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Quill's Window by George Barr McCutcheon

[Illustration: "What are you doing up here?"]

QUILL'S WINDOW

BY GEORGE BARR McCUTCHEON

FRONTISPIECE BY

C. ALLAN GILBERT

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I THE FORBIDDEN ROCK II THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD III COURTNEY THANE IV DOWD'S TAVERN V TRESPASS VI CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS VII COURTNEY APPEARS IN PUBLIC VIII ALIX THE THIRD IX A MID-OCTOBER DAY X THE CHIMNEY CORNER XI THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES XII WORDS AND LETTERS XIII THE OLD INDIAN TRAIL XIV SUSPICION XV THE FACE AT THE WINDOW XVI ROSABEL XVII SHADOWS XVIII MR. GILFILLAN IS PUZZLED XIX BRINGING UP THE PAST XX THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ROSABEL VICK XXI OUT OF THE NIGHT XXII THE THROWER OF STONES XXIII A MESSAGE AND ITS ANSWER XXIV AT QUILL'S WINDOW

QUILL'S WINDOW

CHAPTER I

THE FORBIDDEN ROCK

A young man and an old one sat in the shade of the willows beside the wide, still river. The glare of a hot August sun failed to penetrate the shelter in which they idled; out upon the slow-gliding river it beat relentlessly, creating a pale, thin vapour that clung close to the shimmering surface and dazzled the eye with an ever-shifting glaze. The air was lifeless, sultry, stifling; not a leaf, not a twig in the tall, drooping willows moved unless stirred by the passage of some vagrant bird.

The older man sat on the ground, his back against the trunk of a tree that grew so near to the edge that it seemed on the point of toppling over to shatter the smooth, green mirror below. Some of its sturdy exposed roots reached down from the bank into the water, where they caught and held the drift from upstream,--reeds and twigs and matted grass,--a dirty, sickly mass that swished lazily on the flank of the slow-moving current.

The water here in the shade was deep and clear and limpid, contrasting sharply with the steel-white surface out beyond.

The young man occupied a decrepit camp stool, placed conveniently against the trunk of another tree hard by. A discarded bamboo rod lay beside him on the bank, the hook and line hopelessly tangled in the drift below. He smoked cigarettes.

His companion held a well-chewed black cigar in the vise-like corner of his mouth. His hook and line were far out in the placid water, an ordinary cork serving as a "bob" from which his dreary, unwavering gaze seldom shifted.

"I guess they're through bitin' for today," he remarked, after a long unbroken silence.

"How many have we got?" inquired the other languidly.

"Between us we've got twenty-four. That's a fair-sized mess. Sunfish don't make much of a showing unless you get a barrel of 'em."

"Good eating though," mused the young man.

"Fried in butter," supplemented the other. "What time is it?"

"Half-past nine."


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