by Annie Hamilton Donnell
A Story of the Sea
By Annie Hamilton Donnell
By David C. Cook Publishing Co.,
In Tarpaulin and oilskins she did not look like a Judith. Easily she
might have been a Joseph or a James. So it was not really to be
wondered at that the little girl in the dainty clothesthe little girl
from The Hotelshould say, Why!
What is your name? the Dainty One had asked.
Judith Lynn, had answered the boy-one in oilskins.
Why! Then, as if catching herself up at the impoliteness of such a
little word in such a surprised toneI mean, please excuse me for
thinking you were a boy, the little Dainty One had added, in
considerable embarrassment. And Judith had laughedJudith's laughs
were rare, but the crisp, salty brightness of the sea was always in
them. The sea was in everything about Judith.
I don't wonder! laughed Judith. Me, with these togs on! But I
guess you'd be a boy when you went out to your trapsyou can't
'tend traps in skirts. Blossom calls me Judas with these on!
It was strange how suddenly the rather big voicea voice has to be
big to compete with the voice of the seagrew soft and tender at the
name of Blossom.
In Judith Lynn's rough, hard, salt-savored life Blossom was the one
thing sweet and beautiful. Blossom was the little frail wisp of a child
that Judith loved. This other child, here on the sand, watching her
with friendly wonder, reminded her a little of Blossom. Anyway, they
were both sweet and beautiful.
Traps? queried this other child. I didn't know there were mice in
the ocean!you were going out on the ocean, weren't you?
Again Judith's rare, bright laugh. Children were such funny
things!Blossom was, too.
Lobster-traps, she explained, when the laugh had laughed itself
out. I'm going out to mine to get the lobsters. Out there where those
little specks of white are bobbing 'round on the waterdon't you see?
I see some little specksyes, they're a-bobbing! Are those
Mercy, no! The traps are sunk 'way down to the bottom o' the sea!
Those are nothing but the little wooden floats that tell me where the
traps are. I couldn't go hunting all over the bay, you know.
Nooh, no, you couldn't go hunting all over the bay, repeated the
small, puzzled voice. The Dainty One was distinctly interested. I
s'pose, prob'ly, every one of those little white specks has got a fish
line to it. I hope they've all got bites. Oh, my suz! Here comes
Elise. Elise is always a-coming! with a long sigh.
Elise was slender and tall, in cap and apron. She walked with the
stride of authority. A frown of displeasure was getting visibler and
visibler on her face, the child noticed with another sigh. Elise was
'most always a-frowning.
Good-by. II guess I'd better go and meet her, the Dainty One
said hurriedly. She isn't quite as cross when you go and meet her. It
But the child came back again to Judith Lynn. She held out one
little sun-browned, sea-browned hand.
I'm happy to have seen you, she said, with soft graciousness, as
if Judith were a duchess in laces instead of a boy-girl in fisherman's
togs. I'd be pleased to see you some more. I like you.
Oh! stammered the boy-girl in fisherman's togs, a flush of
pleasure reddening her brown face. No one had even said I'd be pleased
to see you, to her before, though Blossom, of course, was
always pleased. No one but Blossom had ever said, I like you, and
Blossom's way was, I love you.
I must goshe's 'most here, went on the child, rather anxiously.
But first I wish you'd tell me who Blossom is. You spoke about
Blossom, didn't you?
Yes. She's my little sister. Her regular name is Janet. It's only
me calls her Blossom.
Oh, but that's lots the prettiest name! I'm going to call
her that, too. I'd be pleased to see Blossom. Is she about my
Judith's face had undergone one of its swift changes. It had grown
defensive and a little fierce. She should not see Blossom!this other
child who could walk away over the sand to meet Elises, whoever Elises
were. She should not see Blossom! Blossom should not see her!
But, maybeprob'ly she's a baby
No, she's six. She'd be about as tall as you are, if she was
straightenedI mean if she could stand up beside o' you. I guess you
better go to that woman in the cap or she'll scold, won't she?
Goodness, yes! Elise always scolds. But I'd rather be scolded than
not hear about that little Blossom girl
Mademoiselle! called the woman in the cap sharply. She came up
puffing with her hurry. Mademoiselle has escape againMademoiselle is
ba-ad! she scolded.
I didn't ex-scape, eitherI only walked. You don't walk when you
ex-scape. You sat and sat and sat, and I wanted to walk.
The child's voice was full of grievance. Sometimes she dreaded
Elisewhen she saw her coming down the beachbut she was never afraid
of her near to.
But it is not for Mademoiselle to walk so farwhat is it the
doctor say? Mademoiselle is ba-ad when she walk so far!
With a sudden gesture of defiance the Dainty One sprang away across
the sand, looking over her shoulder willfully. But it's so good to
walk! she cried. You'd walk if you was me, Eliseyou'd walk and walk
and walk! Like thissee me! See me runlike this!
The eyes of the woman in the white nurse's cap met for an instant
the eyes of the boy-girl in the oilskins, and Judith smiled. But Elise
was gravely tenderElise's face could undergo swift changes, too.
Yes, certainment I would, muttered Elise, looking away to the
naughty little figure. It was running back now.
And then you'd be goody againsee me! chanted the child. And
you'd go right straight back to Elisethat would be me, if you
were Iand you'd put your arms round her, so, and say, ''Scuse
Judith Lynn got into the old brown dory and rowed away to her
lobster-traps. There was no laughter any more in her eyes; they were
fierce with longing and envy. Not for herselfJudith was sixteen, but
she had never been fierce or envious for herself. It had always
beenit would always befor Blossom, the frail little wisp of a girl
She was thinking intensely, What if that were Blossom, running down
the beach? They were about of a tallnesswhy shouldn't it be
Blossom? Why shouldn't Blossom run down the beach like that and call
She would walk and walk and walkit would feel so good to walk!
Once she had said to Judiththe great oars stopped as Judith
rememberedonce Blossom had said, Oh, Judy, if I ever walk, I shall
walk right across the sea. You couldn't stop me!
But Blossom would never walk. Judith bent to the great oars again
and toiled out into the bay. Her lips were set in the old familiar
lines of pain. In the distance was just visible a fleck of white and a
fleck of blueElise and the Dainty One on the sands.
I never want to set eyes on them againnot on her, anyway!
thought Judith as she toiled. What did she want to speak to me for, in
her nice little mincing voice! She belongs to hotels and I belong to
thesea. Blossom and Iwhat has she got to do with Blossom!
But the little mincing voice had said, I'd be pleased to see youI
like you. It had said, I'd be pleased to see Blossom.
She sha'n't! I won't have her! I won't have Blossom see her!
Judith stormed in her pain.
The picture of the little frail wisp of a child who would never walk
was so distinct to herand this other picture of the Dainty One who
walked and laughed, See me! The two little pictures, side by side,
were more than Judith could bear.
The traps were nearly empty. It was going to be a poor lobster
season. To hotels like that one down the beach that would be a
disappointment. To Judith, who stood for fisher-folk, it would mean
serious loss. When the lobster season was a good one, more than one
little comfort and luxury found its way into more than one humble
fisher-home. And BlossomBlossom would suffer if the lobster-traps
were empty. For Judith and her mother had agreed to set apart enough of
the lobster-money to get Blossom a wheel-chair. Judith had seen one
once on a trip to the nearest town, and ever since she had dreamed
about a little wheel-chair with Blossom in it. To wheel up and down the
smooth, hard sand, with Blossom laughing and crying, See me!
There's got to be lobsters! Judith stormed, jerking up her traps
one after the other. There shall be lobsters!
But she rowed back with the old brown dory almost as empty as when
she had rowed it toilsomely out to her traps.
There were but three Lynns in the small home upshore. Two years ago
there had been six, but father and the boys, one day, had gone out of
sight beyond the bay and had never come into sight again. It is the sad
way with those who go down to the sea in ships.
Judith was the only man left to 'tend the traps and fish in the
safer waters of the bay. At fourteen one is young to begin toil like
that. Even at sixteen one is not old. But Judith's heart was as strong
as her pair of brown, boy-muscled arms. She and the old dory were well
acquainted with each other.
To-day Judith did not hurry homeward across the stretch of bright
water. She let the old dory lag along almost at its own sweet will. For
Judith dreaded to go home with her news of the poor little haul of
lobsters. She knew so well how mother would sigh and how little Blossom
would try to smile. Blossom always tried to smile when the news was
bad. That was the Blossomness of her, Judith said fondly.
That's Lynn luck, mother would sigh. Poor mother, who was too worn
and sad to try to smile!
Never mind, Judy, Blossom's little, brave smile would say. Never
mindwho cares! But Judy knew who cared.
Strange fancies came sometimes to the fisherman-girl in the great
dory, out there on the bay. Alone, with the sky above and the sea
beneath, the girl let her thoughts have loose rein and built her frail
castles in the salt, sweet air. Out there, she had been a beautiful
princess in a fairy craft, going across seas to her kingdom; she had
been a great explorer, traveling to unknown worlds; she had been a
piratea millionaire in his yachta sailor in a man-of-war. She had
always had a dream-Blossom with her, on her wonder-trips, and sometimes
they were altogether Blossom-dreams. Like to-dayto-day it was a
Blossom-dream, a wistful little one with not much heart in it. They
seemed to be drifting home, away from something beautiful behind them
that they had wanted very much. They had been sailing after itin the
dreamwith their hands stretched out to reach it. And it had beckoned
them onand further onwith its golden fingers, till at last it had
vanished into the sunset, down behind the sea, and left them
empty-handed after all. They had had to turn back without it. And
Blossomthe little dream-Blossom in the dreamhad tried to smile.
Never mind, Judy, she had said. Never mindwho cares! But they
had both cared so much!
Then quite suddenly Judith's fancy had changed the dream from a sad
one to a glad one. She had rested lazily on her great black oars and
painted another picture on her canvas of sea and skythis time of
Blossom riding way over a beautiful glimmery sea-road in a little
wheel-chair, soft-cushioned and beautiful. She, Judith, followed in the
old dory, and Blossom laughed with delight and called back over her
shoulder, See me! See me!
A whiff of night-breeze warned Judith that it was growing late and
the dream-fancies must stop. She leaned over the side of the dory and
pretended to drop them, one at a time, into the sea. That was another
of her odd little whimsies.
Good-by, sad dreamgood-by, glad dream, she said. You will never
go ashore. You will always stay out here in the sea where I drop
youunless I decide to dream you over again some day. If I do, good-by
till then. For Judith never dreamed her day-dreams on land. They were
a part of the sea and the sea-sky and the old black dory.
She must make her trip to the Hotel with her poor little haul of
lobsters, for she had promised all she got to Mrs. Ben. But for a
wonder Judith's pride deserted her, and she decided to tramp away down
the beach in her fisherman-clothes. When had she done that before! When
hadn't she walked the weary little distance inshore and back, to
and from her home, for the sake of going down the beach in her own
girl-things. But to-nightNever mind, Judywho cares! she said to
herself, with a shrug. Let Mrs. Ben laughlet the fine people lounging
about laughlet everybody laugh! Who cared? To-night Judith was tired,
and the stout little heart had gone out of her.
Land! laughed Mrs. Ben, in her kitchen door. But the sober face
under the old tarpaulin checked her. Mrs. Ben's heart was tender.
I shouldn't think I looked very landish, Judith retorted. And I
guess you won't say 'land!' when you see your lobsters. That's every
one I got to-day, Mrs. Ben!
But Mrs. Ben said Land! again. Then, with an unexpected whirl of
her big, comely person, she had her hands on the boy-girls' shoulders
and was gently pushing her toward a chair by the window.
You poor dear, you! Never mind the lobsters. Just you set there in
that chair and eat some o' my tarts! You look clean tuckered out.
Not clean tuckered, laughed Judith rather tremulously. It
was good to be pushed about like that by big, kind hands. And how good
the tarts were! She sank into the chair with a grateful sigh.
I don't suppose you can be expected to bring lobsters when there
ain't any in the traps! All is, the folks 'll have to eat tarts! Mrs.
Ben's folks were the people who lounged about in gay summer clothes.
Judith could see them out of the window as she ate her tarts.
Some ladies were sitting on the doorsteps very near by, and their
voices drifted in to Judith with intervals of silence. She began to
notice what the voices were saying. They were talking about a little
figure in dainty white that was circling about not far away, and the
little figure in white was Judith's acquaintance of the beach.
One of the voices was a mother-voiceJudith was sure of that from
the tenderness in it. The other voice was just a plain voice,
Judith decided. It sounded interested and curious, and it began to ask
strange questions about the dainty little figure. Judith grew
interested, toothen, very interested indeed.
Suddenly Judith caught her breath in an inarticulate little cry. For
she could hear what the mother-voice was answering.
It seems very wonderful, the cool, interested voice said, a little
more interested, if anything.
It seems glorious! broke in the mother-voice; and the throb in it
beat upon Judith's heart through the waves of air between them.
Judith's heart was throbbing, too.
You can't think how it 'seems,'you don't know anything about it!
the earnest, tremulous voice went on. How can anyone know who never
had a little daughter?
I had one once. The other voice now was soft and earnest.
But she walked. Your little daughter walked. How can anyone
know whose little daughter always walk
She never walked. It was very soft now, and the throb had crept
into it that was in the mother-voice and in Judith's heart. I only had
her a year.
They were both mother-voices! Judith could not see, but she felt
sure the two sat up a little nearer to each other and their hands
Oh!then you can know, the first voice said, after a tiny
silence. I will tell you all about itthere have only been a few I
have wanted to tell. It has seemed almost too precious
I know, the other said.
But you must begin right at the beginning, with meat the time
when my little daughter was a year old, when the time came for her to
learn to walk. That is where my story begins.
And mine ends. Go on.
Well, you can see how I must have watched and waited and planned.
Oh, yes, and plannedI planned.
You poor dear! Another tiny silence-space, while hand crept to
hand again, Judith was sure. Then the story went on.
You say I ought to have known. Everybody says I ought to have.
They knew, they say, and I was the baby's mother. The baby's mother
ought to have known. But that was just why. I was her motherI
wouldn't know. I kept putting it off. 'Wait,' I kept saying to
myself. 'She isn't old enough to walk yet; when she is old enough, she
will walk. Can't you wait?' And I waited. When they did not any
of them know, I kept trying to stand her on her poor little legsI
wouldn't stop trying. When she was fifteen monthssixteen
monthsseventeen, eighteenwhen she was two years old, I tried. I
would not let them talk to me. 'Some children are so late in walking,'
I said. 'Her legs are such little ones!' I would catch her up from the
floor and hug her fiercely. 'They sha'n't hurry you, my darling. You
shall take all the time you want. Then, some day, you'll surprise
mother, won't you? You'll get up on your two little legs and walk! And
we'll take hold of hands and walk out there to all those bad people
that try to say things to us. We'll show them!' But we never did. When
she was two and a half I began to believe itperhaps I had believed
all alongand when she was three, I gave it up. 'She will never walk,'
I told them, and they let me alone. There was no more need of talking
Judith was leaning forward, straining her ears to hear. She had
forgotten Mrs. Ben's tartsshe had forgotten everything but the story
that was going on out there, out of her sight. It was so muchoh, how
much it was like Blossom's story! When Blossom was three, Judith had
given up, too. But not till then. She had kept on and on trying to
teach the helpless little legs to walk. Father and mother and the boys
had given up, but Judith had kept on. She shall walk! she had
Sometimes she had taken Blossom down to the beach, tugging her all
the way in her own childish arms, and selected the hardest, smoothest
stretch of sand. Now we'll walk! she had laughed, and Blossom had
laughed, too. Stand up all nice and straight, darling, and walk all
beautiful to Judith! But Blossom had never stood up all nice and
straight; she had never walked all beautiful to Judith. And when she
was three, Judith had given up.
The story out there was going on: After that I never tried to make
her walk again, poor little sweet! We carried her round in our arms
till we got her a little wheel-chair that she could wheel a little
herself. She liked that so muchshe called it 'walking.' It would have
broken your heart to hear her say, 'See me walk, mamma!'
Oh, yesyes, it would have, the other voice responded gently. It
had grown a very gentle voice indeed. Judith wondered in the little
flash of thought she could spare from Blossom, if the other mother were
not thinking there might be harder things even than laying a little
daughter away in a little white casket.
But when she was fivesudden animation, joy and a thrill of
laughter had taken possession of the voice that was telling the
storya little more than fiveshe's just six nowwhen she was a
little more than five, they told us she could walk! There was a way! It
was not a very hard way, they said. A splendid doctor, with a heart big
enough to hold all the little crippled children in the universe, would
make her walk. And sothis is the end of the storywe took her across
the sea to him. Look at her now! Where is she? Oh, there! Marie! Marie!
Come here to mother!
Judith slipped away. She was never quite definite how she got there,
but she found herself presently in the old black dory that was drawn up
on the beach. It was the best place to think, and Judith wanted to
think. She wanted air enough and room enough to think inthis
Wonderful Thing took up so much room! It was so bigso wonderful!
She sat a long time with her brown chin in her brown palms, her eyes
on the splendid expanse of shining, undulating sea before her. It
reached 'way across to himto that tender doctor who made little
children walk! If one were to cross itshe and Blossom in the old
black doryand to find him somewhere over across there and say
to himif one were to hold out little Blossom and sayHere's
Blossom; oh, please teach her little legs to walk!if one were to do
Judith sunk her brown chin deeper into the little scoop of her
brown, hard palms. Her eyes were beginning to shine. She began to rock
herself back and forth and to hum a little song of joy, as if already
it had happened. The fancy took her that it had happenedthat when she
went up the beach, home, she would come on Blossom walking to meet her!
See me! Blossom would call out gayly.
The fancy faded by and by, as did all Judith's dreams. And Judith
went plodding home aloneno one came walking to meet her. But there
was hope in her heart. How it could ever be, she did not knowshe had
not had time to get to that yetbut somehow it would be. It should be!
I won't tell motherI'll tell Uncle Jem, she decided. Mother
must not be worriedshe must be surprised! Judith had decided that.
Some day, some way, Blossom must walk in on the worn, weary little
mother and surprise her.
I'll ask Uncle Jem how, Judith nodded, as she went. Uncle Jem was
the old bed-ridden fisherman that Judith loved and trusted and
consulted. She had always consulted Uncle Jem. He lived with Jem Three
in a tiny, weather-worn cabin near the Lynns. Jem Three was Judith's
ageJem Two was dead.
I'll go over to-night after supper, Judith said.
Uncle Jem lay in the cool, salt twilight, listening, as he always
did, to the sound of the waves. It was his great comfort. He wouldn't
swop his pa'r o' ears, he said, for a mint o' moneyno, sir! Give
him them earsUncle Jem had never been to schoolan' he'd make out
without legs nor arms nor head! That was Uncle Jem's favorite
Judy! I hear ye stompin' round out there. I'm layin' low fur ye!
the cheerful voice called, as Judith entered the little cabin.
Is Jem Three here? demanded Judith.
Here?Jemmy Three! I guess you're failin' in your mind,
Well, I'm glad he isn't. I don't want anybody but youUncle Jem,
how can I get Blossom across the sea? Judith's eager face followed up
this rather astonishing speech. Uncle Jem turned to meet them both.
Wal, there's the old doryor ye mought swim, he answered gravely.
He was used to Judy's speeches.
Because there's a great man over there that makes lame little
children walkhe can make Blossom. There's a little child down at the
hotel that he made walk. I've got to take her across, Uncle JemI mean
Blossom. But I don't know how.
No, deary, no; I do' know's I much wonder. It would be consid'able
great of a job fur ye. An' I allow it would take a mint o' money.
Strange Judith had not thought of the money! Money was so very hard
indeed to get, and a mint of it
Not a mintdon't say a mint, Uncle Jem! she pleaded. She went up
close to the bed and took one of the gnarled old hands in hers and beat
it with soft impatience up and down on the quilt.
Not a mint! she repeated.
Wal, deary, wal, we'll see, comforted the old man. You set down
in that cheer there an' out with it, the hull story! Mind ye don't
leave out none o' the fixin's! Ye can't rightly see things without ye
have all the fixin's by ye. Now, then, deary
Judith told the thrilling little story with all the details at her
command. At its end Uncle Jem's eyes were shining as hers had shone.
Judy! he cried, Judy, it's got to be did! Ye've got to do it!
Of course, Judy answered, with rapt little brown face. I'm
going to, Uncle Jem. But you must help me find a way.
Wal,slowly, as Uncle Jem thought with wrinkled browsWal, I
guess about the fust thing to do is to go an' ask that hotel child's ma
how much it cost her to go acrost. Then we'll have that to go by. We
ain't got nothin' to go by now, deary.
No, Judith answered, dreamily. She was looking out of the little,
many-paned window across the distant water. It looked like a very great
I suppose it'spretty far, she murmured wistfully.
Oh, consid'ableconsid'able, the old man agreed vaguely. But ye
won't mind that. It won't be fur comin' home!
The faith of the old child and the young was good that this
beautiful miracle could be brought about. Judith went home with elastic
step and lifted, trustful face.
Jem Three, scuffing barefoot through the sandy soil, met this
radiant dream-maiden with the exalted mien. Jem Three was not of
exalted mien, and he never dreamed. He was brown up to the red rim of
his hair, and big and homely. But the freckles in line across the
brownness of his face spelled h-o-n-e-s-t-y. At least, they always had
before to Judith Lynn and all the world. To-night Judith was to read
It is hard to come out of a beautiful dream, plump upon a prosaic
boy who says, Hullo! It is apt to jolt one. It jolted Judith.
Oh! Oh, it's you! she came out enough to say, and then went back.
The prosaic boy regarded her in puzzled wonder. Head up, shoulders
back, eyes looking right through youwhat kind of a Jude was this! Was
she walking in her sleep?
Hullo, I said, he repeated. If you've left your manners to
Oh!oh, hello, Jem! I guess I was busy thinking.
Looked like it. Bad habit to get into. Better look out! I never
indulge, myself. Well, how's luck?
Luck? Oh, you mean lobsters? Judith had not been busy thinking of
lobsters, but now her grievance came back to her. Oh, Jem! I never got
but three! All my pains for three lobsters! And two of those just long
enough not to be short. It meansI suppose it means a bad season,
Jem Three pursed his lips into a whistle. Afterward, when Judith's
evil thoughts had invaded her mind, she remembered that Jem Three had
avoided looking at her; yes, certainly he had shifted his bare toes
about in the sand. And when he spoke, his voice had certainly sounded
Guess somethin' ails your traps, he had said. Warn't nothin' the
matter with mine.
Did you get more than three?
Jemmy Three, how many's a-plenty?
Jemmy Three had got twenty-four! Judith turned away in bitterness
and envy, and afterwards suspicion.
There was nothing the matter with her traps. If Jem Three got
twenty-four lobsters in his, why did she get only three in hers?
Twenty-four and three. What kind of fairness was that! She could set
lobster-traps as well as any Jem Threeor Jem Fouror Fiveor Six.
There had always been good-natured rivalry between the fisher-boy
and the fisher-girl, and Judith had usually held her own jubilantly.
There had never been any such difference as this.
Suddenly was born the evil thought in Judith's brain. It crept in
slinkingly, after the way of evil things. How do you know but he
helped himself out o' your traps? That was the whisper it whispered to
Judith. Then, well started, how it ran on! When you and he quarreled a
while ago, didn't he say, 'I'll pay you back'?didn't he? You think if
Oh, he did, groaned Judith.
Well, isn't helping himself to your lobsters paying you back?
Yesoh, yes, if he did. But Jemmy Three never
How do you know he never? Is twenty-four to three a fair average?
Is it? Is it?
No, oh, no! But I don't believe
Oh, you needn't believe! Don't believe. Go right on finding
your traps empty and believing Jemmy Three'd never! I thought you were
going to save your lobster-money for Blossom.
Oh, I wasI am going to! I'm going to save it to take her across
the ocean to that doctor. It was going to be a little wheel-chair, but
now it's going to be legs.
But supposing there isn't any lobster-money? You can't do much with
three lobsters a day. If somebody helps himself
Stop! cried Judith angrily, and the evil thought slunk away. But
it came againit kept coming. One by one, little trivial circumstances
built themselves into suspicions, until the little brown freckles on
Jemmy Three's face came to spell Dishonesty to Judith Lynn. If it had
not been for the terrible need of lobster-moneyJudith would have
fought harder against the evil thing if it had not been for that.
I've got to have it! There's got to be lobsters in the traps! she
cried to herself. The doctor over there might die! If he died before I
could carry Blossom to him, do you think I'd ever forgive Jemmy
Three?which showed that the Evil Thing had done its work. It might
slink away now and stay.
It was a hard night for Judith. Joyful thoughts and evil ones
conflicted with each other, and among them all she could not sleep. It
was nearly morning before she snuggled up against Blossom's little warm
body and shut her eyes. Her plans were made, as far as she could make
them. To-morrow she would go down and question the hotel mother, as
Uncle Jem said. To-morrowshe must not wait. And after thatafter
that, heaven and earth and the waters of the sea must help her. There
must be no faithlessness or turning back.
You shall walk, little Blossom, Judith whispered softly.
How could she know how soon the sea would help?
I want to go, Judyplease, please!
Blossom was up on her elbow, pleading earnestly. Judith was
It's a Blossom dayyou know it's a Blossom day! And Jemmy Three'll
carry me down. I know Jemmy Three will! I haven't been out
a-dorying for such a long time; Judyplease!
It was always hard work for Judith to refuse Blossom anything.
BesidesJudith went to the window and lifted the scant little
curtainyes, it certainly was a Blossom day. The sky was
Blossom-blue, the sea spread away out of sight, Blossom-smooth and
shining. And the little pleader there in the bed looked so eager and
longingso Blossom-sweet! She should go a-dorying, decided Judith,
but it would not be Jemmy Three that carried her down to the sea.
You little tease, come on, then! laughed Judith. I'll dress you
in double-quick, for I've got to get out to my traps.
Judith had overslept, for a wonder. When had Judith done a thing
like that before! For two hours Blossom had been awake, lying very
quietly for fear of waking Judy; poor, tired Judy must not be
disturbed. Downstairs mother had gone away to her work at the beautiful
summer cottage down-beach, beyond the hotel. It was ironing-day at the
cottage, and all day mother would stand at the ironing-board, ironing
dainty summer skirts and gowns.
I'll ride in front an' be aa what'll I be, Judy?
A little bother of a Blossom in a pink dress, laughed Judith, as
she buttoned the small garments with the swift, deft fingers that had
buttoned them for six years.
No, no! adon't you know, the kind of a thing that brings good
luck? You read it to me your own self, Judy Lynn!
I guess you mean a mastif, Judith said slowly. Queer it
sounds so much like a dog!it didn't make me think of a dog when I
M-myes, I'll be a mastifBlossom's voice was doubtful; it
hadn't reminded her so much of a dog, either, at the time. An' so
you'll have good luck. You'll find your traps brim-up full, Judy! Then
I guess you'll say, 'Oh, how thankful I am I brought that child!'
Judith caught the little crippled figure closer in a loving hug.
I'm thankful a'ready! she cried.
They hurried through the simple breakfast that mother had left for
them, and then Judith shouldered the joyous child and tramped away over
the half-mile that separated them from the old black dory.
Now, Judy, now le's begin right off an' pretend! Go aheadyou
I'm pretending. I'm a chariot and you're a fine lady in pink
Ging! scorned Blossom. Silk, Judyin pink silk, a-ridin' in
the chariot. It's a very nice, easy chariot an' doesn't joggle
her hipOh, I forgot she hasn't got any hips, of course! Well, here
she goes a-riding and a-riding along, just as comfortable, but pretty
soon she sayswe're coming to the beautiful part now, Judy!'I guess
I better get out an' walk now,' she says. Now pretend she got out
and walked, Judyyou pretending?
I'm pretending, cried Judy, her clasp on the little figure
tightening and her eyes shining mysteriously. Sometime the little fine
lady should get out and walk! She shouldshe should!
Now she's walkingno, she isn't, either, she's riding, and it
isn't in a chariot, it's in her sister's arms, an' she's Blossom. Don't le's pretend any more, Judy. There's days it's easy to an'
there's days it's hard toit's a hard-to day, I guess, to-day. Those
days you can't pretend get out and walk very well.
Pretend I'm an elephant! laughed Judy, though the laugh trembled
in her throat. That's an easy-to-pretend! And you're anOh, an Arab,
driving me! You must talk Arabese, Blossom!
Blossom was gay again when they got to the dory, and Judith dropped
her into the bow, out of her own weary arms.
Now say 'Heave-ho!heave-ho'! commanded Judith, to help me drag
her down, you know. Here we go!
I don't know the Arabese for 'heave-ho,' laughed little Blossom,
mischievously. I could say it in American.
Say it in 'American,' then, you little rogue! panted Judith, all
her tough little muscles a-stretch for the haul.
They were presently out on the water, rocking gently with the gentle
waves. And Blossom was presently shouting with delight. Her little
lean, sharp face was keen with excitement.
Now pretendnow, now, now! It's easy to out here! The fine lady's
going abroad, Judydo you hear? She's going right straight over 'cross
this sea, in this han'some ship! When she gets there she'll step out
on the shore an' say what a beautiful voyage she's had, an' good-by to
the cap'nyou're the cap'n, Judy. An' you'll say, 'Oh, my lady,
sha'n't I help you ashore?' An' she'll laugh right out, it's so
ridic'lous! 'Help me, my good man!' she'll 'xclaim. 'I guess you must
think I can't walk!'
Blossom's face was alive with the joy of the beautiful pretend.
But Judith's face was sober.
Laugh, why don't you, Judy? cried the child.
I'm laughI mean I will, dear. But I've got to row like everything
now, so you must do the pretending for us both. We've got to get out
there to those traps before you can say 'scat'!
Scat! shrilled Blossom.
It was Blossom's sharp eyes that discovered Jem Three out there.
Judith was bending to her work.
There's Jemmy Three, Judy! True-honest, out there a-trapping! He
looks 's if he was coming away from our placehe is, Judy! He's got
our lobsters, to s'prise us, maybe.
It won't surprise me, muttered Judy, in the clutch of the Evil
Thought again. She was watching the distant boat now keenly, her eyes
hard with suspicion. Jem Three it surely was, and he was rowing slowly
away from Judith's lobster grounds. It seemed to her his dory was
deep in the water as if heavily weighted. He had beenhad been to her
traps again. He was whistlingJudith could hear the faint, sweet
soundbut that didn't hide anything. Let him whistle all he wanted
toshe knew what he had been up to!
Ship aho-oy! came across faintly to them, but it was only Blossom
Ahoy! Ship ahoy! she sent back clearly. Judith bent over her
He's going away from us, we sha'n't meet him, Blossom said in
Of course he's going awayof course he won't meet us, Judith
retorted between her little white teeth.
An' I wanted to 'speak him,' the disappointed little voice ran on;
I was going to call out, 'How's the folks abroad? We're on our way
'cross, in the Judiana B.,'this is the Judiana B., Judy, after both
of us. B. stands for me.
Funny way to spell me! laughed Judith with an effort. She must
hide away her black suspicions. Not for the world would she have
Blossom know! Blossom was so fond of Jemmy Three, and she had so few
folks to be fond of.
A surprise was waiting for them out there. The traps were pretty
well loaded! Not full, any of them, but not one of them empty. In all,
there were seventeen great, full-grown, glistening, black fellows for
Blossom to shudder over as she never failed to doBlossom was no part
of a fisherman.
He didn't dare to take them all, thought Judith, refusing to let
the Evil Thought get away from her. Probably he saw us coming. If he'd
let 'em alone there might have been a lot moreperhaps there were
One, two, three,counted Blossom slowly. Why, Judy, there's
seventeen. You didn't s'pose there'd be as many as seventeen, did you?
Isn't that a splendid lot?
Not as splendid as fifty, answered Judy, assured now that there
had been as many as that.
Seventeen from fifty is thirtythirty-two, whispered the Evil
Thing in her ear. Evil things cannot be expected to be good in
arithmetic or anything else. So he helped himself to thirty-two, did
he! Nice haul! Thirty-two big fellows will bring him in
Don't! groaned Judith.
I don't wonder you say 'don't!' Thirty-two nice big fellows would
have brought you in a pretty little sum. You could have put it
away in a stocking in your bureau drawer, for the Blossom-fund.
Oh, I was going to! I was going to!
Thought sowell, you'll have to get along with seventeen. That
comes of having boys like that for friends!
He isn't my friend! Judith cried sharply to the Evil Thing in her
breast. He never will be again. If it wasn't for Uncle Jem I'd never
look at him again as long as I live!
All this little dialogue had gone on unsuspected by the little pink
mastif in the bow of the little dory. Blossom had been busy edging
out of the reach of the ugly things in the bottom of the boat. If
Judith had only edged away from her Ugly Thing!
Another surprise was even now on the waya surprise so stupendous
and unexpected that, beside it, the lobster-surprise would dwindle away
into insignificance and be quite forgotten for the rest of the day. And
oddly enough, it was to be Blossom who should be discoverer again.
I'm going a little farther out and fish awhile, Judith announced
over her last trap. I've got all my tackle aboard and maybe I can find
something Mrs. Ben will want. You sit still as a mouse, Blossom, for I
cant't be watching you and fishing, too.
I'll sit still as two mice. Needn't think o' me! answered
the little one proudly. Did Judy think she was little like that? Just
because she hadn't legs that would go! They didn't need to go, did
they, out here in the middle of the sea!
What makes it look so ripply an' bubbly out there? she questioned
with grown-up dignity. Judy should see she could sit still and talk
Where? asked Judith absently. She did not take the trouble to
follow the little pointing finger with her eyes.
Therewhy don't you look? It's all pretty an' ripply an'
kind of queer. Doesn't look like plain water 'xactly. Look, Judywhy
I am looking nowOh, Oh, wait! It looks likeBlossom, I believe
it's a school! That's the way the water always looBlossom, Blossom,
do you hear me, it's a school! A school of mackerela school, I
Well, you needn't keep on a-telling me. Blossom, anyway, was calm.
I'm not deaf o' hearing, am I? If it's a school, le's us go right
straight out there an' fish it up, Judy.
Judy was going right straight out there with all the strength of her
powerful young arms. She was not calm; her face was quivering with
excitement and joy. A school! A school! Oh, but that meant so much for
the Blossom-fund, to put away in the stocking in the bureau drawer! If
it should prove a big schoolbut she and Blossom could not manage a
big one, never in the world. If Jemmy Thrno, no, not Jemmy Three!
This was not Jemmy Three's schoolwhat had he to do with it?
In all the stress and excitement of sending the old dory out there
where the water was rippling its news to her, Judy had time to think of
several things. She had time to remember how she and Jem Three had
used, from the time they were little brown things in pinafores, to plan
about their first school o' mackerelwhat they would do with all the
wealth it should bring them, how they would share it together, how they
would pull in the silvery, glistening fellows, side by side. What
planswhat plans they had made! They had practiced a shrill, piercing
call that was to summon the one of them who should happen to be absent
when the school was descried out there in the bay. Even lately, big
and old as they had grown, they had laughingly reviewed that call.
Nowthis minuteif Judith were to utter it, piercing and far-carrying
and jubilant, perhaps Jemmy Three might hear and come plowing through
the waves to get his sharehad he any share? Because when they were
little brown things they had made vows, did that give him any rights
Of course, ifif things had been differentlobster-thingsJudith
might have pursed her lips into that triumphant summons. But
Sit still! I'm going to swing her round! called Judith sharply.
I've got to go ashore for father's old net. It's in the boat-house.
You won't leave me, Judypromise you'll take me out with you!
pleaded Blossom, eagerly.
I'll have to, Judith responded briefly. There isn't time to carry
you homeI don't dare take time.
She made her plans as she went in, and put out again with the clumsy
heap of netting towering at her feet. The thing she meant to do was
stupendous for a girl to attempt alone, but she was going to attempt
it. The shabby old net had lain in its corner, useless, for two years.
Now it should be usedshe, Judith Lynn would use it! She was glad as
she pulled seaward again that she had thrown in two scoopsperhaps
when the time came Blossom could make out to use one a little.
The net was like a longa very longfence, with its lower edge
weighted heavily and its upper edge provided with wooden floats, to
insure its standing erect under water. When in position properly it
surrounded the school of fish, completely fencing in the darting,
glimmering, silver fellows. Then the circle could be gradually narrowed
and the fish brought together in a mass, when scoops could be used to
dip them up into the boat.
The school once located, Judith began to circle slowly round it,
paying out her fence of netting with no small difficulty, but
gradually surrounding the unsuspected fish, until at length she had
What did I tell you! I told you I'd be thethe mastif, Judy!
Blossom chattered. I told you you'd say how thankful you was you
brought that child!
How thankful I am! chattered Judy. Then, launched into the thick
of the arduous work, they both fell into breathless silence and only
worked. It was not much Blossom could do, but she did her little
splendidly. And Judith toiled with all her strength.
They stopped at last, not because there were no more of the
glistening, silver fellows about them, but because the old black dory
was weighted almost to the water's edge. They had to stop. And then
began Judith's terrible hour. For the heavy boat must somehow be worked
back, a weary little at a time, to the distant shore. Judith set
herself to this new task gallantly, but it was almost too much for her.
Over and over again it seemed to her she must give it up and toss
overboard part, at least, of her silver freight, to lighten her load.
But over and over again she nerved herself to another spurt of
She must do it! She could not give up! She would shut her eyes, like
this, and row ten more strokesjust ten more. Then she would row ten
with her eyes open. Ten, shutten, open. Perhaps that would help. She
tried it. She tried other poor little devicescalling the strokes
eenie, meenie, minie, mo, the way she and Jemmy Three had counted
out for tag when they were littlebrownthings. Her strengthwas
surelygiving outit shouldn't give out!
Blossom, watching silently from her weary perch, grew frightened at
Judy's tense, set face and began to sob. And then Judy must find breath
enough to laugh reassuringly and to nod over her shoulder at the child.
They had gone out latehad been out a wearisome timeand the
journey back to land was measured off by slow, laboring oar-strokes
that scarcely seemed to move the great boat. So it was late afternoon
when at length Judith's hard task was done. She seemed to possess but
one desireto rest. To get Blossom over the remaining half mile
between her and home and then to tumble over on the bed and sleepwhat
more could anyone wish than that?
But there would be more than that to do. She must get food for tired
little Blossom, if not for herself. And before this towered
gigantically the two last feats of strength that faced her and seemed
to laugh at her with sardonic glee.
Drag me up on the beachdrag me up! the old black dory taunted
Carry me home, Judy, I'm so tired!carry me home, Blossom
pleaded, like a little wilted blossom.
She did both things, but she never quite realized just how she could
have done them. She remembered telling herself she couldn't and then
finding them done. Of covering her load of mackerel with an old rubber
blanket she was dimly conscious. It was not until she lay drowsing in
utter exhaustion on her own bed that she thought of all of the rest
that must be done to that boat-load of precious freight. Then she tried
to sit up, with a cry of distress.
I must go! I cant't stay here! Or I shall loseOh, what shall I
lose? she groaned in her drowsiness and dread. Something would happen
if she did not get up at onceshe would lose something that she
mustn't lose. She must get up now, at once.
I shall lose Blossomno, I mean Blossom will loseoh, yes,
Blossom will lose her legs, if I don't get up, she drowsed, and fell
Judith awoke with a bewildering sensation of guilt and need of
action. What had happened? What had she done that she ought not to have
done?or was it something that she ought to? Memory struggled back to
her dimly, then flashed upon her in sudden clearness.
She had taken a school of mackerelthat was what she had done that
was praiseworthy. She had left them down there in the old black dory,
undressed and unpackedthat was the thing she ought not to have done.
That was the awful thing! For if they were not dressed and packed at
Oh, I shall lose them! I shall lose them! moaned poor Judith,
sitting up in bed and wringing her hands in the keenness of her
distress. How could I have let myself fall asleep! How could I
have slept all this time like a log!
It was very dark, so it must be midnight or later. There was no
light anywhere, on land or sea, or in Judith's troubled soul. To her
remorseful mind all her terrible labor and strain of body had been in
vain; she had gone to sleep and spoiled everything, everything!
Judith had never been so utterly tired out as when she went to
sleep; she had never been so tired as she was now. She felt lame in
every joint and muscle of her body. But her conscience stood up before
her in the dark and arraigned her with pitiless, scathing scorn.
Well, aren't you ashamed of yourself? See what you've done! All
those beautiful fish lost, when you might have saved themjust by
staying awake and attending to them. A little thing like that! And you
worked so hard to get themI was proud of you for that. Ah-h, but I'm
ashamed of you now!
Don't! don'tyou hurt! sighed Judith, I'll get up now, this
minute, and go down there. Don't you see me getting up? I've got one
shoe on now.
Judith was not experienced in the dressing of many fish at a time
and the packing of them in barrels for market. At sixteen, how can one
beand one a girl? But she knew in a rather indefinite way the
importance of having it done promptly. She remembered father's and the
boys' last school of fishhow she had hurried down to the shore and
watched the dory come creeping heavily in, how the boys had cheered, as
they came, how father had let her help at the dressing, and mother had
brought down hot coffee for them all and then fallen to, herself and
worked like a man. How they all had worked to get the barrels packed
full of the shining layers in time for the steamer next morning!
All this Judith remembered as she crept silently away through the
darkness and turned toward the salty spray that the wind tossed in her
face. That had been a phenomenally large school of mackereleighteen
barrels for market in the distant city. Judith was not quite sure, but
she thought the check that came back to father had been for a hundred
and fifty dollars. Mackerel had been in great demand then. A hundred
and fifty dollars! Judith stopped short and caught her breath.
But my school was just a little one, she thought, and maybe
people aren't very mackerel hungry now. Still, a hundred dollarsor
even fiftyfifty dollars would go so far toward that doctor across the
sea! Supposing she had lost fifty dollars! She hurried on through the
black night, not knowing what she should do when she got to her
destination, but eager to do something. The lantern she carried cast a
small glimmer into the great dark.
Judith was not afraidhow long had it been since she was afraid of
the dark? But a distant thrill shot through her when she saw another
faint glimmer ahead of her. Then it seemed to divide into two
glimmersthey blinked at her like evil eyes. They were straight ahead;
she was going toward them! She must go toward them if she went to the
old dory drawn up on the beach.
And I'm goin! Judy said defiantly. Blink away, you old bad-y
two-eyes! Wait till I get there and fix you! It helped to laugh a
little and nod defiance at the blinking eyes.
The salty spray increased to a gentle rain, buffeting her cheeks.
The steady boom of the breakers was in her ears like the familiar voice
of a friend. Judith tramped on resolutely.
The lights were two lanterns, sheltered from the wind, beside the
old black dory. Judith came upon them and cried out in astonishment.
For she had come upon something elsea boy, dressing fish as if his
life depended on it!
Jemmy Three! she ejaculated shrilly.
The boy neither turned about nor stopped.
Hullo! That you, Jude? Got a lantern? Take that knife there an' go
to work like chain lightnin'. I've filled two barrelsthere isn't any
time to lose, now, I tell you! Steamer's due at seven.
ButbutI don't understand faltered Judith.
Well, you needn't, till you get plenty o' time. Understandin' don't
dress no fish. Jemmy Three, like Jem One, had missed his rightful
share of schooling. What we got to do now is dress fish.
Judith went to work obediently, but the wonder went on in her mind.
What did it all mean? How had Jemmy Three found out about the mackerel?
Why was he down here in the dead of night dressing and packing them?
By and by the boy saw fit to explain in little jerks over his
shoulder. Judith pieced them together into a strange, beautiful story
that made her throat throb.
Saw you had a load heresaw 'twas mackerelknew they'd got to be
'tended to'tended to 'em, Jemmy Three slung over his shoulder, as he
Suspicioned you'd struck a school, and gone home clean tuckered.
Oh, but you're a smart one, Jude! Couldn't no other girl 'a' done it,
sir, this side o' the Atlantic!
He caught up the dressed fish and bent over a fresh barrel; his
voice sounded muffled and hollow to Judith.
Knew there weren't no time to sparenobody hereabouts to help
outwent at it myself all flyin',been down here since seven
Oh, Jemmy! Judith trembled. The throb in her throat hurt her.
What time is it now? she asked.
A grunt issued from the barrel depths. Time! Ain't any time now! I
told you we'd got to fly!
It was almost twelve. They worked on, for the most part silently,
until daylight began to redden the east. One barrel after another was
headed up by Jemmy Three's tireless hands. Judith counted barrels
mechanically as she toiled.
Four! she cried. Then, Five! Six!
There'll be a good eightyou see, Jem Three said, rolling a new
one into position. You'll get a good fifty dollars, Jude; see if you
don't! How's that for one haul? Ain't any other girl could 'a' done
Oh, don't! sobbed Judith suddenly. She let a little silver fellow
slip to the ground, half-dressed, and went over to Jemmy Three.
Don't say another worddon't dress another fishdon't move till I
tell you! she cried. I cant't stand it another minute! II thought
you helped yourself to my lobstersI thought I thought it. And
you've been here all night working for me
Oh! cried Jemmy Three softly. But he did not stop working.
I thought that was why there were only three yesterdayI thought
there'd have been fifty to-day, ran on Judith. The new daylight
lighted her ashamed face redly, like a blush.
There wouldn't 'a' been but five said Jemmy Three, then caught
himself up in confusion. The blush was on his face now.
Judith's cry rang out above the sea-talk. Then you put some in!
she cried, instead of helping yourself. You put some in my traps,
Jemmy Threethat's what you did! You put in twelve!
Guess there's somethin' the matter with your traps, Jude, muttered
the boy. Guess they better be overhauledguess a fellow's gotter
right to go shares, ain't he?
Jemmy Three, I'm going to hug you!
Oh, ohsay, look out; I'm all scales!
I had scales on my eyes, but they've fallen off now, laughed the
girl tremulously. It's worse to have scales on your eyes than all over
the rest o' you. I can see things as plain as day now, andandyou
look perfectly beautiful!
Hold onI'm dressin' fish! The steamer's due at seven
I don't care if she's due this minute, I've got to talk! If she was
in plain sightif I could see her smokestackI should have to talk. I
tell you I can see now, and you look splendidsplendid, and I
look like a little blackblot. To think of my being up home asleep,
and you working down here, dressing my fishand me thinking
those mean thoughts of you! It makes me so ashamed I cant't hold my
Judith was crying now in good earnest. She had sunk down on the
sand, and her crouching figure with the red glow from the east upon it
looked oddly childish and small. Jemmy Three saw it over his shoulder.
Look a-here, Judy, he said gently, dropping his own knife and
going over to the rocking, sobbing figure. You look a-here, I
tell you! What you cryin' for, with eight barrels o' fish 'most packed
an' a good fifty dollars 'most in your pocket? You better laugh! Come
on, get up, and let's give a rouser! Three cheers for the only girl in
the land o' the free an' the home o' the brave that darst tackle a
school o' mack'rel alone! Hip, hip
Jemmy, Jemmy, don't!
Hooray! Now let's dress fish. You're all rightdon't you
worry about bein' a blot, when I tell you you're a reg'lar brick! I'm
proud o' you!
It was the longest speech Jemmy Three had ever made, and the
peroration surprised himself as much as it did Judith. He put up his
hand and cleared something away from his eyesit couldn't have been
scales, for he left the scales there.
At five mother came hurrying down to find Judith. The scale-strewn
beach and the scale-strewn children, the barrels in orderly rows
waiting to be rolled to the little landing-place of the steamer, the
heap of clumsy wet nettingall told her the whole astonishing story.
And what they did not tell, Judith supplemented eagerly.
I declare! I declare! gasped mother in mingled pride and pity,
you two poor things, putting in like this! You'll be tired to
deathyou'll be sick abed!
Guess we'll weather it, nodded Jemmy Three, working steadily. But
if you think we ain't hungry enough to eat a pine shing
I'll go right home and boil some coffee and eggs and bring 'em
down, and then I'll go to work, too, cried mother energetically. You
poor starved things!
After a salt toilet in the surf, they ate a hurried breakfast with
keen relish. Judith had forgotten her aching joints and lame muscles,
and Jemmy Three had forgotten his sleepless night. Victory lay just
ahead of them, and who cared for muscles or sleep!
This is the best bread 'n' butter I ever ate, said Judith between
There proved to be the good eight barrels, when they were done,
and they were done by six o'clock, or a very little after. By half-past
six, the barrels had been rolled down the slope of the beach to the
little wharf not far away. Then the tired two rested, and remembered
muscles and sleep.
They dropped in the soft, moist sand and rubbed their aching arms.
I'm proud o' you, Jemmy! Judith said shyly, and looked away
over the water. Her repentance had come back and lay heavily on her
heart. She longed unutterably to recall those evil thoughtsto have
another chance out there beyond to summon Jemmy Three with the little
shrill old signal. How she would send it shrilling forth now!
Jemmy, she said slowly, as they waited, you know our signal,
don't you? The one we used to practice so much.
For answer Jemmy Three pursed his lips and sent out a clear
Well, I wishdon't you know what I wish?
'Twas Christmas, Jemmy said flippantly, but he knew. He dug his
bare toes in the sanda sign of embarrassment.
I wish I'd called you out there at the school! lamented Judith,
even if you couldn't have heard. I wishI wishI wish I'd
called! If I ever strike another schoolJemmy, I'd give you half o'
this one if I dared to. But I'm afraid to have Blossom waitI don't
O' course not, agreed Jem Three vaguely. He did not at all know
what Judith meant. Girls had queer ways of beginnin' things in the
middle like that. No knowin' what a girl was drivin' at, half the time!
What say? Ain't that smoke out there?
No, it's a cloud. Jemmy Three, I'm going to tell you something. I
want to. I'm going to tell you what that money's going to
doyou're listening, aren't you?
With both earsgo ahead.
Welloh, it's going to be something so beautiful, Jemmy! I
never knew till day before yesterday that you could do anything
so beautifulI mean that anybody could. I never dreamed it! But you
cansomebody can! There's a man can, Jemmy! All you need is money to
take you across to him andthere's the money! waving her hand toward
the rows of barrels. Her eyes were shining like twin stars. She had
forgotten aches and lameness again.
I told Uncle Jem, she went on rapidly, while Jem Three gazed at
her in puzzled wonder and thought more things about girls. He told me
to go down to the hotel and ask that other little girl's mother, and I
meant to go last night! But I went to sleep last night! So I'm going
to-dayI'm going to ask her to tell me just exactly how to do it.
Do what? inquired Jem Three quietly. That was the only way to do
with girlspull 'em up smart, like that!
Mercy! Haven't I told you? cried Judith. Well, thenJemmy, if
you were a little mite of a thinga Blossom, sayand a fairy came to
you and said, 'Wish a wish, my dear; what would you rather have in all
the world?' what would you answer, Jemmy? Remember, if you were a
little mite of a Blossom with awith alittle broken stem. Judith's
voice sank to a tender softness. She didn't know she was making
The boy with his toes deep in the sand was visibly embarrassed.
Whatever poetry lay soul-deep within him, there was none he could call
to his lips.
Wouldn't you answer her, 'Legs to walk with'? went on the girl
beside him softly. You know you would, Jemmy! I
wouldeverybody would. You'd say, 'The beautifulest thing in the world
would be to walkdear fairy, I want to walk so much!' And then
supposingare you supposing?the fairy waved her wand over you and
youwalked! Do you know what you'd say then? I
knowyou'd say, 'See me! Judy, see me! Jemmy, everybody, see me!'
Judith laughed to herself under her breath. The twin stars in her
eyes shone even a little brighter.
The fairy's a great doctorhe's across there, 'way, 'way out of
sight. He's going to wave his wand over Blossom. He waved it over
another little broken girl, and she walked. I saw her. She
said, 'See me!'I heard her. That's what the money is going to do,
Gee! breathed Jemmy softly. It was his way of making poetry.
And you see, I don't dare to waitI'm afraid something might
happen to that doctor.
O' course!you go down there all flyin' an' see that woman, Jude.
And that afternoon Judith went. It was to Mrs. Ben she went first;
she felt acquainted with Mrs. Ben.
Can I seeI'd like to see that mother whose little girl can walk,
Judith said eagerly.
Land! ejaculated Mrs. Ben.
I mean, explained Judith, smiling, whose little girl was lame and
a doctor made her walk by waving his waI mean byby curing her. I
heard her telling another mother. I'd like to seedo you suppose I
could see that lady?
I guess I know who you meanthere ain't been but one little girl
here lately, Mrs. Ben said. But there ain't any now. They've gone
Judith went straight to Uncle Jem, sobbing all the way
unconsciously; she was not conscious of anything but what Mrs. Ben had
They've gone away!they've gone away!they've gone away! It
reiterated itself to her in dull monotony, keeping slow time with the
throbbing pain of her disappointment.
Uncle Jem heard her comingin some surprise, she came so fast. What
was the child hurrying like that for? What had happened?
I hear ye, child! he called cheerily. The time-worn little
pleasantry did him service as usual. I'm layin' low for ye!
She crossed the outer threshold and the little box of a kitchen
without slackening her excited pace, and appeared in the old man's
doorway, breathless and flushed.
It's too late! she gasped, briefly. Then, because she needed
comforting and Uncle Jem was her comforter of old, her head went down
on the patchwork quilt that covered his twisted old frame, and she
cried like a grief-struck little child.
There, there, deary! he crooned, his twisted fingers traveling
across her hair, jest you lay there an' cry it all outdon't ye hurry
any. When ye get all done an' good an' ready, tell Uncle Jem what it's
all about. But take your time, little untake your time.
The child was worn out in every thread of the over-strained young
body. The excitement and nervous rack of the last twenty-four hours was
having sway now, and would not be put aside. And the keen
disappointment that Mrs. Ben's words had brought, added to all the
rest, had proved too much even for Judith Lynn. She cried on, taking
There now! that's right, storm's clearin'! said Uncle Jem, as at
length the brown head lifted slowly. Now we'll pull out o' harbor and
get to work. Which meant that now explanations were in order. Judith
They've gone away! she said thickly. It takes time for throbbing
throats to come back to their own. It's too late to find out. If I'd
gone yesterday She stopped hastily, on the verge of fresh tears.
Go ahead, little un; weather's a little too thick yet to see clear.
Who's gone away? What's it too late for? But even as he said it, Uncle
Jem, too, understood. He went on without waiting, to give Judith more
Hold on!I can pull out o' the fog myself. That mother o' that
little cured unshe's the one that's gone away, eh? You was too late
to see her an' ask your questions. I see. Well, now, I call that too
bad. But 'tain't worth another cry, deary.
Well, I won't cry another one, so there! cried Judith.
I knowI know! We've got to slew off on another tack. You give
Uncle Jem time to think, Judy. There's a powerful lot o' thinkin'-time
handy when you lay here on your back for a livin'. Jest you run home
an' let your ma put you to bed. I've heard all about your goin's-on,
an' I guess bed's the best place for you! I'll think it out while
you're restin' up.
But to unlettered people who rarely get in touch with what is going
on in the thick of things, thinking it out is no easy matter. Their
one frail little hold on the miracle that could make Blossom whole had
snapped when the hotel mother and child went away. Where to turn next
for informationwhat to do nextwas a puzzle that would not unravel
for any of them. In vain Uncle Jem wrestled with it, as he lay through
long, patient hours. And Judith wrestled untiringly.
The mackerel-money came in due time, but the wondrous little blue
check that came out of the official-looking envelope and lay outspread
on Judith's hard, brown palm had lost its power to give legs to little
Blossom, and Judith gazed at it resentfully. What was the use of it
now? A small part of it would get the little wheel-chair, but it was
not a wheel-chair Judith longed for now. She put away the blue check
safely, and took up the wrestling again. She would find the clue to the
puzzleshe refused to give it up.
Then quite privately and uninvited, Jemmy Three began to think. No
one had thought of asking his advice; thinking had never been Jemmy
He went into his grandfather's room one early morning arrayed in his
best clothes. Not much in the way of a best, but Jemmy had pieced
out as well as possible with scraps of his dead father's best that had
been packed away. He looked unduly big and plain and awkward in the
unaccustomed finery, but the freckles across the deep brown background
of his face spelled d-e-t-e-r-m-i-n-a-t-i-o-n. Uncle Jem spelled it out
slowly. His astonished gaze wandered downward, then, from best to
Well? he interrogated, and waited.
I'm goin' to the city, gran'father, the boy said. I've gotter, on
aaerrand. I thought I'd tell you.
Good idea! nodded the old head on the pillows. The old eyes
twinkled kindly. I suppose ye want me to go out to your traps, don't
ye? An' do a little trawlin' while I'm out? Jest speak the word!
Uncle Jemmy said nothing about getting his own dinner, but the boy
had thought of that.
Judy's comin' in at noon, he explained. I've got everythin'
cooked up. An' she's goin' to look at my traps when she goes out to
hers. I'll be back in the night, sometime; don't you lay awake for me,
He went out, but presently appeared again, fumbling his best cap in
I wishI don't supposeyou wouldn't mind wishin' me good luck,
gran'father, would you? he stammered. I'd kind of like to be wished
Come here where I can reach ye, the old man said cheerily, putting
out his hand. Wish ye luck? I guess I will! Ye're a good boy, Jemmy. I
don't know what your arrant is, an' I don't need to know, but here's
good luck on it!
I tell you what it is, ifif it succeeds, Jem Three said,
gripping the twisted old fingers warmly. I kind of thought I'd rather
not tell first off. But I can, of course.
Off with ye, boy! Ye distract me when I'm doin' a bit of thinkin'
for a lady! When ye get good an' ready, then will be time enough to do
your tellin'. Queer if I couldn't trust a Jem!
The city was twenty miles inland from the little flag-station, and
the flag-station was ten miles away from Jemmy Three. He trudged away
with his precious boots over his shoulder, to be put on at the little
Once in the city, he went directly about his arrant. He chose a
street set thick with dwelling-houses as like one another as peas in a
pod are like. He tramped down one side of the street, up the other,
till at last he came upon what he sought. A smart sign hung on that
particular house, and Jem Three mounted the high steps and rang the
Is this a doctor's house? There's a sign that says
The doctor isn't at home, the smart maid said smartly. Will you
leave your address on the slate, or will you call again at office
hourstwo till six.
I'll call somewheres else, Jem Three said briefly.
He called at many doors in many rows of peaof houses. It was
sometime before he succeeded in his quest. When at length he found a
doctor at home, he was closeted with him for a brief space and then
drove away with him in a trim little gig to a great, many-windowed
house where pale people were sunning themselves in wheel-chairs about
the doors. Jem Three made a call at the many-windowed house.
* * * * *
It was with considerable curiosity that two people down by the sea
awaited the boy's return from his trip, but oddly enough it was neither
Uncle Jem nor Judith that he sought out at first. It was Judith's
mother, at her work down-beach at the summer cottage. Jemmy Three went
straight to her. He had got home earlier than he expected and mother
had worked later, so they walked back together in the cool, clear
evening, talking all the way.
Don't tell Judy, the boy said the last thing, as they parted. I
mean, not it. It'll be splendid to surprise her, Mis' Lynn!
If we can, Jemmy, the mother answered gently. If it succeeds. The
more I think of it the more it makes me tremble, Jemmy; but we'll do
our best and leave the part we cant't do with the One who can do it.
The gentle voice trembled into silence. Mother could make
poetry, too. Jemmy caught off his hat suddenly, and the very act was a
* * * * *
Judy, are you awake?
Mother stood over the bed in her scant white nightgown. When Judith
answered, she sat down beside her and felt for one of her calloused,
oar-toughened little hands.
Judy, would it bebe all right to use some of the mackerel-money?
Mother's got to go away for a little whilejust a little while, Judy.
Jemmy says he talked with a man in the city who would give me some work
to do in his kitchen for a little while. Butwhy, I thought I'd take
Blossom, Judy, and of course that would mean spending some money
Judith sat straight up in bed, her eyes like glints of light in the
Why, yes, dear; she's never been away from the sea in her little
life. You think of that, Judy! You've been away twice. Blossom never
saw a steam-car nor a city, nornor heard a hand-organ! Jemmy says he
heard three to-day. You think how pleased Blossom would be to hear a
Sh! cautioned Judith, don't wake her, mother. Ifshe's going,
she mustn't know beforehand.
Blossom going away! Not Blossom! Not put one hand out, so, in
the dark and feel her there beside youlittle warm Blossom! Not dress
her in the morning and carry her downstairsyou the chariot and she
the fine lady! Not hurry home to her from the traps! Judith lay and
thought about all that, after mother went away. She put out her hand on
the empty side of the bed, where no Blossom was, and tried to get used
to the emptiness. She said stern things to herself.
You, Judy, are you selfish as that? she said. To go and
begrudge your little Blossom a chance to go away and see things and
hear things! Don't you want her to hear a hand-organ? And perhaps
see a monkey? When she's never been anywhere, nor heard
anything, nor seen anything! When mother's going, anyway, and can take
her as well as notyou Judy, you Judy, you Judy! Oh, I cant't sleep
with you, I'm so ashamed of you!
* * * * *
They went at once, and Judith settled down to her loneliness as best
she could, and bore it as bravely. They were to be gone a
monthperhaps twoperhaps three. A monthtwo, maybethree,
Uncle Jem and Jemmy Three helped outhow much they did help out!
Then there were the rare, precious letters. Judith had never had
letters from mother before in all her sixteen years. She was rather
disappointed that there were no bits of ragged, printed ones from
Blossom, but mother's letters had Blossom-bulletins. Blossom sent her
love, Blossom had heard two hand-organsthree hand-organs; Blossom
said tell Judy she loved her, oh, my! Blossom was very patient and
She's always patient and sweet, wondered Judy. Queer mother put
You little sweet, patient Blossom! Judith's heart cried tenderly,
when I get you in my arms again
Would the time ever come? Why were days made so long? Twenty-four
hours were too manywhy weren't they made with only twenty?
Uncle Jem, why don't you tell me how to be sweet and
patient? Judith said, folding up the Blossom-bulletin she had been
reading to him. Tell me a good receipt.
Well, dearywell, give me time, laughed the cheery old voice. I
guess we can fix up somethin' that will meet your case.
A very few weeks later Judith went wearily homeward to her lonely
home. She had been out to her traps and down to the hotel with the
lobsters for Mrs. Ben. Her body was weary, but her heart was wearier
still. It did seem, she was telling herself as she plodded through the
sand, as if she could not wait any longer for mother and Blossom to
Suddenly a clear little trill of laughter crept into her ears and
set her pulses throbbing. Then another trillthen Blossom's voice,
calling something that thrilled her to her soul.
See me! called the little triumphant voice of Blossom. And Judy,
lifting frightened eyes and holding her breath as she looked, saw. A small, swaying figure was coming toward her very slowly, over the
hard sand. Blossomit was Blossom! She was swaying unsteadily a step
or two, butshe was walking!
See me! See me! cried Blossom. I'm walkin', Judy, don't you see?
I came a-walkin' down to meet you! It's a s'prise!
Someone caught up the little figure and came leaping down to Judith
with great strides of triumph.
That's enough to s'prise hermustn't do much of it at a time yet,
Jemmy Three said gayly. You've got to begin easy. Yes! in answer to
Judy's speechless pleading, yes, sir, she's goin' to be a reg'lar
walker, now, ain't you, Blossom? Yes, sir; no more bein' totedshe's
Yes, yes, yes! trilled Blossom exultantly. They pulled my legs
out an' put 'em in over, where they b'long. Only I've got to go easy
till I'm uncasted.
Till you'rewhat? But never mind what! You're my Blossom, and
you're home again, and you're walking! Judith cried in her
exceeding great joy. But by and by Jemmy Three explained.
They put her legs in kind o' casts, you know, that she cant't have
taken off yet awhile, but when they do take 'em off
Then I'll run! Blossom interrupted, radiantly.
Oh, ohand to think we were going to surprise mother, and you
surprised me! breathed Judy. But I thoughtwe were going
across the ocean
You needn't have, Jemmy said. That great doctor's over there, but
there's plenty o' second-great ones over here that make children walk
his way. That's what I went to find out. I thought maybe
You went to find outyou thoughtoh, Jemmy, what a boy you
See herehold onwait! Let Blossom do it! warded off Jemmy
Three, backing away precipitately.
The beautiful secret was out. Judith had been s'prised. There were
still months of uncertainty, but Judith was not uncertain. She went
about in a cloud of rapture. At night she lay awake beside Blossom, and
dreamed her rosy, happy dreams. And, in truth, if she could have looked
ahead into the certain months, and beyond, she would have seen Blossom
walking steadily through all the years.