So the doctor, finding his patientís quarters
untenanted for the first time in many months, hastened downstairs and out
to the veranda, where he discovered a lean, soldierly looking young fellow
clad in fishing coat fussing with rod and reel.
"Oho, my enterprising friend!" he said. "What mischief
are you hatching now?"
"Iím going to try for your big trout in the Golden Pool,"
said his patient calmly.
This unlooked-for energy appeared to embarrass the doctor.
His grim mouth tightened.
"Donít be obstinate; that fish wonít rise till evening."
"I know it, but Iím going."
"Against my orders!" demanded the exasperated doctor.,
"With pleasure," replied the young man gayly. "And itís
your own doing, too. Do you remember what you said last night?"
"I said I saw a big fish rising in that pool," growled
"Exactly; and that has done more to brace me up than all
your purple pills for peculiar people."
"Donít go to the Golden Pool now!" said the doctor with
emphasis. "I have a particular reason for making this request."
"I wonít tell you."
"Youíre after that fish yourself! No, you donít!"
"Well, anyhow, good-by."
"You shanít!" exclaimed the doctor wrathfully. "Give me
But his patient laugh to the rod, laughing.
"Now what the devil possesses you to make for the Golden
Pool at this particular minute?" demanded the vexed doctor. "youíve been
an invalid for a year and more, and up to this moment youíve done what
I told you."
His patient continued to laugh -- that same Light-hearted,
infectious laugh which the doctor had not heard in many a month, and he
looked at him keenly.
"All the same, youíre not well yet, and you know it,"
"My aversion to women?"
"You mean my memory still fails me? Well, then, what do
you think happened this morning?"
"What?" inquired the doctor sulkily.
"This: I went out to the stables and recognized Phelan
and Riley! Howís that for a start? Then" --he glanced across the
lawn where an old gardener pottered about among the petunias-- "thereís
Dawson, isnít it? Besides," he added, "my aversion to women is disappearing;
I saw a girl on the lawn from my window this morning. Who is she?"
"Was she dressed in white?" asked the doctor,
"You never before saw her?"
"No--I donít know. I didnít see her face."
"So it seems you canít recollect the back of a relative
or a neighbor! Now what you think of yourself?"
"Relative? Nonsense," he laughed; "I havenít any. As for
the neighbors, give me time, for Heavenís sake! Iím doing beautifully.
There are millions of things that set me thinking and worrying now -- funny
flashes of memory -- hints of the past, vague glimpses that excite me to
effort; but nothing -- absolutely nothin -- yet of that blank year. Was
it a year?"
"More; never mind that!"
"How long was it?" asked his patient wistfully.
"You said I was shot, I think."
"No, I didnít. You think you were, but it was done with
a Malay kris. Now, what can you remember about it?"
The young man stood silent, fumbling with his rod.
"And you tell me youíre cured!" observed the doctor sarcastically,
"and you canít even recollect how you got swiped with a Malay kris!"
"I might if I could see the Malay -- or the kris."
The doctor, who had begun to pace the veranda, halted
and glanced sharply at his patient.
"The best way to remember things is to see Ďem? Is that
"I think so. Itís true Iíve seen Phelan many times without
remembering him, but to-day I recognized him. Isnít that good medicine?"
The doctor thought a moment, fished out his watch from
the fob pocket, regarded it absently, and came down the steps to the lawn,
where his patient stood making practice casts with his light bamboo rod.
"Iíll tell you why I didnít want you to go to the Golden
Pool," he said.
"Poachers," replied the doctor, watching him. "They fish
in the pools, and they use your canoe, and they even have the impudence
to go bathing in the Golden Pool ... I didnít want you to worry."
"I think the poacher I catch will do the worrying," said
the young man, laughing. "Is that all?"
"That is all. Go ahead if you want to. If you run across
that girl invite her to dinner. Sheís a friend of mine." And the doctor
walked off, shoving his hands deep into his capacious pockets.
His patient reeled in the line, smiling to himself, and
started off across the meadow at a good swinging pace. He entered the forest
by the meadow bridge, where a lank yokel was mowing grass.
"Morniní!" ventured the native, with a doubtful grin of
"Look here," said the young man, halting in the path of
the scythe, "ought I to know your name? Tell me the truth."
"I calílate yew orter," replied the yokel. "Iíve been
choriní for yew close tew ten year."
A shadow fell over the masterís lean face, and he went
on through the underbrush, muttering to himself, passing his thin hand
again and again across his forehead.
"Oh, well, Iíll stick to it," he said aloud; he said aloud;
"a man canít dance on a broken leg nor think with a broken head; theyíve
got to be mended first -- well mended."
Walking on through the fragrant forest, the shadow of
care slipped from his face again, leaving it placid once more. The scent
of the June woods, the far, dull throbbing of a partridge drumming in leafy
depths, the happy sighing of a woodland world astir, all these were gentle
stimulants to that sanity toward the shadowy borders of which he had so
long been struggling from the region of dreadful night.
Spreading branches, dew-spangled, slapped his face as
he passed; the moist rich odor of clean earth filled throat and lungs;
a subdued, almost breathless expectancy brooded in the wake of the south
When he emerged from the forest and entered the long glade,
mountain and thicket were swimming in crystalline light; ferns hung weighted
with dew; the outrush of bird music and incessant.
Far in the wet woods he could hear the river flowing --
or was it the breeze freshening in the pines?
Listening, enraptured, boyish recollections awoke, and
he instinctively took his bearings from the blue peak in the east. So the
Ousel Pool lay to the west. He would fish that uncertain water later; but
first the Golden Pool, where the great trout had been seen, rising as recklessly
as a minnow in a meadow brook.
Now, all excitement and expectancy, he waded on, knee-deep
in drenched grasses, watching the soft mothlike flutter of the bluebirds
among the iris. They had always hovered over this spot in June, he remembered
now. Truly summer skies were healing him of his hurt; he recognized the
belt of blue-beech saplings all crossbarred with sunlight, and he heard
the familiar rush of waters below.
Suddenly, beyond the sprayed undergrowth, he caught a
glow of color, a glimpse of that rich sunny foliage which gave the Golden
Pool its name; and now the familiar water lay glimmering before him through
the trees, and he began the descent, stepping quietly as a deer entering
a strange covert.
At the waterís edge he paused, cautiously; but there was
not canoe lying under the alders. Memory halted short, then began groping
backward through the years.
Where was the canoe? There had always been one here --
in his boyhood and ever since -- up to that obscured and cloudy space of
He dropped to his knees and parted the leafy thicket with
his hands. There was no canoe there, nothing except a book lying on a luncheon
basket; and -- what was this? -- and this?
He stared stupidly for a moment, then rose and stepped
trough the thicket to the edge of the water. A canoe glittered out there,
pulled up on a flat, sunny rock in midstream, and upon the rock lay a girl
in a dripping bathing dress drying her hair in the sun.
Instantly an odd sense of it all having happened before
seized him -- the sun on the water, the canoe, the slim figure lying there.
And when she indolently raised her hand, stifling a dainty yawn, and stretched
her arms luxuriously, it seemed to him the repetition of a forgotten scene
too familiar to surprise him.
Then, as she sat up, leisurely twisting her sun-bronzed
hair, a chance turn of her head brought him into direct line of vision.
They stared at one another across the sunny water.
For one second the thought flashed on him that he knew
her; then in the same moment all that had seeded familiar in the situation
faded into strangeness and apprehension, and he was aware that he had never
before looked upon her face.
Yet, curiously enough, his long and melancholy aversion
to women had not returned at sight of her. She had risen in surprise, wide
dark eyes on him; and he spoke immediately, saying he had not meant to
disturb her, and that she was quite welcome to use the canoe.
Her first stammered words annoyed him. "Did the doctor
-- come with you? Are you -- are you alone?"
"I suppose the entire countryside knows I have been ill,"
he said; "but Iím perfectly able to be about without a doctor." He began
to laugh. "But those are not the questions. The questions are what are
people doing in these woods with luncheon baskets and summer novels, and
how am I to fish this pool if people swim in it; and how am I to fish at
all if an attractive stranger takes possession of my canoe?"
"I -- I had no idea you were coming here," she faltered.
"I bathe here every morning, and then I lunch here and read."
He laughed outright at here innocent acknowledgment of
"I have a clear case against you," he said. "Havenít you
read all my notices nailed up on trees? `Warning! All trespassers will
be dealt with to the full extent of the lawí -- and much more to similar
effect? And do you know what a very dreadful thing it is to be dealt with
to the full extent of the law?"
"But -- I am not -- not trespassing," she said. "Can you
"Iím afraid I canít," he replied, smiling; "Iím afraid
I have a clear case against you. The doctor warned me that trespassers
"Did he know you were coming here?" she asked incredulously.
"He did. And Iím afraid somebody has been caught in flagrant
délit! What do you think?"
He stood there, amused, curiously noting the play of emotions
over her delicate features. Consternation, dismay, had given place to quick
resentment; that in turn died out, leaving something of comprehension in
her perplexed face.
"So he sent you to catch a trespasser?" she said.
"I was coming to fish. Well, yes; he said I might find
"A trespasser? A stranger?" She hesitated; there was hurt
astonishment in her voice. Suddenly her face took a deeper flush, as though
she had come to an unexpected decision; her entire manner changed to serene
self-possession. "What are you going to do with me? she asked curiously.
"Iím afraid I canít put you in jail," he admitted. "You
see, thereís no punishment for swimming in favorite trout pools and spoiling
a manís morning sport. Now, if you had only thought of catching one of
my trout I could arrange to have you imprisoned."
"Please arrange it immediately, the," she said, lifting
an enormous trout from the canoe and holding it up by gills with both hands.
"Good Lord," he gasped, "itís the big one!" And he sat
down suddenly on a log.
Her smiling defiance softened a trifle. "Did you really
wish to catch this fish very much?" she asked. "I -- I never supposed you
would come here -- to-day."
"The enormity of your crime stuns me," he said. "First
you invade my domain, then you abstract my canoe, then you swim in my favorite
pool, the you catch the biggest fish that ever came out of it."
"No," she said, "I caught the fish first."
"Recount to me the battle," he said with a groan. "Fish
like that only rise once in a life-time. Tell me how you -- but thatís
useless. It was the usual case of a twig and a bent pin, I suppose?"
She smiled uncertainly, and lifted a from the canoe.
"By Jove, that looks like one of my rods!" he exclaimed.
"Where did you get it?"
Her eyes were bright with excitement; she shook her head,
"Are you in league with my doctor? Who are you?" he insisted.
"Only a poacher," she admitted. "I creep about and lurk
outside windows where doctors talk in loud voices about big trout they
have seen. Then -- I go and catch them."
They were both laughing now; she standing beside the canoe,
rod in hand, he balanced on a rock opposite.
Yet, even while laughing, his thin face sobered, darkening
as though a gray shadow had crept across it.
"Are you a neighbor of mine?" he asked. "If you are, you
will why I ask it. If you are not, never mind," he added wearily.
She shook her head. His face cleared.
"I thought you were not a neighbor; I was certain that
I had never seen you -- as certain as a man can be awakening from -- from
illness, with this mind -- his memory -- shaky -- almost blank." He bent
his head, gazing into the water. Then he looked up. "You know the doctor?
I think I saw you on the lawn this morning."
"Are you sure you have never before seen me?" she asked,
with a ghost of a smile.
"I thought at first -- for an instant -- the canoe on
the rock, and the sunshine, and you --" He fell silent, groping through
the darkened corridors of thought for the key to memory.