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´╗┐Title: Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp; Or, The Old Lumberman's Secret
Author: Carr, Annie Roe
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp; Or, The Old Lumberman's Secret" ***

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NAN SHERWOOD AT PINE CAMP

or, The Old Lumberman's Secret


By Annie Roe Carr



Chapter I. THE YELLOW POSTER

"Oh, look there, Nan!" cried Bess Harley suddenly, as they turned
into High Street from the avenue on which Tillbury's high school was
situated.

"Look where?" queried Nan Sherwood promptly. "Up in the air, down on the
ground or all around?" and she carried out her speech in action,
finally spinning about on one foot in a manner to shock the more staid
Elizabeth.

"Oh, Nan!"

"Oh, Bess!" mocked her friend.

She was a rosy-cheeked, brown-eyed girl, with fly-away hair, a blue
tam-o'-shanter set jauntily upon it, and a strong, plump body that she
had great difficulty in keeping still enough in school to satisfy her
teachers.

"Do behave, Nan," begged Bess. "We're on the public street."

"How awful!" proclaimed Nan Sherwood, making big eyes at her chum. "Why
folks know we're only high-school girls, so, of course, we're crazy!
Otherwise we wouldn't BE high-school girls."

"Nonsense!" cried Bess, interrupting. "Do be reasonable, Nan. And look
yonder! What do you suppose that crowd is at the big gate of the Atwater
Mills?"

Nan Sherwood's merry face instantly clouded. She was not at all a
thoughtless girl, although she was of a sanguine, cheerful temperament.

The startled change in her face amazed Bess.

"Oh dear!" the latter cried. "What is it? Surely, there's nobody hurt in
the mills? Your father-----"

"I'm afraid, Bess dear, that it means there are a great many hurt in the
mills."

"Oh, Nan! How horridly you talk," cried Bess. "That is impossible."

"Not hurt in the machinery, not mangled by the looms," Nan went on to
say, gravely. "But dreadfully hurt nevertheless, Bess. Father has been
expecting it, I believe. Let's go and read the poster."

"Why it is a poster, isn't it?" cried Bess. "What does it say?"

The two school girls, both neatly dressed and carrying their bags of
text books, pushed into the group before the yellow quarter-sheet poster
pasted on the fence.

The appearance of Nan and Bess was distinctly to their advantage when
compared with that of the women and girls who made up the most of the
crowd interested in the black print upon the poster.

The majority of these whispering, staring people were foreigners. All
bore marks of hard work and poverty. The hands of even the girls in the
group were red and cracked. It was sharp winter weather, but none wore
gloves.

If they wore a head-covering at all, it was a shawl gathered at the
throat by the clutch of frost-bitten fingers. There was snow on the
ground; but few wore overshoes.

They crowded away from the two well-dressed high-school girls, looking
at them askance. Bess Harley scarcely noticed the mill-hands' wives and
daughters. She came of a family who considered these poor people little
better than cattle. Nan Sherwood was so much interested in the poster
that she saw nothing else. It read:

NOTICE: Two weeks from date all departments of these mills will be
closed until further notice. Final payment of wages due will be made
on January 15th. Over-supply of our market and the prohibitive price
of cotton make this action a necessity. ATWATER MILLS COMPANY. December
28th.

"Why, dear me!" murmured Bess. "I thought it might really be something
terrible. Come on, Nan. It's only a notice of a vacation. I guess most
of them will be glad to rest awhile."

"And who is going to pay for their bread and butter while the poor
creatures are resting?" asked Nan seriously, as the two girls moved away
from the group before the yellow poster.

"Dear me, Nan!" her chum cried. "You do always think of the most
dreadful things. It troubles me to know anything about poverty and
poor people. I can't help them, and I don't want to know anything about
them."

"If I didn't know that you are better than your talk, Bess," said Nan,
still gravely, "I'd think you a most callous person. You just don't
understand. These poor people have been fearing this shut-down for
months. And all the time they have been expecting it they have been
helpless to avert it and unable to prepare for it."

"They might have saved some of their wages, I suppose," said Bess. "I
heard father say the other night how much money the mills paid out in a
year to the hands, some perfectly en_or_mous sum."

"But just think how many people that has to be divided among," urged
Nan. "Lots of the men earn only eight or nine dollars a week, and have
families to support."

"Well, of course, they don't have to be supported as we are," objected
the easy-minded Bess. "Anyway my father says frugality should be taught
to the poor just the same as reading and writing. They ought to learn
how to save."

"When you earn only just enough to supply your needs, and no more, how
can you divide your income so as to hoard up any part of it?"

"Dear me! Don't ask questions in political economy out of school, Nan!"
cried Bess, forgetting that she had started the discussion herself. "I
just HATE that study, and wish we didn't have to take it! I can't answer
that question, anyway."

"I'll answer it then," declared Nan. "If you are a mill-hand your
stomach won't let you save money. There probably won't be a dozen
families affected by this shut-down who have more than ten dollars
saved."

"Goodness! You don't mean that that's true? Why, dad gives me that much
to spend on myself each month," Bess cried. "The poor things! Even
if they are frowsy and low, I am sorry for them. But, of course, the
shut-down doesn't trouble you, Nan. Not personally, I mean. Your father
has had a good position for so many years-----"

"I'm not at all sure that it won't trouble us," Nan interposed gravely.
"But of course we are not in danger of starvation."

She felt some delicacy about entirely confiding in Bess on the subject.
Nan had heard the pros and cons of the expected closing of the mills
discussed at home almost every day for weeks past; but family secrets
should never be mentioned outside the family circle, as Nan very well
knew.

"Well," signed Bess, whose whole universe revolved around a central
sun called Self, as is the case with many girls brought up by indulgent
parents. "I hope, dear, that this trouble won't keep you from entering
Lakeview with me next fall."

Nan laughed. "There never was a chance of my going with you, Bess, and
I've told you so often enough-----"

"Now, don't you say that, Nan Sherwood!" cried her chum. "I've just made
up my mind that you shall go, and that's all there is to it! You've just
got to go!"

"You mean to kidnap me and bear me off to that ogre's castle, whether or
not?"

"It's the very nicest school that ever was," cried Bess. "And such a
romantic place."

"Romantic?" repeated Nan curiously.

"Yes, indeed! A great big stone castle overlooking Lake Michigan, a
regular fortress, they say. It was built years ago by Colonel Gilpatrick
French, when he came over from Europe with some adventurous Irishmen
who thought all they had to do was to sail over to Canada and the whole
country would be theirs for the taking."

"Goodness me! I've read something about that," said Nan, interested.

"Well, Lakeview Hall, as the school is called, was built by that rich
Colonel French. And they say there are dungeons under it."

"Where they keep their jams and preserves, now, I suppose?" laughed Nan.

"And secret passages down to the shore of the lake. And the great hall
where the brave Irishmen used to drill is now the assembly hall of the
school."

"Sounds awfully interesting," admitted Nan.

"And Dr. Beulah Prescott, who governs the hall, the preceptress,
you know, is really a very lovely lady, my mother says," went on the
enthusiastic Bess. "MY mother went to school to her at Ferncliffe."

"Oh, Bess," Nan said warmly, "It must be a perfectly lovely place! But I
know I can never go there."

"Don't you say that! Don't you say that!" cried the other girl. "I won't
listen to you! You've just got to go!"

"I'm afraid you'll have to kidnap me, then," repeated Nan, with a
rueful smile. "I'm very sure that my father won't be able to afford it,
especially now that the mills will close."

"Oh, Nan! I think you're too mean," wailed her friend. "It's my pet
project. You know, I've always said we should go to preparatory school
together, and then to college."

Nan's eyes sparkled; but she shook her head.

"We sat together in primary school, and we've always been in the same
grade through grammar and into high," went on Bess, who was really very
faithful in her friendships. "It would just break my heart, Nan, if we
were to be separated now."

Nan put her arm about her. They had reached the corner by Bess's big
house where they usually separated after school.

"Don't you cry, honey!" Nan begged her chum. "You'll find lots of nice
girls at that Lakeview school, I am sure. I'd dearly love to go with
you, but you might as well understand right now, dear, that my folks are
poor."

"Poor!" gasped Bess.

"Too poor to send me to Lakeview," Nan went on steadily. "And with the
mills closing as they are, we shall be poorer still. I may have to get a
certificate as Bertha Pike did, and go to work. So you mustn't think any
more about my going to that beautiful school with you."

"Stop! I won't listen to you another moment, Nan Sherwood!" cried Bess,
and sticking her fingers in her ears, she ran angrily away and up the
walk to the front door.

Nan walked briskly away toward Amity Street. She did not turn back to
wave her hand as usual at the top of the hill.



Chapter II. THE COTTAGE ON AMITY STREET

The little shingled cottage stood back from the street, in a deeper yard
than most of its neighbors. It was built the year Nan was born, so the
roses, the honeysuckle, and the clematis had become of stalwart growth
and quite shaded the front and side porches.

The front steps had begun to sag a little; but Mr. Sherwood had blocked
them up. The front fence had got out of alignment, and the same able
mechanic had righted it and set the necessary new posts.

The trim of the little cottage on Amity Street had been painted twice
within Nan's remembrance; each time her father had done the work in his
spare time.

Now, with snow on the ground and frozen turf peeping out from under
the half-melted and yellowed drifts, the Sherwood cottage was not so
attractive as in summer. Yet it was a cozy looking house with the early
lamplight shining through the kitchen window and across the porch as Nan
approached, swinging her schoolbooks.

Papa Sherwood called it, with that funny little quirk in the corner
of his mouth, "a dwelling in amity, more precious than jewels or fine
gold."

And it was just that. Nan had had experience enough in the houses of her
school friends to know that none of them were homes like her own.

All was amity, all was harmony, in the little shingled cottage on this
short by-street of Tillbury.

It was no grave and solemn place where the natural outburst of childish
spirits was frowned upon, or one had to sit "stiff and starched" upon
stools of penitence.

No, indeed! Nan had romped and played in and about the cottage all her
life. She had been, in fact, of rather a boisterous temperament until
lately.

Her mother's influence was always quieting, and not only with her little
daughter. Mrs. Sherwood's voice was low, and with a dear drawl in it, so
Nan declared.

She had come from the South to Northern Illinois, from Tennessee, to
be exact, where Mr. Sherwood had met and married her. She had grace and
gentleness without the languor that often accompanies those qualities.

Her influence upon both her daughter and her husband was marked. They
deferred to her, made much of her, shielded her in every way possible
from all that was rude or unpleasant.

Yet Mrs. Sherwood was a perfectly capable and practical housekeeper, and
when her health would allow it she did all the work of the little family
herself. Just now she was having what she smilingly called "one of her
lazy spells," and old Mrs. Joyce came in to do the washing and cleaning
each week.

It was one of Mrs. Sherwood's many virtues that she bore with a smile
recurrent bodily ills that had made her a semi-invalid since Nan was a
very little girl. But in seeking medical aid for these ills, much of the
earnings of the head of the household had been spent.

The teakettle was singing when Nan entered the "dwelling in amity", and
her mother's low rocker was drawn close to the side-table on which the
lamp stood beside the basket of mending.

Although Mrs. Sherwood could not at present do her own laundry-work, she
insisted upon darning and patching and mending as only she could darn
and patch and mend.

Mr. Sherwood insisted that a sock always felt more comfortable on his
foot after "Momsey" had darned it than when it was new. And surely she
was a very excellent needlewoman.

This evening, however, her work had fallen into her lap with an idle
needle sticking in it. She had been resting her head upon her hand and
her elbow on the table when Nan came in. But she spoke in her usual
bright way to the girl as the latter first of all kissed her and then
put away her books and outer clothing.

"What is the good word from out of doors, honey?" she asked.

Nan's face was rather serious and she could not coax her usual
smile into being. Her last words with Bess Harley had savored of a
misunderstanding, and Nan was not of a quarrelsome disposition.

"I'm afraid there isn't any real good word to be brought from outside
tonight, Momsey," she confessed, coming back to stand by her mother's
chair.

"Can that be possible, Daughter!" said Mrs. Sherwood, with her low,
caressing laugh. "Has the whole world gone wrong?"

"Well, I missed in two recitations and have extras to make up, in the
first place," rejoined Nan ruefully.

"And what else?"

"Well, Bess and I didn't have exactly a falling out; but I couldn't help
offending her in one thing. That's the second trouble."

"And is there a 'thirdly,' my dear?" queried little Mrs. Sherwood
tranquilly.

"Oh, dear, yes! The worst of all!" cried Nan. "The yellow poster is up
at the mills."

"The yellow poster?" repeated her mother doubtfully, not at first
understanding the significance of her daughter's statement.

"Yes. You know. When there's anything bad to announce to the hands
the Atwater Company uses yellow posters, like a small-pox, or typhoid
warning. The horrid thing! The mills shut down in two weeks, Momsey, and
no knowing when they will open again."

"Oh, my dear!" was the little woman's involuntary tribute to the
seriousness of the announcement.

In a moment she was again her usual bright self. She drew Nan closer
to her and her own brown eyes, the full counterpart of her daughter's,
winkled merrily.

"I tell you what let's do, Nan," she said.

"What shall we do, Momsey?" repeated the girl, rather lugubriously.

"Why, let's not let Papa Sherwood know about it, it will make him feel
so bad."

Nan began to giggle at that. She knew what her mother meant. Of course,
Mr. Sherwood, being at the head of one of the mill departments, would
know all about the announcement of the shut-down; but they would keep
up the fiction that they did not know it by being particularly cheerful
when he came home from work.

So Nan giggled and swallowed back her sobs. Surely, if Momsey could
present a cheerful face to this family calamity, she could!

The girl ran her slim fingers into the thick mane of her mother's coiled
hair, glossy brown hair through which only a few threads of white were
speckled.

"Your head feels hot, Momsey," she said anxiously. "Does it ache?"

"A wee bit, honey," confessed Mrs. Sherwood.

"Let me take the pins out and rub your poor head, dear," said Nan. "You
know, I'm a famous 'massagist.' Come do, dear."

"If you like, honey."

Thus it was that, a little later, when Mr. Sherwood came home with feet
that dragged more than usual on this evening, he opened the door upon a
very beautiful picture indeed.

His wife's hair was "a glory of womanhood," for it made a tent all about
her, falling quite to the floor as she sat in her low chair. Out of this
canopy she looked up at the brawny, serious man, roguishly.

"Am I not a lazy, luxurious person, Papa Sherwood?" she demanded.
"Nan is becoming a practical maid, and I presume I put upon the child
dreadfully, she is good-natured, like you, Robert."

"Aye, I know our Nan gets all her good qualities from me, Jessie," said
her husband. "If she favored you she would, of course, be a very hateful
child."

He kissed his wife tenderly. As Nan said, he always "cleaned up" at the
mills and "came home kissable."

"I ought to be just next door to an angel, if I absorbed the virtues of
both my parents," declared Nan briskly, beginning to braid the wonderful
hair which she had already brushed. "I often think of that."

Her father poked her tentatively under the shoulder blades with a blunt
forefinger, making her squirm.

"I don't feel the wings sprouting yet, Nancy," he said, in his dry way.

"I hope not, yet!" exclaimed the girl. "I'd have to have a new winter
coat if you did, and I know we can't afford that just now."

"You never said a truer word, Nan," replied Mr. Sherwood, his voice
dropping to a less cheerful level, as he went away to change his coat
and light the hanging lamp in the dining room where the supper table was
already set.

Mother and daughter looked at each other rather ruefully.

"Oh, dear me!" whispered Nan. "I never do open my mouth but I put my
foot in it!"

"Goodness!" returned her mother, much amused. "That is an acrobatic feat
that I never believed you capable of, honey."

"We-ell! I reminded Papa Sherwood of our hard luck instead of being
bright and cheerful like you."

"We will give him a nice supper, honey, and make him forget his
troubles. Time enough to call to order the ways and means committee
afterward." Her husband came back into the kitchen as Nan finished
arranging the hair. "Come, Papa Sherwood!" cried the little lady. "Hot
biscuit; the last of the honey; sweet pickles; sliced cold ham; and a
beautiful big plum cake that our Nan made this morning before school
time, her own self. You MUST smile at all those dainties."

And the husband and father smiled. They all made an effort to help each
other. But they knew that with the loss of his work would doubtless come
the loss of the home. During the years that had elapsed, Mr. Sherwood
had paid in part for the cottage; but now the property was deteriorating
instead of advancing in value. He could not increase the mortgage upon
it. Prompt payment of interest half-yearly was demanded. And how could
he meet these payments, not counting living expenses, when his income
was entirely cut off?

Mr. Sherwood was forty-five years old, an age at which it is difficult
for a man to take up a new trade, or to obtain new employment at his old
one.



Chapter III. "FISHING"

Nan told of Bess Harley's desire to have her chum accompany her to
Lakeview Hall the following autumn, as a good joke.

"I hope I'll be in some good situation by that time," she said to her
mother, confidentially, "helping, at least, to support myself instead of
being a burden upon father and you."

"It's very unselfish of you to propose that, honey," replied her mother.
"But, perhaps, such a sacrifice as the curtailment of your education
will not be required of you."

"But, my DEAR!" gasped Nan. "I couldn't go to Lakeview Hall. It would
cost, why! a pile!"

"I don't know how much a pile is, translated into coin of the realm,
honey," responded Mrs. Sherwood with her low, sweet laugh. "But the only
thing we can give our dear daughter, your father and I, is an education.
That you MUST have to enable you to support yourself properly when your
father can do no more for you."

"But I s'pose I've already had as much education as most girls in
Tillbury get. So many of them go into the mills and factories at my age.
If they can get along, I suppose I can."

"Hush!" begged her mother quickly. "Don't speak of such a thing. I
couldn't bear to have you obliged to undertake your own support in any
such way.

"Both your father and I, honey, had the benefit of more than the
ordinary common-school education. I went three years to the Tennessee
Training College; I was prepared to teach when your father and I met
and married. He obtained an excellent training for his business in a
technical college. We hoped to give our children, if we were blessed
with them, an even better start in life than we had.

"Had your little brother lived, honey," added Mrs. Sherwood tenderly,
"we should have tried to put him through college, and you, as well. It
would have been something worthwhile for your father to work for. But I
am afraid all these years that his money has been wasted in attempts to
benefit my health."

"Oh, Momsey! Don't say it, that way," urged Nan. "What would we ever
do without you? But I sometimes think how nice it would be had I been a
boy, my own brother, for instance. A boy can be so much more help than a
girl."

"For shame!" cried her mother, laughing. "Do you dare admit a boy is
smarter than a girl, Nan?"

"Not smarter. Only better able to do any kind of work, I guess. They
wouldn't let me work in the file shop, or drive a grocery wagon."

"Goodness! Listen to the child!" gasped Mrs. Sherwood. "I should hope
not! Why, honey, is your mind running continually on such dreadful
things? I am afraid your father and I allow you to hear us talk too
frequently about family matters. You must not assume the family's
burdens at your age."

There was that trend to Nan Sherwood's character, however. With all
her blithesomeness and high spirits she was inclined to be serious in
thought.

This conversation occurred several days after the evening when, on their
way home from school, Nan and her school chum, Bess Harley, had read the
yellow poster at the gate of the Atwater Mills.

The district surrounding the mills, in which most of the hands lived,
had put on an aspect of mourning. Some of the workmen and their families
had already packed up and gone. Most of the houses occupied by the hands
were owned by the Atwater Company, and if the poor people remained till
January 15th, the wages due them then would be eaten up by the rent of
the tenements.

So they were wise to leave when they could. Many who remained would be a
burden upon the taxpayers of Tillbury before the winter was over.

Nan and her folks were not in such a sad situation as the laborers, of
course. Mr. Sherwood had a small sum in bank. He had, too, a certain
standing in the community and a line of credit at the stores that he
might have used.

Debt, however, save that upon their house, he had fought to keep out of
all his married life. That his equity in the Amity Street cottage was so
small was not his fault; but he owed not any man.

"Now we must go fishing," Mrs. Sherwood said, in her sprightly way, when
the little family really discussed the unfortunate situation after the
announcement of the shut-down of the mills was made public.

"Goodness, Momsey! What a reckless creature you are," laughed Mr.
Sherwood. "Waste our precious time in such employment, and in the dead
of winter, too?"

"Now, Papa Sherwood, I don't mean that kind of fishing at all!" cried
the little woman gaily. "We are going to fish for employment for you,
perhaps for a new home."

"Oh!" gasped Nan. The thought of deserting the little cottage on Amity
Street was a dreadful shock.

"We must face that possibility," said her mother firmly. "It may be.
Tillbury will see very hard times now that the mills are closed. Other
mills and shops will follow suit."

"Quite true, Momsey," agreed the husband and father.

"I am a very logical person, am I not?" said the smiling little lady.

"But the fishing?" cried Nan curiously.

"Ah, yes. I am coming to that," said her mother. "The fishing, to be
sure! Why, we are going to write letters to just everybody we know, and
some we only know by hearsay, and find out if there isn't a niche for
Papa Sherwood somewhere outside Tillbury."

"So we can!" cried Nan, clapping her hands.

"I am afraid there is general depression in my line of business
everywhere," suggested Mr. Sherwood. "For some years the manufacturers
have been forcing cotton goods upon a false market. And the recent
attempt to help the cotton growers by boosting the price of raw cotton
will come near to ruining the mills and mill workers. It is always
so. In an attempt to benefit one class of the people another class is
injured."

"Now, never mind politics, sir!" cried his little wife. "We poor, weak
women aren't supposed to understand such things. Only when Nan and I get
the vote, and all the other millions of women and girls, we will have no
class legislation. 'The greatest good for the greatest number' will be
our motto."

Mr. Sherwood only smiled. He might have pointed out that in that very
statement was the root of all class legislation. He knew his wife's
particular ideas were good, however, her general political panacea was
rather doubtful. He listened thoughtfully as she went on:

"Yes, we must fish for a new position for papa. We may have to go away
from here. Perhaps rent the house. You know, we have had good offers for
it."

"True," admitted Mr. Sherwood.

"Oh, dear!" sighed Nan, but below her breath so that Momsey and Papa
Sherwood did not hear the sigh.

"I am going to write to Cousin Adair MacKenzie, in Memphis. He is quite
prominent in business there," pursued Mrs. Sherwood. "We might find a
footing in Memphis."

Mr. Sherwood looked grave, but said nothing. He knew that the enervating
climate of the Southern river city would never do for his wife. Change
of climate might benefit her greatly; the doctors had all said so of
late; but not that change.

"Then," continued Nan's mother, "there is your brother, Henry, up in
Michigan."

"Oh! I remember Uncle Henry," cried Nan. "Such a big, big man!"

"With a heart quite in keeping with the size of his body, honey," her
mother quickly added. "And your Aunt Kate is a very nice woman. Your
uncle has lumber interests. He might find something for your father
there."

"I'll write to Hen, Jessie," Mr. Sherwood said decisively. "But a lumber
camp is no place for you. Let's see, his mail address is Hobart Forks,
isn't it? Right in the heart of the woods. If you weren't eaten up by
black gnats, you would be by ennui," and he chuckled.

"Goodness!" cried Mrs. Sherwood, making big eyes at him. "Are those a
new kind of mosquito? Ennui, indeed! Am I a baby? Is Nan another?"

"But think of Nan's education, my dear," suggested Mr. Sherwood.

"I ought to work and help the family instead of going to school any
longer," Nan declared.

"Not yet, Daughter, not yet," her father said quickly. "However, I will
write to Hen. He may be able to suggest something."

"It might be fun living in the woods," Nan said. "I'm not afraid of
gnats, or mosquitoes, or, or on-wees!"

She chanced to overhear her father and Dr. Christian talking the next
day on the porch, and heard the wise old physician say:

"I'm not sure I could countenance that, Robert. What Jessie needs is an
invigorating, bracing atmosphere. A sea voyage would do her the greatest
possible good."

"Perhaps a trip to Buffalo, down the lakes?"

"No, no! That's merely an old woman's home-made plaster on the wound.
Something more drastic. Salt air. A long, slow voyage, overseas. It
often wracks the system, but it brings the patient to better and more
stable health. Jessie may yet be a strong, well woman if we take the
right course with her."

Nevertheless, Mr. Sherwood wrote to his brother. He had to do so, it
seemed. There was no other course open to him.

And while he fished in that direction, Momsey threw out her line toward
Memphis and Adair MacKenzie. Mr. Sherwood pulled in his line first,
without much of a nibble, it must be confessed.

"Dear Bob," the elder Sherwood wrote: "Things are flatter than a
stepped-on pancake with me. I've got a bunch of trouble with old Ged
Raffer and may have to go into court with him. Am not cutting a stick
of timber. But you and Jessie and the little nipper,"("Consider!"
interjected Nan, "calling me 'a little nipper'! What does he consider a
big 'nipper'?") "come up to Pine Camp. Kate and I will be mighty glad to
have you here. Tom and Rafe are working for a luckier lumberman than I,
and there's plenty of room here for all hands, and a hearty welcome for
you and yours as long as there's a shot in the locker."

"That's just like Hen," Nan's father said. "He'd divide his last crust
with me. But I don't want to go where work is scarce. I must go where it
is plentiful, where a man of even my age will be welcome."

"Your age, Papa Sherwood! How you talk," drawled Nan's mother in her
pretty way. "You are as young as the best of 'em yet."

"Employers don't look at me through your pretty eyes, Momsey," he
returned, laughing.

"Well," said his wife, still cheerfully, "my fishing seems to be
resultless yet. Perhaps the bait's gone off the hook. Had I better haul
in the line and bait again? I was always doing that when I went fishing
with Adair and his brothers, years ago, when I was a little girl."

Her husband shook his head. "Have patience, Jessie," he said.

He had few expectations from the Memphis letter; yet there was a most
surprising result from it on the way, something which by no possibility
could the little family in the Amity Street cottage have suspected.



Chapter IV. SWEEPING CLEAN

"My goodness me!" ejaculated Bess Harley. "Talk about the 'leaden wings
of Time.' Why! Time sweeps by us on electrically-driven, ball-bearing
pinions. Here's another week gone, Nan, and tomorrow's Saturday."

"Yes," Nan agreed. "Time flies all too quickly, for me, anyway. The
mills have been closed a week now."

"Oh, dear! That's all I hear," complained Bess. "Those tiresome old
mills. Our Maggie's sister was crying in the kitchen last night because
her Mike couldn't get a job now the mills were closed, and was drinking
up all the money they had saved. That's what the mill-hands do; their
money goes to the saloon-keepers!"

"The proportion of their income spent by the laboring class for
alcoholic beverages is smaller by considerable than that spent by
the well-to-do for similar poison!" quoted Nan decisively. "Mike is
desperate, I suppose, poor fellow!"

"My goodness me!" cried Bess again. "You are most exasperating, Nan
Sherwood. Mike's case has nothing to do with political Economy, and I do
wish you'd drop that study out of school----"

"I have!" gasped Nan, for just then her books slipped from her strap;
"and history, rhetoric, and philosophical readings along with it," and
she proceeded cheerfully to pick up the several books mentioned.

"You can't mean," Bess said, still severely, "that you won't go to
Lakeview with me, Nan?"

"I wish you wouldn't keep saying that, Bess," Nan Sherwood cried. "Is it
my fault? Don't you suppose I'd love to, if I could? We have no money.
Father is out of work. There is no prospect of other work for him in
Tillbury, he says, and," Nan continued desperately, "how do you suppose
I can go to a fancy boarding school under these circumstances?"

"Why-----"

For once Elizabeth was momentarily silenced. Suddenly her face
brightened. "I tell you!" she exclaimed. "I'll speak to my father about
it. He can fix it so that you will be able to go to the Hall with me, I
know."

"I'd like to see myself an object of charity!" Nan cried, with heat.
"I, guess, not! What I can't earn, or my father can't give me, I'll go
without, Bess. That's all there is to that!"

Bess stared at her with quivering lips. "You can't be so mean, Nan," she
faltered.

"I'm not mean!" denied the other.

"I'd like to know what you call it? Why, father'd never miss your
tuition money in the world. And I know he'd pay your way if I asked him
and told him how bad I felt about your not going."

"You're a dear, Bess!" declared Nan, impulsively hugging her friend
again. "But you mustn't ask him, honey. It wouldn't be right, and I
couldn't accept.

"Don't you understand, honey, that I have some pride in the matter?
So have Papa Sherwood and Momsey. What they can't do for me their own
selves I wouldn't want anybody to do."

"Why, that sounds awfully silly to me, Nan!" said Bess. "Why not take
all you can get in this world? I'm sure I should."

"You don't know what you are saying," Nan returned seriously. "And,
then, you are not poor, so you can afford to say it, and even do it."

"Poor! I'm getting to hate that word," cried Bess stormily. "It never
bothered me before, much. We're not poor and none of our friends were
poor. Not until those old mills closed. And now it seems all I hear is
about folks being POOR. I hate it!"

"I guess," said Nan ruefully, "you don't hate it half as much as those
of us who have to suffer it."

"I'm just going to find some way of getting you to Lakeview Hall, my
dear," Bess rejoined gloomily. "Why! I won't want to go myself if you
don't go, Nan."

Her friend thought she would better not tell Bess just then that the
prospect was that she, with her father and mother, would have to leave
Tillbury long before the autumn. Mr. Sherwood was trying to obtain
a situation in Chicago, in a machine shop. He had no hope of getting
another foreman's position.

Nothing had been heard from Mr. Adair MacKenzie, of Memphis. Mrs.
Sherwood wanted to write again; but her husband begged her not to. He
had a proper pride. It looked to him as though his wife's cousin did not
care to be troubled by the necessities of his relations.

"We'll get along!" was Mr. Sherwood's repeated and cheerful statement.
"Never say die! Hope is our anchor! Fate shall not balk us! And all the
other copy-book maxims."

But it was Mrs. Sherwood and Nan who managed to save and scrimp and
be frugal in many infinitesimal ways, thus making their savings last
marvelously.

Nan gave up her entire Saturdays to household tasks. She insisted on
that, and urged the curtailment of the weekly expense by having Mrs.
Joyce come in to help but one day.

"I can iron, Momsey, and if I can't do it very well at first, I can
learn," declared the plucky girl. "And, of course, I can sweep. That's
good for me. Our physical instructor says so. Instead of going to the
gym on Saturday, I'll put in calisthenics and acrobatic stunts with a
broom and duster."

She was thorough, too. She could not have been her father's daughter
without having that virtue. There was no "lick and a promise" in Nan
Sherwood's housekeeping. She did not sweep the dust under the bureau,
or behind the door, or forget to wipe the rounds of the chairs and the
baseboard all around the rooms.

Papa Sherwood, coughing in the lower hall as the dust descended from
above, declared she went through the cottage like a whirlwind. It was
not as bad as that, but her vigorous young arms wielded the broom with
considerable skill.

One Saturday, with every other room swept but the front hall, she closed
the doors into that, and set wide open the outer door. There was more
snow on the ground now; but the porch was cleaned and the path to the
front gate neatly dug and swept. The tinkle of sleigh bells and the
laughter of a crowd of her school friends swept by the corner of Amity
Street. Nan ran out upon the porch and waved her duster at them.

There she stood, smiling out upon her little world for a minute. She
might not see Amity Street, and the old neighbors, many weeks longer. A
half-promise of work from the Chicago machine shop boss had reached Mr.
Sherwood that morning by post. It seemed the only opening, and it
meant that they would have to give up the "dwelling in amity" and go to
crowded Chicago to live. For Momsey was determined that Papa Sherwood
should not go without her.

Nan came back into the hall and began to wield the broom again. She
could not leave the door open too long, for it was cold outside and the
winter chill would get into the house. They had to keep all the rooms at
an even temperature on account of Momsey's health.

But she swept vigorously, moving each piece of furniture, and throwing
the rugs out upon the porch for a special sweeping there. The rough mat
at the door was a heavy one. As Nan stooped to pick it up and toss it
after the other small rugs, she saw the corner of a yellow envelope
sticking from under the edge of the hall carpet.

"Wonder what that is?" murmured Nan. "Somebody has thrust a circular,
or advertisement, under our door, and it's gone under the carpet. Yes!
There's a tack out there."

She seized the corner of the envelope with thumb and finger. She drew it
out. Its length surprised her. It was a long, official looking envelope,
not bulky but most important looking. In the upper left-hand corner was
printed:

ADAIR MACKENZIE & CO. STOCKS AND BONDS MEMPHIS

It was properly stamped and addressed to her mother. By the postmark on
it Nan knew it must have been tucked under the door by the postman more
than a week before. Somehow he had failed to ring their bell when he
left the letter. The missing tack in the edge of the hall carpet had
allowed the document to slide out of sight, and it might have been
hidden for weeks longer had chance not shown the small corner of
straw-colored paper to Nan.

She felt breathless. Her knees trembled. Somehow, Nan just KNEW that the
letter from her mother's cousin must be of enormous importance. She
set her broom in the corner and closed the door. It was fated that she
should do no more sweeping that day.



Chapter V. GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Mr. Sherwood, in overalls and an old cap, had been sifting cinders out
behind the shed. They had to be careful of fuel as well as of most other
things. Momsey would not open the long envelope until he had been called
and had come in. Nan still wore the bright colored bandana wound about
her head, turban-wise, for a dust cap. Papa Sherwood beat the ashes from
his hands as he stood before the glowing kitchen range.

"What is it?" he asked calmly. "A notice of a new tax assessment? Or a
cure-all advertisement of Somebody's Pills?"

"It's from Cousin Adair," said Momsey, a little breathlessly. "And it's
been lying at our door all the time."

"All what time?" asked Mr. Sherwood curiously.

"All the time we have been so disappointed in our inquiries elsewhere,"
said Momsey soberly.

"Oh!" responded her husband doubtfully, and said no more.

"It makes my knees shake," confessed Nan. "Do open it, Momsey!"

"I, I feel that it is important, too," the little lady said.

"Well, my dear," her husband finally advised, having waited in patience,
"unless it is opened we shall never know whether your feeling is
prophetic or not. 'By the itching of my thumb,' and so forth!"

Without making any rejoinder to this, and perhaps without hearing his
gentle raillery, Mrs. Sherwood reached up to the coils of her thick hair
to secure woman's never-failing implement, a hairpin.

There were two enclosures. Both she shook into her lap. The sealed,
foreign-looking letter she picked up first. It was addressed in a
clerkly hand to,

"MISTRESS JESSIE ADAIR BLAKE,

"KINDNESS OF MESSRS. ADAIR MACKENZIE & CO.

"MEMPHIS, TENN., U.S.A."

"From England. No! From Scotland," murmured Nan, looking over her
mother's shoulder in her eagerness. She read the neatly printed card in
the corner of the foreign envelope:

KELLAM & BLAKE HADBORNE CHAMBERS EDINBURGH

Mrs. Sherwood was whispering her maiden name over to herself. She looked
up suddenly at her husband with roguish eyes.

"I'd almost forgotten there ever was such a girl as Jessie Adair Blake,"
she said.

"Oh, Momsey!" squealed Nan, with clasped hands and immense impatience.
"Don't, DON'T be so slow! Open it!"

"No-o," her mother said, with pursed lips. "No, honey. The other comes
first, I reckon."

It was a letter typewritten upon her cousin's letter-head; but it
was not dictated by Mr. Adair MacKenzie. Instead, it was from Mr.
MacKenzie's secretary, who stated that her employer had gone to Mexico
on business that might detain him for several weeks.

"A letter addressed by you to Mr. MacKenzie arrived after his departure
and is being held for him with other personal communications until
his return; but being assured that you are the Jessie Adair Blake, now
Sherwood--to whom the enclosed letter from Scotland is addressed, I take
the liberty of forwarding the same. The Scotch letter reached us after
Mr. MacKenzie's departure, likewise. Will you please acknowledge the
receipt of the enclosure and oblige?"

This much of the contents of the secretary's letter was of particular
interest to the Sherwoods. Momsey's voice shook a little as she finished
reading it. Plainly she was disappointed.

"Cousin Adair, I am sure, would have suggested something helpful had
he been at home," she said sadly. "It, it is a great disappointment,
Robert."

"Well, well!" replied Mr. Sherwood, perhaps not without some secret
relief. "It will all come out right. At least, your cousin hasn't
refused his assistance. We shall be established somewhere before he
returns from his Mexican trip."

"I, I did depend so much upon Adair's good will and advice," signed
Momsey.

"But, dear me suz!" gasped Nan impatiently. "What are you folks
bothering over that for? It isn't Cousin Adair that I want to know
about. It's this letter, Momsey," and she seized the thin yet important
envelope from Scotland and shook it before her mother's eyes.

"Better look into it, Momsey," advised Mr. Sherwood easily, preparing to
return to the cinder sifting. "Maybe it's from some of your relatives in
the Old Country. I see 'Blake' printed in the corner. Didn't your father
have an uncle or somebody, who was steward on the estate of a Scotch
Laird of some renown?"

"Heck, mon!" cried Momsey, with her usual gaiety, and throwing off the
cloud of gloom that had momentarily subdued her spirit. "Ye air a wise
cheil. Ma faither talked muckle o' Uncle Hughie Blake, remimberin' him
fra' a wee laddie when his ain faither took him tae Scotland, and tae
Castle Emberon, on a veesit."

Nan and Papa Sherwood laughed at her when she assumed the Scotch burr of
her forebears. With precision she cut the flap of this smaller envelope.
She felt no excitement now. She had regained control of herself after
the keen disappointment arising from the first letter.

She calmly opened the crackly sheet of legal looking paper in her lap.
It was not a long letter, and it was written in a stiff, legal hand,
instead of being typewritten, each character as precise as the legal
mind that dictated it:

"Mistress Jessie Adair Blake, (Known to be a married woman, but wedded
name unknown to writer.)

"Dear Madam: It is my duty to inform you that your father (the late
Randolph Hugh Blake) was made sole beneficiary of his late uncle, Mr.
Hugh Blake, the Laird of Emberon's steward, by a certain testament, or
will, made many years ago. Mr. Hugh Blake has recently died a bachelor,
and before his demise he added a codicil to the above testament, or
will, naming you, his great niece, his sole heir and beneficiary.

"There are other relatives who may make some attempt to oppose your
claim; but none of near blood. Your title to the said estate is clear;
but it is quite necessary that you should appear before our Courts with
proofs of identity, and so forth. On receipt from you of acknowledgment
of this letter, with copies of identification papers (your grandfather's
naturalization papers, your father's discharge from army, your own birth
certificate and marriage lines, and so forth) I will give myself
the pleasure of forwarding any further particulars you may wish, and
likewise place at your command my own services in obtaining possession
for you of your great uncle's estate.

"The said estate of Mr. Hugh Blake, deceased, amounts, in real and
personal property, including moneys in the bank, to about the sum,
roughly estimated, of 10,000 pounds.

"Respectfully, your servant,

"Andrew Blake, Solicitor and Att'y."


Nan had leaned over her mother's shoulder, big-eyed, scarce believing
the plainly written words she read. It was preposterous, ridiculous,
fanciful, a dream from which she must awake in a moment to the full
realization of their dreadful need of just such a godsend as this.

It was her father's voice that roused the girl. He had not seen the
letter and Momsey had read it silently to herself.

"Look out, Nancy! What is the matter with your mother?"

With a cry the girl caught the frail little lady in her arms as the
letter slipped unheeded from her lap to the floor. Mrs. Sherwood's eyes
were closed. She had fainted.



Chapter VI. A SPRAT FOR A HERRING

"I don't need the doctor this time, honey; joy never killed yet."

So said Mrs. Sherwood, opening her eyes to see the scared face of Nan
close above her. Then she saw her husband at her feet, quietly chafing
her hands in his own hard, warm palms. She pulled hers gently from his
clasp and rested them upon his head. Mr. Sherwood's hair was iron-gray,
thick, and inclined to curl. She ran her little fingers into it and
clung tightly.

"Let, let me get my breath!" she gasped. Then, after a moment she smiled
brilliantly into the wind-bitten face of the kneeling man. "It's all
over, Robert," she said.

"My dear!" he cried thickly; while Nan could not wholly stifle the cry
of fear that rose to her lips.

"It's all over," repeated the little woman. "All the worry, all the
poverty, all the uncertainty, all the hard times."

Mr. Sherwood looked startled indeed. He had no idea what the letter
from Scotland contained, and he feared that his wife, who had already
suffered so much, was for the moment quite out of her head.

"My poor Jessie," he began, but her low, sweet laugh stopped him.

"Not poor! Never poor again, Robert!" she cried. "God is very good to
us. At the very darkest hour He has shown us the dawn. Robert, we are
rich!"

"Great goodness, Jessie! What do you mean? Exclaimed Mr. Sherwood,
stumbling to his feet at last.

"It's true! It's true, Papa Sherwood!" Nan cried, clapping her hands.
"Don't you call ten thousand dollars riches?"

"Ten, thousand, dollars?" murmured her father. He put his hand to
his head and looked confusedly about for a seat, into which he weakly
dropped. Nan had picked up the letter and now she dramatically thrust it
into his hand.

"Read that, Papa Sherwood!" she said commandingly.

He read the communication from the Scotch attorney, first with immense
surprise, then with profound doubt. Who but a young imaginative girl,
like Nan, or a woman with unbounded faith in the miracles of God, like
her mother, could accept such a perfectly wonderful thing as being real?

"A hoax," thought the man who had worked so hard all his life without
the least expectation of ever seeing a penny that he did not earn
himself. "Can it be that any of those heedless relatives of my wife's in
Memphis have attempted a practical joke at this time?"

He motioned for Nan to bring him the envelope, too. This he examined
closely, and then read the communication again. It looked all regular.
The stationery, the postmark, the date upon it, all seemed perfectly in
accord.

Mrs. Sherwood's gay little laugh shattered the train of her husband's
thought. "I know what the matter is with you, Papa Sherwood," she said.
"You think it must be a practical joke."

"Oh!" gasped Nan, feeling a positive pain at her heart. This awful
possibility had never entered her mind before.

"But it isn't," went on her mother blithely. "It is real. Mr. Hugh
Blake, of Emberon, must have been very old; and he was probably as
saving and canny as any Scotchman who ever wore kilts. It is not
surprising that he should have left an estate of considerable size-----"

"Ten thousand dollars!" breathed Nan again. She loved to repeat it.
There was white magic in the very sound of such a sum of money. But her
father threw a conversational bomb into their midst the next instant.

"Ten thousand dollars, you goosey!" he said vigorously. "That's the main
doubt in the whole business. It isn't ten thousand dollars. It's fifty
thousand dollars! A pound, either English or Scotch, is almost five of
our dollars. Ten thousand dollars would certainly be a fortune for us;
fifty thousand is beyond the dreams of avarice."

"Oh, dear me!" said Nan weakly.

But Mrs. Sherwood merely laughed again. "The more the better," she said.
"Why shouldn't we be able to put fifty thousand dollars to good use?"

"Oh, we can, Momsey," said Nan eagerly. "But, will we be let?"

Mr. Sherwood laughed grimly at that; but his wife continued confidently:

"I am sure nobody needs it more than we do."

"Why!" her daughter said, just as excitedly, "we'll be as rich as Bess
Harley's folks. Oh, Momsey! Oh, Papa Sherwood! Can I go to Lakewood
Hall?"

The earnestness of her cry showed the depths to which that desire had
plumbed during these last weeks of privation and uncertainty. It was
Nan's first practical thought in relation to the possibility of their
changed circumstances.

The father and mother looked at each other with shocked understanding.
The surprise attending the letter had caused both parents to forget,
for the moment, the effect of this wonderful promise of fortune, whether
true or false, on imaginative, high-spirited Nan.

"Let us be happy at first, Nan, just in the knowledge that some money is
coming to us," Mrs. Sherwood said more quietly. "Never mind how much, or
how little. Time will tell all that."

"Now you talk like father," cried Nan, pouting.

"And let father talk a little, too," Mr. Sherwood said, smiling, "and
to you both." His right forefinger struck the letter emphatically in his
other hand. "This is a very wonderful, a blessed, thing, if true. But it
has to be proven. We must build our hopes on no false foundation."

"Oh, Papa Sherwood! How can we, when the man says there-----"

"Hush!" whispered Momsey, squeezing her excited little daughter's hand.

"In the first place," continued Mr. Sherwood quietly and gravely, "there
may be some mistake in the identification of your mother, child, as the
niece mentioned in this old man's will."

"Oh!" Nan could not help that gasp.

"Again, there may be stronger opposition to her claim than this lawyer
at present sees. Fifty thousand dollars is a whole lot of money, and
other people by the name of Blake will be tempted by it."

"How mean of them!" whispered Nan.

"And, above all," pursued Mr. Sherwood, "this may be merely a scheme by
unprincipled people to filch small sums of money from gullible people.
The 'foreign legacy swindle' is worked in many different ways. There
may be calls for money, by this man who names himself Andrew Blake, for
preliminary work on the case. We haven't much; but if he is baiting for
hundreds of Blakes in America he may secure, in the aggregate, a very
tidy sum indeed."

"Oh, Father!" cried Nan. "That's perfectly horrid!"

"But perfectly possible. Let us not swallow this bait, hook, line and
sinker. You see, he sends no copy of the will in question, or
that codicil relating to your mother's legacy; nor does he offer
identification or surety as to his own standing. Don't let the
possibilities of this wonderful thing carry you off your feet, my dear."

Nan's lip was quivering and she could scarcely crowd back the tears. To
have one's hopes rise so high only to be dashed-----.

"Don't completely crush us, Papa Sherwood, with your perfectly
unanswerable logic," said his wife lightly. "We'll remember all these
strictures, and more. We can at least put the matter to the test."

"Quite so," agreed her husband. "We will prepare the papers requested
by this Scotch attorney. I will even inquire of a good lawyer here
something regarding the Scotch laws in such a matter as this, if it will
be necessary to make a personal appearance before the local courts
over there. And perhaps we can find out the true standing of Mr. Andrew
Blake, of Kellam & Blake, Edinburgh. It will cost us a little money, and
we can ill spare it now; but to satisfy ourselves-----"

"We will throw a sprat to catch a herring," quoted Momsey cheerfully.

"Quite so," repeated Mr. Sherwood.

"But, dear, DEAR!" moaned Nan. "Is that all it is going to amount to?
Don't you really believe it's all true, Papa Sherwood?"

"I can't say that I do, my dear," returned her father gravely. "Such
romantic things as this do not often happen outside of story books."

"Then, I declare!" cried Nan desperately, "I wish we lived in a story
book!"

"Your father will make inquiries at once, honey," said Momsey easily,
seemingly very little disturbed herself by her husband's doubts and
fears. To her mind this wonderful turn of fortune's wheel was in direct
answer to prayer. Nothing could shake her faith in the final result
of her husband's inquiries. Yet, she was proud of his caution and good
sense.

"I do think it is dreadful," murmured Nan, "to believe one's self rich
for only a minute!"

"Have patience, honey," said her mother.

"Meanwhile," added Mr. Sherwood, rising, "I will go back to sifting
cinders."

But Nan did no more sweeping that day.



Chapter VII. A VISTA OF NEW FORTUNES

Nan said nothing to Bess Harley, her particular chum and confidant,
about the wonderful letter that had come from Scotland. Although Momsey
and Nan talked the legacy over intimately that Saturday afternoon, and
planned what they would really do with some of the money "when their
ship came in," the young girl knew that the matter was not to be
discussed outside of the family circle.

Not even the hope Nan now cherished of accompanying her chum to Lakeview
Hall when the next school year opened was divulged when the two girls
were together on Sunday, or on the days that immediately followed.

Nan Sherwood went about her household and school tasks in a sort of
waking dream. Imagination was continually weaving pictures in her mind
of what might happen if the vista of new fortunes that had opened before
the little family in the Amity Street cottage really came true.

Papa Sherwood's first reports on the matter of the Scotch legacy were
not inspiring.

"Mr. Bludsoe says we'd better go slow," he said seriously. Mr. Bludsoe
was a lawyer of high repute in Tillbury. "This letter may be written by
an attorney in Edinburgh; but there are rascally lawyers there as well
as elsewhere. Bludsoe had correspondents in London. They may be able to
inform him regarding the firm of solicitors, Kellam & Blake, if the firm
really is entered at the Scotch bar."

"Oh! But won't that mean delay?" murmured Nan.

"Meanwhile," said her father, smiling at her impatience, "we will
prepare the papers identifying your dear mother so that, if this
wonderful new fortune should be a reality, we can put in a proper claim
for it. Just the same," he added to his wife, when Nan had left the
room, "I have written to that machine shop boss in Chicago that I am
ready to come to work any day he may send for me."

"Oh, Robert!" gasped the little lady. "Won't you believe?"

"Like the darkey who was asked if he believed the world was round, and
said, 'Ah believes it, but Ah ain't dead sho' of it.' I presume this
great fortune is possible, Jessie, but I haven't perfect and abiding
faith in its existence, FOR us," said her husband.

But Momsey had just that quality of faith. She went singing about her
household tasks and her usual smile beamed quite beatific. So said Dr.
Christian, who stepped in to see her, as was his custom every few days.

"What's this? What's this?" the old medical practitioner demanded of Mr.
Sherwood, on the porch, where he usually made his report, and to which
Nan often stole to listen openly to them discuss her mother's case.
"I find her in a state of happy excitement, and that is quite right,
Robert, quite right, if the hopes that are the wellspring of it are
not quenched. What does it mean? Have you arranged the sea voyage I
advised?"

Papa Sherwood's face changed suddenly. He looked oddly, Nan thought,
at the doctor. "I don't know but that is it, Doc," he said. "That sea
voyage may be in the offing."

"Best thing that could happen to her, best thing that could happen to
her!" declared the old physician with emphasis, as he stumped away.

Nan wondered what that could mean. A sea voyage for Momsey? Of course,
for all of them. She could not imagine Momsey going anywhere without her
and Papa Sherwood.

She knew she was not to say anything about what she heard pass between
her father and the doctor on the porch. Indeed, Nan was no bearer
of tales in any event. But she was very curious. The steam from the
cauldron of Mystery seldom arose in the little "dwelling in amity"
save about Christmas time or just previous to Nan's birthday. But Papa
Sherwood certainly was enigmatical and Momsey was mysteriously happy, as
Dr. Christian had said.

"And we'll put steam heat in the little house. You know, Robert, we've
always wanted to," Nan's mother suddenly said one evening as they all
sat around the reading lamp, and quite apropos of nothing at all. Then
she laughed, flushing prettily. "There! You see what my mind runs on. I
really can't help it."

It was only a day or two later that the second letter came from Memphis.
Mr. Adair MacKenzie had returned from Mexico and evidently one of
the first duties he performed was to write his Cousin Jessie his
congratulations.

"A letter on quite another matter," this epistle read, "from our distant
kinsman, Andrew Blake, of Kellam & Blake, apprised me that the ancient
Hugh Blake, steward to the Lairds of Emberon for so many years, was dead
and that his property was willed to your father, whose appearance as a
lad at Emberon pleased the old man greatly.

"You are to be congratulated. The estate is considerable, I understand.
Your husband's troubles which are mentioned in your letter that I
found awaiting my return will now be over. For, although Andrew Blake
intimates that there may be considerable opposition in the courts there,
over the money going to an American heir, you will be able in the end to
establish your rights.

"Believe me, my dear Jessie, I know of nobody in our family to whom I
would rather see fortune come than to yourself and your dear ones. If
I can be of any assistance, financially, or otherwise, in helping you
obtain your rights in this event, believe me, I stand ready to give such
aid. Do not hesitate to call upon me. My regards to your husband and
little girl whom I have never seen; Alice and John join me in expressing
our good wishes for your happy future. I remain, with the old love I
always had for you, Your cousin, Adair MacKenzie."

"Now, Robert, what have you to say?" cried Momsey triumphantly, while
Nan danced a fandango about the room.

"This much," replied her husband, smiling. "Our minds are relieved on
one point, at least. Kellam & Blake are respectable attorneys. We will
send our communication to Mr. Blake at once, without waiting for Mr.
Bludsoe's enquiries to bear fruit. Your Cousin Adair knows the Scotch
firm, and of course vouches for their trustworthiness."

"Dear me, Papa Sherwood, you are so practical!" sighed Nan. She meant
"vexing;" they were interchangeable terms to her mind at this exciting
point. "Can't you work up any enthusiasm over Momsey's wonderful
fortune?"

"Its existence is established, it would seem, beyond peradventure," said
Mr. Sherwood drily. "But our attempt to obtain the fortune is not yet
begun."

"Why, ee!" squealed Nan. "You don't really suppose anybody will try to
keep Momsey from getting it?"

"Exactly that," said her father. "The Blakes are a widely scattered
clan. There are probably a number of people as close in blood-tie to the
old man who has just died as your mother, my dear. These people may all
bob up, one after another, to dispute Momsey's claim."

"But, dear me!" gasped Nan. "The money was willed to Momsey."

"Nevertheless, these other relatives, if there be such--can keep Momsey
out of the enjoyment of her rights for a long time. Court processes are
slow, and especially so, I should judge, among the canny and careful
Scotch. I think we would better leave it to the lawyers to settle. We
cannot hasten the courts by worrying over the fortune.

"I think," pursued Papa Sherwood judiciously, "that instead of spending
our time discussing and dreaming of the fortune in Scotland, we would
better go right on with our tasks here as though there were really no
fortune at all."

"Oh, my!" whispered Nan, her eyes clouding. "That's because of my last
fortnightly report. I know I fell behind in history and rhetoric."

"Don't be too hard on us, Papa Sherwood," said Momsey brightly.
"Anticipation is more than half of every pleasure. I lie awake every
night and spend this great fortune of ours to the very last penny."

"Of course," the little lady added, with more gravity, "I wouldn't
really spend fifty thousand dollars so recklessly as I do in my mind.
But I can found schools, and hospitals, and educate Nan, and give you,
Papa Sherwood, a great big business, and buy two automobiles, and-----"

"Enough! Enough!" cried Mr. Sherwood, in mock seriousness. "You are a
born spendthrift, Momsey. That you have had no chance to really be one
thus far will only make your case more serious when you have this legacy
in your possession. Two automobiles, no less!"

"But I want you both, my dears, to bear one very important fact in mind.
Roughly estimated the fortune is ten thousand pounds. To be exact, it
may be a good deal less at the start. Then, after the lawyers and the
courts get through with the will and all, the remainder that dribbles
into your pocket, Momsey, may be a very small part of ten thousand
pounds."

"Oh, how horrid, Papa Sherwood!" cried Nan. "We won't listen to him,
will we, Momsey?"

"Oh, yes we will," her mother said quietly, but smiling. "But we will
still believe that the world is good and that God has given us great
good fortune. Papa talks very sensibly; but I know that there is nothing
to fear. We are going to be very well off for the rest of our lives, and
I cannot be thankful enough for it."

At that Mr. Sherwood literally threw up his hands. "Nevertheless,"
he said, "I expect to go to Chicago next Monday, to begin work in the
machine shop. The boss writes me that I can come at that time."

"I will get your clothes ready for you, Robert," said Momsey calmly.
"Perhaps you will feel better in your mind if you keep busy during this
time of waiting."



Chapter VIII. TWO IMPORTANT HAPPENINGS

It happened, however, that Mr. Sherwood did not go to Chicago to work in
the machine shop. Something happened before the week was out, that quite
put his intention aside.

Indeed, Nan declared that two important happenings just then changed the
current of affairs at the little cottage on Amity Street and that she
had a principal part in the action of the first of these unexpected
happenings.

It was lovely skating on Norway Pond, and both Nan and her chum, Bess
Harley, were devoted to the sport. Nan had been unable to be on the ice
Saturdays, because of her home tasks; but when her lessons were learned,
she was allowed to go after supper.

It happened to be just at the dark of the moon this week; that kept many
off the ice, although the weather was settled and the ice was perfectly
safe. Sometimes the boys built a bonfire on Woody Point, with refuse
from the planing mill, and that lit up a good bit of the ice.

But once out on the pond, away from the shadows cast by the high banks,
the girls could see well enough. They were both good skaters, and with
arms crossed and hands clasped, they swung up the middle of the pond in
fine style.

"I just love to skate with you, Nan," sighed Bess ecstatically. "You
move just like my other self. We're Siamese twins. We strike out
together perfectly. Oh, my dear! I don't see whatever I am to do if you
refuse to go to Lakeview with me."

Nan could scarcely keep from telling Bess of the wonderful new fortune
that seemed about to come to her; but she was faithful to her home
training, and only said:

"Don't fret about it, honey. Maybe something will turn up to let me go."

"If you'd let my father pay your way-----?" insinuated Bess.

"Don't talk of that. It's impossible," said Nan decisively. "It's a long
time yet to fall. Maybe conditions will be different at home. A dozen
things may happen before school opens in September."

"Yes! But they may not be the right things," sighed Bess.

She could not be too melancholy on such a night as this, however. It was
perfectly quiet, and the arch of the sky was like black velvet pricked
out with gold and silver stars. Their soft radiance shed some light upon
the pond, enough, at least, to show the girl chums the way before them
as they skimmed on toward Powerton Landing.

They had left a noisy crowd of boys behind them, near the stamp Factory,
mostly mill boys, and the like. Bess had been taught at home to shrink
from association with the mill people and that is why she had urged Nan
to take this long skate up the pond. Around the Tillbury end of it they
were always falling in with little groups of mill boys and girls whom
Bess did not care to meet.

There was another reason this evening for keeping away from the stamp
factory, too. The manager of that big shop had hired a gang of ice
cutters a few days before, and had filled his own private icehouse. The
men had cut out a roughly outlined square of the thick ice, sawed it
into cakes, and poled it to shore and so to the sleds and the manager's
icehouse.

It was not a large opening in the ice; but even if the frost continued,
it would be several days before the new ice would form thickly enough to
bear again over that spot.

Elsewhere, however, the ice was strong, for all the cutting for the
big icehouses had been done long before near the Landing. The lights of
Powerton Landing were twinkling ahead of them as the two friends swept
on up the long lake. The wind was in their faces, such wind as there
was, and the air was keen and nippy.

The action of skating, however, kept Nan and Bess warm. Bess in her furs
and Nan in her warm tam-o'-shanter and the muffler Momsey had knitted
with her own hands, did not mind the cold.

The evening train shrieked out of the gap and across the long trestle
just beyond the landing, where it halted for a few seconds for
passengers to embark or to leave the cars. This train was from Chicago,
and on Monday Papa Sherwood expected to go to that big city to work.

The thought gave Nan a feeling of depression. The little family in the
Amity street cottage had never been separated for more than a day
since she could remember. It was going to be hard on Momsey, with Papa
Sherwood away and Nan in school all day. How were they going to get
along without Papa Sherwood coming home to supper, and doing the hard
chores?

Bess awoke her chum from these dreams. "Dear me, Nan! Have you lost your
tongue all of a sudden? Do say something, or do something."

"Let's race the train down the pond to Tillbury," proposed Nan
instantly.

The lights of the long coaches were just moving out of the station at
the Landing. The two girls came about in a graceful curve and struck
out for home at a pace that even the train could not equal. The rails
followed the shore of the pond on the narrow strip of lowland at the
foot of the bluffs. They could see the lights shining through the car
windows all the way.

The fireman threw open the door of his firebox to feed the furnace and
a great glare of light, and a shower of sparks, spouted from the
smokestack. The rumble of the wheels from across the ice seemed louder
than usual.

"Come on, Bess!" gasped Nan, quite excited. "We can do better than this!
Why, that old train will beat us!"

For they were falling behind. The train hooted its defiance as it swept
down toward Woody Point. The girls shot in toward the shore, where the
shadow of the high bluff lay heavily upon the ice.

They heard the boys' voices somewhere below them, but Bess and Nan could
not see them yet. They knew that the boys had divided into sides and
were playing old-fashioned hockey, "shinny-on-your-own-side" as it was
locally called. Above the rumbling of the train they heard the crack of
the shinny-stick against the wooden block, and the "z-z-z-zip!" of the
missile as it scaled over the ice.

"Those boys will get into the ice-hole if they don't look out," Nan had
just said to her chum, when suddenly a wild yell arose from the hockey
players.

The train was slowing down at the signal tower, and finally stopped
there. A freight had got in on the main track which had to be cleared
before the passenger train could go into Tillbury station. The coaches
stood right along the edge of the frozen pond.

But it was nothing in connection with the evening train that caused such
a commotion among the skaters near the stamp factory. There was a crash
of breaking ice and a scrambling of skaters away from the spot. The
boys' yells communicated panic to other people ashore.

"He's in! He's in!" Nan and Bess heard the boys yelling. Then a man's
voice took up the cry: "He'll be drowned! Help! Help!"

"That's old Peter Newkirk," gasped Nan, squeezing Bess' gloved hands
tightly. "He's night watchman at the stamp works, and he has only one
arm. He can't help that boy."

The youngsters who had been playing hockey so recklessly near the thin
ice, were not as old as Nan and Bess, and the accident had thrown them
into utter confusion. Some skated for the shore, screaming for ropes
and fence-rails; others only tried to get away from the danger spot
themselves. None did the first thing to help their comrade who had
broken through the ice.

"Where are you going, Nan?" gasped Bess, pulling back. "You'll have us
both in the water, too."

"We can save him! Quick!" returned her chum eagerly.

She let go of Bess and unwound the long muffler from about her own neck.
"If we could only see him!" the girl said, over and over.

And then a brilliant idea struck Nan Sherwood, and she turned to shout
to old Peter Newkirk on the shore. "Peter! Peter! Turn on the electric
light sign! Turn it on so we can see where he's gone in!"

The watchman had all his wits about him. There was a huge electric sign
on the stamp works roof, advertising the company's output. The glare of
it could be seen for miles, and it lit up brilliantly the surroundings
of the mill.

Peter Newkirk bounded away to the main door of the works. The switch
that controlled the huge sign was just inside that door. Before Nan
and Bess had reached the edge of the broken ice, the electricity was
suddenly shot into the sign and the whole neighborhood was alight.

"I see him! There he is!" gasped Nan to her chum. "Hold me tight by the
skirt, Bess! We'll get him!"

She flung herself to her knees and stopped sliding just at the edge of
the old, thick ice. With a sweep of her strong young arm she shot the
end of the long muffler right into the clutching hands of the drowning
boy.

Involuntarily he seized it. He had been down once, and submersion in
the ice water had nearly deprived him of both consciousness and power
to help save himself. But Nan drew him quickly through the shattered
ice-cakes to the edge of the firm crystal where she knelt.

"We have him! We have him!" she cried, in triumph. "Give me your hand,
boy! I won't let you go down again."

But to lift him entirely out of the water would have been too much for
her strength. However, several men came running now from the stalled
passenger train. The lighting of the electric sign had revealed to them
what was going on upon the pond.

The man who lifted the half-drowned boy out of the water was not one of
the train crew, but a passenger. He was a huge man in a bearskin coat
and felt boots. He was wrapped up so heavily, and his fur cap was pulled
down so far over his ears and face, that Nan could not see what he
really looked like. In a great, gruff voice he said:

"Well, now! Give me a girl like you ev'ry time! I never saw the beat of
it. Here, mister!" as he put the rescued boy into the arms of a man who
had just run from a nearby house. "Get him between blankets and he'll be
all right. But he's got this smart little girl to thank that he's alive
at all."

He swung around to look at Nan again. Bess was crying frankly, with her
gloved hands before her face. "Oh, Nan! Nan!" she sobbed. "I didn't do a
thing, not a thing. I didn't even hang to the tail of your skirt as you
told me. I, I'm an awful coward."

The big man patted Nan's shoulder lightly. "There's a little girl that
I'm going to see here in Tillbury," he said gruffly. "I hope she turns
out to be half as smart as you are, sissy." Then he tramped back to the
train that was just then starting.

Nan began to laugh. "Did you hear that funny man?" she asked Bess. "Do
stop your crying, Bess! You have no reason to cry. You are not hurt."

"But, but you might have been, been drowned, too," sobbed her chum. "I
didn't help you a mite."

"Bother!" exclaimed Nan Sherwood. "Don't let's talk about it. We'll go
home. I guess we've both had enough skating for tonight."

Bess wiped away her tears and clung to Nan's hand all the way to their
usual corner for separating. Nan ran home from there quickly and burst
into the kitchen to find Momsey and Papa Sherwood in the midst of a very
serious conference.

"What is the matter?" cried Nan, startled by the gravity of her father
and the exaltation upon her mother's face. "What's happened?"

"A very great thing, Nan, honey," said Momsey, drawing her daughter to
her side. "Tell her, Papa Sherwood."

He sighed deeply and put away the letter they had been reading. "It's
from Mr. Blake, of Edinburgh," he said. "I can no longer doubt the
existence of the fortune, my dears. But I fear we shall have to strive
for it in the Scotch courts."

"Oh!" cried Nan, under her breath.

"Mr. Blake tells us here that it is absolutely necessary for us to come
to Scotland, and for your mother to appear in person before the court
there. The sum of money and other property willed to Momsey by her great
uncle is so large that the greatest care will be exercised by the Scotch
judges to see that it goes to the right person."

"As your mother once said, we must throw a sprat to catch a herring. In
this case we shall be throwing a sprat to catch a whale! For the amount
of money we may have to spend to secure the fifty thousand dollars left
by Mr. Hugh Blake, of Emberon, is small, in comparison to the fortune
itself.

"We must go to Scotland," finished Mr. Sherwood firmly. "And we must
start as soon as possible."



Chapter IX. ON THE WAY TO THE WILDERNESS

It seemed to Nan Sherwood that night as though she never could get to
sleep. Her mind and imagination worked furiously.

Momsey and Papa Sherwood had sent her to bed early. There had been no
time to tell them about the accident on the ice and her part in it.
Her parents had much to discuss, much to decide upon. The Scotch lawyer
urged their presence before the court having jurisdiction in the matter
of the late Mr. Hugh Blake's will, and that as soon as they could cross
the ocean.

Transportation from the little Illinois town, across the intervening
states to the seaport, and thence, over the winter ocean to Glasgow, and
so on by rail to Edinburgh, was a journey the contemplation of which, to
such a quiet family as the Sherwoods, was nothing less than appalling.

And there were many things to take into consideration that Nan did not
wholly understand. Mrs. Sherwood would require her husband's undivided
attention while she made the long and arduous journey. The sea voyage
was right in line with the physician's opinion of what was needed to
restore her health; but it was a venture at best.

Had the family possessed plenty of money it is doubtful if Mr. Sherwood
would have risked more than a coasting voyage. Conditions rising out of
the legacy from the great uncle in Scotland spelled necessity in this
case. Of the little sum left in bank, most of it would be required to
pay the fares of Mr. and Mrs. Sherwood to Edinburgh, and their modest
living there for a few weeks. There was not enough money in hand to pay
a third passage and the expenses of a third person in Scotland, until
the court business should be settled.

Mr. Sherwood had already taken Mr. Bludsoe, the lawyer, into his
confidence. He could make arrangements through him to mortgage the
cottage if it became absolutely necessary. He shrank from accepting
financial help from Mrs. Sherwood's relatives in Memphis.

Besides, decision must be made immediately. Plans must be made almost
overnight. They must start within forty-eight hours to catch a certain
steamer bound for the Scotch port of Glasgow, as Mr. Sherwood had
already found out. And all their questions resolved finally into this
very important one:

"WHAT SHALL WE DO ABOUT NAN?"

Nan, in her little white bed, had no idea that she was the greatest
difficulty her parents found in this present event. It never entered her
busy mind that Papa Sherwood and Momsey would dream of going to Scotland
without her.

"What shall we do with Nan?" Momsey said over and over again. She
realized as well as did Mr. Sherwood that to take the child was an
utter impossibility. Their financial circumstances, as well as other
considerations would not allow it.

Yet, what should they do with her, with whom to trust her during their
uncertain absence on the other side? No answer that came to their minds
seemed the right one. They rose that wintry morning without having this
most important of all questions decided.

This was Sunday and Mrs. Joyce always came over for breakfast; for she
lived alone and never had any too much to eat, Nan was sure. As for the
old woman's eating with the family, that was a fiction she kept up
for appearance's sake, perhaps, or to salve her own claims to former
gentility. She always set a place for herself at the family table in the
dining room and then was too busy to eat with them, taking her own meal
in the kitchen.

Therefore it was she only who heard the commanding rap at the kitchen
door in the midst of the leisurely meal, and answered it.

Just then Nan had dropped her knife and fork and was staring from
Momsey's pitying face to Papa Sherwood's grave one, as she cried, in a
whisper:

"Not me? Oh, my dears! You're never going without me, all that long
journey? What, whatever shall I do without you both?"

"Don't, honey! Don't say it that way!" begged Momsey, putting her
handkerchief to her eyes.

"If it was not quite impossible, do you think for a moment, daughter,
that we would contemplate leaving you at home?" queried Mr. Sherwood,
his own voice trembling.

"It, it seems impossible!" gasped Nan, "just as though it couldn't be.
I won't know what to do without you, my dears. And what will you do
without me?"

That seemed to be unanswerable, and it quite broke Momsey down. She
sobbed openly into her handkerchief.

"Who's going to be her little maid?" demanded Nan, of her father. "Who's
going to 'do' her beautiful hair? Who's going to wait on her when she
has her dreadful headaches? And who's going to play 'massagist' like me?
I want to know who can do all those things for Momsey if you take her
away from me, Papa Sherwood?" and she ended quite stormily.

"My dear child!" Mr. Sherwood said urgently. "I want you to listen to
me. Our situation is such that we cannot possibly take you with us.
That is final. It is useless for us to discuss the point, for there is
nothing to be gained by discussing it from now till Doomsday."

Nan gulped down a sob and looked at him with dry eyes. Papa Sherwood had
never seemed so stern before, and yet his own eyes were moist. She began
to see that this decision was very hard upon her parents, too.

"Now do you understand," he asked gently, "that we cannot take our
little daughter with us, but that we are much worried by the fact, and
we do not know what to do with her while we are gone?"

"You, you might as well put me in an orphan asylum," choked Nan. "I'll
be an orphan till you get back."

"Oh, honey!" cried her mother.

"There now!" said Nan, jumping up quickly and going around the table to
her mother's side. "You poor dear! I won't say anything more to hurt and
trouble you. I'm a selfish thing, that's what I am."

Momsey wound her arms about her. Papa Sherwood still looked grave. "We
get no nearer to the proper solution of the difficulty," he said. "Of
course, Nancy, the orphan asylum is out of the question."

"I'll stay here, of course," Nan said, with some difficulty keeping her
voice from quavering.

"Not alone in the house, honey," Momsey said quickly.

"With Mrs. Joyce?" suggested Nan tentatively.

"No," Mr. Sherwood said. "She is not the person to be trusted with you."

"There's Mrs. Grimes' boarding house around the corner?" suggested Nan.

Momsey shuddered. "Never! Never! My little girl in a boarding house. Oh,
Papa Sherwood! We must find somebody to care for her while we are away,
who loves Nan."

And it was just here that a surprisingly gruff voice took up the matter
and decided it in a moment.

"That's me," said the voice, with conviction. "She's just the sort of
little girl I cotton to, sister Jessie. And Kate'll be fairly crazy
about her. If you're going anywhere for a long spell, just let me take
her up to Pine Camp. We have no little girls up there, never had any.
But I bet we know how to treat 'em."

"Hen!" shouted Mr. Sherwood, stumbling up from the table, and putting
out both hands to the big man whom Mrs. Joyce had ushered in from the
kitchen so unexpectedly.

"Henry Sherwood!" gasped Momsey, half rising herself in her surprise and
delight.

"Why!" cried Nan, "it's the bear-man!" for Mr. Henry Sherwood wore the
great fur coat and cap that he had worn the evening before when he had
come to Nan's aid in rescuing the boy from Norway Pond.

Afterward Nan confessed, naively, that she ought to have known he was
her Uncle Henry. Nobody, she was quite sure, could be so big and brawny
as the lumberman from Michigan.

"She's the girl for me," proclaimed Uncle Henry admiringly. "Smart as a
whip and as bold as a catamount. Hasn't she told you what she did last
night? Sho! Of course not. She don't go 'round blowing about her deeds
of valor, I bet!" and the big man went off into a gale of laughter that
seemed to shake the little cottage.

Papa Sherwood and Momsey had to learn all the particulars then, and both
glowed with pride over their little daughter's action. Gradually, after
numerous personal questions were asked and answered on both sides, the
conversation came around to the difficulty the little family was in, and
the cause of it.

Henry Sherwood listened to the story of the Scotch legacy with wide-open
eyes, marveling greatly. The possibility of his brother's wife becoming
wealthy amazed and delighted his simple mind. The fact that they had to
take the long journey to Scotland to obtain the money troubled him but
little. Although he had never traveled far himself, save to Chicago from
the Michigan woods, Mr. Henry Sherwood had lived in the open so much
that distances did not appall him.

"Sure you'll go," he proclaimed, reaching down into a very deep pocket
and dragging to light a long leather pouch, with a draw-string of
home-cured deer skin. "And if you are short, Bob, we'll go down into
this poke and see what there is left.

"I came down to Chicago to see about a piece of timber that's owned by
some sharps on Jackson Street. I didn't know but I might get to cut that
timber. I've run it careless-like, and I know pretty near what there is
in it. So I said to Kate:

"'I'll see Bob and his wife, and the little nipper-----"

"Goodness!" ejaculated Nan, under her breath.

Uncle Henry's eyes twinkled and the many wrinkles about them screwed
up into hard knots. "Beg pardon!" he exclaimed, for his ears were very
sharp. "This young lady, I should have said. Anyhow, I told Kate I'd see
you all and find out what you were doing.

"Depending on mills and such for employment isn't any very safe way to
live, I think. Out in the woods you are as free as air, and there aren't
so many bosses, and you don't have to think much about 'the market' and
'supply and demand,' and all that."

"Just the same," said Mr. Robert Sherwood, his own eyes twinkling, "you
are in some trouble right now, I believe, Hen?"

"Sho! You've got me there," boomed his brother with a great laugh.
"But there aren't many reptiles like old Ged Raffer. And we can thank
a merciful Creator for that. I expect there are just a few miserly old
hunks like Ged as horrible examples to the rest of us."

"What is the nature of your trouble with this old fellow?" asked Mr.
Robert Sherwood.

"We've got hold on adjoining options. I had my lines run by one of the
best surveyors in the Peninsula of Michigan. But he up and died. Ged
claims I ran over on his tract about a mile. He got to court first, got
an injunction, and tied me all up in a hard legal knot until the state
surveyors can go over both pieces of timber. The land knows when that'll
be! Those state surveyors take a week of frog Sundays to do a job.

"I can't cut a stick on my whole piece 'cause Ged claims he'll have a
right to replevin an equal number of sticks cut, if the surveyors back
up his contention. Nasty mess. The original line was run years and years
ago, and they're not many alive today in the Big woods that know the
rights of it.

"I expect," added Uncle Henry, shaking his bushy head, "that old Toby
Vanderwiller knows the rights of that line business; but he won't tell.
Gedney Raffer's got a strangle hold on Toby and his little swamp farm,
and Toby doesn't dare say his soul's his own.

"Well!" continued the lumberman, with another of his big laughs. "This
has nothing to do with your stew, Bob. I didn't want to come to the
house last night and surprise you; so I stayed at the hotel. And all the
time I was thinking of this little nip, Beg pardon! This young lady, and
how smart and plucky she was.

"And lo and behold," pursued Uncle Henry, "she turns out to be my own
niece. I'm going to take her back with me to Pine Camp. Kate's got to
see and know her. The boys will be tickled out of their boots to have a
girl like her around. That's our one lack at Pine Camp. There never was
a girl in the family.

"Seems that this was just foreordained. You and Jessie have got to go
'way off, over the water; can't leave this plucky girl alone. Her old
uncle and aunt are the proper folks to take care of her. What do you say
yourself, young lady?"

Nan had liked the big man from the very beginning. She was a sensible
child, too. She saw that she must settle this matter herself, for it was
too hard a question for either Momsey or Papa Sherwood to decide.
She gained control of herself now; but nobody will ever know how much
courage it took for her to say, promptly:

"Of course I will go home with you, Uncle Henry. It will be fun, I
think, to go into the woods in the winter. And, and I can come right
back as soon as Momsey and Papa Sherwood return from Scotland."

So it was settled, just like that. The rush in which both parties got
under way on Monday made Nan's head whirl. Momsey was to buy a few
necessary things in New York before she boarded the steamer. Nan had a
plentiful supply of warm winter clothing, and she took a trunkful.

Mrs. Joyce was left to take a peep at the little, locked cottage on
Amity Street, now and then. Nan could say "Goodbye" only very hastily
to Bess Harley and her other school friends. Her school had to be broken
off at a bad time in the year, but there was the prospect of a change in
Nan's method of education the next fall.

Momsey and Papa Sherwood took the train east an hour before Nan and
Uncle Henry boarded that for Chicago. All went with a rush and clatter,
and Nan found herself at last rumbling out of Tillbury, on her way to
the northern wilderness, while a thin drive of fine snowflakes tapped on
the car windows.



Chapter X. GEDNEY RAFFER

It was fortunate for Nan Sherwood that on the day of parting with her
parents she had so much to do, and that there was so much to see, and so
many new things of which to think.

She had never traveled to Chicago before, nor far from Tillbury at all.
Even the chair car was new to the girl's experience and she found it
vastly entertaining to sit at a broad window with her uncle in the
opposite chair, gazing out upon the snowy landscape as the train hurried
over the prairie.

She had a certain feeling that her Uncle Henry was an anomaly in the
chair car. His huge bearskin coat and the rough clothing under it; his
felt boots, with rubber soles and feet; the fact that he wore no linen
and only a string tie under the collar of his flannel shirt; his great
bronzed hands and blunted fingers with their broken nails, all these
things set him apart from the other men who rode in the car.

Papa Sherwood paid much attention to the niceties of dress, despite the
fact that his work at the Atwater Mills had called for overalls and,
frequently, oily hands. Uncle Henry evidently knew little about stiff
collars and laundered cuffs, or cravats, smart boots, bosomed shirts, or
other dainty wear for men. He was quite innocent of giving any offence
to the eye, however. Lying back in the comfortable chair with his coat
off and his great lumberman's boots crossed, he laughed at anything Nan
said that chanced to be the least bit amusing, until the gas-globes rang
again.

It seemed to Nan as though there never was such a huge man before. She
doubted if Goliath could have looked so big to young David, when the
shepherd boy went out with his sling to meet the giant. Uncle Henry
was six feet, four inches in height and broad in proportion. The chair
creaked under his weight when he moved. Other people in the car gazed on
the quite unconscious giant as wonderingly as did Nan herself.

"Uncle Henry," she asked him once, "are all the men in the Big Woods as
tall as you are?"

"Goodness me! No, child," he chuckled. "But the woods don't breed many
runts, that's a fact. There's some bigger than I. Long Sam Dorgan is
near seven feet he isn't quite sure, for he's so ticklish that you can't
ever measure him," and Uncle Henry's chuckle burst into a full-fledged
laugh. "He's just as graceful as a length of shingle lathing, too. And
freckles and liver spots on his hands and face, well, he certain sure is
a handsome creature.

"He went to town once and stayed over night. Wasn't any bed long enough
at the hotel, and Sam had got considerably under the weather, anyhow,
from fooling with hard cider. So he wasn't particular about where he
bedded down, and they put him to sleep in the horse trough."

"The horse trough!" gasped Nan.

"Yes. It was pretty dry when Sam went to bed; but right early in the
morning a sleepy hostler stumbled out to the trough and began to pump
water into it for the cattle. Maybe Long Sam needed a bath, but not just
that way. He rose up with a yell like a Choctaw Indian. Said he was
just dreaming of going through the Sault Ste. Marie in a barrel, and he
reckoned the barrel burst open."

Nan was much amused by this story, as she was by others that the old
lumberman related. He was full of dry sayings and his speech had many
queer twists to it. His bluff, honest way delighted the girl, although
he was so different from Papa Sherwood. As Momsey had said, Uncle
Henry's body had to be big to contain his heart. One can excuse much
that is rough in a character so lovable as that of Uncle Henry's.

The snow increased as the train sped on and the darkness gradually
thickened. Uncle Henry took his niece into the dining car where they
had supper, with a black man with shiny eyes and very white teeth, who
seemed always on the broad grin, to wait upon them. Nan made a mental
note to write Bess Harley all about the meal and the service, for Bess
was always interested in anything that seemed "aristocratic," and to the
unsophisticated girl from Tillbury the style of the dining car seemed
really luxurious.

When the train rolled into the Chicago station it was not yet late;
but it seemed to Nan as though they had ridden miles and miles, through
lighted streets hedged on either side with brick houses. The snow was
still falling, but it looked sooty and gray here in the city. Nan began
to feel some depression, and to remember more keenly that Momsey and
Papa Sherwood were flying easterly just as fast as an express train
could take them.

It was cold, too. A keen, penetrating wind seemed to search through
the streets. Uncle Henry said it came from the lake. He beckoned to a
taxicab driver, and Nan's trunk was found and strapped upon the roof.
Then off they went to the hotel where Uncle Henry always stopped when he
came to Chicago, and where his own bag was checked.

Looking through the cab windows, the girl began to take an immediate
interest in life again. So many people, despite the storm! So many
vehicles tangled up at the corners and waiting for the big policemen
to let them by in front of the clanging cars! Bustle, hurry, noise,
confusion!

"Some different from your Tillbury," drawled Uncle Henry. "And just as
different from Pine Camp as chalk is from cheese."

"But so interesting!" breathed Nan, with a sigh. "Doesn't it ever get to
be bedtime for children in the city?"

"Not for those kids," grumbled Uncle Henry. "Poor creatures. They sell
papers, or flowers, or matches, or what-not, all evening long. And
stores keep open, and hotel bars, and drug shops, besides theatres and
the like. There's a big motion picture place! I went there once. It
beats any show that ever came to Hobart Forks, now I tell you."

"Oh, we have motion picture shows at Tillbury. We have had them in the
school hall, too," said Nan complacently. "But, of course, I'd like
to see all the people and the lights, and so forth. It looks very
interesting in the city. But the snow is dirty, Uncle Henry."

"Yes. And most everything else is dirty when you get into these brick
and mortar tunnels. That's what I call the streets. The air even isn't
clean," went on the lumberman. "Give me the woods, with a fresh wind
blowing, and the world looks good to me," then his voice and face fell,
as he added, "excepting that snake-in-the-grass, Ged Raffer."

"That man must make you a lot of trouble, Uncle Henry," said Nan
sympathetically.

"He does," growled the lumberman. "He's a miserable, fox-faced
scoundrel, and I've no more use for him than I have for an egg-sucking
dog. That's the way I feel about it."

They reached the hotel just then, and Uncle Henry's flare of passion was
quenched. The hostelry he patronized was not a new hotel; but it was
a very good one, and Nan's heart beat high as she followed the porter
inside, with Uncle Henry directing the taxicab driver and a second
porter how to dispose of the trunk for the night.

Nan had her bag in which were her night clothes, toilet articles, and
other necessities. The porter carried this for her and seated her on
a comfortable lounge at one side while Uncle Henry arranged about the
rooms.

To do honor to his pretty niece the lumberman engaged much better
quarters than he would have chosen for himself. When they went up to the
rooms Nan found a pretty little bath opening out of hers, and the maid
came and asked her if she could be of any help. The girl began to feel
quite "grown up." It was all very wonderful, and she loved Uncle Henry
for making things so pleasant for her.

She had to run to his door and tell him this before she undressed. He
had pulled off his boots and was tramping up and down the carpeted floor
in his thick woolen socks, humming to himself.

"Taking a constitutional, Nan," he declared. "Haven't had any exercise
for this big body of mine all day. Sitting in that car has made me as
cramped as a bear just crawling out of his den in the spring."

He did not tell her that had he been alone he would have gone out and
tramped the snowy streets for half the night. But he would not leave
her alone in the hotel. "No, sir," said Uncle Henry. "Robert would
never forgive me if anything happened to his honey-bird. And fire, or
something, might break out here while I was gone."

He said nothing like this to Nan, however, but kissed her good night and
told her she should always bid him good night in just that way as long
as she was at Pine Camp.

"For Kate and I have never had a little girl," said the big lumberman,
"and boys get over the kissing stage mighty early, I find. Kate and I
always did hanker for a girl."

"If you owned a really, truly daughter of your own, Uncle Henry, I
believe you'd spoil her to death!" cried Nan, the next morning, when she
came out of the fur shop to which he had taken her.

He had insisted that she was not dressed warmly enough for the woods. "We
see forty and forty-five below up there, sometimes," he said. "You think
this raw wind is cold; it is nothing to a black frost in the Big Woods.
Trees burst as if there were dynamite in 'em. You've never seen the
like.

"Of course the back of winter's about broken now. But we may have some
cold snaps yet. Anyhow, you look warmer than you did."

And that was true, for Nan was dressed like a little Esquimau. Her coat
had a pointed hood to it; she wore high fur boots, the fur outside. Her
mittens of seal were buttoned to the sleeves of her coat, and she could
thrust her hands, with ordinary gloves on them, right into these warm
receptacles.

Nan thought they were wonderfully served at the hotel where they
stopped, and she liked the maid on her corridor very much, and the boy
who brought the icewater, too. There really was so much to tell Bess
that she began to keep a diary in a little blank-book she bought for
that purpose.

Then the most wonderful thing of all was the message from Papa Sherwood
which arrived just before she and Uncle Henry left the hotel for the
train. It was a "night letter" sent from Buffalo and told her that
Momsey was all right and that they both sent love and would telegraph
once more before their steamship left the dock at New York.

Nan and Uncle Henry drove through the snowy streets to another station
and took the evening train north. They traveled at first by the
Milwaukee Division of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad; and now
another new experience came Nan's way. Uncle Henry had secured a section
in the sleeping car and each had a berth.

It was just like being put to sleep on a shelf, Nan declared, when the
porter made up the beds at nine o'clock. She climbed into the upper
berth a little later, sure that she would not sleep, and intending to
look out of the narrow window to watch the snowy landscape fly by all
night.

And much to her surprise (only the surprise came in the morning) she
fell fast asleep almost immediately, lulled by the rocking of the huge
car on its springs, and did not arouse until seven o'clock and the car
stood on the siding in the big Wisconsin city.

They hurried to get a northern bound train and were soon off on what
Uncle Henry called the "longest lap" of their journey. The train swept
them up the line of Lake Michigan, sometimes within sight of the shore,
often along the edge of estuaries, particularly following the contour
of Green By, and then into the Wilderness of upper Wisconsin and the
Michigan Peninsula.

On the Peninsula Division of the C. & N. W. they did not travel as fast
as they had been running, and before Hobart Forks was announced on the
last local train they traveled in, Nan Sherwood certainly was tired
of riding by rail. The station was in Marquette County, near the
Schoolcraft line. Pine Camp was twenty miles deeper in the Wilderness.
It seemed to Nan that she had been traveling through forests, or the
barren stumpage where forests had been, for weeks.

"Here's where we get off, little girl," Uncle Henry said, as he seized
his big bag and her little one and made for the door of the car. Nan
ran after him in her fur clothing. She had found before this that he was
right about the cold. It was an entirely different atmosphere up here in
the Big Woods from Tillbury, or even Chicago.

The train creaked to a stop. They leaped down upon the snowy platform.
Only a plain station, big freight house, and a company of roughly
dressed men to meet them. Behind the station a number of sleighs and
sledges stood, their impatient horses shaking the innumerable bells they
wore.

Nan, stumbling off the car step behind her uncle, came near to colliding
with a small man in patched coat and cowhide boots, and with a rope tied
about his waist as some teamsters affect. He mumbled something in anger
and Nan turned to look at him.

He wore sparse, sandy whiskers, now fast turning gray. The outthrust of
the lower part of his face was as sharp as that of a fox, and he really
looked like a fox. She was sure of his identity before uncle Henry
wheeled and, seeing the man, said:

"What's that you are saying, Ged Raffer? This is my niece, and if you
lay your tongue to her name, I'll give you something to go to law about
in a hurry. Come, Nan. Don't let that man touch so much as your coat
sleeve. He's like pitch. You can't be near him without some of his
meanness sticking to you."



Chapter XI. PINE CAMP AT LAST

It was the first shade upon Uncle Henry's character that displeased
Nan. He was evidently a passionate man, prone to give way to elemental
feelings, literally, "a man of wrath."

Gedney Raffer, weazened, snakelike, sly, and treacherous, had doubtless
wronged Uncle Henry deeply. But this fact could not excuse the huge
lumberman's language on the platform of the Hobart Forks station.

Nan wanted to stop her ears with her fingers and run from the spot.
The tough fellows standing around enjoyed the war of words hugely. Mr.
Sherwood was too big to strike Gedney Raffer, and of course the latter
dared not use his puny fists on the giant.

The blunt club of the lumberman's speech was scarcely a match for the
sharp rapier of Raffer's tongue. As the crowd laughed it was evident
that the fox-faced man was getting the verbal best of the controversy.

Nan's ears burned and tears stood in her eyes. Uncle Henry descended to
personal threats and the smaller man called out:

"You jest put your hand on me, you big, overgrown sawney! That's all I'm
a-waitin' for. You 'tack me and I'll have you in the caboose, sure's my
name's Gedney Raffer. Try it!"

The quarrel was most distressing. Nan pulled at her uncle's coat sleeve.
The rough men eyed her curiously. She had never felt so ashamed in her
life.

"Do come, Uncle Henry," she whispered. "I'm cold."

That statement started the fuming giant at once. Nan's sensitiveness
to a rude quarrel did not impress the man; but her sensitiveness to the
weather shocked him immediately.

"My goodness, girl! We'll go right up to the hotel," he said, kindly.
"Any of you fellows seen Rafe or Tom in town this morning with the sled
and roans?"

"Hey, Hen!" cried the station master, waving a yellow paper. "Here's a
telegraph despatch for you."

It was really for Nan, and from Papa Sherwood filed just before the
Afton Castle sailed from New York:

"Momsey and papa send love and kisses. Be cheerful and good. Write
often. We think of you always. Kind wishes for Henry, Kate and boys.
We look forward to fair voyage and safe landing. Will cable from other
side. Expect happy meeting in spring. R. and J. Sherwood."

"They got a good start," commented Uncle Henry, putting all thought of
his quarrel with Ged Raffer behind him at once. "We'll hope they have a
safe voyage. Now! Where are those boys of mine?"

The town of Hobart Forks was by no means a lumber town. Millions of feet
of timber was boomed on the river within the limits of the town every
season, and there were great mills along the banks of the stream, too.
But there were other industries, as well as churches, amusement places
and many pleasant dwellings. It was no settlement of "slab shanties"
with a few saloons and a general store. Nan had yet to see this latter
kind of settlement.

But what she saw about the central market place of Hobart Forks opened
her eyes considerably to an appreciation of the rough country she had
come to, and the rough people to be met therein.

The storekeepers she saw through the frosted windows were dressed like
storekeepers in Tillbury; and there were well dressed women on the
streets, a few, at least.

But most of the men striding through the snow were as roughly dressed as
her uncle, and not many were as good looking as Mr. Sherwood. Some who
came out of the swinging doors of saloons staggered, and were very noisy
in their speech and rude in their actions. Of course nobody spoke to
Nan, or troubled her; Henry Sherwood was undoubtedly a man of standing
in the settlement and highly respected.

Not far from the market place they came upon a sprawling old tavern,
with a fenced yard at one side. As they approached, a sled drawn by a
wild looking pair of rough, red-roan ponies, dashed out of the yard and
stopped at the broad front portico of the hotel.

"Hey, Tom! What's the matter with you?" called Uncle Henry. "Here we
are!"

The driver turned a broad, good-humored face to look over his burly
shoulder. Nan saw that Tom Sherwood strongly resembled his father.

"That you, Dad?" he drawled. "I'd about given you up. I didn't want to
drive down to the depot with these crazy creatures. And if I'd left 'em
standing they'd have kicked Phil's shed to pieces, I do believe. The
train's been in half an hour and more."

"I know," said his father. "I had a mess of words with Ged Raffer. That
delayed me."

"You ought to give him the back of your hand, and say no more about it,"
declared Tom, in a tone that showed he warmed in his bosom the family
grudge against the fox-faced man.

"Here's your Cousin Nan, Tom," said his father, without making rejoinder
to the young man's observation. "She must go into Phil's and get warm
and have a cup of hot coffee. I'll take some in a new-fangled bottle I
bought down in Chicago, so we can all have a hot drink on the way home."

"'Twon't keep warm twenty miles," said Tom.

"Yes 'twill. It'll keep HOT for twenty miles and more. They call it a
thermos bottle. It'll keep coffee hot, or cold, for a day, just as you
please."

"Jehosaphat, Dad! What kind of a swindle's that? How does the bottle
know whether you want your drink hot or cold? Huh! Those city folks
couldn't make me believe any such thing," objected the son.

Nan had to giggle at that, and Uncle Henry demanded: "Did you ever see
such a gump? Go on down to the station and tell Abe to fling that trunk
and the bags into the back of the sled. We'll have our coffee, and get
the thermos bottle filled, too, by the time you come back."

Nan liked tom Sherwood. He was about nineteen and almost as big as
his father. He was gentle with her, and showed himself to be an expert
driver of the roan colts. Otherwise Nan might have been much afraid
during the first mile of the journey to Pine Camp, for certainly she had
never seen horses behave so before.

"Haven't been out of the stable for a week," explained Tom cooly as the
roans plunged and danced, and "cut up didos" generally, as Uncle Henry
remarked.

"We had a big fall of snow," Tom went on to say. "Bunged us all up in
the woods; so Rafe and I came in. Marm's all right. So's everybody else
around the Camp, except Old Man Llewellen. He's down with rheumatism, or
tic-douloureux, or something. He's always complaining."

"I know," said Uncle Henry, and then went on to relate for his son's
benefit the wonderful thing that had happened to his brother and his
brother's wife, and why Nan had come up into Michigan without her
parents.

"We'll be mighty proud to have her," said Tom simply. He was only a
great boy, after all, and he blushed every time he caught Nan looking at
him. The girl began to feel very much grown up.

They were glad of the hot coffee, and Tom was shown how and why the
mysterious bottle kept the drink hot. They only made that single halt
(and only for a few minutes for the horses to drink) before reaching
Pine Camp. They traveled through the snow-covered woods most of the way.
There were few farms and no settlements at all until they reached Pine
Camp.

The road was not well beaten and they could not have got through some of
the drifts with less spirited ponies than the roans. When they crossed
the long bridge over the river and swept into the village street, Nan
was amazed.

Likewise, her heart sank a little. There was not a building in the place
more than a story and a half in height. Most of them were slab cottages.
Few yards were fenced. There were two stores, facing each other on the
single street of the town, with false-fronts running up as tall as the
second story would have been had there been a second story.

The roans dashed through the better beaten path of the street, with
everybody along the way hailing Henry Sherwood vociferously. The giant
waved his hand and shouted in reply. Nan cowered between him and Tom,
on the seat, shielding her face from the flying snow from the ponies'
hoofs, though the tears in her eyes were not brought there only by the
sting of the pelting she received.



Chapter XII. "HOME WAS NEVER LIKE THIS"

The roan ponies dashed through the slab settlement, past the blacksmith
and wheelwright shop and the ugly red building Tom told Nan was the
school, and reached a large, sprawling, unpainted dwelling on the
outskirts of the village.

There were barns back of the Sherwood house; there was no fence between
the yard and the road, the windows of the house stared out upon the
passerby, blindless, and many of them without shades. There was such a
painful newness about the building that it seemed to Nan the carpenters
must have just packed their tools and gone, while the painters had not
yet arrived.

"Well! Here we are," announced Mr. Henry Sherwood, as Tom held in the
still eager ponies. He stepped out and offered Nan his hand. "Home
again, little girl. I reckon Kate will be mighty glad to see you, that
she will."

Nan leaped out and began to stamp her feet on the hard snow, while Uncle
Henry lifted out the trunk and bags. Just as the ponies sprang away
again, a door in the ugly house opened and a tall, angular woman looked
forth.

"Bring her in, Hen!" she cried, in a high-pitched voice. "I want to see
her."

Nan went rather timidly up the path. Her aunt was almost as tall as her
husband. She was very bony and was flat-chested and unlovely in every
way. That is, so it seemed, when the homesick girl raised her eyes to
Aunt Kate's face.

That face was as brown as sole-leather, and the texture of the skin
seemed leathery as well. There was a hawklike nose dominating the
unfeminine face. The shallows below the cheekbones were deep, as
though she had suffered the loss of her back molars. The eyebrows were
straggly; the eyes themselves of a pale, watery blue; the mouth a thin
line when her colorless lips were closed; and her chin was as square and
determined as Uncle Henry's own.

As Nan approached she saw something else about this unlovely woman. On
her neck was a great, livid scar, of a hand's breadth, and which looked
like a scald, or burn. No attempt was made to conceal this unsightly
blemish.

Indeed, there was nothing about Aunt Kate Sherwood suggesting a
softening of her hard lines. Her plain, ugly print dress was cut low at
the throat, and had no collar or ruff to hide the scar. Nan's gaze was
fastened on that blemish before she was half way to the door, and she
could see nothing else at first.

The girl fought down a physical shudder when Aunt Kate's clawlike hands
seized her by both shoulders, and she stooped to kiss the visitor.

"Welcome, dear Nannie," her sharp voice said, and Nan thought that, with
ease, one might have heard her in the middle of the village.

But when Aunt Kate's lips touched the girl's forehead they were
Warm, and soft as velvet. Her breath was sweet. There was a wholesome
cleanliness about her person that pleased Nan. The ugly dress was
spotless and beautifully laundered. She had a glimpse of the unplastered
kitchen and saw a row of copper pots on the shelf over the dresser that
were scoured to dazzling brightness. The boards of the floor were
white as milk. The big, patent range glistened with polish, and its
nickel-work was rubbed till it reflected like a mirror.

"Welcome, my dear!" said Aunt Kate again. "I hope you will be happy
while you stay with us."

Happy! With Momsey and Papa Sherwood on the ocean, and the "little
dwelling in amity" closed and deserted? Nan feared she would break down
and cry.

Her Aunt Kate left her to herself a minute just then that she might
overcome this weakness. Uncle Henry came up the path with the bags,
smiling broadly.

"Well, old woman!" he said heartily.

"Well, old man!" she returned.

And then suddenly, Nan Sherwood had a new vision. She was used to
seeing her pretty mother and her handsome father display their mutual
affection; it had not seemed possible that rough, burly Uncle Henry and
ugly Aunt Kate could feel the same degree of affection for each other.

Uncle Henry dropped the bags. Aunt Kate seemed to be drawn toward him
when he put out his hands. Nan saw their lips meet, and then the giant
gently, almost reverently, kissed the horrid scar on Aunt Kate's neck.

"Here's Nan!" cried the big lumberman jovially. "The pluckiest and
smartest little girl in seven states! Take her in out of the cold, Kate.
She's not used to our kind of weather, and I have been watching for the
frost flowers to bloom on her pretty face all the way from the forks."

The woman drew Nan into the warm kitchen. Uncle Henry followed in a
minute with the trunk.

"Where'll I put this box, Kate?" he asked. "I reckon you've fixed up
some cozy place for her?"

"The east room, Hen," Aunt Kate replied. "The sun lies in there
mornings. I took the new spring rocker out of the parlor, and with the
white enameled bedstead you bought in Chicago, and the maple bureau
we got of that furniture pedlar, and the best drugget to lay over the
carpet I reckon Nannie has a pretty bedroom."

Meanwhile Nan stared openly around the strange kitchen. The joists and
rafters were uncovered by laths or plaster. Muslin, that had once been
white, was tacked to the beams overhead for a ceiling. The smoke from
the cookstove had stained it to a deep brown color above the stove and
to a lighter, meerschaum shade in the corners.

The furniture was of the rudest plainest kind much of it evidently
home-made. Uncle Henry was not unhandy with tools. She learned, later,
that he and the boys had practically built the house by themselves. They
were finishing it inside, as they had time. In some of the rooms the
inside window and door frames were not yet in place.

There was an appetizing smell from the pots upon the stove, and the
long table was set for dinner. They would not let Nan change from her
traveling dress before sitting down to the table. Tom and Rafe came in
and all three men washed at the long, wooden sink.

Rafe was of slighter build than his brother, and a year or more younger.
He was not so shy as Tom, either; and his eyes sparkled with mischief.
Nan found that she could not act "grown up" with her Cousin Rafe.

The principal dish for dinner was venison stew, served with vegetables
and salt-rising bread. There was cake, too, very heavy and indigestible,
and speckled with huckleberries that had been dried the fall previous.
Aunt Kate was no fancy cook; but appetite is the best sauce, after all,
and Nan had her share of that condiment.

During the meal there was not much conversation save about the wonderful
fortune that had fallen to Nan's mother and the voyage she and her
husband were taking to Scotland to secure it. Nan learned, too, that
Uncle Henry had telegraphed from Tillbury of Nan's coming to Pine Camp,
and consequently Aunt Kate was able to prepare for her.

And that the good woman had done her best to make a nest for her little
niece in the ugly house, Nan was assured. After dinner she insisted upon
the girl's going to the east room to change her dress and lie down. The
comparison between this great chamber and Nan's pretty room at home was
appalling.

The room had been plastered, but the plaster was of a gray color and
unfinished. The woodwork was painted a dusty, brick red with mineral
paint. The odd and ugly pieces of furniture horrified Nan. The drugget
on the floor only served to hide a part of the still more atrociously
patterned carpet. The rocking chair complained if one touched it. The
top of the huge maple dresser was as bald as one's palm.

Nan sat down on the unopened trunk when her aunt had left her. She
dabbed her eyes with her handkerchief. Home certainly was never like
this! She did not see how she was ever going to be able to stand it.



Chapter XIII. MARGARET LLEWELLEN

"If Momsey or Papa Sherwood knew about this they'd be awfully sorry for
me," thought Nan, still sitting on the trunk. "Such a looking place!
Nothing to see but snow and trees," for the village of Pine Camp was
quite surrounded by the forest and all the visitor could see from the
windows of her first-floor bedroom were stumps and trees, with deep snow
everywhere.

There was a glowing wood stove in the room and a big, chintz-covered
box beside it, full of "chunks." It was warm in the room, the atmosphere
being permeated with the sweet tang of wood smoke.

Nan dried her eyes. There really was not any use in crying. Momsey and
Papa Sherwood could not know how bad she felt, and she really was not
selfish enough to wish them to know.

"Now, Nanny Sherwood!" she scolded herself, "there's not a particle of
use of your sniveling. It won't 'get you anywhere,' as Mrs. Joyce says.
You'll only make your eyes red, and the folks will see that you're not
happy here, and they will be hurt.

"Mustn't make other folks feel bad just because I feel bad myself," Nan
decided. "Come on! Pluck up your courage!

"I know what I'll do," she added, literally shaking herself as she
jumped off the trunk. "I'll unpack. I'll cover up everything ugly that I
can with something pretty from Tillbury."

Hurried as she had been her departure from the cottage on Amity Street,
Nan had packed in her trunk many of those little possessions, dear to
her childish heart, that had graced her bedroom. These appeared from the
trunk even before she hung away her clothes in the unplastered closet
where the cold wind searched through the cracks from out-of-doors. Into
that closet, away back in the corner, went a long pasteboard box, tied
carefully with strong cord. Nan patted it gently with her hand before
she left the box, whispering:

"You dear! I wouldn't have left you behind for anything! I won't
let them know you are here; but sometimes, when I'm sure nobody will
interrupt, you shall come out."

She spread a fringed towel over the barren top of the dresser. It
would not cover it all, of course; but it made an island in a sea of
emptiness.

And on the island she quickly set forth the plain little toilet-set her
mother had given her on her last birthday, the manicure set that was a
present from Papa Sherwood, and the several other knickknacks that
would help to make the big dresser look as though "there was somebody at
home," as she whispered to herself.

She draped a scarf here, hung up a pretty silk bag there, placed
Momsey's and Papa Sherwood's portraits in their little silver filigree
easels on the mantelpiece, flanking the clock that would not run and
which was held by the ugly china shepherdess with only one foot and
a broken crook, the latter ornament evidently having been at one time
prized by the babies of her aunt's family, for the ring at the top was
dented by little teeth.

Nothing, however, could take the curse of ugliness off the staring
gray walls of the room, or from the horrible turkey-red and white
canton-flannel quilt that bedecked the bed. Nan longed to spill the
contents of her ink bottle over that hideous coverlet, but did not dare.

The effort to make the big east room look less like a barn made Nan feel
better in her mind. It was still dreary, it must be confessed. There
were a dozen things she wished she could do to improve it. There
were nothing but paper shades at the windows. Even a simple scrim
curtain-----

And, in thinking of this, Nan raised her eyes to one window to see a
face pressed close against the glass, and two rolling, crablike eyes
glaring in at her.

"Mercy!" ejaculated Nan Sherwood. "What is the matter with that child's
eyes? They'll drop out of her head!"

She ran to the window, evidently startling the peeper quite as much as
she had been startled herself. The girl, who was about Nan's own age,
fell back from the pane, stumbled in the big, men's boots she wore, and
ungracefully sprawled in the snow upon her back. She could not get away
before Nan had the window open.

The sash was held up by a notched stick. Nan put her head and shoulders
out into the frosty air and stared down at the prostrate girl, who
stared up at her in return.

"What do you want?" Nan asked.

"Nothin'," replied the stranger.

"What were you peeping in for?"

"To see you," was the more frank reply.

"What for?" asked Nan.

"Ain't you the new gal?"

"I've newly come here, yes," admitted Nan.

"Well!"

"But I'm not such a sight, am I?" laughed the girl from Tillbury. "But
you are, lying there in the snow. You'll get your death of cold. Get up."

The other did so. Beside the men's boots, which were patched and old,
she wore a woollen skirt, a blouse, and a shawl over her head and
shoulders. She shook the snow from her garments much as a dog frees
himself from water after coming out of a pond.

"It's too cold to talk with this window open. You're a neighbor, aren't
you?"

The girl nodded.

"Then come in," urged Nan. "I'm sure my aunt will let you."

The girl shook her head in a decided negative to this proposal. "Don't
want Marm Sherwood to see me," she said.

"Why not?"

"She told me not to come over after you come 'ithout I put on my new
dress and washed my hands and face."

"Well!" exclaimed Nan, looking at her more closely. "You seem to have a
clean face, at least."

"Yes. But that dress she 'gin me, my brother Bob took and put on Old
Beagle for to dress him up funny. And Beagle heard a noise he thought
was a fox barking and he started for the tamarack swamp, lickety-split.
I expect there ain't enough of that gingham left to tie around a sore
thumb."

Nan listened to this in both amusement and surprise. The girl was a new
specimen to her.

"Come in, anyway," she urged. "I can't keep the window open."

"I'll climb in, then," declared the other suddenly, and, suiting the
action to the word, she swarmed over the sill; but she left one huge
boot in the snow, and Nan, laughing delightedly, ran for the poker to
fish for it, and drew it in and shut down the window.

The strange girl was warming her hands at the fire. Nan pushed a chair
toward her and took one herself, but not the complaining spring rocking
chair.

"Now tell me all about yourself," the girl demanded.

"I'm Nan Sherwood, and I've come here to Pine Camp to stay while my
father and mother have gone to Scotland."

"I've heard about Scotland," declared the girl with the very prominent
eyes.

"Have you?"

"Yes. Gran'ther Llewellen sings that song. You know:

"'Scotland's burning! Scotland's burning! Where, where? Where, where?
Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Pour on water! Pour on water! Fire's out! Fire's
out!'"

Nan laughed. "I've heard that, too," she said. "But it was another
Scotland." Then: "So your name is Llewellen?"

"Marg'ret Llewellen."

"I've heard your grandfather is sick," said Nan, remembering Tom's
report of the health of the community when he had met her and her uncle
at Hobart Forks.

"Yes. He's got the tic-del-rew," declared Margaret, rather unfeelingly.
"Aunt Matildy says he's allus creakin' round like a rusty gate-hinge."

"Why! That doesn't sound very nice," objected Nan. "Don't you love your
grandfather?"

"Not much," said this perfectly frank young savage. "He's so awfully
wizzled."

"'Wizzled'?" repeated Nan, puzzled.

"Yes. His face is all wizzled up like a dried apple."

"But you love your aunt Matilda?" gasped Nan.

"Well, she's wizzled some," confessed Margaret. Then she said: "I
don't like faces like hern and Marm Sherwood's. I like your face. It's
smooth."

Nan had noticed that this half-wild girl was of beautifully fair
complexion herself, and aside from her pop eyes was quite petty. But she
was a queer little thing.

"You've been to Chicago, ain't you?" asked Margaret suddenly.

"We came through Chicago on our way up here from my home. We stayed one
night there," Nan replied.

"It's bigger'n Pine Camp, ain't it?"

"My goodness, yes!"

"Bigger'n the Forks?" queried Margaret doubtfully.

"Why, it is much, much bigger," said Nan, hopeless of making one
so densely ignorant understand anything of the proportions of the
metropolis of the lakes.

"That's what I told Bob," Margaret said. "He don't believe it. Bob's my
brother, but there never was such a dunce since Adam."

Nan had to laugh. The strange girl amused her. But Margaret said
something, too, that deeply interested the visitor at Pine Camp before
she ended her call, making her exit as she had her entrance, by the
window.

"I reckon you never seen this house of your uncle's before, did you?"
queried Margaret at one point in the conversation.

"Oh, no. I never visited them before."

"Didn't you uster visit 'em when they lived at Pale Lick?"

"No. I don't remember that they ever lived anywhere else beside here."

"Yes, they did. I heard Gran'ther tell about it. But mebbe 'twas before
you an' me was born. It was Pale Lick, I'm sure. That's where they lost
their two other boys."

"What two other boys?" asked Nan, amazed.

"Didn't you ever hear tell you had two other cousins?"

"No," said Nan.

"Well, you did," said Margaret importantly. "And when Pale Lick burned
up, them boys was burned up, too."

"Oh!" gasped Nan, horrified.

"Lots of folks was burned. Injun Pete come near being burned up. He
ain't been right, I reckon, since. And I reckon that's where Marm
Sherwood got that scar on the side of her neck."

Nan wondered.



Chapter XIV. AT THE LUMBER CAMP

Nan said nothing just then about her queer little visitor. Aunt Kate
asked her when she came out of the east room and crossed the chill
desert of the parlor to the general sitting room:

"Did you have a nice sleep, Nannie?"

"Goodness, Auntie!" laughed Nan. "I got over taking a nap in the daytime
a good while ago, I guess. But you come and see what I have done. I
haven't been idle."

Aunt Kate went and peeped into the east chamber. "Good mercy, child! It
doesn't look like the same room, with all the pretty didos," she said.
"And that's your pretty mamma in the picture on the mantel? My! Your
papa looks peaked, doesn't he? Maybe that sea voyage they are taking
will do 'em both good."

Nan had to admit that beside her uncle and cousins her father did look
"peaked." Robust health and brawn seemed to be the two essentials in the
opinion of the people of Pine Camp. Nan was plump and rosy herself and
so escaped criticism.

Her uncle and aunt, and the two big boys as well, were as kind to her
as they knew how to be. Nan could not escape some of the depression
of homesickness during the first day or two of her visit to the woods
settlement; but the family did everything possible to help her occupy
her mind.

The long evenings were rather amusing, although the family knew little
about any game save checkers, "fox and geese," and "hickory, dickory,
dock." Nan played draughts with her uncle and fox and geese and the
other kindergarten game with her big cousins. To see Tom, with his
eyes screwed up tight and the pencil poised in his blunt, frost-cracked
fingers over the slate, while he recited in a base sing-song:

     "Hick'ry, dick'ry, dock
     The mouse ran up the clock,
     The clock struck one,
     An' down he come
     Hick'ry, dick'ry, dock,"

was side-splitting. Nan laughed till she cried. Poor, simple Tom did
know just what amused his little cousin so.

Rafe was by no means so slow, or so simple. Nan caught him cheating
more than once at fox and geese. Rafe was a little sly, and he was
continually making fun of his slow brother, and baiting him. Uncle Henry
warned him:

"Now, Rafe, you're too big for your Marm or me to shingle your pants;
but Tom's likely to lick you some day for your cutting up and I sha'n't
blame him. Just because he's slow to wrath, don't you get it in your
head that he's afraid, or that he can't settle your hash in five
minutes."

Nan was greatly disturbed to hear so many references to fistic
encounters and fighting of all sorts. These men of the woods seemed to
be possessed of wild and unruly passions. What she heard the boys say
caused her to believe that most of the spare time of the men in the
lumber camps was spent in personal encounters.

"No, no, deary. They aren't so bad as they sound," Aunt Kate told her,
comfortably. "Lots of nice men work in the camps all their lives and
never fight. Look at your Uncle Henry."

But Nan remembered the "mess of words" (as he called it) that Uncle
Henry had had with Gedney Raffer on the railroad station platform at the
Forks, and she was afraid that even her aunt did not look with the same
horror on a quarrel that Nan herself did.

The girl from Tillbury had a chance to see just what a lumber camp was
like, and what the crew were like, on the fourth day after her arrival
at her Uncle Henry's house. The weather was then pronounced settled, and
word came for the two young men, Tom and Rafe, to report at Blackton's
camp the next morning, prepared to go to work. Tom drove a team which
was then at the lumber camp, being cared for by the cook and foreman;
Rafe was a chopper, for he had that sleight with an ax which, more than
mere muscle, makes the mighty woodsman.

"Their dad'll drive 'em over to Blackton's early, and you can go, too,"
said Aunt Kate. "That is, if you don't mind getting up right promptly in
the morning?"

"Oh, I don't mind that," Nan declared. "I'm used to getting up early."

But she thought differently when Uncle Henry's heavy hand rapped on the
door of the east chamber so early the next morning that it seemed to Nan
Sherwood that she had only been in bed long enough to close her eyes.

"Goodness, Uncle!" she muttered, when she found out what it meant. "What
time is it?"

"Three o'clock. Time enough for you to dress and eat a snack before we
start," replied her uncle.

"Well!" said Nan to herself. "I thought the house was afire."

Uncle Henry heard her through the door and whispered, shrilly: "Sh!
Don't let your aunt hear you say anything like that, child."

"Like what?" queried Nan, in wonder.

"About fire. Remember!" added Uncle Henry, rather sternly, Nan thought,
as he went back to the kitchen.

Then Nan remembered what the strange little girl, Margaret Llewellen,
had said about the fire at Pale Lick that had burned her uncle's former
home. Nan had not felt like asking her uncle or aunt, or the boys,
either, about it. The latter had probably been too young to remember
much about the tragedy.

Although Nan had seen Margaret on several fleeting occasions since her
first interview with the woods girl, there had been no opportunity of
talking privately with her. And Margaret would only come to the window.
She was afraid to tell "Marm Sherwood" how she had lost the new dress
that had been given to her.

It was now as black outside Nan's window as it could be. She lit her oil
lamp and dressed swiftly, running at last through the cold parlor and
sitting room into the kitchen, where the fire in the range was burning
briskly and the coffee pot was on. Tom and Rafe were there comfortably
getting into thick woolen socks and big lumbermen's boots.

There was a heaping pan of Aunt Kate's doughnuts on the table, flanked
with the thick china coffee cups and deep saucers. Her uncle and the
boys always poured their coffee into the saucers and blew on it to take
the first heat off, then gulped it in great draughts.

Nan followed suit this morning, as far as cooling the coffee in the
saucer went. There was haste. Uncle Henry had been up some time, and now
he came stamping into the house, saying that the ponies were hitched
in and were standing in readiness upon the barn floor, attached to the
pung.

"We've twenty-five miles to ride, you see, Nannie," he said. "The boys
have to be at Blackton's so's to get to work at seven."

They filled the thermos bottle that had so puzzled Tom, and then sallied
forth. The ponies were just as eager as they had been the day Nan had
come over from the Forks. She was really half afraid of them.

It was so dark that she could scarcely see the half-cleared road before
them as the ponies dashed away from Pine Camp. The sky was completely
overcast, but Uncle Henry declared it would break at sunrise.

Where the track had been well packed by former sleighs, the ponies'
hoofs rang as though on iron. The bits of snow that were flung off by
their hoofs were like pieces of ice. The bells on the harness jingled a
very pretty tune, Nan thought. She did not mind the biting cold, indeed,
only her face was exposed. Uncle Henry had suggested a veil; but she
wanted to see what she could.

For the first few miles it remained very dark, however. Had it not been
for the snow they could not have seen objects beside the road at all.
There was a lantern in the back of the pung and that flung a stream of
yellow light behind them; but Uncle Henry would not have the radiance of
it shot forward.

"A light just blinds you," he said. "I'd rather trust to the roans'
sense."

The ponies galloped for a long way, it seemed to Nan; then they came
to a hill so steep that they were glad to drop to a walk. Their bodies
steamed in a great cloud as they tugged the sleigh up the slope. Dark
woods shut the road in on either hand. Nan's eyes had got used to the
faint light so that she could see this at least.

Suddenly she heard a mournful, long-drawn howl, seemingly at a great
distance.

"Must be a farm somewhere near," she said to Rafe, who sat beside her on
the back seat.

"Nope. No farms around here, Nan," he returned.

"But I hear a dog howl," she told him.

Rafe listened, too. Then he turned to her with a grin on his sharp face
that she did not see. "Oh, no, you don't," he chuckled. "That's no dog."

Again the howl was repeated, and it sounded much nearer. Nan realized,
too, that it was a more savage sound than she had ever heard emitted by
a dog.

"What is it?" she asked, speaking in a low voice to Rafe.

"Wolves!" responded her cousin maliciously. "But you mustn't mind a
little thing like that. You don't have wolves down round where you live,
I s'pose?"

Nan knew that he was attempting to plague her, so she said: "Not for
pets, at least, Rafe. These sound awfully savage."

"They are," returned her cousin calmly.

The wolf cry came nearer and nearer. The ponies had started on a trot
again at the top of the hill, and her uncle and Tom did not seem to
notice the ugly cry. Nan looked back, and was sure that some great
animal scrambled out of the woods and gave chase to them.

"Isn't there some danger?" she asked Rafe again.

"Not for us," he said. "Of course, if the whole pack gathers and catches
us, then we have to do something."

"What do you do?" demanded Nan quickly.

"Why, the last time we were chased by wolves, we happened to have a ham
and a side of bacon along. So we chucked out first the one, and then the
other, and so pacified the brutes till we got near town."

"Oh!" cried Nan, half believing, half in doubt.

She looked back again. There, into the flickering light of the lantern,
a gaunt, huge creature leaped. Nan could see his head and shoulders
now and then as he plunged on after the sleigh, and a wickeder looking
beast, she hoped never to see.

"Oh!" she gasped again, and grabbed at Rafe's arm.

"Don't you be afraid," drawled that young rascal. "I reckon he hasn't
many of his jolly companions with him. If he had, of course, we'd have
to throw you out to pacify him. That's the rule--youngest and prettiest
goes first-----"

"Like the ham, I s'pose?" sniffed Nan, in some anger, and just then Tom
reached over the back of the front seat and seized his brother by the
shoulder with a grip that made Rafe shriek with pain.

Nan was almost as startled as was Rafe. In the half-darkness Tom's dull
face blazed with anger, and he held his writhing brother as though he
were a child.

"You ornery scamp!" he said, almost under his breath. "You try to scare
that little girl, and I'll break you in two!"

Nan was horrified. She begged Tom to let his brother alone. "I was only
fooling her," snarled Rafe, rubbing his injured shoulder, for Tom had
the grip of a pipe wrench.

Uncle Henry never turned around at all; but he said: "If I had a gun
I'd be tempted to shoot that old wolf hound of Toby Vanderwiller's. He's
always running after sleds and yelling his head off."

Nan was glad the creature following them was not really a wolf; but she
knew she should be just as much afraid of him if she met him alone, as
though he really were a wolf. However, mostly, she was troubled by the
passionate nature of her two cousins. She had never seen Tom show any
anger before; but it was evident that he had plenty of spirit if it were
called up. And she was, secretly, proud that the slow-witted young giant
should have displayed his interest in her welfare so plainly. Rafe sat
and nursed his shoulder in silence for several miles.

The cold was intense. As the sky lightened along the eastern horizon it
seemed to Nan as though the frost increased each moment. The bricks at
their feet were getting cool; and they had already had recourse to the
thermos bottle, which was now empty of the gratefully hot drink it had
contained.

As the light gradually increased Nan saw Rafe watching her with sudden
attention. After his recent trick she was a little afraid of Rafe. Still
it did not seem possible that the reckless fellow would attempt any
second piece of fooling so soon after his brother's threat.

But suddenly Rafe yelled to his father to pull down the roans, and as
the ponies stopped, he reached from the sled into a drift and secured a
big handful of snow. Seizing Nan quickly around the shoulders he began
to rub her cheek vigorously with the snow. Nan gasped and almost lost
her breath; but she realized immediately what Rafe was about.

The frost had nipped her cheek, and her cousin had seen the white spot
appear. "The rubbing stung awfully, and the girl could not keep back the
tears; but she managed to repress the sobs.

"There!" exclaimed Rafe. "You are a plucky girl. I'm sorry I got some of
that snow down your neck, Nan. Couldn't help it. But it's the only thing
to do when the thermometer is thirty-two degrees below zero. Why! A
fellow went outside with his ears uncovered at Droomacher's camp one
day last winter and after awhile he began to rub his ears and one of 'em
dropped off just like a cake of ice."

"Stop your lying, boy!" commanded his father. "It isn't as bad as that,
Nan. But you want to watch out for frost bite here in the woods, just
the same as we had to watch out for the automobiles in crossing those
main streets in Chicago."

With a red sun rising over the low ridge of wooded ground to the east,
the camp in the hollow was revealed, the smoke rising in a pillar of
blue from the sheet-iron chimney of the cookhouse; smoke rising, too,
from a dozen big horses being curried before the stables.

Most of the men had arrived the night before. They were tumbling out
of the long, low bunkhouse now and making good use of the bright tin
washbasins on the long bench on the covered porch. Ice had been broken
to get the water that was poured into the basins, but the men laved
their faces and their hairy arms and chests in it as though it were
summer weather.

They quickly ran in for their outer shirts and coats, however, and then
trooped in to the end of the cook shed where the meals were served. Tom
turned away to look over his horses and see that they were all ready for
the day's work. Rafe put up the roan ponies in a couple of empty stalls
and gave them a feed of oats.

Uncle Henry took Nan by the hand, and, really she felt as though she
needed some support, she was so stiff from the cold, and led her into
the warm room where the men were gathering for the hearty meal the cook
and his helper had prepared.

The men were boisterous in their greeting of Uncle Henry, until they saw
Nan. Than, some bashfully, some because of natural refinement, lowered
their voices and were more careful how they spoke before the girl.

But she heard something that troubled her greatly. An old, grizzled man
in a corner of the fireplace where the brisk flames leaped high among
the logs, and who seemed to have already eaten his breakfast and was
busily stoning an axe blade, looked up as Nan and her uncle approached,
saying:

"Seen Ged Raffer lately, Hen?"

"I saw him at the Forks the other day, Toby," Mr. Sherwood replied.

"Yaas. I heard about that," said the old man drawlingly. "But since
then?"

"No."

"Wal, he was tellin' me that he'd got you on the hip this time, Hen. If
you as much as put your hoof over on that track he's fighting you about,
he'll plop you in jail, that's what he'll do! He's got a warrant all
made out by Jedge Perkins. I seen it."

Uncle Henry walked closer to the old man and looked down at him from
his great height. "Tobe," he said, "you know the rights of that business
well enough. You know whether I'm right in the contention, or whether
Ged's right. You know where the old line runs. Why don't you tell?"

"Oh, mercy me!" croaked the old man, and in much haste. "I ain't goin'
to git into no land squabble, no, sir! You kin count me out right now!"
And he picked up his axe, restored the whetstone to its sheath on the
wall, and at once went out of the shack.



Chapter XV. A CAT AND HER KITTENS

That was a breakfast long to be remembered by Nan Sherwood, not
particularly because of its quality, but for the quantity served. She
had never seen men like these lumbermen eat before, save for the few
days she had been at Uncle Henry's house.

Great platters of baked beans were placed on the table, flanked by the
lumps of pork that had seasoned them. Fried pork, too, was a "main-stay"
on the bill-of-fare. The deal table was graced by no cloth or napery of
any kind. There were heaps of potatoes and onions fried together, and
golden cornbread with bowls of white gravy to ladle over it.

After riding twenty-five miles through such a frosty air, Nan would have
had to possess a delicate appetite indeed not to enjoy these viands. She
felt bashful because of the presence of so many rough men; but they left
her alone for the most part, and she could listen and watch.

"Old Toby Vanderwiller tell you what Ged's been blowin' about, Henry?"
asked one of the men at the table, busy ladling beans into his mouth
with a knife, a feat that Nan thought must be rather precarious, to say
the least.

"Says he's going to jail me if I go on to the Perkins Tract," growled
Uncle Henry, with whom the matter was doubtless a sore subject.

"Yaas. But he says more'n that," said this tale bearer.

"Oh, Ged says a whole lot besides his prayers," responded Uncle Henry,
good-naturedly. Perhaps he saw they were trying to bait him.

"Wal, 'tain't nothin' prayerful he's sayin'," drawled the first speaker,
after a gulp of coffee from his thick china cup. "Some of the boys at
Beckett's, you know, they're a tough crowd, was riggin' him about what
you said to him down to the Forks, and Ged spit out that he'd give a
lump of money to see you on your back."

"Huh!" grunted Uncle Henry.

"And some of 'em took him up, got the old man right down to cases."

"That so?" asked Mr. Sherwood curiously. "What's Ged going to do?
Challenge me to a game of cat's cradle? Or does he want to settle the
business at draughts, three best out o' five?"

"Now you know dern well, Hen," said the other, as some of the listeners
laughed loudly at Mr. Sherwood's sally, "that old Ged Raffer will never
lock horns with you 'ceptin' it's in court, where he'll have the full
pertection of the law, and a grain the best of it into the bargain."

"Well, I s'pose that's so," admitted Nan's uncle, rather gloomily, she
thought.

"So, if Beckett's crowd are int'rested in bumping you a whole lot, you
may be sure Ged's promised 'em real money for it."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Uncle Henry. "You're fooling now. He hasn't hired any
half-baked chip-eaters and Canucks to try and beat me up?"

"I ain't foolin'."

"Pshaw!"

"You kin 'pshaw' till the cows come home," cried the other heatedly. "I
got it straight."

"Who from?"

"Sim Barkis, him what's cookin' for Beckett's crew."

"Good man, Sim. Never caught him in a lie yet. You are beginning to
sound reasonable, Josh," and Mr. Sherwood put down his knife and fork
and looked shrewdly at his informant. "Now tell me," he said, "how much
is Sim going to get for helping to pay Ged Raffer's debts?"

"Har!" ejaculated the other man. "You know Sim ain't that kind."

"All right, then. How much does he say the gang's going to split between
'em after they've done me up brown according to contract?" scoffed Uncle
Henry, and Nan realized that her giant relative had not the least fear
of not being able to meet any number of enemies in the open.

"Sim come away before they got that far. Of course Ged didn't say right
out in open meetin' that he'd give so many dollars for your scalp. But
he got 'em all int'rested, and it wouldn't surprise him, so Sim said, if
on the quiet some of those plug-uglies had agreed to do the job."

Nan shuddered, and had long since stopped eating. But nobody paid any
attention to her at the moment.

Uncle Henry drawled: "They're going to do the hardest day's job for the
smallest pay that they ever did on this Michigan Peninsula. I'm much
obliged to you, Josh, for telling me. I never go after trouble, as you
fellows all know; but I sha'n't try to dodge it, either."

He picked up his knife and fork and went quietly on with his breakfast.
But Nan could not eat any more at all.

It seemed to the gently nurtured girl from Tillbury as though she had
fallen in with people from another globe. Even the mill-hands, whom Bess
Harley so scorned, were not like these great, rough fellows whose minds
seemed continually to be fixed upon battle. At least, she had never seen
or heard such talk as had just now come to her ears.

The men began, one by one, to push back the benches and go out. There
was a great bustle of getting under way as the teams started for the
woods, and the choppers, too, went away. Tom hurried to start his big
pair of dapple grays, and Nan was glad to bundle up again and run out to
watch the exodus.

They were a mighty crew. As Uncle Henry had said, the Big Woods did not
breed runts.

Remembering the stunted, quick-moving, chattering French Canadians, and
the scattering of American-born employees among them, who worked in the
Tillbury mills, Nan was the more amazed by the average size of
these workmen. The woodsmen were a race of giants beside the
narrow-shouldered, flat-chested pygmies who toiled in the mills.

Tom strode by with his timber sled. Rafe leaped on to ride and Tom
playfully snapped his whiplash at him. Nan was glad to see that the
two brothers smiled again at each other. Their recent tiff seemed to be
forgotten.

Some of the choppers had already gone on ahead to the part of the tract
where the marked trees were being felled. Now the pluck, pluck, pluck of
the axe blows laid against the forest monarchs, reached the girl's ears.
She thought the flat stuttering sound of the axes said "pluck" very
plainly, and that that was just the word they should say.

"For it does take lots of pluck to do work of this kind," Nan
confided to her uncle, who walked up and down on the porch smoking an
after-breakfast pipe.

"Yes. No softies allowed on the job," said he, cheerfully. "Some of the
boys may be rough and hard nuts to crack; but it is necessary to have
just such boys or we couldn't get out the timber."

"But they want to fight so much!" gasped Nan.

"Sho!" said her uncle, slowly. "It's mostly talk. They feel the itch
for hard work and hard play, that's all. You take lively, full-muscled
animals, and they are always bucking and quarreling--trying to see which
one is the best. Take two young, fat steers they'll lock horns at the
drop of a hat. It's animal spirits, Nan. They feel that they've got
to let off steam. Where muscle and pluck count for what they do in the
lumber camps, there's bound to be more or less ructions."

Perhaps this might be; but Nan was dreadfully sorry, nevertheless, that
Uncle Henry had this trouble with Mr. Gedney Raffer. The girl feared
that there had been something besides "letting off steam" in the
challenge her uncle had thrown down to his enemy, or to the men that
enemy could hire to attack him.

The timber sledges soon began to drift back, for some of the logs had
been cut before the big storm, and had only to be broken out of the
drifts and rolled upon the sleds with the aid of the men's canthooks. It
was a mystery at first to Nan how they could get three huge logs, some
of them three feet in diameter at the butt, on to the sled; two at the
bottom and one rolled upon them, all being fastened securely with the
timber-chain and hook.

How the horses strained in their collars to start the mighty load! But
once started, the runners slipped along easily enough, even through the
deep snow, packing the compressible stuff in one passage as hard as ice.
Nan followed in this narrow track to the very bank of the river where
the logs were heaped in long windrows, ready to be launched into the
stream when the waters should rise at the time of the spring freshet.

Tom managed his team alone, and unloaded alone, too. It was marvelous
(so Nan thought) that her cousin could start the top log with the great
canthook, and guide it as it rolled off the sled so that it should lie
true with timbers that had been piled before. The strain of his work
made him perspire as though it were midsummer. He thrust the calks on
his bootsoles into the log and the shreds of bark and small chips flew
as he stamped to get a secure footing for his work. Then he heaved
like a giant, his shoulders humping under the blue jersey he wore, and
finally the log turned. Once started, it was soon rolled into place.

Nan ran into the cook shed often to get warm. Her uncle was busy with
the boss of the camp, so she had nobody but the cook and his helper to
speak to for a time. Therefore it was loneliness that made her start
over the half-beaten trail for the spot where the men were at work,
without saying a word to anybody.

None of the teams had come by for some time; but she could hear faintly
the sound of the axes and the calling of the workmen to each other and
their sharp commands to the horses.

She went away from the camp a few hundred yards and then found that the
trail forked. One path went down a little hill, and as that seemed easy
to descend, Nan followed it into a little hollow. It seemed only one
sled had come this way and none of the men were here. The voices and
axes sounded from higher up the ridge.

Suddenly she heard something entirely different from the noise of the
woodsmen. It was the snarling voice of a huge cat and almost instantly
Nan sighted the creature which stood upon a snow-covered rock beside the
path. It had tasseled ears, a wide, wicked "smile," bristling whiskers,
and fangs that really made Nan tremble, although she was some yards from
the bobcat.

As she believed, from what her cousins had told her, bobcats are not
usually dangerous. They never seek trouble with man, save under certain
conditions; and that is when a mother cat has kittens to defend.

This was a big female cat, and, although the season was early, she had
littered and her kittens, three of them, were bedded in a heap of leaves
blown by the wind into a hollow tree trunk.

The timberman driving through the hollow had not seen the bobcat and her
three blind babies; but he had roused the mother cat and she was now all
ready to spring at intruders.

That Nan was not the person guilty of disturbing her repose made no
difference to the big cat. She saw the girl standing, affrighted and
trembling, in the path and with a ferocious yowl and leap she crossed
the intervening space and landed in the snow within almost arm's reach
of the fear-paralyzed girl.



Chapter XVI. "INJUN PETE"

Nan Sherwood could not cry out, though she tried. She opened her lips
only to find her throat so constricted by fear that she could not utter
a sound. Perhaps her sudden and utter paralysis was of benefit at
the moment, after all; for she could not possibly have escaped the
infuriated lynx by running.

The creature's own movements were hampered by the deep drift in which
she had landed. The soft snow impeded the cat and, snarling still, she
whirled around and around like a pinwheel to beat a firmer foundation
from which to make her final spring at her victim.

Nan, crouching, put her mittened hands before her face. She saw no
chance for escape and could not bear to see the vicious beast leap at
her again. "Momsey! Papa Sherwood!" she thought, rather than breathed
aloud.

Then, down the hill toward her, plunged a swift body. She rather felt
the new presence than saw it. The cat yowled again, and spit. There was
the impact of a clubbed gun upon the creature's head.

"Sacre bleu! Take zat! And zat!" cried a sharp voice, between the blows
that fell so swiftly. The animal's cries changed instantly from rage to
pain. Nan opened her eyes in time to see the maddened cat flee swiftly.
She bounded to the big tree and scrambled up the trunk and out upon the
first limb. There she crouched, over the place where her kittens were
hidden, yowling and licking her wounds. There was blood upon her head
and she licked again and again a broken forefoot between her yowls of
rage and pain.

But Nan was more interested just then in the person who had flown to
her rescue so opportunely. He was not one of the men from the camp, or
anybody whom she had ever seen before.

He was not a big man, but was evidently very strong and active. His
dress was of the most nondescript character, consisting mainly of a
tattered fur cap, with a woolen muffler tied over his ears; a patched
and parti-colored coat belted at the waist with a frayed rope. His legs
disappeared into the wide tops of a pair of boots evidently too big for
him, with the feet bundled in bagging so that he could walk on top of
the snow, this in lieu of regular snowshoes.

His back was toward Nan and he did not turn to face her as he said:

"Be not afeared, leetle Man'zelle. Le bad chat is gone. We shall now do
famous-lee, eh? No be afeared more."

"No, no, sir," gasped Nan, trying to be brave. "Won't, won't it come
back?"

"Nev-air!" cried the man, with a flourish of the gun which was a
rusty-barreled old weapon, perhaps more dangerous at the butt end than
at its muzzle. "Ze chat only fear for her babies. She have zem in dat
tree. We will go past leeving zem streectly alone, eh?"

"No!" cried Nan hastily. "I'm going back to the camp. I didn't know
there were such dangerous things as that in these woods."

"Ah! You are de strange leetle Mam'zelle den?" responded the man. "You
do not know ze Beeg Woods?"

"I guess I don't know anything about this wilderness," confessed Nan.
"My uncle brought me to the camp up yonder this morning, and I hope
he'll go right home again. It's awful!"

"Eet seem terrifying to ze leetle Mam'zelle because she is unused--eh?
Me! I be terrified at ze beeg city where she come from, p'r'aps. Zey
tell Pete 'bout waggings run wizout horses, like stea'mill. Ugh! No
wanter see dem. Debbil in 'em," and he laughed, not unpleasantly, making
a small joke of the suggestion.

Indeed his voice, now that the sharpness of excitement had gone out of
it, was a very pleasant voice. The broken words he used assured Nan that
his mother tongue must be French. He was probably one of the "Canucks"
she had heard her cousins speak of. French Canadians were not at all
strange to Nan Sherwood, for in Tillbury many of the mill hands were of
that race.

But she thought it odd that this man kept his face studiously turned
from her. Was he watching the bobcat all the time? Was the danger much
more serious than he would own?

"Why don't you look at me?" cried the girl, at length. "I'm awfully much
obliged to you for coming to help me as you did. And my uncle will want
to thank you I am sure. Won't you tell me your name?"

The man was silent for a moment. Then, when he spoke, his voice was
lower and there was an indescribably sad note in it.

"Call me 'Injun Pete', zat me. Everybody in de beeg Woods know Injun
Pete. No odder name now. Once ze good Brodders at Aramac goin' make
scholar of Pete, make heem priest, too, p'r'aps. He go teach among
he's mudder's people. Mudder Micmac, fadder wild Frinchman come to dees
lakeshore. But nev-air can Pete be Teacher, be priest. Non, non! Jes'
Injun Pete."

Nan suddenly remembered what little Margaret Llewellen had said about
the fire at Pale Lick, and "Injun Pete." The fact that this man kept
his face turned from her all this time aroused her suspicion. She was
deeply, deeply grateful to him for what he had just done for her, and,
naturally, she enlarged in her mind the peril in which she had been
placed.

Margaret had suggested this unfortunate half-breed was "not right in his
head" because of the fire which had disfigured him. But he spoke very
sensibly now, it seemed to Nan; very pitifully, too, about his blasted
hopes of a clerical career. She said, quietly:

"I expect you know my uncle and his family, Pete. He is Mr. Sherwood of
Pine Camp."

"Ah! Mis-tair Hen Sherwood! I know heem well," admitted the man. "He
nice-a man ver' kind to Injun Pete."

"I'd like to have you look at me, please," said Nan, still softly. "You
see, I want to know you again if we meet. I am very grateful."

Pete waved her thanks aside with a royal gesture. "Me! I be glad to be
of use, oh, oui! Leetle Man'zelle mus' not make mooch of nottin', eh?"

He laughed again, but he did not turn to look at her. Nan reached out a
tentative hand and touched his sleeve. "Please, Mr. Pete," she said. "I,
I want to see you. I, I have heard something about your having been hurt
in a fire. I am sure you must think yourself a more hateful sight than
you really are."

A sob seemed to rise in the man's throat, and his shoulders shook. He
turned slowly and looked at her for a moment over his shoulder. Then he
went swiftly away across the snow (for the bobcat had disappeared into
her lair) and Nan stumbled back up the trail toward the camp, the tears
blinding her own eyes.

The disfigured face of the half-breed HAD been a shock to her. She could
never speak of it afterward. Indeed, she could not tell Uncle Henry
about her meeting with the lynx, and her rescue--she shrank so from
recalling Injun Pete's disfigured face.



Chapter XVII. SPRING IN THE BIG WOODS

That visit to the lumber camp was memorable for Nan Sherwood in more
ways than one. Her adventure with the lynx she kept secret from her
relatives, because of the reason given in the previous chapter. But
there was another incident that marked the occasion to the girl's mind,
and that was the threat of Gedney Raffer, reported to her Uncle Henry.

Nan thought that such a bad man as Raffer appeared to be would
undoubtedly carry out his threat. He had offered money to have Mr.
Sherwood beaten up, and the ruffians he had bribed would doubtless be
only too eager to earn the reward.

To tell the truth, for weeks thereafter, Nan never saw a rough-looking
man approach the house on the outskirts of Pine Camp, without fearing
that here was coming a ruffian bent on her uncle's injury.

That Uncle Henry seemed quite to have forgotten the threat only made Nan
more keenly alive to his danger. She dared not discuss the matter
with Aunt Kate, for Nan feared to worry that good woman unnecessarily.
Besides, having been used to hiding from her own mother all unpleasant
things, the girl naturally displayed the same thoughtfulness for Aunt
Kate.

For, despite Mrs. Henry Sherwood's bruskness and masculine appearance,
Nan learned that there were certain matters over which her aunt showed
extreme nervousness.

For instance, she was very careful of the lamps used in the house--she
insisted upon cleaning and caring for them herself; she would not allow
a candle to be used, because it might be overturned; and she saw to it
herself that every fire, even the one in Nan's bedroom, was properly
banked before the family retired at night.

Nan had always in mind what Uncle Henry said about mentioning fire
to Aunt Kate; so the curious young girl kept her lips closed upon the
subject. But she certainly was desirous of knowing about that fire, so
long ago, at Pale Lick, how it came about; if Aunt Kate had really got
her great scar there; and if it was really true that two members of her
uncle's family had met their death in the conflagration.

She tried not to think at all of Injun Pete. That was too terrible!

With all her heart, Nan wished she might do something that would really
help Uncle Henry solve his problem regarding the timber rights on the
Perkins Tract. The very judge who had granted the injunction forbidding
Mr. Sherwood to cut timber on the tract was related to the present
owners of the piece of timberland; and the tract had been the basis of a
feud in the Perkins family for two generations.

Many people were more or less interested in the case and they came to
the Sherwood home and talked excitedly about it in the big kitchen. Some
advised an utter disregard of the law. Others were evidently minded
to increase the trouble between Raffer and Uncle Henry by malicious
tale-bearing.

Often Nan thought of what Uncle Henry had said to old Toby Vanderwiller.
She learned that Toby was one of the oldest settlers in this part of the
Michigan Peninsula, and in his youth had been a timber runner, that is,
a man who by following the surveyors' lines on a piece of timber, and
weaving back and forth across it, can judge its market value so nearly
right that his employer, the prospective timber merchant, is able to bid
intelligently for the so-called "stumpage" on the tract.

Toby was still a vigorous man save when that bane of the woodsman,
rheumatism, laid him by the heels. He had a bit of a farm in the
tamarack swamp. Once, being laid up by his arch enemy, with his joints
stiffened and muscles throbbing with pain, Toby had seen the gaunt
wolf of starvation, more terrible than any timber wolf, waiting at his
doorstone. His old wife and a crippled grandson were dependent on Toby,
too.

Thus in desperate straits Toby Vanderwiller had accepted help from
Gedney Raffer. It was a pitifully small sum Raffer would advance upon
the little farm; but it was sufficient to put Toby in the usurer's
power. This was the story Nan learned regarding Toby. And Uncle Henry
believed that Toby, with his old-time knowledge of land-boundaries,
could tell, if he would, which was right in the present contention
between Mr. Sherwood and Gedney Raffer.

These, and many other subjects of thought, kept the mind of Nan Sherwood
occupied during the first few weeks of her sojourn at Pine Camp. She
had, too, to keep up her diary that she had begun for Bess Harley's
particular benefit. Every week she sent off to Tillbury a bulky section
of this report of her life in the Big woods. It was quite wonderful how
much there proved to be to write about. Bess wrote back, enviously, that
never did anything interesting, by any possibility, happen, now that
Nan was away from Tillbury. The town was "as dull as ditch water." She,
Bess, lived only in hopes of meeting her chum at Lakeview Hall the next
September.

This hope Nan shared. But it all lay with the result of Momsey's and
Papa Sherwood's visit to Scotland and Emberon Castle. And, Nan thought,
it seemed as though her parents never would even reach that far distant
goal.

They had taken a slow ship for Momsey's benefit and the expected
re-telegraphed cablegram was looked for at the Forks for a week before
it possibly could come.

It was a gala day marked on Nan's calendar when Uncle Henry, coming home
from the railroad station behind the roan ponies, called to her to
come out and get the message. Momsey and Papa Sherwood had sent it from
Glasgow, and were on their way to Edinburgh before Nan received the
word. Momsey had been very ill a part of the way across the ocean, but
went ashore in improved health.

Nan was indeed happy at this juncture. Her parents were safely over
their voyage on the wintry ocean, so a part of her worry of mind was
lifted.

Meanwhile spring was stealing upon Pine Camp without Nan's being really
aware of the fact. Uncle Henry had said, back in Chicago, that "the back
of winter was broken"; but the extreme cold weather and the deep snow
she had found in the Big Woods made Nan forget that March was passing
and timid April was treading on his heels.

A rain lasting two days and a night washed the roads of snow and turned
the fast disappearing drifts to a dirty yellow hue. In sheltered fence
corners and nooks in the wood, the grass lifted new, green blades, and
queer little Margaret Llewellen showed Nan where the first anemones and
violets hid under last year's drifted leaves.

The river ice went out with a rush after it had rained a few hours;
after that the "drives" of logs were soon started. Nan went down to the
long, high bridge which spanned the river and watched the flood carry
the logs through.

At first they came scatteringly, riding the foaming waves end-on, and
sometimes colliding with the stone piers of the bridge with sufficient
force to split the unhewn timbers from end to end, some being laid open
as neatly as though done with axe and wedge.

When the main body of the drive arrived, however, the logs were like
herded cattle, milling in the eddies, stampeded by a cross-current,
bunching under the bridge arches like frightened steers in a chute. And
the drivers herded the logs with all the skill of cowboys on the range.

Each drive was attended by its own crew, who guarded the logs on either
bank, launching those that shoaled on the numerous sandbars or in the
shallows, keeping them from piling up in coves and in the mouths of
estuaries, or creeks, some going ahead at the bends to fend off and
break up any formation of the drifting timbers that promised to become a
jam.

Behind the drive floated the square bowed and square sterned chuck-boat,
which carried cook and provisions for the men. A "boom", logs chained
together, end to end, was thrown out from one shore of the wide stream
at night, and anchored at its outer end. Behind this the logs were
gathered in an orderly, compact mass and the men could generally get
their sleep, save for the watchman; unless there came a sudden rise of
water in the night.

It was a sight long to be remembered, Nan thought, when the boom was
broken in the morning. Sometimes an increasing current piled the logs up
a good bit. It was a fear-compelling view the girl had of the river
on one day when she went with Uncle Henry to see the first drive from
Blackton's camp. Tom was coming home with his team and was not engaged
in the drive. But reckless Rafe was considered, for his age, a very
smart hand on a log drive.

The river had risen two feet at the Pine Camp bridge overnight. It was a
boiling brown flood, covered with drifting foam and debris. The roar
of the freshet awoke Nan in her bed before daybreak. So she was
not surprised to see the river in such a turmoil when, after a hasty
breakfast, she and Uncle Henry walked beside the flood.

"They started their drive last night," Uncle Henry said, "and boomed her
just below the campsite. We'll go up to Dead Man's Bend and watch her
come down. There is no other drive betwixt us and Blackton's."

"Why is it called by such a horrid name, Uncle?" asked Nan.

"What, honey?" he responded.

"That bend in the river."

"Why, I don't know rightly, honey-bird. She's just called that. Many a
man's lost his life there since I came into this part of the country,
that's a fact. It's a dangerous place," and Nan knew by the look on her
uncle's face that he was worried.



Chapter XVIII. AT DEAD MAN'S BEND

Nan and her uncle came out on the bluff that overlooked the sharp bend
which hid the upper reaches of the river from Pine Camp. Across the
stream, almost from bank to bank, a string of gravel flats made a
barrier that all the rivermen feared.

Blackton was no careless manager, and he had a good foreman in Tim
Turner. The big boss had ridden down to the bend in a mud-splashed
buggy, and was even prepared to take a personal hand in the work, if
need be. The foreman was coming down the river bank on the Pine
Camp side of the stream, watching the leading logs of the drive, and
directing the foreguard. Among the latter Nan spied Rafe.

"There he is, Uncle!" she cried. "Oh! He's jumped out on that log, see?"

"He's all right, girl, he's all right," said Uncle Henry comfortingly.
"Rafe's got good calks on his boots."

The boy sprang from log to log, the calks making the chips fly, and with
a canthook pushed off a log that had caught and swung upon a small bank.
He did it very cleverly, and was back again, across the bucking logs, in
half a minute.

Below, the foreman himself was making for a grounded log, one of the
first of the drive. It had caught upon some snag, and was swinging
broadside out, into the stream. Let two or three more timbers catch with
it and there would be the nucleus of a jam that might result in much
trouble for everybody.

Tim Turner leaped spaces of eight and ten feet between the logs, landing
secure and safe upon the stranded log at last. With the heavy canthook
he tried to start it.

"That's a good man, Tim Turner," said Mr. Sherwood, heartily. "He's
worked for me, isn't afraid of anything, Ha! But that's wrong!" he
suddenly exclaimed.

Turner had failed to start the stranded log. Other logs were hurtling
down the foam-streaked river, aimed directly for the stranded one. They
would begin to pile up in a heap in a minute. The foreman leaped to
another log, turning as he did so to face the shore. That was when Uncle
Henry declared him wrong.

Turner was swinging his free arm, and above the roar of the river
and the thunder of the grinding and smashing logs they could hear him
shouting for somebody to bring him an axe. One of his men leaped to
obey. Nan and Mr. Sherwood did not notice just then who this second man
was who put himself in jeopardy, for both had their gaze on the foreman
and that which menaced him.

Shooting across on a slant was a huge log, all of three feet through at
the butt, and it was aimed for the timber on which Turner stood. He did
not see it. Smaller logs were already piling against the timber he had
left, and had he leaped back to the stranded one he would have been
comparatively safe.

Mr. Sherwood was quick to act in such an emergency as this; but he was
too far from the spot to give practical aid in saving Turner from the
result of his own heedlessness. He made a horn of his two hands and
shouted to the foreguard at the foot of the bluff:

"He's going into the water! Launch Fred Durgin's boat below the bend!
Get her! Quick, there!"

Old riverman that he was, Uncle Henry was pretty sure of what was about
to happen. The huge log came tearing on, butt first, a wave of troubled
water split by its on-rush. Turner was watching the person bringing him
the axe, and never once threw a glance over his shoulder.

Suddenly Nan cried out and seized Uncle Henry's arm. "Look! Oh, Uncle!
It's Rafe!" she gasped, pointing.

"Aye, I know it," said her uncle, wonderfully cool, Nan thought, and
casting a single glance at the figure flying over the bucking logs
toward the endangered foreman. "He'll do what he can."

Nan could not take her eyes from her cousin after that. It seemed to
be a race between Rafe and the charging log, to see which should first
reach the foreman. Rafe, reckless and harebrained as he was, flew over
the logs as sure-footed as a goat. Nan felt faint. Her cousin's peril
seemed far greater to her than that of the foreman.

A step might plunge Rafe into the foaming stream! When a log rolled
under him she cried out under her breath and clamped her teeth down on
to her lower lip until the blood almost came.

"He'll be killed! He'll be killed!" she kept repeating in her own mind.
But Uncle Henry stood like a rock and seemingly gave no more attention
to his son than he did to Turner, or to the men running down the bank to
seize upon and launch the heavy boat.

Rafe was suddenly balked and had to stop. Too great a stretch of water
separated him from the next floating log. Turner beckoned him on. It was
difficult to make the foreman hear above the noise of the water and the
continual grinding of the logs, but Rafe yelled some warning and pointed
toward the timber now almost upon Turner's foothold.

The man shot a glance behind him. The butt of the driving log rose
suddenly into the air as though it would crush him.

Turner leaped to the far end of the log on which he stood. But too
great a distance separated him from the log on which Rafe had secured a
foothold.

Crash!

Nan heard, on top of the bluff, the impact of the great timber as it was
flung by the current across the smaller log. Turner shot into the air
as though he were flung from a catapult. But he was not flung in Rafe's
direction, and the boy could not help him.

He plunged into the racing stream and disappeared. The huge timber rode
over the smaller log and buried it from sight. But its tail swung around
and the great log was headed straight down the river again.

As its smaller end swung near, Rafe leaped for it and secured a footing
on the rolling, plunging log. How he kept his feet under him Nan could
not imagine. A bareback rider in a circus never had such work as this.
Rafe rode his wooden horse in masterly style.

There, ahead of him in the boiling flood, an arm and head appeared.
Turner came to the surface with his senses unimpaired and he strove to
clutch the nearest log. But the stick slipped away from him.

Rafe ran forward on the plunging timber he now rode the huge stick that
had made all the trouble, and tried to reach the man in the water. No
use!

Of course, there was no way for Rafe to guide his log toward the
drowning man. Nor did he have anything to reach out for Turner to grasp.
The axe handle was not long enough, and the foreman's canthook had
disappeared.

Below, the men were struggling to get the big boat out from under the
bank into the stream. Two of them stood up with their canthooks to fend
off the drifting logs; the others plied the heavy oars.

But the boat was too far from the man in the river. He was menaced on
all sides by plunging logs. He barely escaped one to be grazed on the
shoulder by another. A third pressed him under the surface again; but
as he went down this second time, Rafe Sherwood threw away his axe and
leaped into the flood!



Chapter XIX. OLD TOBY VANDERWILLER

Nan was sure her Cousin Rafe would be drowned, as well as his foreman.
She covered her eyes for a moment, and could not look.

Then a great cheer arose from the men in the boat and those still
remaining on the bank of the river. Her uncle, beside her, muttered:

"Plucky boy! Plucky boy!"

Her eyes flew open and she looked again. In the midst of the scattering
foam she saw a small log over which her cousin had flung his left arm;
his other arm was around the foreman, and Rafe was bearing his head
above water. Turner had been struck and rendered senseless by the blow.

The small log slipped through a race between two shallows, ahead of the
greater timber. The latter indeed grounded for a moment and that gave
the victim of the accident and his rescuer a chance for life.

They shot ahead with the log to which Rafe clung. The men in the boat
shouted encouragement, and rowed harder. In a minute the boat came
alongside the log and two of the rivermen grabbed the boy and the
unconscious foreman. They had them safely in the boat, and the boat was
at the shore again in three minutes.

By that time the big boss himself, Mr. Blackton, was tearing out over
the logs from the other shore, axe in hand, to cut the key log of the
jam, the formation of which Turner had tried to prevent. A hundred logs
had piled up against the stoppage by this time and there promised to be
a bad time at the bend if every one did not work quickly.

Before Nan and her uncle could reach the foot of the bluff, Turner had
regained consciousness and was sitting on a stranded log, holding his
head. Rafe, just as he had come out of the river, was out on the logs
again lending a hand at the work so necessary to the success of the
drive.

"Oh, dear me!" cried Nan, referring to her cousin, "he ought to go home
and change his clothes. He'll get his death of cold."

"He'll work hard enough for the next hour to overcome the shock of the
cold water. It's lucky if he isn't in again before they get that trouble
over," responded Uncle Henry. Then he added, proudly: "That's the kind
of boys we raise in the Big Woods, Nannie. Maybe they are rough-spoken
and aren't really parlor-broke, but you can depend on 'em to do
something when there's anything to do!"

"Oh, Uncle!" cried the girl. "I think Rafe is just the bravest boy I
ever saw. But I should think Aunt Kate would be scared every hour he is
away from home, he is so reckless."

She was very proud herself of Rafe and wrote Bess a lot about him. Slow
Tom did not figure much in Nan Sherwood's letters, or in her thoughts,
about this time. Thoughts and letters were filled with handsome Rafe.

It was while the Blackton drive was near Pine Camp that Nan became
personally acquainted with old Toby Vanderwiller. It was after dinner
that day that she met Margaret and Bob Llewellen and the three went down
to the river bank, below the bridge, to watch the last of the Blackton
drive.

The chuck-boat had pushed off into the rough current and was bobbing
about in the wake of the logs; but all the men had not departed.

"That's old Toby," said Bob, a black-haired boy, full of mischief. "He
don't see us. Le's creep up and scare him."

"No," said Nan, decidedly; "don't you dare!"

"Aw, shucks! Girls ain't no fun," the boy growled. "Mag's bad enough,
but you air wuss'n she, Nan Sherwood. What's old Toby to you? He's allus
as cross as two sticks, anyway."

"We won't make him any crosser," said Nan, laughing. "What's the good?"

Nan saw that the old man had his coat off, and had slipped down the
right sleeve of his woolen shirt to bare his shoulder and upper right
arm. He was clumsily trying to bandage the arm.

"He's got hurt," Nan cried to Margaret. "I wonder how?"

"Dunno," returned the smaller girl, carelessly. Although she was
not mischievous like her brother, Margaret seldom showed traits of
tenderness or affection. Nan was in some doubt as to whether the strange
girl liked her. Margaret often patted Nan's cheeks and admired her
smooth skin; but she never expressed any real affection. She was
positively the oddest little piece of humanity Nan had ever met.

Once Nan asked her if she had a doll. "Doll?" snarled Margaret with
surprising energy. "A'nt Matildy give me one once't an' I throwed it as
far as I could inter the river, so I did! Nasty thing! Its face was all
painted and rough."

Nan could only gasp. Drown a doll-baby! Big girl as she considered
herself, she had a very tender spot in her heart for doll-babies.

Margaret Llewellen only liked people with fair faces and smooth
complexions; she could not possibly be interested in old Toby
Vanderwiller, who seemed always to need a shave, and whose face, like
that of Margaret's grandfather, was "wizzled."

Nan ran down to him and asked: "Can't I help you, Mr. Vanderwiller? Did
you get badly hurt?"

"Hullo!" grunted Toby. "Ain't you Hen Sherwood's gal?"

"I'm his niece," she told him. "Can I help?"

"Well, I dunno. I got a wallop from one o' them logs when we was
breakin' that jam, and it's scraped the skin off me arm----"

"Let me see," cried Nan, earnestly. "Oh! Mr. Vanderwiller! That must be
painful. Haven't you anything to put on it?"

"Nothin' but this rag," grunted Toby, drily. "An' ye needn't call me
'Mister,' Sissy. I ain't useter bein' addressed that way."

Nan laughed; but she quickly washed the scraped patch on the old man's
arm with clean water and then bound her own handkerchief over the
abrasion under the rather doubtful rag that Toby himself supplied.

"You're sure handy, Sissy," he said, rising and allowing her to help him
into the shirt again and on with his coat. "Now I'll hafter toddle along
or Tim will give me a call-down. Much obleeged. If ye get inter the
tam'rack swamp, come dry-foot weather, stop and see me an' my old
woman."

"Oh! I'd love to, Mr. Vanderwiller," Nan cried. "The swamp must be full
of just lovely flowers now."

The old man's face wrinkled into a smile, the first she had seen upon
it. Really! He was not a bad looking man, after all.

"You fond of posies, sissy?" he asked.

"Indeed I am!" she cried.

"There's a-plenty in the swamp," he told her. "And no end of ferns and
sich. You come see us and my old woman'll show ye. She's a master hand
at huntin' up all kind o' weeds I tell her."

"I'll surely come, when the weather gets warmer," Nan called after Toby
as the old man dogtrotted down the bank of the river. But he did not
answer and was quickly out of sight.



Chapter XX. NAN'S SECRET

But Margaret Llewellen declared she would not go with her!

"It's nasty in the Tam'rack swamp; and there's frogs and, and snakes.
Ketch me! And as fur goin' ter see Tobe and his old woman, huh! They're
both as ugly as sin."

"Why, Margaret!" exclaimed Nan, in horror. "How you talk!"

"Wal, it's so. I don't like old, wizzled-up folks, I don't, now I tell
ye!"

"That sounds awfully cruel," said Nan, soberly.

"Huh!" snorted Margaret, no other word would just express her manner of
showing disgust. "There ain't no reason why I should go 'round makin'
believe likin' them as I don't like. Dad useter take the hide off'n me
and Bob for lyin'; an' then he'd stand an' palaver folks that he jest
couldn't scurce abide, fur I heard him say so. That's lyin', too ain't
it?"

"I, I don't believe it is right to criticize our parents," returned Nan,
dodging the sharp girl's question.

"Mebbe yourn don't need criticizin'," responded Margaret, bluntly. "My
dad ain't no angel, you kin bet."

And it was a fact that the Llewellen family was a peculiar one, from
"Gran'ther" down to Baby Bill, whom Margaret did not mind taking care
of when he was not "all broke out with the rash on his face." The girl's
dislike for any countenance that was not of the smoothest, or skin of
the softest texture, seemed strange indeed.

Margaret's mother was dead. She had five brothers and sisters of
assorted ages, up to 'Lonzo, who was sixteen and worked in the woods
like Nan's cousins.

Aunt Matilda kept house for the motherless brood, and for Gran'ther and
Mr. Fen Llewellen. They lived in a most haphazard fashion, for, although
they were not really poor, the children never seemed to have any decent
clothing to wear; and if, by chance, they got a new garment, something
always happened to it as, for instance, the taking of Margaret's new
gingham by Bob as a dress for old Beagle.

As the Llewellens were close neighbors of the Sherwoods, Nan saw much
of Margaret. The local school closed soon after the visitor had come
to Pine Camp, and Nan had little opportunity of getting acquainted
with other girls, save at the church service, which was held in the
schoolhouse only every other Sunday. There was no Sunday School at Pine
Camp, even for the very youngest of the children.

Nan talked to Aunt Kate about that. Aunt Kate was the very
kindest-hearted woman that ever lived; but she had little initiative
herself about anything outside her own house. "Goodness knows, I'd like
to see the kiddies gathered together on Sunday afternoon and taught good
things," she signed; "but lawsy, Nan! I'm not the one to do it. I'm not
good enough myself."

"Didn't you teach Tom and Rafe, and--and--" Nan stopped. She had almost
mentioned the two older boys of her aunt's, whom she had heard were
destroyed in the Pale Lick fire. Aunt Kate did not notice, for she went
on to say:

"Why--yes; I taught Tom and Rafe to say their prayers, and I hope they
say 'em now, big as they are. And we often read the Bible. It's a great
comfort, the main part of it. I never did take to the 'begats,' though."

"But couldn't we," suggested Nan, "interest other people and gather the
children together on Sundays? Perhaps the old gentleman who comes here
to preach every fortnight might help."

"Elder Posey's not here but three hours or so, any time. Just long
enough to give us the word and grab a bite at somebody's house. Poor old
man! He attends three meetings each Sunday, all different, and lives on
a farm at Wingate weekdays where he has to work and support his family.

"He doesn't get but fifty dollars a year from each church, it's not
making him a millionaire very fast," pursued Aunt Kate, with a soft
little laugh. "Poor old man! I wish we could pay him more; but Pine
Camp's not rich."

"You all seem to have enough and to spare, Auntie," said Nan, who was an
observant girl for her age. "Nobody here is really poor."

"Not unless he's right down lazy," said her aunt, vigorously.

"Then I should think they'd build a proper church and give a minister
some more money, so that he could afford to have a Sunday School as
well."

"Lawsy me, Nan!" exclaimed her aunt. "The men here in Pine Camp haven't
been woke up to such things. They hate to spend that fifty dollars for
Elder Posey, they'd get a cheaper man if there were such. There's never
been much out of the common happen here at Pine Camp. It takes trouble
and destruction to wake folks up to their Christian duty in these woods.
Now, at Pale Lick they've got a church-----"

She stopped suddenly, and her face paled, while the ugly scar on her
neck seemed to glow; but that may have been only in contrast. Aunt Kate
turned away her head, and finally arose and went into her own room and
closed the door. Nan dared not continue the subject when the good woman
came out again, and the talk of a Sunday School for Pine Camp, for the
time being, was ended.

There were hours when the girl from Tillbury was very lonely indeed.
Writing to Bess and other girl friends in her old home town and penning
long letters on thin paper to Momsey and Papa Sherwood in Scotland, did
not fill all of these hours when Nan shut herself into that east room.

Sometimes she pulled down the paper shades and opened the clothes closet
door, bringing out the long box she had hidden away there on the first
day she had come to Pine Camp. In that box, wrapped in soft tissue
paper, and dressed in the loveliest gown made by Momsey's own skillful
fingers, was the great doll that had been given to Nan on her tenth
birthday.

When girls went to high school, of course they were supposed to put away
dolls, together with other childish things. But Nan Sherwood never could
neglect her doll-babies and had often spent whole rainy days playing
with them in secret in the attic of the little house on Amity Street.

Her other dolls had been left, carefully wrapped and shielded from the
mice, at Tillbury; but Nan had been unable to leave Beautiful Beulah
behind. She packed her in the bottom of her trunk, unknown even to
Momsey in the hurry of departure. She had not told a soul here at Pine
Camp that she possessed a doll; she knew the boys would make fun of her
for sure.

But she often sat behind the drawn shades nursing the big doll and
crooning softly to it as she swung back and forth in the spring
rocking-chair. Tom had oiled the springs for her so that it no longer
creaked.

She did not confide even in Aunt Kate about the big doll. They were all
very kind to her; but Nan had a feeling that she ought to be grown up
here among her backwoods relatives. How could she ever face roguish Rafe
if he knew she liked to "play dolls?"

Fearing that even Margaret would tell, Nan had never shown the woods
girl Beautiful Beulah. Once she was afraid Margaret had come to the
window to peep in when Nan had the doll out of her hiding place; but she
was not sure, and Nan hoped her secret was still inviolate. At least,
Margaret never said a word about it.

Margaret's sisters had dolls made of corncobs, and rag babies with
painted faces like the one Margaret had thrown into the river and
drowned; but Margaret turned up her nose at them all. She never seemed
to want to "play house" as do most girls of her age. She preferred to
run wild, like a colt, with Bob in the woods and swamp.

Margaret did not wish to go into the swamp with Nan, however, on her
first visit to Toby Vanderwiller's little farm. This was some weeks
after the log drives, and lumbering was over for the season. Uncle Henry
and the boys, rather than be idle, were working every acre they owned,
and Nan was more alone than she had ever been since coming to Pine Camp.

She had learned the way to Toby's place, the main trail through the
swamp going right by the hummock on which the old man's farm was
situated. She knew there was a corduroy road most of the way--that is, a
road built of logs laid side by side directly over the miry ground. Save
in very wet weather this road was passable for most vehicles.

The distance was but three miles, however, and Nan liked walking.
Besides, nobody who has not seen a tamarack swamp in late spring or
early summer, can ever imagine how beautiful it is. Nan never missed
human companionship when she was on the long walks she so often took in
the woods.

She had learned now that, despite her adventure with the lynx in the
snow-drifted hollow, there was scarcely any animal to fear about Pine
Camp. Bears had not been seen for years; bobcats were very infrequently
met with and usually ran like scared rabbits; foxes were of course
shy, and the nearest approach to a wolf in all that section was Toby
Vanderwiller's wolfhound that had once frightened Nan so greatly.

Hares, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and many, many birds, peopled
the forest and swamp. In sunken places where the green water stood and
steamed in the sun, turtles and frogs were plentiful; and occasionally a
snake, as harmless as it was wicked looking, slid off a water-soaked log
at Nan's approach and slipped under the oily surface of the pool.

On the day Nan walked to Toby's place the first time, she saw many
wonders of plant life along the way, exotics clinging to rotten logs
and stumps; fronds of delicate vines that she had never before heard
of; ferns of exquisite beauty. And flashing over them, and sucking honey
from every cuplike flower, were shimmering humming-birds and marvelously
marked butterflies.

The birds screamed or sang or chattered over the girl's head as she
tripped along. Squirrels peeped at her, barked, and then whisked their
tails in rapid flight. Through the cool, dark depths where the forest
monarchs had been untouched by the woodsmen, great moths winged their
lazy flight. Nan knew not half of the creatures or the wonderful plants
she saw.

There were sounds in the deeps of the swamplands that she did not
recognize, either. Some she supposed must be the voices of huge frogs;
other notes were bird-calls that she had never heard before. But
suddenly, as she approached a turn in the corduroy road, her ear was
smitten by a sound that she knew very well indeed.

It was a man's voice, and it was not a pleasant one. It caused Nan to
halt and look about for some place to hide until the owner of the voice
went by. She feared him because of his harsh tones, though she did not,
at the moment, suspect who it was.

Then suddenly she heard plainly a single phrase: "I'd give money, I tell
ye, to see Hen Sherwood git his!"



Chapter XXI. IN THE TAMARACK SWAMP

The harsh tone of the unseen man terrified Nan Sherwood; but the words
he spoke about her Uncle Henry inspired her to creep nearer that she
might see who it was, and hear more. The fact that she was eavesdropping
did not deter the girl.

She believed her uncle's life to be in peril!

The dampness between the logs of the roadway oozed up in little pools
and steamed in the hot blaze of the afternoon sun. Insects buzzed and
hummed, so innumerable that the chorus of their voices was like the
rumble of a great church-organ.

Nan stepped from the road and pushed aside the thick underbrush to find
a dry spot to place her foot. The gnats danced before her and buzzed in
her ears. She brushed them aside and so pushed on until she could see
the road again. A lean, yellow horse, tackled to the shafts of a
broken top-buggy with bits of rope as well as worn straps, stood in the
roadway. The man on the seat, talking to another on the ground, was Mr.
Gedney Raffer, the timberman who was contending at law with Uncle Henry.

It was he who had said: "I'd give money, I tell ye, to see Hen Sherwood
git his."

There had fallen a silence, but just as Nan recognized the mean looking
old man on the carriage seat, she heard the second man speak from the
other side of the buggy.

"I tell you like I done Hen himself, Ged; I don't wanter be mixed up in
no land squabble. I ain't for neither side."

It was Toby. Nan knew his voice, and she remembered how he had answered
Uncle Henry at the lumber camp, the first day she had seen the old
lumberman. Nan could not doubt that the two men were discussing the
argument over the boundary of the Perkins Tract.

Gedney Raffer snarled out an imprecation when old Toby had replied as
above. "Ef you know which side of your bread the butter's on, you'll
side with me," he said.

"We don't often have butter on our bread, an' I ain't goin' ter side
with nobody," grumbled Toby Vanderwiller.

"S-s!" hissed Raffer. "Come here!"

Toby stepped closer to the rattletrap carriage. "You see your way to
goin' inter court an' talkin' right, and you won't lose nothin' by it,
Tobe."

"Huh? Only my self-respect, I s'pose," grunted the old lumberman, and
Nan approved very much of him just then.

"Bah!" exclaimed Raffer.

"Bah, yourself!" Toby Vanderwiller returned with some heat. "I got some
decency left, I hope. I ain't goin' to lie for you, nor no other man,
Ged Raffer!"

"Say! Would it be lyin' ef you witnessed on my side?" demanded the eager
Raffer.

"That's my secret," snapped the old lumberman. "If I don't witness for
you, be glad I don't harm you."

"You dare!" cried Raffer, shaking his fist at the other as he leaned
from the buggy seat.

"You hearn me say I wouldn't go inter court one way or 'tother,"
repeated Toby, gloomily.

"Wal," snarled Raffer, "see't ye don't see't ye don't. 'Specially for
any man but me. Ye 'member what I told ye, Tobe. Money's tight and I
oughter call in that loan."

Toby was silent for half a minute. Then Nan heard him sigh.

"Well, Ged," he observed, "it's up to you. If you take the place it'll
be the poorhouse for that unforchunit boy of mine and mebbe for the ol'
woman, 'specially if I can't strike a job for next winter. These here
lumber bosses begin to think I'm too stiff in the j'ints."

"Wal, wal!" snarled Raffer. "I can't help it. How d'ye expec' I kin help
you ef you won't help me?"

He clucked to the old horse, which awoke out of its drowse with a start,
and moved on sluggishly. Toby stood in the road and watched him depart.
Nan thought the old lumberman's to be the most sorrowful figure she had
ever seen.

Her young heart beat hotly against the meanness and injustice of Gedney
Raffer. He had practically threatened Toby with foreclosure on his
little farm if the old lumberman would not help him in his contention
with Mr. Sherwood. On the other hand, Uncle Henry desired his help; but
Uncle Henry, Nan knew, would not try to bribe the old lumberman. Under
these distressing circumstances, which antagonist's interests was Toby
Vanderwiller likely to serve?

This query vastly disturbed Nan Sherwood. All along she had desired much
to help Uncle Henry solve his big problem. The courts would not allow
him to cut a stick of timber on the Perkins Tract until a resurvey of
the line was made by government-appointed surveyors, and that would be,
when?

Uncle Henry's money was tied up in the stumpage lease, or first payment
to the owners of the land. It was a big contract and he had expected to
pay his help and further royalties on the lease, from the sale of the
timber he cut on the tract. Besides, many valuable trees had been felled
before the injunction was served, and lay rotting on the ground. Every
month they lay there decreased their value.

And now, it appeared, Gedney Raffer was doing all in his power to
influence old Toby to serve as a witness in his, Raffer's, interests.

Had toby been willing to go into court and swear that the line of the
Perkins Tract was as Mr. Sherwood claimed, the court would have to
vacate the injunction and Uncle Henry could risk going ahead and cutting
and hauling timber from the tract. Uncle Henry believed Toby
knew exactly where the line lay, for he had been a landloper, or
timber-runner in this vicinity when the original survey was made,
forty-odd years before.

It was plain to Nan, hiding in the bushes and watching the old man's
face, that he was dreadfully tempted. Working as hard as he might,
summer and winter alike, Toby Vanderwiller had scarcely been able to
support his wife and grandson. His occasional attacks of rheumatism so
frequently put him back. If Raffer took away the farm and the shelter
they had, what would become of them?

Uncle Henry was so short of ready money himself that he could not assume
the mortgage if Raffer undertook to foreclose.

"Oh, dear me! If Momsey would only write to me that she is really rich,"
thought Nan, "I'd beg her for the money. I'll tell her all about poor
Toby in my very next letter and maybe, if she gets all that money from
the courts in Scotland, she will let me give Toby enough to pay off the
mortgage."

She never for a moment doubted that Uncle Henry's contention about the
timber tract line was right. He must be correct, and old Toby must know
it! That is the way Nan Sherwood looked at the matter.

But now, seeing Toby turning back along the corduroy road, and slowly
shuffling toward home, she stepped out of the hovering bushes and walked
hastily after him. She overtook him not many yards beyond the spot where
he had stood talking with Raffer. He looked startled when she spoke his
name.

"Well! You air a sight for sore eyes, Sissy," he said; but added,
nervously, "How in Joe Tunket did you git in the swamp? Along the road?"

"Yes, sir," said Nan.

"Come right erlong this way?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did ye meet anybody?" demanded old Toby, eyeing her sharply.

"Mr. Raffer, driving his old buckskin horse. That's all."

"Didn't say nothin' to ye, did he?" asked Toby, curiously.

"Not a word," replied Nan, honestly. "I'm afraid of him and I hid in the
bushes till he had gone by."

"Huh!" sighed Toby, as though relieved. "Jest as well. Though Ged
wouldn't ha' dared touch ye, Sissy."

"Never mind. I'm here now," said Nan, brightly. "And I want you to show
me your house and introduce me to Mrs. Vanderwiller."

"Sure. My ol' woman will be glad to see ye," said the man, briskly.
"'Tain't more'n a mile furder on."

But first they came to a deserted place, a strip more than half a mile
wide, where the trees had been cut in a broad belt through the swamp.
All Nan could see was sawdust and the stumps of felled trees sticking
out of it. The sawdust, Toby said, was anywhere from two to twenty feet
deep, and there were acres of it.

"They had their mill here, ye kin see the brick work yonder. They hauled
out the lumber by teams past my place. The stea'mill was here more'n
two years. They hauled the sawdust out of the way and dumped it in ev'ry
holler, jest as it come handy."

"What a lot there is of it!" murmured Nan, sniffing doubtfully at the
rather unpleasant odor of the sawdust.

"I wish't 'twas somewhere else," grunted Toby.

"Why-so?"

"Fire git in it and it'd burn till doomsday. Fire in sawdust is a mighty
bad thing. Ye see, even the road here is made of sawdust, four foot or
more deep and packed as solid as a brick walk. That's the way Pale Lick
went, sawdust afire. Ha'f the town was built on sawdust foundation an'
she smouldered for weeks before they knowed of it. Then come erlong a
big wind and started the blaze to the surface."

"Oh!" murmured Nan, much interested. "Didn't my Uncle Henry live there
then?"

"I sh'd say he did," returned Toby, emphatically. "Didn't he never tell
ye about it?"

"No, sir. They never speak of Pale Lick."

"Well, I won't, nuther," grunted old Toby. "'Taint pretty for a young
gal like you to hear about. Whush! Thar goes a loon!"

A big bird had suddenly come into sight, evidently from some nearby
water-hole. It did not fly high and seemed very clumsy, like a duck or
goose.

"Oh! Are they good to eat, Mr. Vanderwiller?" cried Nan. "Rafe brought
in a brace of summer ducks the other day, and they were awfully good,
the way Aunt Kate cooked them."

"Well!" drawled Toby, slyly, "I've hearn tell ye c'd eat a loon, ef
'twas cooked right. But I never tried it."

"How do you cook a loon, Mr. Vanderwiller?" asked Nan, interested in all
culinary pursuits.

"Well, they tell me thet it's some slow process," said the old man,
his eyes twinkling. "Ye git yer loon, pluck an' draw it, let it soak
overnight in vinegar an' water, vitriol vinegar they say is the best.
Then ye put it in the pot an' let it simmer all day."

"Yes?" queried the perfectly innocent Nan.

"Then ye throw off that water," Toby said, soberly, "and ye put on fresh
water an' let it cook all the next day."

"Oh!"

"An' then ye throw in a piece of grin'stone with the loon, and set it
to bilin' again. When ye kin stick a fork in the grin'stone, the loon's
done!"

Nan joined in Toby's loud laugh at this old joke, and pretty soon
thereafter they came to the hummock on which the Vanderwillers lived.



Chapter XXII. ON THE ISLAND

In the winter it was probably dreary enough; but now the beauty of the
swelling knoll where the little whitewashed house stood, with the tiny
fields that surrounded it, actually made Nan's heart swell and the tears
come into her eyes.

It seemed to her as though she had never seen the grass so green as
here, and the thick wood that encircled the little farm was just a hedge
of blossoming shrubs with the tall trees shooting skyward in unbroken
ranks. A silver spring broke ground at the corner of the paddock fence.
A pool had been scooped out for the cattle to drink at; but it was not
muddied, and the stream tinkled down over the polished pebbles to the
wider, more sluggish stream that meandered away from the farm into the
depths of the swamp.

Toby told her, before they reached the hummock, that this stream rose in
the winter and flooded all about the farm, so that the latter really was
an island. Unless the ice remained firm they sometimes could not drive
out with either wagon or sled for days at a time.

"Then you live on an island," cried Nan.

"Huh! Ye might say so," complained Toby. "And sometimes we feel like as
though we was cast away on one, too."

But the girl thought it must really be great fun to live on an island.

They went up to the house along the bank of the clear stream. On the
side porch, vine-covered to the eaves, sat an old woman rocking in a low
chair and another figure in what seemed at a distance, to be a child's
wagon of wickerwork, but with no tongue and a high back to it.

"Here's Gran'pop!" cried a shrill voice and the little wagon moved
swiftly to the edge of the steps. Nan almost screamed in fear as it
pitched downward. But the wheels did not bump over the four steps
leading to the ground, for a wide plank had been laid slantingly at that
side, and over this the wheels ran smoothly, if rapidly.

"You have a care there, Corson!" shrilled the old lady after the
cripple. "Some day you'll break your blessed neck."

Nan thought he was a little boy, until they met. Then she was surprised
to see a young man's head set upon a shriveled child's body! Corson
Vanderwiller had a broad brow, a head of beautiful, brown, wavy hair,
and a fine mustache. He was probably all of twenty-five years old.

But Nan soon learned that the poor cripple was not grown in mind, more
than in body, to that age. His voice was childish, and his speech and
manner, too. He was bashful with Nan at first; then chattered like a
six-year-old child to her when she had once gained his confidence.

He wheeled himself about in the little express wagon very well indeed,
old Toby having rigged brakes with which he moved the wagon and steered
it. His arms and hands were quite strong, and when he wished to get back
on to the piazza, he seized a rope his grandfather had hung there, and
dragged himself, wagon and all, up the inclined plane, or gangplank, as
it might be called.

He showed Nan all his treasures, and they included some very childish
toys, a number of them showing the mechanical skill of his grandfather's
blunt fingers. But among them, too, were treasures from the swamp and
woods that were both very wonderful and very beautiful.

Old Toby had made Corson a neatly fitted cabinet in which were specimens
of preserved butterflies and moths, most of them of the gay and common
varieties; but some, Nan was almost sure, were rare and valuable. There
was one moth in particular, with spread wings, on the upper side of the
thorax of which was traced in white the semblance of a human skull. Nan
was almost sure that this must be the famous death's-head moth she had
read about in school; but she was not confident enough to say anything
to old Toby Vanderwiller. A few specimens of this rare insect have been
found in the swamps of America, although it was originally supposed to
be an Old World moth.

Nan did say, however, to Toby that perhaps some of these specimens
might be bought by collectors. The pressed flowers were pretty but not
particularly valuable. In the museum at the Tillbury High School there
was a much finer collection from the Indiana swamps.

"Sho!" said Toby, slowly; "I wouldn't wanter sell the boy's pretties. I
brung most on 'em home to him; but he mounted 'em himself."

Nan suspected that old Mrs. Vanderwiller had much to do with the neat
appearance of the cabinet. She was a quiet, almost a speechless, old
lady. But she was very kind and she set out her best for Nan's luncheon
before the girl from Tillbury returned home.

"We ain't got much here on the island," the old lady said; "but we do
love to have visitors. Don't we, Corson?"

"Nice ones," admitted the cripple, munching cake.

He had heard something of what Nan suggested to Toby about the moths
and other specimens. So when the old lady was absent from the porch he
whispered:

"Say, girl!"

"Well?" she asked, smiling at him.

"Is what's in that cabinet wuth as much as a dollar?"

"Oh! I expect so," said Nan. "More."

"Will you give me a dollar for 'em?" he asked, eagerly.

"Oh, I couldn't! But perhaps I can write to somebody who would be
interested in buying some of your things, and for much more than a
dollar."

Corson looked disappointed. Nan asked, curiously: "Why do you want the
dollar?"

"To git Gran'mom a silk dress," he said promptly. "She's admired to have
one all her life, and ain't never got to git it yet."

"I'm sure that's nice of you," declared Nan, warmly. "I'll try to sell
some of your collection."

"Well!" he jerked out. "It's got to be pretty soon, or she won't git to
wear it much. I heard her tell Gran'pop so."

This impressed Nan Sherwood as being very pitiful, for she was of a
sympathetic nature. And it showed that Corson Vanderwiller, even if he
was simple-minded, possessed one of the great human virtues, gratitude.



Chapter XXIII. A MYSTERY

On this, her first visit to the island in the swamp, Nan said nothing
to old Toby Vanderwiller about the line dispute between her uncle and
Gedney Raffer, which the old lumberman was supposed to be able to settle
if he would.

Mrs. Vanderwiller insisted upon Toby's hitching up an old, broken-kneed
pony he owned, and taking her over the corduroy road to Pine Camp, where
she arrived before dark. To tell the truth, little Margaret Llewellen
was not the only person who thought it odd that Nan should want to go
to see the Vanderwillers in the heart of the tamarack swamp. Nan's uncle
and aunt and cousins considered their guest a little odd; but they made
no open comment when the girl arrived at home after her visit.

Nan was full of the wonders she had seen, commonplace enough to her
relatives who had lived all their lives in touch with the beautiful and
queer things of Nature as displayed in the Michigan Peninsula. Perhaps
none but Tom appreciated her ecstasy over crippled Corson Vanderwiller's
collection.

Rafe was inclined to poke good-natured fun at his young cousin for her
enthusiasm; but Tom showed an understanding that quite surprised Nan.
Despite his simplicity regarding some of the commonest things of the
great outside world, he showed that he was very observant of the things
about him.

"Oh, Tom was always like that," scoffed Rafe, with ready laughter at his
slow brother. "He'd rather pick up a bug any day and put it through a
cross-examination, than smash it under the sole of his boot."

"I don't think bugs were made to smash," Tom said stoutly.

"Whew! What in thunder were they made for?" demanded the mocking Rafe.

"I don't think God Almighty made things alive just for us to make 'em
dead," said Tom, clumsily, and blushing a deep red.

Rafe laughed again. Rafe had read much more in a desultory fashion than
Tom.

"Tom ought to be one of those Brahmas," he said, chuckling. "They carry
a whisk broom to brush off any seat they may sit on before they sit
down, so's they sha'n't crush an ant, or any other crawling thing.
They're vegetarians, too, and won't take life in any form."

"Now, Rafe!" exclaimed his mother, who was never quite sure when her
younger son was playing the fool. "You know that Brahmas are hens.
I've got some in my flock those big white and black, lazy fowls, with
feathers on their legs."

Nan had to laugh at that as well as Rafe. "Brahma fowl, I guess, came
from Brahma, or maybe Brahmaputra, all right. But Rafe means Brahmans.
They're a religious people of India," the girl from Tillbury said.

"And maybe they've got it right," Tom said stubbornly. "Why should we
kill unnecessarily?"

Nan could have hugged him. At any rate, a new feeling for him was born
at that moment, and she applauded. Aunt Kate said:

"Tom always was soft-hearted," and her big son became silent. She
might as well have called him "soft-headed"; but Nan began better to
appreciate Tom's worth from that time on.

Rafe remained in her eyes still the reckless, heroic figure he had
seemed when running over the logs the day of the timber drive. But
she began to confide in Tom after this evening of her return from the
tamarack swamp.

However, this is somewhat in advance of the story. The pleasant evening
passed as usual until bedtime came for Nan. She retired to her east
chamber, for the windows of which Tom had made screens to keep out the
night-flying insects. No matter how tired she was at night there was one
thing Nan Sherwood seldom forgot.

Possibly it was silly in a girl who was almost through her freshman year
at high school, but Nan brought out Beautiful Beulah and rocked her, and
hugged her, and crooned over her before she went to bed. She was such a
comfort!

So Nan, on this evening, went first of all to the closet and reached
down to draw out the box in which she had kept the doll hidden ever
since coming to Pine Camp.

It was not there!

At first Nan Sherwood could not believe this possible. She dropped on
her knees and scrambled over the floor of her closet, reaching under the
hanging skirts and frocks, her fear rising, second by second.

The box was not in its place. She arose and looked about her room
wildly. Of course, she had not left it anywhere else, that was out of
the question.

She could scarcely believe that any member of the family had been in her
room, much less would disturb anything that was hers. Not even Aunt Kate
came to the east chamber often. Nan had insisted upon taking care of
the room, and she swept and dusted and cleaned like the smart little
housewife she was. Aunt Kate had been content to let her have her way in
this.

Of course Nan never locked her door. But who would touch a thing
belonging to her? And her doll! Why, she was sure the family did not
even know she had such a possession.

Almost wildly the girl ran out of her chamber and into the sitting
room, where the family was still gathered around the evening lamp, Rafe
cleaning his shot-gun, Tom reading slowly the local paper, published at
the Forks, Aunt Kate mending, and Uncle Henry sitting at the open window
with his pipe.

"Oh, it's gone!" gasped Nan, as she burst into the room.

"What's gone?" asked Aunt Kate, and Uncle Henry added: "What's happened
to you, honey-bird?"

"My Beulah!" cried Nan, almost sobbing. "My Beulah, she's been taken!"

"My mercy, child!" cried Aunt Kate, jumping up. "Are you crazy?"

"Who's Beulah?" demanded Rafe, looking up from his gun and, Nan thought,
showing less surprise than the others.

"My Beulah doll," said Nan, too troubled now to care whether the family
laughed at her or not. "My Beautiful Beulah. Somebody's played a trick."

"A doll!" shouted Rafe, and burst into a chatter of laughter.

"Mercy me, child!" repeated Aunt Kate. "I didn't know you had a doll."

"Got a baby rattle, too, Sissy?" chuckled Rafe. "And a ring to cut your
teeth on? My, my!"

"Stop that, Rafe!" commanded his father, sternly, while Tom flushed and
glared angrily at his brother.

"I didn't know you had a doll, Nannie," said Mrs. Sherwood, rather
weakly. "Where'd you have it?"

"In my closet," choked Nan. "She's a great, big, beautiful thing! I know
somebody must be playing a joke on me."

"Nobody here, Nannie," said Uncle Henry, with decision. "You may be sure
of that." But he looked at Rafe sternly. That young man thought it the
better part of wisdom to say no more.

In broken sentences the girl told her innocent secret, and why she had
kept the doll hidden. Aunt Kate, after, all, seemed to understand.

"My poor dear!" she crooned, patting Nan's hand between her hard palms.
"We'll all look for the dolly. Surely it can't have been taken out of
the house."

"And who'd even take it out of her closet?" demanded Tom, almost as
stern as his father.

"It surely didn't walk away of itself," said Aunt Kate.

She took a small hand lamp and went with Nan to the east chamber. They
searched diligently, but to no good end, save to assure Nan that Beulah
had utterly disappeared.

As far as could be seen the screens at the windows of the bedroom had
not been disturbed. But who would come in from outside to steal Nan's
doll? Indeed, who would take it out of the closet, anyway? The girl
was almost sure that nobody had known she had it. It was strange, very
strange indeed.

Big girl that she was, Nan cried herself to sleep that night over the
mystery. The loss of Beulah seemed to snap the last bond that held her
to the little cottage in Amity street, where she had spent all her happy
childhood.



Chapter XXIV. THE SMOKING TREE

Nan awoke to a new day with the feeling that the loss of her treasured
doll must have been a bad dream. But it was not. Another search of her
room and the closet assured her that it was a horrid reality.

She might have lost many of her personal possessions without a pang;
but not Beautiful Beulah. Nan could not tell her aunt or the rest of
the family just how she felt about it. She was sure they would not
understand.

The doll had reminded her continually of her home life. Although the
stay of her parents in Scotland was much more extended than they or Nan
had expected, the doll was a link binding the girl to her old home life
which she missed so much.

Her uncle and aunt had tried to make her happy here at Pine Camp. As far
as they could do so they had supplied the love and care of Momsey and
Papa Sherwood. But Nan was actually ill for her old home and her old
home associations.

On this morning, by herself in her bedroom, she cried bitterly before
she appeared before the family.

"I have no right to make them feel miserable just because my heart, is,
breaking," she sobbed aloud. "I won't let them see how bad I feel. But
if I don't find Beulah, I just know I shall die!"

Could she have run to Momsey for comfort it would have helped, Oh, how
much!

"I am a silly," Nan told herself at last, warmly. "But I cannot help it.
Oh, dear! Where can Beulah have gone?"

She bathed her eyes well in the cold spring water brought by Tom that
she always found in the jug outside her door in the morning, and removed
such traces of tears as she could; and nobody noticed when she went out
to breakfast that her eyelids were puffy and her nose a bit red.

The moment Rafe caught sight of her he began to squall, supposedly like
an infant, crying:

"Ma-ma! Ma-ma! Tum an' take Too-tums. Waw! Waw! Waw!"

After all her hurt pride and sorrow, Nan would have called up a laugh
at this. But Tom, who was drinking at the water bucket, wheeled with the
full dipper and threw the contents into Rafe's face. That broke off the
teasing cousin's voice for a moment; but Rafe came up, sputtering and
mad.

"Say! You big oaf!" he shouted. "What you trying to do?"

"Trying to be funny," said Tom, sharply. "And you set me the example."

"Now, boys!" begged Aunt Kate. "Don't quarrel."

"And, dear me, boys," gasped Nan, "please don't squabble about me."

"That big lummox!" continued Rafe, still angry. "Because dad backs
him up and says he ought to lick me, he does this. I'm going to defend
myself. If he does a thing like that again, I'll fix him."

Tom laughed in his slow way and lumbered out. Uncle Henry did not hear
this, and Nan was worried. She thought Aunt Kate was inclined to side
with her youngest boy. Rafe would always be "the baby" to Aunt Kate.

At any rate Nan was very sorry the quarrel had arisen over her. And she
was careful to say nothing to fan further the flame of anger between
her cousins. Nor did she say anything more about the lost doll. So the
family had no idea how heartsore and troubled the girl really was over
the mystery.

It hurt her the more because she could talk to nobody about Beulah.
There was not a soul in whom she could confide. Had Bess Harley been
here at Pine Camp Nan felt that she could not really expect sympathy
from her chum at this time; for Bess considered herself quite grown up
and her own dolls were relegated to the younger members of her family.

Nan could write to her chum, however, and did. She could write to
Momsey, and did that, too; not forgetting to tell her absent parents
about old Toby Vanderwiller, and his wife and his grandson, and of their
dilemma. If only Momsey's great fortune came true, Nan was sure that
Gedney Raffer would be paid off and Toby would no longer have the threat
of dispossession held over him.

Nan Sherwood wrote, too, to Mr. Mangel, the principal of the Tillbury
High School, and told him about the collection the crippled grandson
of the old lumberman had made, mentioning those specimens which had
impressed her most. She had some hope that the strange moth might be
very valuable.

Nan was so busy writing letters, and helping Aunt Kate preserve some
early summer fruit, that she did not go far from the house during the
next few days, and so did not see even Margaret Llewellen. The other
girl friends she had made at Pine Camp lived too far away for her to
visit them often or have them come to call on her.

A long letter from Papa Sherwood about this time served to take Nan's
mind off the mystery, in part, at least. It was a nice letter and most
joyfully received by the girl; but to her despair it gave promise of no
very quick return of her parents from Scotland:

"Those relatives of your mother's whom we have met here, Mr. Andrew
Blake's family, for instance, have treated us most kindly. They are,
themselves, all well-to-do, and gentlefolk as well. The disposal by
Old Hughie Blake, as he was known hereabout, of his estate makes no
difference to the other Blakes living near Emberon," wrote Mr. Sherwood.

"It is some kin at a distance, children of a half sister of Old Hughie,
who have made a claim against the estate. Mr. Andrew Blake, who is well
versed in the Scotch law, assures us these distant relatives have not
the shadow of a chance of winning their suit. He is so sure of this that
he has kindly offered to advance certain sums to your mother to tide us
over until the case is settled.

"I am sending some money to your Uncle Henry for your use, if any
emergency should arise. You must not look for our return, my dear Nancy,
too soon. Momsey's health is so much improved by the sea voyage and the
wonderfully invigorating air here, that I should be loath to bring her
home at once, even if the matter of the legacy were settled. By the way,
the sum she will finally receive from Mr. Hugh Blake's estate will be
quite as much as the first letter from the lawyer led us to expect. Some
of your dearest wishes, my dear, may be realized in time."

"Oh! I can go to Lakeview Hall with Bess, after all!" cried Nan, aloud,
at this point.

Indeed, that possibility quite filled the girl's mind for a while.
Nothing else in Papa Sherwood's letter, aside from the good news of
Momsey's improved health, so pleased her as this thought. She hastened
to write a long letter to Bess Harley, with Lakeview Hall as the text.

Summer seemed to stride out of the forest now, full panoplied. After the
frost and snow of her early days at Pine Camp, Nan had not expected
such heat. The pools beside the road steamed. The forest was atune from
daybreak to midnight with winged denizens, for insect and bird life
seemed unquenchable in the Big Woods.

Especially was this true of the tamarack swamp. It was dreadfully hot
at noontide on the corduroy road which passed Toby Vanderwiller's little
farm; but often Nan Sherwood went that way in the afternoon. Mr. Mangel,
the school principal, had written Nan and encouraged her to send a full
description of some of Corson Vanderwiller's collection, especially of
the wonderful death's-head moth, to a wealthy collector in Chicago. Nan
did this at once.

So, one day, a letter came from the man and in it was a check for
twenty-five dollars.

"This is a retainer," the gentleman wrote. "I am much interested in your
account of the lame boy's specimens. I want the strangely marked moth
in any case, and the check pays for an option on it until I can come and
see his specimens personally."

Nan went that very afternoon to the tamarack swamp to tell the
Vanderwillers this news and give Toby the check. She knew poor Corson
would be delighted, for now he could purchase the longed-for silk dress
for his grandmother.

The day was so hot and the way so long that Nan was glad to sit down
when she reached the edge of the sawdust strip, to rest and cool off
before attempting this unshaded desert. A cardinal bird--one of the
sauciest and most brilliant of his saucy and brilliant race, flitted
about her as she sat upon a log.

"You pretty thing!" crooned Nan. "If it were not wicked I'd wish to have
you at home in a cage. I wish--"

She stopped, for in following the flight of the cardinal her gaze
fastened upon a most surprising thing off at some distance from the
sawdust road. A single dead tree, some forty feet in height and almost
limbless, stood in solemn grandeur in the midst of the sawdust waste. It
had been of no use to the woodcutters and they had allowed the shell of
the old forest monarch to stand. Now, from its broken top, Nan espied a
thin, faint column of blue haze rising.

It was the queerest thing! It was not mist, of course and she did not
see how it could be smoke. There was no fire at the foot of the tree,
for she could see the base of the bole plainly. She even got up and ran
a little way out into the open in order to see the other side of the
dead tree.

The sky was very blue, and the air was perfectly still. Almost Nan was
tempted to believe that her eyes played her false. The column was almost
the color of the sky itself, and it was thin as a veil.

How could there be a fire in the top of that tall tree?

"There just isn't! I don't believe I see straight!" declared Nan to
herself, moving on along the roadway. "But I'll speak to Toby about it."



Chapter XXV. THE TEMPEST

Nan, however, did not mention to Toby the haze rising from the dead
tree. In the first place, when she reached the little farm on the island
in the tamarack swamp, old Toby Vanderwiller was not at home. His wife
greeted the girl warmly, and Corson was glad to see her. When Nan spread
the check before him and told him what it was for, and what he could do
with so much money, the crippled boy was delighted.

It was a secret between them that the grandmother was to have the black
silk dress that she had longed for all her married life; only Nan and
Corson knew that Nan was commissioned to get the check cashed and buy
the dress pattern at the Forks; or send to a catalogue house for it if
she could not find a suitable piece of goods at any of the local stores.

Nan lingered, hoping that Toby would come home. It finally grew so late
that she dared not wait longer. She had been warned by Aunt Kate not to
remain after dusk in the swamp, nor had she any desire to do so.

Moreover there was a black cloud rolling up from the west. That
was enough to make the girl hurry, for when it rained in the swamp,
sometimes the corduroy road was knee deep in water.

The cloud had increased to such proportions when Nan was half way across
the sawdust desert that she began to run. She had forgotten all about
the smoking tree.

Not a breath of air was stirring as yet; but there was the promise of
wind in that cloud. The still leaves on the bushes, the absence of bird
life overhead, the lazy drone of insects, portended a swift change soon.
Nan was weather-wise enough to know that.

She panted on, stumbling through the loose sawdust, but stumbling
equally in the ruts; for the way was very rough. This road was lonely
enough at best; but it seemed more deserted than ever now.

A red fox, his tail depressed, shot past her, and not many yards away.
It startled Nan, for it seemed as though something dreadful was about to
happen and the fox knew it and was running away from it.

She could not run as fast as the fox; but Nan wished that she could. And
she likewise wished with all her heart that she would meet somebody.

That somebody she hoped would be Tom. Tom was drawing logs from some
point near, she knew. A man down the river had bought some timber and
they had been cut a few weeks before. Tom was drawing them out of the
swamp for the man; and he had mentioned only that morning at breakfast
that he was working within sight of the sawdust tract and the corduroy
road.

Nan felt that she would be safe with big, slow Tom. Even the thought of
thunder and lightning would lose some of its terrors if she could only
get to Tom.

Suddenly she heard a voice shouting, then the rattle of chain harness.
The voice boomed out a stave of an old hymn:

"On Jordan's stormy bank I stand, And cast a wishful eye."

"It's Tom!" gasped Nan, and ran harder.

She was almost across the open space now. The cooler depths of the
forest were just ahead. Beyond, a road crossed the mainly-traveled swamp
track at right angles to it, and this was the path Tom followed.

He was now coming from the river, going deeper into the swamp for
another log. Nan continued to run, calling to him at the top of her
voice.

She came in sight of the young timberman and his outfit. His wagon
rattled so that he could not easily hear his cousin calling to him. He
sat on the tongue of the wagon, and his big, slow-moving horses jogged
along, rattling their chains in a jingle more noisy than harmonious.

The timber cart was a huge, lumbering affair with ordinary cartwheels in
front but a huge pair behind with an extended reach between them; and
to the axle of the rear pair of wheels the timber to be transported
was swung off the ground and fastened with chains. Nan ran after the
rumbling cart and finally Tom saw her.

"My mercy me!" gasped the boy, using one of his mother's favorite
expressions. "What you doing here, Nan?"

"Chasing you, Tom," laughed the girl. "Is it going to rain?"

"I reckon. You'll get wet if it does."

"I don't care so much for that," confessed Nan. "But I am so afraid of
thunder! Oh, there it comes."

The tempest muttered in the distance. Tom, who had pulled in his horses
and stopped, looked worried. "I wish you weren't here, Nan," he said.

"How gallant you are, I declare, Tommy Sherwood," cried Nan, laughing
again, and then shuddering as the growl of the thunder was repeated.

"Swamp's no place for a girl in a storm," muttered the boy.

"Well, I am here, Tommy; what are you going to do with me?" she asked
him, saucily.

"If you're so scared by thunder you'd better begin by stopping your
ears," he drawled.

Nan laughed. Slow Tom was not often good at repartee. "I'm going to
stick by you till it's over, Tom," she said, hopping up behind him on
the wagon-tongue.

"Cracky, Nan! You'll get soaked. It's going to just smoke in a few
minutes," declared the anxious young fellow.

And that reminded Nan again of the smoking tree.

"Oh, Tom! Do you know I believe there is a tree afire over yonder," she
cried, pointing.

"A tree afire?"

"Yes. I saw it smoking."

"My mercy me!" exclaimed Tom again. "What do you mean?"

Nan told him about the mystery. The fact that a column of smoke arose
out of the top of the dead tree seemed to worry Tom. Nan became alarmed.

"Oh, dear, Tom! Do you really think it was afire?"

"I, don't know. If it was afire, it is afire now," he said. "Show me,
Nan."

He turned the horses out of the beaten track through the brush and
brambles, to the edge of the open place which had been heaped with
sawdust from the steam-mill.

Just as they broke cover a vivid flash of lightning cleaved the black
cloud that had almost reached the zenith by now, and the deep rumble of
thunder changed to a sharp chatter; then followed a second flash and a
deafening crash.

"Oh, Tom!" gasped Nan, as she clung to him.

"The flash you see'll never hit you, Nan," drawled Tom, trying to be
comforting. "Remember that."

"It isn't so much the lightning I fear as it is the thunder," murmured
Nan, in the intermission. "It just so-o-ounds as though the whole house
was coming down."

"Ho!" cried Tom. "No house here, Nan."

"But-----"

The thunder roared again. A light patter on the leaves and ground
announced the first drops of the storm.

"Which tree was it you saw smoking?" asked the young fellow.

Nan looked around to find the tall, broken-topped tree. A murmur that
had been rising in the distance suddenly grew to a sweeping roar. The
trees bent before the blast. Particles of sawdust stung their faces. The
horses snorted and sprang ahead. Tom had difficulty in quieting them.

Then the tempest swooped upon them in earnest.



Chapter XXVI. BUFFETED BY THE ELEMENTS

Nan knew she had never seen it rain so hard before. The falling water
was like a drop-curtain, swept across the stage of the open tract of
sawdust. In a few minutes they were saturated to the skin. Nan could not
have been any wetter if she had gone in swimming.

"Oh!" she gasped into Tom's ear. "It is the deluge!"

"Never was, but one rain 't didn't clear up yet," he returned, with
difficulty, for his big body was sheltering Nan in part, and he was
facing the blast.

"I know. That's this one," she agreed. "But, it's awful."

"Say! Can you point out that tree that smoked?" asked Tom.

"Goodness! It can't be smoking now," gasped Nan, stifled with rain and
laughter. "This storm would put out Vesuvius."

"Don't know him," retorted her cousin. "But it'd put most anybody out, I
allow. Still, fire isn't so easy to quench. Where's the tree?"

"I can't see it, Tom," declared Nan, with her eyes tightly closed. She
really thought he was too stubborn. Of course, if there had been any
fire in that tree-top, this rain would put it out in about ten seconds.
So Nan believed.

"Look again, Nan," urged her cousin. "This is no funning. If there's
fire in this swamp."

"Goodness, gracious!" snapped Nan. "What a fuss-budget you are to be
sure, Tom. If there was a fire, this rain would smother it. Oh! Did it
ever pelt one so before?"

Fortunately the rain was warm, and she was not much discomforted by
being wet. Tom still clung to the idea that she had started in his slow
mind.

"Fire's no funning, I tell you," he growled. "Sometimes it smoulders
for days and days, and weeks and weeks; then it bursts out like a
hurricane."

"But the rain"

"This sawdust is mighty hard-packed, and feet deep," interrupted Tom.
"The fire might be deep down."

"Why, Tom! How ridiculously you talk!" cried the girl. "Didn't I tell
you I saw the smoke coming out of the top of a tree? Fire couldn't be
deep down in the sawdust and the smoke come out of the tree top."

"Couldn't, heh?" returned Tom. "Dead tree, wasn't it?"

"Oh, yes."

"Hollow, too, of course?"

"I don't know."

"Might be hollow clear through its length," Tom explained seriously.
"The butt might be all rotted out. Just a tough shell of a tree standing
there, and 'twould be a fine chimney if the fire was smouldering down at
its old roots."

"Oh, Tom! I never thought of such a thing," gasped Nan.

"And you don't see the tree now?"

"Let me look! Let me look!" cried Nan, conscience-stricken.

In spite of the beating rain and wind she got to her knees, still
clinging to her big cousin, and then stood upon the broad tongue of
the wagon. The horses stood still with their heads down, bearing the
buffeting of the storm with the usual patience of dumb beasts.

A sheer wall of water seemed to separate them from every object out
upon the open land. Behind them the bulk of the forest loomed as another
barrier. Nan had really never believed that rain could fall so hard. It
almost took her breath.

Moreover, what Tom said about the smoking tree began to trouble the
girl. She thought of the fire at Pale Lick, of which she had received
hints from several people. That awful conflagration, in which she
believed two children belonging to her uncle and aunt had lost their
lives, had started in the sawdust.

Suddenly she cried aloud and seized Tom more tightly.

"Cracky! Don't choke a fellow!" he coughed.

"Oh, Tom!"

"Well"

"I think I see it."

"The tree that smoked?" asked her cousin.

"Yes. There!"

For the moment it seemed as though the downpour lightened. Veiled by the
still falling water a straight stick rose high in the air ahead of them.
Tom chirruped to the horses and made them, though unwilling, go forward.

They dragged the heavy cart unevenly. Through the heavy downpour the
trail was hard to follow, and once in a while a rear wheel bumped over
a stump, and Nan was glad to drop down upon the tongue again, and cling
more tightly than ever to her cousin's collar.

"Sure that's it?" queried Tom, craning his neck to look up into the
tall, straight tree.

"I, I'm almost sure," stammered Nan.

"I, don't, see, any, smoke," drawled Tom, with his head still raised.

The rain had almost ceased, an intermission which would not be of long
duration. Nan saw that her cousin's prophecy had been true; the ground
actually smoked after the downpour. The sun-heated sawdust steamed
furiously. They seemed to be crossing a heated cauldron. Clouds of steam
rose all about the timber cart.

"Why, Tommy!" Nan choked. "It does seem as though there must be fire
under this sawdust now."

Tom brought his own gaze down from the empty tree-top with a jerk.
"Hoo!" he shouted, and leaned forward suddenly to flick his off horse
with the whiplash. Just then the rear wheel on that side slumped down
into what seemed a veritable volcano.

Flame and smoke spurted out around the broad wheel. Nan screamed.
The wind suddenly swooped down upon them, and a ball of fire, flaming
sawdust was shot into the air and was tossed twenty feet by a puff of
wind.

"We're over an oven!" gasped Tom, and laid the whip solidly across the
backs of the frightened horses.

They plunged. Another geyser of fire and smoke spurted from the hole
into which the rear wheel had slumped. Again and again the big horses
flung themselves into the collars in an endeavor to get the wheel out.

"Oh, Tommy!" cried Nan. "We'll be burned up!"

"No you won't," declared her cousin, leaping down. "Get off and run,
Nan."

"But you--"

"Do as I say!" commanded Tom. "Run!"

"Where, where'll I run to?" gasped the girl, leaping off the tongue,
too, and away from the horses' heels.

"To the road. Get toward home!" cried Tom, running around to the rear of
the timber cart.

"And leave you here?" cried Nan. "I guess not, Mr. Tom!" she murmured.

But he did not hear that. He had seized his axe and was striding toward
the edge of the forest. For a moment Nan feared that Tom was running
away as he advised her to do. But that would not be like Tom Sherwood!

At the edge of the forest he laid the axe to the root of a sapling about
four inches through at the butt. Three strokes, and the tree was down.
In a minute he had lopped off the branches for twenty feet, then removed
the top with a single blow.

As he turned, dragging the pole with him, up sprang the fire again from
the hollow into which the wheel of the wagon had sunk. It was a smoking
furnace down there, and soon the felloe and spokes would be injured by
the flames and heat. Sparks flew on the wings of the wind from out of
the mouth of the hole. Some of them scattered about the horses and they
plunged again, squealing.

It seemed to Nan impossible after the recent cloudburst that the fire
could find anything to feed upon. But underneath the packed surface of
the sawdust, the heat of summer had been drying out the moisture for
weeks. And the fire had been smouldering for a long time. Perhaps for
yards and yards around, the interior of the sawdust heap was a glowing
furnace.

Nan would not run away and Tom did not see her. As he came plunging
back to the stalled wagon, suddenly his foot slumped into the yielding
sawdust and he fell upon his face. He cried out with surprise or pain.
Nan, horrified, saw the flames and smoke shooting out of the hole into
which her cousin had stepped. For the moment the girl felt as if her
heart had stopped beating.

"Oh, Tom! Oh, Tom!" she shrieked, and sprang toward him.

Tom was struggling to get up. His right leg had gone into the yielding
mass up to his hip, and despite his struggles he could not get it out.
A long yellow flame shot out of the hole and almost licked his face. It,
indeed, scorched his hair on one side of his head.

But Nan did not scream again. She needed her breath, all that she could
get, for a more practical purpose. Her cousin waved her back feebly, and
tried to tell her to avoid the fire.

Nan rushed in, got behind him, and seized her cousin under the arms. To
lift him seemed a giant's task; but nevertheless she tried.



Chapter XXVII. OLD TOBY IN TROUBLE

The squealing and plunging of the horses, the rattling of their chains,
the shrieking of the wind, the reverberating cracks of thunder made
a deafening chorus in Nan's ears. She could scarcely hear what the
imperiled Tom shouted to her. Finally she got it:

"Not that way! Pull sideways!"

He beat his hands impotently upon the crust of sawdust to the left. Nan
tugged that way. Tom pulled, too, heaving his great body upward, and
scratching and scrambling along the sawdust with fingers spread like
claws. His right leg came out of the hole, and just then the rain
descended torrentially again.

The flames from this opening in the roof of the furnace were beaten
down. Tom got to his feet, shaking and panting. He hobbled painfully
when he walked.

But in a moment he seized upon the pole he had dropped and made for the
smoking timber cart. The terrified horses tried again and again to break
away; but the chain harnesses were too strong; nor did the mired wheel
budge.

"Oh, Tom! Oh, Tom!" begged Nan. "Let us make the poor horses free, and
run ourselves."

"And lose my wagon?" returned her cousin, grimly. "Not much!"

The rain, which continued to descend with tropical violence, almost beat
Nan to the ground; but Tom Sherwood worked furiously.

He placed the butt of the lever he had cut under the hub of the great
wheel. There was a sound stump at hand to use as a fulcrum. Tom threw
himself upon the end of the lever. Nan ran to add her small weight to
the endeavor. The wheel creaked and began to rise slowly.

The sawdust was not clinging, it was not like real mire. There was no
suction to hold the wheel down. Merely the crust had broken in and the
wheel had encountered an impediment of a sound tree root in front of it
so that, when the horses tugged, the tire had come against the root and
dragged back the team.

Out poured the flames and smoke again, the flames hissing as they were
quenched by the falling water. Higher, higher rose the cart wheel. Nan,
who was behind her cousin, saw his neck and ears turn almost purple from
the strain he put in the effort to dislodge the wheel. Up, up it came,
and then-----

"Gid-ap! 'Ap, boys! Yah! Gid-ap!"

The horses strained. The yoke chains rattled. Tom gasped to Nan:

"Take my whip! Quick! Let 'em have it!"

The girl had always thought the drover's whip Tom used a very cruel
implement, and she wished he did not use it. But she knew now that it
was necessary. She leaped for the whip which Tom had thrown down and
showed that she knew its use.

The lash hissed and cracked over the horses' backs. Tom voiced one last,
ringing shout. The cart wheel rose up, the horses leaped forward, and
the big timber cart was out of its plight.

Flames and smoke poured out of the hole again. The rain dashing upon and
into the aperture could not entirely quell the stronger element. But the
wagon was safe, and so, too, were the two cousins.

Tom was rather painfully burned and Nan began to cry about it. "Oh! Oh!
You poor, poor dear!" she sobbed. "It must smart you dreadfully, Tommy."

"Don't worry about me," he answered. "Get aboard. Let's get out of
this."

"Are you going home?"

"Bet you!" declared Tom. "Why, after this rain stops, this whole blamed
place may be in flames. Must warn folks and get out the fire guard."

"But the rain will put out the fire, Tom," said Nan, who could not
understand even now the fierce power of a conflagration of this kind.

"Look there!" yelled Tom, suddenly glancing back over her head as she
sat behind him on the wagon tongue.

With a roar like an exploding boiler, the flames leaped up the heart of
the hollow tree. The bursted crust of the sawdust heap had given free
ingress to the wind, and a draught being started, it sucked the flames
directly up the tall chimney the tree made.

The fire burst from the broken top. The flames met the falling rain as
though they were unquenchable. Indeed the clouds were scattering, and
second by second the downfall was decreasing. The tempest of rain was
almost over; but the wind remained to fan the flames that had now broken
cover in several spots, as well as through the tall and hollow tree.

Tom hastened his team toward the main road that passed through the
tamarack swamp. At one end of it was Pine Camp; in the other direction,
after passing the knoll on which the Vanderwillers lived, the roadway
came out upon a more traveled road to the forks and the railroad.

Pine Camp was the nearest place where help could be secured to beat down
the fire, if, indeed, this were at all possible. There was a telephone
line there which, in a roundabout way, could be made to carry the news
of the forest fire to all the settlements in the Big Woods and along the
railroad line.

But Nan seized Tom's arm and shook it to call his attention as the
horses neared the road.

"Tom! For goodness' sake!" she gasped.

"What's the matter now?" her cousin demanded, rather sharply, for his
burns were painful.

"Toby, the Vanderwillers! What will become of them?"

"What d'you mean?" asked Tom, aghast.

"That poor cripple! They can't get away, he and his grandmother. Perhaps
Toby hasn't come home yet."

"And the wind's that way," Tom interrupted.

It was indeed. The storm had come up from the west and the wind was
still blowing almost directly into the east. A sheet of flame flew from
the top of the old dead tree even as the boy spoke, and was carried
toward the thick forest. It did not reach it, and as the blazing brand
fell it was quenched on the wet surface of the sawdust.

Nevertheless, the fire was spreading under the crust and soon the few
other dead trees left standing on the tract would burst into flame. As
they looked, the fire burst out at the foot of the tree and began to
send long tongues of flame licking up the shredded bark.

The effect of the drenching rain would soon be gone and the fire would
secure great headway.

"Those poor folks are right in the track of the fire, I allow," admitted
Tom. "I wonder if he's got a good wide fire strip ploughed?"

"Oh! I know what you mean," Nan cried. "You mean all around the edge of
his farm where it meets the woods?"

"Yes. A ploughed strip may save his buildings. Fire can't easily cross
ploughed ground. Only, if these woods get really ablaze, the fire will
jump half a mile!"

"Oh no, Tom! You don't mean that?"

"Yes, I do," said her cousin, gloomily. "Tobe's in a bad place. You
don't know what a forest fire means, nor the damage it does, Nannie. I'm
right troubled by old Tobe's case."

"But there's no danger for Pine Camp, is there?" asked the girl,
eagerly.

"Plenty of folks there to make a fire-guard. Besides, the wind's not
that way, exactly opposite. And she's not likely to switch around so
soon, neither. I, don't, know"

"The folks at home ought to know about it," Nan interrupted.

"They'll know it, come dark," Tom said briefly. "They'll be looking for
you and they'll see the blaze. Why! After dark that old dead tree will
look like a lighthouse for miles 'n' miles!"

"I suppose it will," agreed Nan. "But I do want to get home, Tom."

"Maybe the storm's not over," said her cousin, cocking an eye towards
the clouded heavens. "If it sets in for a long rain (and one's due about
this time according to the Farmer's Almanac) it would keep the fire
down, put it out entirely, maybe. But we can't tell."

Nan sighed and patted his shoulder. "I know it's our duty to go to the
island, Tommy. You're a conscientious old thing. Drive on."

Tom clucked to the horses. He steered them into the roadway, but headed
away from home. Another boy with the pain he was bearing would not have
thought of the old lumberman and his family. They were the only people
likely to be in immediate danger from the fire if it spread. The cousins
might easily reach the Vanderwiller's island, warn them of the fire, and
return to town before it got very late, or before the fire crossed the
wood-road.

They rumbled along, soon striking the corduroy road, having the thick
forest on either hand again. The ditches were running bank full. Over
a quagmire the logs, held down by cross timbers spiked to the sleepers,
shook under the wheels, and the water spurted up through the interstices
as the horses put down their heavy feet.

"An awful lot of water fell," Tom said soberly.

"Goodness! The swamp is full," agreed Nan.

"We may have some trouble in reaching Toby's place," the boy added. "But
maybe--"

He halted in his speech, and the next instant pulled the horses down to
a willing stop. "Hark-a-that!" whispered Tom.

"Can it be anybody crying? Maybe it's a wildcat," said Nan, with a vivid
remembrance of her adventure in the snow that she had never yet told to
any member of the family.

"It's somebody shouting, all right," observed Tom. "Up ahead a way.
Gid-ap!"

He hurried the horses on, and they slopped through the water which, in
places, flowed over the road, while in others it actually lifted the
logs from their foundation and threatened to spoil the roadway entirely.

Again and again they heard the faint cry, a man's voice. Tom stood up
and sent a loud cry across the swamp in answer:

"We're coming! Hold on!

"Don't know what's the matter with him," he remarked, dropping down
beside Nan again, and stirring the horses to a faster pace. "S'pose he's
got into a mud-hold, team and all, maybe."

"Oh, Tom! Maybe he'll be sucked right down into this awful mud."

"Not likely. There aren't many quicksands, or the like, hereabout. Never
heard tell of 'em, if there are. Old Tobe lost a cow once in some
slough."

They came to a small opening in the forest just then. Here a great tree
had been uprooted by the wind and leaned precariously over a quagmire
beside the roadway. Fortunately only some of the lower branches touched
the road line and Tom could get his team around them.

Then the person in trouble came into sight. Nan and her cousin saw him
immediately. He was in the middle of the shaking morass waist deep in
the mire, and clinging to one of the small hanging limbs of the uprooted
tree.

"Hickory splits!" ejaculated Tom, stopping the team. "It's old Tobe
himself! Did you ever see the like!"



Chapter XXVIII. THE GIRL IN THE HOLLOW TREE

Just why old Toby Vanderwiller was clinging to that branch and did not
try to wade ashore, neither Nan nor Tom could understand. But one thing
was plain: the old lumberman thought himself in danger, and every once
in a while he gave out a shout for help. But his voice was growing weak.

"Hey, Tobe!" yelled Tom. "Why don't you wade ashore?"

"There ye be, at last, hey?" snarled the old man, who was evidently just
as angry as he could be. "Thought ye'd never come. Hearn them horses
rattling their chains, must ha' been for an hour."

"That's stretching it some," laughed Tom. "That tree hasn't been toppled
over an hour."

"Huh! Ye can't tell me nothin' 'beout that!" declared Toby. "I was right
here when it happened."

"Goodness!" gasped Nan.

"Yep. And lemme tell ye, I only jest 'scaped being knocked down when she
fell."

"My!" murmured Nan again.

"That's how I got inter this muck hole," growled the old lumberman. "I
jumped ter dodge the tree, and landed here."

"Why don't you wade ashore?" demanded Tom again, preparing in a
leisurely manner to cast the old man the end of a line he had coiled on
the timber cart.

"Yah!" snarled Toby. "Why don't Miz' Smith keep pigs? Don't ax fool
questions, Tommy, but gimme holt on that rope. I'm afraid ter let go the
branch, for I'll sink, and if I try ter pull myself up by it, the whole
blamed tree'll come down onter me. Ye see how it's toppling?"

It was true that the fallen tree was in a very precarious position. When
Toby stirred at all, the small weight he rested on the branch made the
head of the tree dip perilously. And if it did fall the old man would
be thrust into the quagmire by the weight of the branches which overhung
his body.

"Let go of it, Toby!" called Tom, accelerating his motions. "Catch
this!"

He flung the coil with skill and Toby seized it. The rocking tree
groaned and slipped forward a little. Toby gave a yell that could have
been heard much farther than his previous cries.

But Tom sank back on the taut rope and fairly jerked the old man out
of the miry hole. Scrambling on hands and knees, Toby reached firmer
ground, and then the road itself.

Nan uttered a startled exclamation and cowered behind the cart. The
huge tree, groaning and its roots splintering, sagged down and, in
an instant, the spot there the old lumberman had been, was completely
covered by the interlacing branches of the uprooted tree.

"Close squeal, that," remarked Tom, helping the old man to his feet.

Toby stared at them both, wiping the mire from his face as he did so.
He was certainly a scarecrow figure after his submersion in the mud; gut
Nan did not feel like laughing at him. The escape had been too narrow.

"Guess the Almighty sent you just in time, Tom, my boy," said Toby
Vanderwiller. "He must have suthin' more for the old man to do yet,
before he cashes in. And little Sissy, too. Har! Henry Sherwood's son
and Henry Sherwood's niece. Reckon I owe him a good turn," he muttered.

Nan heard this, though Tom did not, and her heart leaped. She hoped that
Toby would feel sufficient gratitude to help Uncle Henry win his case
against Gedney Raffer. But, of course, this was not the time to speak of
it.

When the old lumberman heard about the fire in the sawdust he was quite
as excited as the young folk had been. It was fast growing dark now, but
it was impossible from the narrow road to see even the glow of the fire
against the clouded sky.

"I believe it's goin' to open up and rain ag'in," Toby said. "But if you
want to go on and plow me a fire-strip, Tommy, I'll be a thousand times
obleeged to you."

"That's what I came this way for," said the young fellow briefly. "Hop
on and we'll go to the island as quickly as possible."

They found Mrs. Vanderwiller and the crippled boy anxiously watching the
flames in the tree top from the porch of the little house on the island.
Nan ran to them to relate their adventures, while Toby got out the plow
and Tom hitched his big horses to it.

The farm was not fenced, for the road and forest bounded it completely.
Tom put the plow in at the edge of the wood and turned his furrows
toward it, urging the horses into a trot. It was not that the fire was
near; but the hour was growing late and Tom knew that his mother and
father would be vastly anxious about Nan.

The young fellow made twelve laps, turning twelve broad furrows that
surely would guard the farm against any ordinary fire. But by the time
he was done it did not look as though the fire in the sawdust would
spread far. The clouds were closing up once more and it was again
raining, gently but with an insistence that promised a night of
downpour, at least.

Old Mrs. Vanderwiller had made supper, and insisted upon their eating
before starting for Pine Camp. And Tom, at least, did his share with
knife and fork, while his horses ate their measure of corn in the
paddock. It was dark as pitch when they started for home, but Tom was
cheerful and sure of his way, so Nan was ashamed to admit that she was
frightened.

"Tell yer dad I'll be over ter Pine Camp ter see him 'fore many days,"
Old Toby jerked out, as they were starting. "I got suthin' to say to
him, I have!"

Tom did not pay much attention to this; but Nan did. Her heart leaped
for joy. She believed that Toby Vanderwiller's words promised help for
Uncle Henry.

But she said nothing to Tom about it. She only clung to his shoulder as
the heavy timber cart rattled away from the island.

A misty glow hung over the sawdust strip as they advanced; but now that
the wind had died down the fire could not spread. Beside the road the
glow worms did their feeble best to light the way; and now and then an
old stump in the swamp displayed a ghostly gleam of phosphorus.

Nan had never been in the swamp before at night. The rain had driven
most of the frogs and other croaking creatures to cover. But now and
then a sudden rumble "Better-go-roun'!" or "Knee-deep! Knee-deep!"
proclaimed the presence of the green-jacketed gentlemen with the yellow
vests.

"Goodness me! I'd be scared to death to travel this road by myself," Nan
said, as they rode on. "The frogs make such awful noises."

"But frogs won't hurt you," drawled Tom.

"I know all that," sighed Nan. "But they sound as if they would. There!
That one says, just as plain as plain can be, 'Throw 'im in! Throw 'im
in!"

"Good!" chuckled Tom. "And there's a drunken old rascal calling:
'Jug-er-rum! Jug-er-rum!'!"

A nighthawk, wheeling overhead through the rain, sent down her
discordant cry. Deep in a thicket a whip-poor-will complained. It was
indeed a ghostly chorus that attended their slow progress through the
swamp at Pine Camp.

When they crossed the sawdust tract there was little sign of the fire.
The dead tree had fallen and was just a glowing pile of coals, fast
being quenched by the gently falling rain. For the time, at least, the
danger of a great conflagration was past.

"Oh! I am so glad," announced Nan, impetuously. "I was afraid it was
going to be like that Pale Lick fire."

"What Pale Lick fire?" demanded Tom, quickly. "What do you know about
that?"

"Not much, I guess," admitted his cousin, slowly. "But you used to live
there, didn't you?"

"Rafe and I don't remember anything about it," said Tom, in his quiet
way. "Rafe was a baby and I wasn't much better. Marm saved us both, so
we've been told. She and dad never speak about it."

"Oh! And Indian Pete?" whispered Nan.

"He saved the whole of us--dad and all. He knew a way out through a
slough and across a lake. He had a dug-out. He got badly burned dragging
dad to the boat when he was almost suffocated with smoke," Tom said
soberly.

"'Tisn't anything we talk about much, Nan. Who told you?"

"Oh, it's been hinted to me by various people," said Nan, slowly. "But I
saw Injun Pete, Tom."

"When? He hasn't been to Pine Camp since you came."

Nan told her cousin of her adventure in the hollow near Blackton's
lumber camp. Tom was much excited by that.

"Gracious me, Nan! But you are a plucky girl. Wait till Rafe hears about
it. And marm and dad will praise you for being so level-headed today.
Aren't many girls like you, Nan, I bet!"

"Nor boys like you, Tom," returned the girl, shyly. "How brave you were,
staying to pull that old wagon-wheel out of the fire."

"Ugh!" growled Tom. "A fat time I'd have had there if it hadn't been for
you helping me out of the oven. Cracky! I thought I was going to have my
leg burned to a cinder.

"That would have been terrible!" shuddered Nan. "What would poor Aunt
Kate have said?"

"We can't tell her anything about it," Tom hastened to say. "You see, my
two older brothers, Jimmy and Alfred, were asleep in the garret of our
house at Pale Lick, and marm thought they'd got out. It wasn't until
afterward that she learned they'd been burned up with the house. She's
never got over it."

"I shouldn't think she would," sighed Nan.

"And you see she's awfully afraid of fire, even now," said Tom.

They rattled on over the logs of the road; here and there they came to
bad places, where the water had not gone down; and the horses were very
careful in putting their hoofs down upon the shaking logs. However, it
was not much over an hour after leaving the island that they spied the
lights of Pine Camp from the top of the easy rise leading out of the
tamarack swamp.

They met Rafe with a lantern half way down the hill. Uncle Henry was
away and Aunt Kate had sent Rafe out to look for Nan, although she
supposed that the girl had remained at the Vanderwillers' until the rain
was over, and that Toby would bring her home.

There was but one other incident of note before the three of them
reached the rambling house Uncle Henry had built on the outskirts of
Pine Camp. As they turned off the swamp road through the lane that ran
past the Llewellen cottage, Rafe suddenly threw the ray of his lantern
into a hollow tree beside the roadway. A small figure was there, and it
darted back out of sight.

"There!" shouted Rafe. "I knew you were there, you little nuisance. What
did you run out of the house and follow me for, Mar'gret Llewellen?"

He jumped in and seized the child, dragging her forth from the hollow of
the big tree. He held her, while she squirmed and screamed.

"You lemme alone, Rafe Sherwood! Lemme alone!" she commanded. "I ain't
doin' nothin' to you."

"Well, I bet you are up to some monkey-shines, out this time of night,"
said Rafe, giving her a little shake. "You come on back home, Mag."

"I won't!" declared the girl.

"Yes, do, Margaret," begged Nan. "It's going to rain harder. Don't hurt
her, Rafe."

"Yah! You couldn't hurt her," said Rafe. "She's as tough as a little
pine-knot, and don't you forget it! Aren't you, Mag?"

"Lemme go!" repeated Margaret, angrily.

"What did you chase down here after me for?" asked Rafe, the curious.

"I, I thought mebbe you was comin' to hunt for something," stammered the
girl.

"So I was. For Nancy here," laughed Rafe.

"Thought 'twas somethin' of mine," said the girl. "Lemme go now!"

She jerked away her hand and scuttled into the house that they were then
just passing.

"Wonder what the little imp came out to watch me for?" queried Rafe.

After they had arrived at home and the excitement o the return was over;
after she and Tom had told as much of their adventures as they thought
wise, and Nan had retired to the east chamber, she thought again about
Margaret and her queer actions by the roadside.

"Why, that tree is where Margaret hides her most precious possessions,"
said Nan, suddenly, sitting up in bed. "Why, what could it be she was
afraid Rafe would find there? Why can that child have hidden something
there that she doesn't want any of us to see?"

Late as it was, and dark as it was, and stormy as the night was, she
felt that she must know immediately what Margaret Llewellen had hidden
in the hollow tree.



Chapter XXIX. GREAT NEWS FROM SCOTLAND

Nan put two and two together, and the answer came right.

She got out of bed, lit her lamp again and began to dress. She turned
her light down to a dim glimmer, however, for she did not want her aunt
to look out of the window of her bedroom on the other side of the parlor
and catch a glimpse of her light.

In the half darkness Nan made a quick toilet; and then, with her
raincoat on and hood over her head, she hesitated with her hand upon the
knob of the door.

"If I go through the parlor and out the side door, Aunt Kate will hear
me," thought Nan. "That won't do at all."

She looked at the further window. Outside the rain was pattering and
there was absolutely no light. In the pocket of her raincoat Nan had
slipped the electric torch she had brought from home, something of which
Aunt Kate cordially approved, and was always begging Uncle Henry to buy
one like it.

The pocket lamp showed her the fastenings of the screen. Tom had made
it to slide up out of the way when she wanted to open or close the sash.
And, as far as she could see, any one could open it from the outside as
easily as from the room itself.

"And that's just what she did," decided Nan. "How foolish of me not to
think of it before."

With this enigmatical observation Nan prepared to leave the room by this
very means. She was agile, and the sill of the window was only three
feet from the ground. It was through this opening that she had helped
Margaret Llewellen into her room on the first occasion that odd child
had visited her.

Nan jumped out, let the screen down softly, and hurried across the
unfenced yard to the road. She knew well enough when she reached the
public track, despite the darkness for the mirey clay stuck to her shoes
and made the walking difficult.

She flashed her lamp once, to get her bearings, and then set off down
the lane toward the swamp road. There was not a light in any house she
passed, not even in Mr. Fen Llewellen's cottage. "I guess Margaret's
fast asleep," murmured Nan, as she passed swiftly on.

The rain beat down upon the girl steadily, and Nan found it shivery
out here in the dark and storm. However, her reason for coming, Nan
conceived, was a very serious one. This was no foolish escapade.

By showing her light now and then she managed to follow the dark lane
without stepping off into any of the deep puddles which lay beside the
path. She came, finally, to the spot where Rafe had met her and Tom with
his lantern that evening. Here stood the great tree with a big hollow in
it, Margaret Llewellen's favorite playhouse.

For a moment Nan hesitated. The place looked so dark and there might be
something alive in the hollow.

But she plucked up courage and flashed her lamp into it. The white ray
played about the floor of the hollow. The other Llewellen children dared
not come here, for Margaret punished them if they disturbed anything
belonging to her.

What Nan was looking for was not in sight. She stepped inside, and
raised the torch. The rotting wood had been neatly scooped out, and
where the aperture grew smaller at the top a wide shelf had been made by
the ingenious Margaret. Nan had never been in this hide-out before.

"It must be here! It must be here!" she kept telling herself, and stood
on her tiptoes to feel along the shelf, which was above her head.

Nan discovered nothing at first. She felt along the entire length of the
shelf again. Nothing!

"I know better!" she almost sobbed. "My dear, beautiful."

She jumped up, feeling back on the shelf with her right hand. Her
fingers touched something, and it was not the rotting wood of the tree!

"It's there!" breathed the excited girl. She flashed her lamp around,
searching for something to stand upon. There in the corner was a roughly
made footstool.

In a moment Nan had the footstool set in position, and had stepped upon
it. Her hand darted to the back of the shelf. There was a long box, a
pasteboard box.

Nan dropped her lamp with a little scream of ecstasy, and of course the
light went out. But she had the long box clasped in her arms. She could
not wait to get home with it, but tumbled off the stool and sat down
upon it, picked up the torch, held it so the round spot-light gave her
illumination, and untied the string.

Off came the cover. She peeped within. The pink and white loveliness of
Beulah's wax features peered up at her.

In fifteen minutes Nan was back in her room, without being discovered by
anybody, and with the doll safely clasped in her arms. Indeed, she went
to bed a second time that night with her beloved playmate lying on the
pillow beside her, just as she had done when a little girl.

"I suppose I'm foolish," she confessed to Aunt Kate the next morning
when she told her about it. "But I loved Beulah so much when I was
little that I can't forget her now. If I go to Lakeview Hall I'm going
to take her with me. I don't care what the other girls say!"

"You are faithful in your likes, child," said Aunt Kate nodding. "'Tis a
good trait. But I'd like to lay that Marg'ret Llewellen across my knee,
for her capers."

"And I didn't think she cared for dolls," murmured Nan.

But it was young Bob who betrayed the mysterious reason for his sister's
act.

"Huh!" he said, with a boy's disgust for such things. "Mag's crazy about
pretty faces, if they're smooth, an' pink. She peeked into that Sherwood
gal's room and seed her playin' doll; then she had ter have it for
herself 'cause it was so pretty and had a smooth face, not like the
kids' dolls that Aunt Matildy buyed."

Poor little Margaret was greatly chagrined at the discovery of her
secret. She ran away into the woods whenever she saw Nan coming, for a
long time thereafter. It took weeks for the girl from Tillbury to regain
the half-wild girl's confidence again.

Nan was just as busy and happy as she could be, considering the
uncertain news from Scotland and Uncle Henry's unfortunate affair with
Gedney Raffer. She helped Aunt Kate with the housework early every
morning so that they might both hurry into the woods to pick berries.

Pine Camp was in the midst of a vast huckleberry country, and at the
Forks a cannery had been established. Beside, the Forks was a big
shipping centre for the fresh berries.

Uncle Henry bought crates and berry "cups," and sometimes the whole
family picked all day long in the berry pasture, taking with them a cold
luncheon, and eating it picnic fashion.

It was great fun, Nan thought, despite the fact that she often came home
so wearied that her only desire was to drop into bed. But the best part
of it, the saving grace of all this toil, was the fact that she was
earning money for herself! Account was faithfully kept of every cup of
berries she picked, and, when Uncle Henry received his check from the
produce merchant to whom he shipped the berries, Nan was paid her share.

These welcome earnings she saved for a particular purpose, and for no
selfish one, you may be sure. Little Margaret Llewellen still ran from
her and Nan wished to win the child back; so she schemed to do this.

After all, there was something rather pitiful in the nature of the child
who so disliked any face that was "wizzled," but loved those faces that
were fair and smooth.

Margaret only possessed a feeling that is quite common to humanity; she
being such a little savage, she openly expressed an emotion that many of
us have, but try to hide.

The Llewellen children picked berries, of course, as did most of the
other neighbors. Pine Camp was almost a "deserted village" during the
season when the sweet, blue fruit hung heavy on the bushes.

Sometimes the Sherwood party, and the Llewellens, would cross each
others' paths in the woods, or pastures; but little Margaret always
shrank into the background. If Nan tried to surprise her, the half wild
little thing would slip away into the deeper woods like one of its own
denizens.

Near the river one day Margaret had an experience that should have
taught her a lesson, however, regarding wandering alone in the forest.
And the adventure should, too, have taught the child not to shrink so
from an ugly face.

Nan had something very important to tell Margaret. Her savings had
amounted to quite a goodly sum and in the catalog of a mail-order
house she had found something of which she wished to secure Margaret's
opinion. The child, as usual, ran away when they met, and even Bob could
not bring her back.

"She's as obstinate as dad's old mu-el," grunted the disgusted boy.
"Can't do a thing with her, Nan Sherwood."

"I'll just get her myself!" declared Nan, laughing, and she started into
the thicker woods to circumvent Margaret. She did not follow the river
as the smaller girl had, but struck into the bush, intending to circle
around and head Margaret off.

She had not pushed her way through the clinging vines and brush for ten
minutes before she heard somebody else in the jungle. She thought it was
the little girl, at first; then she caught sight of a man's hat and knew
that Margaret did not wear a hat at all.

"Goodness! Who can that be?" thought Nan. She was a little nervous about
approaching strange people in the wood; although at this season there
was nothing to apprehend from stragglers, there were so many berry
pickers within call.

Nan did not seek to overtake the man, however, and would have kept on
in her original direction, had she not heard a cry and a splitting crash
toward the river bank. Some accident had happened, and when Nan heard
the scream repeated, she was sure that the voice was that of Margaret.

So she set off directly, on a run, tearing her dress and scratching her
hands and face, but paying no attention to either misfortune. She only
wanted to get to the scene of the accident and lend her aid, if it was
needed.

And it would have been needed if it had not been for the man whose hat
she had seen a few moments before. He made his passage through the bush
much quicker than could Nan, and when the latter reached an opening
where she could see the river, the stranger was just leaping into the
deep pool under the high bank.

It was plain to be seen what had happened. A sycamore overhung the
river and somebody had climbed out upon a small branch to reach a few
half-ripened grapes growing on a vine that ran up the tree.

The branch had split, drooping downward, and the adventurous
grape-gatherer had been cast into the water.

"Oh, Margaret!" screamed Nan, confident that it was the reckless child
that was in peril.

She hurried to the brink of the low bluff, from which the rescuer had
plunged. He had already seized the child (there was an eddy here under
the bank) and was striking out for the shore. Nan saw his wet face, with
the bedraggled hair clinging about it.

It was the awfully scarred face of Injun Pete; but to the excited Nan,
at that moment, it seemed one of the most beautiful faces she had ever
seen!

The Indian reached the bank, clung to a tough root, and lifted up the
gasping Margaret for Nan to reach. The girl took the child and scrambled
up the bank again; by the time she was at the top, Injun Pete was beside
her.

"She not hurt, Little missy," said the man, in his soft voice, and
turning his face so that Nan should not see it. "She just scared."

Margaret would not even cry. She was too plucky for that. When she got
her breath she croaked:

"Put me down, Nan Sherwood. I ain't no baby."

"But you're a very wet child," said Nan, laughing, yet on the verge of
tears herself. "You might have been drowned, you WOULD have been had it
not been for Mr. Indian Pete."

"Ugh!" whispered Margaret. "I seen him when I come up out o' that nasty
water. I wanted to go down again."

"Hush, Margaret!" cried Nan, sternly. "You must thank him."

The man was just then moving away. He shook himself like a dog coming
out of the stream, and paid no further attention to his own wet
condition.

"Wait, please!" Nan called after him.

"She all right now," said the Indian.

"But Margaret wants to thank you, don't you, Margaret?"

"Much obleeged," said the little girl, bashfully. "You air all right,
you air."

"That all right, that all right," said the man, hurriedly. "No need to
thank me."

"Yes, there is," said Nan, insistently. "Come here, please. Margaret
wants to kiss you for saving her life."

"Oh!" The word came out of Margaret's lips like an explosion. Nan stared
very sternly at her. "If you don't," she said in a low tone, "I'll tell
your father all about how you came to fall into the river."

Under this threat Margaret became amenable. She puckered up her lips
and stretched her arms out toward Indian Pete. The man stumbled back and
fell on his knees beside the two girls. Nan heard the hoarse sob in his
throat as he took little Margaret in his arms.

"Bless you! Bless you!" he murmured, receiving the kiss right upon his
scarred cheek. But Nan saw that Margaret's eyes were tightly closed as
she delivered the caress, per order!

The next moment the man with the scarred face had slipped away and
disappeared in the forest. They saw him no more.

However, just as soon as the catalog house could send it, Margaret
received a beautiful, pink-cheeked, and flaxen-haired Doll, not as fine
as Beulah, but beautiful enough to delight any reasonable child.

Nan had won back Margaret's confidence and affection.

Meanwhile the hot summer was fast passing. Nan heard from her chum, Bess
Harley, with commendable regularity; and no time did Bess write without
many references to Lakeview Hall.

Nan, advised by her former teacher in Tillbury, had brought her books to
Pine Camp, and had studied faithfully along the lines of the high school
work. She was sure she could pass quite as good an entrance examination
for Lakeview Hall as Bess could.

And at last good news came from Scotland:

"I am not quite ready to bring Momsey home," Papa Sherwood wrote. "But
the matter of her fortune is at least partially settled. The claims of
the other relatives have been disallowed. Mr. Andrew Blake is prepared
to turn over to your Momsey a part of her wonderful fortune. The rest
will come later. She will tell you all about it herself.

"What I wish to say to you particularly in this letter," pursued Mr.
Sherwood, "is, that arrangements have been made for you to attend
Lakeview Hall this coming semester. You will meet your friend, Elizabeth
Harley, in Chicago, and will go with her to the school. I am writing by
this mail to the principal of the Hall. Mr. Harley has made all other
necessary arrangements for you."

"Oh!" cried Nan, clasping her hands. "It's too good to be true! It can't
be possible! I just know I'll wake up in a minute and find all this an
exciting dream, and that's all!"

But Nan was wrong on that point, as the reader will see if her further
adventures are followed in the next volume of the series, entitled, "Nan
Sherwood at Lakeview Hall, or, The Mystery of the Haunted Boathouse."

While Nan was still intensely excited over this letter from Scotland,
Toby Vanderwiller drove up to the Sherwood house behind his broken-kneed
pony. This was the first time any of the Sherwoods had seen him since
the day of the big storm and the fire in the sawdust.



Chapter XXX. OFF FOR LAKEVIEW HALL

Nan ran out immediately to speak to the old lumberman; but Toby was
calling for Uncle Henry:

"Hey, Hen! Hen Sherwood! Come out yere," he cried.

Uncle Henry halloaed from the stables, and came striding at the call.
Nan reached the old rattletrap wagon first.

"Oh, Mr. Vanderwiller!" she said. "I am glad to see you! And how is your
wife and Corson?"

He looked down at her reflectively, and for a moment did not say a word.
Then he swallowed something and said, jerkily:

"An' you're the one that done it all, Sissy! The ol' woman an' the boy
air as chipper as bluejays. An' they air a honin' for a sight on you."

"Yes. I haven't been over lately. But that man from Chicago came, didn't
he?"

"I sh'd say 'yes'! He come," said Toby, in awe. "An' what d'ye s'pose?
He done buyed a heap of Corson's spec'mens an' paid him more'n a hundred
dollars for 'em. And that ain't countin' that there dead-head butterfly
ye made sech a time about.

"I reckoned," pursued Toby, "that you was right crazy about that there
bug. One bug's as bad as another to my way of thinkin'. But it seems
that Chicago feller thinked dif'rent."

"It really was one of the very rare death's-head moths?" cried Nan,
delighted.

"So he said. And he was willin' ter back up his belief with cold cash,"
declared Toby, smiting his leg for emphasis. "He paid us harnsome for
it; and he said he'd take a lot more spec'mens if--

"Har! Here ye be, Hen," he added, breaking off to greet Nan's uncle. "I
got suthin' to say to you. I kin say it now, for I ain't beholden ter
nobody. With what me and the ol' woman had scrimped and saved, an' what
this feller from Chicago give Corson, I done paid off my debt to ol' Ged
Raffer, an' the little farm's free and clear."

"I'm glad to hear it, Tobe," Uncle Henry declared, shaking hands with
the old lumberman again. "I certain sure am glad to hear it! I'm pleased
that you shouldn't have that worry on your mind any longer."

"And it has been a worry," said Old Toby, shaking his head. "More'n you
think for. Ye see, it snarled me all up so's I warn't my own master."

"I see."

"Ye see, Ged was allus after me to go inter court an' back up his claim
ag'in you on that Perkins Tract."

"I see," said Henry Sherwood again, nodding.

"On the other hand, you wanted me, if I knowed which was right, to
witness, too. If I'd witnessed for Ged, ev'rybody wuld ha' thought I
done it because he had a mortgage on the farm."

"I s'pose so," admitted Uncle Henry.

"Or, if I helped you, they'd ha' thought you'd bribed me--mebbe helped
me git square with Ged."

"I couldn't. Too poor just now," said Uncle Henry, grimly. "But I'd the
mind for it, Toby."

"Well, there ye be. Whichever way the cat jumped, I'd lost the respect
of the community," said the old lumberman. "But now I am independent, I
don't give a dern!"

Mr. Sherwood looked at him expectantly. Toby's "wizzled" face shone.

"I got a debt owin' to that leetle gal you got here, and somethin' to
pay off to Tommy, too. But money won't do it, ef I had money. I am goin'
to tell what I know about that boundary, though, Hen, and it will do YOU
good! I can find another old feller, livin' down Pale Lick way, that can
corroborate my evidence.

"You can git that injunction vacated at once, Hen, if you want, and put
your axe-men right back into the Perkins Tract to work. That's what I
come 'round to tell ye."

Aunt Kate was moved to tears, an unusual expression of emotion on her
part. Being of pioneer stock, and having suffered much in the past,
Nan's aunt was not easily moved. Uncle Henry was delighted. It was a
great day for the Sherwoods.

It was another great day when, a week later, the roan ponies were
brought to the door and Nan's trunk was strapped upon the back of the
buckboard. Uncle Henry was to drive her to the train; but she would
travel alone to Chicago to meet her chum, Bess Harley.

"And go to Lakeview Hall! I never did really expect I'd get there," Nan
sighed, as she clung to Aunt Kate's neck. "It almost makes me forget
that Momsey and Papa Sherwood are not at home yet.

"But, my dear!" she added, "if such a thing could be, you and Uncle
Henry have taken the place of my own dear parents all these months I
have been at Pine Camp. I've had a dee-lightful time. I'll never forget
you all. I love you, love you, love you."

The roan ponies started on the jump. The boys cheered her from the
corner of the house, having bashfully remained in the background. Even
Margaret Llewellen and her impish brother, Bob, appeared and shrilly
bade her goodbye.

Nan was off for school, and wonderful adventures lay before her!





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