“Oh, you be,” said the agent, comprehensively.
“Ain’t gonna walk away out to the Baldwin place with all them valises, air you?” Smith inquired, breaking silence for the first time.
“I don’t know how else we’ll get there,” Ken said.
“Yay—Hop!” shouted Smith, unexpectedly, with a most astonishing siren-like whoop.
Before Ken had time to wonder whether it was a prearranged signal for attack, or merely that the man had lost his wits, an ancient person in overalls and a faded black coat appeared from behind the baggage-house. “Hey? Well?” said he.
“Take these folks up to the Baldwin place,” Smith commanded; “and don’t ye go losin’ no wheels this time—ye got a young lady aboard.” At which sally all the old men chuckled creakily.
But the young lady showed no apprehension, only some relief, as she stepped into the tottering surrey which Hop drove up beside the platform. As the old driver slapped the reins on the placid horse’s woolly back, the station-agent turned to Smith.
“George,” he said, “the little ’un ain’t cracked. He’s blind.”
“Well, gosh!” said Smith, with feeling.
Winterbottom Road unrolled itself into a white length of half-laid dust, between blown, sweet-smelling bay-clumps and boulder-filled meadows.
“Is it being nice?” Kirk asked, for the twentieth time since they had left the train for the trolley-car.
Felicia had been thanking fortune that she’d remembered to stop at the Asquam Market and lay in a few provisions. She woke from calculations of how many meals her family could make of the supplies she had bought, and looked about.
“We’re near the bay,” she said; “that is you can see little silvery flashes of it between trees. They’re pointy trees—junipers, I think and there are a lot of rocks in the fields, and wild-flowers. Nothing like any place you’ve ever been in—wild, and salty, and—yes, quite nice.”
They passed several low, sturdy farm-houses, and one or two boarded-up summer cottages; then two white chimneys showed above a dark green tumble of trees, and the ancient Hopkins pointed with his whip saying:
“Ther’ you be. Kind o’ dull this time year, I guess; but my! Asquam’s real uppy, come summer—machines a-goin’, an’ city folks an’ such. Reckon I’ll leave you at the gate where I kin turn good.”
The flap-flop of the horse’s hoofs died on Winterbottom Road, and no sound came but the wind sighing in old apple-boughs, and from somewhere the melancholy creaking of a swinging shutter. The gate-way was grown about with grass; Ken crushed it as he forced open the gate, and the faint, sweet smell rose. Kirk held Felicia’s sleeve, for she was carrying two bags. He stumbled eagerly through the tall dry grass of last summer’s unmown growth.
“Now can you see it? Now?”
But Felicia had stopped, and Kirk stopped, too.