The entire company stared at Madge in amazement. But in the single moment when Mr. Brown’s captive started to leave the room, the little captain had seen the tips of his pointed ears. She had caught the wild, almost animal gleam in his eyes. She recalled the midnight visitor to their chaperon on the first night their houseboat had rested at anchor. She remembered Miss Jenny Ann’s curious behavior, and how she had absolutely refused to give the name of her caller. All this swept through Madge’s mind and now she understood Miss Jenny Ann’s poverty, her reticence about her own affairs, her unhappiness when the girls first knew her at school. Of course, this wicked brother was the cause of their chaperon’s difficulties. If they punished the boy, Miss Jenny Ann must suffer more than he would. She had lately grown to be as merry as any of the girls on board the “Merry Maid.”
“O Mrs. Curtis!” exclaimed Madge, “please don’t let Tom and Mr. Brown take him off to jail. I think he is our Miss Jenny Ann’s brother. I wouldn’t have her find out the wicked things he has done for all the money in the world.” Madge was almost in tears as she made her plea to Mrs. Curtis.
“Never mind, dear,” replied Mrs. Curtis soothingly. “If the lad really turns out to be your chaperon’s brother, you are right; his behavior must be kept a secret from her.”
Mrs. Curtis, Mr. Brown and Tom afterward found the statement of the wild boy to be true. He was really Miss Jones’s brother. His parents had died when he was a little boy, and his sister had sacrificed her life’s hopes to him. Yet her efforts had been in vain. He had always been hard to control. In the last few years he had broken away from all restraint. He had been concealed in the motor boat that first towed the girls and their chaperon to their anchorage and had seen his sister on the houseboat. His plan had been to get money from her. When she told him that she had none to give him he had devoted his time to tormenting the crew of the “Merry Maid” in order to be revenged on his sister.
After long consultation it was decided not to send him to prison. Mrs. Curtis gave him the money to sail for South Africa, after making him promise to try to turn over a new leaf, and not to write to his sister until he was safely out of the country. And so Miss Jenny Ann’s ghost was laid without her knowing it until some time afterward.
Not one of the four girls closed her eyes during the long night following the dinner given by Mrs. Curtis. Miss Jenny Ann sat by Mollie until toward morning, when Eleanor and Lillian relieved her. Madge and Phil walked up and down the deck in order to be ready if they were called. But as the long night wore on, Mollie exhibited no sign of returning consciousness.
After an early breakfast the next morning Miss Jones went back to her charge, and the girls lingered in the cabin sitting room talking together in low tones.