“Oh,” she called. hurrying toward him. “That’s the enclosure Milo made years ago for his experiments in evolving the ‘perfect orange’ he is so daft about. He’s always afraid some other grower may take advantage of his experiments. So he keeps that little grove walled in. He’s never even let me go in there. So—”
A deafening salvo of barks from Bobby Burns broke in on her recital. The collie had caught sight of Simon Cameron mincing along the lawn, and he gave rapturous and rackety chase. Claire ran after them crying out to the dog to desist. And Gavin took advantage of the brief instant when her back was turned to him.
His fingers in slipping along the wall had encountered a rotting spot at the juncture of two palings. Pushing sharply against this he forced a fragment of the decayed wood inward. Then, quickly, he shoved aside the tangle of vines and applied one eye to the tiny aperture.
“A secret orange-grove. eh?” he gasped. under his breath. “Good Lord! Was she lying to me or did she actually believe him when he lied to her?”
TRAPS AND TRAPPER
To south and to southeast, the green-blue transparent sea. Within sight of the land, the purple-blue Gulf Stream,—a mystic warm river a half mile deep, thousands of miles long, traveling ever at a speed of eighty miles a day through the depth of the ocean, as distinct and as unswerving from its chosen course as though it flowed through land instead of through shifting water.
Studded in the milk-tepid nearer waters, innumerable coral islets and keys and ridges. Then the coral-built tongue of land running north without so much as a respectably large hillock to break its flatness. Along the coast the tawny beaches, the mangrove-swamps, the rich farms, the groves, the towns, the villages, the estates, snow-white Miami, the nation’s southernmost big city.
Back of this foreshore, countless miles of waving grass, rooted in water, and with a stray clump of low trees, dotted here and there, the Everglades, a vast marsh that runs north to the inland sea known as Lake Okeechobee. Then the solid sandy ground of the main State.
Along the foreshore, and running inland, miles of sand-barren scattered with gaunt pines and floored with harsh palmetto-scrub. Strewn here and there through this sandy expanse lovely oases, locally known as “hammocks”, usually in hollows, and consisting of several acres of rich soil where tropic and sub-tropic trees grow as luxuriantly as in a jungle, where undergrowth and vine run riot, where orchid and airplant and wondrous-hued flowers blaze through the green gloom of interlaced foliage.
This, roughly, is a bird’s-eye glimpse of the southeastern stretch of Florida, a region of glory and glow and fortunes and mystery. (Which is perhaps a momentary digression from our story, but will serve. for all that to fix its setting more vividly in the eyes of the mind.)