once.
Mary has prepared a bath for you.  I suppose you will be rather
glad to get into a real bath-tub once more."

When she had had the whole gulf for a bath-tub all summer!

"I must run over and see Jody first," said Jane . . . and went.
She could not forget her new freedom so quickly.  Grandmother
watched her go with tightening lips.  Perhaps she realized that
never again would Jane be quite the meek, overawed Victoria of the
old days.  She had grown in mind as well as in body.

Jane and Jody had a rapturous reunion.  Jody had grown too.  She
was thinner and taller and her eyes were sadder than ever.

"Oh, Jane, I'm so glad you're back.  It's been so long."

"I'm so glad you're still here, Jody.  I was afraid Miss West might
have sent you to the orphanage."

"She's always saying she will . . . I guess she will yet.  Did you
really like the Island so much, Jane?"

"I just loved it," said Jane, glad that here was at least one
person to whom she could talk freely about her Island and her
father.

Jane was horribly homesick as she climbed the soft-carpeted
stairway to bed.  If she were only skipping up the bare, painted
steps at Lantern Hill!  Her old room had not grown any friendlier.
She ran to the window, opened it and gazed out . . . but not on
starry hills and the moon shining on woodland fields.  The clamour
of Bloor Street assailed her ears.  The huge old trees about 60 Gay
were sufficient unto themselves . . . they were not her friendly
birches and spruces.  A wind was trying to blow . . . Jane felt
sorry for it . . . checked here, thwarted there.  But it was
blowing from the west.  Would it blow right down to the Island . . .
to the velvety black night starred with harbour lights beyond
Lantern Hill?  Jane leaned out of the window and sent a kiss to dad
on it.

"And now," remarked Jane to Victoria, "there will be only nine
months to put in."



29


"She will soon forget everything about Lantern Hill," said
grandmother.

Mother wasn't so sure.  She felt the change in Jane as did
everybody.  Uncle David's family thought Jane "much improved."
Aunt Sylvia said Victoria had actually become able to get through a
room without danger to the furniture.  And Phyllis was a shade less
patronizing, though with plenty of room for improvement yet.

"I heard you went barefoot down there," she said curiously.

"Of course," said Jane.  "All the children do in summer."

"Victoria has gone quite P. E. Island," said grandmother with her
bitter little smile, much as if she had said, "Victoria has gone
quite savage."  Grandmother had already learned a new way to get
under Jane's skin.  It was to say little biting things about the
Island.  Grandmother employed it quite mercilessly.  She felt that
Jane, in so many respects, had somehow slipped beyond her power to
hurt.  All the colour still went out of Jane in grandmother's
presence but she was not thereby reduced to the old flabbiness.
Jane had not been chatelaine of Lantern Hill and the companion of a
keen, mature intellect all summer for nothing.  A new spirit looked
out of her hazel eyes . . . something that was free and aloof . . .
something that was almost beyond grandmother's power to tame or
hurt.  All the venom of her stings seemed unable to touch this new
Jane . . . except when she sneered at the Island.

Because in a very real sense Jane was still living on the Island.
This helped to take the edge off her first two weeks of unbearable
homesickness.  While she was practising her scales she was
listening for the thunder of the breakers on Queen's Shore; while
she ate her meals she was waiting for dad to come in from one of
his long hikes with Happy trotting at his heels; when she was alone
in the big gloomy house she was companioned by the Peters . . . who
could have imagined that a couple of cat's a thousand miles away
could be such comforts? . . .  When she lay awake at night she was
hearing all the sounds of her Island home.  And while she was
reading the Bible chapter to grandmother and Aunt Gertrude in that
terrible, unchanged drawing-room, she was reading it to dad on the
old Watch Tower.

"I should prefer a little more REVERENCE in reading the Bible,
Victoria," said grandmother.  Jane had been reading an old Hebrew
war tale as father would have read it, with a trumpet clang of
victory in her voice.  Grandmother looked at her vindictively.  It
was plain that reading the Bible was no longer a penance to Jane.
She seemed positively to enjoy it.  And what could grandmother do
about it?

Jane had made a list on the back of her arithmetic notebook of the
months that must pass before her return to the Island, and smiled
when she ticked off September.

She had felt very reluctant to go back to St Agatha's.  But in a
short time she found herself saying one day in amazement, "I like
going to school."

She had always felt vaguely left out . . . excluded at St Agatha's.
Now, for some reason unknown to her, she no longer felt so.  It was
as if she had become a comrade and a leader overnight.  The girls
of her class looked up to her.  The teachers began to wonder why
they had never before suspected what a remarkable child Victoria
Stuart was.  Why, she was simply full of executive ability.

And her studies were no longer a tribulation.  They had become a
pleasure.  She wanted to study as hard as she could, to catch up
with dad.  Dim ghosts of history . . . exquisite, unhappy queens
. . . grim old tyrants . . . had become real . . . marked poems in
the reader she and dad had read together were full of meaning for
her . . . the ancient lands where they had roamed in fancy were
places she knew and loved.  It was so easy to learn about them.
Jane brought home no more bad reports.  Mother was delighted but
grandmother did not seem overly pleased.  She picked up a letter
one day which Jane was writing to Polly Jimmy John, glanced over
it, dropped it with disdain:

"Phlox is not spelled f-l-o-x, Victoria.  But I suppose it does not
matter to your haphazard friends how you spell."

Jane blushed.  She knew perfectly well how to spell phlox but there
was so much to tell Polly . . . to ask Polly . . . so many messages
to send to the people in that far, dear Island by the sea . . . she
just scribbled away furiously without thinking.

"Polly Garland is the best speller at Lantern Corners school," said
Jane.

"Oh, I have no doubt . . . no doubt whatever . . . that she has all
the backwoods virtues," said grandmother.

Grandmother's sneers could not poison Jane's delight in the letters
she got from the Island.  They came as thick as autumn leaves in
Vallambroso.  Somebody at Lantern Hill or Hungry Cove or the
Corners was always writing to Jane.  The Snowbeams sent composite
letters, dreadfully spelled and blotted, written paragraph about.
They possessed the knack of writing the most amusing things,
illustrated along the edges with surprisingly well-done thumb-nail
sketches by Shingle.  Jane always wanted to shriek with laughter
over the Snowbeam letters.

Elder Tommy had the mumps . . . fancy Elder Tommy with the mumps
. . . Shingle had fancied it in a few sidesplitting curves. . . .
The tail-board of Big Donald's cart had come out when he was going
up Little Donald's hill and all his turnips had rolled out and down
the hill and was he mad!  The pigs had got into the Corners
graveyard; Min's ma was making a silk quilt . . . Jane immediately
began saving patches for Min's ma's quilt. . . .  Ding-dong's dog
had torn the whole seat out of Andy Pearson's second best trousers,
the frost had killed all the dahlias, Step-a-yard was having boils,
there had been a lovely lot of funerals this fall, old Mrs Dougald
MacKay had died and people who were at the funeral said she looked
perfectly gorgeous, the Jimmy Johns' baby had laughed at last, the
big tree on Big Donald's hill had blown down . . . Jane was sorry
for that, she had loved that tree. . . .  "We miss you just awful,
Jane. . . .  Oh, Jane, we wish you could be here for Hallowe'en
night."

Jane wished it, too.  If one could but fly in the darkness over
rivers and mountains and forests to the Island for just that one
night!  What fun they would have running round putting turnip and
pumpkin Jack-o'-lanterns on gate-posts and perhaps helping to carry
off somebody's gate.

"What are you laughing at, darling?" asked mother.

"A letter from home," said Jane thoughtlessly.

"Oh, Jane Victoria, isn't this your home?" cried mother piteously.

Jane was sorry she had spoken.  But she had to be honest.  Home!  A
little house looking seaward . . . a white gull . . . ships going
up and down . . . spruce woods . . . misty barrens . . . salt air
cold from leagues of gulf . . . quiet . . . silence.  THAT was home
. . . the only home she knew.  But she hated to hurt mother.  Jane
had begun to feel curiously protective about mother . . . as if,
somehow, she must be shielded and guarded.  Oh, if she could only
talk things over with mother . . . tell her everything about dad
. . . find out everything.  What fun it would be to read those
letters to mother!  She did read them to Jody.  Jody was as much
interested in the Lantern Hill folks as Jane herself.  She began
sending messages to Polly and Shingle and Min.

The elms around 60 Gay turned a rusty yellow.  Far away the red
leaves would be falling from the maples . . . the autumn mists
would be coming in from the sea.  Jane opened her notebook and
ticked off October.

November was a dark, dry, windy month.  Jane scored a secret
triumph over grandmother one week of it.

"Let me make the croquettes for lunch, Mary," she begged one day.
Mary consented very sceptically, remembering that there was plenty
of chicken salad in the refrigerator if the croquettes were ruined.
They were not.  They were everything croquettes should be.  Nobody
knew who had made them, but Jane had the fun of watching folks eat
them.  Grandmother took a second helping.

"Mary seems to have learned how to make croquettes properly at
last," she said.

Jane wore a poppy on Armistice Day because dad was a D.S.  She was
hungry to hear about him but she would not ask her Island
correspondents.  They must not know she and dad did not exchange
letters.  But sometimes there was a bit about him in some of the
letters . . . perhaps only a sentence or two.  She lived for and by
them.  She got up in the night to re-read the letters they were in.
And every Saturday afternoon she shut herself up in her room and
wrote him a letter which she sealed up and asked Mary to hide in
her trunk.  She would take them all to dad next summer and let him
read them while she read his diary.  She made a little ritual of
dressing up to write to dad.  It was delightful to be writing to
him, while the wind howled outside, to father so far away and yet
so near, telling him everything you had done that week, all the
little intimate things you loved.

The first snow came one afternoon as she wrote, in flakes as large
as butterflies.  Would it be snowing on the Island?  Jane hunted up
the morning paper and looked to see what the weather report in the
Maritimes was.  Yes . . . cold, with showers of snow . . . clearing
and cold at night.  Jane shut her eyes and saw it.  Great soft
flakes falling over the grey landscape against the dark spruces . . .
her little garden a thing of fairy beauty . . . egg flakes in the
empty robin's nest she and Shingle knew of . . . the dark sea
around the white land.  "Clearing and cold at night."  Frosty stars
gleaming out in still frostier evening blue over quiet fields
thinly white with snow.  Would dad remember to let the Peters in?

Jane ticked off November.



30


Christmas had never meant a great deal to Jane.  They always did
the same things in the same way.  There were neither tree nor
stockings at 60 Gay and no morning celebration because grandmother
so decreed.  She said she liked a quiet forenoon and she always
went to the service in St Barnabas's, though, for some queer reason
of her own, she always wanted to go alone that day.  Then they all
went for lunch to Uncle William's or Uncle David's and there was a
big family dinner at night at 60 Gay, with the presents in display.
Jane always got a good many things she didn't want especially and
one or two she did.  Mother always seemed even a little gayer on
Christmas than on any other day . . . too gay, as if, Jane in her
new wisdom felt, she were afraid of remembering something if she
stopped being gay for a moment.

But the Christmas season this year had a subtle meaning for Jane it
had never possessed before.  There was the concert at St Agatha's
for one thing, in which Jane was one of the star performers.  She
recited another habitant poem and did it capitally . . . because
she was reciting to an audience of one a thousand miles away and
didn't care a hoot for grandmother's scornful face and compressed
lips.  The last number was a tableau in which four girls
represented the spirits of the four seasons kneeling around the
Christmas spirit.  Jane was the spirit of autumn with maple-leaves
in her russet hair.

"Your granddaughter is going to be a very handsome girl," a lady
told grandmother.  "She doesn't resemble her lovely mother, of
course, but there is something very striking about her face."

"Handsome is as handsome does," said grandmother in a tone which
implied that, judged by that standard, Jane hadn't the remotest
chance of good looks.  But Jane didn't hear it and wouldn't have
cared if she had.  She knew what dad thought about her bones.

Jane could not send presents to the Island . . . she had no money
to buy them.  An allowance was something Jane had never had.  So
she wrote a special letter to all her friends instead.  They sent
her little gifts which gave her far more delight than the fine ones
she got in Toronto.

Min's ma sent her a packet of summer savoury.

"Nobody here cares for summer savoury," said grandmother, meaning
that she didn't.  "We prefer sage."

"Mrs Jimmy John always uses savoury in her stuffing and so do Min's
ma and Mrs Big Donald," said Jane.

"Oh, no doubt we are sadly behind the times," said grandmother, and
when Jane opened the packet of spruce-gum Young John had sent her
grandmother said, "Well, well, so LADIES chew gum nowadays.  Other
times, other manners."

She picked up the card Ding-dong had sent Jane.  It had on it the
picture of a blue and gold angel under which Ding-dong had written,
"This looks like you."

"I have always heard," said grandmother, "that love is blind."

Grandmother certainly had the knack of making you feel ridiculous.

But even grandmother did not disdain the bundle of driftwood old
Timothy Salt expressed up.  She let Jane burn it in the fireplace
on Christmas eve, and mother loved the blue and green and purple
flames.  Jane sat before it and dreamed.  It was a very cold night
. . . a night of frost and stars.  Would it be as cold on the
Island and would her geraniums freeze?  Would there be a thick
white fur on the windows at Lantern Hill?  What kind of a Christmas
would dad have?  She knew he was going to Aunt Irene's for dinner.
Aunt Irene had written Jane a note to accompany her gift of a
pretty knitted sweater and told her so.  "With a few of his old
friends," said Aunt Irene.

Would Lilian Morrow be among the old friends?  Somehow Jane hoped
not.  There was always a queer little formless, nameless fear in
her heart when she thought of Lilian Morrow and her caressing
"'Drew."

Lantern Hill would be empty on Christmas.  Jane resented that.  Dad
would take Happy with him and the poor Peters would be all alone.

Jane had one thrill on Christmas Day nobody knew anything about.
They went to lunch at Uncle David's and there was a copy of
Saturday Evening in the library.  Jane pounced on it.  Would there
be anything of dad's in it?  Yes, there was.  Another front page
article on "The Consequences of Confederation in Regard to the
Maritime Provinces."  Jane was totally out of her depth in it, but
she read every word of it with pride and delight.

Then came the cat.



31


They had had dinner at 60 Gay and were all in the big drawing-room,
which even with a fire blazing on the hearth still seemed cold and
grim.  Frank came in with a basket.

"It's come, Mrs Kennedy," he said.

Grandmother took the basket from Frank and opened it.  A
magnificent white Persian cat was revealed, blinking pale green
eyes disdainfully and distrustfully at everybody.  Mary and Frank
had discussed that cat in the kitchen.

"Whatever has the old dame got into her noddle now?" said Frank.
"I thought she hated cats and wouldn't let Miss Victoria have one
on any consideration.  And here she's giving her one . . . and it
costing seventy-five dollars.  Seventy-five dollars for a cat!"

"Money's no object to her," said Mary.  "And I'll tell you what's
in her noddle.  I haven't cooked for her for twenty years without
learning to read her mind.  Miss Victoria has a cat on that Island
of hers.  Her grandmother wants to cut that cat out.  She isn't
going to have Andrew Stuart letting Miss Victoria have cats when
she isn't allowed to have them here.  The old lady is at her wit's
end how to wean Miss Victoria away from the Island and that's what
this cat means.  Thinks she--a real Persian, costing seventy-five
dollars and looking like the King of All Cats, will soon put the
child out of conceit with her miserable common kittens.  Look at
the presents she give Miss Victoria this Christmas.  As if to say,
'You couldn't get anything like that from your father!'  Oh, I'm
knowing her.  But she's met her match at last or I'm mistaken.  She
can't overcrow Miss Victoria any longer and she's just beginning to
find it out."

"This is a Christmas present for you, Victoria," said grandmother.
"It should have been here last night but there was some delay . . .
somebody was ill."

Everybody looked at Jane as if they expected her to go into spasms
of delight.

"Thank you, grandmother," said Jane flatly.

She didn't like Persian cats.  Aunt Minnie had one . . . a
pedigreed smoke-blue . . . and Jane had never liked it.  Persian
cats were so deceptive.  They looked so fat and fluffy, and then
when you picked them up, expecting to enjoy a good satisfying
squeeze, there was nothing to them but bones.  Anybody was welcome
to their Persian cat for all of Jane.

"Its name is Snowball," said Grandmother.

So she couldn't even name her own cat.  But grandmother expected
her to like the cat and Jane went to work heroically in the
following days trying to like it.  The trouble was, the cat didn't
want to be liked.  No friendliness ever warmed the pale green fire
of its eyes.  It did not want to be petted or caressed.  The Peters
had been lapsters, with eyes of amber, and Jane from the first had
been able to talk to them in their own language.  But Snowball
refused to understand a word she said.

"I thought . . . correct me if I'm wrong . . . that you professed
to be fond of cats," said grandmother.

"Snowball doesn't like me," said Jane.

"Oh!" said grandmother.  "Well, I suppose your taste in cats is on
a par with your taste in friends.  And I don't suppose there is
very much that can be done about it."

"Darling, COULDN'T you like Snowball a little more?" pleaded
mother, as soon as they were alone.  "Just to please your
grandmother.  She thought you would be delighted.  Can't you
pretend to like it?"

Jane was not very good at pretending.  She looked after Snowball
faithfully, combed and brushed him every day, saw that he had the
right kind of food and plenty of it, saw that he did not get out in
the cold and take pneumonia . . . would not have cared in the least
if he had.  She liked pussies who went out boldly on their own
mysterious errands and later appeared on the doorstep pleading to
get in where there was a warm cushion and a drop of cream.
Snowball took all her attention as a matter of course, paraded
about 60 Gay, waving a plumy tail and was rapturously adored by all
callers.

"Poor Snowball," said grandmother ironically.

At this unlucky point Jane giggled.  She couldn't help it.
Snowball looked so little desirous of pity.  Sitting on the arm of
the chesterfield, he was monarch of all he surveyed and quite happy
about it.

"I like a cat I can hug," said Jane.  "A cat that likes to be
hugged."

"You forget you are talking to me, not to Jody," said grandmother.

After three weeks Snowball disappeared.  Luckily Jane was at St
Agatha's or grandmother might have suspected her of conniving at
his disappearance.  Everybody was away and Mary had left the front
door open for a few moments.  Snowball went out and apparently
wandered into the fourth dimension.  A lost-and-found ad. had no
results.

"He's been stole," said Frank.  "That's what comes of having them
expensive cats."

"It's not me that's sorry.  He had to be more pampered than a
baby," said Mary.  "And I'm not of the opinion Miss Victoria will
break her heart about it either.  She's still hankering after her
Peters . . . she's not one to change and the old lady can put that
in her pipe and smoke it."

Jane couldn't pretend any great grief and grandmother was very
angry.  She smouldered for days over it and Jane was uncomfortable.
Perhaps she had been ungrateful . . . perhaps she hadn't tried hard
enough to like Snowball.  Anyhow, on the night the big white
Persian suddenly materialized on the street corner, as she and
mother were waiting for the Bloor car amid a swirl of snow, and
wrapped itself around her legs in an apparent frenzy of recognition
and hoarse miaows, Jane yelped with genuine delight.

"Mummy . . . mummy . . . here's Snowball."

That she and mother should be standing alone on a street corner,
waiting for a car on a blustery January night was an unprecedented
thing.  There had been doings at St Agatha's that night . . . the
senior girls had put on a play and mother had been invited.  Frank
was laid up with influenza and they had to go with Mrs Austen.
Before the play was half through Mrs Austen had been summoned home
because of sudden illness in her family and mother had said, "Don't
think of us for a moment.  Jane and I can go home perfectly well on
the street-cars."

Jane always loved a ride on a street-car, and it was twice as much
fun with mother.  It was so seldom she and mother went anywhere
alone.  But when they did, mother was such a good companion.  She
saw the funny side of everything and her eyes laughed to Jane's
when a joke popped its head up.  Jane was sorry when they got off
at Bloor for that meant they were comparatively near home.

"Darling, how can this be Snowball?" exclaimed mother.  "It does
look like him, I admit . . . but it's a mile from home. . . ."

"Frank always said he'd been stolen, mummy.  It must be Snowball
. . . a strange cat wouldn't make a fuss over me like this. . . ."

"I shouldn't have thought Snowball would either," laughed mother.

"I expect he's glad to see a friend," said Jane.  "We don't know
how he's been treated.  He feels awfully thin.  We must take him
home."

"On the street-car. . . ."

"We can't leave him here.  I'll hold him . . . he'll be quiet."

Snowball was quiet for a few moments after they entered the car.
There were not many people on it.  Three boys at the far end
sniggered as Jane sat down with her armful of cat.  A pudgy child
edged away from her in terror.  A man with a pimply face scowled at
her as if he were personally insulted by the sight of a Persian
cat.

Suddenly Snowball seemed to go quite mad.  He made one wild leap
out of Jane's incautiously relaxed arms and went whizzing around
the car, hurtling over the seats and hurling himself against the
windows.  Women shrieked.  The pudgy child bounced up and screamed.
The pimply-faced man's hat got knocked off by a wild Snowballian
leap, and he swore.  The conductor opened the door.

"Don't let the cat out," shrieked breathless, pursuing Jane.  "Shut
the door . . . shut it quick . . . it's my lost cat and I'm taking
it home."

"You'd better keep hold of it then," said the conductor gruffly.

"Enough is as good as a feast," thought Snowball . . . evidently
. . . for he allowed Jane to nab him.  The boys all laughed
insultingly as Jane walked back to her seat, looking neither to the
right nor to the left.  A button had burst off her slipper and she
had stumbled and skinned her nose on the handle of a seat.  But she
was Jane victorious . . . as well as Victoria.

"Oh, darling . . . darling," said mother, in kinks of laughter . . .
real laughter.  When had mother laughed like that?  If grandmother
saw her!

"That's a dangerous animal," said the pimply-faced man warningly.

Jane looked at the boys.  They made irresistibly comic faces at her
and she made faces back.  She liked Snowball better than she ever
had before.  But she did not relax her grip on him until she heard
the door of 60 Gay clang behind her.

"We've found Snowball, grandmother," cried Jane triumphantly.
"We've brought him home."

She released the cat who stood looking squiffily about.

"That is not Snowball," said grandmother.  "That is a female cat."

Judging from grandmother's tone it was evident that there was
something very disgraceful about a female cat!

The owner of the female cat was eventually discovered through
another lost-and-found and no more Persians appeared at 60 Gay.
Jane had ticked off December, and January was speeding away.  The
Lantern Hill news was still absorbing.  Everybody was skating . . .
on the pond or on the little round, tree-shadowed pool beyond the
Corners. . . .  Shingle Snowbeam had been queen in a Christmas
concert and had worn a crown of scalloped tin; the new minister's
wife could play the organ; the Jimmy John baby had eaten all the
blooms off Mrs Jimmy John's Christmas cactus, every last one of
them; Mrs Little Donald had had her gobbler for Christmas dinner
. . . Jane remembered that magnificent white gobbler with the coral-
red wattles and accorded him a meed of regret; Uncle Tombstone had
butched Min's ma's pig and Min's ma had sent a roast to dad; Min's
ma had got a new pig to bring up, a nice pink pig exactly like
Elder Tommy; Mr Spragg's dog at the Corners had bit the eye out of
Mr Loney's dog and Mr Loney was going to law about it; Mrs Angus
Scatterby, whose husband had died in October, was disappointed over
the result . . . "It's not so much fun being a widow as I
expected," she was reported to have said; Sherwood Morton had gone
into the choir and the managers had put a few more nails in the
roof . . . Jane suspected Step-a-yard of that joke; there was
wonderful coasting on Big Donald's hill; her dad had got a new dog,
a fat white dog named Bubbles; her geraniums were blooming
beautiful . . . "and me too far away to see them," thought Jane
with a pang; William MacAllister had had a fight with Thomas
Crowder because Thomas told William he didn't like the whiskers
William would have had if he had had whiskers; they had had a
silver thaw . . . Jane could see it . . . ice jewels . . . the
maple wood a thing of unearthly splendour . . . every stalk
sticking up from the crusted snow of the garden a spear of crystal;
Step-a-yard was mudding . . . what on earth was mudding? . . . she
must find out next summer; Mr Snowbeam's pig-house roof had blown
off . . . "if he'd nailed the ridge-pole firmly on last summer when
I advised him to, this wouldn't have happened," thought Jane
virtuously; Bob Woods had fell on his dog and sprained his back . . .
was it Bob's back or the dog's that was sprained? . . . Caraway
Snowbeam had to have her tonsils out and was putting on such airs
about it; Jabez Gibbs had set a trap for a skunk and caught his own
cat; Uncle Tombstone had given all his friends an oyster supper;
some said Mrs Alec Carson at the Corners had a new baby, some said
she hadn't.

What had 60 Gay to offer against the colour and flavour of news
like that?  Jane ticked off January.

February was stormy.  Jane spent many a blustery evening, while the
wind howled up and down Gay Street, poring over seed catalogues,
picking out things for dad to plant in the spring.  She loved to
read the description of the vegetables and imagine she saw rows of
them at Lantern Hill.  She copied down all Mary's best recipes to
make them for dad next summer . . . dad who was likely at this very
moment to be sitting cosily by their own fireside with two happy
dogs curled up at his feet and outside a wild white night of
drifting snow.  Jane ticked off February.



32


When Jane ticked off March she whispered, "Just two and a half
months more."  Life went on outwardly the same at 60 Gay and St
Agatha's.  Easter came and Aunt Gertrude, who had refused sugar in
her tea all through Lent, took it again.  Grandmother was buying
the loveliest spring clothes for mother who seemed rather
indifferent to them.  And Jane was beginning to hear her Island
calling to her in the night.

On a wild wet morning in late April the letter came.  Jane, who had
been watching for it for weeks and was beginning to feel a bit
worried, carried it in to mother with the face of


     One to whom glad news is sent
     From the far country of his home after long banishment.


Mother was pale as she took it and grandmother was suddenly
flushed.

"Another letter from Andrew Stuart?" said grandmother, as if the
name blistered her lips.

"Yes," said mother faintly.  "He . . . he says Jane Victoria must
go back to him for the summer . . . if she wants to go.  She is to
make her own choice."

"Then," said grandmother, "she will not go."

"Of course you won't go, darling?"

"Not go!  But I must go!  I promised I'd go back," cried Jane.

"Your . . . your father will not hold you to that promise.  He says
expressly that you can choose as you please."

"I WANT to go back," said Jane.  "I'm going back."

"Darling," said mother imploringly, "don't go.  You grew away from
me last summer.  If you go again I'll lose more of you. . . ."

Jane looked down at the carpet and her lips set in a line that had
an odd resemblance to grandmother's.

Grandmother took the letter from mother, glanced at it and looked
at Jane.

"Victoria," she said, quite pleasantly for her, "I think you have
not given the matter sufficient thought.  I say nothing for myself
. . . I have never expected gratitude . . . but your mother's
wishes ought to carry some weight with you.  Victoria"--
grandmother's voice grew sharper---"please do me the courtesy of
looking at me while I am speaking to you."

Jane looked at grandmother . . . looked her straight in the eyes,
unflinchingly, unyieldingly.  Grandmother seemed to put a certain
unusual restraint on herself.  She still spoke pleasantly.

"I have not mentioned this before, Victoria, but I decided some
time ago that I would take you and your mother for a trip to
England this summer.  We will spend July and August there.  You
will enjoy it, I know.  I think that between a summer in England
and a summer in a hut in a country settlement on P. E. Island even
you could hardly hesitate."

Jane did not hesitate.  "Thank you, grandmother.  It is very kind
of you to offer me such a lovely trip.  I hope you and mother will
enjoy it.  But I would rather go to the Island."

Even Mrs Robert Kennedy knew when she was beaten.  But she could
not accept defeat gracefully.

"You get that stubborn will of yours from your father," she said,
her face twisted with anger.  For the moment she looked simply like
a very shrewish old spitfire.  "You grow more like him every day of
your life . . . you've got his very chin."

Jane was thankful she had got a will from someone.  She was glad
she looked like dad . . . glad her chin was like his.  But she
wished mother were not crying.

"Don't waste your tears, Robin," said grandmother, turning
scornfully from Jane.  "It's the Stuart coming out in her . . . you
could expect nothing else.  If she prefers her trumpery friends
down there to you, there is nothing you can do about it.  _I_ have
said all I intend to say on the matter."

Mother stood up and dabbed her tears away with a cobwebby
handkerchief.

"Very well, dear," she said brightly and hardly.  "You have made
your choice.  I agree with your grandmother that there is nothing
more to be said."

She went out, leaving Jane with a heart that was almost breaking.
Never in her life had mother spoken to her in that hard, brittle
tone.  She felt as if she had been suddenly pushed far, far away
from her.  But she did not regret her choice.  She had no choice
really.  She had to go back to dad.  If it came to choosing between
him and mother . . . Jane rushed to her room, flung herself down on
the big white bearskin, and writhed in a tearless agony no child
should ever have to suffer.

It was a week before Jane was herself again, although mother, after
that bitter little outburst, had been as sweet and loving as ever.
When she had come in to say good night she had held Jane very
tightly and silently.

Jane hugged her mother closer to her.

"I have to go, mother . . . I have to go . . . but I DO love
you. . . ."

"Oh, Jane, I hope you do . . . but sometimes you seem so far away
from me that you might as well be beyond Sirius.  Don't . . . don't
let any one ever come between us.  That is all I ask."

"No one can . . . no one wants to, mother."

In one way, it occurred to Jane, that was not strictly true.  She
had known for a long while that grandmother would like very well to
come between them if she could only bring it about.  But Jane also
knew that by "no one" mother meant dad, and so her answer was true.

There was a letter from Polly Garland the last day of April . . . a
jubilant Polly.

"We're all so glad you're coming back this summer, Jane.  Oh, Jane,
I wish you could see the pussy-willows in our swamp."

Jane wished so, too.  And there were other fascinating bits of news
in Polly's letter.  Min's ma's cow was worn out and Min's ma was
going to get a new one.  Polly had a hen setting on nine eggs . . .
Jane could see nine real live wee baby chicks running round.  Well,
father had promised her some hens this summer . . . Step-a-yard had
told Polly to tell her it was a great spring and even the roosters
were laying; the baby had been christened William Charles and was
toddling round everywhere and getting thin; Big Donald's dog had
been poisoned, had had six convulsions, but had recovered.

"Only six more weeks."  It was weeks now where it had been months.
Down home the robins would be strutting round Lantern Hill and the
mists would be coming in from the sea.  Jane ticked off April.



33


It was the last week in May that Jane saw the house.  Mother had
gone one evening to visit a friend who had just moved into a new
house in the new Lakeside development on the banks of the Humber.
She took Jane with her and it was a revelation to Jane whose only
goings and comings had been so circumscribed that she had never
dreamed there were such lovely places in Toronto.  Why, it was just
like a pretty country village out here . . . hills and ravines with
ferns and wild columbines growing in them and rivers and trees . . .
the green fire of willows, the great clouds of oaks, the plumes
of pines and, not far away, the blue mist that was Lake Ontario.

Mrs Townley lived on a street called Lakeside Gardens, and she
showed them proudly over her new house.  It was so big and splendid
that Jane did not feel very much interested in it and after a while
she slipped away in the dusk to explore the street itself, leaving
mother and Mrs Townley talking cupboards and bathrooms.

Jane decided that she liked Lakeside Gardens.  She liked it because
it twisted and curved.  It was a friendly street.  The houses did
not look at each other with their noses in the air.  Even the big
ones were not snooty.  They sat among their gardens, with spireas
afoam around them and tulips and daffodils all about their toes,
and said, "We have lots of room . . . we don't have to push with
our elbows . . . we can afford to be gracious."

Jane looked them over carefully as she went by but it was not until
she was nearly at the end of the street, where it turned into a
road winding down to the lake, that she saw HER house.  She had
liked a great many of the houses she had passed but when she saw
this house she knew at first sight that it belonged to her . . .
just as Lantern Hill did.

It was a small house for Lakeside Gardens but a great deal bigger
than Lantern Hill.  It was built of grey stone and had casement
windows . . . some of them beautifully unexpected . . . and a roof
of shingles stained a very dark brown.  It was built right on the
edge of the ravine overlooking the tree-tops, with five great pines
just behind it.

"What a darling place!" breathed Jane.

It was a new house: it had just been built and there was a For Sale
sign on the lawn.  Jane went all around it and peered through every
diamond-paned window.  There was a living-room that would really
LIVE when it was furnished, a dining-room with a door that opened
into a sun-room and the most delightful breakfast nook in pale
yellow, with built-in china-closets.  It should have chairs and
table of yellow, too, and curtains at the recessed window between
gold and green that would look like sunshine on the darkest day.
Yes, this house belonged to her . . . she could see herself in it,
hanging curtains, polishing the glass doors, making cookies in the
kitchen.  She hated the For Sale sign.  To think that somebody
would be buying that house . . . HER house . . . was torture.

She prowled round and round it.  At the back the ground was
terraced right down to the floor of the ravine.  There was a rock
garden and a group of forsythia bushes that must have been
fountains of pale gold in early spring.  Three flights of stone
steps went down the terraces, with the delicacy of birch shadows
about them, and off to one side was a wild garden of slender young
Lombardies.  A robin winked at her; a nice chubby cat came over
from the neighbouring rock garden.  Jane tried to catch him, but
. . . "Excuse me.  This is my busy day," said the cat and pattered
down the stone steps.

Jane finally sat down on the front steps and gave herself up to a
secret joy.  There was a gap in the trees on the opposite side of
the street through which a far, purple-grey hill showed.  There
were misty, pale green woods over the river.  The woods all around
Lantern Hill would be misty green, too.  The banners of a city of
night were being flaunted in the sunset sky behind the pines
farther down.  The gulls soared whitely up the river.

It grew darker.  Lights bloomed out in the houses.  Jane always
felt the fascination of lighted houses in the night.  There should
be a light in the house behind her.  She should be turning on the
lights in it.  She should be living here.  She could be happy here.
She could be friends with the wind and the rain here: she could
love the lake even if it did not have the sparkle and boom of gulf
seas; she could put out nuts for the saucy squirrels and hang up
bird-houses for the feathered folk and feed the pheasants Mrs
Townley said lived in the ravine.

Suddenly there was a slim, golden new moon over the oaks and the
world was still . . . almost as still as Queen's Shore on a calm
summer night and there was a sparkling of lights along the lake
drive like a necklace of gems on some dark beauty's breast.

"Where were you all the evening, darling?" asked mother as they
drove home.

"Picking out a house to buy," said Jane dreamily.  "I wish we lived
here instead of at 60 Gay, mummy."

Mother was silent for a moment.

"You don't like 60 Gay very well, do you, dearest?"

"No," said Jane.  And then, to her own amazement, added, "Do you?"

She was still more amazed when mother said, quickly and vehemently,
"I hate it!"

That night Jane ticked off May.  Only ten days more.  It was days
now where it had been weeks.  Oh, suppose she took ill and couldn't
go!  But no!  God wouldn't . . . couldn't!



34


Grandmother coldly told mother to buy what clothes . . . IF ANY . . .
were necessary for Jane.  Jane and mother had a happy afternoon's
shopping.  Jane picked her own things . . . things that would suit
Lantern Hill and an Island summer.  Mother insisted on some smart
little knitted sweaters and one pretty dress of rose-pink organdie
with delicious frills.  Jane didn't know where she would ever wear
it . . . it was too ornate for the little south church but she let
mother buy it to please her.  And mother got her the niftiest
little green bathing-suit.

"Just think," reflected Jane happily, "in a week I'll be on Queen's
Shore.  I hope the water won't be too cold for swimming. . . ."

"We may be going to the Island in August," said Phyllis.  "Dad says
he hasn't been down for so long he'd like to spend another vacation
there.  If we do, we'll be stopping at the Harbour Head Hotel and
it isn't very far from there to Queen's Shore.  So we'll likely see
you."

Jane didn't know whether she liked this idea or not.  She didn't
want Phyllis there, patronizing the Island . . . looking down her
nose at Lantern Hill and the boot-shelf and the Snowbeams.

Jane went to the Maritimes with the Randolphs this year and they
left on the morning train instead of the night.  It was a dull,
cloudy day but Jane was so happy she positively radiated happiness
around her like sunshine.  Mrs Randolph's opinion of Jane was the
very opposite of what Mrs Stanley's had been.  Mrs Randolph thought
she had never met a more charming child, interested in everything,
finding beauty everywhere, even in those interminable stretches of
pulpwood lands and lumber forests in New Brunswick.  Jane studied
the time-table and hailed each station as a friend, especially the
ones with quaint, delightful names . . . Red Pine, Bartibog,
Memramcook.  And then Sackville where they left the main line and
got on the little branch train to Cape Tormentine.  How sorry Jane
felt for any one who was not going to the Island!

Cape Tormentine . . . the car ferry . . . watching for the red
cliffs of the Island . . . there they were . . . she had really
forgotten how red they were . . . and beyond them misty green
hills.  It was raining again, but who cared?  Everything the Island
did was right.  If it wanted to rain . . . why, rain was Jane's
choice.

Having left Toronto on the morning train, they were in
Charlottetown by mid-afternoon.  Jane saw dad the moment she
stepped off the train . . . grinning and saying, "Excuse me, but
your face seems familiar.  Are you by any chance . . ." but Jane
had hurled herself at him.  They had never been parted . . . she
had never been away at all.  The world was real again.  She was
Jane again.  Oh, dad, dad!

She had been afraid Aunt Irene would be there, too . . . possibly
Miss Lilian Morrow as well.  But Aunt Irene, it transpired, was
away on a visit to Boston and had taken Miss Morrow with her.  Jane
secretly hoped that Aunt Irene would be having such a fine time in
Boston that she wouldn't be able to tear herself away for a long
time.

"And the car has turned temperamental again," said dad.  "I had to
leave it in the garage at the Corners and borrow Step-a-yard's
horse and buggy.  You don't mind?"

Mind?  Jane was delighted.  She wanted that drive to Lantern Hill
to be so slow that she could drink the road in as she drove along.
And she liked to be behind a horse.  You could talk to a horse as
you never could to a car.  The fact was, if dad had said they had
to walk to Lantern Hill it wouldn't have mattered to Jane.

Dad put lean strong hands under her arms and swung her up to the
buggy seat.

"Let's just go on from where we left off.  You've grown since last
summer, my Jane."

"An inch," said Jane proudly.

It had stopped raining.  The sun was coming out.  Beyond, the white
wave crests on the harbour were laughing at her . . . waving their
hands at her.

"Let's go uptown and buy our house some presents.  Jane."

"A double boiler that won't leak, dad.  Booties always did, a
little.  And a potato-ricer . . . can we get a potato-ricer, dad?"

Dad thought the budget would stretch to a potato-ricer.

It was delightful, all of it.  But Jane sparkled when they had left
town behind them, going home to all the things they loved.

"Drive slow, dad.  I don't want to miss ANYTHING on the road."

She was feasting her eyes on everything . . . spruce-clad hills,
bits of gardens full of unsung beauty tucked away here and there,
glimpses of sparkling sea, blue rivers . . . had those rivers
really been so blue last summer?  It had been an early spring and
all the blossom show was over.  Jane was sorry for that.  She
wondered if she would ever be able to get to the Island in time to
see the Titus ladies' famous cherry walk in its spring-blow.

They called for a moment to see Mrs Meade, who kissed Jane and was
sorry Mr Meade couldn't come out to see her, because he was in bed
with an abyss in his ear.  She gave them a packet of ham sandwiches
and cheese to stay their stomachs if they were hungry on the road.

They heard the ocean before they saw it.  Jane loved the sound.  It
was as if the spirit of the sea called to her.  And then the first
snuff of salt in the air . . . there was one particular hill where
they always got the first tang.  And from that same hill they
caught their first far-away glimpse of Lantern Hill.  It was
wonderful to be able to see your own home so far off . . . to feel
that every step the horse took was bringing you nearer to it.

From there on Jane was on her own stamping ground.  It was so
exciting to recognize all the spots along the road . . . green wood
lanes, old beloved farms that held out their arms to her.  The
single row of spruces was still marching up Little Donald's hill.
The dunes . . . and the fishing boats sailing in . . . and the
little blue pond laughing at her . . . and Lantern Hill.  Home
after exile!

Somebody . . . Jane discovered later that it was the Snowbeams . . .
had made "Welcome" with white stones in the walk.  Happy was
waiting for them in the yard and nearly ate Jane alive.  Bubbles,
the new fat white dog, sat apart and looked at her, but he was so
cute that Jane forgave him on the spot for being Bubbles.

The first thing was to visit every room and every room welcomed her
back.  Nothing was changed.  She looked the house over to make sure
nothing was missing.  The little bronze soldier was still riding on
his bronze horse and the green cat kept watch and ward over dad's
desk.  But the silver needed polishing and the geraniums needed
pruning and when had the kitchen floor been scrubbed?

She had been away from Lantern Hill for nine months, but now it
seemed to her that she had never been away at all.  She had really
been living here all along.  It was her spirit's home.

There was a bunch of little surprises . . . nice surprises.  They
had six hens . . . there was a small henhouse built below the
garden . . . there was a peaked porch roof built over the glass-
paned door . . . and dad had got the telephone in.

First Peter was sitting on the doorstone when Jane came downstairs,
with a big mouse in his mouth, very proud of his prowess as a
hunter.  Jane pounced on him, mouse and all, and then looked around
for Second Peter.  Where was Second Peter?

Dad put his arm closely around Jane.

"Second Peter died last week, Jane.  I don't know what happened to
him . . . he got sick.  I had the vet for him but he could do
nothing."

Jane felt a stinging in her eyes.  She would not cry but she
choked.

"I . . . I . . . didn't think anything I loved could die," she
whispered into dad's shoulder.

"Ah, Jane, love can't fence out death.  He had a happy life if a
short one . . . and we buried him in the garden.  Come out and see
the garden, Jane . . . it burst into bloom as soon as it heard you
were coming."

A wind ran through the garden as they entered it and it looked as
if every flower and shrub were nodding a head or waving a hand at
them.  Dad had a corner where vegetables were all up in neat little
rows and there were new beds of annuals.

"Miranda got what you wanted from the seedsman . . . I think you'll
find everything, even the scabious.  What do you want with
scabious, Jane?  It's an abominable name . . . sounds like a
disease."

"Oh, the flowers are pretty, dad.  And there are so many nicer
names for them. . . .  Lady's pincushion and Mourning Bride.
Aren't the pansies lovely?  I'm so glad I sowed them last August."

"You look like a pansy yourself, Jane . . . that red-brown one
there with the golden eyes."

Jane remembered she had wondered if any one would ever compare her
to a flower.  In spite of the little pile of shore stones under the
lilac . . . which Young John had piled over the grave of Second
Peter . . . she was happy.  Everything was so lovely.  Even Mrs Big
Donald's washing, streaming gallantly out against the blue sky on
her hill-top, was charming.  And away down by the Watch Tower the
surf was breaking on the sand.  Jane wanted to be out in that
turmoil and smother of the waves.  But that must wait till morning.
Just now there was supper to be gotten.

"How jolly to be in a kitchen again," thought Jane, girding on an
apron.

"I'm glad my cook is back," said dad.  "I've practically lived on
salt codfish all winter.  It was the easiest thing to cook.  But I
don't deny the neighbours helped the commissariat out.  And they've
sent in no end of things for our supper."

Jane had found the pantry full of them.  A cold chicken from the
Jimmy Johns, a pat of butter from Mrs Big Donald, a jug of cream
from Mrs Little Donald, some cheese from Mrs Snowbeam, some rose-
red early radishes from Min's ma, a pie from Mrs Bell.

"She said she knew you could make as good pies as she can but she
thought it would fill in till you'd have time to make some.
There's a goodish bit of jam left yet and practically all the
pickles."

Jane and dad talked as they ate supper.  They had a whole winter of
talk to catch up with.  Had he missed her?  Well, had he now?  What
did she think?  They regarded each other with great content.  Jane
saw the new moon, over her right shoulder, through the open door.
And dad got up and started the ship's clock.  Time had begun once
more.

Jane's friends, having considerately let her have her first rapture
over, came to see her in the evening . . . the brown, rosy Jimmy
Johns and the Snowbeams and Min and Ding-dong.  They were all glad
to see her.  Queen's Shore had kept her in its heart.  It was
wonderful to be SOMEBODY again . . . wonderful to be able to laugh
all you wanted to without any one resenting it . . . wonderful to
be among happy people again.  All at once Jane realized that nobody
was happy at 60 Gay . . . except, perhaps, Mary and Frank.
Grandmother wasn't . . . Aunt Gertrude wasn't . . . mother wasn't.

Step-a-yard whispered to her that he had brought over a
wheelbarrow-load of sheep manure for her garden.  "You'll find it
by the gate . . . nothing like well-rotted sheep manure for a
garden."  Ding-dong had brought her a kitten to replace Second
Peter . . . a scrap about as big as its mother's paw but which was
destined to be a magnificent cat in black with four white paws.
Jane and dad tried out all kinds of names on it before they went to
bed and finally agreed on Silver Penny because of the round white
spot between its ears.

To go to her own dear room where a young birch was fairly poking an
arm in through the window from the steep hill-side . . . to hear
the sound of the sea in the night . . . to waken in the morning and
think she would be with dad all day!  Jane sang the song of the
morning stars as she dressed and got breakfast.

The first thing Jane did after breakfast was to run with the wind
to the shore and take a wild exultant dip in the stormy waves.  She
fairly flung herself into the arms of the sea.

And what a forenoon it was, polishing silver and window-panes.
Nothing had changed really, though there were surface changes.
Step-a-yard had grown a beard because of throat trouble . . . Big
Donald had repainted his house . . . the calves of last summer had
grown up . . . Little Donald was letting his hill pasture go
spruce.  It was good to be home.

"Timothy Salt is going to take me codfishing next Saturday, dad."



35


Uncle David and Aunt Sylvia and Phyllis came in July to the Harbour
Head Hotel but could stay only a week.  They brought Phyllis over
to Lantern Hill late one afternoon and left her there while they
went to visit friends in town.

"We'll come back for her around nine," said Aunt Sylvia, looking in
horror at Jane who had just got back from Queen's Creek where she
had been writing a love letter for Joe Gautier to his lady friend
in Boston.  Evidently there was nothing Jane was afraid to tackle.
She was still wearing the khaki overalls she had worn while driving
loads of hay into the Jimmy John barn all the forenoon.  The
overalls were old and faded and were not improved by a huge splash
of green paint on a certain portion of Jane's anatomy.  Jane had
painted the old garden seat green one day and sat down on it before
it was dry.

Dad was away so there was nothing to take the edge off Phyllis who
was more patronizing than ever.

"Your garden is QUITE nice," she said.

Jane made a sound remarkably like a snort.  Quite nice!  When
everybody admitted that it was the prettiest garden in the Queen's
Shore district, except the Titus ladies'.  Couldn't Phyllis see the
wonder of those gorgeous splashes of nasturtiums, than which there
was nothing finer in the county?  Didn't she realize that those
tiny red beets and cunning gold carrots were two weeks ahead of
anybody else's for miles around?  Could she possibly be in
ignorance of the fact that Jane's pink peonies, fertilized so
richly by Step-a-yard's sheep manure, were the talk of the
community?  But Jane was a bit ruffled that day anyhow.  Aunt Irene
and Miss Morrow had been up the day before, having returned from
Boston, and Aunt Irene as usual had been sweet and condescending
and as usual had rubbed Jane the wrong way.

"I'm so glad your father put the telephone in for you . . . I hoped
he would after the little hint I gave him."

"I never wanted a telephone," said Jane, rather sulkily.

"Oh, but, darling, you should have one, when you're so much alone
here.  If anything happened . . ."

"What could happen here, Aunt Irene?"

"The house might take fire. . . ."

"It took fire last year and I put it out."

"Or you might take cramps in swimming.  I've never thought it . . ."

"But if I did I could hardly phone from there," said Jane.

"Or if tramps came . . ."

"There's been only one tramp here this summer and Happy bit a piece
out of his leg.  I was very sorry for the poor man. . . .  I put
iodine on the bite and gave him his dinner."

"Darling, you WILL have the last word, won't you?  So like your
Grandmother Kennedy."

Jane didn't like to be told she was like her Grandmother Kennedy.
Still less did she like the fact that after supper dad and Miss
Morrow had gone off by themselves for a walk to the shore.  Aunt
Irene looked after them speculatively.

"They have so much in common . . . it is a pity . . ."

Jane wouldn't ask what was a pity.  But she lay awake for a long
time that night and had not quite recovered her poise when Phyllis
came, condescending to her garden.  But a hostess has certain
obligations and Jane was not going to let Lantern Hill down, even
if she did make sundry faces at her pots and pans.  The supper she
got up for Phyllis made that damsel open her eyes.

"Victoria . . . you didn't cook all these things yourself!"

"Of course.  It's easy as wink."

Some of the Jimmy Johns and Snowbeams turned up after supper and
Phyllis, whose complacency had been somewhat jarred by that supper,
was really quite decent to them.  They all went to the shore for a
dip but Phyllis was scared of the tumbling waves and would only sit
on the sand and let them break over her while the others frolicked
like mermaids.

"I didn't know you could swim like that, Victoria."

"You ought to see me when the water is calm," said Jane.

Still, Jane was rather relieved when it was time for Uncle David
and Aunt Sylvia to come for Phyllis.  Then the telephone rang and
Uncle David was calling from town to say they were delayed by car
trouble and wouldn't likely be able to come till late, so could the
Lantern Hill folks see that Phyllis got to the hotel?  Oh, yes,
yes, indeed, Jane assured them.

"Dad can't be back till midnight so we'll have to walk," she told
Phyllis.  "I'll go with you. . . ."

"But it's four miles to the Harbour Head," gasped Phyllis.

"Only two by the short cut across the fields.  I know it well."

"But it's dark."

"Well, you're not afraid of the dark, are you?"

Phyllis did not say whether she was afraid of the dark or not.  She
looked at Jane's overalls.

"Are you going in THEM!"

"No, I only wear these around home," explained Jane patiently.  "I
was driving in hay all the forenoon.  Mr Jimmy John was away and
Punch had a sore foot.  I'll change in a jiffy and we'll start."

Jane slipped into a skirt and one of her pretty sweaters and
fluffed a comb through her russet hair.  People were beginning to
look twice at Jane's hair.  Phyllis looked more than twice at it.
It was really wonderful hair.  What had come over Victoria anyhow
. . . Victoria whom she used to think so dumb?  This tall, arms-and-
legs girl, who somehow had ceased to be awkward in spite of arms
and legs, was certainly not dumb.  Phyllis gave a small sigh; and
in that sigh, though neither of them was conscious of it, their
former positions were totally reversed.  Phyllis, instead of
looking down on Jane, looked up to her.

The cool evening air was heavy with dew when they started.  The
winds were folded among the shadowy glens.  The spice ferns were
fragrant in the corners of the upland pastures.  It was so calm and
still you could hear all kinds of far-away sounds . . . a cart
rattling down Old Man Cooper's hill . . . muted laughter from
Hungry Cove . . . an owl on Big Donald's hill calling to an owl on
Little Donald's hill.  But it got darker and darker.  Phyllis drew
close to Jane.

"Oh, Victoria, isn't this the darkest night that ever was!"

"Not so very.  I've been out when it was darker."

Jane was not in the least scared, and Phyllis was much impressed.
Jane felt that she was impressed . . . Jane knew she was scared . . .
Jane began to like Phyllis.

They had to climb a fence and Phyllis fell over it, tore her dress
and skinned her knee.  So Phyllis couldn't even climb a fence,
thought Jane . . . but thought it kindly, protectively.

"Oh, what's that?"  Phyllis clutched Jane.

"That?  Only cows."

"Oh, Victoria, I'm so scared of cows.  I can't pass them . . . I
CAN'T . . . suppose they think . . ."

"Who cares what a cow thinks?" said Jane superbly.  She had
forgotten that she had once been fussy about cows and their opinion
of her.

And Phyllis was crying.  From that moment Jane lost every shred of
her dislike of Phyllis.  Phyllis, patronizing and perfect in
Toronto, was very different from a terrified Phyllis in a back
pasture on an Island hill.

Jane put her arm around her.  "Come on, honey.  The cows won't even
look at you.  Little Donald's cows are all friends of mine.  And
then it's just a walk through that bit of woods and we'll be at the
hotel."

"Will you . . . walk between me . . . and the cows?" sobbed
Phyllis.

Phyllis, holding tightly to Jane, was safely convoyed past the
cows.  The little wood lane that followed was terribly dark but it
was short, and at its end were the lights of the hotel.

"You're all right now.  I won't go in," said Jane.  "I must hurry
home to get some supper ready for father.  I always like to be
there when he comes home."

"Victoria!  Are you going back ALONE?"

"Of course.  How else would I go?"

"If you'd wait . . . father would drive you home when he comes. . . ."

Jane laughed.

"I'll be at Lantern Hill in half an hour.  And I love walking."

"Victoria, you're the very bravest girl I ever saw in my life,"
said Phyllis earnestly.  There wasn't a trace of patronage in her
tone.  There was never to be again.

Jane had a good time with herself on the walk back.  The dear night
brooded over her.  Little wings were folded in nest homes, but
there was wild life astir.  She heard the distant bark of a fox . . .
the sound of tiny feet in the fern . . . she saw the pale glimmer
of night moths and took friendly counsel with the stars.  Almost
they sang, as if one star called to another in infinite harmony.
Jane knew them all.  Dad had given her lessons in astronomy all
summer, having discovered that the only constellation she knew was
the Big Dipper.

"This won't do, my Jane.  You must know the stars.  Not that I
blame you for not being well acquainted with them.  Humanity in its
great lighted cities is shut out from the stars.  And even the
country folk are too used to them to realize their wonder.  Emerson
says something somewhere about how marvellous a spectacle we should
deem them if we saw them only once in a thousand years."

So, with dad's field-glasses, they went star hunting on moonless
nights and Jane became learned in lore of far-off suns.

"What star shall we visit to-night, Janelet?  Antares . . .
Fomalhaut . . . Sirius?"

Jane loved it.  It was so wonderful to sit out on the hills with
dad in the dark and the beautiful aloneness while the great worlds
swung above them in their appointed courses.  Polaris, Arcturus,
Vega, Capella, Altair . . . she knew them all.  She knew where to
look for Cassiopeia enthroned on her jewelled chair, for the Milk
Dipper upside down in the clear south-west, for the great Eagle
flying endlessly across the Milky Way, for the golden sickle that
reaped some harvest of heaven.

"Watch the stars whenever you are worried, Jane," said dad.
"They'll steady you . . . comfort you . . . balance you.  I think
if I had watched them . . . years ago . . . but I learned their
lesson too late."



36


"Aunt Elmira is dying again," said Ding-dong cheerfully.

Jane was helping Ding-dong shingle his father's small barn.  Doing
it very well, too, and getting no end of a kick out of it.  It was
such fun to be away up in the air where you could see over the
whole countryside under its gay and windy clouds, and keep easy
tabs on what your neighbours were doing.

"Is she very bad this time?" asked Jane, hammering diligently.

Jane knew all about Aunt Elmira and her dying spells.  She took one
every once in so long and it had really become a nuisance.  Aunt
Elmira picked such inconvenient times for dying.  Always when
something special was in the offing Aunt Elmira decided to die and
sometimes seemed so narrowly to escape doing it that the Bells held
their breaths.  Because Aunt Elmira did really have a heart
condition that was not to be depended on, and who knew but that
sometime she really would die?

"And the Bells don't want her to die," Step-a-yard had told Jane.
"They need her board . . . her annuity dies with her.  Besides,
she's handy to look after things when the Bells want to go gadding.
And I won't say but they're real fond of her, too.  Elmira is a
good old scout when she isn't dying."

Jane knew that.  She and Aunt Elmira were excellent friends.  But
Jane had never seen her when she was dying.  She was too weak to
see people then, she averred, and the Bells were afraid to risk it.
Jane, with her usual shattering insight, had her own opinion about
these spells of Aunt Elmira's.  She could not have expressed it in
terms of psychology, but she once told dad that Aunt Elmira was
just trying to get square with something and didn't know it.  She
felt rather than knew that Aunt Elmira liked pretty well to be in
the limelight and, as she grew older, resented more and more the
fact that she was gently but inexorably being elbowed out of it.
Near dying was one way of regaining the centre of the stage for a
time at least.  Not that Aunt Elmira was a conscious pretender.
She always honestly thought she was dying, and very melancholy she
was about it.  Aunt Elmira was not at all willing to give up the
fascinating business of living.

"Awful," said Ding-dong.  "Mother says she's worse than she's ever
seen her.  Dr Abbott says she's lost the will to live.  Do you know
what that means?"

"Sort of," admitted Jane cautiously.

"We try to keep her cheered up but she's awful blue.  She won't eat
and she doesn't want to take her medicine and ma's at her wit's
end.  We had everything planned for Brenda's wedding and now we
don't know what to do."

"She hasn't died so often before," comforted Jane.

"But she's stayed in bed for weeks and weeks and said every day
would be her last.  Aunt Elmira," said Ding-dong reflectively, "has
bid me a last good-bye seven times.  Now, how can folks have a big
wedding if their aunt is dying?  And Brenda wants a splash.  She's
marrying into the Keyes and she says the Keyes expect it."

Mrs Bell asked Jane to have dinner with them, and Jane stayed
because dad was away for the day.  She watched Brenda arrange a
tray for Aunt Elmira.

"I'm afraid she won't eat a bite of it," said Mrs Bell anxiously.
She was a tired looking, pleasant-faced woman with kind, faded
eyes, who worried a great deal over everything.  "I don't know what
she lives on.  And she's so low in her spirits.  That goes with the
attacks, of course.  She says she's too tired to make any effort to
get better, poor thing.  It's her heart, you know.  We all try to
keep her cheered up and never tell her anything to worry her.
Brenda, mind you don't tell her the white cow choked to death this
morning.  And if she asks what the doctor said last night, tell her
he thinks she's going to be all right soon.  My father always said
we should never tell sick people anything but the truth, but we
must keep Aunt Elmira cheered up."

Jane did not join Ding-dong as soon as dinner was over.  She hung
about mysteriously till Brenda had come downstairs, reporting that
Aunt Elmira couldn't touch a mouthful, and had taken her mother out
to settle some question about the amount of wool to be sent to the
carding mill.  Then Jane sped upstairs.

Aunt Elmira was lying in bed, a tiny, shrunken creature with elf-
locks of grey hair straggling about her wrinkled face.  Her tray
was on the table, untouched.

"If it isn't Jane Stuart!" said Aunt Elmira in a faint voice.  "I'm
glad someone hasn't forgotten me.  So you've come to see the last
of me, Jane?"

Jane did not contradict her.  She sat down on a chair and looked
very sadly at Aunt Elmira, who waved a claw-like hand at her tray.

"I haven't a speck of appetite, Jane.  And it's just as well . . .
ah me, it's just as well.  I feel they begrudge me every bite I
eat."

"Well," said Jane, "you know times are hard and prices low."

Aunt Elmira hadn't quite expected this.  A spark came into her
queer little amber eyes.

"I'm paying my board," she said, "and I earned my keep years before
I started doing that.  Ah well, I'm of no consequence to them now,
Jane.  We're not, after we get ill."

"No, I suppose not," agreed Jane.

"Oh, I know too well I'm a burden to every one.  But it won't be
for long, Jane, it won't be for long.  The hand of death is on me,
Jane.  I realize that if nobody else does."

"Oh, I think they do," said Jane.  "They're in a hurry to get the
barn shingled before the funeral."

The spark in Aunt Elmira's eyes deepened.

"I s'pose they've got it all planned out, have they?" she said.

"Well, I did hear Mr Bell saying something about where he would dig
the grave.  But maybe he meant the white cow's.  I think it was the
cow's.  It choked to death this morning, you know.  And he said he
must have the south gate painted white before . . . something . . .
but I didn't just catch what."

"White?  The idea!  That gate has always been red.  Well, why
should I worry?  I'm done with it all.  You don't worry over things
when you're listening for the footfalls of death, Jane.  Shingling
the barn, are they?  I thought I heard hammering.  That barn didn't
need shingling.  But Silas was always extravagant when there's no
one to check him up."

"It's only the shingles that cost.  The work won't cost anything.
Ding-dong and I are doing it."

"I s'pose that's why you've got your overalls on.  Time was I
couldn't abide a girl in overalls.  But what does it matter now?
Only you shouldn't go barefoot, Jane.  You might get a rusty nail
in your foot."

"It's easier getting round the roof with no shoes.  And little Sid
got a rusty nail in his foot yesterday although he had shoes on."

"They never told me!  I daresay they'll let that child have blood-
poisoning when I'm not round to look after him.  He's my favourite,
too.  Ah well, it won't be long now . . . they know where I want to
be buried . . . but they might have waited till I was dead to talk
of grave-digging."

"Oh, I'm sure it was the cow," said Jane.  "And I'm sure they'll
give you a lovely funeral.  I think dad would write a beautiful
obituary for you if I asked him."

"Oh, all right, all right.  That's enough about it anyway.  I don't
want to be buried till I AM dead.  Did they give you a decent bite
of dinner?  Nettie is kind-hearted but she ain't the best cook in
the world.  I was a good cook.  Ah, the meals I've cooked in my
time, Jane . . . the meals I've cooked!"

Jane missed an excellent opportunity to assure Aunt Elmira she
would cook many more meals.

"The dinner was very nice, Aunt Elmira, and we had such fun at it.
Ding-dong kept making speeches and we laughed and laughed."

"They can laugh and me dying!" said Aunt Elmira bitterly.  "And
pussy-footing round in here with faces as long as to-day and to-
morrow, pretending to be sorry.  What was them dragging noises I've
been hearing all the forenoon?"

"Mrs Bell and Brenda were rearranging the furniture in the parlour.
I expect they are getting it ready for the wedding."

"Wedding?  Did you say wedding?  Whose wedding?"

"Why, Brenda's.  She's going to marry Jim Keyes.  I thought you
knew."

"'Course I knew they were going to be married sometime . . . but
not with me dying.  Do you mean to tell me they're going ahead with
it right off?"

"Well, you know it's so unlucky to put a wedding off.  It needn't
disturb you at all, Aunt Elmira.  You're up here in the ell all by
yourself and . . ."

Aunt Elmira sat up in bed.

"You hand me my teeth," she ordered.  "They're over there on the
bureau.  I'm going to eat my dinner and then I'm going to get up if
it kills me.  They needn't think they're going to sneak a wedding
off me.  I don't care what the doctor says.  I've never believed I
was half as sick as he made out I was anyhow.  Half the valuable
stock on the place dying and children having blood-poisoning and
red gates being painted white!  It's time somebody showed them!"



37


Hitherto Jane's career at Lantern Hill had been quite
unspectacular.  Even when she was seen barefooted, nailing shingles
on a barn roof, it made only a local sensation, and nobody but Mrs
Solomon Snowbeam said much about it.  Mrs Snowbeam was shocked.
There was nothing, she said again, that child would stick at.

And then, all at once, Jane made the headlines.  The Charlottetown
papers gave her the front page for two days, and even the Toronto
dailies gave her a column, with a picture of Jane and the lion . . .
some lion . . . thrown in.  The sensation at 60 Gay must be
imagined.  Grandmother was very bitter . . . "just like a circus
girl" . . . and said it was exactly what might have been expected.
Mother thought, but did not say, that no one could really have
expected to hear of Jane ambling about P. E. Island leading lions
by the mane.

There had been rumours about the lion for a couple of days.  A
small circus had come to Charlottetown and a whisper got about that
their lion had escaped.  Certainly people who went to the circus
saw no lion.  There was a good deal of excitement.  Once a monkey
had escaped from a circus, but what was that to a lion?  It did not
seem certain that any one had actually seen the lion, but several
were reported to have seen him . . . here, there and the other
place, miles apart.  Calves and young pigs were said to have
disappeared.  There was even a yarn that a short-sighted old lady
in the Royalty had patted him on the head and said, "Nice
dogglums."  But that was never substantiated.  The Royalty people
indignantly denied that there were any lions at loose ends.  Such
yarns were bad for tourist traffic.

"I've no chance of seeing it," said Mrs Louisa Lyons mournfully.
"That's what comes of being bed-rid.  You miss everything."

Mrs Louisa had been an invalid for three years and was reputed not
to have put a foot under her without assistance in all that time,
but it was not thought she missed much of what went on at the
Corners and Queen's Shore and Harbour Head for all that.

"I don't believe there is any lion," said Jane, who had been
shopping at the Corners and had dropped in to see Mrs Lyons.  Mrs
Lyons was very fond of Jane and had only one grudge against her.
She could never pick anything out of her about her father and
mother and Lilian Morrow.  And not for any lack of trying.

"Closer than a clam, that girl is when she wants to be," complained
Mrs Louisa.

"Then how did such a yarn start?" she demanded of Jane.

"Most people think the circus people never had a lion . . . or it
died . . . and they want to cover it up because the people who came
to see a lion would be disappointed and mad."

"But they've offered a reward for it."

"They've only offered twenty-five dollars.  If they had really lost
a lion, they'd offer more than that."

"But it's been SEEN."

"I think folks just imagined they saw it," said Jane.

"And I can't even imagine it," groaned Mrs Louisa.  "And it's no
use to PRETEND I imagined it.  Every one knows a lion wouldn't come
upstairs to my room.  If I could see it, I'd likely have my name in
the paper.  Martha Tolling has had her name in the paper twice this
year.  Some people have all the luck."

"Martha Tolling's sister died in Summerside last week."

"What did I tell you?" said Mrs Louisa in an aggrieved tone.  "Now
she'll be wearing mourning.  I never have a chanct to wear
mourning.  Nobody has died in our family for years.  And black
always did become me.  Ah well, Jane, you have to take what you get
in this world and that's what I've always said.  Thank you for
dropping in.  I've always said to Mattie, 'There's something about
Jane Stuart I like, say what you will.  If her father is queer, it
isn't her fault.'  Mind that turn of the stairs, Jane.  I haven't
been down it for over a year but someone is going to break her neck
there sometime."

It happened the next day . . . a golden August afternoon when Jane
and Polly and Shingle and Caraway and Punch and Min and Ding-dong
and Penny and Young John had gone in a body to pick blueberries in
the barrens at Harbour Head and were returning by a short cut
across the back pastures of the Corners farms.  In a little wood
glen, full of golden-rod, where Martin Robbin's old hay-barn stood,
they met the lion face to face.

He was standing right before them among the golden-rod, in the
shadows of the spruces.  For one moment they all stood frozen in
their tracks.  Then, with a simultaneous yell of terror . . . Jane
yelled with the best of them . . . they dropped their pails, bolted
through the golden-rod and into the barn.  The lion ambled after
them.  More yells.  No time to close the ramshackle old door.  They
flew up a wobbly ladder which collapsed and fell as Young John
scrambled to safety beside the others on the crossbeam, too much
out of breath to yell again.

The lion came to the door, stood there a minute in the sunshine,
slowly switching his tail back and forth.  Jane, recovering her
poise, noticed that he was somewhat mangy and lank, but he was
imposing enough in the narrow doorway and nobody could reasonably
deny that he was a lion.

"He's coming in," groaned Ding-dong.

"Can lions climb?" gasped Shingle.

"I . . . I . . . don't think so," said Polly, through her
chattering teeth.

"Cats can . . . and lions are just big cats," said Punch.

"Oh, don't talk," whispered Min.  "It may excite him.  Perhaps if
we keep perfectly quiet he will go away."

The lion did not seem to have any intention of going away.  He came
in, looked about him and lay down in a patch of sunshine with the
air of a lion who had any amount of spare time.

"He don't seem cross," muttered Ding-dong.

"Maybe he isn't hungry," said Young John.

"Don't excite him," implored Min.

"He isn't paying any attention to us," said Jane.  "We needn't have
run.  . . .  I don't believe he'd have hurt us."

"You run as fast as us," said Penny Snowbeam.  "I'll bet you was as
scared as any of us."

"Of course I was.  It was all so sudden.  Young John, stop shaking
like that.  You'll fall off the beam."

"I'm . . .  I'm . . .  scared," blubbered Young John shamelessly.

"You laughed at me last night and said I'd be scared to pass a
patch of cabbages," said Caraway venomously.  "Now look at
yourself."

"None of your lip.  A lion isn't a cabbage," whimpered Young John.

"Oh, you WILL excite him," wailed Min in despair.

The lion suddenly yawned.  Why, thought Jane, he looks exactly like
that jolly old lion in the movie news.  Jane shut her eyes.

"Is she praying?" whispered Ding-dong.

Jane was thinking.  It was absolutely necessary for her to get home
soon if she were going to have dad's favourite scalloped potatoes
for his supper.  Young John was looking absolutely green.  Suppose
he got sick?  She believed the lion was only a tired, harmless old
animal.  The circus people had said he was gentle as a lamb.  Jane
opened her eyes.

"I am going down to take that lion up to the Corners and shut him
up in George Tanner's empty barn," she said.  "That is, unless
you'll all come down with me and slip out and shut him up here."

"Oh, Jane . . . you wouldn't . . . you couldn't . . ."

The lion gave a rap or two on the floor with his tail. . . .  The
protests died away in strangled yelps.

"I'm going," said Jane.  "I tell you, he's tame as tame.  But you
stay here quietly till I get him well away.  And don't yell, any of
you."

With bulging eyes and bated breath the whole gang watched Jane
slide along the beam to the wall where she climbed nimbly down to
the floor.  She marched up to the lion and said, "Come."

The lion came.

Five minutes later Jake MacLean looked out of the door of his
blacksmith shop and saw Jane Stuart go past leading a lion by the
mane . . . "within spitting distance," as he solemnly averred
later.  When Jane and the lion--who seemed to be getting on very
well with each other--had disappeared around the back of the shop,
Jake sat down on a block and wiped the perspiration from his brow
with a bandanna.

"I know I'm not quite sane by times, but I didn't think I was that
far gone," he said.

Julius Evans, looking out of his store-window, didn't believe what
he saw either.  It couldn't be . . . it simply wasn't happening.
He was dreaming . . . or drunk . . . or crazy.  Aye, that was it
. . . crazy.  Hadn't there been a year when his father's cousin was
in the asylum?  Those things ran in families . . . you couldn't
deny it.  Anything was easier than to believe that he had seen Jane
Stuart go up the side-lane by his store towing a lion.

Mattie Lyons ran up to her mother's room, uttering piteous little
gasps and cries.

"What's the matter?" demanded Mrs Louisa.  "Screeching like you was
demented!"

"Oh, ma, ma, Jane Stuart's bringing a lion here!"

Mrs Louisa got out of bed and got to the window just in time to see
the lion's tail disappear with a switch around the back porch.

"I've got to see what she's up to!"  Leaving the distracted Mattie
wringing her hands by the bed, Mrs Louisa got herself out of the
room and down the staircase with its dangerous turn as nimbly as
she had ever done in her best days.  Mrs Parker Crosby, who lived
next door and had a weak heart, nearly died of shock when she saw
Mrs Louisa skipping across her back yard.

Mrs Louisa was just in time to see Jane and the lion ambling up Mr
Tanner's pasture on their way to the hay-barn.  She stood there and
watched Jane open the door . . . urge the lion in . . . shut it and
bolt it.  Then she sat down on the rhubarb patch, and Mattie had to
get the neighbours to carry her back to bed.

Jane went into the store on her way back and asked Julius Evans,
who was still leaning palely over the collection of fly-spotted
jugs on his counter, to call Charlottetown and let the circus
people know that their lion was safe in Mr Tanner's barn.  She
found her dad in the kitchen at Lantern Hill looking rather
strange.

"Jane, it's the wreck of a fine man that you see before you," he
said hollowly.

"Dad . . . what is the matter?"

"Matter, says she, with not a quiver in her voice.  You don't know
. . . I hope you never will know . . . what it is like to look
casually out of a kitchen window, where you are discussing the
shamefully low price of eggs with Mrs Davy Gardiner, and see your
daughter . . . your only daughter . . . stepping high, wide and
handsome through the landscape with a lion.  You think you've
suddenly gone mad . . . you wonder what was in that glass of
raspberry shrub Mrs Gardiner gave you to drink.  Poor Mrs Davy!  As
she remarked pathetically to me, the sight jarred her slats.  She
may get over it, Jane, but I fear she will never be the same woman
again."

"He was only a tame old lion," said Jane impatiently.  "I don't
know why people are making such a fuss over it."

"Jane, my adored Jane, for the sake of your poor father's nerves,
don't go leading any more lions about the country, tame or
otherwise."

"But it's not a thing that's likely to happen again, dad," said
Jane reasonably.

"No, that is so," said dad, in apparent great relief.  "I perceive
that it is not likely to become a habit.  Only, Janelet, if you
some day take a notion to acquire an ichthyosaurus for a family
pet, give me a little warning, Jane.  I'm not as young as I used to
be."

Jane couldn't understand the sensation the affair made.  She hadn't
the least notion she was a heroine.

"I was frightened of him at first," she told the Jimmy Johns.  "But
not after he yawned."

"You'll be too proud to speak to us now, I s'pose," said Caraway
Snowbeam wistfully, when Jane's picture came out in the papers.
Jane and the barn and the lion had all been photographed . . .
separately.  Everybody who had seen them became important.  And Mrs
Louisa Lyons was a rapturous woman.  Her picture was in the paper,
too, and also a picture of the rhubarb patch.

"Now I can die happy," she told Jane.  "If Mrs Parker Crosby had
got her picture in the paper and I hadn't, I couldn't have stood
it.  I'm sure I don't know what they did put her picture in for.
She didn't see you and the lion . . . she only saw me.  Well, there
are some folks who are never contented unless they're in the
limelight."

Jane was to go down in Queen's Shore history as the girl who
thought nothing of roaming round the country with a lion or two for
company.

"A girl absolutely without fear," said Step-a-yard, bragging
everywhere of his acquaintance with her.

"I realized the first time I saw her that she was superior," said
Uncle Tombstone.  Mrs Snowbeam reminded everybody that she had
always said that Jane Stuart was a child who would stick at
nothing.  When Ding-dong Bell and Punch Garland would be old men,
they would be saying to each other, "Remember the time Jane Stuart
and us drove that lion into the Tanner barn?  Didn't we have a
nerve?"



38


A letter from Jody, blotted with tears, gave Jane a bad night in
late August.  It was to the effect that she was really going to be
sent to an orphanage at last.

"Miss West is going to sell her boarding-house in October and
retire," wrote Jody.  "I've cried and cried, Jane.  I hate the idea
of going into an orfanage and I'll never see you, Jane, and oh,
Jane, it isn't fair.  I don't mean Miss West isn't fair but
something isn't."

Jane, too, felt that something wasn't being fair.  And she felt
that 60 Gay without her back yard confabs with Jody would be just a
little more intolerable than it ever had been.  But that didn't
matter as much as poor Jody's unhappiness.  Jane thought Jody might
really have an easier time in an orphanage than she had as the
little unpaid drudge at 58 Gay, but still she didn't like the idea
any better than Jody did.  She looked so downhearted that Step-a-
yard noticed it when he came over with some fresh mackerel for her
which he had brought from the harbour.

"Do for your dinner to-morrow, Jane."

"To-morrow is the day for corned beef and cabbage," said Jane in a
scandalized voice.  "But we'll have them the day after.  That's
Friday anyhow.  Thank you, Step-a-yard."

"Anything troubling you, Miss Lion-tamer?"

Jane opened her heart to him.

"You just don't know what poor Jody's life's been," she concluded.

Step-a-yard nodded.

"Put upon and overworked and knocked about from pillar to post, I
reckon.  Poor kid."

"And nobody to love her but me.  If she goes to an orphanage, I'll
never see her."

"Well, now."  Step-a-yard scratched his head reflectively.  "We
must put our heads together, Jane, and see what can be done about
it.  We must think hard, Jane, we must think hard."

Jane thought hard to no effect but Step-a-yard's meditations were
more fruitful.

"I've been thinking," he told Jane next day, "what a pity it is the
Titus ladies couldn't adopt Jody.  They've been wanting to adopt a
child for a year now but they can't agree on what kind of a child
they want.  Justina wants a girl and Violet wants a boy, though
they'd both prefer twins of any sex.  But suitable twins looking
for parents are kind of scarce, so they've given up that idea.
Violet wants a dark complected one with brown eyes and Justina
wants a fair one with blue eyes.  Violet wants one ten years old
and Justina wants one about seven.  How old is Jody?"

"Twelve, like me."

Step-a-yard looked gloomy.

"I dunno.  That sounds too old for them.  But it wouldn't do any
harm to put it up to them.  You never can tell what them two girls
will do."

"I'll see them to-night right after supper," resolved Jane.

She was so excited that she salted the apple sauce and no one could
eat it.  As soon as the supper dishes were out of the way . . . and
that night they were not proud of the way they were washed . . .
Jane was off.

There was a wonderful sunset over the harbour, and Jane's cheeks
were red from the stinging kisses of the wind by the time she
reached the narrow perfumed Titus lane where the trees seemed
trying to touch you.  Beyond was the kind, old, welcoming house,
mellowed in the sunshine of a hundred summers, and the Titus ladies
were sitting before a beechwood fire in their kitchen.  Justina was
knitting and Violet was clipping creamy bits of toffee from a long,
silvery twist, made from a recipe Jane had never yet been able to
wheedle out of them.

"Come in, dear.  We are glad to see you," said Justina, kindly and
sincerely, though she looked a little apprehensively over Jane's
shoulder, as if she feared a lion might be skulking in the shadows.
"It was such a cool evening we decided to have a fire.  Sit down,
dear.  Violet, give her some toffee.  She is growing very tall,
isn't she?"

"And handsome," said Violet.  "I like her eyes, don't you, sister?"

The Titus ladies had a curious habit of talking Jane over before
her face as if she wasn't there.  Jane didn't mind . . . though
they were sometimes not so complimentary.

"I prefer blue eyes, as you know," said Justina, "but her hair is
beautiful."

"Hardly dark enough for my taste," said Violet.  "I have always
admired black hair."

"The only kind of hair that is really beautiful is curling, red-
gold hair," said Justina.  "Her cheek-bones are rather high but her
insteps are admirable."

"She is very brown," sighed Violet.  "But they tell me that is
fashionable now.  We were very careful of our complexions when we
were girls.  Our mother, you remember, always made us wear
sunbonnets when we went out of doors . . . pink sunbonnets."

"Pink sunbonnets!  They were blue," said Justina.

"Pink," said Violet positively.

"Blue," said Justina, just as positively.

They argued for ten minutes over the colour of the sunbonnets.
When Jane saw they were getting rather warm over it, she mentioned
that Miranda Garland was going to be married in two weeks' time.
The Titus ladies forgot the sunbonnets in their excitement.

"Two weeks?  That's very sudden, isn't it?  Of course, it is to Ned
Mitchell.  I heard they were engaged . . . even that seemed to me
very precipitate when they had been keeping company only six months
. . . but I had no idea they were to be married so soon," said
Violet.

"She does not want to take a chance on his falling in love with a
thinner girl," said Justina.

"They've hurried up the wedding so that I can be bridesmaid,"
explained Jane proudly.

"She is only seventeen," said Justina disapprovingly.

"Nineteen, sister," said Violet.

"Seventeen," said Justina.

"Nineteen," said Violet.

Jane cut short what seemed likely to be another ten minutes'
argument over Miranda's age by saying she was eighteen.

"Oh, well, it's easy enough to get married," said Justina.  "The
trick nowadays seems to be to stay married."

Jane winced.  She knew Justina hadn't meant to hurt her.  But her
father and mother hadn't stayed married.

"I think," said Violet, kindling, "that P. E. Island has a very
good record in that respect.  Only two divorces since Confederation
. . . sixty-five years."

"Only two real ones," conceded Justina.  "But quite a few . . . at
least half a dozen . . . imitation ones . . . going to the States
and getting a divorce there.  And likely to be more from all
accounts."

Violet sent Justina a warning glance which Jane, luckily for her
peace of mind, did not intercept.  Jane had come to the conclusion
that she must mention the object of her call now if she were ever
going to do it.  No use waiting for a chance . . . you just had to
make your chance.

"I hear you want to adopt a child," she said, with no beating round
the bush.

Again the sisters interchanged glances.

"We've been talking of it off and on for a couple of years,"
acknowledged Justina.

"We've got along as far as both being willing for a little girl,"
said Violet with a sigh.  "I would have liked a boy . . . but, as
Justina pointed out, neither of us knows anything about dressing a
boy.  It would be more fun dressing a little girl."

"A little girl about seven, with blue eyes and fair curling hair
and a rosebud mouth," said Justina firmly.

"A little girl of ten with sloe-black hair and eyes and a creamy
skin," said Violet with equal firmness.  "I have given in to you
about the sex, sister.  It is your turn to give in about the age
and the complexion."

"The age possibly, but not the complexion."

"I know the very girl for you," said Jane brazenly.  "She's my chum
in Toronto, Jody Turner.  I know you'll love her.  Let me tell you
about her."

Jane told them.  She left nothing untold that might incline them in
Jody's favour.  When she had said what she wanted to say, she held
her tongue.  Jane always knew the right time to be silent.

The Titus ladies were silent also.  Justina went on knitting and
Violet, having finished snipping toffee, took up her crocheting.
Now and then they lifted their eyes, looked at each other and
dropped them again.  The fire crackled companionably.

"Is she pretty?" said Justina at last.  "We wouldn't want an ugly
child."

"She will be very handsome when she grows up," said Jane gravely.
"She has the loveliest eyes.  Just now she is so thin . . . and
never has any nice clothes."

"She hasn't too much bounce, has she?" said Violet.  "I don't like
bouncing girls."

"She doesn't bounce at all," said Jane.  But this was a mistake
because . . .

"I like a little bounce," said Justina.

"She wouldn't want to wear pants, would she?" said Violet.  "So
many girls do nowadays."

"I'm sure Jody wouldn't want to wear anything you didn't like,"
answered Jane.

"I wouldn't mind girls wearing pants so much if only they didn't
call them pants," said Justina.  "But not pyjamas . . . never,
never pyjamas."

"Certainly not pyjamas," said Violet.

"Suppose we got her and couldn't love her?" said Justina.

"You couldn't help loving Jody," said Jane warmly.  "She's sweet."

"I suppose," hesitated Justina, "she wouldn't . . . there wouldn't
be any danger . . . of there being . . . of her having . . .
unpleasant insects about her?"

"Certainly not," said Jane shocked.  "Why, she lives on Gay
Street."  For the first time in her life Jane found herself
standing up for Gay Street.  But even Gay Street must have justice.
Jane felt sure there were no unpleasant insects on Gay Street.

"If . . . if she had . . . there is such a thing as a fine-tooth
comb," said Violet heroically.

Justina drew her black eyebrows together.

"There has never been any necessity for such an article in our
family, Violet."

Again they knitted and crocheted and interchanged glances.  Finally
Justina said, "No."

"No," said Violet.

"She is too dark," said Justina.

"She is too old," said Violet.

"And now that is settled perhaps Jane would like to have some of
that Devonshire cream I made to-day," said Justina.

In spite of the Devonshire cream and the huge bunch of pansies
Violet insisted on giving her, Jane went home with a leaden weight
of disappointment on her heart.  She was surprised to find that
Step-a-yard was quite satisfied.

"If they'd told you they'd take her, you'd likely get word to-
morrow that they'd changed their minds.  Now it'll be the other way
round."

Still, Jane was very much amazed to get a note from the Titus
ladies the next day, telling her that they had, on second thought,
decided to adopt Jody and would she come down and help them settle
the necessary arrangements.

"We have concluded she is not too old," said Violet.

"Or too dark," said Justina.

"You'll love her I know," said happy Jane.

"We shall endeavour to be to her as the best and kindest of
parents," said Justina.  "We must give her music lessons of course.
Do you know if she is musical, Jane?"

"Very," said Jane, remembering Jody and the piano at 58.

"Think of filling her stocking at Christmas," said Violet.

"We must get a cow," said Justina.  "She must have a glass of warm
milk every night at bedtime."

"We must furnish the little south-west room for her," said Violet.
"I think I should like a carpet of pale blue, sister."

"She must not expect to find here the excitements of the mad welter
of modern life," said Justina solemnly, "but we shall try to
remember that youth requires companionship and wholesome
pleasures."

"Won't it be lovely to knit sweaters for her?" said Violet.

"We must get out those little wooden ducks our uncle whittled for
us when we were small," said Justina.

"It will be nice to have something young to love," said Violet.
"I'm only sorry she isn't twins."

"On mature reflection," said Justina, "I am sure you will agree
that it is wise for us to find out how we get along with one child
before we embark on twins."

"Will you let her keep a cat?" asked Jane.  "She loves cats."

"I don't suppose we would object to a bachelor cat," said Justina
cautiously.

It was eventually arranged that when Jane went back to Toronto she
was to find someone coming to the Island who might bring Jody along
with her, and Justina solemnly counted out and gave into Jane's
keeping enough money for Jody's travelling expenses and clothes
suitable for such travelling.

"I'll write to Miss West right away and tell her, but I'll ask her
not to say anything about it to Jody till I get back.  I want to
tell her . . . I want to see her eyes."

"We are much obliged to you, Jane," said Justina, "you have
fulfilled the dream of our lives."

"Completely," said Violet.



39


"If we could only make the summer last longer," sighed Jane.

But that was impossible.  It was September now, and soon she must
put off Jane and put on Victoria.  But not before they got Miranda
Jimmy John married off.  Jane was so busy helping the Jimmy Johns
get ready for the wedding that Lantern Hill hardly knew her except
to get a bite for dad.  And as bridesmaid she had a chance to wear
the adorable dress of rose-pink organdie with its embroidered blue
and white spots which mother had gotten her.  But once the wedding
was over, Jane had to say good-bye to Lantern Hill again . . . to
the windy silver of the gulf . . . to the pond . . . to Big
Donald's wood-lane . . . which, alas, was going to be cut down and
ploughed up . . . to her garden which was to her a garden that
never knew winter because she saw it only in summer . . . to the
wind that sang in the spruces and the gulls that soared whitely
over the harbour . . . to Bubbles and Happy and First Peter and
Silver Penny.  And dad.  But though she felt sad over it, there was
none of the despair that had filled her heart the year before.  She
would be back next summer . . . that was an understood thing now.
She would be seeing mother again . . . she did not dislike the idea
of going back to St Agatha's . . . there was Jody's delight to be
looked forward to . . . and dad was going with her as far as
Montreal.

Aunt Irene came to Lantern Hill the day before Jane left and seemed
to want to say something she couldn't quite manage to say.  When
she went away, she held Jane's hand and looked at her very
significantly.

"If you hear some news before next spring, lovey . . ."

"What news am I likely to hear?" said Jane with the terrible
directness which Aunt Irene always found so trying.

"Oh . . . one can never tell . . . who knows what changes may come
before then?"

Jane was uncomfortable for a few moments and then shrugged it away.
Aunt Irene was always giving mysterious hints about something,
throwing out wisps of insinuation that clung like cobwebs.  Jane
had learned not to mind Aunt Irene.

"I've never really been able to make as much of that child as I
would like," mourned Aunt Irene to a friend.  "She holds you at
arms' length somehow.  The Kennedys were all hard . . . her mother
now . . . you'd think to look at her she was all rose and cream and
sweetness.  But underneath, my dear . . . hard as a rock.  She
ruined my brother's life and did everything . . . EVERYTHING, I
understand . . . to set his child against him."

"Jane seems very fond of her father now," said the friend.

"Oh, I'm sure she is . . . as fond as she can be of any one.  But
Andrew is a very lonely man.  And I don't know if he will ever be
anything else.  Lately I've been wondering . . ."

"Wondering if he'll finally work himself up to getting a United
States divorce and marrying Lilian Morrow," said the friend
bluntly.  She had had much experience in filling up Irene's blanks.

Aunt Irene looked quite shocked at such plain speaking.

"Oh, I wouldn't like to say that. . . .  I don't really know . . .
but of course Lilian is the girl he should have married instead of
Robin Kennedy.  They have so much in common.  And though I don't
approve of divorce ordinarily . . . I think it shocking . . . still
. . . there are special circumstances. . . ."

Jane and dad had a delightful trip to Montreal.

"How nice to think we're an hour younger than we were," said dad,
as he put his watch back at Campbellton.  He said things like that
all along the way about everything.

Jane clung to him very tightly in Montreal station.

"Dad darling . . . but I'll be back next summer, you know."

"Of course," said dad.  Then he added:

"Jane, here's a spot of hard cash for you.  I don't suppose you get
a very huge allowance at 60 Gay."

"None at all. . . .  But can you spare this, dad?"  Jane was
looking at the bills he had put into her hand.  "Fifty dollars?
That's an awful lot of money, dad."

"This has been a good year for me, Jane.  Editors have been kind.
And somehow . . . when you're about I write more . . . I've felt
some of my old ambition stirring this past year."

Jane, who had spent all her lion-reward money on things for Lantern
Hill and treats for the young fry who had been associated with her
in the episode, tucked the money away in her bag, reflecting that
it would come in handy at Christmas.

"Life, deal gently with her . . . love, never desert her," said
Andrew Stuart, looking after the Toronto train as it steamed away.

Jane found that grandmother had had her room done over for her.
When she went up to it, she discovered a wonderful splendour of
rose and grey, instead of the old gloom.  Silvery carpet . . .
shimmering curtains . . . chintz chairs . . . cream-tinted
furniture . . . pink silk bedspread.  The old bearskin rug . . .
the only thing she had really liked . . . was gone.  So was the
cradle.  The big mirror had been replaced by a round rimless one.

"How do you like it?" asked grandmother watchfully.

Jane recalled her little room at Lantern Hill with its bare floor
and sheepskin rug and white spool bed covered with its patchwork
quilt.

"It is very beautiful, grandmother.  Thank you very much."

"Fortunately," said grandmother, "I did not expect much
enthusiasm."

After grandmother had gone out, Jane turned her back on the
splendour and went to the window.  The only things of home were the
stars.  She wondered if dad were looking at them . . . no, of
course he wouldn't be home yet.  But they would all be there in
their proper places . . . the North Star over the Watch Tower,
Orion sparkling over Big Donald's hill.  And Jane knew that she
would never be the least bit afraid of grandmother again.



"Oh, Jane," said Jody.  "Oh, Jane!"

"I know you'll be happy with the Titus ladies, Jody.  They're a
little old-fashioned but they're so kind . . . and they have the
loveliest garden.  You won't have to make a garden by sticking
faded flowers in a plot any more.  You'll see the famous cherry
walk in bloom . . . I've never seen that."

"It's like a beautiful dream," said Jody.  "But oh, Jane, I hate to
leave you."

"We'll be together in the summers instead of in the winters.  That
will be the only difference, Jody.  And it will be ever so much
nicer.  We'll swim . . . I'll teach you the crawl.  Mother says her
friend, Mrs Newton, will take you as far as Sackville, and Miss
Justina Titus will meet you there.  And mother is going to get your
clothes."

"I wonder if it will be like this when I go to heaven," said Jody
breathlessly.

Jane missed Jody when she went, but life was growing full.  She
loved St Agatha's now.  She liked Phyllis quite well and Aunt
Sylvia said she had really never seen a child blossom out socially
as Victoria had done.  Uncle William couldn't floor her when he
asked about capitals now.  Uncle William was beginning to think
that Victoria had something in her, and Jane was finding that she
liked Uncle William reasonably well.  As for grandmother . . .
well, Mary told Frank it did her heart good to see Miss Victoria
standing up to the old lady.

"Not that stands up is just the right word either.  But the madam
can't put it over her like she used to.  Nothing she says seems to
get under Miss Victoria's skin any more.  And does that make her
mad!  I've seen her turn white with rage when she'd said something
real venomous and Miss Victoria just answering in that respectful
tone of hers that's just as good as telling her she doesn't care a
hoot about what any Kennedy of them all says any more."

"I wish Miss Robin would learn that trick," said Frank.

Mary shook her head.

"It's too late for her.  She's been under the old lady's thumb too
long.  Never went against her in her life except for one thing and
lived to repent that, so they say.  And anyhow she's a cat of a
different breed from Miss Victoria."

One November evening mother went again to Lakeside Gardens to see
her friend and took Jane with her.  Jane welcomed the chance to see
her house again.  Would it be sold?  Unbelievably it wasn't.
Jane's heart gave a bound of relief.  She was so afraid it would
be.  She couldn't understand how it wasn't, it seemed so entirely
desirable to her.  She did not know that the builder had decided
that he had made a mistake when he built a little house in Lakeside
Gardens.  People who could live in Lakeside Gardens wanted bigger
houses.

Though Jane was glad to her toes that her house hadn't been sold,
she was inconsistently resentful that it was unlighted and
unwarmed.  She hated the oncoming winter because of the house.  Its
heart must ache with the cold then.  She sat on the steps and
watched the lights blooming out along the Gardens and wished there
was one in her house.  How the dead brown leaves still clinging to
the oaks rustled in the windy night!  How the lights along the lake
shore twinkled through the trees of the ravine!  And how she hated,
yes, positively hated, the man who would buy this house!

"It just isn't fair," said Jane.  "Nobody will ever love it as I
do.  It really belongs to me."

The week before Christmas Jane bought the materials for a fruit-
cake out of the money dad had given her and compounded it in the
kitchen.  Then she expressed it to dad.  She did not ask any one's
permission for all this . . . just went ahead and did it.  Mary
held her tongue and grandmother knew nothing about it.  But Jane
would have sent it just the same if she had.

One thing made Christmas Day memorable for Jane that year.  Just
after breakfast Frank came in to say that long distance was calling
Miss Victoria.  Jane went to the hall with a puzzled look . . . who
on earth could be calling her on long distance?  She lifted the
receiver to her ear.

"Lantern Hill calling Superior Jane!  Merry Christmas and thanks
for that cake," said dad's voice as distinctly as if he were in the
same room.

"Dad!" Jane gasped.  "Where are you?"

"Here at Lantern Hill.  This is my Christmas present to you,
Janelet.  Three minutes over a thousand miles."

Probably no two people ever crammed more into three minutes.  When
Jane went back to the dining-room, her cheeks were crimson and her
eyes glowed like jewels.

"Who was calling you, Victoria?" asked grandmother.

"Dad," said Jane.

Mother gave a little choked cry.  Grandmother wheeled on her
furiously.

"Perhaps," she said icily, "you think he should have called you."

"He should," said Jane.



40


At the end of a blue and silver day in March, Jane was doing her
lessons in her room and feeling reasonably happy.  She had had a
rapturous letter from Jody that morning . . . all Jody's letters
were rapturous . . . giving her lots of interesting news from
Queen's Shore . . . she had had a birthday the week before and was
now in her leggy teens . . . and two bits of luck had come her way
that afternoon.  Aunt Sylvia had taken her and Phyllis with her on
a shopping expedition, and Jane had picked up two delightful things
for Lantern Hill . . . a lovely old copper bowl and a comical brass
knocker for the glass-paned door.  It was the head of a dog with
his tongue hanging waggishly out and a real dog-laugh in his eyes.

The door opened and mother came in, ready dressed for a restaurant
dinner party.  She wore the most wonderful sheath dress of ivory
taffeta, with a sapphire velvet bow at the back and a little blue
velvet jacket over her lovely shoulders.  Her slippers were blue,
with slender golden heels and she had her hair done in a new way
. . . a sleek flat top to her head and a row of tricksy little curls
around her neck.

"Oh, mums, you are perfectly lovely," said Jane, looking at her
with adoring eyes.  And then she added something she had never
intended to say . . . something that seemed to rush to her lips and
say itself:

"I do wish dad could see you now."

Jane pulled herself up in dire dismay.  She had been told never to
mention dad to mother . . . and yet she had done it.  And mother
was looking as if she had been struck in the face.

"I do not suppose," said mother bitterly, "that he would be at all
interested in the sight."

Jane said nothing.  There seemed to be nothing she could say.  How
did she know whether dad would be interested or not?  And yet . . .
and yet . . . she was sure he still loved mother.

Mother sat down on one of the chintz chairs and looked at Jane.

"Jane," she said, "I am going to tell you something about my
marriage.  I don't know what you have heard about the other side of
it . . . there was another side, of course . . . but I want you to
hear my side.  It is better you should know.  I should have told
you before . . . but . . . it hurt me so."

"Don't tell it now, if it hurts you, darling," said Jane earnestly.
(Thinking--I know more about it than you suppose already.)

"I must.  There are some things I want you to understand . . . I
don't want you to blame me too much. . . ."

"I don't blame you at all, mother."

"Oh, I was to blame a great deal . . . I see that now when it is
too late.  I was so young and foolish . . . just a careless, happy
little bride.  I . . . I . . . ran away to be married to your
father, Jane."

Jane nodded.

"How much do you know, Jane?"

"Just that you ran away and were very happy at first."

"Happy?  Oh, Jane Victoria, I was . . . I was . . . so happy.  But
it really was . . . a very unfortunate marriage, dearest."

(That sounds like something grandmother said.)

"I shouldn't have treated mother so . . . I was all she had left
after my father died.  But she forgave me. . . ."

(And set herself to work to make trouble between you and dad.)

"But we were happy that first year, Jane Victoria.  I worshipped
Andrew . . . that smile of his . . . you know his smile. . . ."

(Do I know it?)

"We had such fun together . . . reading poetry by driftwood fires
down at the harbour . . . we always made a rite of lighting those
fires . . . life was wonderful.  I used to welcome the days then as
much as I shrink from them now.  We had only one quarrel that first
year . . . I forget what it was about . . . something silly . . . I
kissed the frown on his forehead and all was well again.  I knew
there was no woman in the world so happy as I was.  If it could
have lasted!"

"Why didn't it last, mother?"

"I . . . I hardly know.  Of course I wasn't much of a housekeeper
but I don't think it was that.  I couldn't cook, but our maid
didn't do so badly and Little Aunt Em used to come in and help.
She was a darling.  And I couldn't keep accounts straight ever . . .
I would add up a column eight times and get a different answer
every time.  But Andrew just laughed over that.  Then you were
born. . . ."

"And that made all the trouble," cried Jane, in whom that bitter
thought had persisted in rankling.

"Not at first . . . oh, Jane Victoria darling, not at first.  But
Andrew never seemed the same after. . . ."

(I wonder if it wasn't you who had changed, mother.)

"He was jealous of my love for you . . . he was, Jane Victoria. . . ."

(Not jealous . . . no, not jealous.  A little hurt . . . he didn't
like to be second with you after he had been first . . . he thought
he came second then.)

"He used to say 'your child' . . . 'your daughter,' as if you
weren't his.  Why, he used to make fun of you.  Once he said you
had a face like a monkey."

(And no Kennedy can take a joke.)

"You hadn't . . . you were the cutest little thing.  Why, Jane
Victoria darling, you were just a daily miracle.  It was such fun
to tuck you in at night . . . to watch you when you were asleep."

(And you were just a darling big baby yourself, mother.)

"Andrew was angry because I couldn't go out with him as much as
before.  How could I?  It would have been bad for you if I'd taken
you and I couldn't leave you.  But he didn't care really . . . he
never did except for a little while at the first.  He cared far
more for that book of his than for me.  He would shut himself up
with it for days at a time and forget all about me."

(And yet you think he was the only jealous one.)

"I suppose I simply wasn't capable of living with a genius.  Of
course, I knew I wasn't clever enough for him.  Irene let me see
that she thought that.  And he cared far more for her than for
me. . . ."

(Oh, no, not that . . . never that!)

"She had far more influence over him than I had.  He told her
things before he told me. . . ."

(Because she was always trying to pick them out of him before he
was ready to tell any one.)

"He thought me such a child that if he had a plan, he consulted her
before he consulted me.  Irene made me feel like a shadow in my own
house.  She liked to humiliate me, I think.  She was always sweet
and smiling . . ."

(She would be!)

". . . but she always blew my candles out.  She patronized me. . . ."

(Do I know it!)

"'I've noticed,' she would say.  That had such a sting as if she'd
been spying on me right along.  Andrew said I was unreasonable . . .
I wasn't . . . but he always sided with her.  Irene never liked
me.  She had wanted Andrew to marry another girl . . . I was told
she had said from the first that she knew our marriage would be a
failure. . . ."

(And did her best to make it one.)

"She kept pushing us apart . . . here a little . . . there a
little.  I was helpless."

(Not if you had had a wee bit of backbone, mummy.)

"Andrew was annoyed because I didn't like her, and yet he hated my
family.  He couldn't speak of mother without insulting her . . . he
didn't want me to visit her . . . get presents from her . . . money
. . . oh, Jane Victoria, that last year was dreadful.  Andrew never
looked at me if he could help it."

(Because it hurt him too much.)

"It seemed as if I were married to a stranger.  We were always
saying bitter things to each other. . . ."

(That verse I read in the Bible last night, "Death and Life are in
the power of the tongue" . . . it's true . . . it's true!)

"Then mother wrote and asked me to come home for a visit.  Andrew
said, 'Go if you want to' . . . just like that.  Irene said it
would give things a chance to heal up. . . ."

(I can see her smiling when she said it.)

"I went.  And . . . and . . . mother wanted me to stay with her.
She could see I was so unhappy. . . ."

(And took her chance.)

"I couldn't go on living with a person who hated me, Jane Victoria
. . . I couldn't . . . so I . . . I wrote him and told him I
thought it would be better for both of us if I didn't go back.  I
. . . I don't know . . . nothing seemed real someway . . . if he had
written and asked me to go back . . . but he didn't.  I never heard
from him . . . till that letter came asking for you."

Jane had kept silence while mother talked, thinking things at
intervals, but now she could keep silence no longer.

"He DID write . . . he wrote and asked you to come back . . . and
you never answered . . . you never answered, mother."

Mother and daughter looked at each other in the silence of the big,
beautiful, unfriendly room.

After a little, mother whispered, "I never got it, Jane Victoria."

They said nothing more about it.  Both of them knew quite well what
had happened to the letter.

"Mother, it isn't too late yet. . . ."

"Yes, it is too late, dear.  Too much has come between us.  I can't
break with mother again . . . she'd never forgive me again . . .
and she loves me so.  I'm all she has. . . ."

"Nonsense!"  Jane was as brusque as any Stuart of them all.  "She
has got Aunt Gertrude and Uncle William and Aunt Sylvia."

"It's . . . it's not the same.  She didn't love THEIR father.  And
. . . I can't stand up to her.  Besides, he doesn't want me any
more.  We're strangers.  And oh, Jane Victoria, life's slipping
away . . . like that . . . through my fingers.  The harder I try to
hold it, the faster it slips.  I've lost you. . . ."

"Never, mother!"

"Yes, you belong more to him than to me now.  I don't blame you . . .
you can't help it.  But you'll belong a little more to him every
year . . . till there'll be nothing left for me."

Grandmother came in.  She looked at them both suspiciously.

"Have you forgotten you are dining out, Robin?"

"Yes, I think I had," said mother strangely.  "But never mind. . . .
I've remembered now.  I . . . I shan't forget again."

Grandmother lingered for a moment after mother had gone out.

"What have you been saying to upset your mother, Victoria?"

Jane looked levelly at grandmother.

"What happened to the letter father wrote mother long ago, asking
her to go back to him, grandmother?"

Grandmother's cold cruel eyes suddenly blazed.

"So that's it?  Do you think it any of your business exactly?"

"Yes, I think it is, since I am their child."

"I did what was right with it . . . I burned it.  She had seen her
mistake . . . she had come back to me, as I always knew she would
. . . I was not going to have her misled again.  Don't begin
plotting, Victoria.  I am a match for you all yet."

"No one is plotting," said Jane.  "There is just one thing I want
to tell you, grandmother.  My father and mother love each other yet
. . . I KNOW it."

Grandmother's voice was ice.

"They do not.  Your mother has been happy all these years till you
began stirring up old memories.  Leave her alone.  She is my
daughter . . . no outsider shall ever come between us again . . .
neither Andrew Stuart nor you nor any one.  And you will be good
enough to remember that."



41


The letters came on the afternoon of the last day of March.  Jane
was not at St Agatha's . . . she had had a touch of sore throat the
day before and mother thought it was wiser for her to stay home.
But her throat was better now and Jane was reasonably happy.  It
was almost April . . . if not quite spring yet, at least the hope
of spring.  Just a little over two months and she would keep her
tryst with June at Lantern Hill.  Meanwhile, she was planning some
additions to her garden . . . for one thing, a row of knightly
hollyhocks along the dike at the bottom.  She would plant the seeds
in August and they would bloom the NEXT summer.

Grandmother and Aunt Gertrude and mother had all gone to Mrs
Morrison's bridge and tea, so Mary brought the afternoon mail to
Jane who pounced joyfully on three letters for herself.  One from
Polly . . . one from Shingle . . . one . . . Jane recognized Aunt
Irene's copper-plate writing.

She read Polly's first . . . a good letter, full of fun and Lantern
Hill jokes.  There was one bit of news about dad in it . . . he was
planning a trip to the States very soon . . . Boston or New York or
somewhere . . . Polly seemed rather vague.  And Polly wound up with
a paragraph that gave Jane a good laugh . . . her last laughter for
some time . . . the last laughter of her childhood, it always
seemed to Jane, looking back on it from later years.

Polly wrote:  "Mr Julius Evans was awful mad last week, a rat got
drowned in his cask of new maple syrup and he made a terrible fuss
over such a waste.  But dad says he isn't sure it was wasted, so we
are getting our syrup from Joe Baldwin's to be on the safe side."

Jane was still laughing over this when she opened Shingle's letter.
A paragraph on the second page leaped to her eye.

"Everybody is saying your dad is going to get a Yankee divorce and
marry Lilian Morrow.  Will she be your mother then?  How do you
like the idea?  I guess she'll be your stepmother . . . only that
sounds so funny when your own mother is still alive.  Will your
name be changed?  Caraway says not . . . but they do such queer
things in the States.  Anyway, I hope it won't make any difference
about you coming to Lantern Hill in the summer."

Jane felt literally sick and cold with agony as she dropped the
letter and snatched up Aunt Irene's.  She had been wondering what
Aunt Irene could be writing to her about . . . she knew now.

The letter told Jane that Aunt Irene suspected that her brother
Andrew intended going to the States and living there long enough to
get a United States divorce.

"Of course, it may not be true, lovey.  He hasn't told me.  But it
is all over the country, and where there is so much smoke there
must be some fire, and I think you ought to be prepared, lovey.  I
know that several of his friends advised him long ago to get a
divorce.  But as he never discussed it with me, I have given no
advice for or against.  For some reason I am at a loss to
understand, he has shut me out of his confidence these past two
years.  But I have felt that the state of his affairs has long been
very unsatisfactory.  I'm sure you won't worry over this. . . .  I
wouldn't have told you if I thought it would worry you.  You have
too much good sense . . . I've often remarked how old you are for
your years.  But of course, if it is true, it may make some
difference to you.  He might marry again."

If you have seen a candle-flame blown out, you will know what Jane
looked like as she went blindly to the window.  It was a dark day
with occasional showers of driving rain.  Jane looked at the cruel,
repellent, merciless street but did not see it.  She had never felt
such dreadful shame . . . such dreadful misery.  Yet it seemed to
her she ought to have known what was coming.  There had been a hint
or two last summer . . . she remembered Lilian Morrow's caressing
"'Drew" and dad's pleasure in her company.  And now . . . if this
hideous thing were true, she would never spend a summer at Lantern
Hill again.  Would THEY dare to live at Lantern Hill?  Lilian
Morrow her mother!  Nonsense!  Nobody could be her mother except
mother.  The thing was unthinkable.  But Lilian Morrow would be
father's wife.

This had all been going on in these past weeks when she had been so
happy, looking forward to June.

"I don't suppose I'll ever feel glad again," thought Jane drearily.
Everything was suddenly meaningless . . . she felt as if she were
far removed from everything . . . as if she were looking at life
and people and things through the big end of Timothy Salt's
telescope.  It seemed years since she had laughed over Polly's tale
of Mr Evans's wasted--or unwasted--maple syrup.

Jane walked the floor of her room all the rest of that afternoon.
She dared not sit down for a moment.  It seemed that as long as she
kept moving her pain marched with her and she could bear it.  If
she were to stop, it would crush her.  But by dinner-time Jane's
mind had begun to function again.  She must know the truth and she
knew what she must do to learn it.  And it must be done at once.

She counted the money she had left from father's gift.  Yes, there
was just enough for a one-way ticket to the Island.  Nothing left
over for meals or a Pullman but that did not matter.  Jane knew she
would neither eat nor sleep until she knew.  She went down to her
dinner, which Mary had spread for her in the breakfast-room, and
tried to eat something lest Mary should notice.

Mary did.

"Your throat worse, Miss Victoria?"

"No, my throat is all right," said Jane.  Her voice sounded strange
in her ears . . . as if it belonged to someone else.  "Do you know
what time mother and grandmother will be home, Mary?"

"Not till late, Miss Victoria.  You know your grandmother and Aunt
Gertrude are going to dinner at your Uncle William's, meeting some
of your grandmother's old friends from the west, and your mother is
going to a party.  She won't be home till after midnight, but Frank
goes for the old lady at eleven."

The International Limited left at ten.  Jane had all the time she
needed.  She went upstairs and packed a small hand grip with some
necessities and a box of gingersnaps that were on her bedroom
table.  The darkness outside the window seemed to look in at her
menacingly.  The rain spat against the panes.  The wind was very
lonely in the leafless elms.  Once Jane had thought the rain and
the wind were friends of hers, but they seemed enemies now.
Everything hurt her.  Everything in her life seemed uprooted and
withered.  She put on her hat and coat, picked up her bag, went to
mother's room and pinned a little note on a pillow, and crept down
the stairs.  Mary and Frank were having their dinner in the kitchen
and the door was shut.  Very quietly Jane telephoned for a taxi;
when it came, she was waiting outside for it.  She went down the
steps of 60 Gay and out of the grim iron gates for the last time.

"The Union Station," she told the taxi-driver.  They moved swiftly
away over the wet street that looked like a black river with
drowned lights in it.  Jane was going to ask for the truth from the
only one who could tell it to her . . . her father.



42


Jane left Toronto Wednesday night.  On Friday night she reached the
Island.  The train whirled over the sodden land.  Her Island was
not beautiful now.  It was just like every other place in the
ugliness of very early spring.  The only beautiful things were the
slim white birches on the dark hills.  Jane had sat bolt upright
all the time of her journey, night and day, subsisting on what
ginger-snaps she could force herself to swallow.  She hardly moved
but she felt all the time as if she were running . . . running . . .
trying to catch up with someone on a road . . . someone who was
getting farther and farther ahead all the time.

She did not go on to Charlottetown.  She got off at West Trent, a
little siding where the train stopped when it was asked to.  It was
only five miles from there to Lantern Hill.  Jane could hear
plainly the roar of the distant ocean.  Once she would have
thrilled to it . . . that sonorous music coming through the windy,
dark grey night on the old north shore.  Now she did not notice it.

It had been raining but it was fine now.  The road was hard and
rough and dotted with pools of water.  Jane walked through them
unheedingly.  Presently there were dark spires of fir-trees against
a moonrise.  The puddles on the road turned to pools of silver
fire.  The houses she passed seemed alien . . . remote . . . as if
they had closed their doors to her.  The spruces seemed to turn
cold shoulders on her.  Far away over the pale moonlit landscape
was a wooded hill with the light of a house she knew on it.  Would
there be a light at Lantern Hill or would dad be gone?

A dog of her acquaintance stopped to speak to her, but Jane ignored
him.  Once a car bumped past her, picking her out with its lights
and splashing her from head to foot with mud.  It was Joe Weeks
who, being a cousin of Mrs Meade, had the family trick of
malapropisms and told his sceptical wife when he got home that he
had met either Jane Stuart or her operation on the road.  Jane felt
like an apparition.  It seemed to her that she had been walking for
ever . . . must go on walking for ever . . . through this ghostly
world of cold moonlight.

There was Little Donald's house with a light in the parlour.  The
curtains were red, and when they were drawn at night, the light
shone rosily through them.  Then Big Donald's light . . . and at
last the lane to Lantern Hill.

There was a light in the kitchen!

Jane was trembling as she went up the rutted lane and across the
yard, past the forlorn and muddy garden where the poppies had once
trembled in silken delight, to the window.  What a sadly different
home-coming from what she had planned!

She looked in.  Dad was reading by the table.  He wore his shabby
old tweed suit and the nice grey tie with tiny red flecks in it,
which Jane had picked out for him last summer.  The Old
Contemptible was in his mouth and his legs were cocked up on the
sofa where two dogs and First Peter were sleeping.  Silver Penny
was stretched out against the warm base of the petrol lamp on the
table.  In the corner was a sinkful of dirty dishes.  Even at that
moment a fresh pang tore Jane's heart at the sight.

A moment later an amazed Andrew Stuart looked up to see his
daughter standing before him . . . wet-footed, mud-splashed, white-
faced, with her eyes so terribly full of misery that a hideous fear
flashed into his mind.  Was her mother . . .?

"Good heavens, Jane!"

Literally sick from fear, Jane bluntly put the question she had
come so far to ask.

"Father, are you going to get a divorce and marry Miss Morrow?"

Dad stared at her for a moment.  Then, "No!" he shouted.  And
again, "No . . . no . . . no!  Jane, who told you such a thing?"

Jane drew a deep breath, trying to realize that the long nightmare
was over.  She couldn't . . . not just at first.

"Aunt Irene wrote me.  She said you were going to Boston.  She
said . . ."

"Irene!  Irene is always getting silly notions in her head.  She
means well but . . . Jane, listen, once for all.  I am the husband
of one wife and I'll never be anything else."

Dad broke off and stared at Jane.

Jane, who never cried, was crying.

He swept her into his arms.

"Jane, you darling little idiot!  How could you believe such stuff?
I like Lilian Morrow . . . I've always liked her.  And I could
never love her in a thousand years. . . .  Going to Boston?  Of
course, I'm going to Boston.  I've great news for you, Jane.  My
book has been accepted after all.  I'm going to Boston to arrange
the details with my publishers.  Darling, do you mean to tell me
that you walked from West Trent?  How lucky I hung a moon out!  But
you are just sopping.  What you need is a brew of good hot cocoa,
and I'm going to make it for you.  Look pleasant, dogs.  Purr,
Peter.  Jane has come home."



43


The next day Andrew Stuart sent for the doctor, and a few hours
later the nurse came.  The word went around Queen's Shore and the
Corners that Jane Stuart was very ill with a dangerous type of
pneumonia.

Jane could never remember anything of those first days very
clearly.  She was delirious almost from the beginning of her
illness.  Faces came and went dimly . . . dad's in anguish . . . a
grave, troubled doctor . . . a white-capped nurse . . . finally
another face . . . only THAT must be a dream . . . mother couldn't
be there . . . not even if Jane could smell the faint perfume of
her hair.  Mother was in far-away Toronto.

As for her own whereabouts, Jane did not know where she was . . .
she only knew that she was a lost wind seeking some lost word for
ever.  Not till she found that word could she stop being a wind and
be Jane Stuart again.  Once, it seemed to her, she heard a woman
crying wildly and someone saying, "There is still hope, dearest,
there is still a little hope."  And again . . . long afterwards . . .
"There will be a change, one way or another, to-night."

"And then," said Jane, so clearly and distinctly that she startled
every one in the room, "I shall find my lost word."

Jane didn't know how long it was after that to the day when she
understood that she was Jane again and no longer a lost wind.

"Am I dead?" she wondered.  She lifted her arms feebly and looked
at them.  They had grown terribly thin, and she could hold them up
only a second, but she concluded that she was alive.

She was alone . . . not in her own little room at Lantern Hill but
in father's.  She could see through the window the gulf sparkling
and the sky so softly, so ethereally blue over the haunted dunes.
Somebody . . . Jane found out later it had been Jody . . . had
found the first mayflowers and put them in a vase on the table by
her bed.

"I'm . . . sure . . . the house . . . is listening," thought Jane.

To what was it listening?  To two people who seemed to be sitting
on the stairs outside.  Jane felt that she ought to know who they
were, but the knowledge just escaped her.  Fitful sentences came to
her, though they were uttered in muted tones.  At the time they
meant nothing to Jane, but she remembered them . . . remembered
them always.

"Darling, I didn't mean a word of those dreadful things I
said. . . ."  "If I had got your letter . . ."  "My poor little love
. . ."  "Have you ever thought of me in all those years?" . . .
"Have I thought of anything else, loveliest?" . . . "When your wire
came . . . mother said I mustn't . . . she was terrible . . . as if
anything could keep me from Jane. . . ."  "We were just two very
foolish people . . . is it too late to be wise, Robin?"

Jane wanted to hear the answer to that question . . . wanted to
dreadfully . . . somehow she felt that it would be of tremendous
importance to everybody in the world.  But a wind came in from the
sea and blew the door shut.

"I'll never know now," she whispered piteously to the nurse when
she came in.

"Know what, dear?"

"What she said . . . the woman on the stairs . . . her voice was so
like mother's. . . ."

"It was your mother, dear.  Your father wired for her as soon as I
came.  She has been here right along . . . and if you're good and
don't get excited, you can have just a peep at her this evening."

"So," said Jane feebly, "mother must have stood up to grandmother
for once."

But it was several days before Jane was allowed to have her first
real talk with father and mother.  They came in together, hand in
hand, and stood looking down at her.  Jane knew that there were
three tremendously happy people in the room.  Never had she seen
either of them looking like that.  They seemed to have drunk from
some deep well of life, and the draught had made them young lovers
again.

"Jane," said dad, "two foolish people have learned a little
wisdom."

"It was all my fault that we didn't learn it long ago," said
mother.  There was a sound of tears in her voice and a sound of
laughter.

"Woman!"  What a delightful way dad had of saying "woman"!  And
mother's laugh . . . was it a laugh or a chime of bells?  "I will
not have you casting slurs at my wife.  Your fault indeed!  I will
not have one particle of the blame taken away from me.  Look at
her, Jane . . . look at my little golden love.  How did you ever
have the luck to pick such a mother, Jane?  The moment I saw her I
fell in love with her all over again.  And now we will all go in
search of ten lost years."

"And will we live here at Lantern Hill?" asked Jane.

"Always, when we're not living somewhere else.  I'm afraid with two
women on my hands I'll never get my epic on Methuselah's life
finished now, Jane.  But there will be compensations.  I think a
honeymoon is coming to us.  As soon as you're on the hoof, Superior
Jane, we'll all take a little run up to Boston.  I have to see
about that book of mine, you know.  Then a summer here and in the
fall . . . the truth is, Jane, I've been offered the assistant
editorship of Saturday Evening with a healthy salary.  I had meant
to refuse, but I think I'll have to accept.  What about it, Jane?
The winters in Toronto . . . the summers at Lantern Hill?"

"And we'll never have to say good-bye again.  Oh, dad!  But . . ."

"But me no buts.  What is troubling you, dearest dear?"

"We . . . we won't have to live at 60 Gay?"

"Not by a jugful!  A house we must have, of course.  How you live
is much more important than where you live . . . but we must have a
roof over us."

Jane thought of the little stone house in Lakeside Gardens.  It had
not been sold yet.  They would buy it.  It would live . . . they
would give it life.  Its cold windows would shine with welcoming
lights.  Grandmother, stalking about 60 Gay, like a bitter old
queen, her eyes bright with venom, forgiving or unforgiving as she
chose, could never make trouble for them again.  There would be no
more misunderstanding.  She, Jane, understood them both and could
interpret them to each other.  And have an eye on the housekeeping
as well.  It all fitted in as if it had been planned ages ago.

"Oh, dad," cried this happiest of all Janes, "I know the very
house."

"You would," said dad.



THE END





This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia