“I admire your principle, my boy—but oh, I pity your inexperience!”
The City Transfer bill was paid; so were the other bills. Ken, on his way out from Asquam, stopped with a sudden light in his dogged face and turned back. He sought out the harbor-master, who was engaged in painting a dory behind his shop.
“Wal, boy, want to get a fish-hook?” he queried, squinting toward Ken with a preoccupied eye. (He sold hardware and fishing-tackle, as well as attending to the duties of his post.)
Ken disclaimed any desire for the fish-hook, and said he wanted to ask about a boat.
“Ain’t got none for sale ner hire, just now,” the harbor-master replied.
Ken said, so he had heard, but that wasn’t it. And he told the man about the abandoned power-boat in the inlet. The harbor-master stood up straight and looked at Ken, at last.
“Wal, ding!” said he. “That’s Joe Pasquale’s boat, sure’s I’m a-standin’ here!”
“Who,” said Ken, “is Joe Pasquale?”
“He is—or woz—a Portugee fisherman—lobsterman, ruther. He got drownded in Febrerry—fell outen his boat, seems so, an’ we got him, but we never got the boat. Couldn’t figger wher’ she had got to. He was down harbor when ’t happent. Cur’ous tide-racks ’round here.”
“Whose is she, then?” Ken asked. “Any widows or orphans?”
“Nary widder,” said the harbor-master, chewing tobacco reflectively. “No kin. Finders keepers. B’longs to you, I reckon. Ain’t much good, be she?”
“Hole stove in her,” Ken said. “The engine is all there, but I guess it’ll need a good bit of tinkering at.”
“Ain’t wuth it,” said the harbor-master. “She’s old as Methusaly, anyways. Keep her—she’s salvage if ever there wuz. Might be able to git sunthin’ fer her enjine—scrap iron.”
“Thanks,” said Ken; “I’ll think it over.” And he ran nearly all the way to Applegate Farm.
Kirk did not forget his promise to the Maestro. He found the old gentleman in the garden, sitting on a stone bench beside the empty fountain.
“I knew that you would come,” he said. “Do you know what day it is?”
Kirk did not, except that it was Saturday.
“It is May-day,” said the Maestro, “and the spirits of the garden are abroad. We must keep our May together. Come—I think I have not forgotten the way.”
He took Kirk’s hand, and they walked down the grass path till the sweet closeness of a low pine covert wove a scented silence about them. The Maestro’s voice dropped.
“It used to be here,” he said. “Try—the other side of the pine-tree. Ah, it has been so many, many years!”
[Illustration: The Maestro sat down beside Kirk]
Kirk’s hand sought along the dry pine-needles; then, in a nook of the roots, what but a tiny dish, with sweetmeats, set out, and little cups of elder wine, and bread, and cottage cheese! The Maestro sat down beside Kirk on the pine-needles, and began to sing softly in a rather thin but very sweet voice.