The Evil Genius
Punctual to his fishing appointment with Kitty, Mr. Sarrazin was out in the early
morning, waiting on the pier.
Not a breath of wind was stirring; the lazy mist lay asleep on the further shore of the lake.
Here and there only the dim tops of the hills rose like shadows cast by the earth on the
faint gray of the sky. Nearer at hand, the waters of the lake showed a gloomy surface; no
birds flew over the colorless calm; no passing insects tempted the fish to rise. From time
to time a last-left leaf on the wooded shore dropped noiselessly and died. No vehicles
passed as yet on the lonely road; no voices were audible from the village; slow and
straight wreaths of smoke stole their way out of the chimneys, and lost their vapor in the
misty sky. The one sound that disturbed the sullen repose of the morning was the tramp
of the lawyer's footsteps, as he paced up and down the pier. He thought of London and its
ceaseless traffic, its roaring high tide of life in action--and he said to himself, with the
strong conviction of a town-bred man: How miserable this is!
A voice from the garden cheered him, just as he reached the end of the pier for the fiftieth
time, and looked with fifty-fold intensity of dislike at the dreary lake.
There stood Kitty behind the garden-gate, with a fishing-rod in each hand. A tin box was
strapped on one side of her little body and a basket on the other. Burdened with these
impediments, she required assistance. Susan had let her out of the house; and Samuel
must now open the gate for her. She was pleased to observe that the raw morning had
reddened her friend's nose; and she presented her own nose to notice as exhibiting perfect
sympathy in this respect. Feeling a misplaced confidence in Mr. Sarrazin's knowledge
and experience as an angler, she handed the fishing-rods to him. "My fingers are cold,"
she said; "you bait the hooks." He looked at his young friend in silent perplexity; she
pointed to the tin box. "Plenty of bait there, Samuel; we find maggots do best." Mr.
Sarrazin eyed the box with undisguised disgust; and Kitty made an unexpected discovery.
"You seem to know nothing about it," she said. And Samuel answered, cordially,
"Nothing!" In five minutes more he found himself by the side of his young friend--with
his hook baited, his line in the water, and strict injunctions to keep an eye on the float.
They began to fish.
Kitty looked at her companion, and looked away again in silence. By way of encouraging
her to talk, the good-natured lawyer alluded to what she had said when they parted
overnight. You wanted to ask me something," he reminded her. "What is it?"
Without one preliminary word of warning to prepare him for the shock, Kitty answered:
"I want you to tell me what has become of papa, and why Syd has gone away and left me.
You know who Syd is, don't you?"