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Newspaper Page Text
mering through the trees, and he be
gan the descent, stepping quietly as a
He parted the thicket. There was
no canoe there, nothing except a
book lying "on a luncheon basket; and
what was this and-this?
He stared stupidly for a moment,
then rose and stepped through the
thicket to the edge of the water. A
canoe glittered out there, pulled up
on a fiat, sunny rock in midstream,
and upon the rock Jay a girl in a drip
ping bathing dress, drying her hair
m the sun.
Instantly an odd sense of it all hav
ing happened before seized him the
sun on the water, the canoe, the slim
figure lying there.
Then, as she sat up, twisting her
sun-bronzed hair, a turn of her head
brought him into direct line of vision.
They stared at one another across
the sunny water.
For one second the thought flashed
on him that he knew her; then in the
same moment all that had seemed
familiar in the situation faded into
strangeness and he was aware that
he had never before looked upon her
Yet, curiously enough, his long and
melancholy aversion to women had
not returned at sight of her. She
had risen in surprise, wide dark eyes
on him; and he spoke immediately,
saying he had not meant to disturb
her, and that she was quite welcome
to use the canoe.
Her first stammered words annoy
ed him. "Did the doctor come with
you? Are you are you alone?"
"I suppose the entire countryside
knows I have been ill," he said; "but
I'm perfectly able to be about with
out a doctor." He began to laugh.
"But those are not the questions. The
questions are what are people doing
in these woods with ' luncheon bas
kets and summer novels, and how am
I to fish this pool if people swim in
it; and how am I to fish at all if an
attractive stranger takes possession
of my canoe?"
"I J had no idea you were coming
here," she faltered. "I bathe here
every morning, and then I lunch here
He laughed outright at her inno
cent acknowledgment of the tres
pass. "I have a clear case against you,"
he said. "Haven't you read all my
notices nailed up on trees? 'Warn
ing! AJI trespassers will be dealt,
with to the full extent of the law!'
and much more to similar effect?
And do you knoy what a dreadful
thing it is to be dealt with to the full
extent of the law?"
"But I am not not trespassing,"
she said. "Can you not remember?"
"I'm afraid I can't," he replied,
smiling; "I'm afraid I have a clear
case against you. The doctor warn
ed me that trespassers were about."
"So he sent you to oatch a tres
passer?" she said.
"I was coming? to fish. Well, yes;
he said I might find one."
"A trespasser? A stranger?" She
hesitated; there was hurt astonish
ment in her voice- Suddenly her face
took a deeper flush, as though she
had come to an unexpected decision;
her entire manner changed to serene
self-possession. "What are you go
ing to do with me?" she asked, cur
iously. Her smiling defiance softened a
trifle. "Did you really wish to catch
this fish very much?" she asked. "I
I never supposed you would come
She smiled, uncertainly and lifted
a rod from the canoe.
"By Jove, that looks like one of
my rods!" he exclaimed. "Where did
you get it?"
Her eyes were bright with excite
ment; she shook her head, laughing.
"Are you in league 'With my doc
tor? Who are -you?" he insisted."
"Only a poacher," she admitted.
Tliev were both laughing now; she
standing beside the canoe, rod in
hand, he balanced on a rock opposite.
"Are you a-neighbor of .mine?" he
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Hjp - 'w:fta!'