The Training of a Shrew
The love story of a girl who was marooned with a man her millions couldn't buy
EVEN IF YOU were very badly rattled you couldn't swim round and round in circles forever, and presently Sherry dragged herself out of the water onto the beach. It was a tiny, white-pebbled beach, dropped like a handkerchief at the base of a rocky island, and the only one in sight. On all sides, as far as she could see, other islands rose sheerly.from intersecting waterways. The glassy surface reflected the green of spruce and hemlock and the deep blue of the June sky. Away in the distance the peaks of the Coast Range towered into the clouds, and just around the point was the island-encircled bay in which the yacht had anchored that morning. At the thought of the yacht a shiver ran through Sherry’s slender, water-beaded body. Because now there was no yacht. The yacht had gone.
TT WAS incredible now, thought Sherry wretchedly, that her sudden whim to go a-cruising in British Columbia waters could have seemed, at the time, so remarkably good. Not remarkable for its suddenness; when you have a strong dash of the famous Van Alten drive in your make-up, and twenty of the equally famous Van Alten millions in your pocket, your whims may be as sudden as you care to make them. This whim had been remarkable only for the glamor with which it was overlaid. The glamor of Europe’s latest and most spectacular offering to New York society—the Marchese Giuseppe Antonio Mario della Malente.
It had been fun to pounce upon the Marchese in the Van Alten manner and snatch him from under the noses of panting dowagers and starry-eyed debutantes and bear him off into the wilds. And it had been something else again. Sherry had wanted to examine further into the slightly disturbing breathlessness that came upon her with the proximity of the Marchese. She had done so—but the exploratory process had been bitterly disillusioning. For the exquisite rightness of the Marchese in the New' York setting had been as nothing to the appalling wrongness of the
Marchese amidst the brutal grandeur of British Columbia’s coast scenery. It had discovered him immediately and done unspeakable things to him. It had spindled his elegance, thinned his charm, and chuckled at the antiquity of his ancestral towers.
So that it was unfortunate—for the Marchese—that he should have chosen the moment when Sherry was regarding him with a shocked and deglamored eye to assume that he might adopt a possessive air toward her and a patronizing attitude toward her other guests on the yacht. It had become necessary to disillusion him, and Sherry had done so with a competent ferocity that w'ould have done credit to the most savage of the Van Alten ancestors.
She had been carelessly satisfied with the job, until that morning she had overheard Clay Marsden talking to Robert Brent.
“Whew!” Clay had sighed gustily. “Can’t say the Count Dimaccaronispaghetth’ and I are exactly buddies. Still, I felt kind of sorry for the poor fish when the Shrew w'as giving him the works.”
“Gosh, yes! Isn’t she the gentle, tender little piece? I’d have felt like giving her a darn’ good sock.”
“But you wouldn’t have,” Clay had returned. “Not if you thought you were just about going to get twenty million in your jeans. You don’t sock twenty million; they might get up and walk away.”
They had sprung to their feet and looked at each other uncomfortably when Sherry rounded the deckhouse. But though the shock of what she had heard was making her feel a little sick, she gave no sign.
“I’ve got a crashing head, boys. I think I’ll nurse it for a bit. But you and the others go ashore and explore as we planned. We’ll sail for home at four, as scheduled.”
She had gone below and summoned her maid, giving orders that she was on no account to be disturbed until she rang. Then she had thrown herself on the bed, for the mythical headache had suddenly become a raging fact. But she could neither sleep nor rest. The silent stateroom seemed to ring with the sound of Clay’s contemptuous voice: “The Shrew; the Shrew!”
CO THAT WAS the way her best friends thought of ^ her, spoke of her! Had always done so, probably; there was a glibness about the way the name had fallen from Clay’s lips that bespoke long usage. It was ugly, so ugly that she shrank. And she had been thinking that the affectionate homage to which she had been accustomed was tribute paid to herself, when all the time it was her money that had called it forth! Her money—not herself! They thought her a shrew, and despised her for it. She’d been proud of her famous Van Alten temper, thinking it gave her distinction ! Well, and so it had—of the wrong sort.
And the Marchese . . . Remembering certain tender passages in the moonlight, Sherry rolled over and buried her suddenly flaming face in the pillow. They were all alike, all of them! They could be bought. Money, it seemed, could buy anything, even romance. There wasn’t anything, or anyone, it couldn’t buy.
She lay still until she heard the gang pile into the power boat and pull off from tire yacht. When she was sure they were out of sight, sire put on her bathing suit and went on deck. The tide, she noted, had turned and the yacht had swung round. The water looked cool and inviting; it would be a simple matter to swim around the point. Unobserved, she slipped over the side and struck off for the shore.
The distance, Sherry found, was deceptive, and she was tired when at last she rounded the point of the island, glad to find a little beach and to land on it. She would rest before starting the long swim back to the yacht. She lay back on the white sun-warmed pebbles, and before she knew it had fallen asleep.
When she awoke her headache had gone and she sprang to her feet; it must be getting toward sailing time. Sherry stood and stretched, slender and lovely in the brief scarlet bathing suit that brought lier dark beauty glowingly alive. Then she ran down the beach and struck out into the clear water.
It wasn’t until she had once more rounded the point that the truth, the incredible truth, was borne in upon her. The yacht was gone!
Sherry had no illusions about her situation. She was here, and the
S I IE -\].` `UP 1)rcS(ntlY and looked atcl\'. It was the silence, she thought, and the utter, utter loneli ness that was getting her down. It pIesse(1 back of her eyeballs into her brain and stOpl)e(l her from thinking. And she had to think. hie had to think what to (10 next. a ri und I icr deSj)er-
yacht by now was far away. Everyone would be in ignorance that she was not on board. Hortense had been given instructions not to disturb her, and Hortense would follow instructions no matter what. So that it might well be that Sherry’s absence would not be discovered until night, or possibly next morning.
They would hunt for her, of course. But it might take days. This island was one of a veritable maze that fringed the British Columbia coast, all as alike as peas in a pod. 'There were hundreds of bays exactly like the one in which the yacht had anchored this morning. They were far from the "beaten path of the coastal steamers she remembered that yesterday they had sailed all day without seeing any signs of human habitation or any other craft. Ultimately she would be found, of course; she was much too important in the scheme of things simply to disappear. They would find her ultimately.
But—would they? She recalled that a year or so ago a
man had been lost among the islands in somewhat similar circumstances, and though the waters had been scoured by boats and the sky by airplanes, he had never been found. And at the thought the silence suddenly seemed to shout. She pressed her hands against her ears to shut it out. She must keep calm; mustn’t panic; she had to think what to do next.
The sun left the beach, and the evening lay in deepening bars across the shoulders of the mountains. Stillness, broken only by the occasional splash of a jumping fish, brooded over the glassy water. Far to the left, something moved above the surface of the channel. Sherry saw that it was the antlered head of a swimming deer. It scrambled onto the rocky ledge of the island opposite, stood poised, muzzle up and statue-still, before it climbed like a cat up the slope and disappeared.
With its going new terror woke in Sherry. If there were deer, then there might well be other wild life. Bear, per-
haps, or panther. As if in answer to her thought, there came a sudden crashing in the woods behind her. With drumming pulses she sprang to her feet; then rushed, crouching and whimpering like a little frightened animal, for the shelter of a rock.
THE DAWN was as swift as the night had been long.
One moment the stars were hanging close and bright; the next they had paled and the sky had turned from black to grey, to rose, as the flat surface of the water was sheeted suddenly with pink. Sherry rose painfully and stiffly and moved down to the water’s edge.
Two courses were open to her. She could stay on the beach on the chance that the yacht might find its way back immediately or that someone else might discover her before she starved. Or she could swim in the direction that the yacht had taken, in the forlorn hope of getting back onto the beaten track. Until she drowned. That’s what it
amounted tostarve or drown. She could make her choice and take her choice.
She moved forward slowly, staring fascinatedly at the water and shivering as its chill took her by the ankles. She waded in until she stood waist deep. Better to drown than starve. Better to do something than nothing. Easier. Quicker. Suddenly she lay forward in the water and started to swim.
And at the same moment she heard, in the distance, the put-put-put of a speeding gas boat.
rT'HE GIANT Swede who pulled her over the side of the strong-smelling little boat looked at her amazed.
“What you do here?” he asked, setting her down beside a pile of fish.
She told him shakily, and he patted her comfortingly on the shoulder. He gave her fiat-tasting water out of a dipper and she drank greedily. But she refused the bread and meat he offered; the tears were closing her throat and she could only shake her head.
The Swede started the engine, and as the little boat shot forward he turned to smile at Sherry over his shoulder.
“You lucky! Ay make mistake. Come wrong way. Yah.”
She babbled eagerly: “You’ll take me to Vancouver?”
His face sobered and he shook his head.
“Ay can’t take you. My vummans. She is sick. Ay go home.”
She argued with him despairingly, offering him money and more money. But he only shook his head obstinately. “My vummans, she is sick. I go home. You come with me.”
She gave up at last and lay back against the side of the
boat, faint with hunger, the smell of fish, and the fierce heat of the sun beating down on her uncovered head.
After a while they drew clear of the group of islands. The bow of the boat was cutting through a stretch of clear water when the Swede gave a shout and pointed to a long low island lying to starboard. “Ay forget ! Young man, he live on island yust near. He have gas boat. He take you—”
He swung the boat about and five minutes later manoeuvred it alongside a float, lying off the island's point. He helped Sherry onto it and pointed up the bank. “Young man, lie take you.” Then with a cheerful and relieved, Veil, good-by. Ay tank you soon home now,” he putputted away.
'“PHIS ISLAND, Sherry noted, was different from the one she had left. Not more beautiful, but “kinder.” The grassy sides sloped gently down to a sandy beach, against which the blue water lapped caressingly. The green grass, patterned with clumps of brightly-hued flowers, and the orange-barked arbutus trees that showed here and there among the spruce and pine, made a colorful picture framed by the cerulean sky. But beauty was not Sherry’s present preoccupation. All she wanted to do was to find the young man who, the Swede had promised, would take her home. Her eye fell on a trail, carpeted with hemlock spills, that led upward from the wharf, and immediately she began to climb.
She was dizzy and faint when she reached the top. Idle straps of her bathing suit had chafed her sunburned shoulders raw. A particularly vicious type of insect had found the soft flesh under her right eye. Her bare feet were cut and tom, and when her ankle turned on a sharp stone she sat down with a moan just as a young man. in khaki slacks and a faded blue shirt, swung around a bend in the trail.
He was tall, with tawny hair, and very blue eyes in a lean, tanned, pleasantly homely face. He stopped dead when he saw Sherry, and his mouth dropped ojien.
It might have been the jiain of her burnt shoulders and wrenched foot, the accumulated miseryof the last twentyfour hours, the knowledge that she was definitely not looking her best, relief that here was the young man at last— or just sheer bad temjier. Whatever the cause, Sherry’s temjier snapped.
“Don’t stand gawping there, you—you fool ! I’ve ruined my foot—do something—!”
The young man’s mouth came back to normal. But he continued to stare at Sherry for a moment before he turned on his heel. “All right,” he said. “I will.”
It was quite some little while before it dawned ujion her that he was not coming back . .
When she was sure of it she got gingerly to her feet and experimented with her ankle. Not so bad—and she started to hobble slowly down the trail after the young man.
The trail led to the edge of a large clearing. In front of her was a log cabin surrounded on three sides by rich black earth which was planted with many rows of lettuce. On the clear, grassy sjiace before the cabin door stood a chopping block at which the young man was seated, busily chopping something green with a long, black-handled knife. It ajijieared to be lettuce. It was lettuce. At his feet was a basket filled with dozens of freshly-plucked heads. Thirty yards away from the cabin was a cluster of outbuildings.
The young man did not look up from his chopping until Sherry limjied across the grass and halted beside the block.
She said incredulously, “You didn’t come back to help me ! You left me to struggle up here alone !”
He looked at her levelly. “Certainly I left you! Never stop to argue with an angry woman. You were rude. In fact, you were very rude. Also you asked me to do something and I did it . . .1 went.”
When she could sjieak she said, “Do you know who I am?”
He grinned provokingly. “No. Who are you?”
“Sherry Van Alten.”
He laid the chopping knife across his heart and getting to his feet, bowed ridiculously. “And / am the Emperor of Japan !”
She choked furiously, “But I am, you—you jool!”
He looked bored. “What, again? Don’t you know any other names? But don’t worry—I believe you ! You’ve got the manners of your breed.” He glanced down at the watch strapped on his sinewy wrist and with a muttered “Good lord!” swept the chopjied lettuce from the block into an empty basket and strode off in the direction of the outbuildings.
fi'here is only one thing more humiliating than to run after a young man who has quit you cold and that is to stand and wait for him to come back. Abruptly Sherryturned and limjied through the open door of the cabin.
Tfi' CONTAINED only one room but it was large— forty feet square and lofty in projxirtion. Across one corner was an enormous fireplace built for logs from rough stone and a magnificent grizzly skin in front of it did duty as a hearthrug. Opjx>site, two bunks, one above the other, were built into the wall. One was obviously not in use; the other was made up with blankets banded in vivid red, green and yellow. Behind a jutting screen was a dresser and an oldfashioned washstand. There was a little cook stove to the
left of the door and behind it shelves, loaded with cans and provisions, climbed nearly to the ceiling. A coffeejxit stood to one side of the stove and on a table was an ojiened can of condensed milk and a Nix of biscuits. At sight of these Sherry forgot everything excejit the fact that it was twentyfour hours since she had tasted food.
V hen she had drained the coffeejxit dry and eaten most of the biscuits she sat back and looked around her once more. Something stirred on a shelf behind the stove. Sherry got up to investigate and found a wooden Nix covered with " ire netting. Inside was a queer-looking chick with three dark bars along its back and one leg in a splint.
She said. Oh, you jxxir darling!” and, jxiking her finger through the wire, tried to stroke the downy head. But the chick pecked at her fiercely and she stepped back hurriedly. As she did so her foot touched an empty envelope lying on the floor. It was addressed to “Mr. Dennis O’Flynn.” Dennis O’Flynn. That then, was the name, of the unsjieakablc creature outside.
I he sound of a jxiwerful baritone voice raised in song and accomjianied by the jar ot an axe on wood suddenly boomed through the ojien door. Sherry thought irritably, Does the man always have to be chojiping something?” She crossed the floor and stood hesitating in the doorway, trying to jiluck UJI courage to ask a favor of the most unpleasant young man she had ever met.
Asking favors and jilucking up courage were both things which, until now, had been quite outside Sherry’s exjierience. She had never had to do either. In these jiarticular circumstances the jirospect of doing both was singularly distressing. However, there was no helji for it. Bracing her tired body she stejijied outside.
He looked up and stood, hand over hand on the handle of the axe, waiting for her to sjieak.
She said, crisjily, to cover her nervousness: “I was
yachting and got left behind on an island by my jiarty. A Swede fisherman picked me up and put me off on your float. He said you had a launch and would take me to Vancouver—”
fi'he young man shook his head. “Not a hojie.”
She drew her breath in sharply. “You mean you won’t?” “I mean I can't. The engine of my boat went on the blink last week and it s down in Vancouver for repairs. It’ll be a month before it gets back.”
She was aghast. “A month ! Isn’t there any way of getting to the next inhabited island? Haven’t you got a rowboat?”
“Sure. But it’s a day’s pull there, and a day back.” She looked at his powerful shoulders. “A row like that shouldn’t wornyou.”
At the contempt in her voice his mouth tightened but he said with a silken patience, “I can’t be away from here that long. I raise pheasants. It’s a twenty-four-hours-a-day job.”
“Is that all ! How much do you expect to net this year?” “I don’t see that it’s any business of yours. Still,” pride crept into his voice, “around about six hundred dollars—” She laughed relievedly. “If you’ll take me some place from where I can get home. I’ll buy your entire output. Double it, if you like.”
He raised his eyes slowly. Before the dislike and anger in them she stepped back involuntarily.
He said, “So.” The anger from his eyes crept into his voice. “You think all you’ve got to do is to ask for the moon and you'll get it! Lousy with money. And temjier.
I saw a lot of you and your playfellows at college. Well, this time you’re out of luck. And,” his eyes were on her clenched hands, “putting on a stamping, raging act isn’t going to help you any—not here . .
He turned on his heel, then swung round again.
“Listen. I worked my way through college and when I was through I couldn’t get a job. I pretty nearly starved. And then my aunt died and left me this island. I remembered there was a launch and a Diesel for making electricity. That gave me the idea. I knew there was a demand for ¡iheasants. So I decided to try my luck at breeding them for sale. But I had to have equipment and for that I had to have money. All I wanted was five hundred dollars. But when you haven’t got ’em they might as well be five thousand or five hundred thousand. So I went to some of the jilayboys who’d been at college with me. I offered to provide the land and do all the work and give them a half share if they’d put UJI the funds. And would thev?” he laughed bitterly. “No, sir! Not interested . . . But just the same I got the money—”
He stopjied and his young face was suddenly bleak.
“I sweated . . starved . . . but I made the grade. This year I’ll cash in. And it’s only the beginning because I’m going on from here, developing in a big way. And I've done it myself. You wouldn’t understand what that means. It’s been hell—and the grandest fun! And now you come, sjxiiling it all—making it seem not worth while—smearing it up with your money.”
CHE TRIED to sjieak but he silenced her with a gesture k-J and went on speaking, but more quietly. “It’s just that you don’t understand—you’re not worth while. Ajiart from your money you don’t count. Even if you were beautiful you wouldn’t count ...” Continued on page 40
The Training of a Shrew
Continued from page 7—Starts on page 5
“ ‘Even if you were beautiful!’ ” The toast of two continents looked at him in a stupefaction too deep for speech—until she remembered her scorched skin and puffed
He was still talking. “. . . and you haven’t even taken the trouble to be commonly civil since you barged in here. This is my island, I might mention, and you’re here without an invitation.”
He paused, and then went on. “I’ll keep you and feed you, of course. I can’t help myself. Until they bring back my engine or until someone comes along.” He swung round and pointed to a trail that climbed the hill behind the outbuildings. “Up tliere is a lookout. We're away off the beaten track of the steamers but once in a long while a boat happens along. They’ll be looking for you-—and that’s the way they’ll come. So I’d advise you to get up there as soon as possible. If anyone passes close to shore, hail ’em. And make sure they hear you . . . !”
TT WAS LATE evening when, sodden with fatigue, Sherry limped back to the cabin. Dennis was sitting at the block, busy with his interminable chopping of lettuce. He looked up when she came in sight and asked, “Any luck?”
She shook her head and he said. “Gosh ! That’s tough !”
She said forlornly, “Isn't it?”
He looked at her coldly, “I meant tough for me.” He gestured toward the cabin. “There’s chow on the table inside. Help yourself.”'
When she had eaten he came in and crossed over to the bunks. “Time to turn in.”
She looked up aghast. “You’re not suggesting—that we should sleep in here— together?”
“Why not?” he smiled sardonically. “Don’t worry, you’d be safe! But,” he slung a pillow over his shoulder and stooping to a cupboard drew out a sleeping bag, “I fancy I’ll find”—he paused on the threshold and looked back at her—-“the loneliness of the great outdoors very pleasant, under the circumstances.”
Two sounds then followed swiftly one upon the other. The sharp shooting home of a bolt on the inside of a door and the sound of a young man laughing rudely into the cjuiet night.
“You’ll pay for that!” muttered Sherry through clenched teeth. “You’re — certainly — going — to — pay ... !”
SHE AWOKE early the next morning, slipped from the bunk and pattered over to the window on bare feet.
The dawn mist was a shimmering mirage above the diamond-dewed grass and the sea a sparkling blue line through the trees. It was fresh and beautiful. Sherry snuffed the sharp-sweet air ecstatically. Her eye fell on an empty sleeping bag lying on the ground before the cabin door and at the same moment a brisk whistling broke out in the outbuildings. Sherry’s face hardened—and brightened. “This,” she said, nodding her head, “is definitely going to be good !”
There was water in the pitcher on the washstand. She washed her face and hands, then stood for a moment, deep in thought. She began to rummage rapidly through the drawers of the dresser and presently drew out a pair of shorts and a faded yellow shirt. Sherry kicked her bathing suit under the table with a vicious, “If I never see you again it’ll be too soon !” Then she drew on the shirt and belted the shorts round her waist. They were much too large, of course, and stood out from her slim thighs like a ballet dancer’s skirt. A comb lay on the dresser. She pounced upon it, drawing it through the waves of her dark hair and sighed luxuriously, “Oh, the comfort of it!” Then she stepped over to
look in the wavy little mirror that hung on the wall.
The swelling had gone from beneath her eyes. They were big, starry-dark with excitement. The redness had vanished from her sunburn and the skin on the curve of her cheek was soft and fresh.
She nodded slowly, her eyes on her reflection and her lips aquiver.
“If you were beautiful, my girl!” she muttered. “Even if you were beautiful
There was wood piled in a heap beside the little stove and she lighted the fire quickly and dexterously. “Thank Providence, at this juncture,” she thought gaily, “for a childhood spent camping in the Adirondacks!”
A hurried search along the shelves yielded coffee, flour and baking soda. She put the coffee on to boil and mixed biscuit dough in a basin. “The worthless daughter of the effete rich will now do her stuff !” she said as she slipped the pan into the oven.
The coffee, steaming, and the biscuits, golden-brown and light, were on the table when the whistling moved down the hill and came to an abrupt stop in the open doorway of the cabin.
“Good morning! Breakfast’s ready!” Sherry called cheerfully over her shoulder.
Dennis’ surprised glance dropped from hers and he crossed the floor with his swinging stride; but if Sherry expected any comment on her activities she was disappointed. “The miserable yahoo!” she thought wrathfully. But her voice was honey sweet as she said, “Look. Since I’ve got to be here for a while—how about calling a truce? Pleasanter, at such close quarters?”
He said woodenly, “Okay by me,” and Sherry’s hand tightened on the handle of the coffeepot.
“I might even be able to help you—do a little work for the board you so generously offered.” But he ignored the sarcasm and only said, “My name’s O’Flynn. Dennis O’Flynn.”
“Of the Dublin O’Flynns?” Sherry queried, blandly innocent. And was rewarded with a quick, suspicious glance.
After a while he pushed back his chair. “Got to get back to work.”
He nodded, and she said, “Mind if I come along?”
He said ungraciously, “If you want to.” He reached up and took a dilapidated hat down from its peg. “Put this on. The birds are wild. They scare easily and then they fight. But they know this old lid.”
Sherry was comical and sweet in the old hat and for the first time his glance softened. She said hastily, “I borrowed some of your clothes.”
His face went blank once more and he said, “So I see.”
Sherry swallowed the impulse to shout “Boor!” Instead she said gaily, “Lead on, Macduff !” And once more drew a fleeting, surprised glance.
They reached the first of the out-buildings. Dennis said laconically, “The brooder-house.”
It was a long, low shed with several wiresurrounded pens leading out from the front. In each pen were pheasant chicks, graded according to age. In the farthest pen the chicks were huddled in a diagonal line that stretched from corner to corner.
Sherry said, “Why do they stand like that?”
Dennis pointed upward. A shaft of sunlight pierced the trees and lay across the dark-barred backs of the chicks. “For warmth. They’ll do anything for warmth, even stop fighting. They’re awful little beggars to fight. Savage. Go cannibalistic any time and peck each other to death. Did you see that chap in the box behind the stove? He got in a mix-up and I only just rescued him in time. That’s why I have to be on the job all the time. Keep-
ing them busy so they don’t have a chance to scrap. Can’t afford to let ’em eat each other up because I get one dollar and thirty cents for each young bird—”
Sherry looked at him amazed. His face was interested, absorbed. The conversation had suddenly come alive.
“How do you keep them busy?”
He stooped to a basket filled with chopped lettuce and tossed handfuls over into the pens. Immediately the lines of chicks broke and scattered as they began to scratch furiously at the chopped leaves.
“That way. If they’re scratching they can’t be fighting. I raise my own lettuce and chop it—in between other little matters such as mixing and feeding ’em mash and watering them all day long. And do they drink ! But the chopping’s the worst. I chop all day and most of the night, in my sleep.”
“Why don’t you get a machine?”
He looked at her, his face hardening. “Well, why don’t I?”
But he softened again when he took her inside the brooder-house and showed her the incubator, shaped like a giant radio cabinet fitted with drawers and heated with electricity. Fie was, Sherry thought, like a mother showing off her children. He opened the drawers and showed her the rows of eggs.
“These have to be turned night and morning or else—” he said, doing it deftly and gently with his big fingers. “These chaps are due to hatch in ten days. It’s the last and largest batch. Whether I make enough to go on from here depends on whether they make the grade. It’s anxious work. You can’t ever be sure till they’re actually out of the eggs.”
Sherry said, interested, “It must be!” But he straightened up and said briskly. “Now I’ve got to get going. And you’d better, too. You’d better get up to the lookout and see if a rescue party is coming along.”
It was unusual for the last of the Van Aliens to receive a command. And still more remarkable that she should obey it. But that was what she did. There seemed to be, at the moment, nothing else to do.
TT TOOK her three days to wear Dennis down into friendliness. She had to call on all her inadequate reserves of self-control, for his dislike and distrust of her were hard to budge and he took pleasure in being perverse.
But she was clever and she was patient. She set before her a picture of what, she thought scornfully, he would expect a woman to be, and followed its every detail religiously. She was gentle, thoughtful, helpful, reasonable — and immensely pleased with herself. She thought, with an acrid amusement, “If the others could only see me now !”
On the fourth day Dennis began suddenly to talk. With, almost, an effect of relief that surprised her until she remembered that he must have been silent for long. Inevitably she learned much about him. About his stubborn pride, his fierce independence. About his plans for the development of the island. He would, he told her, expand the pheasant industry, if all went well this year and the last batch of eggs hatched satisfactorily. And later he would go in for intensive gardening, French style. He might even develop part of the foreshore of the island as a summer resort and cater to rich Americans.
She said, “You’ll need money for all that !”
He said grimly, “I’ll make it!”
She shook her head. “Too long! You’d better,” she looked at him sideways, “do what the others do. Follow the line of least resistance and take a rich wife.”
He laughed contemptuously. “Money’s not that important ! I’d marry a rich girl, if she rated. But she wouldn’t. They
never do. They’re poor stuff—no guts— spoiled, bad-tempered—”
Stung, she broke in. “Thanks ! I haven’t noticed you’re so good-tempered yourself !” He grinned, suddenly charming and boyish. “It’s the Irish in me.” He pointed to his tawny head.
She said reflectively, “I once heard a man say there was a pile of money in sheep. Why don’t you run some? You’ve lots of room. There’d be grand grazing on those slopes and between the rocks. You’re not so far from a market either, given ordinary facilities.”
He broke in, his eyes alight, “That is an idea!” He turned to look at her, and said slowly, “You’re smart.”
She was amazed, before she was amused, at her sudden sensation of elation.
r\N THE FIFTH day he said, “I can’t MM think why nobody’s turned up here looking for you. The search parties must be all out.”
She looked at him quickly and queerly, indecision in her face. But he went on rapidly and awkwardly. “Look. I’ve been wanting to say this. I’ve given you a pretty raw deai. Lord knows why, except that you got pretty thoroughly under my skin. I was all wrong about you. You’re swell! I’m—I’m sorry.” He held out his hand. “Friends?”
She hesitated only an instant before putting hers into it. She thought, with a discomfort as unwelcome as it was sharp, “The Judas Shake !”
A couple of days later she joined him outside the cabin after supper. The weather had suddenly turned torrid and the leaves hung stiff and still in the sultry air.
Sherry dropped to the grass and sighed, “Whew ! Is it hot! I didn’t know you had heat waves up here. Think there’s going to be a storm?”
He didn’t answer and she turned to look at him, surprised..
He was staring at her and her heart suddenly missed a beat.
He said slowly, “They aren’t dark after all—your eyes. They’re blue—pansy blue !”
She dropped her gaze, her breath coming fast. Here it was at last—the thing she’d been waiting for, working for!
It came quicker than she had expected. Dennis said, his voice rough—“Sherry— !” He jumped to his feet and drew her up beside him. He took her hands and locked them behind his neck. “Sherry!” he whispered. “Beautiful . . . Sweet . . .”
He kissed her then, first gently, then deeply. The amazing sweetness of it took her breath.
But only for a moment. The next, she stepped back and brought her open palm stingingly across his mouth.
In the pause that followed she could hear only the pounding of her heart.
He looked at her, smiling crookedly. “Well, maybe I did rate that! Under the circumstances it was a dumb way to propose marriage. I apologize.”
“Marriage? Marriage?” She was so angry that the w'ords stuck in her throat. “You —and me? Listen. I didn’t expect you to go so far,” her tone cut like a knife going through silk, “as to honor me with marriage! But I meant you to fall for me. That’s what I’ve been planning for, working for—-what else? You said you’d given me a raw' deal. Yes, you have. Much too raw' ! Do you remember that first night, how you laughed? No one laughs at me like that and gets away with it, Mr. Dennis O’Flynn ! Well, I think,” her eyes w'ere on his mouth, “that one slap cancels out one laugh. I think we’re even now!”
She turned, then swung round and swept a curtsy. “It’s been grand knowing you, Mr. Stuck-On-Yourself-O’Flynn ! Quite an education !”
He reached her in one stride. “You bet it has! And you’re going to keep right on learning! Right now, Miss Sherry Vixen Van Alten, you’re going to get your first lesson in the training of a shrew. You’re going to be spanked !”
She said furiously, “Take your hands off me ! You v'ouldn’t dare !”
“Oh, no?” his mouth w'as smiling but his eyes w’ere dangerous. “Oh. no .. . ?”
Face dov'mvard across his knee her teeth found and met in his thumb. He laughed as his grip shifted and tightened. “So you bite too? Fine! We’ll—-just — attend —to -— that!”
She faced him presently, her eyes ablaze. “You . . . you ... !”
“Don’t say it!” he w'arned, slightly out of breath. “Don’t say it or maybe I’ll have to start all over again.”
He took a step tow'ard her and turning, she fled from him up the hill.
It wasn’t until quite some w'hile later that it dawmed upon the spoiled daughter of the Van Aliens, that a furious young man wúth a hard-w'earing face and powerful hands, who had just given her the first and only beating of her life, w'as more beautiful than any Greek god. Was, in fact, the most beautiful thing on earth . . .
CHE DID NOT see Dennis that night or next morning. The day gave promise of being more molten than the one preceding and the sun hung low' in the brassy sky. After breakfast she took bread and cheese and climbed the hill to the lookout. It w'as not until evening that she started back to the cabin.
Dennis w'as sitting slumped in a chair by the table. He rose as she came in and stood rocking on his heels. Sherry noticed that his face w'as ashen and his hair dank.
She moved tow'ard him quickly. “Is anything w'rong?”
He said, his tongue moving thickly, “Think . . . touch—of the sun—” and swayed back into his chair.
She had had no experience of illness but this, she knew', was a severe sunstroke. Through the w'racking paroxysms that followed she tended Dennis adequately. When it w'as over she said, “Think you can make the bunk?”
He tried to rise but his knees bent and he sagged to the floor as his eyes glazed into unconsciousness.
Terror seized on Sherry. What in the w'orld should she do? Suppose he w'ere going to be terribly ill? Suppose he were to die?
At that thought she discovered reserves of strength within herself. She darted over to the bunk and, hauling it to the floor beside Dennis, managed, by pulling, rolling and pushing, to get his inert body upon it.
She had no idea how to treat a sunstroke but she set her natural common sense to w'ork. Tire fire in the stove w'as out. She relighted it and set water to heat. When it boiled she filled a bottle and put it at Dennis’ feet. Then she covered him closely to guard against any sudden chill and laid a cold cloth upon his forehead.
Presently he began to talk in a cracked, unnatural voice. Of pheasants and markets and dollars and cents. Of the strange way the stars w'ere snapping in and out of the sky. Of pansy-blue eyes and the w'ay they kept him from getting to the pheasants. They w'ere keeping him from turning the eggs in the incubator. He’d show' them ! I He’d show them—he certainly w'ould | ... ! He would get up—now. He had ! to get out to those eggs . . .
Sherry said urgently, her hands on his i restless ones, “Dennis, I’ll do it for you. Dennis, listen to me. I’ll do it. I’ll turn the eggs.” She put her lips to his ear and whispered over and over again until at last the words seemed to penetrate his fogged brain and he grew quiet. “Dennis, listen! Don’t w'orry about the eggs or the birds.
I’ll see to them. I’ll do everything ...”
SHE DID DO everything. The days passed in a nightmare of mixing mash and chopping lettuce and pumping and hauling water. Her blistered hands and aching body were one throbbing torture but each night and morning she turned the eggs in the incubator—the eggs on which Dennis’ future depended. She w'as dead on her feet wdth fatigue and her brain was a dark cavern through which fear spitted
and sparked . . . Suppose she’d done something horribly, disastrously wrong to the eggs? Suppose she hadn’t properly regulated the temperature of the incubator? Suppose—and this was the worst fear of all—suppose one day she didn’t waken in time to turn the eggs at all?
Through it all she tended Dennis. At night she lay on the floor beside him, one arm across his body so she might waken if he tried to rise. She watched him, noted the grey line around his mouth and the deepening hollows beneath his eyes. She thought despairingly, “We can’t last much longer, either of us.”
But in the dawn of the fourth day of his illness Sherry roused to find him sleeping deeply and peacefully. She put out a careful hand to touch his wrist. The skin was ; soft and fresh and she thought, her heart j swelling with thankfulness: “He’s better! ! He’ll be well !”
She tiptoed from the cabin. Outside, she raised her face to take the play of the keen ! air upon her aching forehead. She stood ; for a moment while she nerved her tired body to make the journey to the brooder-
house. And suddenly she remembered tha today was the day the eggs should hatch She sped up the path, fear in her throat. Suppose they hadn’t hatched ! Suppose . . .
But they had. Crouching over the shifting, ridiculous little bodies on the wire trays she babbled shakily, “Oh, thank you, thank you, God !”
ON THE WAY back to the cabin she thought suddenly of the crippled chick. It was three days, she realized, since she had looked at him. She hurried through the door and up to the shelf.
There he was, dead on his back in his box, his little splintered leg pointing stiffly upward.
That broke her and suddenly she was sobbing, wide-mouthed like a child.
From behind came Dennis’ voice, finedrawn as a thread: “What is it?”
“The chick—he’s dead ! I’ve killed him -—starved him to death ! Oh, oh, oh !”
Said Dennis bitterly, “What’s one chick, among so many?”
Continued on page 45
The Training of a Shrew
Continued from page 42—Starts on page 5
She stopped weeping—he didn’t know of course. She wiped her eyes and, crossing the room, knelt beside him.
She said softly, “Dennis—don’t ! It’s all right. All the others are all right.” Pride crept into her voice. “I haven’t lost a single chick! They didn’t fight much. I gave them enough lettuce. And oh, Dennis—the eggs! They’ve hatched this morning. Every single one! I’ve just seen—”
He turned his head very carefully upon the pillow. His hand found hers and pulled at it suddenly and urgently. He said, “You mean, you saved the birds! You?”
She nodded, smiling mistily, and he said
again, “You did? You did that, for me? After—after I spanked you? Why?”
She lowered her eyes. She said slowly, “There was a boat, Dennis.”
He echoed bewildered. “A boat?”
“Yes. With an Italian person in it—a Marchese. He had been looking for me for ages and he was furious when I told him to go away and leave me, that I was all right where I was--”
He stared at her. “Why . . . ?”
She, too, was staring. At the hand she held. A strong, lean hand, with the tan on it worn white. She spread the fingers gently apart. “Guess, darling!” she said. And laid them against her cheek.