Off Monomoy Point. A Cape Cod Story
William Earle Baldwin.
New England Magazine 12:6, pp. 743-751
HEN Grosvenor left the bowling alley and walked down the beach, crunching his heels into the sand savagely, it was with a purpose to get away somewhere and think it all over; and to this end he untied a dory from the pier and rowed aimlessly across the bay.
She had refused him, and this was not the worst of it, he reflected. He had acted not at all well, and had accused her of leading him on and flirting with him. And he had not stopped to see the sad, grieved look in her blue eyes, but had abruptly gone away.
He dipped the oars into the water and drove the boat on at a high speed. Then, of a sudden, he drew them in, and lay back at the stern, and allowed the boat to drift. Above, the stars were brilliant, and sent paths of light across the sea. Grosvenor closed his eyes and listened to the water splashing against the sides. The noise from the bowling alley came plainly to his ears across the water, and somewhere on shore a dog was barking. Far out at sea a steamer whistled long, hoarse notes - and nearer at hand some one was hauling down the sails of a boat, and allowing the gaff to fall on the deck with a thump.
And now that Grosvenor coolly went over their interview, he blamed himself for getting angry, and saw that the way she had put it was very kind, and very much in the right. It was true that he had known her but a very short time; and, as for promising so much to him, and saying yes to what he asked, it was quite out of the question.
The boat was drifting, drifting. Of a sudden it grounded, and Grosvenor found himself longing for another look at her face; and so he roused himself and pulled back until he was at the mouth of the canal where the waters of the bay found an outlet to the sea. Through the open windows of the bowling alley, he could see the people moving about, and could hear the sound of the falling pins. He held his oars in the water to keep the boat stationary, for the tide was coming in, and was nearly flood.
Grosvenor shivered slightly, for there was a contrast in his position and that of those people he had left not long before. Inside, the lamps shed a glow on the clean white walls of the room, glanced on the rolling balls and the polished surface of the alley; outside, there was a haze over the sea, and the darkness was only relieved by the twinkling lights of the cottages about the bay and the revolving beacon on Monomoy Point far away. Grosvenor held his boat there fully five minutes, eagerly looking for her. And, when at times he saw her near the window, he could not help thinking that her face was very white, and that there was a sadness in her smile.
The tide had turned, and was carrying him through the canal now. The water washed against the sides of the passage, and rolled small pebbles on the sand as it receded. To Grosvenor there was something impressive in that quiet onrush of the tide, and something mysterious, as if it were impelled by an unseen power. The air was very salt, and a damp breeze came from the ocean. At last, when the boat rocked in the long roll of the sea, Grosvenor pulled away desperately. He had no definite idea of where he was going, but the exercise of rowing gave him a sense of power; and, for the time being, removed his thoughts from himself. Every time he dipped the oars in the water, the phosphorus clung to the blades and dropped back like liquid fire, leaving a glistening path behind. The light at Chatham was abreast of him presently, and far away towards mid-ocean he could see the one on Monomoy Point flashing, or the white sails of a ship in the offing. Down the coast the long skeleton of a half-finished pier running far out into the water could be easily distinguished.
Grosvenor had no idea of how long he rowed, and, when he stopped for a moment, he found himself exhausted. Then he bent his head to listen, for he thought he heard bells that sounded like silvery chimes. It was only the village clock at Chatham striking the hour of midnight; but, with the waves dashing against the boat, the wind blowing in gusts off shore, the bells rang out in musical cadence, now soft and low, then clear and loud. They sounded to him like something he had heard long ago, he could hardly tell when or where, like a melody half forgotten, the lingering sweetness of a song once heard, but half lost. And in some way it brought back to him the expressive face of the girl he had left back there, and he felt that there was nothing to do but to leave her and never see her again. It would be very easy for him to go back, and get away in the morning before she came downstairs. That, he reflected, was what he really ought to do, and it would be best for both of them. He leaned back in the boat, and clasped his hands back of his head, and thought of it dispassionately. Yes, that was decidedly the best thing to do, and, perhaps, it would save both of them a great deal of trouble and suffering. And in his mind during it all there was a lingering doubt, and a half-defined feeling that he might stay and face it out, and win her to him after all.
The east is radiant now with a fierce glow like the intense gleaming of a furnace fire, and the beautiful carmine is shot here and there by long darts of gray-black clouds. The light extends far into the north and south, until the red blends with the clear silver-blue of the morning sky. Above the eastern horizon is a huge white cloud like a limestone rock cleft in places by long bars of glowing gold, and high up in the sky the white clouds are in layers like the feathers of a white dove. The color in the east grows more and more intense, until a gold rim lifts itself from the sea, growing larger and larger every moment, and the sun comes hissing from the depths of a silver sea. The light turns the white spray to drops of shining gold, and flashes in at the window of the light-house on Monomoy Point, streams across the narrow spit of land, and glistens on the water on the other side, turning the waves from blue to gold.
A dory is tossing about in the waves off shore, and the sun shines on the dripping sides of the boat as it rocks to and fro, and lights up the face of a man sleeping in the stern, and, while sleeping, smiling.
Grace Boardman, who made much of having self-command, was very much annoyed when Grosvenor left her as he did, and she wondered where he was going, and why he had such a desperate look on his face when he went out of the door.
And so the bowling that evening was not altogether a success. The noise of the rolling balls and the falling pins made her nervous, and she slipped away unobserved and went over to the hotel. She was longing for some one to talk to, and some one to confide in; and, therefore, when she met her aunt, Miss Eunice Westchester, at the door of the hotel, she was very much pleased. She found Miss Eunice standing at the door, and looking across the bay, where a glow came from the bowling alley. It was dark, excepting for a light here and there on the shore, and the one streaming across the bay. The night air was damp, and Miss. Eunice shivered and drew her shawl closer about her shoulders. She played with her gold-bowed spectacles, shifting them on and off uneasily, and then she looked down at a letter she held in her hand. The mail had just come in, and this was an event of importance at the hotel for it only happened twice each day. Usually, there was a crowd of people in the little parlor to receive it, but on this particular night something had taken every one over to the bowling alley.
Miss Eunice was a very comfortable old lady, comfortable to look upon and comfortable to talk to, for she never made remarks about being old, and she never said that the young people were becoming altogether too self-assertive. She was too aged to be called an "old maid," and she took life in a very easy way, and very rarely allowed anything to disturb her. Her gray hair was always parted accurately in the middle, her shawl was always about her shoulders in a strictly sedate manner, and her black gown never looked dowdy. At times her small blue eyes would flash in a sprightly manner at some sally of wit from her brother, and she would tap him on the shoulder in an absurdly convivial way and call him "a sad old boy.'' Her voice was very sweet and musical, and she spoke in a deliberate, careful way, common to old ladies of her temperament.
Miss Eunice held a very important letter in her hand, and she was wondering how she was to get it to her brother, who was bowling. The hotel was a one-horse place, and a messenger was quite out of the question. Miss Eunice would have gone over herself, were it not for certain twinges that told her she must look out for her old enemy, rheumatism.
The problem was solved by the appearance of Grace Boardman, who instantly volunteered to take the letter over, and this she did, and returned presently with the assurance that it was all right.
"Thank you ever so much, my dear," said Miss Eunice.
"Do you think I am a flirt?" asked the girl abruptly.
"Why do you ask me that?" inquired Miss Eunice.
"Because I do," replied Grace Boardman. "Something happened to-night that makes me wonder what I have been doing."
"I think I understand now," said Miss Eunice slowly.
"It's about Mr. Grosvenor?"
"Yes," assented the girl. "It's about Mr. Grosvenor. I wish I could tell you how I hate him."
"Slowly, slowly," said Miss Eunice, raising her hand and smiling at the girl sweetly. "I know what it means when a girl says that. Be careful, or you will make me think something altogether different."
"You know me well enough not to think that," pouted the girl. "I don't know whether I did right or not to-night. I sent him away."
"You sent him away?" reiterated the old lady. "And why?"
"Why?" repeated Grace Boardman passionately. "Why? Oh, dear, are you going to misunderstand me the way every one else does? How could I tell what to do? He came to me so unexpectedly, and over there at the bowling alley, too, and every one was looking at us, and, of course, I didn't know what to do."
"Perhaps," said Miss Eunice, "if you tell me all about it, I may be better able to give you some advice, that is, of course, if that is what you want. Sometimes, I know, young people think they can get along very well without any advice, and more times than one they are quite right."
The girl looked at Miss Eunice and then blushed. "I don't suppose I need begin at the beginning?"
"Hardly," replied the old lady. "Nearly every one knows about that."
"Well, he came over to me when watching the bowling, and said he wanted to talk with me. He said he had come down to Harwich for one thing, and that was to see me. And he said the reason he wanted to see me was to find out whether he loved me or not. He went over how he met me that night at the Senior promenade, and how he had remembered all about me for a month, and how he had learned we were to be here in August, and how he followed me here. He said he had never thought much of girls before, and that he never cared much about them, or tried to understand them. But when he met me something told him that I was rather different from the rest, and now that he had seen a great deal of me he found himself thinking of the time when he must go away and leave me, and perhaps never see me again for the rest of his life. And the more he thought about it, the more it seemed impossible to him; and he questioned himself and found that he had fallen in love with me, and he asked me if I would become his wife some time."
"That," put in Miss Eunice, "was very manly in him, and very well put and very straightforward. And what did you say to him?"
"I told him that I had not known him for very long and thought that he might have made a mistake. I said that he was making a great deal out of nothing, and that very likely his was a mere fancy, and that while I did not question his honesty in speaking as he had, I felt sure that if he thought it over he would look at it as I did, and conclude it was much too soon for anything of the sort."
The girl paused and looked at Miss Eunice. Miss Eunice merely nodded her head and went on with her knitting.
"I think, perhaps; he did not exactly understand me, and, perhaps, I did not put it well, for I saw at once he was very much put out and beginning to get angry. He asked me if I loved him, or something like that, and I don't know exactly what I did say, only that he was much too hasty and had better wait. And then he went over what he had said before, about coming here only to see me, and how I had led him on, and how I had been merely flirting with him to pass away the summer and I hate him." The girl stopped abruptly with her eyes flashing and her lips quivering. "I do hate him," she repeated, "and I told him so. And he went away. That is all."
Miss Eunice laughed. The girl frowned. "You don't take it seriously," she said.
"It's not a matter to be taken seriously," replied the old lady.
Grace Boardman pouted. "I don't see why."
"For this reason," explained Miss Eunice; "He'll come back to you, and say he is very sorry, and that he will go away and never see you again; and then you will find you cannot let him go, and that will end it all."
"Do you think," said Grace Boardman with a decided note in her voice, "that I am in love with this man?"
"That is exactly what I think," was the smiling reply. The old lady's eyes shone and she half laughed. It was such an old story to her.
"Well, you are mistaken, that's all." And Grace Boardman went away in anger.
And was it a wonder then, that when young Grosvenor came back from Monomoy Point on the following day, Grace Boardman took pains to avoid seeing him, leaving him nothing to do but to wander disconsolately about the village?
"Well," said the deacon reflectively, "I don't see what we are going to do for a fourth hand."
The parson said nothing, but looked around a trifle uneasily as the door in the outer room was opened. The doctor rubbed his hands together and gazed longingly at the pack of cards on the top of a dry-goods box, and sat down on a nail keg. A tall young fellow came in just then.
"You're just the man we want," said the deacon. "Gents, this is Mr. Grosvenor he called it Grossvenner "from the hotel. Let me make you acquainted. He'll take the fourth hand, I think, so long as Eldridge has not turned up. Eh, boy?" and he turned on Grosvenor suddenly.
"What is the game?" asked the young fellow idly.
"The game," said the parson, adjusting his spectacles with still greater accuracy on his nose, "is nothing more or less than innocent whist, the science of Cavendish, and played by every thinker on the civilized globe; a game, my dear sir, that"
"There, there," broke in the doctor, "that will do. I dare say Mr. Grosvenor has played whist before, and perhaps we had better go ahead. Deal out the cards."
Grosvenor entered into the game for the fun of the thing or what fun he could get out of it in his present state of mind. He had several hours to kill until Grace Boardman returned from the driving party she had gotten up to avoid him, and he cared very little what he did until she returned. Then he would see her and have it settled once for all.
"How is Mr. Billie to-day?" some one asked the doctor presently.
"Quite well," was the answer; "as well as could be expected."
"Mr. Billie?" asked Grosvenor. "Who is Mir. Billie?"
"Have you never seen him?" returned the doctor. "Mr. Billie is the man who keeps the barber shop down there," and the man waved his hand in an indefinite manner.
"Oh, yes, I know," cried Grosvenor. "Odd sort of a man!"
"Rather," agreed the doctor.
"I think, Mr. Grosvenor, you would like to hear about him," said the deacon reflectively.
"So there is a story about Mr. Billie?" asked Grosvenor.
"He's an odd character," began the doctor. "I like odd characters myself. I rather fancy Mr. Billie, but he is getting old now, and is a trifle cracked in his head."
"Do you know," put in the parson, "that I have been thinking of sending him to the poor farm. He barely supports himself, and his business is such a delicate one, and involves such chances if his hand now should slip holding the razor, or something like that " The parson who was one of the overseers of the poor, left his sentence unfinished.
"That would break the old man's heart," said the deacon. "He's very proud. You remember it is always 'Mr.' Billie not plain Billie. I think you overestimate the danger of allowing him to handle a razor."
"I think I shall discuss the matter this very afternoon with my colleagues, and decide at once," persisted the parson. "He shaved me yesterday, and that decided me. I will tell you why. His eyes looked glassy at times. He talked very wildly and strangely about a woman leaving him and coming back, and how he would like to kill her. Then he would laugh and say he loved her and couldn't kill her. It really made my blood run cold to feel the edge of the razor running over my neck, and I thought how easy it would be for him to turn his wrist and cut my throat. It's a thing to make one nervous, to let a man like Mr. Billie have a razor so near one's throat. I have heard a good many similar complaints, and I think the overseers had better take action to-night."
"He's been there for twenty years," muttered the doctor. "Nearly twenty years," he repeated dreamily.
At times people would come in and out of the other room, which was the principal apartment of the grocery store, where the card players usually gathered. Then at times nothing would be heard but the fall of the cards or the buzzing of a few flies on the window panes. From the rear part of the room came the scent of salted fish. A rickety stove stood in the room, and round about the counters were the usual articles found in a country store, from the spool of thread to the garden rakes.
The game was finished not too soon for Grosvenor, who had grown weary. When he went outside it was about five o'clock, and there was yet an hour to kill before Grace Boardman would be back. Some way, the young man found himself going towards Mr. Billie's shop. It was warm, and the sun was so low in the west that it seemed to shine directly on the line with Grosvenor's eyes. It was very bright, and the young man put his hand to his face several times, not so much, however, because the sun troubled him as because he found that he had a headache. Sand, hot and burning, was blown here and there by a hot breeze. The grass was withered from a diffident brown to a distinctive brown, and all nature told of the hot weather; the ground was parched and bare.
Grosvenor approached a small house and stepped inside the doorway. He found himself in a room bare with the exception of a few shaky chairs and a counter evidently once used in a store. Back of this was another room, through the doorway of which Grosvenor saw a barber's chair. The whole aspect of the place was deserted and lonely. It was much like a neglected corner in a barn apart from the odor of freshly cut hay, the lowing of cattle and the stamping of horses.
There were shuffling steps from somewhere and a man appeared. He had a well-shaped head, with a forehead of a decidedly Indian cast. His mouth and nose were those of a negro. His eyes were blue and watery, and the temples were destitute of hair. In the back his hair was very long; the gray locks hung below his neck. He was dressed in a shabby suit of black clothes, and wore a shirt, but no collar.
Grosvenor smiled, chiefly perhaps with amusement.
"Are you Mr. Billie?" he asked.
The man returned his smile. His eyes shone in a kindly manner. He was evidently pleased at Grosvenor's kindly manner, and at his knowing his name.
"Yes,'' he replied ; " I am Mr. Billie."
"She was a handsome woman when I married her and before she ran away and left me. But it's all over now, like a dream that will come no more. Sometimes when the day is over and the sky out in the west is burning, I walk on the beach, and when the moon rises out of the sea, sometimes far across the water in that light I see her face again with her black eyes and her silky hair. Sometimes I hear her voice, and I close my eyes, and some one comes and lays her hand in mine and says, 'Billie!' And then when I wake up it is a dream. But do you know," continued the man suddenly, poising the razor over Grosvenor's face, "I think she will come back to me some time. I have a feeling that I shall come to the door some night and find her there, and she will say 'Billie' to me, and I shall have her with me again forever."
Grosvenor was a little startled by the old man's manner. There was a strange light in his eyes, and sometimes he flourished the razor in a way that made Grosvenor almost fear he might let it fall on his face, and he was sorry he had started him off on his hobby.
The man told him how when he was a very young man he had married this beautiful woman, who was a waitress in a hotel, and how when they had been married but a short time she went away and left him.
"But it wasn't her fault," said he. "She was enticed away, I know. I was a blind fool, then, and I said if she wanted to go away she might, and I wouldn't follow her, and she could go where she wanted to. And then I drifted around as a travelling barber until I came to Harwich, and somehow I have been here ever since. The sea talks to me sometimes, and I couldn't bear to go away and leave it. And if I did go away it would be harder for her to find me, for she is looking for me now, and will come to me some time." He paused, and said in a business-like tone: "Bay rum, sir?"
Grosvenor was glad to get out of the chair alive. The old man kept on talking and fascinated him so that he stayed with him until it was almost dusk. It was growing cooler now, and the sun left a mass of dull lavender clouds as it set. In the fields, the crickets were chirping, and the hoarse croak of frogs came from a neighboring pool. The air was deliciously salt, for the wind came from the sea. Mr. Billie and Grosvenor sat on the doorstep and enjoyed the cool breeze.
Mr. Billie was smoking furiously. He seemed uneasy and nervous, and he kept telling Grosvenor that he must stay with him, for he had a feeling that something was going to happen; and although the young fellow thought he ought to get away, he reflected that Grace Boardman, even if she had got back, would be compelled to eat her supper and as it cooled his brain to sit there, he concluded he would do it. And so he stayed there with the old man until the stars came out, and the old man told him how they were trying to get him to give up his shop and go to the poorhouse, and he said he would kill himself before he would do that. Would he want his wife to come back and find him in a poor-house?
Grosvenor idly watched the fireflies darting about in the salt-laden fields. He thought of the great load of sorrow on this man's heart, and he wondered how any one could think of making it heavier by trying to take him to a poor-house while he was yet able to provide for himself.
A short distance down the road, there was the glow of a forge and the sound of the hammering of the belated blacksmith. The clouds were moving over the sky; some of them were white like snow and looked feathery and light as a thistle-down, others were heavy as dingy marble and in places tinged with black as if burned from a smoky lamp. In the west there was a black band of cloud. In the south there were huge banks, like high mountains rising out of the sea.
Then Grosvenor saw that a woman was standing before them. He had not known she was coming; she seemed to appear suddenly out of the gloom, or to have descended from above, somewhere. But she stood now in the glare of the light, and Grosvenor saw that her face was white and her eyes had dark shadows under them.
"I have lost my way," she said, "and I would like you to tell me the shortest way to the Sea-View Hotel."
Grosvenor rose to his feet and lifted his hat as he gave the directions, but the old man remained huddled up on the doorstep.
"Thank you," said the woman, and then the old man started up. A light was shining in his eyes, and he looked hungrily at the woman. He made an attempt to grasp her hand, but she drew back in a frightened way.
"Phbe! Phbe!" he whispered huskily. "Don't you know me? I knew you'd come back."
The woman recoiled and appeared alarmed. "What does he mean?" she asked, appealing to Grosvenor.
"He thinks you are some one else," replied Grosvenor.
But the man still cried the name.
"I'm not Phbe," replied the woman. I only want to know the way to the Sea-View Hotel."
He listened to her voice intently, and then it seemed to come to him that it was not his wife. The voice was another's. But might it not have changed in all those years? And the face surely it was Phbe's.
"Wait a moment. Don't leave me," he appealed. "Don't you remember? You left me long ago, but now you have come back to make me happy. Look at me, and come into the light. Don't leave me again I couldn't stand it."
He took the woman by the wrist and stood before her in the light. As she drew herself away from him, Grosvenor told her in a whisper to hurry away.
"She is not your wife," said Grosvenor to the man kindly. "She is a woman at the hotel."
The man did not speak. He pressed his hand in a despairing way, and stumbled blindly into the house. And as Grosvenor went back to the hotel to see Grace Boardman, he reflected that if she had thrown him over he would be very unhappy, and yet there were men who suffered much more than he.
It had been very dull at the SeaView- Hotel for several days; but when Grace Boardman got up this driving-party, another young woman immediately took it upon herself to get up a sailing-party for Monomoy Point.
"We are going over this evening, starting just as soon as we can after tea," she said to Grosvenor, as he stumbled upon her in the hall, "and we shall come home by moonlight. It will be awfully jolly. Will you come?"
Grosvenor was taken rather by surprise. He "didn't know really" at first - and then he said that he would like to very much, and was it to be a very large party?
"Everybody who went driving to-day is going. And, Mr. Grosvenor, where have you been hiding all day? We wanted you so much for the driving-party. We went to South Dennis, and Dennis Centre, and Dennisport, and had no end of a jolly time.''
Grosvenor had been boating at a very early hour in the morning, he explained, and had not got back until the afternoon. He had been "awfully sorry, you know, to miss the day's fun," and he would be delighted to take the sail.
And so it happened that when Grace Boardman went skipping down the landing steps, and jumped on the deck of Captain Baker's lighter, she found herself face to face with a tall young man, who colored slightly and said in a very formal way: "How're you?"
And she said she was very well and started to move away. But he remarked that it was a glorious evening, and she said she thought so too, and in some way they managed to get together in the bow of the boat, and the rest of the people, seeing how matters stood, looked at one another and smiled and left them to themselves.
The boat rocked about now and then, rubbing against the pier, until at last a chubby man under the direction of Captain Baker let go the ropes, and the lighter glided away. Grosvenor looked up at the huge swelling sail above him and then down into the water. He talked in a rather stupid way to Grace Boardman, who, to cover her embarrassment, was telling him of the driving-party that day, and saying in the most innocent way that she was very sorry he had not been around to go too.
"I suppose," he said presently, in a tentative manner, "that I oughtn't to be here."
"Why?" she asked innocently. He looked at her quickly, but she dropped her eyes. "Why?" she repeated, looking up at him shyly.
"You know very well," he replied, turning slightly away from her, and looking down into the foaming water. "I don't see why we should go all over it again." He paused in a hesitating way, but she said nothing, and he continued: "I don't know, though. Perhaps it would be better, and perhaps I could make you understand me better, and see clearer exactly how it is. In the first place, I think I should apologize to you for the way I acted last night. Not that I believe I didn't mean what I said at the time, - but my way of saying it. I was altogether too hasty, and went away from you in a foolishly schoolboy manner, and I am sure you will tell me you didn't mind that."
He waited for her to speak, but she only turned away from him, and he could not get a glimpse of her face.
"Perhaps I am making a great deal of trifles." he continued, "and, perhaps, last night I scarcely knew what I was doing; but I have thought it all over since then, and now I am going to put it all before you in the best way I can, and, if you think the same as you did last night, I will go away and never trouble you with it again."
"I don't see," said the girl, "why you trouble me with it now."
Grosvenor grasped the rail of the boat with one hand a bit tighter. "I am very sorry if it is a trouble to you," said he.
Back in the stern of the boat the people were making a great deal of noise. Some of them were singing, and a Yale man was picking out an accompaniment on his banjo. Grosvenor listened to their singing with a wild unrest in his heart, and he laughed cynically at their light-heartedness, and wondered why they were so happy and careless. Then the singing stopped, and the Yale man played a waltz on his banjo, and Grosvenor heard the tones throb in his brain. And Grace Boardman clasped her hands, and looked at him with a glance that made him hope.
"You remember it?" he whispered.
"It's the 'Daughter of Love;' isn't it?" she replied indifferently.
"Yes," he said. "They played it the first time I ever saw you, the night I met you. Let me tell you about it."
"This is the story of a man who fell in love," began Grosvenor, in a charmingly impersonal way. "It was at a dance, and he met a very pretty girl, who impressed him as being a very sweet girl, as well as a clever girl. She had wonderful large blue eyes, and beautiful, fair skin, and hair like threads of gold. That night he waltzed with her, and fell in love with her. She gave him a rose, a red rose, one of a cluster that had been near her heart. He took it and held the stem in his mouth, and, alone on the piazza, I think he kissed it, which was a very sentimental thing to do, and very silly. And he carried it home that night, and, while driving with the sky above him, he carried it in his mouth, and something told him he loved her. And in that man's room at college there hangs on the wall a rose that was once red and fragrant, but is now faded and crumbling."
Grace Boardman laughed. "It's very pretty," she said, "all that."
Grosvenor could not help feeling pained at her sarcastic tone; but he looked at her, and something told him she was not so much amused at what might seem a foolish sentimentality, as he thought at first.
"That," he said, "was the beginning. If I hadn't told you last night what followed, I should tell you again. After I left you, and you sent me away as you did, I felt very miserable. And I suppose you were very angry with me, were you not?"
"Yes, I was angry with you."
"I suppose I shouldn't have said what I did."
"It wasn't so much that."
"I took you by surprise?"
"Yes, and everybody was looking and I didn't know exactly what to say."
Grosvenor looked back and saw that the sail, swelling far out, shut them off altogether from the people in the stern. They were so much occupied that they did not know or care what was going on forward.
"Then there is no reason why we shouldn't have it out now," said Grosvenor in a business-like tone. "I suppose I should not go over all I did last night, about our families knowing one another so well, and all that, and what I could give you and do for you if we were married. But I love you very much, so much that if you tell me to go away again, I think I will go; for then I should know that you didn't care at all for me, and that I troubled you a great deal, and you didn't care to have me around. Now I wish you would tell me once for all, did you mean everything you said last night?"
"Yes," she answered, ever so faintly.
"Then I will do as you want me to. I will go away in the morning."
And then as a realization of this came over Grace Boardman, the prediction of Miss Eunice flashed into her mind; and she saw that the dear old lady had been right, and saw very clearly that if Grosvenor left, her life would scarcely be worth living, and she knew she loved him as much as he did her.
"It will be very hard for me, I know," Grosvenor was saying; "but I will do it if you say so."
"I think," said the girl, turning her face towards him at that moment, "that I meant it was too soon then. I have been doing a great deal of thinking since I saw you last night, and perhaps you you had better stay."
And none in the stern of the boat knew that Grosvenor held Grace Boardman's hand clasped in his all of the way over to Monomoy Point.
"It was here," he said, telling her of his midnight row, "that I had a dream, and I thought I saw you walking towards me in a great light, and you were smiling and had your hands outstretched. And I awoke and found the sun rising back of Monomoy; and it was then I decided to come back and see you again."
And the girl looked over towards the strip of land which seemed like a dark shadow in the moonlight, and she clasped Grosvenor's hand very tightly.
"Dear old Monomoy!" she said.