But the poor Maestro could not finish the verse. He swung about on the piano-stool, trying to frame a laughing apology. Kirk went to him instantly, both hands outstretched in his haste. His fingers found the Maestro’s bowed shoulders; his arms went tight about the Maestro’s neck. In his passionately whispered confidence the old gentleman must have found solace, for he presently smiled,—a real smile,—and then still keeping Kirk beside him, began playing a sonata. Ken and Felicia, sunk unobtrusively in the big chairs at the hearth, were each aware of a subtle kindredship between these two at the piano—a something which they could not altogether understand.
“He brings out a side of Kirk that we don’t know about,” Felicia thought. “It must be the music. Oh, what music!”
It was difficult to leave a place of such divine sounds, but Kirk’s bedtime was long past, and the moon stood high and cold above the Maestro’s garden.
“Is it shining on all the empty pools and things?” Kirk asked, at the hedge.
“Yes, and on the meadow, and the silver roof of Applegate Farm,” Phil told him.
“‘Roses in the moonlight, to-night all thine,’” Kirk sang dreamily.
“Do you mean to say you can sing it so soon?” Ken gasped.
“He ran away in the moonlight,” Kirk murmured. “Away to sea. Would you, Ken?”
“Not if I had a father like the Maestro, and a brother like you,” said Ken, fitting the key to the door of Applegate Farm.
A very few days after Kirk had begun on his new year, he and Felicia went into Asquam to collect a few things of which the farm-house stood in need. For there had been a hint that Mrs. Sturgis might soon leave Hilltop, and Felicia was determined that Applegate Farm should wear its best face for her mother, who did not, as yet, even know of its existence. A great many little things, which Felicia had long been meaning to buy, now seemed to find a legitimate hour for their purchase. So she and Kirk went the round of the Asquam Utility Emporium, B. B. Jones Co., and the Beacon Light Store, from each of which places of business they emerged with another package.
“I told Ken we’d meet him at the boat,” Felicia said, “so we might as well walk over there now, and all come home together. Oh, how thick the fog is!”
“Is it?” Kirk said. “Oh, yes, there goes the siren.”
“I can hardly see the Dutchman, it’s so white at the end of the pier. Ken isn’t there; he must have gone with Hop to see about something.”
“Let’s wait in the boat,” Kirk suggested. “I love the gluggy way it sounds, and the way it sloshes up and down.”
They put the bundles on the wharf and climbed into the boat. The water slapped vigorously against its side, for the tide was running, and above, a wraith-like gull occasionally dropped one creaking, querulous cry.
“Goodness!” Felicia exclaimed, “with all our shopping, I forgot the groceries! I’ll run back. I’ll not be a minute. Tell Ken when he comes.” She scrambled up the steps and ran down the pier, calling back to Kirk: “Stay just where you are!”