“The little girl came rowing back,” Jan told her, his voice lowered to a whisper. “She had borrowed a boat of the captain. I noticed it was marked exactly like the steamer. She said there was something she had forgotten about when she left; it was something she wanted to say to us.”
“My dear Jan, you don’t know what you’re talking about! If the girl had come back then I, too, would have seen her.”
“Hush now, and I’ll tell you what she wants of us!” said Jan, in solemn and mysterious whispers. “It seems she had begun to worry about us; she was afraid we two wouldn’t get on by ourselves. Before she had always walked between us, she said, with one hand in mine and the other in yours, and in that way everything had gone well. But now that she wasn’t here to keep us together she didn’t know what might happen, ’Now perhaps father and mother will go their separate ways,’ she said.”
“Sakes alive!” gasped Katrina, “that she should have thought of that!” The woman was so affected by what had just been said—for the words were the echo of her own thoughts—that she quite forgot that the daughter could not possibly have come back to the pier and talked with Jan without her seeing it.
“‘So now I’ve come back to join your hands,’ said he, ’and you mustn’t let go of each other, but keep a firm hold for my sake till I return and link hands with you again.’ As soon as she had said this she rowed away.”
There was silence for a moment on the pier.
“And here’s my hand,” Jan said presently, in an uncertain voice that betrayed both shyness and anxiety—and put out a hand, which despite all his hard toil had always remained singularly soft. “I do this because the girl wants me to,” he added.
“And here’s mine,” said Katrina. “I don’t understand what it could have been that you saw, but if you and the girl want us to stick together, so do I.”
Then they went all the way home to their but, hand in hand.
0ne morning when Glory Goldie had been gone about a fortnight, Jan was out in the pasture nearest the big forest, mending a wattled fence. He was so close to the woods that he could hear the murmur of the pines and see the grouse hen walking about under the trees, scratching for food-along line of grouse chicks trailing after her.
Jan had nearly finished his work when he heard a loud bellowing from the wooded heights! It sounded so weird and awful he began to be alarmed. He stood still a moment and listened. Soon he heard it again. Then he knew it was nothing to be afraid of, but on the contrary, it seemed to be a cry for help.