Some dispirited goats forlornly watched our little procession for a moment, and resumed their mournful hunt outside the palings of tiny enclosures jealously protected against their incursions among a few anemic cabbages.
A little farther on the only cow in the place, who is descended from the scriptural lean ones, was munching the discarded tail of a large codfish which probably still held a faint flavor of the salt with which it had been preserved. Nondescript dogs, bearing very little resemblance to the original well-known breed, wandered aimlessly under the pelting rain.
Frenchy reached his dilapidated shack, and was the first to stop.
“Vell, so long,” he said.
“Au revoir a demain!” I answered, as well as I could.
His somber, swarthy face brightened at the sound of words of his own tongue. I believe that to him they were a tiny glimpse of something well-beloved and of memories that refused to grow dim. For a moment he stood at the door, beaming upon me. A small boy came out, very grimy of face and hands and with a head covered with yellow curls. He was chiefly clad in an old woollen jersey repaired with yarn of many hues, that nearly reached his toes.
“Papa Yves!” he cried, leaping up joyfully, quite heedless of Frenchy’s dripping oilskins.
The sailor lifted up the child and kissed him, whereupon he grasped the man’s flaring ears as they projected from the huge tangled beard, and with a burst of happy laughter kissed him on both cheeks, under the eyes, in the only bare places.
We hurried on and soon reached one of the few houses distinguished from others by a coat of paint. By this time the evening was near at hand, yet the darkness would not have justified as yet a thrifty Newfoundland housewife in burning valuable kerosene. But from the windows of this place poured forth abundant light showing recklessness as to expense. Upon the porch were a few feeble geraniums, and some nasturtiums and bachelor’s buttons twined themselves hopefully on strings disposed for them.
At the sound of our footsteps the door was quickly opened. A young woman appeared but the light was behind her and her features were not very distinct.
“Couldn’t you get him?” she cried, in sore disappointment.
“Yes, ma’am. That’s what I went for,” said Sammy. “I telled yer I’d sure bring him, and here he be.”
I had come nearer, and then, I am afraid, I somewhat forgot my manners and stared at her.
From Miss Helen Jelliffe to Miss Jane Van Zandt
Dearest Aunt Jennie:
I did try so hard to get you to come on this cruise with us. You said you preferred remaining in Newport to sharing in a wild journey to places one has never heard of, and now I am compelled to recognize your superior wisdom. I wish we had never heard of this dreadful hole. I am now reduced to the condition of a weepful Niobe, utterly helpless to contend against the sad trend of events. I know how much you disapprove of lingering, being such an active little body, and so I will tell you the worst at once. Poor dear Daddy has just broken his leg, and, of all places, in the most forsaken hole and corner of this dreary island of Newfoundland.