Read CHAPTER XXXIII - OLD AND YOUNG of Uncle Terry A Story of the Maine Coast , free online book, by Charles Clark Munn, on

A week after Uncle Terry’s return from Boston he asked Telly to go with him on his daily drive to the head of the island. He had described the exciting incidents of his trip both to his wife and Telly, and, feeling obliged to do so, had told them that Mr. Page had taken charge of the case and would communicate with him when anything definite was learned. He had noticed that Telly had seemed unusually cheerful ever since, and likewise more affectionate. Also-a fact that did not escape his observant eyes-that she had at once set about painting the two sketches Albert had sent.

“The leaves is turnin’ purty fast,” he said to her that day, “an’ I thought mebbe ye’d like ter go with me an’ take a look at ’em. They won’t last long.”

When the two had jogged along in almost silence for a few miles he said, pointing to a small rock by the roadside, “Thar’s whar I fust found Mr. Page, Telly.”

She did not know it, but he was watching her face closely as he said it, and noted well the look of interest that came.

“I told him that day,” he continued, chuckling, “that lawyers was mostly all thieves, an’ the fact that he didn’t take it amiss went fur to convince me he was an exception. It’s a hit bird as allus flutters. From what he’s done an’ the way he behaves I’m thinkin’ more an’ more o’ him the better I know him, an’ I believe him now to be as honest an’ square a young man as I ever met.”

He was covertly watching Telly as he said this, but her face remained impassive. “I think Mr. Page is very nice,” she answered quietly, “and has a kind heart. Did you know he gave Aunty Leach ten dollars one day when he was here, and she hasn’t done praising him yet? She says it’s a sure forerunner of ‘a change o’ heart,’ and when she got the dress pattern the poor old creature cried.”

Uncle Terry was silent a few moments while he flicked at the daisies with his whip as they rode along.

“Ye’ve had a couple o’ letters from him sense he went back, hain’t ye?” he asked finally. “I noticed they was in his writin’.” He was still watching her face and noticed this time that a faint color came.

“Yes, he wrote me he was finishing a couple of sketches he made here and wanted to have me paint them for him,” she replied quietly. “They are the ones I am working on now.”

“That’s all right, Telly,” continued Uncle Terry briskly, “I’m glad ye’re doin’ it fur him, fur he’s doin’ a good deal fur us an’ is likely to do more.”

Nothing further was said on the subject until they were on their way back from the head of the island. The sun was getting low, the sea winds that rustled among the scarlet-leaved oaks, or murmured through the spruce thickets, had almost fallen away, and just as they came to an opening where the broad ocean was visible he said:

“Did ye ever stop ter think, Telly, that Lissy an’ me is gittin’ purty well ‘long in years? I’m over seventy now, an’ in common course o’ things I won’t be here many years longer.”

The girl looked at him quickly. “What makes you speak like that, father?” she said; “do you want to make me blue?” There was a little note of tenderness in her voice that did not escape him, but he answered promptly:

“Oh, I didn’t mean it that way, Telly, only I was thinkin’ how fast the years go by. The leaves turnin’ allus makes me think on’t. It seems no time sence they fust came out an’ now they’re goin’ agin! It don’t seem more’n two or three years sence ye was a little baby a-pullin’ my fingers an’ callin’ me da-da, an’ now ye’r’ a woman grown. It won’t be long afore ye’r’ a-sayin’ ‘yes’ to some man as wants ye, an’ a-goin’ to a home o’ yer own.”

Telly turned to him again, and this time there was a decided note of pain in her voice: “So that is what you are thinking of, father, is it? And you are imagining that some one by the name of Page is likely to take me away from you, who are and always have been all there is in life for me!”

She paused, and he noticed that two tears trembled on her long lashes, to be quickly brushed away. “Please do not think me so ungrateful,” she continued, “as to let any man coax me away from you, for no man can. Here I was cast ashore, here I’ve found a home and love, and here I shall stay as long as you and mother live, and when you two are gone, I want to go too!” She swallowed a lump that rose in her throat and then continued: “As for this legacy that you have worried about so much, and I am sure has cost you a good deal, it is yours, every penny of it, and whether it is big or little, you are to keep and use it as you need if you love me. You haven’t been yourself for six months, father, and all for this trouble. I have watched you more than you think, and wished many times you had never heard of it.”

She had spoken earnestly and truthfully, and when she ceased Uncle Terry looked at her a moment and then suddenly dropped the reins and putting both arms around her, held her for a moment and then kissed her. It was a surprise to her, and the first of its kind for many years.

“I hain’t bin thinkin’ ’bout myself in this matter,” he observed as he picked up the reins again and chirruped to the old horse, “an’ only am wantin’ ter see ye provided fur, Telly. As fur Mr. Page or any other man, every woman needs a purtector in this world, an’ when the right ’un comes along, don’t let yer feelin’s or sense o’ duty stand in the way o’ havin’ a home o’ yer own.”

“But you are not anxious to be rid of me, are you, father?” asked Telly, smiling now and gladdened by his unusual caress.

“Ye won’t think that o’ me,” he replied, as they rattled down the sharp inclines into the village, and the ride came to an end.

But she noticed after that that he wanted her with him oftener than ever.

Later when another letter came for her in a hand that he recognized, he handed it to her with a smile and immediately left her alone to read it.