But still Eleanor was not entirely satisfied. In Phil’s dream and Madge’s picture of the boat vines had drooped gracefully over the sides of the deck, and Eleanor had no vines to plant. Eleanor had a natural gift for making things about her lovely and homelike. So she thought and thought. Wild honeysuckle vines were growing in the fields with the daisies. They were just the things to clamber over the white railing of the deck and to hang gracefully over the sides. Their perfume would fill the little floating dwelling with their fragrance.
By noon the transformation was complete. Eleanor persuaded Miss Jones to go for a walk while she got the luncheon. Madge, Phil and Lillian had solemnly promised to be at home by one o’clock. Another surprise was in store for them. In the bow of their boat Eleanor had hung up a flag. On a background of white broadcloth, stitched in bands of blue, was the legend “Merry Maid.” This was Eleanor Butler’s chosen name for the houseboat, and had been voted the best possible selection, while Madge had been unanimously voted captain of their little ship. Eleanor had sent to the town for the flag, and even their chaperon was not to know of its arrival.
One would hardly have known Miss Jenny Ann Jones—a week in the fresh air had done her so much good. Then, too, Phil and Lillian had persuaded her to cease to wear her heavy, light hair in an English bun at the back of her neck. Lillian had plaited it in two great braids and had coiled it around her head like a dull golden coronet. She had a faint color in her cheeks, and, instead of looking cross and tired, she was as merry and almost as light-hearted as the girls. The lines of her head were really beautiful, and her sallow skin was fast becoming clear and healthy. For once in her life Miss Jones looked no older than her twenty-six years. Eleanor watched her as she started off on her walk dressed in white, carrying a red parasol, and decided that Miss Jones was really pretty. Since her advent among the girls she had begun to look at life from a different standpoint. She had almost ceased worrying and she meant to grow well and strong if she could. Since her mysterious visitor the first night she spent aboard the boat nothing had happened to disturb her. She walked slowly on, so occupied with her own thoughts she did not notice that she was in a lane between two fields enclosed by fences. Some one called to her. She could not distinguish the voice. It called and called again. She thought it must be one of the girls who had come out in the field to meet her. As there was no one looking, Miss Jones managed to climb over the rail fence, and now she walked in the direction from which the sound of the voice came. After a time the voice ceased. It was a shorter stroll to the boat across this field, so the teacher went leisurely on. In a far corner of the meadow she saw an odd object unlike anything she had ever seen.