“For goodness’ sake!” exclaimed Molly, “what is the matter with Stella? Doesn’t she want to go boating?”
“Why—yes,” sobbed Stella, “b-but I thought you two were drowned.”
“Well, we’re not!” cried Marjorie, gayly. “So cheer up, Stella, and come along.”
Leaving the two girls, as they were already seated, in the stern of the boat, Carter carefully tucked Stella into the bow seat, and then took his own place on the middle thwart. This arrangement enabled him to keep his eye on the two mischievous madcaps, and he had no fear that Stella would cut up any tricks behind his back.
He could not reprove the mischief-makers, for they had done nothing really wrong, but he looked at them grimly as he rowed out into the stream.
“Oh,” exclaimed Marjorie, “isn’t this just too lovely for anything! Please, Carter, mayn’t we just put our hands in the water if we keep our feet in the boat?”
“No,” growled Carter; “you’ll be wantin’ to put your heads in next. Now do set still, like the nice young lady behind me.”
Anxious to be good, Marjorie gave a little sigh and folded her hands in her lap, while Molly did likewise.
Carter’s eyes twinkled as he looked at the two little martyrs, and his heart relented.
“Ye may just dangle your fingers in the water, if ye want to,” he said, “but ye must be careful not to wobble the boat.”
The children promised, and then gave themselves up to the delight of holding their hands in the water and feeling the soft ripples run through their fingers.
The row down the river was perfect. The balmy June day, with its clear air and blue sky, the swift, steady motion of the boat impelled by Carter’s long, strong strokes, and the soothing sensation of the rushing water subdued even the high spirits of Midge and Molly into a sort of gentle, tranquil happiness.
A MEMORY BOOK
With a few deft strokes Carter brought the boat to land on a long, smooth, shelving beach. A crunch of the keel on the pebbles, and then the boat was half its length on shore. Stella, in the bow, grasped the sides of the boat tightly with both hands, as if the shore were more dangerous than the water. Carter stepped out, and drew the boat well up on land, and assisted the girls out.
Stella stepped out gingerly, as if afraid of soiling her dainty boots; but Midge and Molly, with a hop, skip, and jump, bounded out on the beach and danced round in glee.
“I do believe,” cried Marjorie, “that this is Blossom Banks! For there are three banks, one after another, just covered with wild flowers. And as true as I live there’s a scarlet tanager on that bush! Don’t startle him, Stella.”
Molly laughed at the idea of Stella startling anything, and softly the girls crept nearer to the beautiful red bird, but in a moment he spread his black-tipped wings and flew away.