Of course that boy cares as much for my looks as for those of the Egyptian Sphinx. At one time I really hoped that Helen and he, since she would have to leave me some day, might grow fond of one another. I know how devoted he is to my girl, but I’m afraid she has made her own choice. I must write to Harry that we shall be leaving before long and that it will be too late for him to come now,—as, indeed, it is. What puzzles me is that, on his own part, that doctor never has seemed to be anything but a good friend to Helen. I suppose I was an old fool, and never saw things that went on under my nose. Poor Harry, he’s such a splendid lad, and his father was my dearest friend, as you know.
Helen has been gone for hours, and I’m going to send Susie after her. In the meanwhile I have sought to possess my soul in patience by writing to you.
From Miss Helen Jelliffe to Miss Jane Van Zandt
Dearest Aunt Jennie:
It is very disturbing to think that one has, in some ways, been a very naughty bad girl, and yet to be utterly unable to see how one could have acted any differently.
It is my fault that we are still here, though we were all ready to start, and were on our way to the yacht when we discovered that Dr. Grant had just returned from one of the outports and was dreadfully ill. He has been so kind to us that it was utterly impossible for us to leave him at such a time and I just had to insist on delaying our departure, and of course I made poor Daddy very miserable. The Snowbird had to wing its flight away without us, hastening to seek help. We needed succor ever so badly, so very badly that if one of those strange vows of ancient days could have hastened her return by one little hour I would willingly have undertaken to drag myself on my knees along scores of miles of this rock-strewn shore. I begged Dad to send her, and he did, at once, for he was only too glad to do anything he could for the doctor, but he has been so dreadfully anxious on my account, and was so eager to take me away at once to some big place where I could be treated if I fell ill. You understand, of course, that I am not ill at all, and never was better in my life, and that there is no reason at all to be afraid for me.
Mr. Barnett and I left the house yesterday morning to go to the Frenchman’s place, where the doctor has insisted on remaining. I was quite surprised to see a number of people around the poor little shack.
They all knew that Dr. Grant was very ill, and were gathered there with anxious faces. They simply looked worried to death. Isn’t it wonderful, Aunt Jennie, how some people have the faculty of causing themselves to be loved by every one? Of course, his coming here has been such a great thing for these poor fishermen that they have learned to regard him as their best friend, one whose loss would be a frightful calamity. He certainly has never spared himself in their behalf.