Muggles dropped his legs to the floor, straightened his back, beckoned to a servant, motioned for a telegraph blank—exertion is tabooed at the Magnolia— untelescoped a gold pencil hooked to his watch-chain and wrote as follows:
“Thanks. Coming Tuesday.”
Wabacog covers a shaved place in a primeval forest which slopes to a lake of the same name. Covering this bare spot are huge piles of sawed lumber— Monteith’s axe-razors did the shaving—surrounding an enormous mill surmounted by a smokestack of wrought iron topped with a bird-cage spark arrester, the whole flanked by a runway emerging from the lake, up which climb in mournful procession the stately bodies of fallen monarchs awaiting the cutting irony of the saw. Farther along, on another clearing, stands a square building labelled “Office,” and still farther on, guarded by sentinel trees and encircled by wide piazzas, sprawls a low-roofed bungalow, its main entrance level with a boardwalk ending in the lake. This was Monteith’s home. Here during the winter’s logging he housed himself in complete seclusion, and here in summer he kept open house for whoever would answer in person his welcoming letters.
Anything so rude and primeval, or so comforting and inviting, was beyond the experience of Muggles and his friends. This became apparent before they had shed their coats and unpacked their bags. There was a darky who answered to the name of Jackson who could not only crisp trout to a turn, but who could compound cocktails, rub down muscular backs shivering from morning plunges in the lake, make beds, clean guns, wait on the table, and in an emergency row a canoe. There were easy chairs and low-pitched divans overspread with Turkey rugs and heaped with piles of silk cushions; there were wooden lockers, all open, and each one filled with drinkables and smokables—drinkables with white labels, and smokables six inches long with cuffs halfway down their length; there was an ice-chest sampling a larger house in the rear; there was a big, wide, all-embracing fireplace that burst its sides laughing over the good time it was having (the air was cool at night), and outside, redolent with perfume and glistening in the sunshine, there was a bed of mint protected by a curbing of plank which rivalled in its sweet freshness those covering the last resting-places of the most hospitable of Virginians.
And there was Monteith!