She came over to him, and stood for a while silently. Then she turned and said suddenly in a shy, low voice:
“Oh, Ken, I don’t know how you feel about it, but—but, I think, whatever awful is going to happen, we must try to keep things beautiful for Kirk.”
“I guess we must,” Ken said, staring out. “I’d trust you to do it, old Phil. Cut along now to bed,” he added gruffly; “we’ll have to be up like larks to-morrow.”
THE FINE OLD FARM-HOUSE
Asquam proper is an old fishing-village on the bayside. The new Asquam has intruded with its narrow-eaved frame cottages among the gray old houses, and has shouldered away the colonial Merchants’ Hall with a moving-picture theater, garish with playbills and posters. Two large and well-patronized summer hotels flourish on the highest elevation (Asquam people say that their town is “flatter’n a johnny cake"), from which a view of the open sea can be had, as well as of the peninsulas and islands which crowd the bay.
On the third day of April the hotels and many of the cottages were closed, with weathered shutters at the windows and a general air of desolation about their windy piazzas. Asquam, both new and old, presented a rather bleak and dismal appearance to three persons who alighted thankfully from the big trolley-car in which they had lurched through miles of flat, mist-hung country for the past forty minutes.
The station-agent sat on a tilted-up box and discussed the new arrivals with one of his ever-present cronies.
“Whut they standin’ ther’ fer?” he said. “Some folks ain’t got enough sense to go in outen the rain, seems so.”
“’T ain’t rainin’—not so’s to call it so,” said the crony, whose name was Smith. “The gell’s pretty.”
“Ya-as, kind o’,” agreed the station-agent, tilting back critically. “Boy’s upstandin’.”
“Big ’n. Little ‘un ain’t got no git-up-’n’-git fer one o’ his size. Look at him holdin’ to her hand.”
“Sunthin’ ails him,” Smith said. “Ain’t all there I guess.”
The station-agent nodded a condescending agreement, and cocked his foot on another box. At this moment the upstanding boy detached himself from his companions, and strode to where the old man sat.
“I beg your pardon,” he said, “can you tell me how far it is to the Baldwin farm, and whether any of Mr. Sturgis’s freight has come yet?”
“Baldwin fa’m?” and the station-agent scratched his ear. “Oh, you mean out on the Winterbottom Road, hey? ’Beout two mile.”
“And Mr. Sturgis’s freight?”
“Nawthin’ come fer that name,” said the agent, “’less these be them.” He indicated four small packages in the baggage-room.
“Oh no,” said Ken, “they’re big things—beds, and things like that. Well, please let me know if they do come. I’m Mr. Sturgis.”