“Won’t you please come out?” she called softly, not knowing what else to do or say. “Tell me what is grieving you so. I am only a girl like yourself, and I would like to help you.”
“I dare not come out,” the other girl answered. “My father said I must stay in here.”
Phil opened the flap of the old tent and walked inside. “What is the matter?” she inquired gently, bending over the figure lying on the ground and trying to lift her.
The girl sat up and pushed back her unkempt hair. She had a deep, glowing scar just over her temple. But her hair was a wonderful color, and only once before Phil remembered having seen eyes so deeply blue.
“Why,” Phil exclaimed with a start of surprise, “I have seen you somewhere before. Don’t you remember me?”
The girl shook her head. “I do not remember anything,” she answered quietly.
“But I saw you on the canal boat. Your father was the man who helped us secure our houseboat. What are you doing here?”
“We have come here for many years, I think,” the girl answered confusedly. “In the early spring my father catches shad along the bay. Then all summer he takes people out sailing from the big place over there.” She pointed across the water in the direction of the hotel. “Our boat is on the other side of the island.” The girl clasped her head in her long, sun-burned hands. “It is there that it hurts,” she declared, touching the ugly, jagged scar.
Phil gave a little, sympathetic cry and put her hand on the girl’s shoulder.
“When I work a long time in the sun my head hurts,” the girl went on listlessly. “I have been washing all day on the beach. I came up here to hide, and my father found me. He was angry because I had stopped work.”
“Did he strike you?” Phil cried in horror, gazing at the slender, delicate creature and thinking of the rough, coarse man.
“Not this time,” the girl replied. “Sometimes they strike me and then I am afraid. Only there is one thing I shall never, never do, no matter how much they beat me. I can not remember everything, but I know that I will not do this one thing.”
“What is it?” asked Phil. “Whom do you mean by ‘they,’ and what do ‘they’ wish you to do?”
The girl shook her head. “I can not tell you.” She shuddered, and Phil felt she had no right to insist on knowing.
“I like to hide in this tent,” the girl went on sorrowfully. “I come here whenever I can get away from the others. I would like to stay here always. But, now he has found me, there is no place where I can rest.”
“Have you a mother, or brothers and sisters?” Phil asked.
“There is the man’s second wife, but she is not my mother. She has many little children. I think I must be very old. I seem to have lived such a long time.”
“Can’t you remember your own mother?” Phil inquired.