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I.3. Day And Night
The morning hours had passed; the noon had come and gone; and Mr. Brock had
started on the first stage of his journey home.
After parting from the rector in Douglas Harbor, the two young men had returned
to Castletown, and had there separated at the hotel door, Allan walking down to
the waterside to look after his yacht, and Midwinter entering the house to get the
rest that he needed after a sleepless night.
He darkened his room; he closed his eyes, but no sleep came to him. On this first
day of the rector's absence, his sensitive nature extravagantly exaggerated the
responsibility which he now held in trust for Mr. Brock. A nervous dread of
leaving Allan by himself, even for a few hours only, kept him waking and
doubting, until it became a relief rather than a hardship to rise from the bed again,
and, following in Allan's footsteps, to take the way to the waterside which led to
the yacht.
The repairs of the little vessel were nearly completed. It was a breezy, cheerful
day; the land was bright, the water was blue, the quick waves leaped crisply in the
sunshine, the men were singing at their work. Descending to the cabin, Midwinter
discovered his friend busily occupied in attempting to set the place to rights.
Habitually the least systematic of mortals, Allan now and then awoke to an
overwhelming sense of the advantages of order, and on such occasions a perfect
frenzy of tidiness possessed him. He was down on his knees, hotly and wildly at
work, when Midwinter looked in on him; and was fast reducing the neat little
world of the cabin to its original elements of chaos, with a misdirected energy
wonderful to see.
"Here's a mess!" said Allan, rising composedly on the horizon of his own
accumulated litter. "Do you know, my dear fellow, I begin to wish I had let well
Midwinter smiled, and came to his friend's assistance with the natural neat-
handedness of a sailor.
The first object that he encountered was Allan's dressing-case, turned upside
down, with half the contents scattered on the floor, and with a duster and a hearth-
broom lying among them. Replacing the various objects which formed the
furniture of the dressing-case one by one, Midwinter lighted unexpectedly on a
miniature portrait, of the old-fashioned oval form, primly framed in a setting of
small diamonds.
"You don't seem to set much value on this," he said. "What is it?"
Allan bent over him, and looked at the miniature. "It belonged to my mother," he
answered; "and I set the greatest value on it. It is a portrait of my father."
Midwinter put the miniature abruptly, into Allan's hands, and withdrew to the
opposite side of the cabin.
"You know best where the things ought to be put in your own dressing-case," he
said, keeping his back turned on Allan. "I'll make the place tidy on this side of the
cabin, and you shall make the place tidy on the other."