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stances. The young man fought, as is the duty and privilege of the male, and presently conquered. The umbrella resumed its pacific mien and once more protected them, and Molly's stool was removed to a more secure place. After that the silence was worse than ever, and Molly began to feel a sense of resentment surging in her.
“Why on earth doesn't he say something?" she asked herself indignantly, oblivious of the fact that she herself had enjoined silence. “He might have asked me if I was hurt," she thought, aggrievedly.
But he did not; he had reacquired his stolid demeanor; and was gazing once more into the storm. Molly mentally shrugged her shoulder. How stupid he was! The rain poured on the easel in front. She could not stand it any longer and spoke.
Your picture will be ruined,” she said. He turned his head toward it critically. “It is possible,” he said, “if that is capable of ruin which —? I had some misgivings about the oil. I half thought it ought to have been water, and it is now, you see. Nature is always right."
“I didn't know you painted,” said Molly.
“I mean," she went on in a little confusion. “I didn't think you looked like a painter."
“ I'm not,” he answered her. “If you could see that sketch you'd understand. But, thank heaven, Providence has washed it out.”
The thunder pealed over the island, and the lightning ripped across the firmament blindingly.
“Oh!” cried Molly. They'll never come in all this. Eilean will never have got there. It's dreadful.”
The young man frowned, as if he were suddenly displeased with himself. He rose.
“Do you think you can manage to hold this stick for a minute or two?" he asked. “I've got an idea.”
Molly grasped the umbrella, and watched him interestedly. He stalked out into the rain and made his way to the water's edge, where he stood contemplating
the dismal scene. Then lie came back. “I am a dolt,” he remarked, without any feeling.
“I ought to have known, or, not knowing, should have found out. There's only four feet of water this side."
Molly gazed at him. The statement conveyed nothing to her.
“. "It's a ford,” he explained. “We need no longer be
" prisoners.” Oh!” she gasped, as the heavens opened overhead
Can we — can you get across ? ” she asked. " Wade," he said, and gazed at her doubtfully, “at least, I can wade, and you
“Oh, I couldn't,” said Molly decisively. "I should be afraid. It looks awful, boiling along like that."
“Of course it is quite possible that I could carry you,” he suggested, as if weighing the chances. “I couldn't very well take you on my back, as the water would come too high. But if I were to hold you in my arms, like so, as one carries a baby, I think you would be above the stream. If you were to cling round my neck - "
" Thank you, I have no intention of being carried," said Molly, coldly.
He scrambled under the umbrella and resumed possession of it.
"Certainly, I might go down in midstream, with that heavy pull of water on me,” he said. “I suppose you weight —”
“ As I'm not going to cross that way, my weight doesn't matter," said Molly loftily.
“ Then I'd better go by myself and bring help,” he said.
He moved out again, and was half way to the stream when a voice stopped him. But you don't know - it may be more than four feet.”
‘Oh, no, it isn't. But if I find it is I can come back. As you sensibly observed a little while ago, one may as well be wet one way as another."
Molly had no reply at the moment, and he resumed his path but she called out as he reached the bank,
“I don't see any sense in it. You won't get anywhere sooner than my sisters have done."
Fie came back. “That's true,” she said. “But perhaps they've been stormbound.”
There was that possibility to face, but Molly bravely dodged it.
“ As you can't swim," she remarked cruelly, “you would not be able to get to the canoe, and you would only have to trudge two miles to the Castle boat house. Stubbs is sure to be on his way here. It's really abominable the way he is delaying."
The storm was passing, and in the south gleams of the sun appeared. The rain was like a retreating phantom in the sky. As he stood there so submissively, Molly's spirits bettered with the improvement of the weather. She rose to her feet.
"It's clearing," she observed.
“It's a pity we can't cheat this dilatory rescue party,” he said. "I hate being indebted to people, don't you?"
He eyed her curiously, and Molly was conscious that he had pulled her out of the canoe. “Yes, I do," she snapped.
“Very well, then," said he, “What do you say to an adventure? Here is a splendid branch which is so heavily anchored that it would not possibly capsize. Shall we risk it?”
“I-I don't understand,” answered the girl in surprise.
He indicated a fallen branch which spread out from a huge central log. “If I launch this we can make the land. Are you game?” Molly looked at it hesitatingly.
it hesitatingly. “Ye-es,” she said, you think it's really safe.” "Safe as shipboard,” he said, cheerfully. “We can pole along beautifully. And when Stubbs comes he will find the prisoners flown.”
He stooped, and by the application of stout arms, succeeded in pushing the great bough into the stream, where it lay half submerged. “If you sit toward the thick part and hold on to this upstanding branch you will be as right as a trivet,” he went on.
Molly gingerly stepped aboard the craft and stood, clutching the branch. He stepped past her, and plunged the pole he had secured into the water. “ Hold on tight!” he enjoined. “Steady! Whoa!”
The big bough moved sluggishly out, and bobbed and dipped. Molly uttered an exclamation of alarm, which caused him to glance round.
“ Don't be afraid. It can't go down, and it can't turn over,” he said reassuringly. Sit on that branch and you'll feel safer."
She obeyed him, anu their vessel glided down the channel, the young man directing it with his pole.
" It will be easier to go with the current than get across to the bank,” he explained. “We'll strike the bank lower down."
The sun had now resumed the sky, and nature beamed after the blackness of that eclipse. There was a certain satisfaction in the gentle motion, and as Molly began to feel herself safe she gave herself up to enjoyment. After all she and the Duke were having a really romantic adventure. Fancy sailing down the river on a tree! She wished Evelyn, her elder sister, had been there to see her. Even Delia would have been better than no one. But the landscape was singularly empty, save for Marjorie's “bulls,” who gazed mildly at the craft and its occupants, and then went on browsing. Molly felt quite gay.
I'm afraid you're awfully wet,” she said, kindly. He laughed. Probably," he replied, as if it mattered nothing. “But you ?”
“Oh, I'm almost dry, thanks to you,” she said, still more graciously. “It was your umbrella. She paused and went on. Do you take that with you on your excursions ?”
“Excursions ? ” he echoed, with a wary eye on the corner they were approaching.
“I mean, of course, expeditions," she corrected."
“ Expeditions?” he repeated, and then suddenly turned to her, inquiry and amusement on his face. Almost as he did so the log went aground and swing around, and Molly was almost precipitated into the water. In
her alarm she held close to him, while he backed out with the aid of his pole, and facing the bank brought them to anchor out of the current and under a small, precipitous bank.
“We can land here,” he said, and put out one hand without turning to seize her. She gave him hers, and he drew her carefully forward till she was in front of him, still anchoring his craft by the pole in his other hand. Can you climb up there without assistance ?” he asked.
Molly was doubtful, so he hoisted her with a strong arm, and, using her fingers and nails, she gradually scrambled up. Then she looked down on the young man with an unintelligible feeling of regret that it was all
It did not take him more than two minutes to join her. She greeted him smilingly.
You're on the wrong side," she reminded him.
* Well, perhaps Stubbs will come in useful, after all.”
They began to walk along the bank almost involuntarily. Stubbs can take up your easel and things to the Castle,” said Molly affably,
Many thanks," said he. But may I ask, how did you know I was staying at the Castle ?”
Molly turned a little red, “Oh, I thought — I guessed”
" You see I don't go on expeditions and I'm not the Duke,” he went on evenly. “My name happens to be plain Messiter."
Oh,” said Molly, and was silent. “If I had been the Duke I should probably have been able to swim," he continued reflectively. But if I'm not the rose I have at least lived near it, for I was at school with him.”
“ Indeed!” murmured Molly again. Somehow the glory of the adventure was fading. She had only been engaged in it with a man who could not swim. Looking up a boat caught her eye. “ Tiggy!” she shouted. The Hon. Roger Martin brought to land the nose of the boat which was being labored up the tinged stream by
so that "