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Title: Rancho Del Muerto - and Other Stories of Adventure from "Outing" by Various Authors
Author: Various, King, Charles
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 "Rancho Del Muerto - and Other Stories of Adventure from "Outing" by Various Authors" ***

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By Charles King, Capt. U. S. Army.

And Other Stories of Adventure by Various Authors

From “Outing” (Illustrated)

The Outing Publishing Company,

New York And London

[Illustration: 0001]

[Illustration: 0007]

RANCHO DEL MUERTO, By Charles King, Capt. U. S. Army.


[Illustration: 9013]

O denying it--there was something uncanny about the place at the very
first glance. The paymaster admitted that to himself as his ambulance
slowly drove in, and his escort of half a dozen troopers came clattering
after. It was his first visit to the spot, and he shrugged his broad
shoulders and murmured a word of caution to the silent clerk who sat
beside him:

[Illustration: 0015]

[Illustration: 0016]

“I want you to keep eyes and ears open here, Staines. We’ve got to make
a night of it. You remember that this is where Sergeant Dinsmore was
murdered, and I’ve heard nothing but bad accounts of the people for the
last six months.”

Mr. Staines was apparently a man who wasted no words. Acquiescence with
him may have been expressed by silence. At all events he made no reply.

“Were you ever at the ranch before, when you made the trips with Colonel
Forte?” asked the paymaster.

“No, sir, it’s--all strange to me hereabouts.”

“How far are we from Canyon del Muerto now, sergeant?” asked the
officer of the bearded trooper who rode close alongside.

“Sixteen miles, sir, on a bee line, but at least twenty by the road.
We’re off the direct trail now. We could have got through the canyon and
reached the camp before this if that mule hadn’t gone lame.”

“Major,” said Staines in a low tone, “I can get a saddle horse or mule
here, no doubt. Had I not better ride right on? I can reach Captain
Rawlins’ camp by 9 or 10 o’clock. He will be mighty anxious at your

“I was thinking of sending one man ahead; I don’t like to let you go. It
will wear you out for to-morrow’s work.”

“Indeed it won’t, sir; I’m feeling fresh enough, and the change from
wagon to saddle will just suit me. I think I’d better go.” And there was
an eager look in Staines’ clear-cut face.

“I’ll think about it” was the dubious answer. “These cavalry men are the
proper ones to send, not a paymaster’s clerk. If anything befell you on
the route I would be crippled in making payments.”

“Nothing would be apt to befall me, sir; I know that road well.”

“I thought you said all was strange to you hereabouts” said the
paymaster quickly. But the clerk showed no discomfiture.

“I said here, around the ranch. The direct road lies off there nearly
nine miles to the southwest, sir. That is the one we always took going
to Tucson.”

The paymaster relapsed into silence. It is all very well to have
subordinates who know far more than does the senior officer, yet the
latter does not always find it agreeable. His own clerk having resigned
some six months previous and returned to the East, when Major Sherrick
was ordered from San Francisco to Arizona he had employed Mr. Staines at
the urgent request of the officer whom he relieved. Staines had property
interests in the Territory, he was told, and wanted to remain. He was a
man profoundly versed in his duties; accurate, temperate, reliable and
of unimpeachable character, said his recommenders. Sherrick was glad
to get him, for he himself had no head for figures, and had been made a
paymaster from civil life simply because his uncle the Senator found him
a failure in every other capacity, and demanded the appointment of an
Executive who could not deny him, though he felt like kicking himself
when he looked at the long list of grizzled, war-tried captains who were
wistful applicants for the longed-for promotion.

A tall Mexican stepped forward with much urbanity and grace of manner to
assist the paymaster to alight as the ambulance stopped in front of the
ranch, and Major Sherrick looked with emotions of surprise upon Pedro
Ruiz, the proprietor.

“You don’t mean to say that’s the scoundrel we heard so much bad
talk about at headquarters?” he whispered to Staines at the first

“The very same, sir; the most accomplished cutthroat in Arizona, if we
can believe our senses and disregard evidence.”

“Where are his men? He seems alone here, all but that old greaser

“Dios sabe,” answered the clerk briefly, though his eyes glanced quickly
away toward the purpling range to the south. “But we shall need our
guards every moment we are here, sir, that’s certain.” An hour later
night had settled down upon the broad valley, black and forbidding. All
day long the wind had been sighing about the corral, whirling clouds of
dust from the loose, sandy soil and sifting it in through many a chink
and crevice over the floor of Pedro’s ranch. The great ranges to the
northwest, the Sierras to the south, were whitecapped at their lofty
summits, but all over the arid miles of surrounding desert the sun had
been hotly blazing from noon to the dewless eve, and not until it sank
behind the western wave did the wind sweep down untempered. Through its
shallow bed the Gila rolled, a lazy, turbid current, not a rifle shot
away. Quicksands and muddy pools flanked its course for miles and barred
all attempts at crossing except at the point where thrifty Pedro had
“corduroyed” the flats with boards that had formerly done duty at the
agency building, and, having originally cost the paternal Government
something in the neighborhood of $1 apiece, had now come down to the
base uses of daily trampling under foot. The stage to the Gripsack
Mines, the huge ox teams and triple-hitched wagons, the nimble pack
mules, even the buckboard with the United States mail, paid reluctant
tribute into Pedro’s dingy palm, though the owners mentally damned him
for a thief.

Everybody in that part of Arizona well knew that in the unprecedented
rise of the Gila, a few years back, two of the agency storehouses had
been floated away down the stream, accompanied by a dense flotilla of
joists, scantling and clapboards, which had been piled up on the river
bank after weeks of laborious transportation from Plummer’s saw mill in
the San Gabriel. So, too, had sundry casks of bacon, barrels of beans
and bales of Indian goods; and while portions of this flood-swept
assortment were found stranded and scattered along the winding shores
as far down as Pedro’s bailiwick, not so much as a solitary shingle had
passed beyond, and the laws of flotsam and jetsam had received at the
hands of this shrewd “greaser” their most liberal construction. More
than once had the Federal authorities been compelled to proceed to
stringent measures with Pedro and arraign him before a jury of his peers
on charges of having robbed and defrauded the General Government,
and more than once with prompt and cheering unanimity had the jury
pronounced him not guilty, a service which he never failed to requite in
kind when Garcia, Gomez or Sancho came up for his turn. And now the old
Mexican was proprietor of a goodly ranch, built mainly of adobe, it is
true, as were his roomy corrals and storehouses, yet roofed, floored,
partitioned, doored and menu for either breakfast, dinner or supper, at
a charge of $1 a head for any and all travelers who sought to appease
their appetite at his table. He kept a bar, too, and dealt out
villainous “tanglefoot” and windowed, too, by the unwilling
contributions wrung from Uncle Sam.

For three years he had furnished bacon, _frijoles_ and fried eggs, the
unvarying fiery mescal to such stomachs as could stand the onslaught
and the tax of two bits a thimbleful. He ran a “brace game” of monte
whenever the packers were drunk or strangers fool enough to play. He was
a thorough-paced rascal in the opinion of every “gringo” who passed that
way, and a man of unimpeachable character according to all records
in the case. He was a “greaser” of whom everything had been said and
nothing proved; that is, to the satisfaction of an old-time Arizona
jury. But Mr. Whitlock, the new United States District Attorney, was
said to be “laying” for Pedro, and between those who knew them both and
were aware of the possibilities of finding twelve better men and truer
outside of Maricopa County, bets were even as to the result.

[Illustration: 0021]

“Just let me get that thieving greaser across the line into Yavapai,”
 said a local luminary, “and I’ll find a jury that will hang him on
sight or lynch him on general principles.” But Pedro knew better than to
venture northward along the tempting shores of the Hassayampa. Even the
chance of collecting a bad debt from a fellow countryman, known to
be lurking in Wickenburg, failed to lure Pedro thither. He smiled
suggestively, showing his white teeth and waving aside the blue smoke of
his cigarrito with sinewy brown hand. “A--Wickenburg is too damn close
to Yavapai, and Yavapai to ‘ell,” he remarked. And it had more than once
been said of Pedro that he spoke English like a native.

“Rancho Ruiz” was the sonorous and pretentious title he had bestowed
upon the establishment to which the winding Arizona roadway led.
“Cutthroat Crossing” was what the soldiers and placer miners had called
this half ferry, half ford of Pedro’s ever since the body of young
Sergeant Dinsmore had been found stranded on a sand bar of the Gila two
miles below,’ his neck and his money belt slashed by the same knife.
Going into Yuma with well-lined pockets, Dinsmore had been warned to
make no stay among the gang of monte players always hovering about
Pedro’s. But he had been a bold and successful gambler at Tucson. He
had nothing but contempt for Mexican bravos and confidence in his own
prowess as a shot. The card table had attractions he could not well
resist, but the ranch had still another--Pedro’s daughter.

Now it was when he was sent thither with a squad of a dozen troopers,
hunting up the missing sergeant, that Lieutenant Adriance caught
sight of this siren of a senorita. She could not have been more than
seventeen, and her mother would have denied her even that number of
years. “She is a mere child,” protested Senora Dolores, when the subject
was mentioned. Pedro had moved up from Sonora only a few years before,
and had lived a while at the old Mexico-Spanish town of Tucson, whither,
ere long, there came unflattering tales as to the cause of his change
of residence. He had money, and that in Arizona covered more sins than
charity. The boundary line lay conveniently near. Extradition was an
unpracticed art in the days whereof we write. Apaches of the mountains
and assassins of the mines found equal refuge across the border, and in
exchange we received such choice spirits as proved too tough for even
a Mexican town to tolerate. Of such was Pedro; but no one to look at
Pedro’s daughter would have called her a felon’s child.

The night that Adriance reached the rancho on the search just mentioned
he had purposely left his little escort some distance up the Gila, and
advanced alone to reconnoitre. It was a perfectly still evening, soft
and starry. The hoofs of his broncho made no sound upon the sandy waste
of road, and not even the dogs about the corral seemed aware of his
coming. Adriance had thrice visited the ranch before, when returning
from scout or pursuit of Apaches, and never once had he been greeted by
feminine voice about the premises. It was with no little surprise, then,
that he heard the tinkle of a guitar and the sound of low, soft, girlish
tones singing a plaintive melody. He had heard many a Mexican ditty,
and had pronounced the singers twangy, shrill and nasal; but this was
different. He had come to Rancho Ruiz with every expectation of finding
evidence of the murder of one of his most valued troopers, and here, on
the instant of his arrival, was disarmed by a song. East of the ranch
there stood a little lattice-work structure, something after the manner
of a summer house, and from thence the sounds proceeded. The lieutenant
leaped from his horse and strode to the entrance, wondering what
manner of woman he should find beyond. There was not light enough to
distinguish either form or feature, but over in the farther corner was
a shadowy something in white. The song continued but a moment before
the singer became aware of the equally shadowy form at the entrance, and
stopped abruptly.

“Leon!” spoke a girlish voice in the Spanish tongue, “you frightened me.
Is that you?”

“I am Felipe, otherwise Phil. Adriance, of the American Cavalry,
senorita, and far more surprised than you are at seeing me.”

The girl started to her feet as though flight was her first impulse,
then hesitated. Did not the “Senor Teniente” bar the way in merely
standing in the entrance?

“Do not be alarmed, I beg of you,” implored the young officer, “it is so
long since I have heard a song in a woman’s voice. It is such a surprise
to hear one now. Do sing for me again. I will have to stand here where I
can hold my horse.”

For a moment she was silent, then: “You have been to the rancho? You
have seen my father?” she asked at length, her voice tremulous and
almost inaudible.

“I? No, I have just come; I am alone, and heard your song and forgot
everything else.”

To his surprise she came hurriedly forward out of the dusk, and stood
close to his side, looking fearfully over toward the night lights at the
bar, whence the sounds of Mexican voices could be heard.

“Alone? You came here alone? O senor, ride on or ride back. Stay not
here! Not at the rancho! There are wicked men--not my father; not Pedro
Ruiz, but--there are others.”

“Is this true? Are you Pedro’s daughter?” queried the lieutenant,
evidently far more impressed with this fact than with her tidings. “I
never knew he had a child like you, and I have been here often and have
never seen you.”

“But I--have seen you, senor, when you were last here, and I saw you,
too, at the _cuartel_ at Tucson. Do you know--do you remember the day of
the race?” And her dark eyes were for one instant lifted timidly to his.

“Is this possible?” he exclaimed, seizing her hand as it fell listlessly
by her side. “Let me see your face. Surely I have heard your voice
before.” But she shrank back, half timid, half capricious.

“I must not; I must go, senor, and you--you must ride away.”

And now her eyes glanced half fearfully toward the house, then sought
his face in genuine anxiety. He had been fumbling in the pocket of his
hunting shirt, and suddenly drew forth a little silver case. The next
instant, while he held her wrist firmly with one hand, the brilliant
flame of an electric match flashed over her face and form.

[Illustration: 0027]

“Oh, senor,” she cried, even when bowing her blushing face upon her
bared arm, “this is madness! Put it out!” Then, like a frightened deer,
she went bounding to the ranch, but not before he had recognized in her
the pretty Mexican girl with whom he had thrice danced at the _festa_
at Tucson and whose name he had vainly sought to learn. Nor did he again
see her on this visit. Nor did he hear again her voice. Returning with
his men at dawn, he began the day’s investigations and had occasion
to ask many questions of old Pedro, who promptly answered that he well
remembered the sergeant and that the sergeant had drunk at his bar; had
partaken of his cheer; had stabled his horse at the corral; but that,
after gambling with “los otros,” men of whom he, Pedro, knew naught, the
sergeant had gone on his way. More he could not tell. He shrugged his
shoulders and protested his ignorance even of the names of the men with
whom Dinsmore had gambled.

“You enter my house, Senor Teniente. You ask for food, for drink. You
pay. You go. Ask I you your name--your home? No! Should I demand it of
any caballero who so come and go?”

And failing in extracting information from the master, Adriance sought
the hirelings and found them equally reticent. Shrewd frontiersmen and
campaigners in his little detachment were equally unsuccessful until
nearly night, when a brace of prospectors rode in and said they saw what
looked to be a human body over on a sand bar down the Gila. Then Pedro’s
face had turned ashen gray, and one of his henchmen trembled violently.

Poor Dinsmore was given such soldier burial as his comrades could
devise, and Pedro, of his own accord, and with much reverential gravity
of mien, had graced the ceremony with his presence.

Every man of the cavalry detachment felt morally certain that Pedro Ruiz
knew far more than he would tell, but there was no way in which they
could proceed farther, and civil process was ineffectual in those days
except in the court of final jurisdiction of which Judge Lynch was sole
presiding officer.

Adriance rode away with a distinct sense of discomfiture at heart. What
business had he to feel baffled and chagrined at his failure to see
that girl again when the original object of his mission had been the
discovery of Dinsmore’s fate? What right had he to wish to speak with
the daughter of the man whom he believed an accessory to the sergeant’s
murder? “Do not let them know you have seen me” she had whispered ere
she scurried away to the ranch, and as neither mother nor daughter
once appeared during the presence of his escort about the corral, there
seemed no way in which he could open the subject.

Six months passed, during which period he had been sent to Tucson
on escort duty, and while there had sought and found some well-to-do
Mexican residents whom he remembered as being friends of the graceful
girl who had danced so delightfully with him at the _baile_ only the
year before. From them he learned her name, Isabel, and something of her
history. And the very next scout down the Gila found him in command and
eager to go, and this very night, black and forbidding, that had settled
down on Rancho Ruiz after the arrival of Paymaster Sherrick and his
train, who should come riding noiselessly through the gloaming but
Lieutenant Adriance himself, as before, all alone.

Nearing the lights of the rancho and moving at slow and cautious walk,
his ears alert for every sound, the lieutenant became aware of the fact
that Roderick, his pet horse, was pricking up his own ears and showing
vast interest in some mysterious and unseen presence which they were
steadily approaching. Before he had got within two hundred yards of
the dim light of the house he caught sight of a lantern or two flitting
about the corral. Then Roderick quickened his nimble walk and began
edging off to the right front, where presently, against the low western
sky, Adriance could distinguish some object like a big covered wagon,
and plainly heard the pawing and snorting of a horse. Roderick evidently
wanted to answer, but the lieutenant reined him abruptly to the left,
and veered away southward.

Just now it was not the society of his fellow men he sought. A woman’s
voice, one woman’s at least, would have called him eagerly forward from
the darkness into the light of her waiting eyes. As it was, he made
wide circuit, and not until well to the south did he again approach
the silent walls of the corral. And now the wind, blowing toward him,
brought with it the sound of voices, and Adriance was suddenly warned
that someone was here, close at hand. Dismounting, the lieutenant slowly
led his horse toward the dark barrier before him, but not until he had
softly traversed the length of the southern wall did he become aware
of other voices, low toned and eager. Around the corner, on the western
side, the dark forms of a horseman and someone afoot were dimly defined,
then a brief conversation became audible:

[Illustration: 0031]

[Illustration: 0019]

“You have no time to lose, Leon. Go softly until you are a mile away,
then ride like hell.

“I understand, but the money?”

“That shall be yours to-morrow--now skip.”

The jingle of a Mexican spur, the soft thud of mustang hoofs upon the
yielding soil were heard a moment, and the horseman rode slowly away
southwestward, the broad stiff brim of his sombrero revealed against the
starry sky; then all was silence. The American, whoever he was, still
stood there. Adriance felt sure he had heard the voice before. As for
the horseman--Leon--that was the name he heard her speak the night he
surprised her in the little summer house. Who was Leon?

[Illustration: 0035]

Presently the American turned and strolled slowly back toward the
rancho. Slipping Roderick’s rein over the post at the angle, the
lieutenant followed. Keeping close to the wall, the stranger led the
way, all unconscious of pursuit or observation, yet when he reached the
next corner, whence could be seen the night lights of the rancho and
the far-away gleam of the camp fire, out toward the Gila, he stopped and
peered cautiously around.

Mindful of the evil fame that hung about the premises, Adriance
halted too and waited. The next moment his heart beat hard. A woman’s
voice--soft, silvery and young--had accosted the stranger. It was

“You have sent my brother away again, when he had but just returned. Why
is this, senor? Whither has he gone?”

“Never mind about Leon, Belita,” said the American, soothingly, “he’s
all right. He has simply ridden over to let Captain Rawlins know of our

“It is not true, senor! I heard him speak to my father. It is to Sancho
and to Manuel he rides, and for no good. To what new crime do you lead
him? Why are they all gone? Why are we alone here this night? Why----”

“Don’t be a fool, girl,” said the man curtly, as he took her by the
wrist. “Come, Leon’s gone. Come back to the house.”

“He has not gone. He promised me he would not go from me without a word
to-night. The moment I saw you I knew that trouble would come, and I
warned him when he returned. You have made him wicked--you Americanos.
You are all----’

“Oh, yes, all, even Teniente Adriance, Isabel. I heard all about you and
your affair with him. Have a care!”

“No. He is good. It is not in him to make a gambler and a rover of my

“He would make worse of your brother’s sister, you fool,” the man
muttered, with brutal emphasis. “Come now, no nonsense with that fellow;
he’s as good as married already, I tell you; he is to be married in two

“Oh, it is not true!” was the fiery answer. “You lie!” And then, with
feminine inconsequence, “Who is she? Who does he marry?”

“The Senorita Abert--a lovely girl, too, and rich--in San Francisco.”

“Yes, it is a lie, Staines, and you know it!” came in cool and measured
tones, and Mr. Adriance suddenly stepped from the corner of the wall.

Staines dropped the captive’s hand and recoiled a pace or two with a
stifled exclamation, half amaze, half dismay; then with sudden effort
strove to recover himself. “Well,” he exclaimed, with a nervous laugh;
“talk of angels and you hear the rustle, etc. Indeed, lieutenant, I
beg your pardon, though; I was merely joking with our little Mexican

“That will do, Mr. Staines; I know a joke when I hear one. Wait here
a moment, if you please, for I want a word with you. Pardon me for
startling you, senorita. Will you take my arm?”

The girl was trembling violently. With bowed head and fluttering heart
she leaned upon the trooper’s arm and was slowly led away toward the
rancho, never seeming to note that the little brown hand that had been
so firmly taken and drawn within by his was still tightly clasped
by that cavalry gauntlet. The moment they were out of the earshot of
Staines the lieutenant bent down.

“It was to see you I came here, Isabel; I had hoped to find you at the
summer house. Come to me there in ten minutes, will you? I must see you
before I go. First, though, I have to investigate that fellow Staines.”

“Oh, I cannot! I dare not! I slipped away from my room because of Leon.
They will lead him into trouble again. Indeed, I must go back. I must
go, Senor Felipe.”

“You remember my name, then, little one!” he laughed, delightedly. “I
have been to Tucson since I saw you that blessed night, and I heard all
about you.”

“Hush, senor! It is my mother who calls. List! Let me go, sefior!”
 for his arm had suddenly stolen about her waist. “Promise you will

“I dare not! O Felipe, no!” she cried, for he had with quick impulse
folded her tightly in his strong embrace and his lips were seeking hers.
Struggling to avoid them she had hidden her face upon his breast.

“Promise--quick!” he whispered.

“Ah, if I can--yes. Now let me go.” His firm hand turned her glowing
face to his; his eager lips pressed one lingering kiss just at the
corner of her pretty mouth. She hurled herself from him then and bounded
into the darkness. An instant more and he heard the latch of the rear
door click; a stream of light shot out toward the corral and she was
gone. Then slowly he returned to the corner of the wall, fully expecting
that Staines had left. To his surprise, there was the clerk composedly
awaiting him.

“Where have you sent Leon Ruiz?” was the stern question.

“I do not recognize your right to speak to me in that tone, Mr.
Adriance. If you have nothing else to ask me--good night!”

“By God, sir! I heard your whispered talk with him and I know there is
mischief afoot,” said the lieutenant, as he strode after the retreating
form. “This thing has got to be explained, and in the major’s presence.”

Staines halted, and lifting his hat with Castilian grace of manner bowed
profoundly to the angry officer. “Permit me, sir, to conduct you to

An hour later, baffled, puzzled, balked in his precious hopes, Mr.
Adriance returned to the bivouac of his little command. Major Sherrick
had promptly and fully confirmed the statement of his clerk. It was he
who told Mr. Staines to employ a ranchman to ride by night to Captain
Rawlins, and the mysterious caution that surrounded the proceedings was
explained by the fact that Pedro had refused his permission and that
Leon had to be bribed to disobey the paternal order. Adriance was
dissatisfied and suspicious, but what was there left for him to say?

Then he had hastened to the summer house, and waited a whole hour, but
there came no Isabel. It was nearly 10 o’clock when he turned his horse
over to the care of the guard in a little clump of cottonwoods near the

“We remain here to-morrow,” he briefly told the sergeant. “No need
to wake the men before 6.” With that he went to the little wall tent,
pitched for his use some yards away.

How long he slumbered Adriance could not tell. Ill at ease as to the
strange conduct of Staines, he had not slept well. Conscience, too, was
smiting him. Something in the tones of that girlish voice thrilled and
quivered through his memory. What right had he even to ask her to meet
him? What wrong had he not wrought in that one kiss?

Somebody was fumbling at the fastening of the tent flap.

“What is wanted, sergeant?” he quickly hailed.

“Open, quick!” was the low-toned answer. “Come to the door. No, no,
bring no light,” was the breathless caution, as he struck a match.

“Who is this?” he demanded, with strange thrill at heart--something in
those tones he well knew--yet it could not be. A dim figure in shrouding
_serape_ was crouching at the front tent pole as he threw open the flap.

“Good God! Isabel!”

“Si---- Yes. Hush, senor, no one must hear, no one must know ‘twas I.
Quick! Wake your men! Saddle! Ride hard till you catch the paymaster!
Never leave him till you are beyond Canyon del Muerto, and then never
come to the rancho again--never!”

[Illustration: 5039]


[Illustration: 0040]

[Illustration: 9040]

HAT off mule of the paymaster’s ambulance been a quadruped of wonderful
recuperative powers. She had gone nearly dead lame all the previous day,
and now at 5 o’clock on this breezy morning was trotting along as though
she had never known a twinge in her life. Mr. Staines was apparently
nonplussed. Acting on his advice, the paymaster had decided to break
camp soon after 2 o’clock, make coffee, and then start for Rawlins’ camp
at once. He confidently expected to have to drag along at a slow walk,
and his idea was to get well through the Canyon del Muerto before the
heat of the day. The unexpected recovery of Jenny, however, enabled
them to go bowling ahead over the level flat, and at sunrise they were
already in sight of the northern entrance to the gorge. It was odd how
early Mr. Staines began to develop lively interest in the condition of
that mule. First he suggested to the driver that he was going too fast,
and would bring on that lameness again; but the driver replied that it
was Jenny herself who was doing most of the pulling. Then Staines became
fearful lest the cavalry escort should get exhausted by such steady
trotting, and ventured to say to Major Sherrick that they ought to rein
up on their account. Sherrick was eager to push ahead, and, like most
other men not to the manner born, never for a moment thought of such a
thing as a horse’s getting used up by simply carrying a man-at-arms six
hours at ceaseless trot or lope. However, he knew that Staines was far
more experienced in such matters than he, and so could not disregard his

[Illustration: 8041]

“How is it, sergeant, are we going too fast for you?” he asked.

“Not a bit of it, sir,” was the cheery answer.

“We’re glad enough to go lively now and rest all day in the shade.”

“You see how it is, Staines; they don’t want to slack up speed. We’ll
get to Rawlins’ in time for breakfast at this rate,” and again Staines
was silent. Presently the team began the ascent of a rolling wave of
foothill, around which the roadway twisted as only Arizona roadways can,
and at the crest the driver reined in to give his mules a “breather.”
 Staines leaped from the ambulance for a stretch. The troopers promptly
dismounted and loosened saddle girths.

“Yonder is the mouth of the Canyon, sir,” said the sergeant, pointing
to a rift in the range to the south, now gorgeously lighted up by the
morning sunshine.

“How long is the defile, sergeant?”

“Not more than four miles, sir--that is, the Canyon itself--but it is
crooked as a ram’s horn, and the approach on the other side is a long,
winding valley.”

“When were you there last?” asked Staines.

“About six months ago, just after Dins-more was murdered.”

Staines turned quickly away and strolled back a few yards along the

“You knew Dinsmore, then?” asked the paymaster.

“I knew him well, sir. We had served together during the war. They said
he fell in love with a pretty Mexican girl at Tucson, and she would
not listen to him. Some of the men heard that she was a daughter of old
Pedro who keeps that ranch, and that it was hoping to see her that he
went there.”

“I know. I remember hearing about it all then,” said the paymaster. “Did
you ever see anything of the man who was said to have killed him?”

“Sonora Bill? No, sir; and I don’t know anyone who ever did. He was
always spoken of as the chief of a gang of cutthroats and stage robbers
down around Tucson. They used to masquerade as Apaches sometimes--that’s
the way they were never caught. The time they robbed Colonel Wood and
killed his clerk ‘I’ troop was scouting not ten miles away, and blessed
if some of the very gang didn’t gallop to Lieutenant Breese and swear
the Apaches had attacked their camp here in Canyon del Muerto, so that
when the lieutenant was wanted to chase the thieves his troop couldn’t
be found anywhere--he was ‘way up here hunting for Apaches in the
Maricopa range. The queer thing about that gang was that they always
knew just when a paymaster’s outfit or a Government officer with funds
would be along. It was those fellows that robbed Major Rounds, the
quartermaster, and jumped the stage when Lieutenant Spaulding and his
wife were aboard. She had beautiful diamonds that they were after,
but the lieutenant fooled them--he had them sent by express two days

Mr. Staines came back toward the ambulance at this moment, took a field
glass from its case, and retraced his steps along the road some twenty
yards. Here he adjusted the glass and looked long toward the northeast.

“All ready to start, sir,” said the driver.

The major swung himself up to his seat; the troopers quietly “sinched”
 their saddles and mounted, and still the clerk stood there absorbed.

“Come, Staines!” shouted the paymaster, impatiently, “we’re waiting for
you.” And still he did not move. The sergeant whirled his horse about
and clattered back to where he stood.

“Come, sir, the major’s waiting.” Staines turned abruptly and, silent as
ever, hurried to the wagon.

“What were you staring at so long?” said the paymaster, pettishly, as
his assistant clambered in. “I shouted two or three times.”

Staines’ face was pale, yet there were drops of sweat upon his brow.

“I thought I saw a party of horsemen out there on the flats.”

“The devil!” said the paymaster, with sudden interest. “Where? Let me

“You can’t see now, sir. Even the dust cloud is gone. They are behind
that low ridge some eight or ten miles out there in the valley.”

“Go on, driver, it’s only cattle from the ranch or something of that
kind. I didn’t know, by the way you looked and spoke, but that it might
be some of Sonora Bill’s gang.”

“Hardly, sir; they haven’t been heard of for a year, and once away from
Pedro’s we are safe enough anyhow.”

Half an hour later the four-mule team was winding slowly up a rocky
path. On both sides the heights were steep, covered with a thick
undergrowth of scrub oak and juniper. Here and there rocky cliffs
jutted out from the hillside and stood like sentinels along the way.
The sergeant, with one trooper, rode some distance ahead, their carbines
“advanced” and ready for use, for Edwards was an old campaigner, and,
though he thought it far from probable that any outlaws would be fools
enough to attempt to “get away with” a paymaster’s bank when he and his
five men were the guardians and Captain Rawlins with his whole troop
was but a short distance away, he had learned the lesson of precaution.
Major Sherrick, with his iron safe under his own seat, grasped a rifle
in both hands. The driver was whistling softly to himself and glancing
attentively ahead, for there was a continuous outcrop of boulders all
along the road. The remaining troopers, four in number, rode close
behind or alongside the wagon.

Presently they reached a point where, after turning a precipitous ledge
of rock, glistening in the morning sunshine, they saw before them a
somewhat steep incline. Here, without a word, Staines swung lightly
from the vehicle and trudged for a moment alongside; then he stooped to
adjust his boot lace, and when Sherrick looked back the clerk was coming
jauntily after them, only a dozen paces in rear. In this order they
pushed ahead perhaps a hundred yards farther, moving slowly up the
defile, and Staines could easily have regained his distance, but for
some reason failed to do so. Suddenly, and for no apparent cause, Jenny
and her mate shied violently, swerved completely around and were tangled
up with the wheel team before the driver could use the lash. Even his
ready blasphemy failed to straighten things out.

“Look out for those rocks up there on the right!” he shouted. “Grab
their heads, Billy!”

Even as he spoke the rocky walls of the Canyon resounded with the crash
of a score of firearms. The driver, with a convulsive gasp, toppled
forward out of his seat, his hand still clinching the reins. One of the
troopers clapped his hand to his forehead, his reins falling useless
upon his horse’s neck, and reeled in the saddle as his charger whirled
about and rushed, snorting with fright, down the narrow road. At the
instant of the firing the sound of a dozen “spats” told where
the leaden missiles had torn through the stiff canvas cover of the
ambulance; and Sherrick, with blanched face, leaped from the riddled
vehicle and plunged heavily forward upon his hands and knees. Two of
the troopers sprang from their saddles, and, crouching behind a boulder
across the road, opened fire up the opposite hillside. The sergeant and
his comrade, bending low over their horses’ necks, came thundering back
down the Canyon, just in time to see the mules whirl about so suddenly
as to throw the ambulance on its side. The iron safe was hurled into the
shallow ditch; the wagon bed dragged across the prostrate form of the
paymaster, rolling him over and over half a dozen times, and then, with
a wreck of canvas, splinters, chains and traces clattering at their
heels, the four mules went rattling away down the gorge.

[Illustration: 0047]

“Jump for shelter, men!” shouted Sergeant Edwards, as he dragged the
senseless form of the major under the great ledge to the right. “Stand
them off as long as you can! Come out of your holes, you cowardly
hounds!” he roared, shaking his fist at the smoke-wreathed rocks up the
heights. “Come out and fight fair! There’s only five of us left!”

Here in the road lay the major, bleeding from cuts and bruises, with
every breath knocked out of his battered body; yonder, his hands
‘clinched in the death agony, the stiffening form of the driver--plucky
to the last. Twenty yards away down the road, all in a heap, lay one
poor soldier shot through the head, and now past praying for. One of
the others was bleeding from a gash along the cheek where a bullet had
zipped its way, and Edwards shouted in vain for Staines to join them;
the clerk had disappeared. For full five minutes the desperate combat
was maintained; the sergeant and his little squad crouching behind the
nearest rocks and firing whenever head or sombrero showed itself along
the heights. Then came shots from the rear, and another poor fellow was
laid low, and Edwards realized, to his despair, that the bandits were on
every side, and the result only a question of time.

And then--then, there came a thunder of hoof beats, a storm of ringing
cheers, a rush and whirl of panting, foaming steeds and a score of
sunburnt, stalwart troopers racing in the lead of a tall young soldier,
whose voice rang clear above the tumult: “Dismount! Up the rocks, men!
Lively now!” And, springing from his own steed, leaping catlike from
rock to rock, Phil Adriance went tearing up the heights, his soldiers at
his heels. Edwards and his unwounded men seized and held the trembling
horses; Sherrick feebly crawled to his precious safe and fell across it,
his arms clasping about his iron charge. For five minutes more there was
a clamor of shots and shouts, once in a while a wild Mexican shriek
for mercy, all the tumult gradually receding in the distance, and at
last--silence. Then two men came down the bluffs, half bearing between
them the limp form of their young leader. The lieutenant was shot
through both thighs and was faint from loss of blood.

“Has no one a little whiskey?” asked Corporal Watts.

“Here you are” was the answer. And Mr. Staines, with very white face,
stepped down from behind the ledge and held out his flask.

A week later the lieutenant lay convalescing at Rawlins’ camp. A
vigorous constitution and the healthful, bracing, open-air life he
had led for several years, either in the saddle or tramping over the
mountains, had enabled him to triumph speedily over such minor ills as
flesh wounds, even though the loss of blood had been very great. The
young soldier was soon able to give full particulars of his chase, and
to one man alone, Rawlins, the secret of its inspiration.

Most important had been the results. It was evident to everyone who
examined the ground--and Rawlins had scoured the range with one platoon
of his troop that very afternoon after the fight, while his lieutenant,
Mr. Lane, was chasing the fugitives with another--that a band of at
least twenty outlaws had been concealed among the rocks of Canyon del
Muerto for two or three days, evidently for the purpose of waylaying
the escort of the paymaster when he came along. Their horses had been
concealed half a mile away in a deep ravine, and it was in trying to
escape to them that they had sustained their losses. Five of their
number were shot down in full flight by Adri-ance’s men, and, could they
have caught the others, no quarter would have been given, for the men
were infuriated by the sight of the havoc the robbers had wrought, and
by the shooting of their favorite officer.

[Illustration: 0052]

No papers had been found on the bodies; nothing, in fact, to identify
them with any band. All, with one exception, were Mexicans; he was a
white man whom none of the troopers could identify, though Corporal
Watts, of Troop B, declared he had seen him at “Cutthroat Crossing” the
last time he went through there on escort duty. The others, whoever they
were, rode in a body until they got around the range to the southward,
then seemed to scatter over the face of the earth. Some odd things had
transpired, over which Rawlins pondered not a little. It was Corporal
Watts who brought to his camp at 11 o’clock the news of the desperate
attempt to murder and rob the paymaster, and as they rode back together
the corporal gave the captain such information as lay in his power.
Lieutenant Adriance had “routed out” the detachment just at daybreak,
when it was still dark, and saddling with the utmost haste had led away
across country for the canyon, leaving the pack mules and a small guard
at camp. “We rode like the wind,” said Watts, “after the first few
miles, and every man seemed to know just what to expect when at last we
struck the road and saw the trail of the ambulance and escort. We got
there just in the nick of time.”

When Sherrick--who though severely battered and bruised had no bones
broken--was able to talk at all, he never could say enough in praise of
Adriance and his men; but what he wanted to know was how they came to
learn of the threatened danger. Captain Rawlins protested that it was
“past finding out.” The major questioned the men, but without
success, and as for Staines, it was remarked that his pertinacity in
cross-examination was simply wonderful. For some reason, however, the
men of B troop did not like the fellow and would have little to do with
him. But up to the time that Major Sherrick was able to push ahead for
Tucson it is certain that he had discovered nothing as to the source of
the lieutenant’s information; neither had they heard of Leon Ruiz, the
night messenger. Staines opined that he must have been intercepted by
the bandits, perhaps killed by them, when it was found that he was the
bearer of a message to Captain Rawlins. After a brief chat with the
lieutenant himself, one which the doctor did not interdict, the old
troop commander sent a trusty sergeant with six men to scout the
neighborhood of the rancho.

Lieutenant Lane was detached to take command of Adriance’s troop,
which was sent on its way forthwith, leaving the gloomy rancho alone to
sentinel the Gila crossing. But the moment Sherrick and his silent clerk
drove on toward Tucson the old captain said a few words of farewell to
the invalid, left him in the doctor’s charge and rode away northward
on the trail of his sergeant. That night he rapped for admission and
ordered supper at Rancho Ruiz, while his men, strolling about the
premises, took careful note of the three or four scowling “greasers” who
infested the corral.

Adriance was sitting up and beginning to hobble around when Rawlins
returned to camp during the week that followed, and was all eagerness
to hear what tidings the captain had to tell. But Rawlins had little to
say; he had seen Pedro and had had one glimpse of Senora Dolores,
but not so much as a word with the senorita; she was kept carefully
concealed. Within the month Adriance was quite well enough to travel to
his station, but refused. He would remain here, he said, until able to
relieve Lane of the command of his troop and continue the scouting work.
He did not wish to go to the fort. Sherrick and his clerk had come back
in the course of a fortnight, and Mr. Staines asked to see Lieutenant
Adriance, but that gentleman refused--a matter which caused the clerk
to “bite his lips and look queer,” reported the soldier who took the
message, but he said nothing at all.

Ten days afterward a Prescott paper mentioned the fact that Mr. Albert
G. Staines, so long and favorably known in this Territory, had dropped
in to look over valuable mining properties in the Big Bug and Hassayampa
districts; and this Rawlins silently showed to Adriance.

“Then you may be sure he’ll come down to the rancho, and in less than no
time,” said Adriance, “and I must go.” Rawlins made no reply at first,
then he rose and nervously paced the floor a moment and turned upon his

“Philip, I say no!”

The color mounted to the lieutenant’s

“Why not?”

“Ask yourself; ask your conscience, Adriance. You have told her that he,
Staines, was a liar. You have virtually told her that you were engaged
to no woman. You have inspired a sentiment, perhaps a passion, in that
young girl’s heart, and you’re going there to defend her--a thing that I
can do much better than you, now that you are a cripple. Then, think, my
boy, I have known you six years; I have never known you to say or do a
mean or unmanly thing. I’m an old fogy--an old fool perhaps--but I
like to think most women pure and some men honest. You are one of them,
Phil.” There was a moment’s silence.

“And yet you think I mean her harm.”

“Not yet, Philip, but would you marry that old scoundrel’s daughter?”

Adriance had no answer.

“Philip, if you look into that girl’s eyes again, unless it be to ask
her to be your wife, I shall lose my faith in manly honor.”

Two days afterward Rawlins rode away on duty. A strange unrest had
possessed the lieutenant since that brief talk with this old Puritan of
a captain. Not another word had been said upon the subject, but every
syllable that Rawlins spoke had struck home. Adriance respected
and honored the grim, duty-loving troop commander whom some of the
youngsters openly laughed at and referred to as “Praise the Lord
Barebones” and “Captain Roundhead,” but the lieutenant well knew that no
braver soldier, no “squar-er” captain drew sabre in the whole regiment
than this faithful friend, who had long since singled him out for many
an unusual kindness. He knew more--that in his high standard of honor
and rectitude old Rawlins had said nothing which was not just and true.

Adriance knew well that he ought not to again seek that young girl’s
presence, and the blood rushed hotly to his cheek as he recalled the
kiss his eager lips had stolen. Marry that old scoundrel’s daughter? No,
he could not; and yet how his pulses bounded at the thought of her--the
sweet, shy gladness in her eyes, the soft, thrilling tones in her voice
when she spoke his name, the heroism of her conduct in daring to
seek his camp in the darkness of night and bring him warning of that
diabolical scheme of robbery and murder; the refinement of her manner,
and then, too, her knowledge of the English tongue. Where had she
acquired these? What would she not be justified in thinking of him if he
never came to seek and thank her?

“Hello! what’s that?” was the sudden cry among the men. Two or three
soldiers sat up in the shade and curiously inspected the coming object;
others shouted laughing challenge. Riding solemnly forward, a little
Mexican boy came straight to where Adriance was lying and handed him a
note which he eagerly opened and read:

_They suspect me, and they send me away tomorrow. To-night I go for the
last time to the summer house alone. Isabel._

Gone was every resolution at the instant; gone all hesitancy. Adriance
had not even time to wonder at the fact that she had written to him in
English. Leaving the note for Rawlins to read when he returned, in one
hour Phil was rolling from the camp in the ambulance. Soon after dark,
leaving Private Regan and another man half a mile back from the walls
of the corral, Mr. Adriance, all alone, slowly made his way afoot toward
the dim lights at the rancho. Making wide circuit so as not to alarm the
dogs, he never sought to draw near the little summer house until, from
the east, he could see the brighter lights that gleamed in the bar and
card room. Then he cautiously approached, his heart beating quickly and
his knees trembling a little, perhaps from weakness. Hark! Faint, soft
and clear, there rose upon the evening air the liquid notes of a guitar.
It was she then--it was Isabel awaiting his coming, aye, signaling
softly to call him to her. What could it mean but that she loved and
longed to see him? A moment more and he was at the doorway, the
very spot where he had surprised her that well-remembered night. The
plaintive tinkle of the guitar continued, and there in the dark corner
was the dim, white-robed form. He could almost distinguish the folds of
the graceful _rebosa_.

“Isabel!” he whispered. Three more steps and he would be at her side.
Suddenly two stalwart arms were thrown about him, a broad hand was on
his mouth, stifling the utterance of a sound; the white-robed form in
front leaped toward him, the _rebosa_ falling to the ground. It was a
man’s voice--a Mexican’s--that hissed the word’s: “Quick! the pistol.”
 Another hand was at his holster. He realized instantly that he was
lured, trapped; that his life was threatened. He was struggling
violently, but, weakened by his wound, even his superb physique was well
nigh powerless in the grasp of two or three men. Suddenly there came
a whisper: “The sponge, the sponge!” and then the subtle odor of
chloroform on the night air. And now he nerved himself for one supreme
effort. A quick twist of his head and the hand was dislodged, a finger
slipping between his teeth. With all his strength he crushed it to the
very bone, and there was a yell of pain and terror. Then his own brave
young voice rang out in one startling, rallying cry.

“Help! Regan, help!” Then crash and blows, the gleam of a knife, a
rolling, rough-and-tumble struggle on the ground; then a woman’s scream,
a light, and Isabel had bounded into their midst, her mother at her

“Leon, my brother! In God’s name, what do you mean?”

Even as she spoke her startled eyes fell on Adriance, staggering to his
feet, pale, bleeding, faint. Another instant and he went crashing back
against the guitar that, like siren’s song, had lured him. One brave
leap and she was at his side, her arms about his neck, his pallid face
pillowed on her bosom.

Senora Dolores flew to her aid; then turning, holding her lantern on
high, her shrill voice rang out in fury:

“Look at the monstrous work your son has wrought, Pedro Ruiz! Look! Tear
off that mantle, senor!” she said, whirling upon another form now slowly
rising from the earth. “Coward! murderer that you are! It is you who
have ruined this boy and made him what he is!”

“Hush! You fool! there lies your daughter’s betrayer. Leon would have
been coward indeed if he had not punished him.”

“Oh, you lie! She never saw him alone in her life!”

“Ask your son,” was the sneering answer. “Ask José, too.”

“She was with him--in his tent--the last night he was here; I swear it!”
 cried José.

“Mother,” cried the girl, “listen, it was but to warn him--I heard the
plot--I heard all. I rushed to him only to tell him of the danger.
Mother, believe me. And I dare not tell it even to you, for fear--for
fear of him.” And she pointed to the fierce, scowling face of the old
Mexican, now striding forward, knife in hand.

“No, Pedro--back! You shall not harm her! No!” and the mother hurled
herself before her husband.

“Out of the way!” was the hissing answer, “or you, too, feel my knife.
Ah, traitress!”

“O my God! help! There will be murder here! Pedro, husband! O, villain,
she is not your child! You shall not kill!” And then a piercing shriek
rang out upon the night. But at the same instant there came the rush of
hoofs without--a rush of panting men; a brawny trooper sprang into
the summer house and with one blow of his revolver butt sent Pedro
staggering into a corner, his knife falling from his nerveless hand. A
dark, agile figure leaped for the doorway, with muttered curse. And then
in came old Rawlins, somewhat “blown,” but preternaturally cool, and the
doctor close behind.

“Bring another light here, one of you men!” And a trooper ran to the
card room. “Lie still there, Pedro! Blow his brains out if he moves!
Doctor, you look to the women and Adriance. Now, where’s that man

“Some fellow ran in through here, captain,” said a trooper. “Corporal
Watts is after him with Royce.”

“Who was it, you greaser? Speak, damn you! You were here with him!”

“Sonora Bill,” said José, shaking from head to foot.

Then there came the sound of pistol shots out toward the corral, and
then the louder bang of a cavalry carbine.

“What is it?” asked Rawlins of a soldier who came running back.

[Illustration: 0061]

“Can we have the doctor, sir? It was Mr. Staines. He shot the corporal,
who was chasing him, but he got a carbine bullet through the heart.”

Four days afterward, lying in a little white room, Mr. Adriance listened
to the story of Leon’s confession. It was brief enough. Staines had
acquired an ascendency over him in Tucson, and it was not difficult to
induce him to become a confederate in every plot. It was Staines
who sent him to Manuel and Garcia to warn them that the paymaster’s
ambulance would not reach Canyon del Muerto until morning. It was
Staines who murdered Sergeant Dinsmore after a quarrel and then had had
his throat cut and the body thrown into the Gila near the ranch. Staines
had fallen in love with Isabel when she first came from Sonora, but the
girl shrank from him; neither would she listen to Sergeant Dinsmore.

After it was safe for Leon to return to the ranch, he found that his
mother and Isabel were practically prisoners. His father was furious at
the failure of the plan, and daily accused his wife of having, in some
way, given warning to Adriance, and swore that he would have the blood
of the man or woman who had betrayed the scheme; and then Staines
himself came back and wrung from José that he had seen Isabel scurrying
from Adri-ance’s tent at daybreak, and so denounced her to Leon as the
mistress of an accursed Gringo. Staines wrote the note that was to lure
Adriance to the bower, where Leon was to take the guitar and _rebosa_
and the two, with José’s help, were to overpower him. It was his life or
theirs said Staines. Pedro was not in the project, for he had prohibited
bloodshed about the place--“It would ruin his business” he said. But
both Pedro and Leon were now in irons, and Rawlins’ troop was in camp
around gloomy old Rancho Ruiz.

[Illustration: 0063]

A day or two later he heard another story, this time from the lips of
Senora Dolores herself: Isabel was not the daughter of Pedro Ruiz.

With sobs and tears the poor, broken woman told her tale. She had
been married when quite a young girl to Senor Moreno, an officer of
distinction in the Mexican army. Her brave husband made her life a happy
one, and the birth of the little daughter strengthened the ties
that bound them. Alas! Moreno, colonel of lancers, was killed before
Queretaro; and in two years more the widow, with her winsome little
girl, had not where to lay her head. It was in the city of Mexico that
Senora Dolores then met Ruiz, a widower with an only son, prosperous and
apparently respected. He promised to educate Isabel and provide for her
as his own, and sought the widow as his wife. For a time all went well;
then she learned his true character. He was compelled to leave the
city and flee up the coast to Mazatlan, while she remained with little
Isabel, who was being educated at the convent. At last they had to join
him at Hermosillo, whence he was soon after driven to Tucson. Their
lives were wrecked by his scoundrelism. Her papers clearly established
the truth of her story.

One soft, still evening, not a week after the tragic events of that
rueful night, Captain Rawlins sat by the lieutenant’s side, reading
aloud some letters just received from department headquarters. Major
Sherrick had been in a state of dismay ever since the news of the death
of Staines had reached him, but his dismay changed to wonderment, even
gratitude, as he learned the true character of the man. It was Sonora
Bill himself, beyond doubt.

“What a blessing you left that note for me to see!” said Rawlins. “How
came it you never saw it was a forgery, Phil? Had she never written to
you before?”

“Never a line, nor have I seen her to thank her. By Heaven, Rawlins! why
am I forbidden?”

“You are not--now, Phil,” was the smiling answer.

Perhaps an hour later, Adriance limped slowly out of the room and down
the narrow passageway to the side door. Yonder stood the little summer
house “in the gloaming,” and he was right--he had heard women’s voices
there--Dolores and her daughter. There were tears in the maiden’s words,
and he could not withstand the longing of his heart. He would have
hobbled thither, but suddenly there came the sound of rustling skirt
and a tiny footfall. It was she--his dark-eyed, dark-haired sweetheart,
hastening toward him, her face hidden in her hands. One instant more and
he had torn the hands away and had clasped her to his breast.

“Isabel! darling! I have found you at last! No, you shall not go--you
shall not until you promise--promise to be my wife!

“O, senor, you cannot--you do not mean it,” she sobbed, Struggling to be

“Do not mean it! Why, sweet one, you do not dream how I love you--how I
long for you! Not mean it? Isabel, look in my eyes. Look for yourself.”
 He laughed low and happily. He was brimming over with hope and gladness,
for now at last without a struggle she nestled on his heart.

Despite his grizzled beard old Rawlins was best man when that strange,
very quiet, yet very happy wedding came off in the Old Mission Church at
Tucson early in the spring. Pedro was not there to give the bride away.
With considerable escort and much reluctance he had traversed “Cutthroat
Crossing” some months before. He went to Yavapai, and Yavapai--we have
his own words for it--was “too damn close to ‘ell.” The rancho passed
within the year to other hands. It, too, had taken on another name--a
grewsome one--_Rancho del Muerto_.


[Illustration: 0066]


|THE man unacquainted with the joys of the chase would be surprised if
told, as he sauntered through some city market, that there was far more
pleasure in hunting those plump little brown birds hanging in bunches
around the stalls than in pursuing that imposing beast whose antlers
reach the pavement. Yet it would be true.

Deer hunting under its usual conditions leaves something, often much, to
be desired. If a dozen men are placed on isolated “stands” the solitary
hours of waiting are long and weary. And should you happen to be a tyro
the knowing ones hide you away in some unlikely spot, where hardly
by any possibility will the chance come to you of seeing and, in the
shivers of “buck ague,” missing the game. “Still hunting,” another mode,
is well named. As a rule it may be depended upon to afford no end of
stillness, and little else. And to be rowed up by a hired guide on a
lake to within a few feet of a poor, helpless buck, swimming for dear
life, and blow out his brains is almost as bad as shooting pheasants in
an English preserve or poultry in a barnyard. Under all these methods
deer hunting lacks what is the conspicuous charm of partridge (quail)
shooting--vivid and continuous excitement.

For, from the moment when you enter, on a sparkling autumn morning, a
brown stubble field, fresh of limb and eager for the fray, till you limp
back at sunset, wolfish for dinner, and broken with a delicious fatigue,
you have not had one dull moment. You may not have been firing steadily;
the birds may even have been a little scarce; but every instant of the
day, as you have watched your dogs sweeping to and fro, you have been
buoyed up by an ever lively hope that the next moment your heart will be
gladdened by seeing them halt--frozen as it were--in their tracks. Ah,
there they are! You hurry up, you and your friend, breathing short. Up
bursts the brown covey, with startling buzz! You bang away--innocuously
it may be, but no matter, you have made a prodigious noise, at any
rate--that’s some comfort. And see now! The little brown balls have
dropped into the weeds, one here, one there, along the ditch, and a
little bunch, all together, in that clump of briars on the hillside.
Better luck next time!

Still, after all, “Bob White,” for all his bustle, is but a small chap.
It would take hundreds, nay, bushels of him, to outweigh one “antlered
monarch.” Toothsome though he be (on toast) he tips the scales at a
beggarly half pound. On the other hand, it often takes you a week or so
to get one chance at a deer.

Now, it so happens that it was once my fortune to take part in a deer
hunt, where the excitement was as continuous as that in a stubble field,
and, naturally, far more intense. This was years ago, and in Scott
County, Mississippi, two days’ journey on horseback from our plantation.

Every November, as a child, I had eagerly hailed the return from the
camp hunt of the big four-mule wagon, laden with tents, cooking utensils
and provisions, and upon which were piled high the noble bucks and sleek
does. At last, when I had reached the age of sixteen, the longed-for
permission was granted me, and one crisp, frosty morning my father and I
mounted our horses and set out for Scott County, followed by Beverly and
the great covered wagon. Both Beverly and Ned, his whitish-gray saddle
mule, had their peculiarities, as will appear later.

As we journeyed on we were joined at successive cross roads by others
of our hunting party, and when we reached the ground we numbered, with
those already arrived by other routes, about fifteen. The tents were
soon pitched and a roaring fire of logs six feet long was sending up
its merry sparks into the starry vault above us. Would supper never be

Meanwhile the tents flashed in the fire light, the ruddy glow of which
battled with the hosts of darkness that advanced upon us under cover
of the primeval, mysterious forest that surrounded us far and wide. And
that forest teeming with deer and wolves. Oh, how delightful! And
my Latin grammar miles and miles away! And dust accumulating on my

“Why, where is Billy?”

“Detained by business; he will join us in a day or two.”

“Good! A hunt without Billy Blount is no hunt at all.”

At the mere mention of his name every eye brightened. Mr. Blount had
more than one peculiarity, all of them pleasant. He was just one of
those mortals whom mothers in their fatuity christen William. If ever
there was a man born with an inalienable right to be called Billy it was
he. A stranger meeting him in the road would know by intuition that that
was his name. His twinkling eye suggested it. His ruddy brown dimpled
cheek, his breadth of smile proclaimed it, and when he laughed every
well-lined rib shouted aloud, “Our name is Billy!”

But he was not with us; so the next best thing was to tell stories of
his exploits. To these I listened with wide-eyed delight. I will give
one as a sample. But that it may be understood, it will be necessary
to show beforehand the very unusual method of hunting that obtained in
Scott County.

That portion of Mississippi was in those days almost uninhabited and was
covered by a forest--it would be almost correct to call it a grove--of
post oaks, beneath which grew waist high underbrush. The oaks which
covered the ground almost to the exclusion of other trees stood so far
apart that one had an outlook of perhaps a couple of hundred yards in
every direction, so that a good rider could gallop in comfort along the
open spaces. This tree bears a small but sweet nutritious acorn; hence
the great store of deer that frequented these forests.

Such being the nature of the ground the chase is conducted as follows:
The hunters throw themselves into a skirmish line at intervals of sixty
or eighty yards. In the centre rides the leader of the hunt with a
compass fixed upon the pommel of his saddle. The line advances through
the woods due north, let us say, for a few hours; then wheels at right
angle and moves east; then south, then west--back to camp, venison
steaks and wild turkey; for, in the interests of better fare, it was
permitted to knock over a gobbler if he were too hospitably saucy to
get out of the way. The deer were not equally abundant year after year.
Occasionally it was found that “black tongue” had worked havoc among
them since the preceding hunt. But they were always numerous enough to
maintain a continuous and intense glow of expectation in the breast of
every hunter. As a rule you rode straight ahead, swerving neither to the
right nor the left, every nerve on the alert, from sunrise till’ sunset.
But if you saw a little out of your path an upturned tree you bent your
course toward it, your heart in your mouth. I have known as many as
seven deer to bound forth from the brown-leaved “lap” of one fallen oak.
But at any moment during the day you were liable to be startled by a
buck springing up out of the undergrowth, often from beneath the very
feet of your horse.

Only an inexperienced hunter would ask: “Why not shoot them where they
lie?” You do not know they are there. The detective eye that can make
out the form of a deer crouched down on a bed of brown leaves and veiled
with a fringe of underbrush is given to few. Among these favored ones
was our friend Billy. It was generally believed in camp that he shot
most of his game in their beds. Billy himself was at no pains, of
course, to spread this view. In his highly-illustrated accounts of his
achievements the quarry was always going like the wind; he had not been
sure, in fact, what he fired at; he saw a brown flash, that was all;
banged away, and down came that thumping buck. Never was so surprised in
his life; thought it was a hawk or something. But this is the story of
Mr. Jennings, brother of the leader of the hunt: “Blount rides on my
right, and I don’t know how I shall get on without him, even for a day
or two. However, I may live longer if he is not there, for he sows his
buckshot broadcast. Three years ago--I never knew the deer so thick as
they were that season--happening to look in his direction, I saw him
dismounting with an agility that was surprising considering his 225
pounds. He halted me with an eager wave of his hand and began advancing
on tiptoe; every fibre of his vast form tense, his eyes riveted upon
some object in front, finger on trigger. Barely had he crept forward
ten yards when up sprang a buck hardly twenty feet in front of him
and darted to the rear, between Blount and me. Instantly, without once
removing his eyes from the game upon which he was stealing, he whirled
his gun to the right and pulled the trigger. The buck passed on, while
twigs and bark rained on me from the whizzing buckshot. Would you
believe it?--but you all know him--not a moment did he halt or once
remove his eyes from whatever it was that had fascinated his gaze in
front. He still danced forward, light as an Indian, with eyes starting
from their sockets. Presently up jumps a doe. She, too, bounded to the
rear, but on Blount’s left this time. Again, with his staring eyes
still glued to the something in front--bang! ‘What in the ------ are
you about?’ roared Parrish from Blount’s left; ‘you will be shooting
somebody the first thing you know. Here is one of your crazy shot
through my hat.’ To all which our wild man paid not the least attention.
‘Jennings! Jennings! come here! come here! come here! quick! quick!
quick! For God’s sake, man, hurry!’

“I dismounted and ran up to him. ‘There! there! give it to him! Good
Lord, man, can’t you see him? There, in that lap!’ I strained my eyes
in vain. I could see nothing. ‘Why, don’t you see him turning his head?
He is looking at us! My Lord, Jennings, gimme the gun! gimme the gun!
gimme the gun!’ Just as I did so a noble buck sprang from the lap and
bounded off. Blount drew down upon him. Bound after bound, and still
Blount did not fire, though he seemed to be pulling away for dear life
at the triggers. Presently the deer, passing behind a clump of trees,
disappeared. I carried my gun at half cock. This Blount did not know or
remember. He bent both my triggers. Any other man might very well have
bagged all three deer with such a chance. And what do you suppose he
then said? ‘At any rate, I laid out two of the rascals. Come, Jennings,
help me find ‘em.’”

Dogs were not used on these hunts. Two or three trusty old hounds, it is
true, hung about the heels of our leader’s horse, but they were employed
only in running down badly-wounded animals. For the first day or so
these dogs were hard to control, so rich was the scent that met their
nostrils at every turn; but after the third day they grew too _blasé_ to
take any interest in any trail not sprinkled with blood. We had a number
of horn signals. If a gun was heard, followed by a long blast (every man
wore a horn), the line halted. A deer had been killed in its tracks.
A second blast indicated that the quarry had been strapped behind the
saddle of the lucky man; and once more the line moved forward. But if
three or four short, excited toots, mingled with shouts, rang out upon
the frosty air, a wounded deer was being pursued, and the leader of the
hunt galloped up, followed by his little pack, who soon pulled down the

After all my boasting about the abundance of deer in these post-oak
forests the reader is, I dare say, prepared to learn that with a party
of fifteen the spoil of a ten-days hunt would be one thousand head at
the very least. Great will be his surprise therefore to learn that
at the close of our first day’s hunt we returned to camp without one
solitary buck or doe to show to our disgusted cooks. Never had the game
been so scarce, and yet not a man of us all had the same loads in his
gun with which he had sallied gaily forth full of hope in the morning.
One fine buck alone had emptied just thirty barrels for us. Flushed on
the extreme right, he had bounded along in front of the whole line, a
trifle out of range, perhaps, and each one of us had given him a roaring
double salute. As the rolling thunder approached me I almost ceased
to breathe. What were conjugations and declensions and rules of three
compared with this! It was like a battle, as I have since discovered,
with the notable difference that our side made all the noise, and the
deer did not shoot back. But none of us had been able, in the language
of Mr. Sam Weller’s Dick Turpin ditty, to “prewail upon him for to
stop.” Other shots at other deer all of us had, but we supped on bacon
that evening.

[Illustration: 0075]


|ONE who has never tried the experiment can have no idea how easy it
is to miss when firing from horseback at a buck who sends your heart
up into your mouth by springing up from beneath your horse’s heels, and
then speeds away, twisting and turning among the boles of the trees.
Men who could bring down a partridge with each barrel have been known to
shoot away half a bag of shot before they began to get the hang of the

The shades of evening were falling. Humiliating though it was, we had
fallen, too, with a will on our gameless supper.

“S-t! Listen! What’s that?”

We pricked up our ears. Presently there came softly echoing from far
away in the forest a long-drawn cry, ringing, melodious, clear as a
bugle call.


The welkin rang with our joyous shouts. Half our party sprang to their
feet and red-hot coffee splashed from tin cups. “Hurrah!”

“Marse Billy got the keenest holler I ever hear!” chuckled Beverly.
“Bound he fetch luck ‘long wid him! No mo’ bacon for supper arter dis.”

We craned our necks to catch the first glimpse of our mascot. Obviously,
from the direction of the joyous yells with which he answered our
welcoming shouts, he had abandoned the road and was riding straight
through the open woods. Presently we descried through the deepening
twilight his portly form looming up atop a tall gray. Then two vivid
flashes and two loud reports, followed by a mad rush of the gray, which
came tearing down on us in wild terror, and for a minute we were treated
to something like an amateur episode from one of Mr. Buffalo Bill’s
entertainments. Amid roars of laughing welcome the ponderous knight was
at last helped down from his trembling steed, whose bridle Beverly had
been able luckily to snatch as he floundered among the tent ropes.

“And where the deuce did you pick up that wild beast? Surely you can’t
expect to shoot from him!”

“Oh, I’ll cool him down in a day or two; he’ll soon get used to it.”

In point of fact a horse who dreads a gun gets more and more terror
stricken as the hunt goes on, the mere sight of a deer, the cocking of
a gun even, sufficing to set him off into plungings that grow day by day
more violent. This none should have known better than Blount; for never,
by any chance, did he ride to the hunt with an animal that would “stand
fire.” The discharge of his gun, the rise of a buck even, was always the
opening of a circus with him. But he managed invariably to let off both
barrels--one perhaps through the tree tops, the other into the ground.
In one particular alone was he provident. He brought always so immense
a supply of ammunition that toward the close of the hunt his tent was a
supply magazine to the less thoughtful.

“What!” exclaimed Blount, “not a single one! Ah! boys, that was because
I was not with you.” The jovial soul had not a trace of conceit; he was
merely sanguine--contagiously, gloriously, magnificently sanguine.

“Ah, but won’t we knock ‘em over tomorrow!” And straightway we lifted up
our hearts and had faith in this prophet of pleasant things.

“Beverly, will that mule Ned stand fire?”

“I dunno, Marse Billy; nobody ain’t nebber tried him. But I ‘spec’ you
wouldn’t ax him no odds.”

“I’ll go and have a look at him.”

Shortly afterward we heard two tremendous explosions, followed by a
frenzied clatter of hoofs and the sound of breaking branches, and up
there came, running and laughing, a Monsieur Wynen, a Belgian violinist,
a real artist, who was one of our party (though never a trigger did he
pull during the entire hunt).

“What’s the matter?”

Wynen was first violin in an opera troupe.

“It is only Blount rehearsing Ned.”

Any man in the world except Blount would have tested that demure wheel
mule’s views as to firearms by firing off his gun in his neighborhood as
he stood tethered. Not so Billy. Mounting the guileless and unsuspecting
Ned, and casting the reins upon his bristly neck, he had let drive.

Shocked beyond expression by the dreadful roar and flash (it was now
night) Ned had made a mad rush through the woods. In vain; for
Blount had a good seat. Then had there come into Ned’s wily brain the
reminiscence of a trick that he had never known to fail in thirty years.
He stopped suddenly, still as a gate post, at the same time bracing his
vertebrae into the similitude of a barrel hoop, and instantly Blount lay
sprawling upon his jolly back; and there was a second roar, followed by
a rush of buckshot among the leaves and around the legs of the audience
that was watching the rehearsal. “Never mind, Jack,” said he to me,
shortly afterward, “I’ll find something that will stand fire” and
throwing his arm around my shoulder for a confidential talk of the
slaughter he was to do on the morrow, his sanguine soul bubbled into my
sympathetic ear:

“I say, Jack, don’t tell the boys; but I have got two bags of shot. They
would laugh, of course. Now, how many ought a fellow to bring down with
two bags? I mean a cool-headed chap who does not lose his head. How
does one dozen to the bag strike you? Reasonable? H’m? Of course.
Twenty-four, then. Well, let us say twenty-five, just to round off
things. Golly! Why, nine is the highest score I ever made. Twenty-five!
Why, that is a quarter of a hundred. Did you notice that? Whee-ew! The
boys will stop bedeviling me after that, h’m? I should say so. Not a
rascal of them all ever killed so many. Cool and steady, that’s the
thing, my boy. Up he jumps! What of that? Don’t be flustered, I tell
you. Count ten. Then lower your gun. There is not the least hurry in the
world. Drop the muzzle on his side, just behind his shoulder. Steady!
Let him think you are not after deer this morning. If it is a doe let it
appear that you are loaded for buck. Bang! Over he tumbles in his
tracks. You load up and are off again. Up hops another--a beauty. Same
tactics--boo-doo-ee! Got him! What’s the sense of throwing away your
shot? Costs money--delays the line. Cool--cool and steady--that’s the
word, my boy. Get any shots to-day? Three? Hit anything?”

It was too dark for him to see how pale I went at this question. “Mr.
Blount,” said I, with a choking in my throat (nobody could help telling
the big-hearted fellow everything), “you won’t tell my father, will

“Tell him what?”

“Well, you see, he cautioned me over and over again never, under
any circumstances, to fire at a deer that ran toward a neighboring

“Of course not--never!” echoed Blount with conviction.

“And to-day--and to-day, when I was not thinking of such a thing, a big
buck jumped up from right under my horse’s belly, and did you notice
that gray-headed old gentleman by the fire? Well, the buck rushed
straight toward him--and I forgot all about what my father had said and
banged away.”

“Did you pepper him?” put in Billy eagerly.

“Pepper him!”

“I mean the buck.”

“I don’t know, he went on.”

“They will do it, occasionally, somehow.”

“When I saw the leaves raining down on the old gentleman, my heart
stopped beating. You will not tell my father?”

“Pshaw! There was no harm done. We must trust to Providence in these
matters. What did the old gentleman say?”

“Not a word; it was his first campaign, too. His eyes were nearly
popping out of his head. He let off both barrels. The shot whistled
around me!”

“The old fool! He ought to know better. To-morrow your father must put
you next to me.”

Blount brought us hilarity and hope, but no luck, at any rate at first.
When we rode slowly into camp on the following day, just as the sun went
down, we had one solitary doe to show. Blount--Blount of all men--had
killed it. The servants hung it up on one of the poles that remained
from year to year stretched against the neighboring trees.

Owing to Blount’s weight his game was always strapped behind some less
lucky huntsman; so we had had no opportunity of examining his riddled

“Why, how is this?” exclaimed he. “Oh, I remember; the other side was
toward me.”

We went around to the other side. Had the doe died of fright? After
much searching we found one bullet hole just behind the shoulder. Blount
always put four extra bullets into his load. So he had showered down
forty buckshot upon a doe lying in her bed at a distance of twenty feet
and struck her with one.

“I say, Jack, for the Lord’s sake don’t tell the boys!”

After these two days our luck improved, and at the end of the hunt our
score reached seventy-eight; the smallest number, by the way, that the
club had ever killed. It would hardly be interesting to go into the
details of each day’s sport, but our hero’s adventures one night seem
worth recording. To this joyous and indefatigable spirit the day was all
too short. No sooner had he eaten his supper each day than he began to
importune the younger men of the party to join him in a “fire hunt;”
 but, as they were not Blounts, they felt that a long day in the saddle
was enough. In his despair Blount turned to Beverly. That amiable
creature, not knowing how to refuse the request of a white gentmun,
assented, but with a quaking heart, for were not the surrounding forests
swarming with ravenous wolves? He had often lain awake and listened
complacently enough to their howling, but to trust, to thrust, himself
wantonly among them at dead of night!

“Wid nobody along but Marse Billy Blount, an’ he couldn’t hit nothin’,
even by daylight, onless dey asleep. He hear ‘em say wolf ‘fraid o’
fire. Maybe he is. But lights draws dem wild varmints, an’ ‘sposin’
arter a whole congregation un ‘em done come up starin’ at de light;
‘sposin’ somehow or nuther de torch got out--whar Beverly den? Marse
Billy got de gun; but whar Beverly? Ain’t I hear people say wolf more
ambitiouser for nig-gar dan for sheep meat? Howsomever, ef my own
mahster willin’ to resk losin’ of me, I can stand it, I reckon. But Tom,
ef you should wake up, and hear something coming through de bresh like a
drove o’ steers, you needn’t ax what dat; it’s me and de wolves a-makin’
for camp; an’ me in the lead, wid de help o’ de Laud.” Sitting in front
of the blazing logs and chatting with his fellow cooks, Beverly could
see the humor of his quite real fears.

Behold, then, the burly knight and his dusky and not over-valiant squire
setting forth in quest of adventure--the one mounted on his tall gray,
the other astraddle of Ned. It appears incredible that any man in his
senses would take two such ani-malson such an expedition, but there
never was but one Blount. Beverly carried the gun, his chief the torch,
consisting of “lightwood” knots blazing in the bowl of a long-handled
frying pan. The handle, resting on the right shoulder, was held
somewhat depressed, so that the light should shine above the head of
the huntsman, illumining the woods in his front. The sportsman, slowly
waving the handle to and fro, peers intently into the darkness in quest
of the gleaming eyes of some staring buck.

Presently a dismal howl from far away to the right came stealing through
the silence. And presently an answering cry from the left, and much
nearer. And another, and another! _Ugh! what was that?_ A rabbit had
darted under Ned, across the rattling leaves. Beverly, shivering, dug
his heels into Ned’s ribs. Ned pressed forward till his nose touched
the ticklish flank of the gray. The gray let fly with whizzing hoof. Ned
shut his eyes, unwilling to witness the enormity of an aged mule being
kicked at by torchlight.

“Beverly! Beverly!” breathed the knight eagerly, “gimme the gun! gimme
the gun! I see a pair of eyes as big as saucers!”

“M--M--Marse B--B--Billy------------”

“Quick! gimme the gun! What the devil is the matter with you?”

“De wolves, Marse Billy! ‘Sposin’ arter de gun done empty dey splunge in
upon us? I bound a whole nation un ‘em watchin’ us dis minute!”

Blount wrested the gun from the reluctant Beverly, whose knee now
trembled against his. Pressing down the pan handle so as to throw the
light well in front, he cocked the gun, adjusted it to his shoulder,
took aim, and pulled the trigger.

Blount, in reply to the warning of his friends, had urged that it
might very well be that a horse that shied by day at a gun would act
differently at night. And he was right. By daylight the gray was in the
habit of making one or two violent plunges when his rider fired. But
tonight, when that terrible roar broke the stillness and that fierce
blaze flashed into his eyes----

Immediately after the sound of the gun reached us we heard the anxious,
jolting bray of a trotting mule. The disjointed, semi-asinine song came
nearer, and presently Ned hurried past the fire to his place by his
tethered mate, with a low equine chuckle of satisfaction. In his wake
rushed Beverly, panting, wide eyed. It was a full minute before he could

“Lord, mahsters, don’t ax me nothin’; I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout it.
I ‘most don’t know whether I here or no arter de way dem revengious
varmints whoop me through dem woods, a-yelpin’ an’ a-gnash-in’ o’ deir
teeth. B’fo’ Gaud, I thought every minute was gwine to be my next! When
Marse Billy shoot, though I beg him not to, seein’ dat de whole woods
was a-bilin’ wid wolves, dat fool of a horse o’ hisn jess riz on
his hind legs an’ splunge right over me an’ Ned, jess like we warn’t
nothin't all. Dem lightwood knots flew right up, same as one o’ dem
blaze o’ glories I see when I got religion. I lit on my head. Ned he
went oneway; Marse Billy horse anudder. But seein’ as I done knowed
Ned de longest, I followed him--an’ he fotch me home. Run? No, twarnt
runnin’, twas flyin’; an’ every jump de varmints was a-reachin’ for me.
I hear deir teeth, jess as plain, clashin’ like sheep shears. Umgh-umgh!
Beverly hump heself he did. Jess look at my clothes! I left de rest
of ‘em on de bushes. Whar Marse Billy? Lord a-mussy, I dunno! I mighty
‘fraid de wolves done got him, leastwise ef he didn’t set hard on dat
dere fool gray.

“Mahster, couldn’t you gimme jess a leetle tetch o’ dat whiskey? I’se
powerful downhearted. Thank you, mahster. But mahster, don’t lemme go
no mo’ a spotin’ along o’ Marse Billy; seem like I ain’t dat kind. Lemme
drive my mules, lemme cook, don’t lemme go projickin’ about wid Marse
Billy Blount no mo’. You laughin’, is you, Tom? Nemmind--you go next

Presently there came to us from far away a doleful yell, with nothing
of the bugle blast in it. “There he is!” and we made response with
laughter-choked shouts.

About fifteen minutes afterward the sound of hoofs was heard, and
presently our mighty hunter appeared, but _quantum mutatus ab illo!_ No
hat, no gun, one skirt of his coat and half of the buttons gone; shirt
bosom torn out, trousers hanging in ribbons! But though his face was
scratched beyond recognition he remained the one, only true Blount in
the world; though his eyes were bloodshot they beamed with conscious

“Boys,” said he, “which of you will go and help me bring him in?”

“Bring what in?”

“Why, the buck--I blew his infernal head off, sure!”

Next morning Blount and Beverly rode to the scene of their exploit, and
Blount secured his gun and Beverly his frying pan. ‘The buck had either
walked off without his head or been swallowed by one of the varmints.


[Illustration: 9087]

HERE was a sound of merriment on Farmer Bagley’s place. It was “corn
shucking” night, and the young people from all sides had met to partake
of mirth and hospitality. After all had taken seats in the large sitting
room and parlor, the men were invited with a mysterious wink and grin
from the countenance of jovial Bagley to taste the contents of a large
brown jug which smiled on a shelf beside the water bucket out in the
entry. Its saturated corn-cob stopper, lying whiskey colored in the
moonlight by the side of the jug, gave a most tempting aroma to the
crisp, invigorating November air and rendered Bagley’s signs and hints
all the more comprehensible.

They were mostly young men who, with clattering boots, filed out to the
shelf and turned, with smacking lips wiped on their hands, back to the
clusters of shy, tittering maidens round the blazing log fires. They
wore new jean trousers neatly folded round muscular calves and stowed
away, without a visible wrinkle, into high, colored-topped boots with
sharp, brightly-polished heels, upon which were strapped clanking spurs.
Their sack coats, worn without vests over low-necked woolen shirts,
fitted their strong bodies admirably.

Dick Martin, a tall, well-built young man with marked timidity in his
voice, considerably augmented by the brightness of Melissa Bagley’s
eyes, drew near that young lady and said:

“Yore pap has certainly got some o’ the best corn licker in this county,
Melissa; it liter’ly sets a feller on fire.”

“Be ashamed, Dick Martin!” she answered, with a cautious glance around
her as if she feared that someone would observe the flush that had
risen into her pretty face as he approached. “Be ashamed o’ yorese’f fur
techin’ licker; last log-rollin’ you ‘lowed you’d tuk yore last dram.
Paw ort to be churched fur settin’ temptation ‘fore so many young men.
Ef I had my way the’ wouldn’t be a still, wild cat nur licensed, in the
Co-hutta Mountains nowhar.”

“Shucks, Melissa!” exclaimed Dick. “Don’t git yore dander up ‘bout
nothin’. I’m that anxious to git yore pap on my side I’d drink slop,
mighty high, ef he ‘uz to ax me. He don’t like me, an’ blame me ef I
know why, nuther. I ain’t been here in the last three Sunday nights
‘thout him a-callin’ you to bed most ‘fore dark. He didn’t raise no
objections to Bill Miller a-stayin’ tell ‘leven o’clock last Tuesday
night. Oh, I ain’t blind to hurt! Bill owns his own land and I havn’t
a shovelful; thar’s the difference. He’s a-comin’ now, but mind you I’m
agwine to set by you at shuckin’.”

The bright flush which had added such beauty to the girl’s face vanished
as Bill Miller swaggered up and said with a loud voice, as he roughly
shook her hand:

“Meliss’, kin I wait on you at shuckin’?”

“Dick’s jest this minute axed me,” she stammered, beginning to blush

“Well, he ain’t axed to set on both sides uv you, I reckon. You’d be a
uncommon quar pusson ef the’ wuz jest one side to you. What’s to keep me
frum settin’ on tother side frum Dick?”

To this the farmer’s daughter made no reply, and as the guests were now
starting to the barnyard she was escorted between the two rivals to the
great coneshaped heap of unhusked corn gleaming in the pale moonlight.

“All keep yore feet an’ form a ring round the pile!” called out Bagley,
so as to be overheard above the sound of their voices. “The’ ain’t no
r’al fun ‘thout everything is conducted fa’r and squar’. Now” (as all
the merrymakers stood hand in hand round the corn heap, Dick with one of
Melissa’s hands in his tight clasp and his rival with the other)--“now,
all march round an’ somebody start ‘King William Wuz King James’ Son,’
an’ when I tell you to halt set down right whar’ you are. I’m a-doin’
this ‘kase at Wade’s last week some fellers hid red yeers o’ corn nigh
the’r places an’ wuz etarnally a-kissin’ o’ the gals, which ain’t fa’r
nur decent. The rule on this occasion shall be as common, in regard to
the fust feller that finds a red yeer o’corn bein’ ‘lowed to kiss any
gal he likes, but atter that one time--understand everybody--atter
that no bussin’ kin take place, red yeer ur no red yeer. I advocate
moderation in all things, especially whar’ a man an’ woman’s mouth is

While the musical tones of the familiar song were rising, and the straw
beneath the feet of the human chain was rustling, Bagley called aloud
the word: “Halt!” and all sat down immediately and went to work with
a will. Song after song was sung. The hard, pearly silk-tipped ears of
corn flew through the air and rained into the crib near at hand, and
billows of husks rolled up behind the eager workers and were raked away
by negroes who were not permitted to take part in the sport.

“Here’s a red un, by hunky!” yelled out a sunburnt, downy-faced youth,
standing up and holding aloft a small ear of blood-red corn.

“Hold on thar!” shouted Bagley in commanding tones. “The rules must be
enforced to the letter. Jim Lash, ef yore yeer measures full six inches
ye’re the lucky man, but ef it falls short o’ that size its a nubbin an’
don’t count.”

An eager group encircled the young man, but soon a loud laugh rose and
they all fell back into their places, for the ear had proved to be only
five inches in length.

“Not yit, Jimmy Lash; not yit,” grunted Dick Martin, as he raked an
armful of unhusked corn into his and Melissa’s laps. Then to Melissa
in an undertone: “Ef wishin’ ‘u’d do any good, I’d be the fust to run
acrost one, fur, by jingo! the’ ain’t a livin’ man, Melissa, that could
want it as bad as I do with you a-settin’ so handy. By glory! [aloud]
here she is, as red as sumac an’ as long as a rollin’ pin. The Lord be
praised!” He had risen to his feet and stood holding up the trophy for
Bagley’s inspection, fairly aglow with triumph and exercise.

The rustling in the corn husks ceased. All eyes were directed upon
the erect forms of Dick Martin and Farmer Bagley. The clear moonlight
revealed an unpleasant expression on the older man’s face in vivid
contrast to the cast of the younger’s. Bagley seemed rather slow to form
a decision; all present suspected the cause of his hesitation.

“Fair’s fair, Bagley!” called out an old farmer outside of the circle.
“Don’t belittle yorese’f by ‘lowin’ anything o’ a personal natur’ to
come in an’ influence you ag’in right. Dick Martin’s the fust an’ is
entitled to the prize.”

“Yore right, Wilson,” admitted Bagley, with his eyes downcast. “Dick
Martin is the winner an’ kin proceed; howsomever, thar’s some things

               Salute yore bride an’ kiss her sweet,

               Now you may rise upon yore feet!

sang the leader of the singers, completely drowning the remainder of
Bagley’s sentence. As quick as a flash of lightning Dick had thrown his
arm round struggling Melissa and imprinted a warm kiss on her lips. Then
the workers applauded vociferously, and Melissa sat, suffused with
crimson, between sullen Bill Miller and beaming Dick Martin. Bagley
showed plainly that Dick’s action and the applause of all had roused his
dislike for Dick even deeper than ever.

“I’m knowed to be a man o’ my word,” he fumed, white in the face and
glancing round the ring of upturned faces. “I’m firm as firm kin be,
I mought say as the rock o’ Bralty, when I take a notion. I’ve heerd a
leetle o’ the talk in this settlement ‘mongst some o’ the meddlin’ sort,
an’ fur fear this leetle accident mought add to the’r tattle I’d jest
like to remark that ef thar’s a man on the top side o’ the earth that
knows what’s to be done with his own flesh an’ blood it ort to be me.
What’s been the talk ain’t so, not a speck of it. I’ve got somethin’ to
say to----”

“Paw!” expostulated Melissa, almost crying.

“Mr. Bagley--I say, Abrum Bagley, don’t make a born fool o’ yorese’f,”
 broke in Mrs. Bagley, as she waddled into the circle and laid her hand
heavily upon her husband’s arm. “Now, folks, it’s about time you wuz
gittin’ somethin’ warm into you. You kin finish the pile atter you’ve
eat. Come on, all hands, to the house!”

A shadow of mortification fell athwart Dick’s honest face as soon as
Bagley had spoken. His sensitive being was wounded to the core. As he
and Melissa walked back to the farm house together, Bill Miller having
dropped behind to gossip with someone over Bagley’s remarks, he was
silent, and timid Melissa was too shy to break the silence, although it
was very painful to her.

Reaching the entrance to the farm house, Dick held back and refused to
enter with the others.

“Ain’t you gwine to come in an’ have some supper?” Melissa asked,

“I ain’t a-goin’ narry nuther step. Anything cooked in this house would
stick in my throat atter what’s been said. He struck me a underhanded
lick. I won’t force myse’f on ‘im nur to his table.”

“I think you mought, bein’ as I axed you,” said she tremblingly, as she
shrank into the honeysuckle vines that clung to the latticework of the

“No, blame me ef I do!” he answered firmly. “I’m of as good stock as
anybody in this county; nobody cayn’t run no bull yearlin’ dry shod over

All Melissa could do could not induce him to join the others in the
dining room, and when he walked angrily away she ran into her own room,
and sitting down in the darkness alone she burst into a flood of tears.
After supper the guests repaired again to the corn heap, but Melissa was
not among them, and the spirits of all seemed somewhat dampened.

After that night Dick Martin and Melissa Bagley did not meet each other
for several days. However, on the Sunday following the corn shucking, as
Melissa was returning from meeting through the woods alone, the very one
who was uppermost in her troubled mind joined her. He emerged from the
thick-growing bushes which skirted her path, with a very pale face and
unhappy mien.

“I jest couldn’t wait another minute, Melissa,” he said, standing
awkwardly before her, “not ef I had to be shot fur it.”

“Paw’s mighty stubborn an’ contrary when he takes a notion,” she said,
with hanging head and an embarrassed kick of her foot at a tuft of
grass. “I think he mought let me alone. You ain’t the only one he hates.
Thar’s ol’ man Lawson; law, he hates him wuss’n canker! I heerd ‘im say
tother day ef somebody ‘u’d jest beat Lawson shootin’ next match he’d be
his friend till death. He ain’t never got over his lawsuit with Lawson
over the sheep our dog killed. Paw fit it in court through three terms,
an’ then had to give in an’ settle the claim an’ all the costs besides.
It mighty nigh broke im. Fur the last five years Lawson has driv home
the prize beef from the fall match, an’ every time paw jest fairly
shakes with madness over it.”

When Dick left Melissa at the bars in sight of her house and turned
toward his home a warm idea was tingling in his brain, and by the time
he had reached his father’s cottage he was fairly afire with it. The
shooting match was to take place in a month--what was to prevent him
from taking part in it? He had an excellent rifle, and had done some
good shooting at squirrels. Perhaps if he would practice a good deal
he might win. Lawson was deemed the best marksman in all the Cohutta
valleys, and frequently it had been hard to get anyone to enter a match
against him. Dick at last decided to enter the forthcoming match at
all events. He went into his cottage and took down his rifle from its
deer-horn rack over the door. While he was eyeing the long, rusty barrel
critically his old mother entered.

“Fixin’ fur a hunt, Dick? Thar’s a power o’ pa’tridges in the sage
field down the hollar. A rifle ain’t as good fur that sort o’ game as a
shotgun; suppose you step over an’ ax Hanson to loan you his’n?”

“I jest ‘lowed I’d shine this un up a bit bein’ as it’s Sunday an’ I
hate to be idle,” he answered, evasively, as he seated himself at the
wide fireplace with a pan of grease and a piece of cloth and rubbed his
gun barrel until it fairly shone in the firelight. The next morning he
threw it over his shoulder and, taking an axe in his hand, he started
toward the woods.

“Didn’t know but I mought find a bee tree somers,” he said sheepishly,
as he saw his mother looking wonderingly at the axe. “Not likely, but
I mought, thar’s no tellin’, though the darn little varmints do keep
powerful close hid this time o’ year.”

He went over the hills and through the tangled woods until he came to
a secluded old field. He singled out a walnut tree near its centre, and
going to it he cut a square white spot in the bark with his axe. It is
needless to detail all that took place there that day, or on other days
following it. For the first week the earnest fellow would return from
this spot each afternoon with a very despondent look upon him. As time
passed, however, and his visits to the riddled tree grew more frequent
his face began to grow brighter.

Once his mother came suddenly upon him as he stood in the cottage before
the open door with his rifle placed in position for firing. He lowered
his gun with a deep blush.

“I ‘us jest a tryin’ to see how long I could keep the sight on that shiny
spot out thar in the field without flinchin’. Blame me, ef you hadn’t
come in I believe I could a helt her thar tell it thundered.”

“Dick,” said the old woman, with a deep breath, “what on earth has got
in you here lately? Are you gwine plump stark crazy ‘bout that old gun?
You never tuk on that way before.”

“I’ve jest found out I’m purty good on a shot, that’s all,” he replied,

“Well,” said she, “as fur as that’s concerned, in old times our stock
was reckoned to be the best marksmen in our section. You ort to be; yore
narrer ‘twixt the eyes, an’ that’s a shore sign.”

Dick caught a glimpse of Melissa now and then, and managed to exchange
a few words with her occasionally, the nature of which we will not
disclose. It may be said, however, that she was always in good spirits,
which puzzled her father considerably, for he was at a loss to see why
she should be so when Dick had not visited her since the night of the
corn shucking. Moreover, she continually roused her father’s anger by
speaking frequently of the great honor that belonged to Farmer Lawson
for so often Winning the prizes in the shooting matches.

“Dang it, Melissa, dry up!” he exclaimed, boiling with anger, “you know
I hate that daddrated man. I’d fling my hat as high as the moon ef some
o’ these young bucks ‘u’d beat him this fall; he’s as full o’ brag as a
lazy calf is with fleas.”

“No use a hopin’ fur anything o’ that sort, paw; Lawson’s too old a
han’. He ain’t got his equal at shootin’ ur lawin.’ The whole country
couldn’t rake up a better one.” After speaking in this manner she would
stifle a giggle by holding her hand over her mouth until she was livid
in the face, and escape from her mystified parent, leaving him to vent
his spleen on the empty air.

The day of the annual shooting match drew near. It was not known who
were to be the participants aside from Lawson, for the others usually
waited till the time arrived to announce their intentions. No better
day could have been chosen. The sky was blue and sprinkled with frothy
clouds, and the weather was not unpleasantly cold. Women and men, boys,
girls and children from all directions were assembled to witness the
sport and were seated in chairs and wagons all over the wide, open

Melissa was there in a cluster of girls, and her father was near by in
a group of men, all of whom--like himself--disliked the blustering,
boasting Lawson and fondly hoped that someone would beat him on this
occasion. Lawson stood by himself, with a confident smile on his face.
His rifle butt rested on the grass and his hands were folded across each
other on the end of his gun barrel.

“Wilks,” said he to the clerk of the county court, who had been chosen
as referee for the occasion, “git up yore list o’ fellers that are bold
enough to shoot agin the champion. I reckon my nerves are ‘bout as they
wuz six yeer ago when I fust took my stan’ here to larn this settlement
how to shoot.”

Just before the list of aspirants was read aloud Dick managed to reach
Melissa’s side unobserved by her father.

“Did you keep yore promise ‘bout cut-tin’ my patchin’ fur me?” he asked
in a whisper.

With trembling fingers she drew from her pocket several little pieces
of white cotton cloth about the size of a silver quarter of a dollar and
gave them to him.

“They’re jest right to a gnat’s heel,” he said, warmly. “A ball packed
in one o’ them’ll go straight ur I’m no judge.”

“Dick,” whispered she, looking him directly in the eyes, “you ain’t a
bit flustered. I believe you’ll win.”

With a smile Dick turned away and joined the crowd round the referee’s
chair, and when his name was called a moment later among the names of
four others he brought his rifle from a wagon and stood in view of
the crowd. The first applause given that day was accorded him, for in
addition to its being his first appearance in a shooting match he was
universally popular.

“Bully fur you, Dick; here’s my han’ wishing you luck!” said a
cheery-voiced farmer, shaking Dick’s hand.

“It’s the way with all these young strips,” said Lawson in a loud,
boastful tone. “Gwine to conquer the whole round world. He’ll grin on
tother side o’ his mouth when Bettie, the lead queen, barks and spits in
the very centre o’ that spot out yander.”

A feeble murmur of admiration greeted this vaunting remark, but it
quickly subsided as the crowd noted that Dick Martin did not reply even
by so much as to raise his eyes from the inspection of his gun. The
referee called for order.

“Jim Baker,” said he, “be so kind as to drive round yore stall-fed
heifer. Ladies an’ gentlemen [as a man emerged from a group of wagons
and drove a fine-looking young cow into the open space], here’s a heifer
in fine enough order to make any man’s eyes sore to look. Fifteen round
dollars has been paid in, by the five men who are to burn powder
to-day, $3 apiece, an’ the man whose shootin’ iron can fling lead
the straightest on this occasion is entitled to the beef and the
championship o’ this valley till next fall. Now, Mr. Baker, lead out
yore cow, an’ the shooters will please form in a line.”

When the aspirants stood in front of him the referee continued:

“Here is five pieces o’ straw, all different lengths. The man who gets
the shortest one shoots fust, the next longest next, an’ so on till
you’ve all had yore crack.”

Passing the straws to the riflemen, and af ter they had drawn one each
from his tightly closed hands, he ordered a man to set up the target--a
planed plank, about one foot in width and six in length, with a round
marked spot about three inches in diameter, near the top.

“I’d willin’ly give my chance o’ oats to have some o’ them boys knock
the stuffin’ clean out’n Lawson; he’s that stuck up he cayn’t hardly
walk,” said Bagley, his anger intensified by observing the sneering
smile on Lawson’s face.

“I’m mighty afeard,” said the man to whom Bagley was speaking, “that
Dick Martin ‘ll lose his $3. I never heerd o’ him bein’ any han’ with a

To this Bagley offered no reply. In his hatred for Lawson, and at such a
time he had no thought to give to Dick.

“All ready!” rang out the voice of the referee. “Bob Ransom gits the
first pull at trigger to-day.”

Silence fell on the crowd as the tall, slender young man stepped forth
and stood with his left foot on a line cut in the grass exactly 100
yards from the tree against which the yellow board with its single eye
leaned in the sunbeams. Not a whisper escaped the motionless assembly as
the young man slowly brought his weapon into position. “Crack!” sounded
the rifle out of a balloon-shaped cloud of blue smoke.

“Missed centre, board, tree an’ all!” cried out Bagley, in a tone of
deep regret.

“I seed yore lead plough up the dirt away out tother side; it’s powerful
hard to hold a steady han’ when you are fust called on.”

“Next is Taylor Banks!” announced the referee; and as a middle-aged man
advanced and toed the mark, Lawson was heard to say, with a loud laugh;
“Fust one missed the tree; you folks on the left out thar ‘u’d better
set back fur-der; no tellin’ who Banks ‘ll hit, fur he’s a-tremblin’
like so much jelly.”

“Hit about three inches due north o’ the spot,” called out the referee,
as the smoke rose from the peering marksman. “I’m afraid, Tayl’, that
somebody ‘ll come nigher than that when the pinch comes. Joe Burk is the
next, an’ I’ll take occasion to say here that I know of no man in all
this mountain country that is more prompt to pay his taxes.”

“Crack!” A universal bending of necks to get the target in better view
and a rolling billow of voices in the crowd.

“A inch an’ a half below the spot!” proclaimed the referee. “Why,
friends, what ails you all? This ain’t nigh such shootin’ as we had last
fall. Too many women present, I reckon. Ladies, if you’ll cover up yore
faces maybe the next two will do better. The straws say that Abraham
Lawson has the next whack. Lawson, make yore bow.”

The champion of the settlement stepped into view with a haughty strut,
dragging his rifle butt on the ground and swinging his broad-brimmed
hat carelessly in his hand. Turning to a negro behind him as he took his
place, he said so that all could hear:

“Tobe, git yore rope ready an’ stan’ over thar nigh the beef. When you
git ‘er home turn ‘er in the pastur’. Ef this thing goes on year atter
year I’ll start a cattle ranch an’ quit farmin’.”

“Dang his hide!” exclaimed Bagley to Melissa, who was very pale and
quite speechless. “Dang it, I’d lay this here right arm on any man’s
meat block an’ give ‘im leave to chop it off ef he’d jest git beat. He’s
that spiled flies is on ‘im.”

Lawson’s hat was now on the grass at his feet and he had deliberately
raised his brightly-polished weapon to his broad shoulder. The sun
glittered on the long steel tube. The silence for an instant was so
profound that the birds could be heard singing in the woods and the
cawing of the crows in the corn fields near by sounded harsh to the ear.
For an instant the sturdy champion stood as if molded in metal, his
long hair falling over his gun stock, against which his tanned cheek was
closely pressed. Not a sound passed the lips of the assembly, and when
the rifle report came it sent a twinge to many a heart.

“Dang it!” ejaculated Lawson, as he lowered his gun and peered through
the rising smoke toward the target. “I felt a unsteady quiver tech me
jest as I pulled the trigger.”

“About half an inch from the very centre o’ the mark. Yore ahead. Nobody
is likely to come up to you, Lawson,” said the referee. “The’ ain’t but
one more.”

“I don’t keer,” replied Lawson. “I know the cow’s mine; but I did want
to come up to my record. I walked too fast over here an’ it made me

“The next an’ last candidate for glory,” said the referee, “is Dick
Martin. No cheerin’, friends, it ain’t been give to the others and you
oughtn’t to show partiality. Besides, it might excite him, an’ he needs
all the nerve he’s got.”

Bagley was still at Melissa’s side. He had his eyes too intently fixed
on the stalwart form of Dick Martin and the young man’s pale, determined
visage to note that his daughter had covered her pale face with her
cold, trembling hands and bowed her head.

“By Jinks! he’s the coolest cucumber that’s lifted shootin’ iron
to-day,” said Bagley under his breath. “Ef he beats Lawson dagg me if I
don’t give him a dance in my barn an’ invite every man, woman an’ child
in the whole valley.” With his left foot on the mark and his right
thrown back easily, as if he were taking a step forward, and his
well-formed body bent slightly toward the target, Dick stood motionless,
sighting along his gun barrel at the target. Then, to the surprise of
all, he raised his gun until it pointed to the top of the tree against
which the target leaned. Here a gentle sigh, born from the union of half
surprise and half disappointment, swept over the crowd as low as the
whisper of a breeze through a dry foliaged tree. The sigh died away and
intense silence claimed the moment, for the gun’s point was sweeping
rapidly downward. Hardly a second did it pause in a line with the
target’s centre before the report came, putting every breast in sudden
motion. The marker’s eyes saw a clean splinter fly from the very centre
of the round.

“The beef is won by Dick Martin!” loudly proclaimed the referee.

“Whoopee! Glory! Glory!” The shout was from the lips of Bagley, and
in an instant he had stridden across to Dick with outstretched hand.
“Glory, Glory! Dick!” he exclaimed; “le’me have a hold o’ yore fist.
Tell judgment day I’m yore friend. I’ve said some sneakin’ underhand
things about you that’s hurt yore feelin’s an’ I want to ax yore pardon.
Dang it! I cayn’t harbor no ill will agin a feller that’s beat Abrum
Lawson a-shootin’. Thank goodness you’ve fetched his kingdom to a end!”

When down-fallen Lawson had slunk away unnoticed from the enthusiastic
crowd who were eager to congratulate Dick, Bagley came up to him and

“Dick, le’me have the honor o’ drivin’ the prize home fur you. Fur some
reason ur other you didn’t stay to supper with us corn-shuckin’ night;
Melissa’s a waitin’ fur you out thar in the bresh to ax you to come
home with us to-night. By glory, Tobe,” turning to Lawson’s negro, “this
yer’s the same identical beef Lawson ordered you to drive home an’ put
in his pastur’, ain’t it? Well, you jest tell ‘im his friend Bagley tuk
the job off’n yore han’s.”

[Illustration: 0105]


|ONE of the best fellows among the hardy lot who have ran the trails
and paddled the lonely tributaries of the tipper Ottawa was Moeran.
No bolder sportsman ever went into the woods, and few, or none of the
guides or professional hunters could rival his skill with rifle or
paddle. The tough old “Leatherstockings” fairly idolized him, for he
got his game as they did, by straight shooting, perfect woodcraft, and
honest hard work; and most of them, while they usually charged a heavy
price for their services, would have gladly thrown in their lots with
him for an outing of a month or more, and asked nothing save what he
considered a fair division of the spoils. He was also a keen observer
and a close student of the ways of bird and beast. The real pleasure of
sport seemed to him to lie in the fact that it brought him very near to
nature, and permitted him to pore at will over that marvelous open page
which all might read if they chose, yet which few pause to study. His
genial disposition and long experience made him ever a welcome and
valuable companion afield or afloat, and the comrades he shot with
season after season would have as soon gone into the woods without their
rifles as without Moeran. Physically, he was an excellent type of the
genuine sportsman. Straight and tall, and strongly made, his powerful
arms could make a paddle spring, if need be, or his broad shoulders bear
a canoe or pack over a portage that taxed even the rugged guides; and
his long limbs could cover ground in a fashion that made the miles seem
many and long to whoever tramped a day with him.

And this was the kind of man that planned a trip for a party of four
after the lordly moose. Moeran had, until that year, never seen a wild
moose free in his own forest domain, and needless to say he was
keenly anxious to pay his respects to the great king of the Canadian
wilderness. He had been in the moose country many times while fishing
or shooting in the provinces of New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and
Manitoba; he had seen the slots of the huge deer about pool and stream,
on beaver meadow and brule; he had spent more than one September night
“calling,” with a crafty Indian to simulate the plaintive appeals of
a love-lorn cow; he had heard the great bulls answer from the distant
hills--had heard even the low, grunting inquiry a bull moose generally
makes ere emerging from the last few yards of shadowy cover, and
revealing himself in all his mighty strength and pride in the moonlit
open. More than once he had lain quivering with excitement and hardly
daring to breathe, close-hidden in a little clump of scrub, about which
stretched full forty yards of level grass on every side--lain so for an
hour with every nerve strained to the ready, with ears striving to catch
the faintest sound on the stillness of the night, and with eyes sweeping
warily over the expanse of moonlit grass and striving vainly to pierce
the black borders of forest, somewhere behind which his royal quarry was
hidden. Upon such occasions he had lain and listened and watched until
he fancied he could see the moose standing silently alert among the
saplings, with ears shifting to and fro and with keen nose searching the
air ceaselessly for trace of his mortal enemy. The occasional distant
rattle of broad antlers against the trees as the big brute shook himself
or plunged about in lusty strength had sounded on his ears, followed
by the faint sounds of cautiously advancing footsteps seemingly bent
straight toward the ambush. Then would follow a long agonizing pause,
and then a snap of a twig or a faint rustling told that the crafty bull
was stealing in a circle through the cover around the open space before
venturing upon such dangerous ground.

[Illustration: 0108]

At last a deathlike silence for many minutes, and then a faint, far snap
of twigs and “wish” of straightening branches as the great bull stole
away to his forested hills, having read in breeze or on ground a
warning of the foe concealed in the harmless scrub. All these were
disappointments, but not necessarily bitter ones. The long night-vigils
were after all rarely spent entirely in vain, for each brought to him
some new ideas, or let him a little further into the dark mysteries of
the great wild world’s nightly moods and methods. The skilled craft of
his Indian “caller;” the strange voices of the night that came to his
ears, telling of the movements of creatures but seldom seen or heard by
day, were full of interest to a genuine woodsman. And then the fierce
though subdued excitement of the weird watch for the huge beast that
never came, and yet might come at any moment full into the silvery
moonlight from out the black belt of silent wood--these were each
fascinating to such a nature as his. But still he had never once seen
his long-looked-for game, though several seasons had slipped away and
the month of July, 18----, had come and half passed by. Then Moeran
got ready his fishing tackle and camping gear and vowed to find a good
district for the party to shoot over the coming season, even if he had
to remain in the woods an entire month. Right well he knew some of the
likeliest points in New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba, the eastern
portion of the latter province being the best moose country now
available, but none of them met the requirements of the party, and so he
decided to go into northern Ontario and prospect until he found what he

In the region of the upper Ottawa River, and in the wild lands about the
Mattawa River and about the lakes forming its headwaters, is a country
beloved of moose. Thither went Moe-ran, satisfied that his quest would
not be in vain. Early in the third week of July he and his Peterboro
canoe and outfit reached the railway station of North Bay, on the shore
of noble Lake Nipissing. While awaiting the arrival of the guide and
team for the next stage of his journey, he put rod together and strolled
out on the long pier which extends for a considerable distance into the
lake. Reaching the farther end and looking down into the clear, green
depths below, he saw watchful black bass skulking in the shadows, and
lazy pickerel drifting hither and thither, in and out, among the great
piles which supported the pier. To tempt a few of these to their doom
was an easy task, and soon the lithe rod was arching over a game black
gladiator and a master hand was meeting every desperate struggle of a
fighting fish, or slowly raising a varlet pickerel to his inglorious
death. In time a hail announced the arrival of the team, and after
presenting his captives to the few loungers on the pier, he busied
himself stowing canoe and outfit upon the wagon.

Their objective point was on the shore of Trout Lake, a lovely sheet
of water distant from Nipissing about four miles. The road was in many
places extremely bad and the team made slow progress, but there was
plenty of time to spare and about noon they reached the lake. The guide,
as guides are given to do, lied cheerfully and insistently every yard
of the way, about the beauty of the lake, the countless deer and grouse
upon its shores, the gigantic fish within its ice-cold depths, the game
he, and parties he had guided, had killed, and the fish they had caught.
He did well with these minor subjects, but when he touched upon moose
and bear he rose to the sublime, and lied with a wild abandon which made
Moeran seriously consider the advantage of upsetting the canoe later
on and quietly drowning him. But he was not so far astray in his
description of the lake. It formed a superb picture, stretching its
narrow length for a dozen miles between huge, rolling, magnificently
wooded hills, while here and there lovely islands spangled its silver
breast. After a hurried lunch they launched the good canoe, the guide
insisting upon taking his rifle, as, according to his story, they were
almost certain to see one or more bear. The guide proved that he could
paddle almost as well as he could lie, and the two of them drove the
light craft along like a scared thing, the paddles rising and falling,
flashing and disappearing, with that beautiful, smooth, regular sweep
that only experts can give. For mile after mile they sped along, until
at last they neared the farther end of the lake, where the huge hills
dwindled to mere scattered mounds, between which spread broad beaver
meadows, the nearest of them having a pond covering many acres near its
center. All about this pond was a dense growth of tall water-grasses,
and in many places these grasses extended far into the water which was
almost covered, save a few open leads, with the round, crowding leaves
of the water-lily. A channel, broad and deep enough to float the canoe,
connected this pond with the lake, and, as the locality was an ideal
summer haunt for moose, Moeran decided to investigate it thoroughly
and read such “sign” as might be found. Landing noiselessly, he and the
guide changed places, Moeran kneeling, forward, with the rifle on the
bottom of the canoe in front of him, where he alone could reach it.
“Now,” he whispered, “you know the route and how to paddle; work her up
as if a sound would cost your life. I’ll do the watching.”

[Illustration: 0112]

Slowly, silently, foot by foot, and sometimes inch by inch, the canoe
stole up the currentless channel, the guide never raising his paddle,
but pushing with it cautiously against the soft bottom and lily-roots.
It was a good piece of canoe work, worthy even of Moeran’s noted skill,
and he thoroughly appreciated it. By motions of his hand he indicated
when to halt and advance, while his eyes scanned sharply every yard of
marsh revealed by the windings of the channel. Not the slightest sound
marked their progress until they had almost entered the open water in
the center of the pond, and were creeping past the last fringe of tall
grass. Suddenly Moeran’s hand signaled a halt, and the canoe lost its
slow, forward motion. He looked and looked, staring fixedly at a point
some twenty yards distant, where the growth of grass was thin and short
and the lily-pads denser than usual, and as he gazed with a strange
concentration, a wild light flashed in his eyes until they fairly blazed
with exultant triumph. Straight before him among the faded greens and
bewildering browns of the lily-pads was a motionless, elongated brown
object very like the curved back of a beaver, and a foot or more from
it, in the shadow of a clump of grass, something shone with a peculiar
liquid gleam. It was an eye--a great, round, wild eye--staring full into
his own--the eye of a moose--and the curving object like the back of
a beaver was naught else than the enormous nose, or muffle, of a
full-grown bull. Something like a sigh came from it, and then it slowly
rose higher and higher until the head and neck were exposed. The big
ears pointed stiffly forward, and the nose twitched and trembled for an
instant as it caught the dreaded taint; then with a mighty floundering
and splashing the great brute struggled to his feet. It was a grewsome
spectacle to see this uncouth creature uprise from a place where it
seemed a muskrat could hardly have hidden. For a few seconds he stood

[Illustration: 0116]

“Shoot! Shoot!”

Moeran simply picked up the rifle and brought it level.

“Load! ‘Tain’t loaded--the lever--quick!”

He made no response, merely covered, first the point of the shoulder and
then the ear, and then, as the bull plunged for the shore, he covered
the shoulder twice more, then lowered the rifle, while a horribly
excited guide cursed and raved and implored by turns in vain. And just
how great was the temptation was never known, but it certainly would
have proved irresistible to most men who call themselves sportsmen. In
speaking about it afterward Moeran said: “It would have been a crime
to have murdered the beast under such conditions, and out of season. I
covered him fair four times, and could have dropped him dead where he
stood--but we’ll attend to them later on.” For there were, in all, four
moose in the pond, and, shortly after the big bull commenced his noisy
retreat, a tremendous splashing and plunging from the other side of the
pond attracted their attention. They turned just in time to see a grand
old cow and two younger moose struggle through the last few yards of
mud and water, and then crash their way into the cover at the rapid,
pounding trot peculiar to the species.

Moeran’s mission had been accomplished much easier than was expected,
and he certainly had discovered a most promising locality for the trip
with his friends. After a day spent fishing, he departed homeward,
leaving his canoe and camp outfit in charge of the guide, whom he also
bound by most solemn pledge neither to betray the secret of the beaver
meadow, nor to molest the moose himself, before Moeran and his friends
returned in time for the first lawful day.

The last day of the close season saw the party and the guide snugly
encamped at a point half-way down the lake. His three friends had
unanimously agreed that Moeran should have the honor of visiting the
beaver meadow first, and alone if he desired. He was the surest shot and
by far the best hand at this sort of business, and he had discovered the
moose, while all hands knew how keen he was to secure a head to his own
rifle. So at earliest dawn Moeran put lunch and rifle into his
shapely Peterboro and sped noiselessly away through the ghostly vapors
curtaining the sleeping lake, and they saw him no more for many hours.
The guide had questioned the others about their comrade’s shooting (of
his ability at the paddle he had somewhat sorrowful remembrance), and
then, strange to say, had advised Moeran to go alone.

“So much more glory for you,” he said, “and I’ll look after these other
gentlemen and give them a day’s fishing.” But his manner was shifty, and
Moeran mistrusted him.

In due time he reached the little channel leading to the beaver meadow,
and, as the sun lifted clear of the distant hills, he began working his
way to the pond. He hardly expected to find the moose there then, but he
had made up his mind to steal into the high grass and hide and watch all
day, if necessary, and, at all events, study the thing out thoroughly.
As the sun rose higher a brisk breeze sprang up, but as it came from the
woods toward his station he did not mind, although it would have been
fatal to his chance, probably, had it come from any other point of
the compass. Presently his nose detected a strong, sickening odor of
carrion, which, in time, as the breeze gained force, became almost
overpowering, and he started to investigate. Paddling straight up-wind
he came at last to a small pool, and the trouble was explained. The
half-decomposed body of a full-grown cow moose lay in the pool and
Moeran muttered savagely his opinion of all such butchery when he saw
that not even the feet had been taken for trophies. Then he poled his
canoe to the edge of the meadow and scouted carefully entirely round the
open, seeking for any possible sign of the remainder of the quartet.
To his utter disgust he found the remains of another moose, one of the
younger animals, lying just within the borders of the cover, and, as in
the other case, the butcher had not troubled himself to take away any
portion of his victim. Moeran understood, of course, that the guide
had played him false, and if that worthy had been present he might have
seriously regretted his wrong-doing, for he it was who had guided a
learned and honorable (?) American judge to the sanctuary of the moose
a month previously, and, for a consideration of twenty-five dollars,
enabled his patron to gratify his taste for the shambles.

Moeran’s careful search discovered no fresh sign, and he made up his
mind that the two survivors, the old bull and the yearling, had fled the
scene and had probably sought another expanse of beaver meadow and ponds
the guide had mentioned as being about ten miles from Trout Lake. Moeran
knew that some sort of a trail led thither, and he resolved to find it
and follow it to the end and endeavor to locate the moose.

Of the ensuing long, hard day’s work it will be unnecessary to speak in

At nine o’clock that night his three friends sat near their roaring
camp-fire on the lake shore, wondering at his protracted absence. The
guide had turned in an hour previous, but the three were anxious, so
they sat and smoked, and discussed the question, piling great drift-logs
on their fire till it roared and cracked in fierce exultation and leaped
high in air to guide the wanderer home. Its long, crimson reflection
stretched like a pathway of flame far over the black waters of the lake,
and the three sat and waited, now glancing along this glowing path, anon
conversing in subdued tones. The lake was as still and dark as a lake
of pitch, and some way the three felt ill at ease, as though some evil
impended. At last the veteran of the trio broke a longer silence than

“Boys, I don’t like this. It’s ten o’clock and he should have been back
long ago. I hope to Heaven----”

A touch on his arm from the man at his right caused him to glance
quickly lakeward.

Forty feet from them, drifting noiselessly into the firelight, was the
Peterboro, with Moeran kneeling as usual and sending the light craft
forward in some mysterious manner which required no perceptible movement
of the arms nor lifting of the paddle. It was a fine exhibition of his
skill to thus approach unheard three anxious, listening men on such a
night, for he had heard their voices good two miles away. His appearance
was so sudden, so ghostlike, that for a few seconds the party stared in
mute surprise at the forms of man and craft standing out in sharp relief
against the blackness of the night; then a whoop of delight welcomed

He came ashore, swiftly picked up the canoe and turned it bottom upward
on the sand for the night, carried his rifle into camp, then approached
the fire and looked sharply round.

“The guide’s asleep.”

“Oh, he is; -------- him!” Then he flung himself down on the sand.
Something in his tone and manner warned his friends not to talk, and
they eyed him curiously. His face was white as death and drawn with an
expression of utter exhaustion, and marked with grimy lines, showing
where rivulets of sweat had trickled downward. As they looked, his eyes
closed; he was going to sleep as he lay.

Quietly the veteran busied himself getting food ready, and presently
roused the slumberer.

“Here, old chap, have a nip and eat a bite. Why, you’re dead beat. Where
on earth have you been?”

A strangely hollow voice answered:

“To the back lakes.”

His listeners whistled a combined long-drawn “whew” of amazement, for
right well they knew the leagues of toilsome travel this statement

“See anything?”

“Wounded the old bull badly, and trailed him from the lakes to within
five miles of here. That cur sleeping yonder sold us; but you hear me!”
 he exclaimed with sudden fierce energy, “_I’ll get that moose if I have
to stay in the woods forever!_”

The three looked at him in admiring silence, for they guessed that,
in spite of his terrible day’s work, he intended starting again at
daylight. In a few moments he finished his meal and staggered to the
tent, and fell asleep as soon as he touched his blanket.

When the party turned out next morning the canoe was gone, though the
sun was not yet clear, of the hills. After breakfast they started in
quest of grouse, working through the woods in the direction of the
beaver meadows, and finding plenty of birds. About ten o’clock they
heard the distant report of a rifle, followed in a few minutes by a
second, and the veteran exclaimed, “That’s him, for an even hundred, and
he’s got his moose, or something strange has happened.”

At noon they returned to camp laden with grouse. No sign of the canoe
as yet, so they had dinner, and lounged about and fished during the
afternoon, casting many expectant glances down the lake for the laggard
canoe. Night fell, with still no sound or sign of the wanderer, and
again the camp-fire roared and flamed and sent its glowing reflection
streaming far over the black waste of water. And again the three
sat waiting. At ten o’clock the veteran rose and said, “Keep a sharp
lookout, boys, and don’t let him fool you again, and I’ll get up a royal
feed. He’ll have moose-meat in the canoe this time, for he said _he’d
get that moose if he had to stay in the woods forever_. He’ll be dead
beat, sure, for he’s probably dragged the head out with him.” So they
waited, piling the fire high, and staring out over the lake for the
first glimpse of the canoe. Eleven o’clock and midnight came and went,
and still no sign. Then they piled the fire high for the last time and
sought the tent. At the door the veteran halted, and laying a hand on
the shoulder of his chum, drew him aside.

“Why, whatever’s the matter with you?”

The old man’s face wore a piteous expression, and his voice trembled as
he whispered:

“Hush! Don’t let _him_ hear you--but there’s something wrong. Something
horrible has happened--I feel it in my heart.”

“Nonsense, man! You’re sleepy and nervous. He’s all right. Why, he’s
just cut himself a moose steak, and had a feed and laid down----”

The sentence was never completed. A sound that caused both men to start
convulsively tore through the black stillness of the night. A horrible,
gurgling, demoniacal laugh came over the lake, and died away in fading
echoes among the hills. “Woll-oll-all-ollow-wall-all-ollow!” as though
some hideous fiend was laughing with his lips touching the water. They
knew what it was, for the loon’s weird cry was perfectly familiar to
them, and they laughed too, but there was no mirth in their voices. Then
one sought the tent, but the veteran paced up and down upon the cold
beach, halting sometimes to replenish the fire or to stare out over the
water, until a pale light spread through the eastern sky. Then he too
turned in for a couple of hours of troubled, unrefreshing slumber.

The bright sunshine of an Indian summer’s day brought a reaction and
their spirits rose wonderfully; but still the canoe tarried, and as the
hours wore away, the veteran grew moody again and the midday meal was a
melancholy affair. Early in the afternoon he exclaimed:

“Boys, I tell you what it is: I can stand this no longer--something’s
wrong, and we’re going to paddle those two skiffs down to the beaver
meadow and find out what we can do, and we’re going to start right now.
God forgive us if we have been idling here while we should have been

Two in a boat they went, and the paddles never halted until the channel
to the beaver meadow was gained. Dividing forces, they circled in
opposite directions round the open, but only the taint of the long-dead
moose marked the spot. Then they fired three rifles in rapid succession
and listened anxiously, but only the rolling, bursting echoes of the
woods answered them.

“Guide, where would he probably have gone?”

“Wa’al, he told you he’d run the old bull this way from the back
lakes--thar’s another leetle mash a mile north of us; it’s an awful
mud-hole, and the bull might possibly hev lit out fur thar. Enyhow, we’d
best hunt the closest spots first.”

The picture of that marsh will haunt the memories of those three men
until their deaths. A few acres of muskeg, with broad reaches of sullen,
black, slimy water, its borders bottomless mud, covered with a loathsome
green scum, and a few pale-green, sickly-looking larches dotting the
open--the whole forming a repulsive blemish, like an ulcer, on the face
of the earth. All round rose a silent wall of noble evergreens, rising
in massive tiers upon the hills, with here and there a flame of gorgeous
color where the frost had touched perishable foliage. Overhead a
hazy dome of dreamy blue, with the sun smiling down through the gauzy
curtains of the Indian summer. Swinging in easy circles, high in air,
were two ravens, challenging each other in hollow tones, their orbits
crossing and recrossing as they narrowed in slow-descending spirals.
“Look, look at him!”

[Illustration: 0124]

One bird had stooped like a falling plummet, and now hung about fifty
yards above the farther bounds of the muskeg, beating the air with
heavy, sable pinions and croaking loudly to his mate above. Closing her
wings, she stooped with a whizzing rush to his level, and there the two
hung flapping side by side, their broad wings sometimes striking sharply
against each other, their hoarse, guttural notes sounding at intervals.
A nameless horror seized the men as they looked. Their hunter’s instinct
told them that death lay below those flapping birds, and with one
impulse they hurried round on the firmer ground to the ill-omened spot.

The veteran, white-faced but active as a lad, tore his way through the
bordering cover first, halted and stared for an instant, then dropped
his rifle in the mud, threw up his hands and exclaimed in an agonized

“Oh, my God, my God!”

One by one they crashed through the brush and joined him, and stood
staring. No need for questions. Ten square yards of deep-trodden,
reeking mud and crushed grass, a trampled cap, and here and there a rag
of brown duck; a silver-mounted flask shining in a little pool of bloody
water; a stockless rifle-barrel, bent and soiled, sticking upright;
beyond all a huge, hairy body, and below it a suggestion of another body
and a blood-stained face, that even through its terrible disfigurement
seemed to scowl with grim determination. Throwing off their coats, they
dragged the dead moose aside and strove to raise Moeran’s body, but in
vain. Something held it; the right leg was broken and they found the
foot fast fixed in a forked root the treacherous slime had concealed. In
the right hand was firmly clutched the haft of his hunting knife, and
in the moose’s throat was the broken blade. The veteran almost smiled
through his tears as they worked to loosen the prisoned foot, and
muttered, “Caught like a bear in a trap; he’d have held his own with
a fair chance.” Carrying the poor, stamped, crushed body to the shade,
they laid it upon the moss and returned to read the story of the fearful
battle. To their hunter’s eyes it read as plainly as printed page. The
great bull, sore from his previous wound, had sought the swamp. Moeran
had trailed him to the edge and knocked him down the first shot, and
after reloading had run forward to bleed his prize. Just as he got
within reach the bull had struggled up and charged, and Moeran had shot
him through the second time. Then he had apparently dodged about in the
sticky mud and struck the bull terrific blows with the clubbed rifle,
breaking the stock and bending the barrel, and getting struck himself
repeatedly by the terrible forefeet of the enraged brute. To and fro,
with ragged clothes and torn flesh, he had dodged, the deadly muskeg
behind and on either side, the furious bull holding the only path to the
saving woods. At last he had entrapped his foot in the forked root, and
the bull had rushed in and beaten him down, and as he fell he struck
with his knife ere the tremendous weight crushed out his life. The
veteran picked up the rifle-barrel, swept it through a pool and examined
the action, and found a shell jammed fast.

In despairing voice he said, “Oh, boys, boys, if that shell had but come
into place our friend had won the day, but he died like the noble fellow
he was!”

With rifles and coats they made a stretcher and carried him sadly out to
the lake.

“_He would get that moose, or stay in the woods forever!_”


[Illustration: 9129]

“Clug!” The wad went home in the last shell, and as I removed it from
the loader and finished the fill of my belt I heaved a sigh of profound
relief at the completion of a troublesome job.

I hate making cartridges. Perhaps I am a novice, and have not a good
kit, and am lazy, and clumsy, and impatient, and---- But go on and
account for it yourself at greater length, if you will, my friends;
only accept my solemn statement that I detest the operation, which, I
am convinced, ought to be confined to able-bodied colored men with
perseverance and pachydermatous knuckles.

An ordinary man is always in fluster and fever before he completes
loading up for a day’s gunning. His patent plugger becomes inexplicably
and painfully fractious; his percussions are misfits; his No. 10 wads
prove to be No. 12s; his shot sack is sure to spill; his canister is
certain to sustain a dump into the water pail, and, when he begins to
reflect on all the unmentionable _lapsi linguæ_ of which his numerous
vexations are the immediately exciting, though possibly not the
responsible, cause, he is apt to conclude that, say what you may in
favor of the breechloader, there are a certain few points which commend
the old-time muzzle-loader, especially when it comes around to charging
a shell.

[Illustration: 0130]

At all events, that is the kind of man I now am; and if the reader
is not prepared to absolutely indorse me all through these crotchety
cogitations, may I not hope he will at least bear with me patiently and
give me time to outgrow it, if possible? But, as I was saying, I have
charged up and am ready to sally forth and join the hunting party of the
Blankville Gun Club, who had organized a match for Christmas Eve, a
bright, nippy day of “an open winter”--as experienced in Northeastern
Ontario, at any rate. I don my game bag, strap on my belt, pick up my
newly-bought hammerless and prepare to leave the house. My cocker
Charlie, long since cognizant of what my preparations meant, is at heel.

There is a wild light in his eyes, but, self-contained animal that he
is, not a yelp, whine or even tail wag is manifested to detract from his
native dignity and self possession. “Native” dignity? Aye! My dog boasts
it naturally; and yet, at the same time, I fancy the switch and I have
had something to do in developing it and teaching the pup its apparently
unconscious display.

[Illustration: 0136]

“You’re no fool dog, are you, Charlie? You’re no funny, festive,
frolicsome dog, who cannot hold himself in when a run is on the
programme--eh, boy?”

The silky-coated canine knows as well as I do that he is in for an
afternoon a-wood. He has the inclination to leap and roll and essay to
jump out of his hide. Yet the only answer he dare give to the inquiry
is an appealing glance from his hazel orbs up at his master’s immovable
face. Yes, my dog Charlie is sober and sensible, and I am proud of these
characteristics and their usefulness to me before the gun.

[Illustration: 0134]

“Good-bye, little woman!” I sing out cheerily to my wife as I pass down
the hall. She comes to the door to see me off. Sometimes, perhaps, a
man will find his adieu on an occasion of this kind responded to
uncordially, not to say frigidly, or perhaps not at all. But he must
not grieve deeply over it or let it act as an excitative of his mean
moroseness or angry passion. Think the thing all over. You are to be far
away from home. Why should not the thought of the vacant chair--next to
that of the demonstrative and exacting baby at meal time--rise up and
sadden your wife? Can you wonder at her distant bearing as she foresees
how she will sigh “for the touch of a vanished hand”--on the coal
scuttle and water pail? Of course, she will “miss your welcome
footsteps”--carrying in kindlings, and the “dear, familiar
voice”--calling up the chickens. And so you cannot in reason expect her
invariably to answer your kindly _adios_ in a gladsome, gleesome, wholly
satisfied sort of way. But never you go away without the goodbye on your
part--the honest, manly, loving-toned good-bye that will ring in her
ears in your absence and cause her to fancy that perhaps you are not
such a selfish old bear after all.

With some of us men--only a limited few, of course, and we are not
inclined to think over and enumerate them--it is unhappily the case

               We have cheerful words for the stranger,

               And smiles for the sometime guest;

               But oft for our own the bitter tone,

               Though we love our own the best.

“will miss your welcome footsteps.”

[Illustration: 0134]

               Now, if such men only thought

               How many go forth in the morning,

               Who never come back at night!

               And hearts are broken for harsh words spoken,

               Which time may never set right,

what a different atmosphere might permeate the domicile on “first days,”
 to say nothing of the rest of the time!

The real fact of the matter is, men and brothers, we do not accurately
appreciate the objections which the domestic partners may entertain
against our occasional outings. For my part I verily believe they are
largely, if not entirely, prompted by the feeling that

               There’s nae luck aboot the hoose,

               There’s nae luck at a’!

               There’s nae luck about the hoose,

               Since oor guid mon’s avva’.

And here we go on thinking it is purely a matter of petty petulance and
small selfishness on their part! Come, gentlemen, let us once and for
all rightly appreciate the situation and resolve to do better in the
future! But let us return to our sheep. My hand is on the door knob,
when, pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat, is heard the tread of tiny feet. It is Ted,
my little two year old, coming to say good-bye to papa. I take him up
and sing gaily:

                   Bye, baby bunting,

                   Papa goes a-hunting,

                   To get a little rabbit skin

                   To wrap the baby bunting in.

How the little man crows and gurgles in glee! Then he grows
demonstrative and he wants to take off my cap. He makes a grab at my
game bag. As I put him down gently he tries to disarm me and possess
himself of the gun.

I say, what an awful bother about the house of the sportsman is the
toddling tot of a baby! He is always getting hold of your gun swab for
a fish pole or to bang the dog about. Putting holes in your fish basket
with a big nail or a table knife is a supreme source of delight to him.
He has a mania for planting carpet tacks in your hunting boots. Making
smokestacks for mud houses with your brass shells is a passion with him.
If he can get hold of your ammunition to make paste of the powder, and
pulp of the wads, and a hopeless mixture of the shot, he is simply in
his element. Give him possession of your lines and access to your fly
book and he enjoys an hour of what is, to him, immense fun, but to you
pronounced and positive destruction.

And yet--you wouldn’t be without, that self-same baby if to keep him
cost you every shooting iron and foot of tackle you ever owned or hoped
to own, and at the same time destroyed the prospect of you ever again
having a “day out” on this rare old earth of ours.

It is quite safe to say that the article for which you would exchange
that merry, mischievous toddler of yours, who clasps your brown neck
with little white, soft arms and presses a sweet baby kiss to your
bristled lips, as he sees you off on an outing, has not now an
existence--and you do not seem to exactly remember when it had. And you
do not care whether he destroys your possessions; they can be replaced.

Yes, indeed! Even you, most inveterate and selfish and calloused votary
of the chase--you have a tender spot in your hard old heart for the
baby boy. He may not be all that is orderly, obedient, non-combatable,
non-destructive, but still we all love him! Not one of us, at all
events, but will frankly admit that we respect him--for his father’s
sake. Need anything more be said?

And do not we also respect those who depict him in tenderness and

Don’t we think all the more of Scanlon the actor for his inimitable
“Peek-a-boo?” and of Charles Mackay for his “Baby Mine?” and of Bret
Harte for his “Luck of Roaring Camp?” and of Dickens--wasn’t it Dickens
who wrote:

               When the lessons and tasks all are ended,

               And the school for the day is dismissed,

               And the little ones gather around me

               To bid me good-bye and be kissed.

               Oh, the little, white arms that encircle

               My neck in a tender embrace!

               Oh, the smiles that are halos of Heaven

               Shedding light in a desolate place!

Has it ever occurred to you, my friend, that the baby is the same
unchanged, unimproved article since the world began? Men are making
smokeless powder, constructing pneumatic bicycle tires, inventing
long-distance guns, training horses down to two minutes, getting
sprinters to cover 100 yards close to nine seconds--revolutionizing
everything, but leaving the baby the old-time brand!

People seem satisfied with the original make, and far from any movement
to abolish it as out of date. The sentiment would appear to be pretty

               Drear were the world without a child,

               Where happy infant never smiled.

               We sooner could the flowerets spare,

               The tender bud and blossom fair,

               Or breath of spring time in the air.

I have said “bye-bye” to my tiny Ted half a dozen times and at last am
about to escape during his sudden flight to another part of the
house, when I am arrested by the eager cry, half in inquiry, half in
jubilation, “Baby barlo! Papa, baby barlo! Dee!”

There he stands, holding up my little patent flask as though he had made
a wonderful discovery. To humor the child I took the little companion,
said “Ta-ta,” and was in the act of slipping it back to my wife, when
I decided to keep it. I am not partial to the cup that cheers and also
inebriates, and yet I have an appreciation of the pocket pistol that
warms, sustains and heartens in a long tramp on a zero afternoon with
only a dog for companionship and the chances of bagging anything much
reduced to a minimum. I stepped to the sideboard and filled the “barlo”
 _quantum suff_.

“Ah, Scrib! You’re early on deck” was the grunting of the Doc. “None of
the others are here yet. But I guess we’ll not have long to wait. There
is surely no laggard or lunkhead in our jolly sextette. On such an
occasion as a Christmas Eve hunt, with an oyster supper at stake, the
resources of our whole happy hunting grounds on trial, and the pluck
and prowess of six rival sports in question there should certainly be no
such word as ‘funk!”’

Even as the Doc spoke Tinker dropped in. Hardly was he seated when Shy
puffed his way into the little smoking room. We waited five minutes for
the Judge, and had become impatient before Budge put in an appearance.

What an assortment of unique nomenclature! Gun-club designations they
were, of course. In polite society “Scrib” was the village editor;
“Tinker” was our general store keeper; “The Judge” was young Lawyer
B------; “Budge” was mine host of the Queen’s Arms, and the “Doc” was just
the doctor--our large-hearted, clever, hard-working local M. D., the
life and soul of the sport-loving community, as he was also the idol of
the village and district for his skill, his unselfishness and his
unvarying _bonhomie_.

“Budge!” exclaims the Doc. “As president of this club I fine you----”

“I rise to a point of order!” breaks in the Judge. “This meeting is not
yet duly open, and, at all events, this is a special one, and
business of the regular order must be excluded. Referring to the

“Oh, to thunder with the constitution! Let us get off on our hunt!” And
Tinker looks annihilation at the order pointer.

“Well, well, fellows,” laughs the Doc, “I shall rule partially in
favor of both. I shall rule that Budge do tell us his latest joke as a
penalty. Come now, prisoner, out with it and save your fine!”

“Say, boys,” begins Budge, deprecatingly, “don’t insist. I’m sorry I
was late, but the fact is I was giving elaborate orders for the supper,
which I know it will be just my luck to get stuck for. One of my special
orders was to secure a magnificent roast and have it cooked in Ben
Jonson style.”

“Ben Jonson style? How is that?” queries the Doc.

“‘O, rare Ben Jonson!’ There, Mr. President,” he adds, when the laugh
ceases, “I believe that debt is squared.” We have made out our list and
fixed points, ranging from chipmunk, 1, to bear, 1,000.

“You leave out quail, I notice. Now that is an omission which----”

But the Judge is cut short on all sides.

“Out in the wild and woolly West, from whence you have but recently
emigrated to civilization and refinement,” remarks the Doc, “quail are
about as plentiful as hedge sparrows are here. But a quail has not been
seen in this section for ten years, I’ll venture to say. No, Judge, we
needn’t point on quail this time!”

“And yet,” I observe in an encouraging tone, “who knows but we may each
and all happen on a covey.”

“That is extravagant. But if any man should be lucky enough to bag a
brace, that I may enjoy one more good square meal of quail on toast,
I’ll stand the supper.” And the Judge looked straight at Budge.

“Now that is what I would call extravagant--supper for a whole party in
consideration of a dish of quail on toast. Suppose you yourself should
bag the brace. But this reminds me of the man who ordered quail on toast
in a Boston restaurant. He was brought in some toast. He waited a while.
Presently he called the waiter and repeated the order. ‘There you are,
sir!’ answered Thomas. ‘That? That is toast, of course; but where’s the
quail?’ The waiter pointed to a small speck in the centre of each slice,
looking like a baked fly. ‘Ah! so this dish is quail on toast, is it?’
‘Yes, sir!’ ‘Then you just remove it and bring me turkey on toast!’”

We draw lots for choice of directions, and fix 8 p. m. sharp for
reassembling to compare scores. My choice fell on a due north course,
along which, seven miles distant, lay cover where I had scarcely ever
failed to find at least fair sport and to take game, such as it was. And
I went it alone--barring my dog.

[Illustration: 0142]

Seven miles of hard footing it and I had only the brush of a couple of
red squirrels, the wing of a chicken hawk, and the lean carcass of a
small rabbit to show. I had sighted a fox far out of range, and had been
taken unawares by a brace of birds which Charlie had nobly flushed and I
had shockingly muffed.

The dog had followed the birds deeper into the wood, leaving me
angry and uncertain what to do. Suddenly I heard his yelp of rage and
disappointment give place to his business bark, and I knew my pup had a
tree for me. It was a sound not to be mistaken. My dog never now plays
spoof with me by tonguing a tree for hair. His business bark means
partridge every time. I hurried on as the dog gave tongue more sharp and
peremptory, taking a skirt to avoid a tangled piece of underbrush as I
began-to approach the critical spot.

The ruins of an old shanty lay fifty yards to my left, and between them
and me was a sort of _cache_ or root cellar, the sides intact but the
roof half gone.

All of a sudden there broke on my ear a sound I had not heard for many a

I listened, almost dumfounded. There it is again! And no mistaking it.
It is the pipe of a quail!

It came from a patch of meadow not many rods off, and it set every
nerve in my body a-tingling. Charlie and his partridges were out of mind
instanter. I had no manner of use for them at that supreme moment.

“It’s no stray bird!” I mentally ejaculated. “Perhaps it’s a regular
Kansas covey!” Heavens, what luck! The boys--the Judge--quail on
toast--the laugh--the amazement--the consternation--I conjured all these
things up in my excited brain in less time than it takes to tell it.

I started forward with every fibre a-tension. I was wild to get even a
glimpse of the little strangers.

[Illustration: 0144]

Suddenly--enough almost to puzzle me--the pipe was answered from the
mouth of the old potato pit, and the next instant “whir-r-r-r!” rose the
birds, and “bang! bang!” I gave them right and left at a range and with
a calculation that left three only to join and tell the tale to the
whistler in the meadow. Seven was the drop, and the birds were as plump
and pretty as ever I had set eyes on. I fairly chuckled aloud in glee
at the surprise I had in store for my club mates. I sat down, took a
congratulatory nip, and actually toyed with the quail as a boy would
with the first fruits of his initial day’s outing with his own boughten

My faithful dog Charlie had during this time stuck to his birds. I could
hear his angry bark growing angrier, and I could detect, as I fancied,
a shade of impatience and disappointment therein. A crack at a partridge
will be a change, I thought, and so I hurried in Charlie’s direction.

There he sat on a rotten stump, with eyes fixed on the brushy top of a
dead pine.

I looked that top over, limb by limb, but not a sign of a feather could
I detect. I made a circuit, and skinned every twig aloft in a vain
endeavor to discover a roosting bird. I began to think the pup was daft,
but I dismissed the reflection promptly as ungenerous and unfair to my
trusty cocker. I make solemn affidavit that, though I could not note the
suggestion of a partridge up that pine, my spaniel could see it as plain
as a pike staff.

“I’ll climb the stump!” said I. _Mirabile dictu!_ There, on lower limbs,
one above the other and hugging the bark so close that they seemed part
of it, were my missed brace!

“Bang!” and the topmost tumbles, nearly knocking his mate off as he

“Bang!” and down comes No. 2.

[Illustration: 8146]

Charlie manifests a sense of relieved anxiety and satisfaction that of
itself rewards me for the perplexing search.

But a drowsiness had been creeping over me till its influence had
become almost irresistible. I felt stupid and sleep-inclined.

Almost without knowing what I did I pulled out my flask, poured “just a
nip” a fair portion in the cup and drank it off. The twilight was
coming on and casting its sombre shadows, _avant coureurs_ of the black
winter night that was soon to envelop the scene for a brief while, till
fair Luna lit up the heavens and chased Darkness to its gloomy lair.

I have an indistinct recollection of recalling lines I have read
somewhere or other:

               When Life’s last sun is sinking slow and sad,

                   How cold and dark its lengthened shadows


                   They lie extended on the straightened path

                   Whose narrow close, the grave, must end it


               Oh, Life so grudging in your gifts, redeem

                   By one great boon the losses of the Past!

               Grant me a full imperishable Faith,

                   And let the Light be with me till the last.

Then all became a blank!

* * * * *

“Full? I never knew him to more than taste liquor. No, no! You’re
mistaken. He has either been knocked senseless by some accident or
mischance, or else he has fallen in a fit.”

It was the Doc who spoke. I suddenly grew seized of consciousness to the
extent of recognizing my old friend’s voice. But to indicate the fact
physically was impossible. I lay in a sort of trance, with lips that
would not open and hands that would not obey.

“Oh, all right, Doc! You ought to know!”

This time I caught the voice of the Judge.

“But he is in a pitiable plight. We must get to him and move him or he
may perhaps perish, if he’s not gone now. Drat that dog! I don’t want
to shoot him; and yet he’ll tear us if we try to lay hand on his master.
But lay hand on him we must. Is it a go, Doc?”

“It’s the only alternative, Judge. I like canine fidelity; but hang me
if this brute doesn’t suit too well! We’ll have to get him out of the
way and succor the man. Give it to him, Judge!”


By a superhuman effort, through some agency I never could account for,
I managed to utter that one word in a sort of half expostulatory, half
authoritative tone, or rather groan.

[Illustration: 0148]

It broke the spell.

My eyes opened. My arms regained power. Instinctively I reached out a
hand and drew my canine guardian toward me, placing a cheek against his
cold, moist nose. That was enough for Charlie. The faithful brute grew
wild with joy. He barked, whined, jumped, capered, pirouetted after his
own stump, and, in a word, did the most tremendous despite to all my
careful training in the line of reserved and dignified demeanor.

I rose to a sitting posture and finally drew myself up on my feet,
gazing around me in a bewildered, uncertain sort of way.

“Hello, boys, what’s the matter?” I managed to articulate.

“Hello, and what’s the matter yourself?” replied the Doc.

“Yes, that’s precisely what we came out here to know,” put in the Judge.

“I guess--I think--yes, let me see!--I believe I--I--must have dropped
off in a little doze, boys! Very kind of you to look me up. Only--say,
you never surely meant to shoot my dog? I’d have haunted both of you
to your respective dying days if you had, supposing I was a cold corpse
instead of a man taking a little nap.”

“Taking a little nap! Hear him! I should rather say you were. But, look
here, Scrib, do your little naps always mean two or three hours of the
soundest sleep a man ever slept who wasn’t dead or drugged?”

“Dead or drugged, Doc? Pshaw, you’re away off. You can see for yourself
I am not dead, and I can vow I wasn’t drugged.”

“Then you’ve been intoxicated, by George; and as president of the
Blank-ville Gun Club I’ll fine you----”

“Quail, as I live!”

“One--two--three; three brace and a half, Doc, and beauties, too! It
does my heart good to handle the darlings. Doc, if Scrib has been full
forty times to-day, he has more than atoned for the _lapsi_ with this
glorious bag. Whoop! Ya, ha! There’ll be quail on toast for the whole

By the time the Judge’s jubilation had ceased I had about regained my
normal condition and we were ready to make tracks homeward.

The clock strikes the midnight hour as I re-enter my own home. My wife
sits rocking the cradle, in which lies our darling Ted. She turns a
weary-looking, tear-stained face to me.

“Its all right, dear,” I gently remark, “I’m quite safe, as you see.”

“I haven’t the slightest doubt of it, sir,” she returns, icily. “It’s
not of you I’ve been thinking, but of baby.”

“Baby,” I repeat inquiringly. “What is the matter with him?”

“There is nothing the matter with him, but there is no telling what
might have been. And all owing to your foolish indulgence of his fancy
for bottles.”

“What does it mean, dear?” I venture. “It means that you had not been
gone an hour when I found Ted with that little two-ounce phial you left
half filled with laudanum on the lower pantry shelf yesterday. He had
evidently climbed a chair and reached it down. The cork was out and the
bottle was empty. You can perhaps imagine my feelings. I didn’t know
whether he had taken the stuff or not, but was in an agony of anxiety on
the point, you may be sure. The doctor was away hunting, you were away
hunting, and here was I fairly consumed with apprehension lest my baby
had poisoned himself.”

Like a flash the whole mystery of my stupor sleep revealed itself to
me. “Baby barlo”--flask--laudanum phial--whiskey--it was all as clear as

I said: “But it transpires he hadn’t taken any of the laudanum, eh?”

“Yes, thank Heaven! But for all of you-----”

“Listen, please. All I want to say is that what Ted missed I got. Do you

“Do _I_ understand! Are _you_ in your sane and sober senses, William?”

“I have a shrewd suspicion that I am,” I replied, with a slight laugh,
“and being so, I will repeat it: Baby didn’t down the poison; but I
guess I made up for that, because _I did!_”

Then I told her the story.

Of course I gained my point. It ended with---- but, no matter. The Judge
stood the supper in consideration of quail on toast being incorporated
in the menu, and we sat around the festive board in the Queen’s Arms
a week later, and talked over our Xmas Eve hunting match. No one was
disposed to question the sentiment in a speech by the Doc, who declared:
“Fellows, our prowess as a gun club is growing, and I verily believe
the old district is getting to be once more something like a half-decent
hunting ground. Let us keep together, be as men and brothers always,
and--I was nearly overlooking it--let us invariably wash out our pocket
pistols before filling ‘em up afresh.”

HERNE THE HUNTER, By William Perry Brown

|Herne the Hunter was tall, brown and grizzled. The extreme roundness
of his shoulders indicated strength rather than infirmity, while
the severing of his great neck at a blow would have made a feudal
executioner famous in his craft. An imaginative man might have divined
something comely beneath the complex conjunction of lines and ridges
that made up his features, but it would have been more by suggestion,
however, than by any actual resemblance to beauty traceable thereon. The
imprint of strength, severity and endurance was intensified by an open
contempt of appearance; only to a subtle second-sight was revealed aught
nobler, sweeter and sadder, like faint stars twinkling behind filmy

Some town-bred Nimrod, with a misty Shakespearean memory, had added to
his former patronymic of “Old Herne” that of Windsor’s ghostly visitor.
The mountaineers saw the fitness of the title, and “Herne the Hunter”
 became widely current.

His place of abode was as ambiguous as his history, being somewhere
beyond the “Dismal,” amid the upper caves and gorges of the Nantahalah.
The Dismal was a weird, wild region of brake and laurel, walled in by
lonely mountains, with a gruesome outlet between two great cliffs,
that nearly met in mid-air hundreds of feet over a sepulchral Canyon,
boulder-strewn, and thrashed by a sullen torrent, that led from a
dolorous labyrinth, gloomy at midday, and at night resonant with fierce
voices and sad sighings.

Far down in Whippoorwill Cove, the mountaineers told savage tales of
adventure about the outskirts of the Dismal, yet, beyond trapping
round the edges or driving for deer, it was to a great extent a _terra
incognita_ to all, unless Herne the Hunter was excepted.

“The devil air in the man, ‘nd hopes him out’n places no hones’ soul
keers to pester hisse’f long of.”

This was common opinion, though a few averred that “Old Herne ‘nd the
devil wern’t so master thick atter all.” Said one: “Why, the dinged old
fool totes his Bible eroun’ ez riglar ez he do his huntin’-shirt. Onct
when the parson wuz holdin’ the big August meetin’ down ter Ebeneezer
Meetin’-house, he stepped in. The meetin’ was a gittin’ ez cold ez hen’s
feet, ‘nd everybody a lookin’ at Herne the Hunter, when down he draps
onto his knees, ‘nd holdin’ on by his rifle he ‘gun ter pray like a
house afire. Wal, he prayed ‘nd he prayed, ‘twel the people, arter thur
skeer wuz over, ‘gun ter pray ‘nd shout too, ‘nd fust they all knowed,
the front bench wuz plum full of mou’ners. Wal, they hed a hog-killin’
time fur a while, ‘nd all sot on by Herne the Hunter, but when they
quieted down ‘nd begun ter luk fer him--by jing!--he wern’t thar. Nobody
hed seed him get erway, ‘nd that set ‘em ter thinkin’, ‘nd the yupshot
wuz they hed the bes’ meetin’ old Ebeneezer hed seed in many a year.”

Once a belated hunter discovered, when the fog came down, that he was
lost amid the upper gorges of the Nantahalahs. While searching for some
cranny wherein to pass the night, he heard a voice seemingly in mid-air
before him, far out over an abyss of seething vapor which he feared
concealed a portion of the dreaded Dismal. Memories of Herne the Hunter
crowded upon him, and he strove to retrace his steps, but fell into a
trail that led him to a cave which seemed to bar his further way. The
voice came nearer; his blood chilled as he distinguished imprecations,
prayers and entreaties chaotically mingled, and all the while
approaching him. He fled into the cave, and peering thence, beheld a
shadowy form loom through the mist, gesticulating as it came.

A whiff blew aside shreds of the fog, and he saw Herne the Hunter on the
verge of a dizzy cliff, shaking his long rifle, his hair disheveled, his
eyes dry and fiery, and his huge frame convulsed by the emotions that
dominated him. The very fury and pathos of his passion were terrifying,
and the watcher shrank back as old Herne, suddenly dropping his rifle,
clutched at the empty air, then paused dejectedly.

“Always thus!” he said, in a tone of deep melancholy. “Divine in
form--transfigured--beautiful--oh, so beautiful!--yet ever with the same
accursed face. I have prayed over these visitations. I, have sought in
God’s word that confirmation of my hope which should yet save me from
despair; but, when rising from my supplications, the blest
vision confronts me--the curse is ever there--thwarting its
loveliness--reminding me of what was, but will never be again.”

He drew a tattered Bible from his bosom and searched it intently. He was
a sight at once forbidding and piteous, as he stood with wind-fluttered
garments, his foot upon the edge of a frightful precipice, his head bent
over the book as though devouring with his eyes some sacred antidote
against the potency of his sorrow. Then he looked up, and the Bible fell
from his hands. His eyes became fixed; he again clutched at the air,
then fell back with a despairing gesture, averting his face the while.

“Out of my sight!” he cried. “Your eyes are lightning, and your smile is
death. I will have no more of you--no more! And yet--O God! O God!--what
dare I--what can I do without you?”

He staggered back and made directly for the cavern. The watcher shrank
back, while Herne the Hunter brushed blindly by, leaving Bible and rifle
on the rock without. Then the wanderer, slipping out, fled down the
narrow trail as though there were less peril from the dizzy cliffs
around than in the society of the strange man whose fancies peopled
these solitudes with such soul-harrowing phantoms.

Thus for years Herne the Hunter had been a mystery, a fear, and a
fascination to the mountaineers; recoiling from men, abhorring women,
rebuffing curiosity, yet’ at times strangely tender, sad, and ever
morbidly religious. He clung to his Bible as his last earthly refuge
from his darker self, and to the aspirations it engendered as a bane to
the fatalistic stirrings within him.

He was a mighty hunter and lived upon the proceeds of his skill. Once
or twice a year he would appear at some mountain store, fling down a
package of skins, and demand its worth in powder and lead. The jean-clad
loungers would regard him askance, few venturing to idly speak with
him, and none repeating the experiment. His mien daunted the boldest. If
women were there he would stand aloof until they left; on meeting them
in the road he would sternly avert his eyes as though from a distasteful
presence. One day the wife of a storekeeper, waiting on him in her
husband’s absence, ventured to say, while wrapping up his purchases:

“I’ve all’ays wonnered, Mr. Herne, what makes ye wanter git outen the
wimmen folks’ way? Mos’ men likes ter have ‘em eroun’.”

Herne the Hunter frowned heavily, but made no reply.

“I’m shore, if ye had a good wife long with ye way up thar whur ye
live, she’d make ye a leetle more like a man ‘nd less like a--a--” she
hesitated over a term which might censure yet not give offense.

“Like a beast you would say.” He exclaimed then with vehemence: “Were
the necks of all women in one, and had I my hands on it, I’d strangle
them all, though hell were their portion thereafter.”

He made a gesture as of throttling a giant, snatched his bundle from the
woman’s hand and took himself off up the road with long strides.


That night was a stormy one. Herne the Hunter was covering the last ten
miles between him and the Dismal in a pelting rain. The incident at the
store, trivial as it was, had set his blood aflame. He prayed and fought
against himself, oblivious of the elements and the darkness, sheltering
his powder beneath his shirt of skins where his Bible lay secure. In his
ears was the roar of wind and the groans of the tortured forest. Dark
ravines yawned beside him, out of which the wolf howled and the mountain
owl laughed; and once came a scream like a child, yet stronger and more
prolonged. He knew the panther’s voice, yet he heeded nothing.

At last another cry, unmistakably human, rose nearer by. Then he paused,
like a hound over a fresher scent, until it was repeated. He made his
way around a shoulder of the mountain, and aided by the gray light of a
cloud-hidden moon, approached the figures of a woman, a boy and a horse,
all three dripping and motionless.

“Thank God! we will not die here, after all,” exclaimed the female, as
Herne the Hunter grimly regarded them. “Oh, sir, we have missed the
way. This boy was guiding me to the survey camp of Captain Renfro, my
husband, on the upper Swananoa. He has sprained his foot, and we have
been lost for hours. Can you take us to a place of shelter? I will pay
you well--”

“I hear a voice from the pit,” said Herne, fiercely. “It is the way with
your sex. You think, though you sink the world, that with money you can
scale Heaven. Stay here--rot--starve--perish--what care I!”

After this amazing outburst he turned away, but her terror of the night
overbore her fear of this strange repulse, and she grasped his arm. He
shook himself free, though the thrill accompanying her clasp staggered
him. For years no woman’s hand had touched him; but at this rebuff she
sank down, crying brokenly:

“What shall I do? I should not have started. They warned me below, but I
thought the boy knew the way. Oh, sir! if you have a heart, do not leave
us here.”

“A heart!” he cried. “What’s that? A piece of flesh that breeds endless
woes in bosoms such as yours. All men’s should be of stone--as mine
is now!” He paused, then said abruptly: “Up with you and follow me. I
neither pity nor sympathize; but for the sake of her who bore me, I will
give you such shelter as I have.”

He picked up the boy, who, knowing him, had sat stupefied with fear, and
bade the woman follow him.

“But the horse?” she said, hesitating.

“Leave it,” he replied. “The brute is the best among you, but whither we
go no horse may follow.”

He turned, taking up the boy in his arms, and she dumbly followed him,
trembling, faint, yet nerved by her fears to unusual exertion. So rapid
was his gait, encumbered though he was, that she kept him in view with
difficulty. Through the gloom she could divine the perils that environed
their ever upward way. The grinding of stricken trees, the brawl of
swollen waters harrowed her nerves not less than the partial gleams
of unmeasured heights and depths revealed by the lightning. A sense of
helplessness exaggerated these terrors among the unknown possibilities
surrounding her.

It seemed as though they would never stop again. Her limbs trembled, her
heart thumped suffocatingly, yet their guide gave no heed, but pressed
on as though no shivering woman pantingly dogged his steps. They
traveled thus for several miles. She felt herself giving way totally
when, on looking up once more, she saw that the hunter had vanished.

“Where am I?” she cried, and a voice, issuing seemingly out of the
mountain-side, bade her come on. Her hands struck a wall of rock; on her
right a precipice yawned; so, groping toward the left, she felt as she
advanced that she was leaving the outer air; the wind and rain no longer
beat upon her, yet the darkness was intense.

She heard the voice of the boy calling upon her to keep near. Into the
bowels of the mountains she felt her way until a gleam of light shone
ahead. She hastened forward round a shoulder of rock into a roomy
aperture branching from the main cavern. The boy lay upon a pallet of
skins, while Herne the Hunter fixed the flaring pine-knot he had lighted
into a crevice of the rock. Then he started a fire, drew out of another
crevice some cold cooked meat and filled a gourd with water from a
spring that trickled out at one end of the cave.

“Eat,” he said, waving his hand. “Eat--that ye may not die. The more
unfit to live, the less prepared for death. Eat!”

With that he turned away and busied himself in bathing and bandaging the
boy’s foot, which, though not severely sprained, was for the time quite
painful. Mrs. Renfro now threw back the hood of her waterproof and laid
the cloak aside. Even old Herne--women hater that he was--could not
have found fault with the matronly beauty of her face, unless with its
expression of self-satisfied worldliness, as of one who judged others
and herself solely by conventional standards, shaped largely by flattery
and conceit.

She was hungry--her fears were somewhat allayed, and though rather
disgusted at such coarse diet, ate and drank with some relish.
Meanwhile, Herne the Hunter turned from the boy for something, and
beheld her face for the first time. A water-gourd fell from his hands,
his eyes dilated, and he crouched as he gazed like a panther before its
unsuspecting prey. Every fibre of his frame quivered, and drops of cold
sweat stood out upon his forehead. The boy saw with renewed fear this
new phase of old Herne’s dreaded idiosyncrasies. Mrs. Renfro at length
raised her eyes and beheld him thus. Instantly he placed his hands
before his face, and abruptly left the cavern. Alarmed at his
appearance, she ran toward the boy, exclaiming:

“What _can_ be the matter with him? Do you know him?”

“I knows more of him ‘n I wants ter,” replied the lad. “Oh, marm, that’s
old Herne, ‘nd we uns air the fust ones ez hev be’n in hyar whar he
stays. I ganny! I thort shore he’d hev yeaten ye up.”

“Well, but who is he?”

“Well, they do say ez the devil yowns him, not but what he air
powerful ‘ligyus. No one knows much ‘bouten him, ‘cep’n’ he’s all’ays a
projeckin’ eround the Dismal whar no one yelse wants ter be.”

“Has he been here long?”

“Yurs ‘nd yurs, they say.” Tommy shook his head as though unable to
measure the years during which Herne the Hunter had been acquiring his
present unsavory reputation, but solved the riddle by exclaiming: “I
reckon he hev all’ays be’n that-a-way.”

An hour or more passed. Tommy fell asleep, while the lady sat musing by
his side. She did not feel like sleeping, though much fatigued. Finally
she heard a deep sigh behind her, and turning saw the object of her
fears regarding her sombrely. The sight of her face appeared to shock
him, for he turned half away as he said:

“You have eaten the food that is the curse of life, in that it sustains
it. Yet such we are. Sleep, therefore, for you have weary miles to go,
ere you can reach the Swananoa.”

There was an indescribable sadness in his tone that touched her, and she
regarded him curiously.

“Who are you,” she asked, “and why do you choose to live in such a place
as this?”

“Ask naught of me,” he said, with an energy he seemed unable to repress.
“Ask rather of yourself who am I and how came I--thus.”

He struck himself upon the breast, and without awaiting an answer again
abruptly left the cave. She sat there wondering, trying to-weave into
definite shape certain vague impressions suggested by his presence,
until weariness overcame her and she slept.

Hours after, Herne the Hunter reentered the cave, bearing a torch. His
garments were wet, the rain-drops clung to his hair, and his face was
more haggard than ever. He advanced towards the slumbering woman softly,
and stood over her, gazing mournfully upon her, while large tears rolled
down his cheeks. Then his expression changed to one that was stern and
vindictive. His hand nervously toyed with the knife in his belt. Milder
thoughts again seemed to sway him, and his features worked twitchingly.

“I cannot, I cannot,” he whispered to himself. “The tears I thought
forever banished from these eyes return at this sight. There has never
been another who could so move me. Though thou hast been my curse, and
art yet my hell--I cannot do it. Come! protector of my soul; stand thou
between me and all murderous thoughts!”

He drew his Bible from his bosom, kissed it convulsively, then held it
as though to guard her from himself, and drawing backward slowly, he
again fled into the storm and darkness without.


The gray light of morning rose over the Dismal, though within the cave
the gloom still reigned supreme, when Herne the Hunter again stood at
the entrance holding a flaring light. Then he said aloud: “Wake, you
that sleep under the shadow of death! Wake, eat, and--pass on!” Mrs.
Renfro aroused herself. The boy, however, slept on. Herne fixed
his torch in the wall, and replenished the fire. Then he withdrew,
apparently to give the lady privacy in making her toilet.

She was stiff in limb and depressed in mind. After washing at the
spring, she wandered listlessly about the cave, surveying old Herne’s
scanty store of comforts. Suddenly she paused before a faded picture,
framed in long, withered moss, that clung to an abutment of the rock.
It was that of a girl, fair, slender and ethereal. There was a wealth of
hair, large eyes, and features so faultless that the witching sense of
self-satisfaction permeating them, added to rather than marred their

The lady--glancing indifferently--suddenly felt a thrill and a pain.
A deadly sense of recognition nearly overcame her, as this
memento--confronting her like a resurrected chapter of the past--made
clear the hitherto inexplicable behavior of their host. She recovered,
and looked upon it tenderly, then shook her head gently and sighed.

“You cannot recognize it!” said a deep voice behind her. “You dare
not! For the sake of your conscience--your hope in heaven--your fear of
hell--you dare not recognize and look upon me!”

She did not look round, though she knew that Herne the Hunter stood
frowning behind, but trembled in silence as he went on with increasing

“What does that face remind you of? See you aught beneath that beauty
but treachery without pity, duplicity without shame? Lo! the pity and
the shame you should have felt have recoiled upon me--me, who alone have
suffered.” He broke off abruptly, as though choked by emotion. She dared
not face him; she felt incapable of a reply. After a pause, he resumed,
passionately: “Oh! Alice, Alice! The dead rest, yet the living dead can
only endure. Amid these crags, and throughout the solitude of years, I
have fought and refought the same old battle; but with each victory it
returns upon me, strengthened by defeat, while with me all grows weaker
but the remorselessness of memory and the capacity for pain.”

She still stood, with bowed head, shivering as though his words were

“Have you nothing to say?” he asked. “Does that picture of your own
youth recall no vanished tenderness for one who--self-outcast of
men--fell to that pass through you?”

“I have a husband,” she murmured, almost in a whisper.

“Aye, and because of that husband I have no wife--no wife--no wife!”
 His wailing repetition seemed absolutely heartbroken; but sternly he
continued: “You have told me where he is. I say to you--hide
him--hide him from me! Even this”--he struck his bosom with his Bible
feverishly--“may not save him. I have prayed and wrought, but it is as
nothing--nothing--when I think--when I remember. Therefore, hide him
from me--lest I slay him--”

“You would not--you dare not harm him!” She faced him now, a splendid
picture of an aroused wife and mother. “He is not to blame--he knew you
not--he has been good to me--and--and--I love him.”

He shrank from the last words as though from a blow, and stood cowering.
Then he hissed out:

“Let me not find him. Hide him--hide him!”

Tommy here awoke with a yawn, and announced that his foot was about
well. Herne, closing his lips, busied himself about preparing breakfast,
which cheerless meal was eaten in silence. When they finally emerged
from the cave the sun was peeping into the Dismal below them; bright
gleams chased the dark shadows down the cliffs, and the morning mists
were melting. The storm was over; there was a twitter of birds, the
tinkle of an overflowing burn, and a squirrel’s bark emphasizing the
freshness of the morn. The pure air entered the lips like wine, and Mrs.
Renfro felt her depression roll off as they retraced the devious trail
of the night before.

They found the lady’s horse standing dejectedly near where he had been
left. The fog, in vast rolls, was climbing out of the Dismal, disclosing
dark masses of forest below. The flavor of pine and balsam slept
beneath the trees, every grass blade was diamond-strewn, and every sound
vivified by the sense of mighty walls and unsounded depths.

After Mrs. Renfro had mounted, Herne the Hunter swept an arm around. The
scene was savage and sombre, despite the sunlight. The intensity of the
solitude about them dragged upon the mind like a weight.

“Behold,” he said sadly, “this is my world. I can tolerate no other.”

She inwardly shuddered; then a wave of old associations swept over her
mind. Beneath the austerity of the man, beyond his selfish nurture of
affliction, she--for the moment--remembered him as he once was, homely,
kindly, enthusiastic and true. Had _she_ indeed changed him to this? Or
was it not rather the imperativeness of a passion, unable to endure
or forget her preference of another? Whatever the cause, her heart now
ached for him, though she feared him.

“Come with us,” she said. “You were not made to live thus.”

“I cannot--I dare not. It will take months to undo the misery of this

“My husband--”

“Do not name him!” he cried fiercely; then abruptly lowering his tone,
he said, with infinite sadness: “Ask me no more. Yonder, by that white
cliff, lies the Swan-anoa trail you missed yesterday. The kindest thing
you can do is to forget that you have seen me. Farewell!”

He turned away and swung himself down the mountain-side into the Dismal.
She saw the rolling mists close over him, and remained motionless in a
reverie so deep that the boy spoke twice to her before she turned her
horse’s head and followed him.

* * * * *

Above the surveyor’s camp lay the Swananoa Gap, a gloomy, precipitous
gorge through which the river lashed itself into milder reaches below.
Mrs. Renfro found her husband absent. With a single assistant he had
started for the upper defiles, intending to be gone several days. They
told her that he would endeavor to secure the services of Herne the
Hunter as a guide, as one knowing more of that wilderness than any one

Here was fresh food for wifely alarm. Herne had never met her husband,
yet the latter’s name would make known his relationship to herself. She
shuddered over the possibilities that might result from their sojourn
together--far from aid--in those wild mountains, and made herself
wretched for a week in consequence.

Meanwhile the transient fine weather passed; the rains once more
descended, and the peaks of Nantahalah were invisible for days amid a
whirl of vapor. The boom of the river, the grinding of forest limbs,
the shriek of the wind, made life unusually dreary at the camp. She lay
awake one night when the elements were apparently doing their worst. Her
husband was still absent--perhaps alone with a possible maniac, raving
over the memory of fancied wrongs.

Finally another sound mingled with and at last overmastered all
others--something between a crash and a roar, interblended with
sullen jars and grindings. Near and nearer it came. She sprang to the
tent-floor and found her feet in the water. The darkness was intense.
What could be the matter? Fear overcame her resolution and she shrieked

A man bearing a lantern burst into the tent with a hoarse cry. Its
gleams showed her Herne the Hunter, drenched, draggled, a ghastly cut
across his face, with the blood streaming down, his long hair flying,
and in his eyes a fierce flame.

“I feared I would not find you,” he shouted, for the roar without was
now appalling. “It is a cloud-burst above. In five minutes this hollow
will be fathoms deep. The tents lower down are already gone. Come!”

He had seized and was bearing her out.

“Save--alarm the others!” she cried.

“You first--Alice.”

In that dread moment she detected the hopelessness with which he called
her thus, as though such recognition was wrung from his lips by the pain
he hugged, even while it rended him.

“My husband?” she gasped, growing faint over the thought of his possible
peril--or death.

“Safe,” he hissed through his clenched teeth, for his exertions were
tremendous. With a fierce flap the tent was swept away as they left
it. About his knees the waters swirled, while limbs and other floating
débris swept furiously by.

What seemed to her minutes--though really seconds--passed amid a
terrific jumble of sounds, while the rain fell in sheets. It seemed
as though the invisible mountains were dissolving. They were, however,
slowly rising above the floods. She heard Herne’s hard breathing, and
felt his wild heart-throbs as he held her close. Something heavy struck
them, or rather him, for he shielded her. One of his arms fell limp, and
he groaned heavily. Then she swooned away, with a fleeting sensation of
being grasped by some one else.

Later, when she revived, there was a great hush in the air. Below, the
river gently brawled-; there was a misty darkness around, and the gleam
of a lantern held before a dear and familiar form.

“Husband--is it you?” she murmured.

“Yes, yes,” said Captain Renfro, “I thought I had lost you. You owe
your life to Herne the Hunter. In fact, but for him I would have been
overwhelmed myself.”

“Where is he?” she asked feebly.

“The men are searching for him. Just as one of them got hold of you, he
fell back--something must have struck him, and the flood swept him off.
I tell you, Alice, that man--crazy or not--is a hero. We were on our way
down and had camped above the Gap, when the cloud-burst came. We knew
you all would be overwhelmed before we could get round here by the
trail; so what does Herne do but send us on horseback by land, while
he scoots down that Canyon in a canoe--little better than an eggshell.
Risked his life in that awful place to get here in time. I insisted on
going with him at first.”

“Just like you, George,” said the wife fondly, though in her mind’s eye
came a vision of Herne the Hunter battling with that Niagara to save
and unite the two, through whom his own life had been made a burden. She
sighed and clasped her husband’s hand, while he resumed:

“I was a fool, I expect, for the canoe would have swamped under both of
us. He knew this, and ordered me off with a look I did not like;
there was madness in it. Well, we hurried round by the trail with, one
lantern; Herne took the other. When we got here, you were apparently
dead, Herne and two of the men swept off--the camp gone from below, and
so on.”

A cry was now heard. Several men hastened down, and soon lights were
seen returning. Four of them bore Herne the Hunter. One arm and a leg
were broken, and his skull crushed in; yet the wonderful vitality of the
man had kept him alive and sensible.

“We found him clinging to a sapling,” said one. “But he’s about
gone--poor fellow!”

Poor fellow, indeed! Mrs. Renfro felt the lumps rise in her throat as
she gazed upon that wreck, and thought. Presently Herne opened his
eyes--already filling with the death-mist--and his gaze fell upon her

“Alice,” he whispered, “my troubles--are over. This”--he tugged at
something in his bosom with his uninjured arm, when some one drew forth
his Bible, drenched and torn--“this saved me. I could have killed him--”
 he glanced at Renfro, who amid his pity now wondered. “I could--but--I
saved you. And--now--Jesus--have mercy--”

These were his last words, for in another minute Herne the Hunter was a
thing of the past, and a weeping woman bent over him. After that there
was silence for a while. Then the wife said to her husband, while the
others removed the dead man:

“It was his misfortune, not my fault, that he loved me. Has he not made

And the husband, with his hands clasped in hers, could find no other
heart than to say:

“Aye--most nobly!”

UNCLE DUKE’S “B’AR” STORY, By Lillian Gilfillan

|I ‘LOWED ez mebbe you uns ud like ter hear thet thar b’ar story. I
reckon it’s ten year this December since it all happened. I war a-livin’
up in thet house on th’ edge uv th’ corn fiel’ ‘long side th’ branch,
an’ ef it ‘t’warn’t fer thet b’ar I’d be a-livin’ thar yet, ‘stead uv
a-settin’ in th’ warm corner uv Jim Ladd’s fireplace.

I ‘low ez yer knowed Jim didn’t hev no great sight uv worldly efects
when he married Becky Crabtree; I don’t reckon his daddy war able ter do
much fer him, ‘ceptin’ ‘lowin’ him the use uv thet yoke uv ole steers uv

Thet war afore they moved th’ mill out’n th’ holler yander, so it war
right handy fer Jim ter haul his logs ter, an’ he jes’ worked hisse’f
plumb nigh ter death a-gettin’ up thet leetle log house uv his’n, an’
a-plantin’ fruit trees an’ sech, an’ all summer Becky worked jes’ ez
hard a-berry pickin’, tendin’ her truck patch an’ a-peddlin’ up ter th’

An’ in th’ winter time when Jim war a-makin’ dish shelves an’ a-puttin’
some new splits inter th’ bottoms uv them ole chiers his daddy give him,
Becky war a-peecin’ quilts an’ a-spinnin’ cloth fer dresses. Waal, in
th’ spring they war married an’ went ter live in ther house on th’ side
uv th’ mounting, out’n no neighbors, ‘ceptin’ me, fer a mile or more
down th’ cove.

Thet war th’ spring I war tuck so bad with this misery in my back an’
afore summer I war so cript up I warn’t no ‘count whatever.

One mornin’ jes’ ez I war a gettin’ up from afore the fire whar I hed
been a-eatin’ a snack uv breakfast, Becky walked in, lookin’ ez fresh ez
a fiel’ uv early corn, and sez:

“Uncle Duke, I ‘lowed I’d come in an’ see how you war an’ rid up a
leetle fur yer.”

I h’ant never been used ter wimen folks, an’ I could’nt git th’ consent
uv my mind ter set by an’ see every thin’ pot out’n its nat’ral place,
so I reched my stick an’ out’n sayin’ nothin’ I riz up an’ went out
under th’ big gum tree.

It warn’t long afore Becky kem out with her bucket on her arm, an’ sez:

“Good-bye, Uncle Duke. I reckon I’ll be a-gittin’ along ter th’ berry
patch yan-der.”

I sed, “Thank yer, Becky. Don’t yer come no more ter tend ter me. I ‘low
you’s got a plenty ter do ‘out’n a-doin’ thet.”

Yer see, I didn’t want ter be pestered with her fixin’, yit she was so
obleegin’ ter everybody I didn’t want ter ‘fend her by axin’ her ter
stay ter hum. Waal, when I went in an’ seed how piert things looked, I
jes’ wished I’d a-kep’ my pipe in my mouth ‘stead uv a-jawin’ her. Spite
uv my sayin’ time an’ ag’in fer her ter rest when her own work war done,
she kep’ a-comin’. I ‘lowed she seed how much I enjoyed havin’ things
liken white folks lived in the house.

I ‘low she war jes’ ez bright an’ happy thet year ez enny woman in the
cove ez hed a plenty.

An’ summer an’ winter she ‘peared ter be always a-workin’.

Waal in th’ middle uv March leetle Jim kem, and I reckon thar warn’t
no two happier people in th’ world. They war proud uv thet baby, an’ no

The fust time I seed Becky arter it war born, she pulled a leetle hand
out’n from under th’ kiver an’ sez:

“Uncle Duke, some day thet leetle han’ll chop wood fur his mammy.”

Waal, it did’nt look much like handlin’ an axe thin.

Thet summer she use ter roll th’ baby up in her daddie’s ole army
blanket an’ take it with her berry pickin’ an’ peddlin’ an’ everywhars;
it ‘peared like she didn’t think its weight nothin’, un’ she’d go
‘long th’ road talkin’ ter it like ez ef a baby four months ole knowed
ennythin’. With th’ money from her berries she bought th’ winter
clothes--mostely things fur th’ baby an’ flannel shirts fur her
man--‘peared like she thought th’ cold wouldn’t tech her.

It war th’ last uv th’ next June thet th’ twins war born. This time
Becky didn’t seem ter git ‘long so piert--jes’ lay still an’ pale like,
an’ a lookin’ at the baby gals sad an’ pityin’. I reckon she war a
wonderin’ whar th’ warm winter clothes they’d need by’ an’ by’ war
ter be got from. It warn’t in reason ter ‘spose a woman could tote two
babies an’ do much at pickin’ berries.

Jim worked ez hard ez enny man could, but his ole mare died jist at
fodder pickin’ time, an’ he couldn’t do much out’n a critter, so a right
smart uv his crap war lost. Becky didn’t seem ter get strong ez she did
afore, an’ her sister up an’ left her sooner ‘en she oughter. She seemed
tar be kinder mad all th’ time ter think Becky had gone an’ hed twins,
an’ she didn’t keep her ‘pinions hid. I reckon Becky warn’t sorry when
she went back ter her man.

Ez I war a-sayin’, it war ten year ago this December, an’ a right smart
uv snow on th’ ground, when Becky came by my house one mornin’ ter ax me
ef I’d go down an’ watch th’ fire an’ leetle Jim fer a spell. I seed she
war lookin’ anxious like, an’ I axed her what war th’ matter.
“Jim went a-rabbit huntin’ yesterday evenin’,” she sed, “an’ he ain’t
kem hum yit; I reckon somethin’ hes happened ter him, an’ I ‘lowed I’d
go an’ see. The babies ez both asleep an’ I speck ter be home afore

She went on up th’ mounting path a-makin’ fur the top, a-holpin’ herse’f
over the sleek places with that hickory stick uv her’n.

I went on down ter th’ house an’ found leetle Jim a-noddin’ afore th’
fire. It war about’n th’ time he always tuck his nap. Pretty soon he
war ez sound asleep ez ef he war on th’ biggest feather bed in th’ cove,
‘stead uv jes’ his mammy’s cook apron under his little yaller head.

I pot on a fresh log an’ was mighty nigh asleep myse’f when one o’ th’
babies waked up an’ cried a leetle.

Somehow I got th’ cradle in an awk’ard place acrost a plank ez war all
warped up an’ th’ churnin’ back an’ fore waked up th’ t’other ‘un.
She jes’ lay thar a-look-in’ fust at me an’ then at her leetle sister,
kinder onsartin whether ter cry or not.

By an’ by I thought I’d holp her back ter sleep, so I tuck her leetle
han’ an’ tried ter pot her thumb in ter her mouth, but thar warn’t
nobody knowed enny better thin thet thar baby thet she didn’t want no
thumb feedin’. I got up an’ went fur some milk, fust a-lookin’ out’n th’
door ter see ef Becky war a-comin’.

Seein’ ez thar warn’t no sign uv her no-whar, I ‘lowed I try ter feed
th’ young uns, beein’s th’ both uv them war a-doin’ ther best at cryin’.

They didn’t seem ter take much ter my feedin’; I reckon thet war ‘cause
I didn’t set th’ milk afore th’ fire fust, an’ somehow it ‘peared like’
th’ milk most in general went down th’ outside uv ther necks; an’ Annie
(that war th’ little un) kept a chokin’ tell I had ter take her up. Jes’
ez soon ez thet leetle critter got whar she could look ‘round an’ sense
things, she ‘peared quite satisfied.

I managed ter git t’other un (Fannie) out’n the cradle. They jumped an’
twisted tell I thought I’d die uv the misery in my back, but whin I pot
them down they yelled like hallelujer!

‘Peard like they’d kept me a-dancin’ a powerful long time, whin I heerd
voices an’ I ‘lowed Becky war come, but it turned out ter be Mitch
Pendergrass an’ Sonk Levan, with some rabbits an’ ther guns. They hed
stopped by ter git warm.

Whin they seed me a-settin’ thar nussin’ two babies ter onct they bust
out larfin’. Fannie hed holt uv my left year an’ the leetle hair I hed
on my head. Annie war a-sittin’ on my knee a gazin’ at Sonk an’ Mitch,
a-wonderin’ why they war a-larfin’.

“I ‘low, Uncle Duke,” sez Sonk, “ez yer’ve tuck ter lamin’ nussin’ late
in life. It shows yer pluck ter commence on two ter onct. Whar’s Becky?”

“She air gone ter look fer Jim,” sez I. “He went out a-huntin’ last
night an’ he ain’t never come hum this mornin’. She war oneasy ‘bout him
an’ went out ter look fur him. ‘Lowed ez she’d be hum afore this.”

Mitch went ter the door an’ looked out an’ thin cornin’ back ter th’
fire, sez he:

“It’s arter twelve o’clock, nigh ez I kin calkerlate. Thar seems ter be
a big black cloud a-hangin’ over th’ Top.

“Becky ought’en ter be out in no sich. I reckon we’d better be a-movin’.
Mebbe Jim’s happened ter an acci_tent_ an’ she’s a-tryin’ ter holp him
by herse’f.

“She’s plucky, _she_ is.”

“Waal,” sez Sonk, “Mitch, you give Uncle Duke a lesson in baby feedin’
(the father uv ten ought’n ter know somethin’ bout’n thet business);
I’ll tote in enough wood ter burn a spell, an’ thin we’ll light out’n
hyar an’ hunt up Becky an’ Jim.” Arter Mitch’s learnin’ me ter hold th’
spoon un’ ter warm th’ milk an’ ter pot in sweetenin’ me an’ th’ babies
got on fine. Soon I hed them both sleepin’, kivered up ter th’ years,
an’ th’ cradle sot in a warm place. Then I began ter feel powerful
hungry, an’ leetle Jim, though he ain’t sed nothin’, hed been a-watchin’
thet thar spoon an’ milk cup while I fed th’ babies, an’ a openin’ his
mouth long side uf them.

I skun one uv Sonk’s rabbits, an’ it warn’t no time tel th’ corn bread
war a-cookin’ in th’ bake pan an’ th’ rabbit a-jumpin’ up in th’ grease.

Arter dinner Jim set on my knee jes’ ez quiet, never axin’ fer his mammy
onct, an’ thim babies slept on jes’ like they knowed they war twins
an’ ther mammy gone. Pretty soon it began ter get dark an’ th’ snow war
a-fallin’ ag’in a leetle. Jim went ter sleep an’ I pot him ter bed. The
time ‘peared ter go powerful slow arter that, an’ I began ter nod.

It must have been eight o’clock whin voices in th’ yard waked me. I
opened th’ door an’ Mitch called out:

“Stir up the fire an’ give us a leetle more light. Thar ain’t no bones
broke, but Jim don’t feel egsactly piert.”

They brung him in an’ his face war jes’ ez pale an’ he looked powerful

Most of his coat war tore of’en him an’ th’ blood war a-droppin’ from
a place in his arm. Becky looked plumb wore out, but th’ fust thin’ she
did soon ez Jim war on th’ bed war ter lean over th’ cradle an’ sez:

“Uncle Duke, war my babies good?”

“Jes’ ez good ez two leetle angels,” I sed, spitin’ th’ fact th’ side uv
my head war pretty sore from ther pullin’ an’ scratchin’.

She helped ter git Jim’s arm wrapped up an’ him warm in bed, an’ thin
began ter get supper, like nothin’ hed happened out’n th’ common. Whin I
seed how pale she looked, I sed:

“Jus’ yer git out th’ plates an’ I’ll tend the fire. I ‘low arter
cookin’ fer nigh thirty year, I kin git a snack yer can eat.”

It twarn’t long until another rabbit war in th’ pan an’ th’ coffee
a-boilin’. Jim looked up whin he smelt the cookin’ an’ sez:

“I reckon we’ll hev a little bigger meat fer to-morrow.”

I war jes’ ez curious ez enny ole woman, but everybody was so tired an’
hungry I didn’t ax anny questions.

Becky war a-sittin’ in a low chier afore th’ fire with leetle Jim on her
lap a-warm-in’ his leetle feet in her han’. I could see th’ tears war
a-chasin’ each other down her face.

Mon! but they did eat. Jim, too, and I had’ ter git th’ cold meat left
from dinner ter hev enough.

When they hed got up from th’ table Sonk sed:

“Mitch, your wife’ll need you with all thim chil’n; I ‘low you’d better
be a-goin’. I reckon I’ll stop hyer; step by an’ tell Sallie ter hev
breakfast early, an’ tell leetle Lular pappy’ll be home in th’ mornin’.
You hev th’ mules ready early; I am afeard uv th’ varmints a-gittin’
Becky’s game.”

Arter Mitch war gone an’ things picked up they told me ther story.

‘Pears like thar warn’t no trouble in a trackin’ Becky up ter th’ top,
an’ they found her a-tryin’ ter work Jim out’n a hole in th’ bluff.

Th’ night afore, jes’ ez Jim war a-makin’ fur hum with his game, he hed
run agin’ a big b’ar. He up an’ fired, but missed, it bein’ most dark.
The b’ar war on him afore he could load agin, an’ makin’ a pass at him
with its big paw, knocked th’ musket out’n his han’s an’ bruck it plumb
in two. Jim hed jes’ time ter make up a saplin’ an’ Mr. B’ar set down
under him ter bide his time.

He sot thar a long spell, an’ it war most midnight, nigh ez Jim could
tell, whin the b’ar made off an’ lay down, seein’ Jim warn’t willin’ ter
come down an’ be et. Waal, Jim decided thin he would come down an’ run
fur it, ‘lowin’ a hot chase war better’n freezin’ up thar. So down he
dumb an’ lit out, Mr. B’ar arter him. Jes’ ez they struck the bluff path
the b’ar got so near thet it riz up an’ grabbed him. Jim bein’ quick
got away, leavin’ Mr. B’ar most uv his coat ter ‘member him by, but in
backin’ away he wint too far an’ fell inter a crack in th’ bluff.

It warn’t very nice failin’, but the crack warn’t over four feet deep
an’ full uv leaves at the bottom, so bein’ out’n the wind they made a
more comfortable place ter spend th’ night in then th’ saplin’.

Pretty soon Jim hed occasion ter know he war hurt some.

The bar had tore his left arm right smart an’ in fallin’ his face hed
got skun up dreadful. Th’ b’ar walked up an’ down, a-smellin’ down thet
crack sorter much like, but by-an’-by he went off a leetle an’ lay down,
I spect arguin’ with hisse’f thet Jim would come out’n th’ hole liken he
did out’n th’ saplin.’

Jim wrapped up his arm the best he could with a piece uv his shirt

It war daylight when he waked an’ th’ fust thin’ he seed war th’ head uv
thet thar b’ar a-lookin’ down at him.

He knowed it war’n’t no use ter holler, so he jes’ lay thar thinkin’
‘bout Becky an’ th’ babies an’ leetle Jim--wonderin’ ef she’d think he’d
quit her.

The thought uv Becky’s thinkin’ enny bad uv him made him groan with a
new kind uv pain, an’ whin he moved a leetle he fainted away. I reckon
thet war jes’ ‘bout’n th’ time Becky got thar, fer she said she heerd a
groan down in thet hole an’ thin all war still. She war jes’ a-goin’ ter
call whin she spied thet b’ar a-lookin’ down inter th’ crack.

‘Bout ten foot to th’ left uv whar Jim war fust the mounting breaks
away, leavin’ a pres’pus uv forty foot or more, but thar’s a leetle
ledge at th’ top whar you kin look inter thet crack in th’ bluff.

It war fur thet leetle ledge the b’ar made jes’ ez Becky halted. When
it clumb down she made sure it would git ter Jim (she war sure he war in
thet crack), so she follered quiet ez she could, an th’ snow bein’ soft
kept th’ b’ar from hearing her--until she war right behind it--whar it
war leanin’ down over th’ edge a-tryin’ ter git inter th’ crack. ‘Fore
it could turn on her she gave it a powerful push with her hickory stick,
an’ being so fur over an’ so heavy the b’ar lost hisse’f, an’ down he
went with a crash into th’ underbrush.

Becky’d gone too, only her dress war caught in some bushes an’ thet
saved her.

She couldn’t do nothin’ but lay on th’ ground an’ rest a spell, thin she
crawled ter th’ edge an’ looked down ter make sure th’ b’ar war dead.

Hearin’ Jim groan agin she got up an’ went ter him.

He war clean gone in a faint agin before she could get down ter him.
When she got him to again she gave him th’ flask uv milk she hed

She worked with him ter keep him warm, but she couldn’t do much,
th’ place war so norrow. It seemed an age before he got so he knowed
anythin’, an’ she had made up her mind ter leave him an’ go fur help
whin Sonk and Mitch got thar. An’ ‘twixt ‘m they soon got Jim out an’
laid him on the ole army blanket I hed sent, an’ they axed Becky how
come he thar. She told them what she knowed, but they wouldn’t believe
about th’ b’ar until she showed them whar it lay. Whin Mitch looked over
an’ seed fur hisse’f he jis’ sed ‘By Gosh!’ an’ runnin’ back to whar he
could scramble down made down th’ side like a coon. Sonk war about ter
follow, when he stopped an’ turned ter Becky, tellin’ her ter see ter
Jim till they could come up agin. He give her a bottle uv applejack
out’n his pocket, which he said he carried fur snake bite. Becky never
said nothin’ ‘bout’n snakes most in general stayin’ in th’ ground in
winter time, but gave a little of the liquor ter Jim an’ tuck a leetle
dram herse’f.

I reckon ef it hadn’t been fer Sonk’s snake medicine, they both a-been
down sick from th’ cold an’ wet.

Ez soon ez th’ men could git a good kiverin’ uv snow over th’ b’ar ter
keep wild cats from pesterin’ it, they kem up an’ took up th’ ends uv
Jim’s blanket ter fotch him hum. It war slow work, th’ path bein’ steep
an’ norrow, an’ Jim heavy, so it war eight o’clock afore they got down.
Waal, th’ next day they got th’ bar down, an’ mon! he war a big ‘un.

They skun him an’ put th’ meat up fur sale at th’ store. A young fellar
from th’ North ez war a-stayin’ at th’ station give Becky $12 fur th’
hide, ter take home ter his gal, I reckon.

The meat sold well, an’ altergether I reckon Becky never seed so much
money at one time afore in her life. She wanted ter divide with Sonk
an’ Mitch, but they wouldn’t hear to it, an’ she couldn’t make them took
nary cent. Afore th’ week war out she went ter th’ station an’ bought
shoes an’ warm clothes fur all an’ enough ter last two winters, an’ soon
Becky’s fingers war busy. She made some red flannel shirts fur me,
‘cause she sed they be good fer th’ misery in my back.

An’ whin I sed my fire hed been out a week an’ I’d eat enough uv other
folks’ corn bread an’ coffee, Becky up and sed:

“I ‘low ez yer’d better stay, Uncle Duke; I’ve got a sight uv sewin’
ter do an’ yer got ter be so handy with th’ babies I can’t hardly spare

Arter thet we jined corn fiel’s an’ next year war a powerful good one
fer craps an’ fruit.

I tended th’ chil’n while Becky went fur berries and did her peddlin’.

We ain’t a-gettin’ rich, but we has a plenty, an’ I don’t reckon we air
got anythin’ in a worldly line to ax th’ Lord fur he ain’t already done
give us.

[Illustration: 5184]


_A Bit of Mexican Adventure_.

|WE were sitting in the hotel in San Antonio, and the conversation had
taken that satisfactory turn and confidential coloring which it will
take amongst congenial companions round an open wood fire.

[Illustration: 9185]

We had been expressing our individual opinions about men and things,
especially men, and had derived a sleepy satisfaction from our general
criticisms. There were men among us who had seen a good deal of frontier
life, and, as one man said, “he had seen so many men die with their
boots on, it seemed the natural end.” My nearest neighbor in the circle
was a young artist from New Orleans, known throughout the city as “Jim
the Painter,” from the art he practiced to get his living. He turned and
asked me if I knew Jack Dunton; and when I denied the honor, he said:
“Well, you ought to; he is a map of the whole Indian country.”

This awakened my interest. I found that Dunton was living in San
Antonio, that his life had been really wonderful in experiences and
adventures, that he was very intelligent as well as recklessly
brave, and finally, that his acquaintance was worth any man’s time to
cultivate. Later in the evening we walked over to Dunton’s office,
a long, pleasant room in the second story of a flat-roofed _adobe_
building that covered nearly half an acre. Both its stories were
crammed full of the goods he sold--wagons, harnesses, and all sorts of
agricultural tools.

Dunton’s own room was a mighty interesting place, principally in its
decorations. The walls and doorways were hung with bright-colored and
strange-figured Mojave and Navajoe blankets, skins and weapons were
scattered around or arranged as trophies, while clumsy and rude
implements of Aztec and Mexican fashioning, from Yucatan to Chihuahua,
were suspended against the sides, or heaped in the corners. A large open
fire, with blazing cedar logs, filled the room with the aromatic odor
so pleasant and characteristic of that wood, and lighted it with
fitful glares. There were many interesting stories connected with this
collection, and every article in the room seemed to remind Dunton of an
experience or incident in his varied career. After being introduced and
comfortably seated in a chair, he passed us cigars, and while we were
lighting these preliminaries to sociability he drew a square of corn
husk from one side-pocket of his sack coat and a pinch of tobacco from
the other side-pocket, and quietly rolled a cigarette, which gave out a
pungent, penetrating odor. It was not disagreeable, but it struck me as
being peculiar, even for Texas. Upon remarking that it seemed different
from ordinary tobacco, Dunton replied, “It is, and I have good reason to
like it, for once it saved my life.”

This aroused my curiosity, and with some little urging he told us the
story. “This tobacco,” said Dunton, “comes from the town of Carcinto,
quite a mining settlement of _adobe_ houses and stockades, surrounding
a Mexican convict station in the center of the state of Chihuahua. It is
made by the convicts, who treat the ordinary tobacco with the juice of
a native plant, which gives it the pungent flavor you notice and, I
suspect, a slight narcotic power; be that as it may, now that I am used
to it, other tobacco is flat and tasteless. I was down there some years
ago, trying to sell the mine-owners some carts, harness, and things in
my line, and I became well acquainted with the nature of these convicts,
and I tell you, I would rather take my chances in a den of mountain
lions than among those fellows when they revolt. At such times they are
madly insane, and nothing is too hellish for them.

“I had made a good thing of my deal and was anxiously waiting for an
escort,--for I had four thousand Mexican dollars, and a man of my shape
takes no chances in toting money around in that country.

“The day that I remember particularly--and you will see I have reason
to--was the day before I was to go out from the mine with the mule
train. That afternoon I went in the levels with Senor Bustino, one of
the owners, a gentleman, every inch of him--and I tell you, no finer
gentleman walks the earth than a high-caste Mexican of Castilian blood.

“I had sold them a few dozen American pickaxes, and one of the convict
gangs was to try them that day for the first time. It was the first lot
of pickaxes ever used in that mine, and, as the sequel proved, the last.
The men were doing with them twice the business they had formerly done
with their clumsy heavy hoes. Two soldiers with _escopetas_ were on
guard, and two overseers with pistols and heavy canes were directing
the work. To get a better and nearer view, Sefior Bustino and I crowded
through until we came to the rotten ledge filled with the silver, upon
which they worked. The convicts stopped and gazed upon us curiously,
some of them pushing back their long black hair out of their eyes
and staring with undisguised wonder at me, for I was a _gringo_, a
_heretico_, and a strange object to them in those early days, with my
paler skin and peculiar dress. Near me was a large black fellow, bare
to the waist.. He was short-necked and broad-shouldered, and his cheeks
were so high as to partly close his little fierce eyes; his nose was low
and flat, while his chin was sharp and prominent, with a deep scowl;
in fact, a bundle of animal appetites and passions done up in a hideous
form. As we passed he drew from the folds of his drawers--the only
clothing he wore--a pinch of tobacco and a com husk, and making a
cigarette he stepped to one of the grease-wood torches and lighted it,
blowing out a great cloud of pungent, aromatic smoke from his broad
nostrils, that filled the space around us with the odor you noticed from
my cigarette.

“That was my first experience with that tobacco, and, indeed, my first
smell of its peculiar odor, and I have never forgotten it. I dined that
evening with the old senor and was introduced to his family; his wife, a
Mexican lady prematurely aged--as they all are, two daughters, handsome
as angels, and was shown the picture of their son, a young man who was
then being educated in Paris. They were delightful people, especially
to one who had been trucking for weeks across the dusty plains of
Chihuahua, with only _peons_ and mules for company, and we had a fiery
Mexican dinner, spiced with the jokes of the village priest, who was an
honored guest. At ten, with the hearty wishes of the whole family, and
after the elaborate Mexican custom of withdrawal, I left them. As I
sauntered out in the moonlight I could not shut out of my mind the
brutish face of the convict in the mine. Perhaps the round faces and
handsome eyes of the senor’s pretty daughters may have emphasized the
memory of the convict’s ugly head; otherwise I was in a happy mood.

“I turned the corner of the street and entered a short dark lane that
led toward the prison stockade. There was an occasional _adobe_ house,
but the street was mostly lined with the miserable mud _jacals_ of the
poorer Mexicans. I had hardly gotten well into it when I sniffed
the same pungent odor that the convict’s cigarette had given out.
It startled me a trifle, conjuring up, as it did, the hideous mental
picture of the man. I had but just realized this association when I
heard the clanging of the cathedral bells in that hurried, nervous
manner which has alarm in its every note--for the tone of a bell always
partakes of the state that its ringer is in. I heard the sound of
approaching voices, loud and fierce, mixed with the alarming notes of
the bells, and I stepped into the dark doorway of the nearest house.
Next, there was the spatting of bare feet on the hard street, and a
yelling crowd hurriedly rushed by my hiding-place, leaving a trailing
smell of the same tobacco. I noticed the gleam of white handles in the
moon-lighted street that I had seen in the yellow light of the mine,
and then I knew that the convicts had revolted, and that they were armed
with the pick-axes I had sold the mining company.

“The bells continued to clang out their terror, and the distant shouting
became blended into the continuous murmur that you hear from a distant
crowd of excited people. Once in a while the roar of an _escopeta_ would
be heard, and soon I saw a magenta glow in the sky, and I knew the town
had been fired. Then followed the rapid snapping of pistols, and soon
the bellow of the old brass _escopetas_ denoted that the guards had
mustered, and that there was an organized resistance to the revolt. All
this occurred quicker than I can tell it. I concluded to get back into
the broad street I had just come out of, for if there is to be shooting,
I want a clear space and as much light as I can get.

“Just as I turned the corner, on a run, with both of my colts on a
shooting level--for, by the way, it is always best to come upon your
enemy suddenly and surprise him before he knows you are there--I
saw several bodies in the street, and in the distance some dozen men
retreating. I stopped near by the first body I came to; and to my horror
I saw it was the still warm corpse of Senor Bustino. As I paused and
stooped to more closely examine, I thought I could detect the lingering
smell of that hellish convict’s tobacco. Had the fiends attacked my
host’s home and dragged him insensate through the streets, or had he
been slain whilst hurrying to the post of duty, at the sound of the
alarm he knew well the meaning of? If the former, good God! what had
been the fate of his wife and lovely daughters? The very thought
momentarily unnerved me; and if the convicts had not yet wreaked their
vengeance, could I reach them in time to be of effective service? Louder
and louder roared the tumult, nearer and nearer came the flashing,
glinting lights of torch and pistol, and as I swept round into the
street in which Senor Bustino’s house stood I could see, pouring down
the hill toward it, a demoniac gang led by the bare-breasted convict
whose baleful face had haunted me.

“I found the senora and her daughters alone and, thank God! unharmed;
but not a moment too soon, for even as I hurried them through into the
darkness of the night the convicts, with curses on their tongues, lust
in their heart, and red ruin in their hands, swarmed into the house.
A momentary check came as their leader and another fell in the narrow
door, beneath the fire of my two revolvers, and the flames which leaped
up from that erewhile home lent their last protection in the shadow they
cast, which enabled us, by availing ourselves of it, to escape. By the
time we arrived at my hotel the convicts had flown to the mountains and
we heard the story of the revolt. If I had not smelled that tobacco I
should not have concealed myself in the doorway, my life would not have
been worth a picayune, and you may imagine what would have been the fate
of my hostess and her household. Senor Bustino, it appeared, had fallen
a victim to the high chivalry which prompted him, hearing the bell and
knowing its meaning, to hastily summon his servants, and with five or
six armed _peons_ hasten out to overtake me and bid me return to his
house until all danger was over. He had met the convicts, who had
attacked him and struck him down, while most of his servants fled.”

Dunton paused, made and lighted another cigarette, and continued: “I
could not get away for a month, for it was not safe for a small party
to leave the town. I brought out some of that tobacco as a curiosity
and learned to like it. I send for more every year where it is still
prepared, in the prison-pens.”

“It is sometimes said, ‘Follow your nose and it will take you out of
danger,’ and in my case the proverb proved true. Sometimes, when I sit
here alone, half sleepily watching the curling smoke wreaths, I can
almost see the place again, and the rings of smoke shape themselves into
a horde of convict demons killing the poor old noble senor, whose elder
daughter I have married. And now you know what I owe to the pungent
aroma of a cigarette from Carcinto.”

ANTAEUS, By Frank M. Bicknell

[Illustration: 0199]

[Illustration: 9200]

ATE one night, after having been a week out of town, I was returning
home by a short cut across fields, when, on coming upon the street
again, I found my path barred by a huge, hulking fellow, whose
unexpected appearance startled me not a little. This was my introduction
to Antaeus, whose better acquaintance I was to make later under rather
peculiar circumstances. Antaeus was not a highway robber, but a highway
roller, and when he first confronted me he was drawn up beside the
road, enjoying an elephantine slumber after his hard day’s labor--being,
despite his formidable aspect, quiescent and inoffensive.

I am not sure that it is usual to confer upon steam-rollers the
dignity of a name, but my friend had one, and I read it on the neat,
black-lettered brass plate affixed to the side of his boiler, near the
smoke-stack. This, I take it, was the nearest practicable approach to
hanging a locket about his neck that could be managed, and I have
always felt grateful to his unknown sponsors for their little act of

I cannot think of Antaeus otherwise than as a creature--not simply as a
creation--as a reasoning and responsible being, rather than as a docile,
slavish piece of mechanism; but to the unimaginative he seemed to be
under the domination of a tolerably clean specimen of humanity whom I
shall call the Driver.

It was nearly a fortnight after our first meeting when I next saw
Antaeus, for he was occupied in parts of the town remote from that in
which I lived. I heard him occasionally, however, as he passed through
the neighborhood after dark, _en route_ for another field of labor, or
propelling his weary weight toward the shed under which he was lodged
for his Sunday’s rest. On such occasions, when I heard him lumbering by,
I used to fancy he was taking an after-supper promenade and puffing a
meditative cigar as he went along.

At length, after he had come several times for pleasure, or his own
convenience, he made us a professional call and buckled down to work
at repairing a strip of street which had long stood in need! of his
services. Antaeus was with us for several weeks and during his stay
I became, in a measure, “chummy” with the Driver, from whom I learned
various interesting facts about my muscular friend.

Antaeus was a “fifteen-tonner,” and his market price was $4,000; he was
about sixteen feet long by seven wide at his widest part; he consumed
from three to four hundred pounds of coal per diem; his strength was
equal to that of more horses than I can recollect; he came down upon the
dust at the rate of two tons weight per foot in width; and, when put to
his best, he could settle into what was intended to be its final resting
place about two thousand square yards of new road material per day of
ten hours. As regarded wheels he was tricycular, that is, he rested
upon one roller in front and two behind, the former being also used
for steering purposes. He had two small coal-bunkers in the rear, a
reasonably commodious space, with a spring seat, for the Driver, and a
good-sized awning overhead. He worked under a low pressure of I forget
just how many pounds of steam, and when traveling for pleasure could do
rather more miles a day than could a crack trotter per hour when put to
his best paces.

These particulars I learned during the first week that Antaeus was
busied in our neighborhood. It was thus that I took the preliminary
steps toward making his acquaintance and came to be on pleasant speaking
terms with him, as it were. For the subsequent intimacy between Antaeus
and myself, neither he nor I were wholly responsible.

A young lady had appeared at the house across the way. She was pretty,
but I noticed her more particularly on account of the seemingly
boundless capabilities of her wardrobe. She had a fresh gown for every
new day, or at least, in the course of the first fortnight she had
displayed a series of fourteen charming costumes, which I could no
more hope to describe than could a North Greenland Eskimo to write
an intelligent treatise on the flora of the torrid zone. I sat at my
window, not too near, every morning when she came out of doors, and
admired her through a spy-glass. This may appear like a piece of
impertinence--perhaps it was--but I shall urge in my defence the fact
that the street between us was nearly a hundred feet wide, and our
two houses were set so far back that even by using my comparatively
short-sighted little telescope, I could not bring her much nearer
than we might actually have been without its aid in a more crowded

One afternoon I stood talking with the Driver, while Antaeus was
awaiting the deposit of more material by two tip-carts which were
attached to his service, when she passed on the sidewalk, and I imagined
she glanced at me with a certain degree of interest, as if she recalled
having seen me before--or was it Antaeus who was the more worthy object
of’ her attention? Had I dared I should have smiled a little--merely
a vague, sketchy, tentative smile--but, hardly thinking it prudent, I
resisted the temptation and tried, as the photographers put it, to look
natural; with the probable result of looking only cross. After having
been her neighbor for more than two weeks it seemed as if I ought to
have the right to speak, but proper consideration for _les convenances_
forbade. It was vacation season, I was alone in the house, and, there
being no womankind to make the necessary advances, I knew not how long
it might be ere I could be formally introduced.

[Illustration: 0204]

While I was meditating upon this state of affairs--peculiarly
unfortunate for me--she walked on and disappeared around a corner. A few
minutes later the fire-alarm bell sounded the number of a box near by,
and presently our beautiful fire-engine, all glittering with gold and
silver plate, the just pride of the town, dashed rather noisily by. At
sight of this brilliant appearance Antaeus gave vent to a species of
snort and started up as if to follow, but naturally his lumbering pace
was no match for the swiftness of the other machine, and from the first
he was left hopelessly in the rear. I went off to see where the fire
was--it proved to be of small account--and forgot Antaeus entirely until
that night, when he recalled himself to my mind by figuring in an odd
and whimsical dream.

The scene I have just described was reproduced in part, the Driver,
however, being eliminated from it. I thought I was standing beside
Antaeus when the young lady appeared, only to disappear. As she went
I sighed regretfully, whereupon something happened which ought to have
surprised me, and would have done so anywhere else than in a dream. As
if in sympathy with me, Antaeus heaved a sigh also--a most ponderous
one--and thus addressed me:

“I can understand your feelings,” he said, in a low, hoarse voice. “You
are longing for what seems the unattainable. Alas! so am I. We might
mingle our tears,” he went on, beginning to exude moisture around the
gauges; “or better still,” he added, as if struck by an idea, “perhaps
we can be of assistance to each other.”

“In what way?” I asked, dubiously.

“I might help you to know _her_ if you would help me to an acquaintance
with the charming Electra.”

Intuitively I divined that Electra must be the steam fire-engine. Big,
brawny Antaeus was in love! The ludicrousness of the notion did not
strike me then as it did afterward. On the contrary, it seemed to be one
of the most natural things imaginable.

“Yes,” he said, in response to my thoughts, “I am passionately enamored
of her. I desire unutterably to gain her friendship, her esteem, her
love--even though she may scorn me. I realize that her station in life
is far above mine. I am only a plodder, while she is--Did you see her
pass me like a flash of light this afternoon? Was she not entrancing,
enthralling, irresistible! Ah, me! when she bestows her love it will
be upon one of those fast, dashing railway fellows, I dare say. Yet
I should like her to know that I am her friend, that I would risk any
danger, that I would go through the torments of--of the repair
shop, that I would give my last puff to serve her. I may be ugly
and slow-going, and awkward and ungainly--Do you think I am so very
ungainly, that is, for one in my walk of life?” he broke off, in rather
piteous query.

“Not at all,” I hastened to assure him; “when we consider your great
adaptability to your--your vocation, I am sure your form would be
considered remarkably symmetrical.”

“Thank you!” he exclaimed, gratefully, “and whether or not such be the
case, at least I am honest and straightforward and true-hearted, though
I do blow my own whistle in saying it.”

“You certainly are.”

“Then I trust I am not too aspiring in wishing to be numbered among
Electra’s friends. I hope she would not be ashamed to acknowledge me if
she met me in the street.”

“I should hope not, indeed,” I murmured, when he paused for an
encouraging word.

“Shall we call it a bargain, then, that I aid you to an introduction to
the young lady, your neighbor, and in return you so contrive as to bring
about a meeting between Electra and me?”

“A bargain it is, with all my heart,” I assented, grasping and shaking
the handle of his throttle-lever, “and the sooner the better for the
carrying out of it.”

“Very good; call on me to-morrow, and I will see what can be done for

“Shall--shall I come in business hours?” I asked, hesitatingly, thinking
he might possibly prefer to attend to the matter between twelve and one.

“Of course,” he answered, “in business hours, certainly. I mean
business, and I hope you do.”

I hastened to set his mind at rest on that point, and, after promising
to come on the following afternoon, I shook his handle again, which had
the effect of starting him off, and so our interview ended.

When I awoke in the morning, my dream seemed so vividly real that I
resolved to risk making myself ridiculous in my own eyes and to keep
my appointment with Antaeus. Accordingly, after lunch, I strolled out
toward the section of highway where he was at work. Soon I caught sight
of a light-complexioned wagon standing on the opposite side of the
street. Attached to it were two plump, blonde ponies, garbed in
russet harness, and, on the front seat, reins in hand, talking with an
acquaintance upon the sidewalk, sat my young lady.

The natty vehicle had one other occupant, a sooty-faced pug, sitting up
very straight on the cushion beside his mistress, with quite the air of
a personage of distinction. In front of the ponies’ noses was a horse of
another breed, a four-legged structure of wood, upholding a sign-board,
upon which was painted in glaring letters the word, “Danger,” and in
smaller ones, “No Passing; Steam Roller Running.”

Upon this scene presently entered an important actor--I might call him
the heavy villian--Antaeus, grumbling, groaning, puffing and perspiring
in his efforts to consolidate the various ingredients for a durable
roadbed that had been laid down in his path. As he drew nearer he gave
utterance to a significant “ahem!”--as I thought--by way of calling my
attention to what was about to happen. Apparently he was going to keep
his part of our agreement. A suspicion of what might be his idea began
to dawn upon me. He purposed frightening the ponies, an incipient
runaway would ensue, and I should be enabled to play the part of heroic
rescuer. There were no very original features in the scheme, but it
struck me as being quite practicable nevertheless; consequently I was
somewhat surprised and grieved when nothing of the nature of what I had
anticipated took place.

But Antaeus was more subtle than I. He wished to avoid the appearance
of collusion between us, which might have been given by the execution
of the rudimentary strategem I have outlined. (Or perhaps the real
explanation of it is that he knew the fat little beasts of ponies were
of too phlegmatic a temperament to be disturbed by a bugaboo.) At any
rate they only blinked sleepily at Antaeus and then went off into a
peaceful doze, entirely unmoved by his nearness. With the black-vis-aged
pug, however, it was quite otherwise. He regarded the monster as
an interloper, a trespasser, and he began to bark at him angrily.
Perceiving that his scoldings had no effect, he lost his temper
entirely, and, jumping down from the carriage seat, ran forward toward
the advancing engine and continued his barking with redoubled force
and fury. His mistress’ attention was now aroused, and, seeing how
persistently he put himself in the track of the roller, she became
uneasy. She called to him persuasively, authoritatively, beseechingly,
but he paid her no heed. Apparently he had more faith in himself than
had King Canute when he gave his memorable lesson to his courtiers by
the seashore.

From his position in the rear the Driver could not see the dog, and I
doubt if he clearly understood the situation, for he made no attempt to
avert the threatened catastrophe. The ridiculous animal stood his ground
and kept up his remonstrances against the invader; the alarmed young
lady threw an eloquently imploring look at me; and Antaeus came on,
stolid, grim and impassive. Meanwhile, strangely enough--as it seems
to me now--I remained inactive until my coadjutor, justly irritated,
suddenly growled out what I took to mean:

“Come! come; stupid, now is your time; why don’t you bestir yourself?”

Then I awakened to a full sense of my responsibilities and
opportunities, and rushing to the fore, seized the rash and obstinate
pug by the scruff of the neck and restored him, rescued from the
Juggernaut, to the arms of his grateful mistress.

Thus did Antaeus fulfill his share of our agreement.

This little incident broke the ice. In less than a week the young lady
and I knew each other almost intimately. It transpired that we were in
fact old acquaintances. That is to say, she remembered me when I was at
home during one college vacation, and she hoped I had not forgotten the
small miss who used to come over and play tea-party with my sister. I
replied that I should hope not, indeed, and mentally took myself to task
for not being surer about it. The boy of seventeen is less likely to be
impressed with the girl of eight than is the young man of twenty-eight
with the maiden of nineteen. I was positive that at the end of another
eleven years I should have had no trouble in recalling her to mind.

I am not a tennis enthusiast, but I will admit that my white flannel
suit had a chance to contrast itself with the velvety green of the lawn
across the way rather frequently after that. It was a convenient and
plausible excuse for being with her a good deal.

[Illustration: 0212]

The pleasure of her society was worth some physical discomfort, and
I couldn’t complain if I did feel for a week or more as if I had been
given a sound drubbing. One day, after we had finished a series
of games--in which mine was second-best record--who should appear,
laboriously rumbling by, but my well-nigh forgotten friend Antaeus.

“What an uncouth piece of mechanism that is!” she exclaimed, turning
to look at him--“a sort of caricature of a locomotive, one might say. A
veritable snail for traveling, too, isn’t it?”

“Yes; his--I mean it’s--best speed does not exceed five miles an hour, I
am told. A man might walk as fast as that with a little exertion.”

“I wonder if it is a pleasant mode of riding--in a steam-roller?” she
said, half musing, her gaze still resting on Antaeus. “At least one
would have plenty of leisure for viewing the scenery along the way. I
should rather like to try a short ride on it.”

“Should you, really,” I asked, doubting whether or not she was in

“Yes, indeed, I should.” If she had been half in jest before she was
serious now. “It would be a new experience.”

“Hardly an agreeable one for a lady, though,” I commented.

“Oh, that would be a secondary consideration,” she returned with a
shrug. “I should value the experience as an experience, and I should be
glad to have it to put on my list.”

I looked inquisitive and she proceeded to explain.

“I keep a diary--not a regulation school girl’s diary, in which one
feels bound to write something every single day of the year, whether
there is anything worth recording or not--but a collection of memoranda
in which I take a good deal of satisfaction. Mine is a classified diary
and is contained in about a dozen different books which began as
mere covers with nothing between. By putting in leaves when there was
occasion the volumes grew until now several of them have attained to a
very respectable thickness.”

“Might I ask, without indiscretion, for a hint as to the nature of their
contents, or would that be----”

“Certainly; there is no secret about them. In fact I have been known to
show their pages to certain of my friends, and, to be quite honest, I
am rather proud of them. As far as I can recollect now, they are labeled
with these titles: ‘Books I have read, Places I have visited, Notable
personages I have seen, Odd or eccentric characters I have met, Strange
sights I have seen, Curious dishes of which I have eaten, Rides I have

“Do you mean,” I interposed, “that every time you take a ride you enter
an account of it in your collection?”

“I mean that whenever I ride in or on any unusual sort of conveyance
I make a note of it. That particular book dates far back into my
childhood. The idea of starting it was suggested to me by a ride I took
on a tame ostrich in South Africa.”

My increased respect for a young lady who had ridden upon an ostrich
near, if not actually in his native desert, will be understood by the

“You have seen something of the world,” I remarked.

“Yes,” she admitted; “I have been about with my father a great deal. An
uncle of mine, who abhors what he calls globe-trotting, tells people,
with a look of mock commiseration on his face, that I have been
everywhere except at the North Pole and in a Trappist monastery. A
slight exaggeration that, and yet not so very far from the truth either.
I have visited most of the inhabited countries of the globe, I
think, and I have had a chance to try riding in a good many peculiar
conveyances. I have ridden on an elephant in India, on a dromedary in
Egypt, in a sort of horse-litter in Persia, in a man-carriage in Japan,
in a sledge on bare ground at Funchal, on a log-raft down the Rhine, on
an Indian’s back in Mexico, in the cab of a locomotive on the Southern
Pacific, in a fast newspaper train out of New York, on an open car moved
by gravity--and moved very fast, too--on that wonderful railroad
in Peru, on a small landslide among the White Mountains, in a
dwelling-house being moved through the streets of this town, in---- but
I will spare you further enumeration.’’

“I hope, however, that you will let me read the catalogue for myself
some time. I no longer wonder that so successful a collector should
be eager for an additional specimen. I happen to have some little
acquaintance with the man who runs our steam-roller; perhaps I could
arrange to have your wish for a ride gratified.”

“Oh, if you _only_ could!” she exclaimed, looking so hopefully expectant
that I secretly vowed the thing should come to pass or I would know the
most unanswerable of reasons why.

I had learned that Antaeus was neither a native nor a naturalized
citizen of our town, but that he owed allegiance to a firm of
contractors in a distant city, whose delegate and sole representative
here was the Driver; consequently if I could prevail upon him to lend
Antaeus I need apprehend no interference from the town authorities.

I began upon the Driver the next forenoon. My persuasiveness took a
conventional form, for, not being gifted with an oily tongue, I was
forced to trust for success in a great measure upon my chance of
stupefying the Driver’s conscience with the fumes of several superfine
cigars. I spent about two hours in company with Antaeus, taking many
turns up and down the street with him for the special purpose of
observing his manners and customs. With the advice and consent of his
guardian I learned to start, to stop, to reverse, and to steer to my own
satisfaction. I had intended to broach the important question that day,
but, fearing I might not yet have sufficiently blunted the Driver’s
moral sensibilities, my courage failed at the critical moment and I
permitted myself the expensive luxury of procrastination.

The next day I found the task no easier, and so put it off again, but on
the day after I awakened to the fact that delays are dangerous and made
the fateful plunge. I frankly told the Driver the whole story, under
the belief that he would be less likely to refuse the petition of a lady
than one made in my own name.

If he had suspected all the while, from my persistent attentions, that I
had an axe to grind he did not mortify me by showing it. He accepted
my fifth cigar as he had my first, with an air of supposing it to be
offered from motives of the most disinterested friendliness.

I did not meet with success in the outset. The Driver had grave doubts
as to the propriety of “loaning” a steam-roller. Had he been a Frenchman
he might reasonably have urged that, like a tooth-brush, _ça ne se prête
pas_. However, I overcame his scruples in the end, and, probably in
the belief that “if it were done ‘twere well it were done quickly,” he
agreed to deliver Antaeus into my charge that evening.

Accordingly, not long after sunset, I went across the street and called
for the young lady. I realized fully that her father and mother would
not have approved of our escapade, but they were absent from home and
I tried to believe it was not my duty to stand toward her _in loco
parentium_. She was a bit wilful too, and I feared my remonstrances
would do no good unless I carried them to the extreme of refusing my
assistance, which, after my ready offer of it, would have been uncivil
and unkind.

At an unfrequented spot, on a broad highway, near the outskirts of the
town, Antaeus and the Driver--the former under head of steam, and both
smoking--were awaiting us. We met them there by appointment at nine
o’clock. After many instructions and cautions touching the fire, the
water, the steam, the use of the levers, the necessity of keeping a
sharp lookout ahead, etc., the Driver left me in sole command, as proud
as a boy with his first bicycle.

“You find you have got into rather close quarters here, don’t you?” said
I, as I perched myself upon the high seat, from which the machine was
most conveniently directed.

“The passenger accommodations might be more spacious, but all things
considered I hardly think I shall complain,” laughingly returned my
companion, who had seated herself on one of the coal-boxes behind me. “I
took the precaution not to wear my best frock, so I can stow myself away
in small compass without fear of damage.”

Having in mind the trouble I had taken, her delight in the novelty of
her situation was highly gratifying to me. She eagerly asked about the
functions of the various levers, try-cocks, and gauges, and insisted
upon being allowed to experiment with them, as well as with the steering
gear, herself. The knowledge, she said, might be useful to her in the
future. Antaeus proved to be entirely docile and allowed himself to
be guided as easily as a well-broken flesh and blood horse. The big
fly-wheel revolved, the fussy little piston pumped up and down with
an ado that seemed absurd considering the slow progress resulting, the
steam fretted and hissed, the three massive rollers bore with all
their might upon the hard surface of the macadam, and thus crunching,
clanking, thumping and rattling, we sluggishly made our way into the
obscurity of the night.

By and by, in the course of our journey, we came to a gentle rise, the
ascent of which made Antaeus puff rather laboriously. For a moment my
passenger looked slightly uneasy. “Why does it do that?” she asked.

“The exertion of going up hill makes him breathe a little hard,
naturally,” I answered, reassuring her. “He is feeling in fine
condition, though,” I added, inspecting the steam-gauge by the light of
my lantern; “the effect of a plentiful supply of oats, doubtless.”

“You speak of _it_ as _he_,” she said, questioningly.

“Certainly; why not?” I retorted. “He seems to me unequivocally

“True,” she assented; “still in personifying inanimate objects, are they
not more frequently made members of the other sex?”

“Undoubtedly they are, but it strikes me as a ridiculous
custom--particularly in the case of great machines. No engine, however
big, black or ungainly, but it must be spoken of by the feminine
pronoun. It is hardly a compliment to your sex, is it? Think of the
incongruity of putting, for instance, a huge steamboat, named for the
president of the company, into the feminine gender!”

She laughed at my fancy, but her merriment did not wound my
sensibilities. “So it’s--I beg pardon, _his_--name is Antaeus, is it?”

“Yes, in honor of that old giant--do you recollect?--whom Hercules

“By lifting him quite off the ground, because as often as he came in
contact with Mother Earth his strength was renewed? Yes, I recall the
story, and I can see a certain propriety in the name. I rather think
this fellow, if he were to be lifted off the ground, could scarcely use
his great strength to advantage. Imagine him turned upon his back like a
huge beetle, kicking about frantically into the air to no purpose!”

“Undoubtedly he gets his grip from his contact with the earth,” said I.
“As a flying-machine he would hardly be a success.”

“Doesn’t it strike you that he is almost unnecessarily deliberate?”
 she queried, presently, with a slight show of impatience; evidently the
novelty of the adventure was beginning to wear off.

“More so than usual for the reason that we are ascending an incline;
but you must remember that Antaeus was not built for speed,” returned I,
defending my friend.

“Evidently not. He belongs to the plodders--the slow and sure sort. He
would be entered for a race in the tortoise class probably. Fancy an
absconding cashier trying to escape from justice in a steam-roller! It
would be funny, wouldn’t it?”

I agreed with her that it would be very funny. “Or imagine an eloping
couple fleeing before an irate father on such a conveyance!” I
suggested, with a consciousness of blushing in the dark for the audacity
of the conceit.

“Now, that is good!” she exclaimed, seizing on my idea with an eagerness
that showed how far her thoughts were from taking the direction in
which mine had dared to stray. “What a situation for a modern realistic,
sensational drama!”

“It might be worked up into something rather impressive, I should think.
In these days of bringing steamboats, pile-drivers, fire-engines,
real water, and railway trains in upon the stage I don’t know why a
steam-roller might not be given a chance.”

“Why not?” she cried, waxing enthusiastic. “Picture the scene. Enter
lovers on ‘steam-roller, followed by incensed father in--in----”

“In an electric-car,” I supplied experimentally.

“Pshaw! don’t be foolish!” she exclaimed thanklessly. “Followed
by father in a light gig, drawn by a spirited horse. Overtakes
lovers--demands his daughter--young man respectfully declines to give
her up. Old gentleman prepares to come and take her. Is about to descend
from gig when steamroller whistles, spirited horse begins to prance, he
is obliged to keep tight hold of reins----”

“Very good!” I put in approvingly. “Stern parent threatens direst
vengeance, horse cavorts alarmingly, parent rages unavailingly,
resolute lover pushes throttle wide open with one hand and retains firm
grip upon the helm with the other.”

“While the devoted loveress, with her own dainty hands, shovels in coal
and encourages him to stand firm----”

“By the way, that reminds me of something,” I interrupted and, getting
off my elevated seat, I bent down and opened the furnace-door; “I rather
think I should have given Antaeus his supper before now.”

In truth, I had neglected the fire altogether too long. I hastily threw
in more coal, but it was already too late to avert the consequences of
my forgetfulness. The pressure of steam was diminishing and continued
to diminish in spite of all my efforts to prevent it. Back fell the
indicator upon the dial, and more and more slowly worked the machinery
as the power behind it became less and less.

“We shall not reach the top of the hill at the present rate,” remarked
my companion. “The vital spark appears to be in danger of extinction, so
to speak.”

“In very great danger,” I sorrowfully assented as, with one last feeble
effort, Antaeus wearily gave up the struggle.

“Nor is that the worst of it,” I added, filled with a sudden

“What do you mean?” she asked, disquieted by my manner, though not yet
divining the inevitable outcome of the existing state of affairs.

“You had better descend to _terra firma_ unless you want to go back down
hill faster than you came up,” I replied significantly.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, comprehending the danger.

“Yes; the attraction of gravitation is going to take us back a deal
faster than Antaeus ever traveled before. Shall I help you out?”

“Can’t you put on the brakes?”

“There are none; the builders of this machine did not foresee such a
contingency as this. It was not to be supposed that Antaeus ever would
fall into the unskillful hands of a bungling, blundering amateur,” said
I, calling up hard names for myself from out of the depths of my

“Don’t reproach yourself,” she begged; “it is I who am to be blamed.”

“Shall I not help you out before it is too late?” I interposed, as
Antaeus began to gather way.

“What are you going to do,” she demanded.

“Oh, I shall stick to the ship,” I answered grimly.

“But you will get hurt if you do,” she objected.

“Antaeus will get hurt if I don’t. Come!”

“No; I shall stay on board, too,” she declared heroically. “Now don’t
try and persuade me to desert, for I shall not do it. Can’t I be of some

Seeing that she was firm in her resolve to stand by me, I gratefully
accepted her offer of assistance, which indeed, was of considerable
value. It was important that I should keep a firm hold upon the steering
wheel, to prevent the craft from yawing, and, unless I were to be
continually screwing my head about in a very painful position, I could
not very well see the road over which we were traveling. From a position
between the coal-boxes behind me--now the front of the conveyance--she
could keep a look-out and pass the word to me when it became necessary
to correct the deviations in our course. Without her help, it is more
than probable that I should have run Antaeus ignominiottsly, perhaps
disastrously, into a ditch before reaching the foot of the incline. Even
as it was, I had my hands full.

During the ride, which certainly was one of the most disquieting,
mentally and physically, that I ever have taken, we said very little to
each other. I gripped the wheel, and she grasped the iron sides of the
coal-bunkers, between which she stood, opening her lips only to call,
“right! left!” or “steady!” as I had hastily instructed her to do for my
guidance in steering. So we rumbled and rattled and jolted on down the
hill, at continually increasing speed, until at length we reached the
base, and I drew a deep breath of relief at knowing that the worst was

Arrived upon a level, our momentum gradually expended itself. From an
estimated ten-mile rate--which had seemed terrific--we slowed to a five,
to a three, to a one, to a snail’s pace, and then something occurred
which, although not threatening any danger to us personally, filled our
minds with the liveliest anxiety for the safety of others. Antaeus came
to a stand-still just across the railway track.

“Well?” said my passenger, inquiringly.

“Well,” I returned, blankly, as I pulled my watch from my pocket, “this
is--interesting, to say the least.”

“Are there--how about trains?” she queried anxiously.

During the jolting of our forced--and forcible--descent our lantern
had gone out; but there was an electric lamp near, and by its light I
managed to read the hour upon my watch-dial.

“There is a train leaving the city at ten, due here at ten-seventeen; it
now lacks five minutes of that. I must go to the station and report that
the way is blocked. I am sorry to leave you--or would you prefer going
while I wait here?”

“I think it will be better for you to go.”

“Very well, then; I’ll not be long.”

[Illustration: 0220]

This promise of mine was ill-advised. I hurried up the track to the
station, only to find it locked and deserted. It was not the principal
station of the town, being one of the half-dozen smaller ones strung
at short intervals along the line. In all probability it would not be
opened until a few minutes before train-time. As I knew the outcoming
train would stop at that station, and thus give me a chance to warn the
engineer of the obstruction ahead, I did not feel particularly alarmed
at not finding the agent at once. Still I was conscious of some nervous
uneasiness while awaiting his arrival.

At last he came leisurely across the street, jingling his keys as he
walked. As soon as he stepped foot upon the platform I went to ‘him
and began to tell my story. I had not proceeded far with it ere he
interrupted me with a startled ejaculation.

“Great Scott! The White Mountain express!”

“What? What do you mean?” I gasped,

“New train--put on yesterday--passes here on the way in at ten-ten,
and it’s more than that now!” he exclaimed in staccato, as he hastily
unlocked the station door, and, putting in his hand, seized a red
lantern that had been sitting ready lighted on the floor within.

He did not waste any more time with me, but rushed along to the end of
the platform, and then began to run with all his might down the track.
I succeeded in following him at not too great a distance, although I was
turning sick and giddy with all sorts of horrible apprehensions. Visions
of a frightful wreck photographed themselves on my brain, the shrieks of
the dying sounded prophetically in my ears, and in the midst of it all
I was selfishly deploring the fact that I should be called on to pay the
damages--at least to Antaeus--and wondering if I could contrive to get a
hardware discount off the market price of steam-rollers.

The crossing was still hidden from us around a curve when a shrill
whistling broke upon my startled ears.

“T-o-o-t!--t-o-o-t! Toot! toot!”

The agent uttered an explosive invocation to the Deity, and added in
tones of despair:

“We’re too late; she’s onto us!”

Still we staggered mechanically forward, until suddenly, with a cry of
warning, the agent sprang aside, and the express went thundering by.

“See here, young man,” my companion exclaimed angrily, “if this is a
put-up job----”

“But it is not!” I interposed with indignant protest. “I don’t
understand it any better than you do. Certainly I left Ant--the roller
sprawled across both tracks.”

“Well, I guess it ain’t there now,” dryly remarked the agent, watching
the rear lights of the fast-receding train, until they were swallowed up
in the glare of the “local’s” head-light. “I must run back,” he added,
recalled to a sense of his duties. “You take this lantern and go and
see if the outward track is clear. Stand between the rails and swing
the lantern if it ain’t. I’ll tell the engineer to go slow and be on the

In another minute I was at the crossing. I looked up and down the street
for Antaeus, but neither he nor the young lady were to be seen. If
that Hercules of a locomotive actually had lifted him into the air and
carried him off his absence could not have been more conspicuous. But
naturally such a feat>could not have been accomplished, nor had it been

The real explanation of the mysterious disappearance was this. During
my absence the fire under the boiler had been getting up, until finally
enough steam had made to start the machinery and so the roller had been
enabled to roll itself away out of danger.

I was about to start toward town, under the supposition that Antaeus had
taken that direction, when I chanced to recollect that with the levers
as I had left them he naturally must go just the opposite way--that is,
retrace the course over which he had lately come. Accordingly I set out
on the run toward the hill. Near the foot of it I found him, diagonaled
off the road-side with his nose against a tree, loudly hissing in
impotent rage at the unwelcome bar to his progress.

I jumped into the engineer’s place, reversed the machinery, and without
very much trouble succeeded in getting him back into the road and
started on the homeward way. I was putting to myself an uneasy question
as to the whereabouts of my passenger, when, to my relief, I heard her
voice close at hand.

“Is it all right?” she inquired anxiously; “I feared it was going to
blow up or something, it made such a horribly distressing noise.”

“That very noise was a guarantee that he was _not_ going to blow up,”
 I replied, bringing Antaeus to a stop. “He was merely getting rid of
superfluous steam through the safety-.valve. I am very glad to find you
again. Will you ride? I think we shall get on smoothly this time.”

Rather hesitatingly she allowed me to help her in. Then, after taking
the precaution to add some fuel to the fire, and to inspect the steam
and water indicators by the light of my borrowed red lantern, I opened
the throttle and started on again.

“Did the train frighten you?” I bethought myself to ask, presently.

“Oh, don’t speak of it,” she returned with a shudder; “I heard it coming
from two or three miles away, and when it got nearer and nearer and you
did not return I was almost frantic. But I couldn’t do anything. I
don’t think it was more than a quarter of a mile distant, with the light
gleaming along the rails and making it seem even nearer, when the roller
began to move--but, oh, how slowly! I thought I should--well, if my hair
hasn’t turned gray from that scare it never will do so until the natural
time for it comes, I am sure.”

“Well, the old fellow got off in time, evidently.”

“Yes; but with hardly a second to spare. He hadn’t cleared the rails
of the other track when the train passed. It was a frightfully narrow

“You were not on board all this while, I hope.”

“Oh, no; that would have been too foolhardy. But when I saw it was
making off I didn’t want it--I mean _him_--to go careering and cavorting
about the country alone, so I climbed up and tried to take command. You
showed me how to use the reversing-lever, and it all seemed easy when
you were here, but when I was alone I didn’t dare touch it for fear
something disastrous would happen. All I ventured to do was to take the
wheel and keep, him in the road--or rather try to do so, for I didn’t
succeed very well. My strength was not equal to it. He swerved a little
and then got to going more and more on the bias, until at last, despite
all I could do to the contrary, he ran off against a tree and was
obliged to stop. Soon afterward that hissing noise began, and, fearing
an explosion, I ran and got behind the wall on the other side of the
street, and then--then you came. I don’t think I ever was more rejoiced
to see anybody in all my life.”

I resisted a temptation to make a speech, which, however much in earnest
I was, might have sounded silly, and contented myself with remarking
that I was glad to have arrived in such good time, and I turned my
attention to the taking of her--and Antaeus--safe home.

I could not get to sleep after going to bed that night. The evening’s
experience of itself was hardly a soporific, but there was yet another
matter to occupy my thoughts and prevent my sleeping. Should I venture
at the next favorable opportunity to put a certain question to a certain
person? If I did so what answer should I receive? I hoped and I feared
and I doubted concerning the sentiments of the said certain person
toward my unworthy self. I revolved the thing in my mind until
there seemed to be little else there but revolution. Progress in any
direction, certainly there was none. My body was hardly less restless
than my mind.

At three o’clock it flashed across me like a revelation, that I was
hungry. I had eaten a light supper hours ago, and now my stomach was
eloquent with emptiness; while the blood which should be doing good
service there was pulsing madly about in my brain to no purpose. I went
down stairs and inspected the contents of the ice-chest. Roast pork and
brown bread make rather a hearty late supper, but breakfast time was so
near I thought I would risk them--and a good deal of them.

Returning to my room, I set a lamp upon a stand at the head of the
bed and, taking the first book that came to hand--it chanced to be an
Italian grammar--I began to read. I had gone as far in the introduction
as “CC like t-ch in hatchet,” when I grew drowsy. I laid down the book,
my eyelids drooped, and there is good circumstantial evidence that a
moment later I fell asleep, lying on my back with the upper half of my
body bent into the form of a bow.

My slumbers were visited by a dream--a nightmare, composed, I estimate,
of cold roast pork and brown bread, uncomfortable bodily position, the
memory of certain occurrences in my past history, and an event to be
described later. In this dream Antaeus figured largely. He seemed to
come rolling across the bed, and me, until he had stopped upon my chest
and stomach.

[Illustration: 0228]

“What are you doing?” I asked in alarm. “Do you know you are crushing
me? Get away!”

“I dare say I am. I _weigh_ fifteen tons,” Antaeus replied, heavily
jocose. “I say,” he continued with a burst of anger, “you are an
honorable, high-minded sort of person, you are. What do you mean by
treating me so? Have you forgotten our compact? I have given you every
chance man could ask for with _her_; what have you done for me in
return? Nothing. Even worse than nothing. To faithlessness you have
added treachery. Not content with deceiving me, you have sought to
destroy me. I suppose you hoped to see my _débris_ strewn along the iron

I was conscience-stricken by his accusations; but I could refute a part
of them. “Oh, no! oh, no!” I protested, “it was an accident, I assure
you. So far from desiring such a thing, I declare that I cannot even
imagine your being reduced to _débris_. I----”

“Bah!” roared Antaeus, and in his rage he began to belch forth
smoke--smoke so thick and black that I thought I should be stifled by
it. In another moment I awoke gasping.

One feature of my dream was a reality--the smoke. The room was filled
with it, and there were flames beside. As nearly as I can guess, the
situation on which I opened my eyes had been thus brought about. While
I slept the wind had risen and, pushing inward the shade at the open
window, had pressed it against the small, unstable stand until the
latter had been tipped over, bringing the lighted lamp to the floor.
The muslin curtains had caught fire; from them the straw matting,
kerosene-soaked, had flamed up, so that now a pretty lively blaze was
in progress.

I sprang off the bed, made a snatch at some of my clothes, and got out
of the room as soon as possible. After I had helped save everything
portable, that could be saved without risk to life, I went and stood
before the house in the cool air of the early dawn and watched the
struggle between flames and flood. In the midst of my perturbation I
noticed something that struck me as being worthy of remark. I had left
Antaeus at the edge of the roadway before our gate; now the fire-engine,
Electra, had been drawn up beside him. He was maintaining strict
silence, but I hoped he was being well entertained, for Electra kept
up an incessant buzzing--woman like, quite willing to do all of the
talking. At any rate my share of our compact was now fulfilled; Antaeus
and I were quits.

In the later morning I saw the young lady. My misfortunes called forth
from her expressions of sincerest pity; indeed, she bitterly reproached
herself for having been the direct cause of them. When I described my
narrow escape from death by suffocation, she grew so pale that I thought
she must feel considerable interest in me, although I immediately
reflected that it could not be very pleasant to have one’s next-door
neighbor roasted alive.

By-and-by I told her of my two dreams, and of the way in which I finally
kept faith with Antaeus.

“It is a shame that you had to burn up your house to do it,” she
commented, “when a brush-heap might have answered the purpose quite as

I thought--or I hoped--that the time had come for making a decisive move
with some chance of its being effective. I furtively possessed myself of
her hand.

“I should not regret the house so much,” said I, “if I might hope
you would deign to extend to me the favor with which Electra has made
Antaeus happy.”

This was bunglingly put, but she understood me well enough, although she
murmured in reply:

“You have it already; we are--acquainted. Surely you don’t

But she did not withdraw her hand.

I have just heard that the town fathers contemplate purchasing Antaeus
and giving him a permanent residence “within our borders.” If
this report be true, I shall use all my influence--from motives of
gratitude--to have him lodged beside the engine-house, so that he may be
near his bewitching Electra.

[Illustration: 0238]


[Illustration: 0239]

[Illustration: 9239]

AVING completed his breakfast, Mr. Percy Darley seated himself in a n
easy-chair, facing the cheerful grate-fire of ruddy anthracite, placed
his toes upon the fender, and relapsed into a thoughtful contemplation
of Leonard’s letter.

“You had best come, my dear boy,” said the letter. “It is a sleepy
little town--one of those idyllic Acadian places of which you used to
rave when you were tired of the city and fretful at her ways. We can
smoke our pipes and chat over the old days, before a fire in my big,
old-fashioned grate. There is a noble stretch of clear ice here now. Our
little river is frozen over, solid and safe, and the darkest prospects
do not foreshadow another fall of snow for a fortnight. The sleighing is
superb; and, as Madeline Bridges says, ‘the nights are splendid.’ Pack
up your traps and come.”

The invitation was an alluring one, thought Darley. His head ached, and
his heart was sick of the everlasting round of parties and calls and
suppers. What a vision of beatific rest that idea of a chat over old
times! Ah, dear old times of childhood and youth, when our tears are as
ephemeral as our spendthrift dimes!

There seemed to be only one rational preclusion--to wit, Miss Charteris.
Not that he thought Miss Charteris would personally object to his
absence, but, rather, that _he_ had an objection to leaving Miss
Charteris. Miss Charteris was an heiress, and a handsome woman; to
be brief, Miss Charteris being rich, and our friend Darley having the
millstone of debt about his neck, he had determined, if possible, to wed
her. If he went away, however, at this period of his acquaintance,
when the heiress and he were becoming fast friends, some one else would
doubtless step into the easy shoes of attention.

So Darley went down into the city and telegraphed his friend Leonard
that he would be in Dutton on the evening train. He thought he should
like to see Miss Charteris, however, before going. He walked back slowly
along a particularly favorite drive of hers, and presently met this
young lady with her stylish little turn-out, looking very radiant and
happy on this bright winter morning.

There was some one with her--a fact Darley noticed with no great feeling
of pleasure. It was not a strange thing; but, following the course of
things as they had been for the past few weeks, it should have been
Darley himself. This morning it was a sallow, dark young man whom Darley
did not remember having seen before.

Darley explained that he was about to leave town for a few weeks, as
soon as Miss Charteris had drawn up alongside the pavement to wish
him goodmorning. Then she introduced him to her companion. “A very old
friend--Mr. Severance--just arrived from Australia.”

“Dear old Dutton!” said Miss Charteris, looking reminiscent. “You must
not break any trusting hearts down there, Mr. Darley; for the Dutton
maids are not only lovely, but proverbially trusting.”

“You know Dutton, then?” Darley answered, surprised.

“Oh, yes! I have a very dear aunt in Dutton--oh, but you will see! I
spent some of my happiest days there. So did you, I think, Lawrence.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Severance reflectively, “days almost as happy as the
present day. Don’t you think, Mr. Darley, that a man’s best years
cluster round the age of ten?”

Darley could not help agreeing to this. All men, provided their youth
has been happy, think so. Darley said good-by, and walked on.

Who was this fellow Severance? _She_ called him Lawrence--_Lawrence_, by
Jove! There was something in it--rather old schoolmates, too, they
had been, and what might they not be now? It was more pique than
disappointment which caused Darley to wish momentarily that he was not
scheduled for Dutton. However, he must stand the hazard of the die.

His things were soon packed; he also supplied himself with a box of the
cigars Leonard and he used to love in “the days that are no more,” and a
copy of “Outing.” And ten hours later the train, with a jovial roar, ran
into the little town, where the lights gleamed cozily against the snowy
background, and the sleigh-bells seemed to bid him a merry, musical

A short, erect, trimly built man with a finely chiseled face and a brown
skin that seemed to breathe of pine woods and great wide, sunlit rivers
grasped Darley’s hand as he stepped to the platform.

“Well, old man!” exclaimed the brown man, cheerily. “Awfully glad you’ve
come! Come this way! Here we are, Joseph! Step in!”

“By Jove! it _is_ wintry here, isn’t it?” said Darley, as he slid under
the buffalo robes. “What a peerless night!”

After supper the two men made themselves thoroughly comfortable in great
leather chairs before Leonard’s promised fire, and smoked and chatted.

“You look just the same, old boy,” said Leonard, scanning Darley
carefully. “But the hair is a little thin in front there, and I think
I see the growing spot of baldness, as Ike Marvel has it. Did you ever
read that great book of his, ‘A Bachelor’s Reveries?’ No? Well,
you should. I find it sweetest company. Yes, you are the same old
sobersides--a great deal deeper than you look, as the little boy said
when he fell into the well. And not married yet, eh?”

“Who, the little boy?”

“No; you, you rogue! I should have thought you would have gone off long


“A hard question to answer. Are we not always in a condition of mild
wonder that our friends have not gone over to the married ranks, when
we ourselves have not? However, from floating gossip--that tongue’s
flotsam--I have heard that you meditate going over.”

“Eh?” said Darley, pricking up his ears.

“Why,” answered Leonard, knocking the ashes out of his pipe, “Beau
Brummel cannot pay court to a beauty without the world knowing it! I,
even I, have heard of Miss Bella Charteris. She is not the sort of girl,
if I may make so bold, that I would have imagined you pinning yourself
to. I should have thought some quiet, sober, angelic little woman

“Like who?”

“Well, I was going to say like her sister,” said Leonard softly, bending
his head over his pipe as he slowly refilled it. “But you do not know
her sister, I think.”

“Why, I did not even know Miss Charteris had a sister!” exclaimed
Dar-ley in amazement.

“No? Why, Miss Florence Charteris lives here--in Dutton!”

“Miss Charteris mentioned an aunt, and hinted at some one else whom she
said I would see, now that I think of it.”

“Irony, I suppose,” said Leonard quietly, smiling a queer little smile.
“Yes, Miss Charteris the second lives in Dutton: a quaint, gray little
life, good, patient, and God-like. She is the sweet angel of Dutton. But
tell me, Percy, are you in love with your Miss Charteris?”

“I am afraid she is not my Miss Charteris,” said Darley, smiling. “And
to be candid with you, Jack, I am not in love with her--for which,
perhaps, I should be thankful. However, if Miss Charteris _does_ accept
me, which I think is highly improbable, I shall marry her for money.”

Leonard shook his head. “I thought that was the way the wind lay,” he
said sagaciously. “Don’t do it,” he added tersely, after a pause. “Take
an old fool’s advice--don’t do it. I think you would only live to regret
having sold yourself into bondage. That is what it would amount to in
your case. You are not built upon rough enough lines, I know, not to
care at having your poverty sneered at and constantly thrown in your
face. It is a puzzle to me how any man with any sense of independence
and honor can sell himself, as some men do; and it is beyond my
understanding how _you_, with your fine feelings and high ideal of
manhood, ever thought of such a thing.”

This was certainly rubbing it in, Dar-ley thought. But, then, Leonard
was such an exceptionally odd fellow, with his one-man-in-a-million code
of chivalry and his ethical eccentricities. Still, Darley shrunk at the
castigation, because he knew that the feelings that prompted it were

“But I am terribly in debt, Jack,” he said, almost deprecatingly. “What
is there left for me to do?”

“What is there left? The opportunity to fight it out!” retorted Leonard.
“Retrench. In a year, or two at most, unless you are _hopelessly_
insolvent, if you live without the profitless pleasures that have
brought you to this pass, you can come out triumphantly independent.”

Darley shook his head. “I am afraid I could not stand the strain, Jack,”
 he answered, almost sadly. “A fellow of your caliber might. How is it,
by the way, that you yourself are still in single harness?”

Leonard was silent, gazing in the coals with almost a melancholy air.

“Perhaps I should not say so,” he said at last, “yet you have been so
frank with me; but I do not like the subject when applied to myself.
However, there is but one answer, which is embodied in that one
word that hangs like a pall before the eyes of the young literary
aspirant--_refused_. I shall always be single, Darley. Always the same
old solitary sixpence, with my rods and guns and dogs and books. Not bad
companions, all of them, when used well--faithful, too. Eh, Rosy?”

The beautiful hound addressed raised her head and looked pathetically at
her master, rubbing her nose in a sympathetic way against his leg.

Darley felt deeply interested. “What was the trouble, old fellow?” he

“The whole story is contained in that one word--refused. I never cared
for but one woman; and _she_ did not care for me--at least, not enough
to marry. Which was, after all, the most natural thing in the world, I
suppose. I could not blame her, could I, since I would only marry for
love myself? It is not much of a story, is it?”

“On the contrary, I think there is a great deal in it!” answered Darley,
warmly. “I think I see that you loved this woman as only men with hearts
like yours can love--once and for all.”

“Loved her? My love has no past participle, Darley! I shall always love
her! I shall always think her the sweetest woman in the world, and the
best! There is no other like her--God bless her! But you are sleepy, old
fellow; and even Rosy is yawning and thinks it is time all decent people
went to bed. Let us have one of the old-time horns, one of those old
camp-fire nips--and then to bed. To-morrow you shall see our little
town. By the way, did you bring your skates?”

“Skates! I haven’t seen one for five years.”

“Never mind. I have a dozen pairs, and I dare say we can fit you. Do
you curl? No? Well, you shall learn. We have the finest rink within a
hundred miles. Here’s your room, old fellow! Good-night, and rosy dreams
and slumbers bright, as Sir Walter says.”

The days passed happily for Darley. The ice was perfect; and though he
had not skated for years, his old power over the art came swiftly back.
The river was one glaring, narrow, indefinite sheet of incomparable ice.
Then there was the curling-rink, of which Leonard was an ardent devotee.
It is a quiet, satisfying sport, this “roaring” game, and has peculiar
charms for the man who has turned forty. The snow-bird shooting was
good, too, out in the broad white fields beyond the town. And one
glittering night the pair drove out into the country, and went on a hunt
after some depredatory foxes with some farmers. They did not get the
foxes; but they had a jolly supper at the farm-house, and an eight-hand
reel in the kitchen, which Darley thoroughly enjoyed--more, he affirmed
to his black-eyed partner, than any ball in the city he had ever

One morning, Leonard having some business to detain him, Darley went off
alone for the customary spin down the river. Skating out of the town
and away past the white fields and the farmhouses, he presently espied a
small feminine figure ahead of him, gliding quietly along. Suddenly
the figure tripped and fell. One skate had come off and flew out to the
center of the ice.

Darley sped to the rescue. The little figure in gray made a futile
attempt to rise.

[Illustration: 0252]

“Are you hurt?” exclaimed the rescuer as he wheeled to a short stop.

The lady looked up, and Darley saw the likeness in an instant. It was
the other Miss Charteris--not at all like his acquaintance of the city.
A rather pale, patient little face, with quiet gray eyes set far apart;
a plain face, Darley said to himself. But on second thought he decided
that it was not.

“I am afraid I have hurt my ankle,” said this little woman in answer to
Darley’s inquiry. “I tried to stand up, but I got a twinge that told me
something was wrong.”

“Let me help you. Which foot is it?”

“This one,” indicating the foot minus the skate.

Darley lifted her up. “Now you keep the injured member off the ice,” he
said, “and I will skate you to shore.”

“It was all my fault,” said the patient, as Darley knelt down and
removed the remaining skate. “I would put on these old-fashioned things
just because the blades are splendid.”

Darley secured the refractory skate and removed his own. Then he asked
how the ankle felt.

Miss Charteris attempted to stand upon both feet, but sat down upon the
bank instantly.

“It _does_ hurt,” she said, as if unwilling to admit the painful fact.
She looked at Darley almost appealingly, then about her. The nearest
house was a quarter of a mile away. Finally she looked back at Darley,
with an expression that seemed to say, What are we going to do now, I

Darley made up his mind quickly. He always did when a woman was in the
question. “You can’t walk,” he said; “I shall have to carry you.”

Miss Charteris’ pale cheeks assumed a rapid flush. “I can walk,” she
said, hastily.

“Very well,” said Darley, gently. “Take my arm.”

A few painful steps proved to Miss Charteris that she _could_ walk, at
the expense of excruciating agony. So, being a sensible little soul, she

“You see, it is impossible,” said her knight. “You will have to let me
carry you, Miss Charteris. I beg your pardon for not introducing myself.
I am Mr. Percy Darley, a guest at Mr. John Leonard’s.”

“I knew you were Mr. Darley, but I don’t see how you knew that I was
Miss Charteris,” said that young lady, looking surprised, and quite
forgetting her ankle.

“I have the pleasure of knowing your sister, and I recognized the
likeness,” answered Darley, truthfully. “Now, will you allow me? Or I am
afraid I shall have to take the law into my own hands.”

“I am not the law,” retorted Miss Charteris, attempting to proceed.

“The very reason that I should become the law,” answered Darley,

“I think I can _hop_,” said the girl, desperately. She did so for a few
yards, and then came to a last halt. Hopping through deep snow proved
rather heavy exercise.

“I am afraid you will have to carry me,” she said in a tone of

Darley picked her up. She was no weight, this little gray thing, and
Darley was an athletic young man. Despite the snow, it did not take him
long to reach the farm-house.

The farmer’s wife was a kind soul, and knew Miss Charteris. She also
knew a sprain, she said, when she saw one; and Miss Charteris’ ankle was
sprained. So, while the injured member was being attended to by the
deft hand of the farmer’s wife, Darley posted off to the town for Miss
Charteris’ aunt’s sleigh, the farmer being absent with his own.

Darley secured the sleigh, drove back to the farm-house, and his charge,
her ankle warmly and carefully wrapped up, was placed in the cutter and
driven home. The family doctor had already arrived, and Darley took his

“May I call and see how you are get-ing on?” he ventured as he said

“I shall be happy if you will,” said Miss Charteris. But the gray eyes
seemed to say to Darley, Could you think of not doing so?

“I am afraid you are in love, or on the way,” said this young man to
himself as he walked briskly to his friend’s house. “In love, young
fellow, and with a real woman, not a woman of the world, but a genuine
sweet woman, one worth the loving.”

He related the story as simply as he could to Leonard, and the latter
listened quietly. But Darley did not observe the odd look in his
friend’s eyes during the narration, nor did he guess that Leonard was
saying to himself, Ah! my young friend, and have you, too, fallen at the
first shaft?

“Shall we go round to the rink?” suggested Leonard the following
evening, after dinner, as they sat over their pipes.

“I think I will stroll round and see how Miss Charteris is,” said
Darley, smoking furiously. “I will call in at the rink afterward, eh?”

“Very well, old fellow,” was all Leonard said.

Darley found Miss Charteris’ ankle improved. The doctor had pronounced
it a severe sprain, had prescribed some wonderful liniment, and had
alleviated the pain.

“But I shall not be able to be out again for three weeks,” said the
invalid, plaintively, on the occasion of a second visit of anxious
inquiry. “It is too bad; for I think open-air skating the most
exhilarating of all sport! It always seems to lift me up.”

“It didn’t seem to lift you up yesterday,” suggested Darley.

“No, indeed. I have thought since that I should be very grateful to you,
because, if you had not happened along, I am sure I don’t know what I
should have done.”

“Don’t talk like that, please,” said Darley, gravely. It is wonderful
the aversion a young man has to being thanked in a case of this sort--at
least, his profession of dislike. “I cannot tell you how unfortunate
I regard the doctor’s mandate,” said Darley after one of those awkward
pauses between two young people who fancy, on a short acquaintance,
that they have a tender regard for each other. “On your own account, of
course, because I can understand how you feel over losing such a chance
as the present ice affords; but chiefly, I am selfish enough to say, on
my own behalf, because by the time you are able to skate again, even if
the ice is still good, my visit will have come to an end; and I had been
hoping, presumptuously enough, I know, to see you often.”

“Will it be really imperative for you to return so soon?” said Miss
Charteris, working rapidly at the woolen hood on which she was engaged.

“I am afraid so,” answered Darley, with something very like a sigh. “I
could not infringe on too much of Leonard’s time----”

“Ah! it is not the city which calls, then?”

“No, it is not the city,” answered Darley, laughing, and being angrily
conscious that he was flushing. “But Jack is such a dear good fellow,
that I know he would not dream of sending me away.”

Miss Charteris’ eyes were on her work, and she plied her fingers

“Do you know Leonard very well, Miss Charteris?” continued Darley, as
the girl did not venture a remark.

“Oh, yes!” The tone might have suggested that Miss Charteris was
agitated; but Darley went on, radiant and sublimely ignorant.

“He is a grand fellow--the one man in the world that I would fall down
and worship! I think Shakespeare must have had him in his vaticinal eye
when he put those perfect words, that immortal eulogy, in the mouth
of Antony: ‘His life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in him that
Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘_this_ was a man!’”

The maid came in and asked if she should light the lamps.

“Not just yet. I prefer this twilight. Do you, Mr. Darley?”

“Very much--for itself. It is very satisfying and soothing, and always
seems to me like a benediction. But it is very bad for your eyes, and
very soon I shall be only able to half see your face.”

“Which will be very good for _your_ eyes. Well, I have done work
for today.” Miss Charteris laid the hood away, which Darley had been
regarding curiously, and folded her hands in her lap. The action and the
moment made Darley think of the “Angelus;” the “Angelus” made him think
that it was getting late, and that made him think that it was time to
go. The lamps, he said, had come round, and----

“No, sit down, unless you really want to go,” said Miss Charteris. She
was remarkably frank, this young lady. “The lamps have not come round;
and, on the contrary, I think that my disinclination for them should be
taken as proof that I do not think it is time for you to go. Besides,
the days are cruelly short now.”

“I find them so,” answered Darley, softly. “Leonard is making everything
so comfortable for me that I do not know what I shall feel like when the
curtain has rung down. It will seem like awaking suddenly from dreamland
to cold earth again. I am sure I shall feel like one of those mountains
falling into the sea of dullness that Poe describes: ‘Mountains toppling
evermore into seas without a shore.’”

“You seem a great admirer of Mr. Leonard,” ventured Miss Charteris.
There was just the slightest suspicion of jealousy in her tone, which
Darley did not notice. Was it because he had inadvertently attributed
his loneliness at leaving to his friend’s kindness, and not paid her
that little tribute of homage which women love? But who knoweth the
heart of woman? Darley longed to tell her why he should feel lonely
when he came to say good-by; but he did not wish to garnish such
a declaration with quotations from poets. Let a man speak from the
inspiration of the moment when he tells his love, or hints at it.

“Admirer!” he echoed, in reply to Miss Charteris’ remark. “It is more
than that. Just think! We were inseparable for years. I wish we had
remained so. No one who knows Jack Leonard as I have known him could
help thinking him a perfect man, noble and generous, as he is!”

“We are one in that opinion,” answered Miss Charteris, quietly. “And,
next to esteeming a noble man, I can esteem his friend who can speak so
unselfishly and sincerely of him, as you have done.”

Darley felt touched--not so much at the words, but at the way in which
they were spoken, gently, deeply, as if breathing of sincereness. But he
did not distinguish anything beyond that in the grave eulogy to Leonard
and himself.

At length the lights _had_ to be brought in, and Darley rose to go.

“You said you felt it unfortunate that I should be unable to skate,
because you had been hoping to see me often,” said Miss Charteris. She
was conscious of a slight flush, but she went bravely on. In certain
circumstances a woman _has_ to be what prudes call bold. “Did you mean

“How could you doubt that I meant it? I certainly did mean it.”
 Darley was a little confused by this frankness. All true women must be
coquettes in some degree, was Darley’s creed. But Miss Charteris was
hardly a coquette even in a slight degree, he thought. It was not
frivolousness that prompted her to speak in this way.

“Because, if you meant it,” continued this charming young person, “I
shall be glad if you will come and see me as often as you like, if you
will not find it dull.”

Miss Spooner, Miss Charteris’ aunt, came in at this moment and spoiled
the eloquent look of reproach that Darley gave her niece.

“Did you ever see such a girl!” exclaimed Miss Spooner in her high but
pleasant voice. Miss Spooner’s speech was emphatic, and endowed with
realism. Darley felt like saying that he never had, indeed. “_I_ never
did! Going into mourning, I believe, because she can’t go out and break
another ankle! You wouldn’t catch _me_ on that ice! I saw it to-day from
the bridge--horrible, shiny, treacherous stuff! Not going already, Mr.
Darley? Better stop to tea.”

Darley said he could not stop to tea _that evening_; which meant that he
could some other evening, of course, and would be unspeakably happy to
do so. All of which Miss Spooner understood; and so she extended her
hospitality to him for the next evening.


“Do you know, Percy, I believe you are going to marry Miss Charteris,”
 said Leonard, quietly, one evening. “_Our_ Miss Charteris, I mean.”

“What makes you say so?”

“I believe you are in love with her; in fact, I know you are. And I hope
you will. Nothing could make me happier.” Darley looked the satisfaction
he could not speak at this little speech.

“I am in love with her. But I am not good enough for her,” he said,
humbly. “I have been a worthless beggar all these years----”

“You can prove your worth,” said Leonard, warmly. “And you _must_, if
you marry Florence Charteris. I know you are not worthless; but you must
let the good come to the surface.”

“I shall work,” answered Darley, earnestly. “I begin to feel now the
approving glow that comes to a man when he anticipates marrying a woman
he loves. But why should I anticipate? I have not the slightest reason
to believe that Miss Charteris cares a jot for me!”

“Is that true, Percy?” questioned Leonard, sharply.

Darley did not know whether it was true or not. He did not like to be
sanguine, he said. No; he had no reason to think Miss Charteris cared
whether he went back to town to-morrow. Not an item of which Leonard

“I hope earnestly you will win her,” he said again. “But you will have
to retrench. Florence Charteris is as poor as a church mouse.”

“I am heartily glad of it,” said Darley, warmly. “I shall be the man I
have never yet been if I win her.”

“Well, you will win her,” said Leonard. “I feel it in my bones.”

So the days went round; and each one found Darley at Miss Spooner’s.
Even little Dutton had begun to watch with interest the outcome of this
quiet wooing of the little lady whom all the town loved. The evolutions
of acquaintance had merged rapidly into the sweeter plane of an almost
wordless courtship; but as yet Darley had not ventured to speak He felt
fearful lest his dream should be dispelled; and yet, though he was not a
vain man, he felt that this lovable little woman cared for him. He could
not go back to town and leave his love unspoken, however; because if he
had done so this little story would not have been written. And at length
came the day when he felt that his visit had been prolonged beyond the
limits that even close friendship allows.

“I am going away to-morrow,” he said on this eventful afternoon. It was
just such an afternoon as that first one which he had spent there. It
was growing dusk; and through the window they could see the red lights
of home, those terrestrial apostles of Hesperus, punctuating the white

“I am going away to-morrow,” repeated Darley. Miss Charteris said
nothing, but gazed out of the window.

“Why don’t you say something?” he burst out. “Have you nothing to say?”

“What should I say? Do you want me to say good-by? Is it such a sweet
word, then, that you are anxious that I should say it now?”

Darley knelt beside the little dusky figure in the rocker. How sweet it
is to have the woman you love speak to you like this, and to hear her
voice tremble, and to feel that she cares for you!

“No, I don’t want you to say good-by,” he said, very gently. “I want you
to tell me not to go. Can’t you see that the thought of leaving you has
been like the thought of eternal darkness to me? I love you, and I
want you for my own, always, that I may never know the bitterness of
good-by!” Miss Charteris turned her head, and Darley saw that the gray
eyes he loved so well were wet. She put out one little white hand till
it rested on his.

“Stay!” she whispered.

After a while, when the lamps--those horribly real and unromantic
things--were brought in, they talked of other matters. But both seemed
very happy, and ready to talk of anything. Even the mysterious hood,
which was now completed, came in for a share of attention, and the
inquisitive Darley learned that it was for a “poor old soul,” as Miss
Charteris expressed it, who lived in a wretched little shanty with
a worthless grandson, at the other end of the town. By-and-by Miss
Charteris said:

“I have some news for you. Bella was married yesterday. Can you guess to

“No, I cannot,” answered Darley, almost breathlessly. Bella was the
Miss Charteris of the city. He did not know whether to feel glad or
indifferent, but he was free of the gentlest touch of spleen. A woman
will be conscious of a twinge of pique when she hears that a man with
whom she has had some little love affair has married some one else. But
Darley was not conscious of any such sensation.

“It was very quiet,” continued Miss Charteris. “At least, I gather so
from the paper which tells me of it. Bella never writes me, and not
even on this occasion has she done so. However, she is now Mrs. Lawrence

“Oh!” exclaimed Darley in a superior tone, which testified that he knew
something about it. Then he mentioned having met Severance. He had not
said anything of the occurrence before, not caring for Miss Charteris of
the city as a subject of conversation with her sister, for reasons best
known to himself.

“There is quite a little story about it, you know,” continued Miss
Florence. “Lawrence, you know, and Bella have been lovers ever since
they were so high, and Bella was Aunt Mary Spooner’s favorite. When Aunt
Mary died she left a great deal of money for Bella when she should come
of age, stipulating, however, that Bella should have only a certain
allowance till she was beyond a marriageable age.”

“And, pray, what age is that?” asked Darley, laughing.

“I should not have cared to ask Aunt Mary that question. The reason was
that Lawrence was the son of an old sweetheart of Aunt Mary’s, who had
jilted her without any mercy; and so the sins of the father were visited
upon the head of the son. ‘Marry Lawrence, my dear,’ says Aunt Mary, ‘if
you like, but you don’t have my money. Florence shall have it the day
you marry Lawrence Severance.’”

Darley started as if stung. “Eh?” he exclaimed, “I don’t understand!”

“Then listen. ‘Oh, ho!’ quoth Lawrence, when he grew up and understood
the story. ‘So that is the way of love, is it? Well, there are more
fortunes than Aunt Mary’s in the world.’ And away went Lawrence, nothing
daunted, to win--what I hear he has won--double the fortune that Bella,
in marrying him, hands over to me.”

“Then you mean to say that this--money comes to you; that you are a rich
woman, in fact?” Darley’s tone was almost bitten.

“Yes!” answered Miss Florence, gleefully, and clapping her little hands.
“Aren’t you glad?”

“Glad? I hate it!”

“Hate it?”

“Yes, hate it! I was glorying in the fact that if I won you I would
marry a poor woman. Now--” Darley did not finish his sentence.

“You must not talk like that,” said Miss Florence with some asperity.
“It is very wrong, and it hurts me, although I know I should be pleased.
But I know you love me for all that. Money is a very good thing--God’s
gift in the hands of those who use it well. There is a great deal of
good that we can do with Aunt Mary’s money. She was very good herself
to the poor, despite her unnatural dislike for Lawrence Severance; and I
should like her to know that her mantle had fallen on worthy shoulders.
You and I shall use this money to a great purpose.”

“But you don’t know what a happy thing it has been to me, this thought
of winning you and proving my love by earnest work!”

“And need that resolve be dissipated?” said Miss Florence, gravely. “You
shall do that. There is a great deal of work to be done.”


Leonard met Darley on his return, and drew him into the light.

“I have won her, Jack!” said the younger man, grasping his friend’s
hand. “The sweetest and the noblest woman God ever made!”

“I see it in your face,” said Leonard, huskily. Even Darley could not
fail to notice the change in his friend’s voice. “What is the matter,
old man?” he exclaimed. “You----”

“Nothing, nothing, my boy,” Leonard answered quickly. “But promise me
one thing: that you will make her a noble husband, always--always!”

Then Darley understood.

“Dear old Jack!” he said tenderly. “What a fool I have been! Can you
forgive me?”

“There is nothing to forgive, my boy--nothing. But you must always be
good to her. But never get angry because another man besides yourself
worships your wife.”

[Illustration: 0265]

[Illustration: 0266]

THE BEAR ‘S-HEAD BROOCH, By Ernest Ingersoll

[Illustration: 0267]

[Illustration: 0268]

[Illustration: 9268]

HE story I am about to narrate happened this way, Thomas Burke and I
were old schoolmates. But his course and mine had been widely divergent
for a score of years, so that by the time he had brought his family back
to New York, and our acquaintance could be renewed, many untold things
had happened to each.

I knew Tom had won his fortune by mining in the Rocky Mountains. It was
rumored that his accomplished wife also had wealth in her own right, but
Tom never had much to say in regard to his financial matters, and I did
not like to question him notwithstanding our intimacy. I had dined with
him two Christmases in succession, and now for the third time had eaten
my Christmas dinner at his table.

On each of these occasions Mrs. Burke had worn at her throat a
magificient brooch which I had never seen at any other time, though I
had met her often when such an ornament would have been suitable enough.
This brooch was a bear’s face, holding in its teeth a tiny steel key.
It was a marvel of delicacy in the goldsmith’s art, and evidently very
costly; for the eyes were each a ruby, and the head was encircled with
large diamonds, half hidden by hairs of gold, as though they represented
a collar round bruin’s hirsute neck.

“Tom,” I said, when Mrs. Burke had left us to ourselves after dinner, “I
am very curious about that bear’s head brooch your wife wears. Why do
I never see it except at Christmas? I am sure it has a history, and if
there is no secret about it I wish you would enlighten me.”

“Well,” said my old friend, “that is rather a lengthy story. There is no
secret about it--at least none to keep from an old chum like you. As for
the brooch, that’s only an ornament I had made some years ago; but the
design and the little key--which is a real key--remind Marion and myself
of what we call our Christmas story, because it culminated on that day.

“When you and I left the old university in 1870, and you came here, and
I went West----”

But if I were to tell the story as he did, it would hardly be as plain
to you as it was to me. I must write it out.

When Tom Burke left the university after his graduation he took the few
hundred dollars which were the measure of his capital and went to the
Rocky Mountains to seek his fortune. In the autumn of 1871 he became
the superintendent of the Crimson Canyon Mining Company in Southern
Colorado, where he found as assayer, and scientific assistant generally,
a queer, learned and proud old Scotchman named Corbitt. This man had
been one of the “Forty-niners” and had made a fortune which he had
greatly enjoyed while it lasted, and the loss of which, in some
wrong-headed speculation, he never ceased to deplore.

Now, a few weeks before Tom’s arrival at the camp, Corbitt’s home had
been brightened by the coming of his daughter Marion, on what he told
his envious acquaintances was a “veesit,” implying that she could not be
expected to make her home there.

And truly this remote mountain settlement, inclement in climate,
uncouth, dusty, filled with rough men, and bountiful only in pure air
and divine pictures of crag and glen, icy-blue peaks and chromatic
patches of stained cliff above or flower meadow below--all this was
anything but the sort of place for a girl like her to spend her maiden
days in.

Perhaps it was not quite a case of love at first sight between her and
Tom, but certainly the winter had not passed before each had confessed
that there was no one else in the world beside the other whose presence
much mattered in the way of happiness.

But that seemed to be the end of it, for Corbitt gave young Burke to
understand most decisively that he could hope for nothing more--an
engagement to marry was out of the question.

“Love, let us wait,” was Marion’s last word, when, on her first and last
tryst, she had stolen away to meet him, and he counted her kisses as a
miser counts his gold.

“Let us wait. I care for nobody else, and nobody can marry me against
my will. We are young yet. Who knows what may happen? You may get money
enough to satisfy papa--I don’t suppose he holds me at a very, very high
price, do you? Or I may be freer after a while to do as I wish.”

This was commonplace advice enough, but Tom saw both the good sense and
the pure love in it, and accepted the decree, steeling his heart against
the impulses of rage and revolt.

And then, quite unexpectedly, Mr. Corbitt resigned his place and went
to Denver, taking his family with him. The same week the mine changed
owners, and Burke was superseded by a new superintendent; and so, almost
at a stroke, the lad lost both his sweetheart and the weapon by which he
was to fight for her in the business tournament of the world. However,
the latter evil was presently remedied, and he worked on, saving his
money and teasing his brain for suggestions how to make it increase

At that time the mighty range had never been very carefully prospected.
Men had, indeed, ascended Crimson Creek to its sources in search of
the deposits of quartz whence the auriferous gravels below had been
enriched, but they had brought back a discouraging report. Tom was
not satisfied to accept their conclusions. He was confident, from the
geological and other indications, that treasures of ore lay undiscovered
among those azure heights. At last, resolved to see for himself, he
enlisted the help of a young miner and mountaineer named Cooper, and one
day late in August they started.

After passing the pillared gateways of the Canyon, and ascending for a
few miles the great gorge down which the creek cascaded over boulders
and ledges of granite and rounded fragments of trachyte and quartz, you
come to a noble cataract leaping into the Canyon from the left through a
narrow gash or depression in the wall. By climbing up the opposite slope
a little way, you see that this stream comes tumbling white and furious
down a long rugged stairway of rocky fragments before it reaches the
brink, whence it shoots out in the air and then falls in a thousand
wreaths of dangling vapor.

“Cooper,” Tom called out to his companion, who was more comrade than
servant, “I guess we’ll camp here. I want to examine this side gorge a

“It looks to me,” remarked Tom, “as if this had formerly been the main
stream, and had carried pretty much all the drainage of the valley until
a big landslide--and it didn’t happen so very long ago either--dammed
the exit of the valley and changed the shape of things generally, eh?”

“That’s about the size of it, I guess. But, I say, ain’t that smoke down
there by the lake?”

[Illustration: 0276]

“I reckon we’ve got time enough to go and see. It ain’t far down there,
and the moon’ll show us the way back if we get late.”

Noting their bearings, they began the descent toward the lake and
presently came out upon its border, where the walking was easier.
Advancing cautiously half a mile or thereabout, they again caught sight
of the smoke through the bushes--a feeble column rising from some embers
before a small shelter of boughs and bark that hardly deserved the
name of hut. A skillet, a light pick and shovel, and one or two other
household articles lay near by, but nothing alive appeared.

“No Injun ‘bout that,” said Cooper.

“No, Cooper; more likely a prospector.”

Hallooing as they neared the hut, a lean and miserable dog rushed out
and greeted them with ferocious growls, whereupon they heard a weak
voice speaking to him, and saw a frowsy gray head and a bony hand,
clutching a revolver, stretched out of the opening that answered for a

[Illustration: 0284]

“Hello!” Tom cried. “Call off your dog; we’re friends.”

Then a tousled, ragged, gaunt-limbed figure, emaciated with hunger, wild
eyed with fever, dragged itself from the sheltering brush, gave one long
look at the stalwart strangers, and fell back on the stony ground in a
dead faint, while the dog, rushing forward with the courage of a starved
wolf, planted himself before the corpse-like form and defied them to
touch it.

They fought off the animal, brought water from the lake and revived the
man. A dram from Tom’s flask stimulated him, whereupon he sat up and
began to chatter incoherently, thanks to God and wild exclamations about
some hidden treasure mingling with such plaintive cries as “She’ll be
all right now!” and “Mebbe she’ll forgive her old dad!” making up the
whole of his ceaseless talk.

“He’s clean crazy!” was Cooper’s opinion.

“Yes,” Tom assented, “but it is fever and famine. Couldn’t you shoot a
rabbit or something? Then I could make him a stew. Try it.”

But all that Cooper could quickly find to kill were three mountain jays,
which were converted into a broth, thickened with the dust of flour that
remained. A little tea was also found in the sick man’s pack, and this
was brewed for him. Then Cooper volunteered to go back to their own camp
and bring over more food and Tom’s little medicine case.

The next day he fetched the rest of their luggage, and in the afternoon
shot a deer. So they encamped here beside the lake and nursed the old
fellow until his fever subsided and the delirium had ceased to a great
extent. Then by easy stages, partly carrying him on a stretcher, partly
assisting him to walk, they managed to take him back to Crimson Camp and
gave him a bed in Tom’s cabin.

But the strain of this effort had been too much for the aged and feeble
frame. No sooner was the excitement of the march at an end than a
relapse occurred, and for a fortnight the old man hovered on the edge of
death; skill and care seemed to conquer, however, and one morning peace
came to the tortured brain and the old prospector began to get better.

Now at last he was awake, with seeming intelligence in his eyes, asking
where he was and who were the people around him. Tom explained and then
questioned him in return.

But the mystery was not to be so easily solved. The invalid could
not tell his name, nor where he had come from. He said he had been
prospecting all his life--where--how long--all particulars were a blank.

“I can’t remember anything but the cache--nothing else at all,” he
declared, gazing piteously into one face after another.

“Tell us about that, then.”

He felt in his bosom and drew out the little pouch. It was opened for
him and its contents--a fragment of quartz heavy with gold and a tiny
steel key--taken out.

“Ah! What do you call that?” he inquired eagerly, pointing to the yellow


“Yes? Well, there is lots of that in my cache.”

“Where is your cache?” inquired Tom.

The old fellow dropped his head and tried to think, but couldn’t clutch
any of the motes of memory dodging like phantasmagoria before his eyes.

“I can’t tell,” he confessed, with infinite sadness. “I reckon I’d know
the place if I saw it. And I’ve forgotten everything before that, but it
seems to me that I fell a great ways, and lay for years and years with
an awful pain in my head. Then all at once my head got better and I
opened my eyes--mebbe it was a dream--and there I and the dog were in
a little camp ‘way up a big gulch. I knew the place, but I felt kind o’
weak and dizzy-like and ‘lowed I’d make a cache o’ all my stuff, and go
down to Del Nort’ and see a doctor. So I dug a hole beside a big rock
that had a peculiar mark on it, and put into it most o’ my grub and some
papers, and a lot o’ that yellow stuff--what d’ye call it?--and reckoned
they’d be safe till I come back in three or four weeks. I can remember
all about the cache and my camp there, and my leavin’ it and climbin’
down a devilish steep place, and there I stop and can’t remember nothin’

This was absolutely all that was left of the man’s memory, and, though
he was now quite sane, he had to be taught the names and uses of many
of the commonest objects. Moreover, he seemed to grow weaker instead
of stronger, and after a few days the physician announced that his
patient’s end was near. When the old fellow was told this he called Tom
to his bedside, and said to him:

“Pardner, you’ve done the square thing by me, and I want you to have
half the traps in that cache after I’ve passed in my checks, and give
the other half to--to--oh, God! Now I can’t remember!”

Then his face brightened again.

“Oh, the letters’ll tell! Read the letters and give her half of it. I’ll
sign a paper if you’ll write it.”

So a will was made, and the dying man made a mark before witness, in
lieu of the signature he had lost the power to make, and the next day he

The miners generally believed the stranger’s story of this cache to be
a figment of his disordered imagination, and Tom himself might have
yielded to this theory had not the physician assured him that there was
a fair chance of its truth.

So Tom preserved the will, the quartz and the key, hoping that chance
might sometime disclose the treasure trove if there were any; and a
few days later he and young Cooper started a second time on their
prospecting tour. This time they took a burro with them, and so were
able to carry a small tent and outfit for a fortnight’s trip.

By active marching they reached the lake that night, finding it slow
work to get their unwilling donkey up the steep rocks at the fall, by a
circuitous trail and aided by some actual lifting of the little beast.
They researched the hut, but found nothing new. The dog, now fat
and strong, and a devoted friend, accompanied them and betrayed most
excitedly his recognition of the bivouac. Next morning they made their
way up to the head of the lake, where the breadth of the gulch and the
appearance of things confirmed Tom’s previous surmise that this was
originally the main channel of drainage.

If this were true they ought to get evidence of drift gold; and several
days were spent in panning the gravels (nowhere, however, of great
extent), with most encouraging results. A few miles above the lake they
found the gulch forked into two ravines divided by a rocky spur. They
chose the right-hand one and lost three days in fruitless exploration of
its bed and walls. Shep (the dog was a collie and they had rechristened
him) did not display anything like the joy he had shown in the advance
up the main stream, and when they finally returned to the forks
they could not but notice his renewed spirits. The dog was again all
eagerness, and intensely delighted when on the following morning they
started up the left-hand gulch.

“It looks as though his master had come down that way, doesn’t it?”
 said Tom. “Maybe he could guide us right back to where he came from; but
he’ll have to wait a while, for I like the look of that crag up there,”
 directing his companion’s attention to the crest of the wall on the
left, “and I want to examine it. You’d better stay here and try to get a
blacktail. Bacon three times a day is getting monotonous.”

“Don’t you think you’d better take the Winchester?” said Cooper. (They
had brought but one rifle.) “You might hit up against a grizzly or a
mountain lion. I heard one of ‘em screeching last night.”

“No; I can’t lug a gun. I’ve got my six shooter, and I’ll risk it. Come
on, Shep! It’s noon now, and we won’t get back to supper if we don’t

The dog raced gleefully ahead as the young man strode up the gulch,
scanning its rugged slope in search of a convenient place to begin the
ascent, and presently, as though cognizant of the plan, the dog turned
aside and with loud barking and much tail wagging invited attention to a
dry watercourse that offered a sort of path.

“I guess you’re right, Shep,” Tom assented, and set his face to the
sturdy climb.

Half way up a ledge, covered with cedars and Spanish bayonet, made the
ascent really arduous for a little way, and here the dog, which as usual
was some rods in advance, suddenly began barking furiously, and capering
around a small object.

“Chipmunk, I reckon,” said Tom to himself, as he scrambled on, short of
breath; but when Shep came sliding down, holding in his mouth a battered
old felt hat, curiosity changed to amazement. The dog growled at first,
and refused to give up his prize, but after a little coaxing yielded it
into Tom’s hands.

The old prospector had had no hat when found. Could this be it? It did
not seem to have lain out of doors long, and the dog would hardly show
so much interest unless his sharp nose had recognized it as something
belonging to his former inaster. Closely scrutinizing, Tom found tucked
into the lining a slip of sweat-stained paper with a name upon it--


Tucsony Arizona.

Stuffing the hat into his pocket Tom scrambled on, thinking out the
meaning of the incident; and now he began to notice in this steeper
place that some of the boulders had been misplaced, and here and there
was a broken branch, as, if someone had descended very hastily or

“If that crazy old man came down here, and perhaps caught a second bad
fall, I don’t wonder he was used up by the time he reached the lake”
 was Tom’s mental ejaculation, as he toiled up the acclivity and at last,
panting and leg weary, gained a narrow grassy level at the foot of a
crag “spiked with firs,” which had been conspicuous from the valley not
only by its height and castellated battlements, but because a colossal X
was formed on its face by two broad veins of quartz crossing each other.

With his eyes fixed upon the rocky wall he walked along in the face of
a stiff breeze, until he noticed a pinkish streak upon the dark cliff,
betokening the outcrop of another vein, and turned aside to climb a pile
of fallen fragments at the foot of the crag to reach it. These fragments
were overgrown with low, dense shrubbery. He ducked his head and was
pushing into them, when suddenly he saw a huge brown body rise almost
into his face, heard the tremendous growl of a grizzly, and amid a crash
of bushes and dislodged stones felt himself hurled backward.

Clutching instinctively at one of the shrubs as he fell, he whirled
under its hiding foliage, and the vicious stroke of the bear’s paw
came down upon his leg instead of his head, while the released branches
snapped upward into the face of the brute, which, as much surprised
as its victim, paused in its onslaught to collect its wits. An
instant later Shep dashed up, and at the bear’s hindquarters. Bruin
spasmodically sank his claws deeper into Tom’s thigh, but turned his
head and shoulders with a terrific ursine oath at this new and most
palpable enemy; and ten seconds afterward Tom’s revolver, its muzzle
pressed close underneath the bear’s ear, had emptied half an ounce of
lead into its brain. A blood-freezing death squeal tore the air, and the
ponderous carcass sank down, stone dead, upon Tom’s body and upon the
dwarfed spruce which covered it. It pinned him to the ground with an
almost insupportable weight. Perhaps if the animal alone had lain upon
him he might have wriggled out; but the brute’s carcass also held down
the tough and firmly-rooted tree, and the rocks on each side formed a
sort of trough. Turn and strain as he would Tom could not free
himself from the burden which threatened to smother him. Moreover, the
convulsive death throe had forcibly tightened the grip of the claws
in the side of his knee, which felt as if in some horrible torturing
machine of the Inquisition; and had he not been able at last to reach
that paw with his left hand and pull it away from the wound he would
have died under the agony.

Then, as he felt the blood running hot and copious down his leg, a new
fear chilled his heart. Might he not bleed to death? There seemed no end
to the hemorrhage, and what hope had he of succor? He thought of firing
signals of distress, but could not reach the pistol, which had been
knocked out of his hand. He spoke to the dog, which was barking and
worrying at the bear’s hind leg, and Shep came and licked his face and
sniffed at his blood-soaked trousers. Then, as if even he realized how
hopeless was the situation, he sat on his haunches and howled until Tom,
hearing him less and less distinctly, imagined himself a boulder slowly
but musically crunching to powder under the resistless advance of a
glacier, and lost consciousness as the cold-blue dream-ice closed over
his dust.

By and by he awoke. It was dark, and something cold and soft was blowing
against his face. He moved and felt the shaggy fur and the horrible
pain in his leg and in his right arm, which was confined in a twisted
position. Then he remembered, but forgot again.

A second time he awoke. It was still dark, but a strange pallor
permeated the air, and all around him was a mist of white.

It was snowing fast. He closed his left hand and grasped a whole fistful
of flakes. The body of the bear was a mound of white--like a new-made
grave over him, he dismally thought. The snow had drifted under and
about his shoulders. Its chill struck the wound in his thigh, which
throbbed as though hit with pointed hammers, keeping time to the
pulsations of his heart; but, thank God! he no longer felt that horrible
warm trickling down his leg. He had been preserved from bleeding to
freeze to death. How long before that would happen; or, if it were not
cold enough for that, how long before the snow would drift clear over
him and cut off the little breath which that ponderous, inert, dead-cold
beast on his chest prevented from entering his lungs? Where was the
dog? He called feebly: “Shep! Shep! Hi-i-i, Sh-e-p!” But no moist nose
or rough tongue responded. He tried to whistle, but his parched mouth
refused. Heavens, how thirsty! He stretched out his hand and gathered
the snow within his reach. Then he closed his eyes and dreamed that two
giants were pulling him asunder, and that a third was pouring molten
lead down his throat.

But it was only Bill Cooper trying to make him drink whiskey.

He understood it after a little and realized that he ought to swallow.
Then life came back, and with the knowledge that he was no longer
alone on the cold, remote, relentless mountain top, but that Cooper was
lifting away the bear, and that Shep was wild with sympathy and gladness
because he had been able to bring help, came courage and forbearance of
his suffering. In the morning new strength came with the sunshine. The
snow rapidly melted. Cooper got breakfast and Tom rebandaged his knee.

“These gashes won’t amount to much, unless the claws were poisoned.
You’ll have to make me a crutch, and give me a couple of days to get rid
of the stiffness, but then I’ll be all right.”

“How did you and the bear get into this scrimmage, anyhow? You surely
didn’t go hunting him with that there six shooter?”

“Not I. The wind was blowing hard toward me, so he didn’t smell nor hear
me, and I ran right on to him. Shep was not there to warn me, but if he
hadn’t come back just as he did, or if I hadn’t been able to get at my
revolver, Old Ephraim would ha’ used me up in about a minute.”

“I ain’t a betting on one pistol shot against a grizzly, anyhow.”

“Of course, the chances were about one in a thousand, but I wasn’t going
to die without a shot. I suppose the bullet struck the lower part of the

“Yes,” said Bill, who had been probing its track. “Tore it all to
pieces. But what was the bear after in that brush?”

“Give it up--ants, likely. You know--Great Scott! What’s that dog got
now?” Shep was coming out of the bushes, dragging a package wrapped in
buckskin which was almost too heavy for him to handle. Cooper went and
took it from him and brought it to the fire. It was a sort of pouch
firmly tied with a thong. Running a knife under this the bundle fell
apart, and a double handful of flakes and nuggets of gold and quartz
rolled out.

“The cache!” Tom shouted, comprehending instantly the meaning of this.
“The bear was tearing it to pieces!”

It was true. His strong feet had displaced the loosely-heaped stones,
and a half-devoured side of bacon lay close by where the animal had been

Evidently the marauder had just begun his work. There remained in the
cache two more pouches of gold--perhaps a quart of the metal pieces in
all, more or less pure, for all of it had been dug out of a vein with
hammer and knife point, none of the fragments showing the water-worn
roundness characteristic of placer gold. Then there were a small
quantity of provisions, some ammunition and a small rosewood box with an
ornamental brass lock having a remarkably small and irregular keyhole.

From an inner pocket of his purse Tom drew the odd little key the dead
prospector had given him. It fitted into the hole and easily turned the
lock. The cover sprang open, revealing a package of letters. He lifted
them out, but did not pause to read them.

Then came an envelope containing a patent to ranch lands in Arizona,
certificates of stock in Mexican and other mines that Burke had never
heard of, and a commission as lieutenant of artillery in the Confederate
army. All these documents were made out to “Arthur F. Pierson,”
 establishing the fact that the lost hat was really that worn by the old
man, as his dog had recognized.

At the bottom of the box, however, Tom found what interested him most--a
formal “claim” and description of the lode whence the gold had been
taken, and how to reach it from this cache. It was written in pencil, in
a very shaky hand, on two or three soiled leaves torn from a memorandum
book and eked out with one of the covers.

Then Tom took up the letters. Most of them were recent and of business
importance, but several were old and worn with much handling. One of
these latter was from a lawyer in San Francisco, acknowledging funds
“sent for the support of your infant daughter,” describing her health
and growth, and the care taken of her “at the convent”--all in curt
business phrase, but precious to the father’s heart. Then there were
two or three small letters, printed and scratched in a childish hand, to
“dear, dear papa,” and signed “Your little Polly.” One of these spoke of
Sister Agatha and Sister Theresa, showing that it was written while
the child was still in the convent; but the others, a little later,
prattled about a new home with “my new papa and mamma,” but gave no clew
to name or place.

“This baby girl--she must be a young woman now, if she lives,” Tom
mused--“is evidently the person the poor old chap wanted me to divide
with. It ought not to be difficult to trace her from San Francisco, I
suppose the convent Sisters knew where she went to when they gave her
up. But, hello! here’s a picture.”

It was an old-fashioned daguerrotype of a handsome woman of perhaps
four-and-twenty, in bridal finery, whose face seemed to him to have
something familiar in its expression. But no name or date was to be
found, and with the natural conclusion that this was probably Pierson’s
wife he puzzled a moment more over the pretty face, and then put it

After a few days, when Burke was able to travel, the prospector’s
memorandum and their mountain craft together led them almost directly
to the coveted gold vein, which ran across a shoulder of the mountain at
the head of the gulch, like an obscure trail, finally disappearing under
a great talus at the foot of a line of snowcapped crags.

Tracing it along, they presently came upon the old man’s claim marks.
The stakes were lettered pathetically with the name of the old man’s
choosing--“Polly’s Hope.”

Adjoining the “Hope” Tom staked out one claim for himself and another
for his sweetheart, intending to do the proper assessment work on it
himself if Corbitt couldn’t or wouldn’t; and Cooper used up most of
what remained of the visible outcrop in a claim for himself.

Returning to town their claims were registered in the Crimson Mineral
District, and their report sent a flight of gold hunters in hot haste to
the scene.

Tom Burke, after selling everything he could send to market to turn
into ready money, departed to Denver, carrying with him documents and
specimens of the gold quartz to support his assertions.

Keen men fêted and flattered him, buttonholing him at every corner with
whispered advice, and many proffered schemes. But he was indifferent to
it all, and anxious as yet only to hear what Marion should say.

Not a word had he heard from her directly during all the weeks of
her absence, but indirectly he knew she had been a star in the local
society. He had even to hunt out where she lived, finding it in a
cottage near where the stately court house now stands.

He went there, after tea, with a fastbeating heart. Had she forgotten,
or withdrawn or been turned away by hardhearted parents and friends? He
suspected everything and everybody, yet could give no reasons. And how
absurd these fears looked to him--how _foolish!_--when, sitting in the
little parlor, hand in hand, they talked over the past, and she confided
that the same doubts had worried her now and then--“most of all, Tom,
dear, when I hear of this wonderful success of yours.”

“Bless me! I had forgotten it. By your side all else----”

Here the door opened--not too abruptly--and Mr. Corbitt came in, grimly
hospitable and glad, no doubt for his own sake, to see this young fellow
who was still true to his daughter; while Mrs. Corbitt was more openly
cordial, as became her.

“An’ what’s this we’re hearin’ aboot your new mines? They’re sayin’
down town that you’ve struck a regular bonanza, an’ll soon be worth your
meellions. But I told ‘em ‘Hoot! I’d heard the like o’ that before!’”

So Tom recounted briefly the story of the prospector’s death and his
will; still more briefly his adventure with the grizzly, and how it led
to the curious disclosure of the cache. Then, with no little dramatic
force, seeing how interested was his audience, he described the hunt for
the vein and the finding it, produced his specimens and handed to Miss
Marion a mass of almost solid gold embedded in its matrix.

“I can’t promise you,” he said, as she tried to thank him with her eyes
and a timid touch of her fingers, “that the whole ledge will equal that,
but it is a genuine sample from near the surface.”

“Wonderful! Wonderful!” the old Scotchman ejaculated, with gleaming
eyes, as Tom went on to show how regular and secure was the title to
this possession. “But did ye no find out the name of the poor vagabone?”

“Oh, yes. Didn’t I mention it? His name was Arthur Pierson.”

Corbitt and his wife both started from their seats.

“Man, did I hear ye aright?--_Arthur F. Pierson?_”

“That was the name exactly. I can show it to you on the letters.”

“An’ he charged ye to give the half of all ye found to his daughter

“Yes, and I mean to try to find her.”

“_There she sits!_” cried Mother Corbitt excitedly, before her cautious
husband, could say “Hush!”--pointing at Marion, who gazed from one
to the other, too much amazed to feel grieved yet at this stunning
announcement. “We took the lassie when she was a wee bairn, and she
would never ha’ known she wasn’t ours really till maybe we were dead and
gone. Her feyther was a cankert, fashious body, but her mother was
guid and bonnie (I knew her well in the auld country) and she died when
Mary--that’s you, my dearie--was born.”

“Is this her picture?” Tom asked, showing the daguerrotype.

“Aye, that it is. Puir Jennie!”

The rest is soon told. A company of capitalists was formed to work the
four consolidated claims on the new vein, under the name of the Hope
Mining Company.

[Illustration: 0293]

All the next season was spent by Tom Burke in developing the property
and erecting machinery. Corbitt was there too, much thawed by the sun of
prosperity, but his wife and daughter remained in Denver. In the autumn,
however, the ladies went East, and as the holidays approached Tom and
Corbitt followed them to New York, where, on Christmas eve, my hero and
heroine were married quietly in a little church up town; and his gift
to her was the brooch which had attracted my attention and whose
significance was now plain.

[Illustration: 0293]

[Illustration: 0294]

MISS GWYNNE’S BURGLAR, By Violet Etynge Mitchell

|IN the heart of Wales, nestling between two dark frowning mountains,
and lulled to drowsy indifference of the big outside world by the
murmurs of the not far distant sea, stands the little village of

Just outside the village, on the main road stands--or did stand ten
years ago--an old stone house, in the middle of a large garden, which
was surrounded on all sides by a high wall, also of stone. It was the
pride of the owner, Miss Gwynne.

One night, in the early spring of the year, there was to be a wedding at
Cod-y-Glyn--a wedding in humble life, but anticipated with great glee by
the invited guests, among whom were Miss Gwynne’s servants, the coachman
and his wife (who was also cook) and Ylva, their daughter, employed as a

Knowing the disappointment it would be to them if they were denied the
pleasure of attending the wedding, she had declined the coachman’s offer
to remain with her, allowing his wife and daughter to go, and laughingly
assured him that with her father’s gun for company she feared nothing.

Miss Gwynne retired at an early hour, having locked up the house.

She lay for some time gazing through the window at the twinkling stars,
lost in quiet retrospection.

I will let Miss Gwynne tell the rest of the story in her own way,
repeating as well as I can from memory the words as I heard them from
her lips ten years ago.


I cannot tell if I dozed or not, but I was conscious of the moon shining
dimly through the clouds, and I wondered how long I had lain there.
Reaching out for my watch, which lay on the table, I was horrified to
feel my wrist grasped and held by a firm hand.

To say I was frightened would be less correct than to say I was
astounded, for I have always been a woman of steady nerve, and the
present occasion called for its use.

The moon had retired behind a heavy curtain of clouds, and the room was
in complete darkness, but from the drapery at my bedside issued a voice,
and at the same time the python-like grasp on my wrist relaxed.

“I beg to apologize, madam,” said this voice; “I have chosen a bungling
manner of awakening you--foreign to my custom. Pardon me, and do not be
alarmed. I merely wish to relieve you of any superfluous silver, jewelry
or bank notes you do not absolutely need. But as the vandalism of
breaking locks is out of my line, I will request you to arise and show
me where such things are kept.”

By the time he had finished this speech I was myself again.

“Very well,” I said, “I’ll get up and show you; but, as it is
embarrassing to dress in your presence, will you step out into the hall
and close the door while I put on my clothing?”

There was a soft rustling of the curtains at the bedside, and the sound
of footsteps on the carpet, and immediately afterward the door closed.

“Five minutes, madam, is all I can give you,” remarked the burglar, as
he disappeared.

It took me (after lighting the candle) two minutes to slip on a warm
skirt, and a blue flannel wrapper over it; then, sticking my feet into
a pair of down slippers, I had still time to snatch a roll of bills
amounting to one hundred pounds, and pin them deftly to the lining of
the canopy above my four-post bed.

Then throwing open the door I stood on the sill facing my visitor, and
threw the glare of the lighted candle full upon him, as he lolled in a
careless, easy attitude against the bannisters.

I had been prepared for a burglar--but I had looked for one attired
according to the traditions of my ancestors. But here was a gentlemanly,
mild-featured individual, such as I should have expected to find filling
the position of a professor of Latin--perhaps of theology--in Oxford

There was no appearance of a jimmy, or tools of any kind. Evidently here
was a type of criminal with which history was unacquainted.

“Madam!” he exclaimed, bowing with the grace of a French courtier, “you
are punctuality itself. And how charming!--no hysterics--no distressing
scenes. Allow me.” He took the candle from my hand, and holding it aloft
preceded me down the great oaken stairs, talking fluently all the while,
but pausing at every other step to glance over his shoulder at me with
coquettish politeness.

“I wish to assure you,” he remarked, “that I am no ordinary
house-breaker. Burglary is with me a _profession_, though not the one
(I confess) chosen for me by my parents. I saw, at an early age, that
I must either descend to the level of the burglar, or raise him to the
level of an artist. Behold, my dear lady, the result.”

He stood at the foot of the stairs and looked up at me.

“Shall we proceed to the diningroom?” he asked airily; “and, as I wish
to give you no unnecessary trouble, let me say that I do not dabble in
_plated_ spoons; nothing but solid silver.”

I opened the old mahogany sideboard, in which Griffiths had, for years,
placed the family heirlooms at night, and beheld my gentlemanly burglar
stow them, one after another, in a capacious felt sack, which he carried
in his hand.

“Charming!” he cried. “I am a connoisseur, I assure you, and I know
silver from plate. These articles are really worth the risk of the

You ask me if I was not alarmed. No, I was _not_. Personal violence was
not in his professional line, unless opposed. I summoned all my energies
to outwit him. I thought much and said little, for I had no intention of
allowing him to carry off my mother’s silver.

After having rifled all the rooms of the most valuable articles, he
returned to the dining-room.

On the table the remains of supper still stood, consisting of a fowl,
hardly touched, some delicately cut bread and butter, cake, and a glass
jar containing some fancy crackers.

“I will make myself entirely at home,” he remarked, sitting down to the
table, and helping himself to a wing of the chicken.

“Really,” he proceeded, “I have thoroughly enjoyed this evening. Not
only have I met a most charming lady, but I have been able to prove to
her that the terms gentleman and burglar may be synonomous.”

He now began on the cake. I pushed the cracker jar toward him. “Try
them,” I observed.

Still smiling indulgently, and talking, he took out one of the crackers
and began to nibble on it. It was _very dry_.

I rose, and in an absent-minded manner placed on the table the remains
of a bottle of rare old Burgundy, which had been opened the day before.

“Now, really,” he prattled, “I’m a very harmless man five months out
of six--I never steal unless other means fail, or a tailor’s bill comes
due. I’m a respectable citizen and--a church member in good standing
when I’m not on one of my professional tours. I took up burglary more
as a resource than from necessity. Candidly speaking, now, _am_ I a

[Illustration: 0302]

“No!” I replied, looking directly at him. “On the contrary, you are a
very fine-looking man.”

A glow of vanity spread over his face. I poured out a glass of the
Burgundy and pushed it toward him.

“England to Wales!” he cried with gallantry. “I don’t generally drink,”
 he added, “but these crackers make me thirsty.”

“If I could only find a wife suited to my tastes,” he mused, “such a
woman as _you_ are, by George! I’d give up aesthetic burglary and settle
down to quiet domestic bliss.” He looked questioningly at me. “If”--he
hesitated--“you could be sure I would abandon my profession--would
you--do you think you could--condone my past and--marry me?”

“That is a matter for consideration,” I replied.

He helped himself to another cracker.

“Your proposal is so startlingly unique,” I continued, “to marry one’s
burglar! Really it is quite a joke.”

“Isn’t it?” he chuckled, evidently enjoying the idea of the oddity. “We
are kindred spirits!” he exclaimed, convivially, but was interrupted by
a violent fit of coughing.

Seizing the bottle of Burgundy, he drained the only drop or two left.

“I think, maybe, there’s another bottle down in the cellar,” I cried,
artlessly. “I’ll go down and see--I feel thirsty myself.”

“We will descend together,” exclaimed my burglar, gallantly taking the
candle from my hand and following me to the door leading to the cellar

We descended the steps chatting pleasantly--he discoursing on matrimony,
I answering rather vaguely, but measuring the distance to the wine bins
by my eye. They were at the far end of the cellar, and were five in
number, each large enough to hold a quarter of a ton of coal. Before the
furthest one I paused.

[Illustration: 0300]

“Here,” I said, “is the brand we are looking for.” I raised the heavy
lid and looked in. “I will hold the candle,” I observed; “will you get
the bottle? I can hardly reach it.”

He handed me the candle and bent low over the bin. Ha! ha! Quicker than
a flash of lightning I tipped up his heels (he was easily overbalanced),
and into the bin he fell headlong. Down came the heavy lid. But there
was no padlock on it. I must hurry! Blowing out the candle, I ran, for I
knew the way, straight to the cellar steps and up them--like a cat. Then
with a locked door between myself and my burglar, I could breathe.

I heard the man kicking about down below, for of course he got out of
the bin at once. But our cellar is a labyrinth. Seizing father’s old gun
from its resting-place in the hall, I sat down near the door at the head
of the stairs, waiting for the worst.

The door was fairly strong--that I knew; but he was a powerful man. So I
dragged a heavy table from the sitting-room and placed it against it.

Suddenly I became conscious that he had found his way to the stairs and
was rapidly approaching the door, which was all that lay between me and
his revengeful fury.

Bracing myself against the opposite wall, I raised the old gun, and,
deliberately aiming it, waited.

He began by pounding with both fists on the door, but, not receiving any
answer, he tried threats. An instinct seemed to tell him I would remain
on guard.

His language, I must confess, while threatening, was not abusive.
It was, in fact, incredibly elegant for a burglar, and strictly

All at once there came a crash, followed by the creaking of heavy
timber, and the door fell. Down he came on top of it, sprawling at my
feet on the floor. I raised my gun and fired.

“Hit him?” I interrupted.

“No,” replied Miss Gwynne; “here in the wall of the dining-room the
bullet lodged, and is still there.”

The next thing I was conscious of was Mrs. Griffiths bending over me,
and her husband’s voice exclaiming:

“He’d never have escaped if we had not left that door open when we came
in. You see we got home just in time to hear you fire the gun, and as we
ran in he ran out. Drat him!”

I raised myself on my elbow and looked eagerly about.

“He had no time to carry off a thing,” said Mrs. Griffiths.

* * * * *

“I would like to set my eyes on him,” I remarked, when Miss Gwynne
had concluded her story. “You are a distinguished woman and are--I
believe--the very first one who ever received an offer of marriage from
a burglar.”

The lady smiled. “Do you not remember reading about the capture of
a notorious bank robber, several years ago? The case created quite a
sensation, owing partly to the difficulty in tracing the thief, who was
clever enough to puzzle the most expert detectives and evade the police,
and also to the respectability of his position. No one could believe him

“Indeed I do remember it,” I answered. “Not only that, but I _saw_ the
man after he was in prison. I happened to be going through Chester Jail
at the time and J------ was pointed out to me. He was quite
distinguished looking. In fact, I did not believe him guilty.”

“Nor would I,” said Miss Gwynne, “if I had not known.”

“You mean,” I said, “that he----

“I mean that you saw _my burglar_.”

[Illustration: 5305]

[Illustration: 0306]

[Illustration: 0307]

[Illustration: 0308]


[Illustration: 9308]

“Pretty woman! That’s just like a man. Pretty chromo, you mean, Tom.”

“Well,” in a hearty, pleasant voice, “maybe you are the better judge;
but I don’t believe she’s ‘made up,’ and if I wasn’t the most henpecked
man on earth I’d say she was the loveliest creature I ever saw. As for
her hair, it’s----”

“Blondined! And so utterly impossible in color that it couldn’t for
a moment fool anybody but a man,” interrupted the first speaker, with
deliciously spiteful emphasis on the very common noun man.

“Eyebrows stencilled, eyelashes darkened; lips, ears and finger tips
tinged with carmine--don’t you know? Complexion enamel, vinegar rouge
and brunette powder--pshaw! The way the men go on about her makes me
positively ill. If you fall in love with her, Harry, you are no brother
of mine. I don’t care to be sister-in-law to a lithograph in _fast_

“You make me curious to see her, Nell, dear. By Jove, she must be either
a monster or a paragon! Have the spirit of a man, Tom, and tell me

“Don’t try to extract any more information from me, old man; my teeth
are positively chattering with terror. You can decide for yourself this
evening, if your ferocious sister will allow you to leave your room. By
the way,” with an amused laugh, “what do you suppose Nell and the rest
of her charitable sex up here have dubbed the poor girl? ‘The lady in

“Yes, and she ought to have a sign, ‘Paint, don’t touch.’ I believe
she is a divorcée or a widow, and I know she’s thirty in spite of her
sickening affectation of youth.”

“Oh, come, Nell, you are absolutely vicious. She is not a day over
twenty, and she has the prettiest name I ever heard, Violante Solander;
accent on the second syllable, Harry, not on the first, to rhyme with
Hollander, as the bride of my bosom insists on pronouncing it.”

“Sounds like a combination of Spanish and Scandinavian,” the younger man

“It is,” returns his brother-in-law. “I have met her father several
times at the Cosmos Club in Washington. He is a Norwegian, a wonderfully
handsome man, of the purest blonde type, with charming old-time manners
and a voice as deep and sonorous as a fine bell. Jack Kendricks, who
knows him quite well, told me something of his history. As a young man
he traveled pretty much all over the world, and in South America met and
married Miss Viola’s mother. She was an Ecuadorean of Spanish descent,
and so beautiful that she was called, in reference to her name, which
was the same as her daughter’s, ‘The Violet of Quito.’ It is really a
case of the Arctic zone wedding the Equator.”

“Or of a walrus committing matrimony with a llama. No wonder she is
neither fish, flesh nor fowl,” added madame, with a malicious emphasis
that made both men laugh.

This conversation floated up to me as I sat smoking my cigar on the
forward edge of the hurricane deck of the little steamer that carried
passengers from the railroad station at the foot of a beautiful and
well-known lake in the Adirondacks to the village at the head of it,
whither we were all bound.

The party of three had crossed from the other side of the boat and Were
leaning against the guards immediately under me. Later on I came to
know them all well. The lady was a delightful little bundle of
inconsistencies, sharp of tongue, quick of temper and jealous of all
that belonged to her, but as generous as an Arab, very warm hearted,
perfectly fearless and honest and a loyal friend when won. She was born
Miss Eleanor Van Zandt, a family with a tree and traditions, pride,
possessions and position; but the fact that she belonged in the top
layer of the Four Hundred did not prevent her, some ten years before,
refusing a scion of the English nobility (a very wealthy one, too, if
you’ll believe me), to her mother’s Infinite disgust, and giving her
dimpled little hand, where she had already given her heart, to
big, kindly, genial Thomas Northrup, who was every inch a man and a
gentleman, but who was third in direct descent (and gloried in it, too)
from old John Northrup, saddle and harness maker, of whom I have heard
it told by one that saw it that he died on his sixtieth birthday in
the battle of Gettysburg, from some twenty bullet wounds received while
carrying the colors of his regiment, and that his last words were:
“Don’t let the Johnnies get the flag!”

I feel it to be my painful duty to relate that Madame Nell, when
remonstrated with by her family upon the plebeian nature of the match
she was about to make, flew into a violent rage and said she would
gladly trade a baker’s dozen of her eminently high and wellborn
Knickerbocker ancestors for “that grand old saddler.” The Van Zandt
crest is a lion rampant gardant, and shortly after the wedding an aunt,
who had declined to be present, received a spirited sketch of the family
beast, leaning upon a musket in the position of parade rest, carrying a
flag in his mouth and bearing upon his lordly back a monstrous saddle,
the motto in the surrounding heraldic belt being, “Don’t let the
Johnnies get the flag!” This cheerful device was accompanied by a very
deferential and affectionate note from the bride, asking her aunt if she
did not think it a pretty way of combining the Northrup family (saddle)
tree with the crest of the Van Zandts, or if she thought the “dear old
lion” would appear to better advantage under a saddle that would conceal
him entirely from the gaze of the vulgar herd.

The old lady declined to receive Mrs. Northrup from that time until the
day of her death, about four years later, but when her will was opened
it was found that she had left $200,000 to her niece, Eleanor Van Zandt,
“as a mark of respect for her truth, courage and _artistic ability_,”
 and $10,000 for a monument “to that gallant soldier and true gentleman,
John Northrup, who died on the field of Gettysburg in the defense of his
country’s flag.” Nell designed the monument, and every Decoration Day
she puts a saddle made of flowers on the old lady’s grave. But to my

Harry Van Zandt, at the time of which I write, was about twenty-six,
tall, broad shouldered, athletic, brown as to eyes, hair, skin and
pointed beard, an engineer and architect by profession, an advanced and
liberal thinker for so young a man, full of high spirits, though with
a depth and earnestness of purpose very refreshing in these days when
selfish indifference is the rule, and altogether a manly, honorable,
self reliant and energetic young fellow. He had charming manners,
reverenced all women, rich or poor, proud or humble, and treated old
people with an affectionate deference that won him many friends.

The steamer had changed her course to the left rather sharply, heading
for her wharf, when a Long Lake boat, with a woman at the sculls and
a young man holding the tiller ropes, crossed our bow and floated by
within fifteen feet of us. I did not need the quick, “There she is!
Look, Harry!” from Mr. Northrup to know that it was Miss Solander. She
had turned her head slightly toward them to bow, and the setting sun
shone squarely in her face, making the wonderful amber hair seem
a nimbus of golden light against the dark background of her huge
Gainsborough hat.

A more perfectly, harmoniously, radiantly beautiful girl I have
never seen. Her coloring was simply marvelous, and I inclined to Mrs.
Northrup’s opinion that it must be artificial. It is impossible to give
an adequate description of her--the wonderful child-woman. A face of
rounded and exquisite contours, the skin of that warmest, richest,
brunette type that is almost dusky; cheeks that had the soft, tender,
velvety bloom of a sun-kissed peach; a charming mouth, scarlet as a
flower, ripe, luscious, sensitive, ready to curve with sweet, swift
laughter or to droop with grief. Her eyes, in the glimpse I had of her,
I took to be black or a very dark brown, but later I found they were
of that rare deep blue that becomes violet by an artificial light, and,
indeed, owing to the length and thickness of the dark lashes, it was not
easy at any time to determine their exact color, much less shade. Well,
she was more nearly perfect than any other human thing I ever hope to

               From her gold-flax curls’ most marvelous shine,

                   Down to her lithe and delicate feet,

               There was not a curve nor a waving line

                   But moved in a harmony firm and sweet.

As she passed from view I looked down at the trio below me. Mrs.
Northrup was regarding her brother curiously, and I don’t think either
she or I was at all surprised when he turned, his face aglow with
enthusiasm, and said: “What a lovely girl!” Then, with quick change of
tone, “Who is that man with her?”

“Lovely as a Prang,” remarked my lady, dryly. “The man is your hated
rival, of whom you are already madly jealous. He is young, beautiful
and rich, dances divinely, speaks _real_ English and has very nearly
a tablespoonful of brains--not that he needs such a preponderance of
brain, for he has enough money to make a social success of a
jibbering idiot. His name is Francis Floyd-Jones, but we speak of him
affectionately as ‘Fluggeon,’ and those that know him best sometimes
lovingly refer to him as ‘Balaam’s Ass’--but you’ll like him, Harry.”

Van Zandt’s reply I did not hear, as I discreetly moved away; but
I heard both men laugh, and I joined them heartily when at a safe

When we landed I found we were all bound for the same hotel, a capital
one, named for and kept by one of a famous hotel-keeping family. The
Northrups’ little girl, a madcap child of six, was on the lawn waiting
the return of her parents and the arrival of her uncle, of whom she was
evidently very fond, although she abandoned him speedily in order to hug
and kiss his superb Irish setter, Blarney, who licked the small imp’s
face calmly and appeared in his grave dog’s way genuinely glad to see

Ethel, as I found out in a day or two, had taken one of those intense
fancies that children do occasionally to almost entire strangers to “the
lady in rouge,” and would escape to her whenever chance permitted. Poor
Mrs. Northrup! Her ranks were deserters to the enemy. Her husband openly
admired the gorgeously-tinted girl, her child simply worshipped her, her
brother had palpably fallen in love at first sight, and, when we came
out from dinner, it was found that Blarney had dumbly sworn allegiance
to the violet of two zones and could with difficulty be induced to leave
her. The dog’s infatuation was put to-practical service by his master
during the next few weeks, for that astute young gentleman, when unable
to discover the whereabouts of his idol by peering and prowling, would
take one of Blarney’s silky ears in his hand and whisper, “Go, find
her, boy,” which the clever animal promptly proceeded to do, usually
successfully, though often the search would receive a check on the edge
of the lake and be resumed after a run of a mile on the island.

Madame Nell and I soon discovered that we had a host of common friends
in New York and Washington, and that an uncle on her mother’s side (poor
Dick Whitney, who was lost on the _Ville de Havre_) had been a classmate
of mine at Harvard forty odd years before. These kindly young people
were as good and affectionate to me as though I had been a relative, and
the heart of a lonely old man went out to them gratefully and lovingly.

By the way, I am tempted to repeat a compliment that I overheard toward
the end of the summer, because it was the pleasantest and heartiest I
ever had paid to me, or rather about me. Charge it to the garrulity of
age or simple conceit, but here it is:

I came up behind them one dark night on the piazza, just as Mrs.
Northrop turned to her husband and said: “Do you know, Tom, dear, I
think Dr. Zobel is the very nicest old man I ever knew; he has the head
of a sage and the fresh, pure heart of a little child.”

[Illustration: 0316]

There was a hop that first evening in the large drawing room of the
hotel, and a little while before the music began I wandered in to find
three or four small groups talking and laughing, among them Van Zandt
and his sister. She made room for me on the sofa, and said I should be
her attendant cavalier, as she did not intend to dance. We chatted a
bit and then madame began a running commentary on the people as they

“The Robinsons--papa, mamma and daughter. Papa looketh upon the wine
when it is red. Mamma is a devout Catholic. Daughter openly defies both
parents and, I am convinced, hath a devil. I have ventured to rename
them ‘Rum, Romanism and Rebellion.’”

“What De Quincy would call ‘an overt act of alliteration,’ Nell,” said
Van Zandt, and added: “Who is the imposing-looking old girl leading the
small, meek man?”

“Where? Oh! of course. The lion and the lamb. Mrs. Colter is literary,
writes things, reads Browning understanding (happy woman!), quotes Greek
to people that never harmed her, and herds the lamb, who never has
any capers in his sauce, and who is, I am told, her third matrimonial

“A fulfillness of prophecy,” murmured Harry, “‘And the lion and the lamb
shall lie down together.’”

“Harry, you are incorrigible. The young man of peculiarly unwholesome
appearance who has just sneaked in is, I am morally certain, Uriah Heep,
though he says his name is Penrose. That [as a handsome old lady of
large proportions came into the room] is Miss Eldridge. She is very
nice, but is omnipresent, so we call her ‘The Almighty,’ Her escort
is Mr. Hinton; he is the biggest, jolliest and--except my Tom--the
bestnatured man here. Everyone calls him ‘Jumbo’ or ‘Billy’ Look out for
him, Buz; he is another rival and determined to have the chromo at any
price. There she is with ‘Buttons’ in tow, and the disconsolate ‘Wafer’
vainly endeavoring to console himself with his divinity’s aunt.”

The young gentlemen were aptly named. The first, a handsome young West
Pointer on furlough, in all the glory of cadet gray and a multitude of
bell buttons; the other, a pleasant-faced fellow, surprisingly tall and
thin. Nell had introduced Van Zandt and me to Miss Solander and her
aunt shortly after dinner, and I had had a very pleasant chat with
the stately, whitehaired old lady, who was so proud and fond of her
exquisite niece. She was Mr. Solander’s sister and the widow of Captain
Dupont of the French Navy.

Several friends of Mrs. Northrup joined her, and Van Zandt excused
himself and went to make one of the little group of men around Miss
Solander, followed by a parting injunction from his sister to remember
that benzine would remove paint spots if applied while they were fresh.

Beautiful as this flower-faced girl was at all times, by lamp light and
in evening dress she was lovely beyond all power of words to express,
and as I came to know her I found that her beauty was not alone in her
superb coloring, in the perfect lines of her face and figure or in her
exuberant health, but was in her life; for she was--and is--that rare,
sweet thing, a womanly woman, brave, strong, gentle, generous, pure of
heart and clean of thought, a lover of truth, a hater of meanness, with
a mind broadened by travel and burnished by attrition; and she carried,
moreover, a cloak of charity of such wide and ample fold that it fell
lovingly over even the follies and frailties of those weaker ones of her
own sex and was proof against the arrows of envy.

With old people and children she was a great favorite; the men were her
enthusiastic admirers, and a good half dozen of them were helplessly,
hopelessly, over head and ears in love with her; but a number of the
young married women and girls professed strong disapproval of her,
on similar grounds to those outlined by Mrs. Northrup on the steamer,
though I had my private suspicions that, in some cases at least, they
were a trifle jealous of the attention she received from the men, who,
as is generally the case at summer resorts, were not overabundant. Mrs.
Northrup’s dislike was an honest one, for she firmly believed the girl
was artificial, and having carefully avoided an intimacy knew but little
of the lovely nature and bright mind that no one was better fitted to
appreciated than she.

Besides, Madame Nell was a born matchmaker and wanted her adored
brother to marry her particular friend and crony, Miss Carrie Belmont,
a brighteyed, keen-witted, merry little soul, who took nothing seriously
except medicine and had about as much fixedness of purpose as a
month-old kitten. To a man like Van Zandt, who needed both the curb and
spur of a mentality as strong and earnest as his own, she would have
been about as valuable a helpmeet as was poor little Dora to David
Copperfield. But Nell was fond of the pretty, clever little creature,
felt sure (as our mothers and sisters, God bless ‘em! always do) that
her brother was thoroughly incapable of picking out the right kind of
a wife, and weeks before he came had perceived in Miss Solander’s
marvelous loveliness a dangerous and powerful factor in the personal
equations she wished to make equal to each other, so that by the
transposition of matrimony they should become one.

Of course this knowledge came to me gradually; but even that first
evening, as Van Zandt and Miss Solander passed near us in the waltz, I
could see that he was wonderfully taken with his fair partner. For the
next few days he was more or less the victim of some little sisterly
traps that were set with great tact and amused Northrup and me
immensely. Then my young gentleman escaped and made great running,
distancing “Buttons,” “The Wafer,” “Balaam’s Ass,” and the rest of what
Nell called the “fry,” and crowding Hinton closely for what each felt
was his life’s race for a prize that might be for neither of them. They
were a nice, manly, generous pair of rivals, and I never saw either take
an unfair advantage of the other. I remember one day I was fishing,
when they both rushed down to their boats and started for the island
at racing stroke. Just as they were abreast of me Van Zandt, who was
leading, broke a rowlock, and Hinton forged ahead; but the moment he saw
what had occurred he backed water, tossed Harry an extra rowlock, waited
until he had put it in, and then away they went again.

Which was the favored one it was for some time difficult to decide, as
the girl was evidently used to a great deal of attention, and accepted
it gracefully and even gratefully; but yet somehow as though it was a
matter of course. She took many things as matters of course, by the way,
among others her beauty, of which she was as little vain as a flower
is of its color or perfume, and she labored under the pleasant delusion
that men liked her simply because she could dance and ride and row and
shoot and play tennis. There was another thing she played beside tennis,
and that was the banjo, and it seemed to me that her rich, flexible
contralto, the liquid tingle of the banjo and the Spanish words of the
song she loved best to sing, made a harmony as soft and sweet as the
fragrant, moonlit nights of her Southern home.

Until I read the generous and intelligent praise of the banjo by the
gifted pen of America’s greatest writer of romance, I had been rather
diffident of expressing my liking for this charming instrument, partly
because it was rather impressed upon me by my parents, who were a little
tinged with Puritanism, that it was low, and partly because a musical
friend, whose opinion in matters harmonic I always deferred to, disliked
it; but, under the rose, I thought it delicious, and many years ago I
used to wander pretty often to a beer garden in New York, where an old
darky named Horace touched the strings with a master’s hand and drew
from them the half sad, half merry, but wholly sweet melodies of his
child-hearted race, which always struck some responsive chord in me that
no other music ever did.

There was a good deal of musical talent in the three hotels that
summer. Miss Solander, Miss Belmont, Hinton and Van Zandt were a capital
quartet; Mrs. Robinson was an accomplished pianist and accompanist;
a young girl from Troy sang Irish songs to a zither delightfully;
“Buttons” gave us the lays of West Point, and “Balaam’s Ass,” as Mrs.
Northrup expressed it, “really brayed very melodiously.”

Van Zandt had one decided advantage over the other men in his wooing,
for he had brought his own saddle horse with him, and as Miss Solander
had hers, a beautiful and very fast bay mare, and was an enthusiastic
horsewoman, riding nearly every day, wet or dry, he frequently managed
to be her escort.

They asked me to go with them one morning for a long ride through the
mountains, and as it was not impossible that we might see a deer or some
birds Miss Viola took her repeating shotgun, a pretty and close-shooting
little weapon with which she was very expert, and Van Zandt and I our
Stevens rifles.

My mount was the best to be had in the village, and was a strong, slow
animal, intended by nature to grace a plow.

It was a grand day, crisp and clear, and the first level stretch of road
we came to my young companions decided to have a race. Away they went,
Blarney and I at an increasing interval behind them. At a turn in the
road, about a quarter of a mile ahead, Harry’s big gray was leading
the mare by a good length, and when they rejoined me Miss Solander
acknowledged her defeat handsomely, but put in a saving clause for her
pet by adding, “She runs her best when frightened. I don’t think even
your splendid gray could catch her if we saw a bear.”

Harry laughed pleasantly, said he imagined his horse, too, might develop
unexpected speed under such circumstances, and we cantered on. A little
before noon we left the main road and struck into a bridle path that
led through a dense pine forest, utterly impassable by reason of fallen
trees and underbush, except on the narrow trail. We had not gone
far when our way seemed barred by a huge dead pine that had fallen
slantingly across the path and rested on a great boulder on the other
side. It was too high to jump near the roots without great danger and
the triangular opening by the rock did not look high enough for a horse
to go through. However, we dismounted and managed to get the animals
through, though there was very little room to spare.

In about half a mile we came to the edge of the wood, and the trail
widened out to ten or twelve feet, bordered by a dense second growth
of ash. Perhaps a thousand yards farther on Blarney became excited over
some fresh tracks in the sandy soil, which we found were those of a deer
that had passed only a few minutes before, as was shown by a clump of
fern that was slowly straightening its crushed and bent fronds by the
side of the narrow road. Miss Solander and I halted, while Harry
rode quietly on ahead after Blarney, who was acting rather queerly, I
thought, following the deer track for a few feet, then pausing, with
nose in the air and bristling back, to snuff the air and growl. Van
Zandt spoke to him, and the dog went steadily and slowly forward. He was
a clever beast and the only setter I ever saw that could hunt all
kinds of game well. Miss Solander promptly emptied the magazine of her
shotgun, and refilled it with wire cartridges loaded with “buck and

I was watching Van Zandt, who was a few hundred feet away, when there
was a crashing noise in the brush, and midway between him and us a
good-sized black bear stepped out on the trail. My horse made a buck
jump that nearly unseated me and backed half his length into the bush.
Bang! Bang! went Miss Viola’s gun. The bear stumbled, gave a roar of
pain and rage, and started for us. The mare plunged wildly, wheeled
about sharply and flew back by the way we came. The brute I rode was
paralyzed with terror and I could not budge him, nor did I dare to shoot
for fear of hitting Van Zandt, and my position of course kept his rifle
silent. But he took in the situation at a glance, fired in the air, gave
a yell that a panther might have envied, and came toward us at a gallop.

[Illustration: 0326]

The bear turned to look at this new enemy, and rose promptly on his
hind legs to receive him. I saw the gray swerve slightly, heard a savage
“Jump, ------ you!” from Van Zandt, saw his spurs go home, and then the
great horse rise to the leap and skim over the bear in a splendid arch.
Blarney, who was just behind his master, was not so fortunate. He lit
fairly on the bear, and was sadly scratched and bitten before he got
away. Van Zandt shouted, “I must catch her before she gets to the fallen
tree!” and went by me like a whirlwind. It was not much over a mile, she
had a hundred yards and more the start of him, and the mare was going
like the wind. I fired a shot as soon as the gray passed me, and the
report seemed to rouse my horse, who, oblivious to spur and voice, had
cowered shivering in the brush, for he shook himself, snorted, took
a last look at the bear, which was preparing to join the procession,
turned tail and fled, developing speed of which I would not have
believed him capable.

It was a horrible ride, not on account of the bear, which might have
been a mouse for all the thought I gave it, but because there, ahead of
me, in that narrow road, a beautiful girl, just blossoming into splendid
womanhood, was rushing to an awful, ghastly death, and a few cruel yards
behind her the man that loved her and would so gladly have given his
life for hers. Oh, how my heart ached for him, and how I wished the old
man that was third in that terrible race might die instead of that sweet
child-woman! Could he overtake her? He was spurring fiercely and the
gray was doing his best; but though the gap between them was closing,
it was closing slowly--and we had entered the wood. Yes, he was surely
gaining now, sixty feet more and he would have her. But there was the
tree, and he couldn’t reach her in time. I covered my eyes with my hands
and turned sick and faint. Then came back to me in a man’s voice grown
shrill with agony, one word, and following it crash! crash! in rapid
succession, and again the sound of the hurrying hoof beats.

I opened my eyes. Was I blinded by my tears? There were no dreadful
bundles under the tree. Then that word, with its fierce, imperious note
of command, which had conveyed no meaning to me in that first awful
moment, came through the porch of the outer ear, where it had lingered,
into the brain, and I understood--“Jump!” He had taken the one chance
left to them at the last moment, shrieked his order at her, and she
had obeyed, lifting her mare to a leap that looked impossible. He had
followed her, and they had cleared it safely, for I could see their
heads over the fallen trunk. I checked my horse, dismounted, led him
through the opening and galloped on again.

In a few moments I had the pleasure of seeing the gray range up
alongside of the mare and Van Zandt seize her bridle. I joined them and
found they were sound in life and limb. Harry was standing by the mare’s
head, quieting her, and somehow he had gotten possession of a little
gauntleted hand and was looking at the girl with a world of love in his
fine eyes. She was quite pale, but her face was steadfast and strong,
and in it as she met Van Zandt’s look frankly was the dawning of
something that she was unaware of yet, something that, if she lived
would crown her lover’s life with happiness “sweet beyond compare”--and
my old heart was glad for them both.

Neither Blarney nor the bear was in sight, and as I had hung on to my
rifle half unconsciously I proposed going back to look for the dog, but
they insisted on accompanying me, and Miss Solander showed her own gun
in its carbine holster with the flap buttoned. I tell you it took nerve
for a girl on a runaway horse to do that bit of work. Well, we went
cautiously back, Van Zandt holding a strap fastened to the mare’s
bridle, and I on ahead. Nothing in sight until we got out of the wood
and had made a slight turn. Then we saw Blarney, very ragged and bloody,
but with an air of proud ownership, sniffing around the dead body of
the bear. We had some trouble in bringing up the horses, but managed it

Everyone seemed to feel after that that Van Zandt would win and wear
the violet. Even Mrs. Northrup was preparing to bow gracefully to
the inevitable, when Ethel came on the scene in the rôle of “enfante
terrible” and spoke her little piece.

It was a lovely summer afternoon. The next day, Monday, was Miss Viola’s
twenty-first birthday; her father was to arrive by the evening boat,
and several of the young men had planned rowing and sailing races in her
honor. Mr. and Mrs. Northrup, Miss Belmont, Hinton and I were chatting
in a little summer house just by the edge of the lake, and a few feet
away, Viola, Harry and Ethel were skipping flat stones over the water.
In a pause in our talk, which had been of Byron, just after someone had

                   She was his life,

                   The ocean to the river of his thoughts,

                   Which terminated all,

We were all looking at the trio outside and speculating probably upon
the future of two of them, when we saw Ethel seize Miss Solander’s hand,
look up at her adoringly, and heard her say, in her childish pipes:
“You’re so pretty! Why does mamma called you ‘the colored lady?’ You’re
not a nigger, are you?”

The girl flushed painfully, but stooped, kissed the child and, looking
straight at Mrs. Northrup, said very gently: “No, dear; and if mamma
knew me better she would not think I was colored.” Then she turned,
bowed slightly and walked rapidly up the beach. Nell burst into tears,
Van Zandt muttered something that didn’t sound like a prayer and tore
after his lady love. Northrup was so startled and angry that, instead of
comforting his wife, he gave her a little shake and exploded with: “It’s
too ----- ---------- bad! A nice mess you and the brat have made of
things!” Then, as the ludicrous side of the affair appealed to his
fun-loving nature: “To save time, I’ll spank Ethel while you roll out the
crust of a nice, re: “To save time, I’ll spank Ethel while you roll out
the crust of a nice, big humble pie.”

Hinton and Miss Belmont slunk off, and I was preparing to follow them,
when the unhappy little woman sobbed out, “Oh, Doctor, please, please
don’t go! Stay and tell me what to do. Tom’s so nasty--if you laugh, Tom
dear, I’ll kill you.” So I stayed, and while we were consulting what was
best to do Van Zandt came quietly into the summer house, his face and
tightly-closed lips ashen, and his eyes the eyes of a strong man
in pain. Nell rushed at him, exclaiming: “My poor Harry, my darling
brother! I am so sorry; try to forgive me!”

He put her away from him with no show of anger, but very coldly, and
then, very evenly and in an emotionless, mechanical sort of way, he
said: “I have asked Miss Solander to be my wife. She refused me. I hope
you are satisfied. I give you my word of honor that I will never forgive
you, nor speak to you, until she accepts your apology and my love--and
that will be never,” he added, heavily, and half under his breath. There
was no doubt that he meant it and would stick to it, and his sister,
who knew he never broke his word, after one appealing look at him, threw
herself in her husband’s arms and sobbed miserably. I followed the boy
and took an old man’s privilege. He listened patiently and thanked me
affectionately, but it was of no use. Then I tried to find Miss Viola,
and came across Nell on the same quest; but no one saw her until the
next afternoon.

Monday was cloudy and windy, a real gray day. The races were to begin
at 3 o’clock, and the entire community was gathered on the shore of the
lake. Both Miss Solander and Van Zandt were entered, and I knew their
pride would make them show up. The first race was for ladies in Long
Lake boats over a half mile course and return, six entries, a handicap
of one hundred yards on Miss Solander and fifty on Mrs. Claggett. Viola
beat it handsomely and then rowed directly across to the island, where
she would have a good view of the sailing race, though I think her
object was more to escape the crowd.

[Illustration: 0332]

After an interval of a few minutes three canoes, manned by Hinton, Van
Zandt and another man, came up to the starter’s boat.

The canoes got away together, Van Zandt to leeward. They had gone
perhaps a quarter of a mile when a squall from the opposite shore struck
them, and the canoe with the violet pennant (Harry’s) went over like a
flash, the other two, with loose sheets, running before the wind. Mrs.
Northrup screamed, and so did several other women; but Van Zandt was a
capital swimmer, and I expected every moment to see him on the bottom of
the canoe.

Half a dozen men started in rowboats, but one shot out from the island
and fairly flew for the capsized craft. It was Viola, and we saw her,
when she reached her goal, stand up, shake off her outer skirts and
dive. I had a powerful glass, and when she came up I saw she had him and
was trying to reach her boat, which was drifting away. She gave that
up and struggled toward the canoe. They went down, and then the rescue
boats hid them. It seemed an eternity before two boats pulled swiftly
toward us. In the first was Van Zandt, a nasty cut on his head and
unconscious, but breathing faintly. In the next, held in the arms of
poor “Buttons,” whose tears were dropping on her lovely white face, was
the sweet child-woman, all the wonderful rose tints gone from lip and
cheek and in its place the sad, cold hue of death. There was no sign of
vitality, and I was hopeless from the first; but we were still working
over her when the steamer came in, and the next thing we knew there was
a heart-broken cry and her father had her in his arms.

Was it the bitter agony and yearning love in that strong man’s cry that
called back the fleeing life, or was it the sudden jar of lifting her
and the fierce clasp of her father’s arms that started the stilled
lungs? I do not know; but, physician though I am, I incline to the
former solution. Whatever may have been the cause there was a faint
flutter in pulse and breast, and we renewed our efforts. In half an
hour she was breathing softly and the color was coming back to her
bonny face. Her father carried her up to the hotel and her aunt and Mrs.
Northrup got her to bed. She recovered rapidly, but Van Zandt was pretty
ill for about a week, and positively refused to see his sister.

Well, I suppose it was officious and meddlesome in me, but one day when
I knew where Violante was I took Nell’s hand in my arm and brought them
together. In a few minutes they were crying over each other in real
womanly fashion, and I prowled off. In about ten minutes little Nell,
her eyes shining with happiness, hunted me up and said, “I want you to
take me to Harry.” She showed me in her hand a beautiful and curious
ring, which I knew was the engagement ring of Miss Viola’s mother.
Harry was sitting in an easy chair, with his back to the door, when we
entered, and, without turning his head, he asked, “Is that you, Doctor?”

I answered him, and then Nell stole up behind him, dropped the great
ruby in his lap, and whispered, with a sob in her voice, “With my
dear sister Violante’s love.” Harry looked at the ring stupidly for an
instant, then Nell came around in front of him, and he pulled her down
into his arms without a word. And I stole away with wet eyes and a
glad heart, and told the news to Tom and Carrie and that prince of good
fellows, “Jumbo” Hinton.

That is about all. Mr. Solander gave his consent and something more
substantial, and two months later I went to the wedding of “The Lady in

[Illustration: 0335]

[Illustration: 0336]

THE BREAKING OF WINTER, By Patience Stapleton

|That’s the fust funerel I’ve went to sence I was a gal, but that I
drove to the graveyard.”

“I dunno as that done the corp enny good.”

“An’ seems all to onc’t I miss old Tige,” muttered the first speaker
half to herself.

It was snowing now, a fine mist sifting down on deep-drifted stone-walls
and hard, shining roads, and the tinkle of sleigh-bells, as a far-away
black line wound over the hill to the bleak graveyard, sounded musical
and sweet in the muffled air. Two black figures in the dazzling white
landscape left the traveled road and ploughed heavily along a lane
leading to a grove of maples, cold and naked in the winter scene.

“They say Ann Kirk left a good prop’ty,” said the first speaker, a woman
of fifty, with sharp black eyes, red cheeks, few wrinkles and fewer gray
hairs in the black waves under her pumpkin hood. She pulled her worn
fur cape around her neck and took a new grasp on her shawl, pinning it
tight. “Ann an’ me used to take a sight of comfort driving old Tige.”

The man, her companion, grunted and went sturdily ahead. He was
enveloped in a big overcoat, a scarf wound around his neck and a
moth-eaten fur cap pulled down over his ears. His blue eyes were watery
from the cold, his nose and chin peaked and purple, and frost clung to
the short gray beard about his mouth.

“Who’ll git the prop’ty?” panted the woman. She held her gown up in
front, disclosing a pair of blue socks drawn over her shoes.

“Relashuns, I s’pose.”

“She was alius so savin’, keepin’ drip-pins for fryin’, and sfellin’
nearly every mite of butter they made; an’ I’ve heered the Boston
relashuns was extravagant. Her sister hed on a black silk to the funerel
to ride to the grave in; I guess they are well-to-do.”

“Dunno,” gruffly.

Somehow then the woman remembered that glossy silk, and that she had
never had one. Then this sister’s husband, how attentive he was leading
his wife out to the sleigh, and she had seen them walking arm-in-arm
the past summer, when no man in Corinth ever offered his arm to his wife
unless it were to a funeral and they were first mourners. “Silas never
give me his arm but the fust Sunday we were merried,” she thought;
“bein’ kind to wimmen wan’t never the Loweirs way.” A sharp pain in her
side made her catch her breath and stop a moment, but the man paid no
heed to her distress. At the end of a meadow on a little rise looking
down a long, shady lane, stood a gray old farm-house, to which age had
given picturesqueness and beauty, and here Maria Lowell had lived the
thirty years of her married life. She unlocked the door and went into
the cold kitchen where the fire had died down. A lean cat came purring
from under the table, and the old clock seemed to tick more cheerily now
the mistress had returned.

“A buryin’ on Christmas Eve, the minister said, and how sad it were,
and I felt like tellin’ him Ann an’ me never knowed Christmas from enny
other day, even to vittles, for turkeys fetched better prices then, an’
we sold ourn.” She went into a frozen bedroom, for Corinth folks would
have thought a man crazy to have a fire in a sleeping-room except in
sickness; she folded her shawl and cape and laid them carefully on the
feather bed, covered with its gay quilt, the fruit of her lonely hours.
Mechanically she set about getting supper, stirring the fire, putting a
pan of soda biscuits in to bake, and setting a dish of dried-apple sauce
and a plate of ginger cookies on the table. “Berried on Chrismus Eve,
but little she ever thought of it, nor me, and little of it Jimmy hed
here to home.”

She looked at her biscuits, slammed the oven door, glanced cautiously
around to see if Silas, who had gone to milk the cow, were coming; then
drawing her thin lips tighter, went back into the cold bedroom. With
ruthless hand tearing open an old wound, she unlocked a drawer in
the old mahogany bureau and took out something rolled in a
handkerchief--only a tiny vase, blue and gilt, woefully cheap, laughed
at by the cultured, scorned by the children of today. She held it
tenderly in her cold hand and brought back the memory that would never
die. It was years and years ago in that very room, and a little child
came in holding one chubby hand behind him, and he looked at her
with her own bright eyes under his curly hair. “Muver, Jimmy’s got a
s’prise.” She remembered she told him crossly to go out of the cold room
and not bother her. She remembered, too, that his lip quivered, the lip
that had yet the baby curve. “It was a present, muver, like the minister
sed. I got candy on the tree, but you didn’t git nawthin’, and I buyed
you this with my berry money.” The poor little vase in that warm chubby
hand--ay, she forgot nothing now; she told him he was silly to spend
good money on trash, and flung the vase aside, but that grieved childish
face came back always. Ah, it would never fade away, it had returned
for a quarter of a century. “I never was used to young ones,” she
said aloud, “nor kindness,” but that would not heal the wound; no
self-apology could. She went hurriedly to the kitchen, for Silas was
stamping the snow off his feet in the entry.

“I got fifty dollars for old Tige,” he said, as he poured his tea into
his saucer to cool; “he was wuth it, the honest old creetur!”

The little black-eyed woman did not answer; she only tightened her lips.
Over the mantel where the open fireplace had been bricked up, was a
picture in a narrow black frame, a colored print of Washington on a fine
white horse, and maidens strewing flowers in his pathway.

“When Tige was feelin’ good,” continued Silas, “he’d a monstrous likeness
to thet hoss in the pictur, monstrous! held his hed high an’ pranced;
done you good to see him in Bath when them hosses tried to parss him;
you’d a thort he was a four-year-old! chock full of pride. The hackman
sed he was a good ‘un, but run down; I don’t ‘low to overfeed stock when
they ain’t wurkin’.”

“Ourn has the name of bein’ half starved,” muttered the woman.

Silas looked at her in some surprise. “I ginerelly gits good prices for
‘em all the same.”

“We ginerelly overreach every one!”

“Goin’ to Ann’s funerel hez sorter upset ye, M’ri. Lord, how old Tige
would cavort when Jim would ride him; throw out his heels like a colt.
I never told the hackman Tige was eighteen year old. I ain’t over
pertikler in a hoss trade, like everybody else. He wun’t last long I
calc’late now, for them hack horses is used hard, standin’ out late
nights in the cold an’----”

“Was the Wilkins place sold out ter-day?” said the woman hastily, with
agonizing impatience to divert his thoughts to something else.

“Yes, it were,” chuckled Silas, handing his cup for more tea, “an’
they’ll have ter move ter Bosting. You was ginning me for bein’ mean,
how’d you like to be turned outer doors? Ef I do say it, there ain’t no
money due on my prop’ty, nor never was.”

“Who air you savin’ it fur?” said Maria, quietly. She sat with downcast
eyes tapping her spoon idly on her saucer; she had eaten nothing.

“Fur myself,” he growled, pushing his chair back. He lit a pipe and
began to smoke, his feet at the oven door.

Outside it was quite dark, snow and night falling together in a dense
black pall. Over the lonely roads drifted the snow, and no footfall
marred it. Through drear, silent forests it sifted, sifted down, clung
to cheery evergreens, and clasped shining summer trees that had no
thought for winter woes; it was heaped high over the glazed brooks that
sang, deep down, songs of summer time and gladness, like happy, good old
folks whose hearts are ever young and joyous. Over the wide Kennebec, in
the line of blue the ferry-boat kept open, the flakes dropped, dropped
and made no blurr, like the cellar builders of temples and palaces,
the rank and file, the millions of good, unknown dead, unmentioned in
history or the Bible. The waves seething in the confined path crackled
the false ice around the edges, leaped upon it in miniature breakers,
and swirled far underneath with hoarse murmur. In the dark water
something dark rose and fell with the tide. Was there a human being
drifting to death in the icy sea? The speck made no outcry; it battled
nobly with nature’s mighty force. Surely and slowly the high wharfs and
the lights of Bath faded; nearer grew the woods of Corinth, the ferry
landing and the tavern-keeper’s lamp.

“I heered suthin’ on the ferry slip,” said a little old man in the
tavern, holding his hand behind his ear.

“Nawthin’, night’s too black,” said the tavern-keeper; “you’re alius a
hearin’ what no one else do, Beaman.”

No star nor human eye had seen the black speck on the wild water, and no
hand lent it aid to land.

In ugly silence Silas smoked his pipe, while equally still, Maria washed
the dishes. She stepped to throw the dish-water outside the door and
then she heard a sound. The night was so quiet a noise traveled miles.
What was it, that steady smothered thud up the lane where so seldom a
stranger came? Was it only the beating of her heart after all? She shut
the door behind her and hurried out, wrapping her wet cold hands in her
apron. Suddenly there came a long, joyful neigh!

“How on airth did that critter git home?” cried Silas, jumping to his

Nearer, nearer, in a grand gallop, with tense muscles and quivering
limbs, with upraised head and flying mane, with eager eyes, nearer, in
great leaps thrusting time and distance far behind, came that apparition
of the night.

“Oh, my God!” cried the woman wildly, “old Tige has come home--come home
to this place, and there is one living thing that loves it!”

The light flared out from the open door. “How on airth did he git across
the river?” said Silas, querulously. “An’ how am I goin’ to git him back
in this weather?”

There he stood, the noble old horse that her boy had raised from a colt,
had ridden, had given to her when he went away. “Mother,” her boy had
said, “be good to old Tige. If ever father wants to sell him, don’t you
let him. I’d come back from my grave if the old horse was abused--the
only thing I loved, that loved me in this place I cannot call a home.
Remember he has been so faithful.”

Ay, he had been faithful, in long, hot summer days, in wide, weary
fields, in breaking the stony soil for others’ harvest, in bringing wood
from the far forest, in every way of burden and work.

He stood quivering with cold, covered with ice, panting after his wild
gallop; but he was home, poor brute mind! That old farm was his home: he
had frolicked in its green fields as a colt, had carried a merryvoiced
young master, had worked and rested in that old place; he might be
ill-treated and starved, he did not grieve, he did not question, for it
was home! He could not understand why this time the old master had not
taken him away; never before had he been left in Bath. In his brute way
he reasoned he had been forgotten, and when his chance came, leaped from
the barn, running as horse never ran before, plunged off the wharf into
the black waves, swam across and galloped to his home.

“If there is a God in Heaven, that horse shall not go back!” cried the
woman fiercely; “if you take him from here again it shall be over my
dead body! Ay, you may well look feared; for thirty years I have frozen
my heart, even to my own son, and now the end’s come. It needed that
faithful brute to teach me; it needed that one poor creature that loved
me and this place, to open the flood-gates. Let me pass, and I warn you
to keep away from me. Women go mad in this lonely, starved life. Ay, you
are a man, but I am stronger now than you ever were. I’ve been taught
all my life to mind men, to be driven by them, and to-night is a rising
of the weak. Put me in the asylum, as other wives are, but tonight my
boy’s horse shall be treated as never before.”

“But M’ri,” he said, trembling, “there, there now, let me git the
lantern, you’re white as a sheet! We’ll keep him if you say so; why
hadn’t you told me afore?”

She flung him aside, lit the lantern and then ran up to an attic chamber
under the eaves. “M’ri, you hain’t goin’ to kill yourself?” he quavered,
waiting at the foot of the stairs. She was back in a moment, her arms
full of blankets.

“What on airth!”

“Let me alone, Silas Lowell, these were my weddin’ blankets. I’ve saved
‘em thirty years in the cedar chist for this. They was too good for you
and me; they air too poor fur my boy’s horse.”

“But there’s a good hoss blanket in the barn.”

“The law don’t give you these; it mebbe gives you me, but these is

She flung by him, and he heard the barn door rattle back. He put on his
coat and went miserably after her, “M’ri, here’s yer shawl, you’ll git
yer death.” The barn lit by the lantern revealed two astonished oxen,
a mild-eyed cow, a line of hens roosting on an old hayrack and Maria
rubbing the frozen sides of the white horse. “Put yer shawl on, M’ri,
you’ll git yer death.”

“An’ you’d lose my work, eh? Leave me, I say, I’m burning up; I never
will be cold till I’m dead. I can die! there is death ‘lowed us poor
critters, an’ coffins to pay fur, and grave lots.”

Silas picked up a piece of flannel and began to rub the horse. In
ghastly quiet the two worked, the man patching the woman, and looking
timorously at the axe in the corner. One woman in the neighborhood,
living on a cross-road where no one ever came, had gone mad and
jnur-dered her husband, but “M’ri” had always been so clear-headed! Then
the woman went and began piling hay in the empty stall.

“You ain’t goin’ to use thet good hay fur beddin,’ be ye, M’ri?” asked
Silas in pathetic anxiety.

“I tell you let me be. Who has a better right to this? His labor cut it
and hauled it; this is a time when the laborer shall git his hire.”

Silas went on rubbing, listening in painful silence to the click of the
lock on the grain bin, and the swish of oats being poured into a trough.

“Don’t give him too much, M’ri,” he pleaded humbly, “I don’t mean ter be
savin’, but he’ll eat hisself to death.”

“The first that ever did on this place,” laughed the woman wildly.

Then standing on the milking-stool she piled the blankets on the
grateful horse, then led him to the stall where she stood and watched
him eat. “I never see you so free ‘round a hoss afore,” said Silas; “you
used to be skeered of ‘em, he might kick ye.”

“He wouldn’t because he ain’t a man,” she answered shrilly; “it’s only
men that gives blows for kindness!”

“Land of the living!” cried Silas, as a step sounded on the floor, and
a queer figure came slowly into the glare of light by the lantern, a
figure that had a Rembrandt effect in the shadow--an old man, lean and
tall, shrouded in a long coat and bearing on his back a heavy basket.

“You can’t be a human creetur, comin’ here to-night,” said Maria; “mebbe
you’re the Santy Claus Jim used to tell on as the boys told him; no man
in his senses would come to Sile Lowell’s fur shelter.”

“M’ri’s upsot,” said Silas meekly, taking the lantern with trembling
hand; “I guess you’ve got off the road; the tavern’s two mile down
toward the river.”

“You’ve followed the right road,” said Maria; “you’ve come at a day of
reck’nin’; everythin’ in the house, the best, you shall have.”

She snatched the light from Silas and slammed the barn door, leaving
Tige contentedly champing his oats, wondering if he was still
dreaming, and if his wild swim had been a nightmare followed by a vision
of plenty. In the kitchen Maria filled the stove, lit two lamps and
began making new tea.

“Thet was a good strong drorin’ we hed fur supper, M’ri,” said Silas,
plaintively, keenly conscious of previous economies; “‘pears to me you
don’t need no new.” She paid no heed to him, but set the table with
the best dishes, the preserves--Silas noted with a groan--and then with
quick, skillful hand began cutting generous slices of ham.

“I hope you’re hungry, sir?” she asked eagerly.

“Wal, I be, marm,” said the stranger; “an’ if it ain’t no trouble, I’ll
set this ere basket nigh the stove, there’s things in it as will spile.
I be consederable hungry, ain’t eat a bite sence yesterd’y.”

Silas’s face grew longer and longer; he looked at the hamper hopefully.
That might contain a peddler’s outfit and “M’ri” could get paid that

“An’ I hain’t money nor nawthin’ to pay fur my vittles ‘less there was
wood-sawin’ to be done.”

“Wood’s all sawed,” said Silas bitterly.

“I wouldn’t take a cent,” went on Maria, with flushed cheeks and
sparkling eyes. “Ann Kirk thet hed the name of bein’ as mean as me, was
berried to day, and folks that keered nawthin’ fur her is a goin’ to hev
her money an’ make it fly. They say ‘round here no grass will ever grow
on her grave, fur ev’ry blade will be blarsted by the curses of the

“M’ri, you a perfessed Christian!” cried Silas.

“There’s good folks unperfessed,” interposed the stranger; “but I dunno
but a near Christian is better nor a spendthrift one as fetches up at
the poorhouse.”

“Right you air!” said Silas, almost affably feeling he had an advocate.

The stranger was tall and bony, with a thin, wrinkled face bronzed by
wind and weather, with a goatee and mustache of pale brown hair, and a
sparse growth of the same above a high bald forehead; his eyes were a
faded brown, too, and curiously wistful in expression. His clothing was
worn and poor, his hands work-hardened, and he stooped slightly. When
the meal was ready he drew up to the table, Maria plying him with food.

“Would you rather have coffee?” she asked.

“Now you’ve got me, marm, but land! tea’ll do.”

“I should think it would,” snarled Silas; but his grumbling was silenced
in the grinding of the coffee mill. When the ap-appetizing odor floated
from the stove, Silas sniffed it, and his stomach began to yearn. “You
put in a solid cup full,” he muttered, trying to worry himself into
refusing it.

“We want a lot,” laughed Maria.

“Set up an’ eat,” called the stranger cheerily; “let’s make a banquet;
it’s Chrismus Eve!”

“That ham do smell powerful good,” muttered Silas, unconsciously drawing
his chair up to the table, where the stranger handed him a plate and
passed the ham. Maria went on frying eggs, as if, thought her husband,
“they warn’t twenty-five cents a dozen,” and then ran down into the
cellar, returning panting and good-humored with a pan of apples and a
jug of cider; then into the pantry, bringing a tin box out of which she
took a cake.

“That’s pound cake, M’ri,” cried Silas, aghast, holding his knife and
fork upraised in mute horror. She went on cutting thick slices, humming
under her breath.

“Might I, marm,” asked the stranger, pleasantly, “put this slice of ham
and cake and this cup of milk aside, to eat bymeby?”

“How many meals do you eat in a evening?” growled Silas, awestruck at
such an appetite; “an’ I want you to know this ain’t no tavern.”

“Do eat a bite yourself, marm,” said the stranger, as Maria carried the
filled plate to the cupboard. The impudence of a tramp actually asking
the mistress of the house to eat her own food, thought Silas. “We’ve eat
our supper,” he hurled at the stranger.

“I couldn’t tech a mite,” said Maria, beginning to clear up, and as he
was through eating, the stranger gallantly helped her while Silas smoked
in speechless rage.

“I’m used to being handy,” explained the tramp. “I allus helped wife.
She’s bin dead these twenty years, leaving me a baby girl that I brought

“You was good to her?” asked Maria wistfully; the stranger had such a
kind voice and gentle ways.

“I done the best I could, marm.” Doubting his senses, Silas saw Maria
bring out the haircloth rocking-chair with the bead tidy from the best
front room. “Lemme carry it,” said the tramp politely. “Now set in’t
yerself, marin, an’ be comfurble.” He took a wooden chair, tilted it
back and picked up the cat. Maria, before she sat down, unmindful of
Silas’s bewildered stare, filled one of his pipes with his tobacco.

“I know you smoke, mister,” she smiled.

“Wal, I do,” answered the tramp, whiffing away in great comfort. “‘Pears
to me you’re the biggest-hearted woman I ever see.”

She laughed bitterly. “There wan’t a cluser woman in Corinth than me,
an’ folks’ll tell you so. I turned my own son outer doors.”

“It was part my fault, Mri, an’ you hush now,” pleaded Silas, forgiving
even her giving his tobacco away if she would not bring out that family

“I’ve heered you was cluse,” said the stranger, “an’ thet you sent Jim
off because he went to circuses in Bath, an’ wore store clothes, an’
wanted wages to pay for ‘em.”

“All true,” said Maria, “an’ he wanted to ride the horse, an’ was mad at
workin’ him so hard.” She went on then, and told how the old animal had
come home.

“An’ me thinkin’ the critter was a speerit,” said the stranger in a
hushed voice. “Beat’s all what a dumb brute knows!”

“I thought mebbe,” went on Maria, twisting her thin fingers, “as Jim
might be comin’ home this time. They says things happens curious when
folks is goin’ ter die----”

“Your good fur a good meny years, M’ri,” said Silas, pitifully.

“There’s folks in this wurld,” said the stranger, his kindly face
growing sad and careworn since the mother’s eager words, “that ain’t
men enuff, an’ comes to charity to the end----”

“That there be,” assented Silas.

“And as can’t bring up their folks comfurble, nor keep ‘em well an’
happy, nor have a home as ain’t berried under a mortgage they can’t
never clear off.”

“Ay, there’s lots of ‘em,” cried Silas, “an’ Mis Lowell was a twitting
me this very night of bein’ mean.”

“An’ this good home, an’ the fields I passed thro’, an’ the lane where
the old hoss come a gallopin’ up behind me, is paid fur, no mortgage on
a acre?”

“There never was on the Lowell prop’ty; they’ll tell ye thet ennywhere,”
 said Silas.

“We uns in the South, where I come from,” said the stranger, shading
his face with his bony hand, “ain’t never forehanded somehow. My name is
Dexter Brown, marm, an’ I was alius misfortinat. I tell you, marm, one
day when my creditors come an’ took the cotton off my field, thet
I’d plarnted and weeded and worked over in the brilin’ sun, my wife
says--an’ she’d been patient and long-sufferin’--‘Dex, I’m tired out;
jest you bury me in a bit of ground that’s paid fur, an’ I’ll lie in
peace,’ an’ she died thet night.”

“Mebbe she never knowed what it were to scrimp an’ save, an’ do without,
an never see nawthin’, till all the good died in her,” muttered Maria.

“Part o’ my debt was wines an’ good vittles fur her, marm.”

“I’ll warrant!” said Maria quickly, “an’ she never wept over the graves
of her dead children, an’ heered their father complainin’ of how much
their sickness hed cost him. Oh, I tell you, there’s them that reckons
human agony by dollars an’ cents, an’ they’re wus’n murderers!”

“M’ri!” cried Silas.

“Mebbe, marm, you are over-worrited ternight,” said the stranger softly;
“wimmen is all feelin’, God bless ‘em! an’ how yer son loved ye, a
tellin’ of yer bright eyes an’ red cheeks----”

She turned to him with fierce eagerness. “He couldn’t keer fur me, I
wan’t the kind. I don’t mind me of hardly ever kissin’ him. I worked
him hard; I was cross an’ stingy. He sed to me, ‘There’s houses that is
never homes, mother.’ I sneered an’ blamed him for his little present.”
 She ran and brought the vase. “I’ve kept that, Mr. Brown, over twenty
years, but when he give it to me, bought outer his poor little savin’s,
I scolded him. I never let him hev the boys here to pop corn or make
candy; it was waste and litter. Oh, I know what he meant; this was never
a home.”

“But he only spoke kind of ye alius.”

“Did you know Jim? Been gone this ten year, an’ never a word.”

Silas, a queer shadow on his face, looked eagerly at Brown.

“I did know him,” slowly and cautiously--“he was a cowboy in Texas, as
brave as the best.”

“He could ride,” cried Maria, “as part of a horse, an’ Tige was the dead
image of that Washington horse in the pictur, an’ Jim used to say thet
girl there in the blue gown was his girl--the one with the bouquet; an’
I used to call him silly. I chilled all the fun he hed outer him, an’
broken-speerited an’ white-faced he drifted away from us, as far away as
them in the graveyard, with the same weary look as they hed in goin’.”

“An’ he took keer of much as a hundred cattle,” said Silas; “they has
thet meny I’ve heerd, in Texas?”

“They has thousands; they loses hundreds by drought----”

“Wanter know?” cried Silas, his imagination refusing to grasp such awful

“Wal, I knowed Jim, an’ he got mer-ried----”

“Merried!” from both the old parents. “He did. He says, ‘I wunt write
the home-folks till I’m well off, for mother will worrit an’ blame me,
an’ I hain’t money, but Minnie an’ I love each other, an’ are satisfied
with little.’”

“Minnie,” the mother repeated. “Was she pretty?”

“Woman all over you be, to ask thet, an’ she was,” said Brown, sadly;
“with dark eyes, sorter wistful, an’ hair like crinkled sunshine, an’
a laugh like a merry child, fur trouble slipped off her shoulders like
water off a duck’s back.”

“An’ they got prosperous?” asked Silas uneasily.

“They was happy,” said Brown with gentle dignity; “they was alius happy,
but they lived under a mortgage, an’ it was drift from pillar to post,
an’ ups an’ downs.

“An’ they’re poor now,” muttered Silas, visions of Jim and his family to
support coming to him.

“Hush!” cried Maria. “Tell me, sir, was there children? Oh, the heart
hunger I’ve had for the sound of a child’s voice, the touch of baby
hands. You an’ me grandpa and grandma, Sile! an’, my God! you think of
money now.”

“Set calm,” pleaded Brown, “for I must hev courage to tell ye all.”

“An’ they sent ye to tell us they was comin’?” asked Silas, judging of
their prosperity from the shabby herald.

“They asked me to come, an’ I swore it. There’s a queer blight as
creeps inter our country, which without thet might be like everlasting
Paradise. Ourn is a land of summer an’ flowers, but up here in this
ice-bound region, the air is like water in runnin’ brooks, it puts life
an’ health in ye.”

“There’s the blight o’ consumption here. We’re foreordained to suffer
all over this airth,” muttered the woman.

“But there it comes in waves of trouble--in awful haste--an’ takes all
at once, an’ them that’s well flees away and the sick dies alone. So the
yellow fever come creepin’ inter my home, fur Minnie was my child--the
daughter I’d keered fur; an’ fust the baby went from her arms, an’ then
little Silas (arter you, sir). Then Minnie sickened, an’ her laugh is
only an echo in my heart, for she died and was berried, the baby in her
arms, and Jim was took next--an’ he says” (only the ticking of the clock
sounded now, never so loud before): “‘I want you, dad,’ (he called me
dad) ‘to go to my old home in Maine. I want you to tell my father I
named my dead boy for him, and I thought of his frugal, saving life with
pain, and yet I am proud that his name is respected as that of an honest
man, whose word is his bond. I’ll never go up the old lane again,’ says
Jim, ‘nor see mother standing in the door with her bright eyes and red
cheeks that I used to think was like winter apples. And the old horse,
she said she’d care for, I won’t see him again, nor hear the bells. In
this land of summer I only long for winter, and dad, if I could hear
those hoarse old jolly bells I’d die in peace. Queer, ain’t it? And I
remember some rides I took mother; she wan’t afraid of the colt, and
looked so pretty, a white hood over her dark hair. You go, dad, and say
I was sorry, and I’d planned to come some day prosperous and happy,
but it’s never to be. Tell mother to think of me when she goes a Sunday
afternoon to the buryin’-ground, as she used to with me, and by those
little graves I fek her mother’s heart beat for me, her living child,
and I knew, though she said nothing, she cared for me.’ He died tell-in’
me this, marm, an’ was berried by my girl, an’ I think it was meant kind
they went together, for both would a pined apart. So I’ve come all the
way from Texas, trampin’ for weary months, for I was poor, to give you
Jim’s words.”

“Dead! Jim dead!” cried Silas, in a queer, dazed way. “M’ri,”
 querulously, “you alius sed he was so helthy!”

She went to him and laid her hand on his bowed head.

“An’ we’ve saved an’ scrimped an’ pinched fur strangers, M’ri, fur there
ain’t no Lowell to have the prop’ty, an’ I meant it all fur Jim. When he
was to come back he’d find he was prosperous, an’ he’d think how I tried
to make him so.”

“The Lord don’t mean all dark clouds in this life,” said the stranger.
“Out of that pestilence, that never touched her with its foul breath,
came a child, with Minnie’s face and laugh, but Jim’s own eyes--a bit of
mother an’ father.”

The old people were looking at him with painful eagerness, dwelling on
his every word.

“It was little May; named Maria, but we called her May for she was
borned three year ago in that month; a tiny wee thing, an’ I stood by
their graves an’ I hardened my heart. ‘They drove her father out; they
sha’n’t crush her young life,’ I said. ‘I’ll keep her.’ But I knowed I
couldn’t. Poverty was grinding me, and with Jim’s words directin’ me, I
brought her here.”

“Brought her here!” cried the poor woman.

“Ay! She’s a brave little lass, an’ I told her to lie quiet in the
basket till I told her to come out, fur mebbe you wan’t kind an’ would
send us both out, but I found your hearts ready fur her----”

With one spring Maria reached the basket and flung open the lid,
disclosing a tiny child wrapped in a ragged shawl, sleeping peacefully
in her cramped bed, but with tears on her long lashes, as if the waiting
had tried her brave little soul.

“Jest as gritty,” said Brown, “an’ so good to mind; poor lass!”

Maria lifted her out, and the child woke up, but did not cry at the
strange face that smiled on her with such pathetic eagerness. “Oh, the
kitty!” cried May. “I had a kitty once!” That familiar household object
reconciled her at once. She ate the cake eagerly and drank the milk,
insisting on feeding the ham to the cat.

“Him looks hungry,” she said.

“We’ve all been starved!” cried Maria, clasping the child to her heart.

Such a beautiful child, with her merry eyes and laugh and her golden
curls, a strange blossom from a New England soil, yet part of her
birthright was the land of flowers and sunshine. Somehow that pathetic
picture of the past faded when the mother saw a blue and gilt vase in
the baby’s hand--Jim’s baby’s.

“It’s pitty; fank you!” said the little creature. Then she got down to
show her new dress and her shoes, and made excursions into the pantry,
opening cupboard doors, but touching nothing, only exclaiming, “Dear me,
how pitty!” at everything. Then she came back, and at Brown’s request,
with intense gravity, began a Spanish dance she had learned when they
stopped at San Antonio, from watching the Mexican senoritas. She held
up her little gown on one side and gravely made her steps while Dexter
whistled. The fire leaped up and crackled loudly, as if it would join
her, the cat purred, the tea-kettle sung from the back of the stove,
and little snowflakes, themselves hurrying, skurrying in a merry dance,
clung to the win dow-pane and called other little flakes to hasten and
see such a pretty sight. Maria watched in breathless eagerness, and
Silas, carried beyond himself, forgetting his scruples, cried out:
“Wal, ef that don’t beat all I ever see! Come here, you little chick!”
 holding out his silver watch.

With a final pirouette she finished with a grave little courtesy, then
ran to Silas: “Is there birdie in der?” and he caught her up and kissed

When the old lane is shady in summertime, and golden-rod and daisies
crowd the way, and raspberries climb the stonewall, and merry squirrels
chatter and mock the red-breasted robins, and bees go humming through
the ordorous air, there comes a big white horse that looks like
Washington’s in the picture; and how carefully he walks and bears
himself, for he brings a little princess who has made the old house
a home. Such a fairylike little thing, who from her sunshine makes
everybody bright and happy, and Silas’ grim old face is smiling as he
leads the horse, and Maria, with her basket of berries, is helped over
the wall by Dexter Brown, who always says he must go but never does,
for they love him, and he and Silas work harmoniously together. And
grandma’s eyes are brighter than ever and her cheeks as red.

“What comfortable folks they air gittin’ to be,” say the neighbors,
“kinder livin’, but I dunno but goin’ a berryin’ a hull arternoon is
right down shiftless.”

Winter is over and forever gone from that household on the hill; the
coming of gracious, smiling spring in a sweet child’s presence has made
eternal sunshine in those ice-bound hearts.

[Illustration: 5359]

[Illustration: 0360]

CYNTHY’S JOE, By Clara Sprague Ross

|I DON’T think he’ll be sech a fool as to p’int fer home the fust
thing he does.” The speaker, a young man with a dull, coarse face and
slouching air, knocked the ashes from a half-smoked cigar with his
little finger, which was heavily ornamented with a large seal ring, and
adjusted himself to a more comfortable position.

“I dun’no which p’int o’ the compass he’d more naterally turn to,”
 observed another; an elderly man with a stoop in his shoulders, and a
sharp, thin face that with all its petty shrewdness was not without its
compensating feature--a large and kindly mouth. The third man in the
little group was slowly walking back and forth on the platform that ran
across the station, rolling and unrolling a small red flag which he held
in his hands. He turned with a contemptuous “umph” to the young man,
remarking as he did so, “‘Tain’t mostly fools as goes to prison. Joe
Atherton prob’ly has as many friends in this section o’ the kentry as
some who hain’t been away so much.”

“Joe was a good little boy,” pursued the old station-master; “he wuz
allers kind to his mother. I never heard a word ag’in him till that city
swell came down here fer the summer and raised blazes with the boy.”

“If there ain’t the Squire!” exclaimed a hitherto silent member; “he’s
the last man as I should jedge would come to the deepo to welcome Joe

A stout, florid, pompous individual slowdy mounted the platform steps,
wiping his forehead with a flaming red silk handkerchief, which he
had taken from his well-worn straw hat. “Warm afternoon, friends,” he
suggested, with an air of having vastly contributed to the information
of the men, whose only apparent concern in life was an anxiety to find a
shady corner within conversational distance of each other.

The Squire seated himself in the only chair of which the forlorn station
boasted; he leaned back until his head was conveniently supported, and
furtively glanced at a large old-fashioned watch which he drew from his
vest pocket.

“Train’s late this a’ternoon, Squar’,” said the man with the red flag. “I
reckon ye’ll all hev to go home without seein’ the show; ‘tain’t no ways
sartin Joe’ll come to-day. Parson Mayhew sed his time was up the fust
week in September, but there’s no tellin’ the day as I knows on.”

A sustained, heavy rumble sounded in the distance. Each man straightened
himself and turned his head to catch the first glimpse of the
approaching engine, With a shriek and only a just perceptible lessening
of its speed, the mighty train rushed by them without stopping, and was
out of sight before the eager watchers regained the power of speech.

Five minutes later the red flag was in its place behind the door, its
keeper turned the key and hastened to overtake his neighbor, who had
reached the highway. Hearing the hurrying footsteps behind him, the man
turned, saying triumphantly, “I’m right-down, glad he didn’t come.”

“So be I; there’s an express late this evenin’ that might bring him
down. I shall be here if Louisy’s so as I kin leave her.”

“Wa’al,” returned the other, “I shan’t be over ag’in to-night, but you
jest tell Joe, fer me, to come right ta my house; he’s welcome. Whatever
he done as a boy, he’s atoned fer in twenty years. I remember jest how
white and sot his face was the day they took him away; he was only a boy
then, he’s a man now, gray-headed most likely; the Athertons turned gray
early, and sorrow and sin are terrible helps to white hair.”

The old man’s voice faltered a little; he drew the back of his hard,
brown hand across his eyes. Something that neither of the men could
have defined prompted them to shake hands at the “Corners”; they did so
silently, and without looking up.

Joe came that night. The moon and the stars were the silent and only
witnesses of the convict’s return. It was just as Joe had hoped it might
be; yet there was in the man’s soul an awful sense of his loneliness and
isolation The eager, wistful light faded out of his large blue eyes, the
lines about his firm, tightly-drawn mouth deepened, the whole man took
on an air of sullen defiance. Nobody cared for him, why should he care?
He wondered if “Uncle Aaron,” as the boys used to call him, still kept
the old station and signaled the trains. Alas! it was one of “Louisy’s”
 bad nights; her husband could not leave her, and so Joe missed forever
the cordial hand old Aaron would have offered him, and the kind message
he was to give him, for his neighbor.

Sadly, wearily, Joe turned and walked toward the road, lying white
and still in the moonlight. His head dropped lower and lower upon his
breast; without lifting it he put out his hand, at length, and raised
the latch of a dilapidated gate that opened into a deep, weed-entangled
yard. His heart was throbbing wildly, a fierce, hot pain shot through
his eyes. Could he ever look up? He knew the light of the home he was
seeking had gone out in darkness years before. The only love in the
world that would have met him without question or reproach was silent
forever; but here was her home--his home once--the little white house
with its green blinds and shady porch.

He must look up or his heart would burst. With a cry that rang loud and
clear on the quiet night, he fell upon his face, his fingers clutching
and tearing the long, coarse grass. There was no house--no home--only
a mass of blackened timbers, a pile of ashes, the angle of a tumbling
wall. Hardly knowing what he did, Joe crept into the shelter of the old
stone wall. With his face buried in his hands he lived over again, in
one short half-hour, the life he hoped he had put away when the prison
doors closed behind him. All through the day there had struggled in his
heart a faint, unreasoning faith that life might yet hold something fair
for him; one ray of comfort, one word of kindness, and faith would have
become a reality. As the man, at last lifted his pale, agonized face to
the glittering sky above him he uttered no word of prayer or entreaty,
but with the studied self-control that years of repression had taught
him, he rose from the ground and walked slowly out of the yard and
down the cheerless road again to the station. Life hereafter could mean
nothing to him but a silent moving-on. Whenever or wherever he
became known, men would shrink and turn away from him. There was no
abiding-place, no home, no love for him in all God’s mighty world. He
accepted the facts; there was only one relief--somewhere, some time, a
narrow bed would open for him and the green sod would shelter the man
and his sin till eternity.

He hastily plucked a bit of golden-rod that nodded by the roadside; then
taking a small, ragged book from a pocket just over his heart, he opened
it and put the yellow spray between the leaves. As he did so a bit of
paper fluttered to the ground. Joe stooped and picked it up. It was a
letter he had promised to deliver from a fellow-prisoner to his mother
in a distant town.

Not very far away an engine whistled at a crossing. A slowly moving
freight and accommodation train pulled up at the depot a few moments
later. Joe entered the dark, ill-smelling car at the rear and turned his
face once more to the world.

It was in the early twilight of the next evening that Joe found himself
in the hurry and confusion of a large manufacturing town. As he passed
from the great depot into the brilliantly lighted street, he was
bewildered for a moment and stood irresolute, with his hand shading his
eyes. At one corner of the park that lay between the station and the
next street, a man with a Punch-and-Judy theatre had drawn around him a
crowd of men, women, and children. Joe mechanically directed his steps
that way, and unconsciously became a part of the swaying, laughing

“Hold me up once more, do Mariar, I can’t see nothin’,” begged a piping,
childish voice at Joe’s knee.

“I can’t, Cynthy; my arms is most broke now holdin’ of ye; ef you
don’t stop teasin’ I’ll never take ye nowheres again,” replied a tall,
handsome girl, to whom the child was clinging.

Joe bent without a word, and picking up the small, ill-shaped morsel of
human longing and curiosity, swung her upon his broad shoulder, where
she sat watching the tiny puppets and listening to their shrill cries,
oblivious of all else in the world. Once she looked down into the man’s
face with her great, dark, fiery eyes and said softly, “Oh, how good you
are!” A shiver ran through Joe’s frame; these were the first words that
had been addressed to him since he said good-bye to the warden in that
dreary corridor, which for this one moment had been forgotten. The
little girl, without turning her eyes from the dancing figures before
her, put one arm about Joe’s neck and nestled a little closer to him.
Joe could have stood forever. The tall, dark girl, however, had missed
Cynthy’s tiresome pulling at her skirts and the whining voice. She
looked anxiously about and called “Cynthy! Cynthy! where are you? I’ll
be thankful if ever I gets you back to your grandmother.” The fretful
words aroused Joe from his happy reverie; he hurriedly placed the child
on the pavement, and in an instant was lost in the crowd.

He set out upon his quest the following morning and had no difficulty in
finding the old woman he was seeking. At one of a dozen doors marking as
many divisions of a long, low tenement building near the river, he had
knocked, and the door had opened into a small, clean kitchen, where a
bright fire burned in a tiny stove, and a row of scarlet geraniums
in pots ornamented the front window. The woman who admitted him he
recognized at once as the mother of the man in that far-away prison,
whose last hold-upon love and goodness was the remembrance of the aged,
wrinkled face so wonderfully like his own. In a corner behind the door
there stood an old-fashioned trundle-bed. As Joe stepped into the room a
child, perhaps ten years old, started up from it, exclaiming “That’s the
man, Granny; the man who put me on his shoulder, when Mariar was cross.
Come in! come in, man,” she urged.

“Be still, Cynthy,” retorted the grandmother, not unkindly, as she
placed a chair for Joe, who was walking over to the little bed from
which the child was evidently not able to rise alone. Two frail hands
were outstretched to him, two great black eyes were raised to his full
of unspoken gratitude. Joe took the soiled letter from its hiding-place
and gave it to the woman without a word. She glanced at the scarcely
legible characters, and went into an adjoining room, her impassive face
working convulsively.

“What’s the matter with Granny, was she crying? I never seen her cry
before,” said Cynthy. “Granny’s had heaps o’ trouble. I’m all thet’s
left of ten children and a half-dozen grandchildren. She says I’m the
poorest of the lot, too, with the big bone thet’s grow’d out on my back;
it aches orful nights, and makes my feet so tired and shaky mornin’s.
Granny’s kind o’ queer; some days she just sets and looks into the fire
fer hours without speakin’, and it’s so still I kin a’most hear my heart
beat; and I think, and think, and never speak, neither, till Granny
comes back and leans over me and kisses me; then it’s all right ag’in,
an’ Granny makes a cup o’ tea an’ a bite o’ toast and the sun comes in
the winder, and I forget ‘bout the pain, an’ go out with Mariar, when
she’ll take me, like I did last night.”

The child’s white, pinched features flushed feverishly, her solemn,
dusky eyes burned like coals. She had been resting her chin in her
hands, and gazing up into Joe’s face with a fascinated intensity.
She fell back wearily upon the pillows as the door opened, and her
grandmother returned and put her hand on Joe’s shoulder, saying
brokenly, “You’ve been very kind.” The little clock on the shelf over
the kitchen table ticked merrily, and the tea-kettle hummed, as if it
would drown the ticking, while Joe and Cynthy’s grandmother discussed
and planned for the future.

It was finally settled that Joe should look for work in Danvers, and if
he found it, his home should be with the old woman and Cynthy. He did
not try to express the joy that surged over and through his heart, that
rushed up into his brain, until his head was one mad whirl; but with a
firm, quick step and a brave, calm look on his strong face, he went out
to take his place in the busy, struggling world--a man among men.

Two months passed; months of toil, of anxiety, sometimes of fear;
but Joe was so gladdened and comforted by Cynthy’s childish love and
confidence, that, little by little, he came out of the shadow that had
threatened to blacken his life, into the sunshine and peace of a homely,
self-sacrificing existence in “Riverside Row.”

Cynthy’s ideas of heaven were very vague, and not always satisfactory,
even to herself, but she often wondered, since Joe came, if heaven
ever began here and she was not tasting some of its minor delights. Of
course, she did not put it in just this way; but Cynthy’s heaven was a
place where children walked and were never tired, where above all things
they wore pretty clothes and had everything that was denied them on
earth. Joe had realized so many of the child’s wild dreams, had made
possible so many longed-for or unattainable pleasures, had so brightened
and changed her weary, painful life, that to Cynthy’s eyes there was
always about his head a halo as in the pictures of Granny’s saints;
goodness, kindness, generosity--love, were for her spelled with three
letters, and read--Joe. Out of the hard-earned wages the man put into
Granny’s hand every Saturday night, there was always a little
reserved for Cynthy. Her grandmother sometimes fretted or occasionally
remonstrated; but Joe was firm. Alas! human life, like the never-resting
earth, of which it is a part, swings out of the sunlight into the
shadow, out of the daytime into the darkness through which the moon and
the stars do not always shine.

One night, a bitter, stormy night in November, he was a little late in
leaving his work. He had to pass, on his way out of the building, a knot
of men who were talking in suppressed voices. They did not ask him
to join them, but the words “prison-scab,” “jail-bird”, fell on his
ever-alert ear. With a shudder he hurried on.

Granny was stooping over the trundle-bed in a vain attempt to quiet the
child, who was tossing upon it, in pain and delirium. Cynthy had slipped
upon a piece of ice a few days before, and now she was never free from
the torturing, burning pain in her back. Sometimes it was in her head,
too, and then with shrill, harsh cries, she begged for Joe, until Granny
thanked God when the factory-whistle blew and she heard the man’s quick,
short step on the pavement. Joe warmed himself at the fire for a moment,
then taking Cynthy in his tired arms, he walked slowly up and down the
room. Through the long, dreary night he patiently carried the moaning
child. If he attempted, never so carefully, to lay her down, she clung
to him so wildly or cried so wearily that Joe could only soothe her
and take lip the tiresome march again. Granny, thoroughly worn out, sat
sleeping in her large chair. Cynthy grew more restless. Once she nearly
sprang from Joe’s arms, screaming, “Go way, Mariar; you’re a hateful
thing! I won’t listen; ‘tain’t true; Joe is good,” and dropping back
heavily, she whispered, “I love you, Joe.” She knew, then! Joe thought
his heart would never throb again.

He listened for the early morning whistles. One by one they sounded on
the clear, keen air, but never the one for which he waited. As soon
as it was light, he peered through the ice-covered window at the tall
chimneys just beyond the “Row.” They rose grim and silent, but no smoke
issued from them. The end had come. Joe knew a strike was on.

Sometime in the afternoon of that day Cynthy suffered herself to be
placed on the small, white bed; but she was not willing Joe should leave
her, and was quiet only when he held her feeble hand in his close grasp.
No sound escaped the man’s white lips. Only God and the angels watched
his struggle with the powers of darkness. As night came on again, Cynthy
sank into a heavy sleep, and Joe, released, took his hat and went out
very softly.

He stopped after a long walk at the massive doors of a “West End”
 palace. He followed with downcast eyes the servant who answered his ring
into a small but elegant reception-room, where he was told he might wait
for the master of the house, the owner of the large manufactory where he
was employed. Into the patient ear of this man, whom he had never seen
before, Joe poured the story of his life. The sin, the shame, the agony
of despair, his salvation through Cynthy.

“I will call my son,” said the sympathizing old gentleman as Joe rose to
go; “he is one of Danvers’ best physicians. He will go with you and see
what can be done for the little girl.”

An hour later the two men were bending over the sick child. “She is very
ill,” said the young doctor, in reply ta Joe’s mute, appealing face.
“This stupor may end in death, or it may result in a sleep which will
bring relief. You must be brave, my friend. A few hours to-night will
decide. You may hope.” Joe’s weary limbs faltered beneath him. He fell
upon his knees breathing a wordless prayer that the child might be
spared to bless and comfort hi& lonely, aching heart; while all unseen
the Angel of Life hovered over the little bed.

[Illustration: 5372]

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