LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
“Looking up, he saw a slender little girl in a long tan coat and a white tam-o-shanter” Frontispiece
“He sent up yell after yell of victory for the land of his adoption”
“He smiled away his debt of gratitude”
“Then he forgot all about the steps and counting time”
“Burning deeds of prowess rioted in his brain”
“Sandy saw her waver”
“‘It’s been love, Sandy, ... ever since the first’”
An English mist was rolling lazily inland from the sea. It half enveloped the two great ocean liners that lay tugging at their moorings in the bay, and settled over the wharf with a grim determination to check, as far as possible, the traffic of the morning.
But the activity of the wharf, while impeded, was in no wise stopped. The bustle, rattle, and shouting were, in fact, augmented by the temporary interference. Everybody seemed in a hurry, and everybody seemed out of temper, save a boy who lay at full length on the quay and earnestly studied a weather-vane that was lazily trying to make up its mind which way to point.
He was ragged and brawny and picturesque. His hands, bronzed by the tan of sixteen summers, were clasped under his head, and his legs were crossed, one soleless shoe on high vaunting its nakedness in the face of an indifferent world. A sailor’s blouse, two sizes too large, was held together at the neck by a bit of red cambric, and his trousers were anchored to their mooring by a heavy piece of yellow twine. The indolence of his position, however, was not indicative of the state of his mind; for under his weather-beaten old cap, perched sidewise on a tousled head, was a commotion of dreams and schemes, ambitions and plans, whose activities would have put to shame the busiest wharf in the world.
“It’s your show, Sandy Kilday!” he said, half aloud, with a bit of a brogue that flavored his speech as the salt flavors the sea air. “You don’t want to be a bloomin’ old weather-vane, a-changin’ your mind every time the wind blows. Is it go, or stay?”
The answer, instead of coming, got sidetracked by the train of thought that descended upon him when he was actually face to face with his decision. All sorts of memories came rushing pell-mell through his brain. The cold and hungry ones were the most insistent, but he brushed them aside.
The one he clung to longest was the earliest and most shadowy of the lot. It was of a little white house on an Irish heath, and inside was the biggest fireplace in the world, where crimson flames went roaring up the big, dark chimney, and where witches and fairies held high carnival. There was a big chair on each side the hearth, and between them a tiny red rocker with flowers painted on the arms of it.