“I have frequently thought of it,” agreed Mic-co. “You would help her, Carl?”
“It would give a definite and unselfish direction to your own life, would it not, like those weeks at the farm with Wherry?”
“Yes. You trust me, Mic-co?”
Carl held out his hand.
“One by one,” said Mic-co, “fate is slipping into the groove of your life people who are destined to care greatly—”
“It shall be Keela’s to decide.”
“Mic-co, I—cannot thank you. You and Philip—”
But he could not go on.
A little later he went to bed and lay restless until morning. He was up again at sunrise, tramping over the island paths with Mic-co.
The quiet of the early morning was rife with the chirp of countless birds, with the crackle of the camp fire where the turbaned Indians in Mic-co’s service were preparing the morning meal. There was young corn on the fertile island to the east. Over the chain of islands lay the promise of early summer.
There was a curious drone overhead as they neared the lake.
“Look!” exclaimed Carl. “A singular sight, Mic-co, for these island wilds of yours.”
An aeroplane was whirring noisily above the quiet lake, startling the bluebills floating about on the surface.
“A singular sight!” nodded Mic-co, “and a prophetic one. Symbolic of the spirit of progress which hangs now above the Glades, is it not? The world is destined to reap much one day from the exuberant fertility of this marshland of the South.”
The aeroplane glided gracefully to the bosom of the lake, alighted like a great bird and came to shore with its own power.
The aviator swept off his cap and smiled.
It was Philip.
ON THE LAKE SHORE
With the departure of Philip and the Baron for St. Augustine, a fever of energy had settled over Diane. Riding, rowing, swimming, tramping miles of Florida road, taking upon herself much of Johnny’s camp labor, she ruthlessly tired herself out by day that she might soundly sleep by night. Youth and health and Spartan courage were a wholesome trio.
Aunt Agatha watched, sniffed and frequently groaned.
How much the kindly ruse of Philip had helped, Diane herself could not suspect, but her remorseful thoughts were frequently busy with memories of the old childhood days with Carl. He had been an excellent horseman, a sturdy swimmer, an unerring shot, compelling respect in those old, wild vacation days on the Florida plantation. If the cruelty had crept into her manner at an age when she could not know, it had been a reflex of the attitude of the stern old planter whose son and daughter had been so conspicuously erratic.