“He’s after that miller,” explained Holcomb. The others strained their eyes, but they could see nothing but the widening rings where the trout had disappeared. Again he rose out of a basin of moulten turquoise like a flash of quicksilver. “The old fellow will get him yet,” remarked Billy; “the miller’s wing is broken—he’s lying flat on the water.”
“Your eyes are better than mine, Holcomb,” declared Thayor.
“Take an old trout like that,” explained Holcomb, “and he’ll always strike with his tail first; he broke that miller’s wing the second time he rose.”
Alice and Margaret were straining their eyes to catch, if possible, a glimpse of the unfortunate moth.
“I can’t see him,” confessed Margaret; “can you, mother?”
“My dear child, my eyes are not fitted with a microscope,” Alice laughed.
“There!” cried Holcomb, as the trout splashed still farther out on the quiet pond. “He’s got him!”
“And we’ll get him some day,” exclaimed Thayor, the fever of fishing tingling within him.
“There are some big trout in here, Mr. Thayor,” continued Holcomb. “I’ve known this pond for several years and it has been rarely, if ever, fished.”
“Then, Billy, we’ll have to go at them at twilight,” declared Thayor. “You had better tell Freme to bring in one of the canvas canoes.”
The four retraced their way over the trail. As they reached a muddy place half way home Holcomb noticed the imprint of Margaret’s trim little feet. It was evident to Alice, who had been watching him, that the tracks puzzled the young woodsman. There were four of these dainty tracks instead of two; soon the mystery was cleared as Alice Thayor passed ahead of him and Holcomb saw that Margaret’s and her mother’s footprint were identical in size.
“You seem puzzled,” Alice remarked, as Holcomb steadied her along a sunken log.
“I was looking where you had stepped, Mrs. Thayor,” he confessed.
Alice laughed, a low, delicious laugh.
“You see,” she explained frankly, putting forth her trim boot, “my daughter and I wear the same size.”
Again Margaret and Holcomb took the lead. Thayor and Alice followed them leisurely, Thayor talking of his purchase of which he had yet only seen a small portion, Alice listening eagerly. During a pause she said carelessly:
“It must be frightfully hot in town, Sam. New York is dirty and deserted; I pity those who cannot get away.” He stopped and grew enthusiastic again over the rare purity of the air.
“We ought to be thankful for that,” he said, as he filled his lungs with a deep breath. “Think of how many poor devils and delicate women struggling for a living, and little children it would save.”
“And the other people, too,” she ventured boldly. “Poor Dr. Sperry told me he would be lucky if he got out of New York at all this summer. There are some important cases of his, I believe, which may need him at any moment.”