I had decided to treat the incident lightly, trusting to the well-ordered habits of Jerry’s life and the number of his daily interests to put the visitor out of his mind. I did not even warn him, as I should have done had I realized the imminence of danger or the necessity of keeping to the letter as well as the spirit of John Benham’s definite instruction, for this I thought might lay undue stress upon the matter. And in the course of the morning, nothing further having been said, I was lulled into a sense of security.
In the afternoon Bishop Berkeley’s book called me again and it was not until late that I realized that the boy had been gone from the house for four hours. His rod, creel and fly-book were missing from their accustomed places but even then I suspected nothing. It was not until the approach of the dinner hour when, Jerry not having returned, I began to think of yesterday’s visitor.
After waiting dinner for awhile, I dined alone, expecting every minute to hear the sound of his step in the hall or his cheery greeting but there was no sign of him and I guessed the truth. The minx had come in again and Jerry was with her.
The events which followed were the first that cast the slightest shadow over our friendship, a shadow which was not to pass, for, from the day when Eve entered our garden, Jerry was changed. It wasn’t that he loved me any the less or I him. It was merely that his attitude toward life and toward my point of view had shifted. He had begun to doubt my infallibility.
It was this indefinable difference in our relations which delayed Jerry’s confession, and not until some days later did he tell me how it all happened. He didn’t think she would really come back, he said, and I chose at the time not to doubt him, but the fact was that he made his way directly upstream after leaving the house, and catching no fish, sat down on a rock near the iron grille. That the girl returned was not Jerry’s fault, he said, because he didn’t ask her to. But the fact that he was there awaiting her when she arrived shows that the wish was the father to the thought with Jerry. He had been sitting there alone fifteen or twenty minutes “listening for bird calls,” as he explained it and had already identified twenty distinct notes when he heard the twenty-first.
It was human. “Hello, Jerry,” it said.