“Thank you, my father, thank you!” said the young man, bending his knee to receive the monk’s parting benediction.
“It seems to me not best,” said the monk, turning once more, as he was leaving the threshold, “that you should come to me at present where I am,—it would only raise a storm that I could not allay; and so great would be the power of the forces they might bring to bear on the child, that her little heart might break and the saints claim her too soon.”
“Well, then, father, come hither to me to-morrow at this same hour, if I be not too unworthy of your pastoral care.”
“I shall be too happy, my son,” said the monk. “So be it.”
And he turned from the door just as the bell of the cathedral struck the Ave Maria, and all in the street bowed in the evening act of worship.
* * * * *
As the summer vacation drew near, and the closed shutters and comparative quiet of the west end made one for a moment believe in the phrase, “Nobody in town,” I had, after some thought, determined to resist the many temptations of a walking tour, and, instead of trusting to shoe-leather, try what virtue lay in a stout pair of oars, and make a trip by water instead of land.
But first, in what direction? The careful search of a huge chart and some knowledge of the Northern and Eastern seaboard led me to mark out a course along the shore of Massachusetts and among the beautiful islands which stud the coast of Maine.
The cruise was at that time a novel one, and many were the doubts expressed as to the seaworthiness of my boat. She was twenty-two feet long, nine inches high, and thirty-two wide,—canvas-covered, except about four feet of the middle section, with sufficient space to stow two days’ food and water, and to carry all the baggage necessary for a week’s voyage. The oars were made especially strong for the occasion, of spruce, ten feet three inches in length, and nicely balanced. In addition to provision and clothes, a gun, a couple of hundred feet of stout line, and a boat-hook were stowed in the bottom.
The day fixed for departure rose clear. An east wind tempered the heat of the sun; but the tide, which by starting earlier would have been in my favor, was dead low, and would turn before I could round the northern point of the city. After all my traps had been put on board, seating myself carefully, the oars were handed in, and a few strokes sent me ahead of the raft. The tide was low, dead low, in the fullest meaning of the word; the sea-weed slowly circled and eddied round, floating neither up nor down; while the unrippled surface of the Back Bay reflected the city and bridges so perfectly that it was hard to tell where reality ended and seeming began. Passing beneath the Cambridge draw, I turned the boat’s head for the next one, and kept close to the northern