“What’s the matter, Monty, is your load too heavy for you?” called out Miss Judy.
“Not at all,” replied Monty doggedly. “I’m a little out of form, I guess. This arm—I strained it last spring—seems to have gone lame all of a sudden.”
“Would you like to get in a canoe with some of the girls?” asked Dr. Grayson solicitously.
“I would not,” replied Monty somewhat peevishly. “Please let me alone, Uncle, I’ll be all right in a minute. Don’t any of you bother about me, I’ll follow you at my leisure. When I get used to paddling again I’ll very soon overtake you even if you have a good start.”
The rest of the canoes swept by, and Monty and Miss Peckham soon found themselves alone on the river.
“Hadn’t I better help you paddle?” asked Miss Peckham anxiously. She was beginning to distrust the powers of her ferryman.
“No, no, no,” insisted Monty, stung to the quick by the concern in her voice. “I can do it very well alone, I tell you.”
He kept at it doggedly for another half hour, stubbornly refusing to accept any help, until the canoe came to a dead stop. No amount of paddling would budge it an inch; it was apparently anchored. Puzzled, Monty peered into the river to find the cause of the stoppage. The water was deep, but there were many snags and obstructions under the surface. Something was holding him, that was plain, but what it was he could not find out, nor could he get loose from it. The water was too deep to wade ashore, and there was nothing to do but sit there and try to get loose by means of the paddle, a proceeding which soon proved fruitless. In some mysterious way they were anchored out in mid stream at a lonely place in the river where no one would be likely to see them for a long time. The others were out of sight long ago, having obeyed Monty’s injunction to let him alone.
Monty, in his usual airy way, tried to make the best of the situation and draw attention away from his evident inability to cope with the situation. “Ah, pleasant it is to sit out here and bask in the warm sunshine,” he murmured in dulcet tones. “The view is exquisite here, n’est-ce pas? I could sit here all day and look at that mountain in the distance. It reminds me somewhat of the Alps, don’t you know.”
Miss Peckham gazed unhappily at the mountain, which was merely a blur in the distance. “Do you think we’ll have to sit here all night?” she asked anxiously.
Monty exerted himself to divert her. “How does it come that I have never met you before, Miss Peckham? Really, I didn’t know that Uncle Clement had such delightful relations. Can it be that you are really his cousin? It hardly seems possible that you are old enough. Sitting there with the breeze toying with you hair that way you look like a young girl, no older than Judith herself.”
Now this was quite a large dose to swallow, but Miss Peckham swallowed it, and much delighted with the gallant youth, so much more appreciative of her than the others at camp, she sat listening attentively to his prattle of what he had seen and done, keeping her hat off the while to let her hair ripple in the breeze the way he said he liked it, regardless of the fact that the sun was rather hot.