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THE WHITE FEATHER.

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THE ODD ONE AT GANNET.

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THE ODD ONE AT GANNET. THE STJOBfi OF A CHEIBTMAS ROUS. PAETT. I think it was Van Shyk who suggeted the scheme to the Jamiesons. They would never have thought of a house party at Gannet in December themselves —;at least,'Bob never would. Bob Jamieson is one of the most hospitable fellows in the world, but his best friend would never accuse him of being the least bit original. This is why we all like him, I suspect.; talent and originality and brilliancy need the #ober(commonp]ace of men like Bob to set them .off. You know, there should always be sober hues ina,pipt,ure with which to contrast the more brilliant colouring. ¡ j Bob's wife had talent enough for them both but as Bob oftonfiaed t. me, her head was so far above the clouds that she would never have thought to invite us, down for the holidays, if the suggestion had not been made to her. Mrs. Jatqieson is one of the worst—or the best—hostesses I ever knew. She lets visitors do just as they please and never pretends to entertain them. Happily, most of her friends—and naturally Bob's friends—are musical, Qr artistic, or literary and as they can talk shop —and did any one ever hear of literary folk, or artists, or musical people who didn't talk shop—all day long, they entertain eaeh other. Yes, I believe that it was Van Shyk that suggested the house party; but I am positive he did not suggest Sturgis being a member of it. Sturgis was not literary; neither was he musical, nor artistic. Not that he couldn't talk well upon any or all of these subjects; in fact, he was a remarkably good conversationalist; but he was not personally in- terested in any of the professions. At least, we never supposed he was. I think the personal pronoun entered less into his conversation than that of any man I ever knew. Sturgis was a friend of Bob's too, and Bob, as I have suggested, was in outer darkness." Bob was in the leather trade, and we rather thought Sturgis was also. There was another reason why Van Shyk would never have suggested Sturgis as a member of the party. When the latter first appeared at the Jamiesons' bungalow at Gannet, summer before last, Bomebody asked him casually if he knew Van Shyk —meaning the man, not his work. Oh, yes," said Sturgis, cheerfully he's the fellow whose men always wear such impossible trousers." Everybody knows, of course, for hasn't he said so himself, time and time again, that Van Shyk has had considerable success as a magazine illustrator; but it is a fact that his men's trousers are wildly impro- bable. Sturgis' innocent remark took," if he didn't, and somebody thought it too good to keep from Van Shyk. I don't think Van ever forgave Sturgis at least, he avoided him when he could, and grew gloomy and distrait when Sturgis was in the room. Somehow Sturgis was not papular; though he was a quiet and inoffensive fellow enough. He seemed to possess a measure of Bob's commonplace; but Ithink we all bad a feeling that, unlike Bob, he was secretly poking fun at us. Somehow our little pretences at modesty, our frills and furbelows of professional cant" all seemed to shrivel to ashes before the gaze of Sturgis' calm blue eye. Sprightly Mercia Perryn, who wrote verses for the ladies magazines and had published a book, had a passage at arms with him, too. Mercia is not young, but. 68mys youth in manner and appearance. When Sturgis was introduced he said with a quiet bow I have heard Miss Perryn's name before." Oh, now, dear Mr. Sturgis cried the poetess, with a blush. "Don't begin by saying nice things about my book 1" She tapped the volume in her lap. She was never known to be far away from that child of her creation. "I certainly shall not, Miss Perryn," responded Sturgis, brutally. "I haven't read it," and there dropped the matter. Therefore Mercia joined Van Shyk in his dislike for Sturgis. Unlike Van, however, she did not with- hold her tongue. Just contemplate it!" Mercia said, in her excla- matory style. Even the man's name is so impos- sible. Elihu Sturgis what a cognomen with which to be afflicted. And to think of some poor woman having to share the name with him Mercia always spoke of marriage as though it was something forced upon unfortunate womankind by man—quite as though marriage by capture was the prevailing method, as in the days of early Rome. Thus far, however, nobody had forced Mercia tc Hymen's altar. Before Sturgis' second visit to Gannet was ended, nevertheless, it began to look as though he would have the hardihood to invite someone to share the impossible name with him. That someone was Celia. And when I come to Celia my poor pen falters. I am not worthy, nor am I able to fittingly sketch her. To feelupon a familiar footing with Celia onevmust know her in all her moods, and study her from all points. She. is .all charming and beautifully good in a healthy—an enthusiastically healthy— woman and as variably as the south wind. Sturgis could not be blamed for falling in love with Celia we were all in love with her. Besides possessing great beauty of person and dis- position, Celia possessed something far more to be desired than either that is, common sense. She was a remarkably practical and sensible girl, despite her marked musical talent. I say talent advisedly; genius always denotes impracticability. Celia was thoroughly a man's woman—"a bachelor girl" of the best type. She was not a girl whom many men dared to make love to, though they might con- fide their love for other women to her. There was something so frank,-yet penetrating, in the glance of her clear eye, that not many men possessed the hardihood to make open love to her. Van Shyk had. for several seasons, done so, or tried to, in a desultory way. Van was never in a hurry about anything but he showed sufficient pre- ference for Celia to appropriate her as a partner in riding, at diftner, and at whist. Sturgis had only once met Celia until a fortnight before the close of the summer vacation I doubt if he had ever really looked at her before; but having once obtained a glimpse, not only of hqr face but of her character, he set himself to study" her, .à,I,1d, having studied, he began to boldly pay court to the queen. And as far as I could judge, Celia seemed to like it 1 She had always accepted Van Shyk's advances with tolerant Somehow it was hard to take Van seriouily,^ he Wáø so lazy. But Sturgis' devotion was a different hiatter, Despite his lack of talent and what was called "artistic appreciation there was an honesty and frank boldness in Sturgis' wooing thefts womhnc&uld not faitto admire. Some- times. Iwcause'^jf Sturgis, I saw the faint colour dye her cheek and la light* groW-in her'calm eye that I scarcely understood. Celia never changed colour for Vai6-T ■ ••• I had been too busydliring the fall to take note of the,rowthof.Sturgis; attachment. I seWom saw any of fehe GalWiet party fttcept Bob while in the city. Wfe Sjirthetimes lunched together at the Tress Club in the«ld, rambling mansion -on Bosworth-jitreet. But froM btM1:" gathered that5 Sturgis-was rtally hard hit," aitd had several ttmea called ftpon Celia in the city. -• "Wb&h is 4 remarkable thiwg for "Lihu," Bob said. '^He-is "like a snail winters—almost never comes out of his shell—and is particularly hard at work now. He's an indefatigable worker, you know." I nodded acquiescence, though I didn't know; I wondered how a man could be very busy in the leather business; Bob never seemed to have anything to do. When Bob gave me his wife's invitation to riaake one of the house party "at Gannet, I accepted out of handJ I thought I should like to see the ocean in winter—a Storm, would; be a godsend as an inspira- tion. So I packed my grip and went down. They were all there—all the old crowd; Van and Celia, Mercia, with her ever-present volume; Oaksby, who had a picture hung by the academy years ago, and had never recovered from the shock; Erlton and Miss Raymond, who had been engaged ever since I could remember, and seemed just as far from the altar and orange blossoms as ever; and Mrs. Sloan, our brilliant newspaper woman "—statement of the personal column of the ladies' magazines." They have recently stopped calling her a lady journa- list." Just five, couples of us, including the Jamie- sons.. 'I But Bob told us that SurgJs was expected. Mercia suggested— "Won't Mr. —er—Sturgis feel odd, Mr. Jamieson P We are all so nicely paired off, you know!" We were out promenading the board walk that the winter tides had not quite buried in the sand, and Mercia was clinging tigntly to old Oaksby's arm. "Oh, always was a little odd," returned Bob. He was as a boy. It won't bother him." Our evenings were pvcn up to quite violent dis- cussions of Hearts Rebeliant." Some of ns enthusiastically declared it to be Sergeant Lysle's most brilliant production but Miss Raymond and Oaksby, I believe, thought it not quite up to the standa'rd of Persis M*lyern and The Verge of the Abyss," his two previous novels. Still, though both admitted, with other more influential critics, that it was by far the best bit of fiction of the season. We had all read it, and each had his or her pet situation or scene," and our varied interest in the characters showed it to be a many-sided work. t When Sturgis came down four days before Chris*- mas, Mercia tackled him directly after dinner the first evening, on the subject of Hearts Rebeliant." Now do tell ug what you think of it, Mr. Sturgis t" cried the poetess. Isn't it just splendid ?" For an instant a little colour dyed Sturgis' usually palm face. He was a sturdy-built, broad-shouldered fellow, who looked every day of his thirty-Jive years because of his gravity. His dark hair curled crisply about a rather low, with brow. There was an alert look in his eyes that showed a fine, nervous tempera- ment. As Mercia propounded that question I saw Bob glance at Sturgis with a look of amusement, and a moment later, when he turned away and left the room, his shoulders were shaking with suppressed laughter. Sturgis was rather slow in replying. To tell the truth, Miss Perryn, I am tired of the book and of hearing it discussed," he said, a little brusquely. You can perhaps iaaagine the horror with which we heard this cavalier statement. We are hero- worshippers at Gannet, and Sargent Lysle, as every- body agrees, is our coming American novelist. Though, to be sure," Erlton said, "Lysle would be more popular if he would come out of his shell." They say he is a hard-worker," said Oaksby. "And that scarcely anybody but his publishers knows him—even his name," added Erlton. Isn't that just splendidly romantic!" commented the ejaculatory Mercia. What is it, or who is it, that has drawn such a wealth of admiration from you, Mercia ?" inquired Celia, coming over from the piano. Sargent Lysle," said I. Dear, dear! has the academy or literary critics opened its usual session ?" she asked. "But Mr. Sturgis has fairly slighted "Hearts Rebeliant!" exclaimed Mercia. Celia gave Sturgis one little, puzzled glance. What do you think of him ?" asked the poetess. I think he mast be a man of very clear percep- tion," Celia quietly; a deep and careful student of human nature. I do not think Hearts Rebeliant' is to be paBsed over lightly nor to be read carelessly." All I know about Lysle is that he is confounded cranky," drawled Van Shyk from his corner. 'Twas only yesterday that 1 got a set-back from Larpers because of him. I submitted some sketches for a story of his to appear in the magazine, and the publisher had the cheek to send 'em back, saying that' Mr. Lysle did not approve of my treatment of the subjeet, and would I please try again ?' Con- founded cheeky, y'know, for I worked for Larper's Scrabbler's, the Last Century, and the Pacific long before anybody heard of Sargent Lysle." But Sturgis would not be drawn into controversy over the coming novelist or his book, and without intsreat in this all-impertant subject he could not fail to be really an odd one. Our pairing off as had before became, for our daily walk left him to read before the fire or moodily smoke his cigar in our wale along the shore. We bad the loveliest weather that Christmas week ihit I had ever seen at the season. I was dis- appointed in bij inspiring storm, but the wonderful light on the water and the clearness of the atmos- phere compensated me for missing the ocean in the wild gradeur of a gale. We even went boating as we used in the summer at least, some of the party did. Celia was a perfect water fowl, she often declared, and she spent ruost of her waking hours on the sea during the summer. She went now in the little Mollie Bawn and Van took her. I don't think Van was a very enthusiastic boatman, but he took her so that Sturgis would be cut out. The Mollie Bawn was Van's boat, and Celia liked it immensely. Perhaps with the perversity of womankind she showed her preference all the more because she heard Sturgis criticise it. I "That's scarcely a Bafe craft to go outside in," htj said to Bob, the first day Van brought the Mollie Bawn out of her winter quarters in Bob's boathouse. J. don't think much of it myself," replied Bob; "anO I've told Van as much. But they've never had an Occident yet." "That's no reason why they won't," urged Sturgis, gloomily. Celia went, nevertheless. The Jamieson's bunga- low stands upon the shore of a little cove, nearly .1an:H<>.ckeil.The rove is usually as calm as a mill- pond and is a. safe harbour for small boats; but the entrance is narrow and hard to enter in anything but a fair wind. I guess Sturgis was not alone in ex- pecting Van to get into trouble some day with Mollie Bawn. Sturgis used to walk around the cove and out upon the natural breakwater that defended the little basin from the Atlantic, when the little cat-boat was out, and I fancy he feared Van would some day pile her up on the rocks coming in. Celia, who was daring and liked to have her own way, felt that he was too officious and plainly showed her disappro- bation of his conduct. Christmas dawn bade far to usher in our first un- pleasant day. Heretofore, the weather had been sunny and cheerful, if cold Christmas Day began grey and dreary, with a cutting wind out of the east. Bob, who believed in a thoroughly old-fashioned celebration of the feast day, recommended plenty of out-door exercise as a spur to appetite, and would allow none of us comfort at breakfast-time, declaring that if we eat too much then we could not do justice to our dinner. Not long after breakfast Van slipped away and after him Celia. They acted like two irresponsible children on a frolic. Even Sturgis did not miss them until the Mollie Bawn was already drifting out from her moorings. When he discovered it he charged out to the beach without his bat. I followed, with it in my hand, and hard him say as though in reply to some remark from the catboat: There you wrong me, Miss Celia. My intentions were the best." Van said something to her, and Celia's laugh rang across the cove like a silver chime. I saw Sturgis flush dully but he thanked me calmly for the hat, and clapping it on his head, tramped away without his overcoat. I went back to the house, and as I went in, the Mollie Bawn was just running out of the cove. There was a grey, depressing haze over the sea, and the birds were coming in-shore with the wind. Bob came down, and finding Van and Celia had gone out, looked decidedly vexed. He hung around he veranda with his glasses for an hour. Finally he told me, ith much satisfaction, that the Mollie Bawn had put about and was running back again. But the wind was not blowing fairly into the cove now. It had drawn into the north-east, and the froth was spitting over the line of black rocks on the west side of the inlet. A single figure was on the breakwater, standing out sharply against the grey sky. Erlton, who was smoking near us, remarked: "Sturgis seems hard hit." He's a great calf to let Celia see it," said Oaksby, with the wisdom of fifty-oddyears of bachelorhood. I'd give a hundred dollar note if he was aboard that boat and at the tiller," said Beb, sternly, and we were silenced. The glasses remained at Bob's eye as the Mollie Bawn raced in. The sky and sea grew darker behind her, and the white caps danced around her. We could see that she pitched a good deal. And-now the little craft drew near the inlet. Van tacked and beat slowly up against the cross wind on his short leg. Suddenly she spun round, the sail flew about with a crack, and the boat seemed to bound forward. Ha! He's tacked too quick cried Bob, and started for the shore. "He'll get in! Don't be frighten I" grasped Oaksby, panting along after him. But the mischief was done almost instantly. The Mollie Bawn swooped down to the entrance of the cove. Crack! her boom swung round again and she shot in, but rapidly slowing down. Van had not gained headway enough on his long tack and she began to drift. At one side of the entrance was the breakwater on the other a long sand-spit ran out toward it. At its narrowest the inlet was less than fifteen feet broad. The Mollie Bawn drifted sideways upon the sand bar and there stuck. t: Bob shouted to Van to drop the sail; but he was too far away to hear. Instead, he tried to push off with an oar, the sail flapping and the boom creaking omniouslv. He'll have her over! he'll have her over groaned Bob. Suddenly the boom swung viciously round. Van just saved himself by a quick leap down into the standing room but the catboat was dragged dver in an alarming manner by the weight of the sail. Then it was that I saw what Sturgis was about. He had run to the further point of the breakwater, had stripped off his coat and vest, and without hesi- tation plunged into the water. The tide was running out of the inlet swiftly; but he fought his way to the boat. He must have carried his open knife in his teeth, he got at it so quickly and severed the hal- yards. The sail came down with a run and the im- mediate danger was averted but the boat had a bad list to port when he got it pushed off. The sail was wet and the boat must have shipped considerable water. We got out a boat and went out- to them, but Sturgis had worked the Mollie Bawn through the inlet and out of danger before we reached them. His clothes were so frozen on him that we had to help him to the house when we got ashore. And Celia looked as though she had entered a new world. She was loved by a hero. Usually, in books, at least, the man who fails runs away and the hero remains to be worshipped, but Sturgis was excused at dinner, and before night he had quietly made his adieus to Bob and his wife and taken the train for the city. I felt it my duty—let me say privilege—to turn music for Celia that evening. She was radiant— glorious. Nothing but cheerful music to-night. Van asked for a quaint little ballad she used to play, but she refused quite brusquely. Nothing seemed to suit her mood but bold. inspiring strains. L-vatched her white hands ripple over the keys, and I saw a new I flash of colour I had neyer seen before, Mercia fluttered up and leaned over her shoulder as she ceased. Oh, Celia what a pretty ring she cried. A Christmas present?" Yes," said Celia, very rosy, but with twinkling eyes. The others gave us their attention. One you haven't shown us exclaimed Mercia. You artful girl! Why! It is on your engagement finger!" Who is the fortunate man ?" asked Bob, helping her out. ( Mr. Sargent Lysle," replied Celia, and looking at us merrily. A burst of ejaculation. And you know him!" gasped Mercia. Why, she is engaged to him from Mrs. Sloan. Bob burst into a most ungentle gale of laughter even Mrs. Bob was convulsed. I had a brilliant idea —an overpoweringly brilliant one for such a party of numbskulls. Sturgis is Sargent Lysle," I said. Right!" cried Bob, through his tears. And we didn't know him I" marvelled Mercia. "Bob Jamieson, I'll never forgive you! And we thought he was odd!" But he seems to have got even," remarked Erlton, with a glance at Van's face. I

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