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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Up the Hill and Over.

CHAPTER XIV

Henry Callandar, resting neck-deep in the cool green swimming pool, tossed the wet hair out of his eyes and whistled ingratiatingly to a watching robin.  A delightful sense of guilt enveloped him, for it was Sunday morning and, since his experience at Pine Lake a week ago, he had learned a little of what Sunday means in Coombe.  Esther had been quite right in fearing that his return by train upon that sacred day might deal a severe blow to his prestige—­at least until Mrs. Sykes had had time to explain to every one how unavoidable it had been—­and he knew that if he were to be caught in his present delightful occupation his Presbyterian reputation might be considered lost forever.

The robin twittered at him prettily but refused to be beguiled.  Sunday bathing was not among its weaknesses.  Presently it flew away.

“Gone to tell the minister, I’ll be bound!” murmured Callandar. “’Twill be a scandal in the kirk.  I’ll lose all my five patients.  Horrid little bird!”

Smiling, he drew himself from the embrace of the faintly shining water and retiring to the willow screen began to dress with that virtuous leisureliness which characterises those who rise before their fellows.  He had the world to himself; a world of cool, sweet scents, pure light and Sabbath quiet—­that wonderful quiet which seems a living thing with a personality of its own, so different is it from the ordinary quiet of work-a-day mornings.

The primrose sky gave promise of a beautiful day.  The blue grey vault overhead was already filling with shimmering golden light, the drooping willows and the dew-wet grass were stirring in the breeze of dawn, the voice of the water sang in the stillness.

Callandar slipped his blue tie snugly under the collar of his white flannel shirt and sighed with the ecstasy of health renewed.  A half-forgotten couplet hummed through his brain.

     “Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright! 
     The bridal of the earth and sky—­”

“And it’s a hymn, too, or I’m a Dutchman,” he declared, much edified.  “That proves that swimming on Sunday is quite compatible with proper orthodoxy of mind.  Shouldn’t wonder if the Johnnie who wrote that wrote it on Sunday morning after a dip.  I’ll tell Mrs. Sykes he did anyway—­where in thunder did I put my boots?”

The missing articles had apparently fulfilled the purpose of their being by walking away, or else the robin had collected them as evidence!  Callandar chuckled at a whimsical vision of them in a church court, damningly marked “Exhibit 1.”  But as he searched for them the utter peace of the morning fled and suddenly he became conscious that he and the willows no longer divided the world between them.  Some one was near.  He felt eyes watching.  The curious half-lost instinct which warns man of the approach of his kind, told him that he was no longer alone.  The doctor fixed a stern eye on the screening willows.

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