In those days it must have been long before the returning vessel could sail up the James, this time bearing the graven tomb from Scotland. For a little while, the stillness of the forest was once more broken, startling the timid woodland folk; and then these strangers from overseas were gone. Again the great silence fell and the wilderness took the grave to itself. Slowly it set upon the tomb its seal of moss and lichen and vine. Unmindful of the mark of human loss and grief, the wild folk came and went. Joyously the cardinal flashed his crimson wing above the darkening stone; the deer came to drink from the stream and lifted their heads to scent the breeze that came with the dawn through the cypress trees, across a forgotten grave; hard and incurious, the Weyanoke Indians slipped by like darker shadows in the forest gloom; and only the little night birds seemed to know or to care as they called plaintively in the marshes at twilight.
As we were about to leave the tomb, we bethought us that the anniversary of the death of this Elizabeth was drawing near. We heaped the holly with its glowing berries above the crumbling stone. And still we lingered; for the Gordons of Tilliangus seemed very far away from this daughter of their house. As the sunset lights were fading, we saw a new moon pale on the tinted sky; and we thought of how for almost two centuries crescent moons had trembled from silver to gold above this forlorn grave on the bank of the Kittewan.
A short row in the dusk out upon the stream, and we stepped aboard Gadabout. She never seemed more cozy and homelike. A great bowl of pink and yellow chrysanthemums from Brandon’s old garden and trailing cedar and ferns and red-berried holly added to the cheer. Soon our home-lights streamed from the broad windows out across the water, and some faint glow must have touched that lonely tomb on shore.
NAVIGATING AN UNNAVIGABLE STREAM
In the morning the sun and the mist filled our little harbour with a golden shimmer, and all the marsh reeds were quivering in the radiance. The blue herons were winging out to the river, and the doves were weaving spells round and round the dormer-windowed cottage on the hill.
Gadabout’s household was early astir ready for the run up Kittewan Creek. We had only to get a chicken or two at the house on the bluff, and then we should be ready to start at the turn of the tide. Imagine, then, our chagrin when the sailor returned with not only the chickens but the information also that we could not get the houseboat any farther up the stream, on account of numerous shallows and submerged cypress stumps.
Once more the charts were got out and spread upon a table. We still felt that if the sounding-marks were right Gadabout could navigate the stream. However, at two places islands were shown where there seemed scarcely room in the creek for islands and Gadabout too; and if we had also to throw in a few cypress stumps for good measure, our prospects for visiting Weyanoke by the chickens-and-geese route were indeed not promising.