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Salvage Point
by [?]

The Hermanns built their house at the very end of the island, five or six miles from the more or less violently rustic “summer-cottages” which adorned the hills and bluffs around the native village of Winterport.

There was a long point running out to the southward at the mouth of the great bay, rough and rocky for the most part, with little woods of pointed firs on it, some acres of pasture, and a few pockets of fertile soil lying between the stony ridges. A yellow farmhouse, with a red barn beside it, had nestled for near a hundred years in one of these hollows, buying shelter from the winter winds at the cost of an outlook over sea and shore.

It was a large price to pay. The view from the summit of the little hill a few hundred yards away was superb–a wonder even on that wonderful coast of Maine where mountain and sea meet together, forest and flood kiss each other.

But I suppose the old Yankee farmer knew what he wanted when he paid the price and snuggled his house in the hollow. I am certain the Hermanns knew what they wanted when they bought the whole point and perched their house on the very top of the hill, where all the winds of heaven might visit it as roughly as they pleased, but where nothing could rob the outlook of its ever-changing splendor and mystery, its fluent wonder and abiding charm.

You see, the Hermanns knew what they wanted because they had come through a lot of trouble. I met them when they were young–no matter how many years ago–when they were in the thick of it.

Alice Mackaye and Will Hermann had the rare luck to fall in love–a very real and great love–when they were in their early twenties. You would think that extraordinary piece of good fortune would have been enough to set them up for life, wouldn’t you? But no. There was an Obstacle. And that Obstacle came very near wrecking them both.

Will Hermann was an artist and the son of an artist. The love of beauty ran in his blood. Otherwise he was poor. He earned a decent living by his painting, but each year’s living depended on each year’s work. Hence he was in the proletarian class.

Alice Mackaye, on the other hand, belonged to the capitalist class. I say “belonged,” because that is precisely the word to describe her situation. Her father was a millionaire sugar-merchant, who lived in an ugly palace near Morristown, New Jersey, and was accustomed to have his own way in that and other States. He was the Obstacle.

He was a florid, handsome old Scotchman, orthodox in religion, shrewd in business, correct in conduct, but with no more sentiment than a hard-shell crab, and obstinate as the devil. His fixed idea was that none of his daughters should ever be carried off by a fortune-hunter. The two older girls apparently escaped this danger by making fairly wealthy matches. But Alice–come away! why should she take up with this impecunious painter? He was good-looking and had the gift of the gab, but what was that worth? If he would come into the sugar-business, where a place was waiting for him, and make good there, it would be all right. Otherwise, the affair must be broken off, absolutely, finally, and forever. From this you can see that the Obstacle was not bad-hearted, but only pig-headed.

Well, for five or six years things drifted rather miserably along this way. Will Hermann was forbidden the house at Morristown. Alice was practically a captive; her correspondence was censored. But of course, even before Marconi, wireless communication in matters of this kind has always been possible.

The trouble was that the state of affairs between them, while conventionally correct, was thoroughly unnatural and full of peril. Alice, a very good girl, obedient and tractable, was in danger of becoming a recalcitrant and sour old maid. Will, a healthy and normal young man, with no bad habits, was in danger of being driven to them by the emptiness and exasperation of his mind. The worst of it all was that both of the young people were, in accordance with a well-known law of nature, growing older with what seemed to them a frightful and unreasonable rapidity. The years crawled like snails. But the sum of them rose by leaps and bounds to an appalling total. Alice found two grey hairs in her red-gold locks. Will had to use glasses for reading fine print at night. From their point of view, decrepitude, senility, dotage stared them in the face, while the bright voyage of life which they were resolved to make only together, was threatened with shipwreck among the shoals of interminable delay.