What a blessing it is that Wharton stumbled on him and brought him up here. Had we searched the countryside I doubt if we could have found any one Laurie would have liked so much. He doesn't care especially for strangers." With the Fernald's sanction behind the friendship, and both Laurie's tutor and his doctor urging it on, you may be sure it thrived vigorously.
Fernald's suggestion of Laurie visiting the shack seemed the most natural thing in the world, and immediately after it had been made Ted's fancy had run riot, and he had leaped beyond the first formal preliminaries to a time when he and Laurie Fernald would really know one another, even come to be genuine friends, perhaps. What sport two lads, interested in the same things, could have together!
Ah, it would have taken an outsider days, weeks, months, perhaps years to have broken through the conventionalities and beheld the Fernalds as Ted saw them that day. It was the magic of the sunshine, the sparkle of the creeping river, the mysterious spell of the pines that had wrought the enchantment. Perhaps, too, the memory of his Vermont boyhood had risen freshly to Grandfather Fernald's mind.
With the spring the plans for the new village went rapidly forward and soon pretty little concrete houses with roofs of scarlet and trimmings of green dotted the slopes on the opposite side of the river. The laying out and building of this community became Grandfather Fernald's recreation and delight.
Such had been his belief until now, with a dozen words, Ted saw his father shatter the illusion. No, of course Mr. Laurie would never come to the shack. It had been absurd to think it for a moment. And even if he did, it would only be as a lofty and unapproachable spectator. Mr. Fernald's words were a subtly designed flattery intended to put him in good humor because he wanted something of him.
After breakfast the men tumbled into the wagons, and as one wagon after another rattled out of Fernald's feed lot and came down the street, the men waved their hats and the women waved their aprons, and a great cloud of dust rose on the highway, and as the wagons ducked down the bank to the river, only the tall figure of Martin Culpepper, waving his handkerchief, rose above the cloud.
And again to-night, sitting here on the dam, listening to the music coming down the mill-pond. Did you notice them, Robert the young people Phil Ward's boy, and John Barclay's girl, and Mary Carnine's oldest, and Oscar Fernald's youngest, with their guitars and mandolins, piling into the boats and rowing up stream?
There they hang together on the line, these basswood folk, and beside them wave their womankind. These also must be repaired and refitted throughout, as Oscar Fernald's letter-heads used to say of the Thayer House. Jane Barclay, Wife of John, must have the "star light, star bright" wiped out of her eyes.
And it was not engineering or electricity that ultimately claimed the constructive interest of the two comrades but instead the Fernald mills, which upon Grandfather Fernald's retirement called for younger men at their helm.
Mr. Fernald's scowl vanished and he laughed. "What a young wheedler you are!" observed he, playfully rumpling up his son's fair hair. "You could coax every cent I have away from me if I did not lock my money up in the bank. I really think, though, that a telephone here in the hut would be an excellent idea. But what I don't see is why you don't do the job yourselves."