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At the Foot of the Rainbow by Gene Stratton-Porter

Part 2 out of 4

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the impression that at the wildest of the dance he had yelled and
patted time for Jimmy.

"I hope I have a host of friends," he said, settling his pleated
coat.

"Damn hosht!" said Jimmy. "Jisht in way. Now I got one frind,
hosht all by himself. Be here pretty soon now. Alwaysh comesh
nights like thish."

"Comes here?" inquired the Thread Man. "Am I to meet another
interesting character?"

"Yesh, comesh here. Comesh after me. Comesh like the clock
sthriking twelve. Don't he, boys?" inquired Jimmy. "But he ain't
no interesting character. Jisht common man, Dannie is. Honest
man. Never told a lie in his life. Yesh, he did, too. I forgot.
He liesh for me. Jish liesh and liesh. Liesh to Mary. Tells her
any old liesh to keep me out of schrape. You ever have frind hish
up and drive ten milesh for you night like thish, and liesh to
get you out of schrape?"

"I never needed any one to lie and get me out of a scrape,"
answered the Thread Man.

Jimmy sat straight and solemnly batted his eyes. "Gee! You musht
misshed mosht the fun!" he said. "Me, I ain't ever misshed any.
Always in schrape. But Dannie getsh me out. Good old Dannie. Jish
like dog. Take care me all me life. See? Old folks come on same
boat. Women get thick. Shettle beside. Build cabinsh together.
Work together, and domn if they didn't get shmall pox and die
together. Left me and Dannie. So we work together jish shame, and
we fallsh in love with the shame girl. Dannie too slow. I got
her." Jimmy wiped away great tears.

"How did you get her, Jimmy?" asked a man who remembered a story.

"How the nation did I get her?" Jimmy scratched his head, and
appealed to the Thread Man. "Dannie besht man. Milesh besht man!
Never lie--'cept for me. Never drink--'cept for me. Alwaysh save
his money--'cept for me. Milesh besht man! Isn't he besht man,
Spooley?"

"Ain't it true that you served Dannie a mean little trick?" asked
the man who remembered.

Jimmy wasn't quite drunk enough, and the violent exercise of the
dance somewhat sobered him. He glared at the man. "Whatsh you
talkin' about?" he demanded.

"I'm just asking you," said the man, "why, if you played straight
with Dannie about the girl, you never have had the face to go to
confession since you married her."

"Alwaysh send my wife," said Jimmy grandly. "Domsh any woman that
can't confiss enough for two!"

Then he hitched his chair closer to the Thread Man, and grew more
confidential. "Shee here," he said. "Firsht I see your pleated
coat, didn't like. But head's all right. Great head! Sthuck on
frillsh there! Want to be let in on something? Got enough city,
clubsh, an' all that? Want to taste real thing? Lesh go coon
huntin'. Theysh tree down Canoper, jish short pleashant walk, got
fify coons in it! Nobody knowsh the tree but me, shee? Been good
to ush boys. Sat on same kind of chairs we do. Educate ush up
lot. Know mosht that poetry till I die, shee? `Wonner wash
vinters buy, halfsh precious ash sthuff shell,' shee? I got it!
Let you in on real thing. Take grand big coon skinch back to
Boston with you. Ringsh on tail. Make wife fine muff, or fur
trimmingsh. Good to till boysh at club about, shee?"

"Are you asking me to go on a coon hunt with you?" demanded the
Thread Man. "When? Where?"

"Corshally invited," answered Jimmy. "To-morrow night. Canoper.
Show you plashe. Bill Duke's dogs. My gunsh. Moonsh shinin'. Dogs
howlin'. Shnow flying! Fify coonsh rollin' out one hole! Shoot
all dead! Take your pick! Tan skin for you myself! Roaring big
firesh warm by. Bag finesh sandwiches ever tasted. Milk pail pure
gold drink. No stop, slop out going over bridge. Take jug. Big
jug. Toss her up an' let her gurgle. Dogsh bark. Fire pop. Guns
bang. Fifty coons drop. Boysh all go. Want to get more education.
Takes culture to get woolsh off. Shay, will you go? "

"I wouldn't miss it for a thousand dollars," said the Thread Man.
"But what will I say to my house for being a day late?"

"Shay gotter grip," suggested Jimmy. "Never too late to getter
grip. Will you all go, boysh?"

There were not three men in the saloon who knew of a tree that
had contained a coon that winter, but Jimmy was Jimmy, and to be
trusted for an expedition of that sort; and all of them agreed to
be at the saloon ready for the hunt at nine o'clock the next
night. The Thread Man felt that he was going to see Life. He
immediately invited the boys to the bar to drink to the success
of the hunt.

"You shoot own coon yourself," offered the magnanimous Jimmy.
"You may carrysh my gunsh, take first shot. First shot to Missher
O'Khayam, boysh, 'member that. Shay, can you hit anything? Take a
try now." Jimmy reached behind him, and shoved a big revolver
into the hand of the Thread Man. "Whersh target?" he demanded.

As he turned from the bar, the milk pail which he still carried
under his arm caught on an iron rod. Jimmy gave it a jerk, and
ripped the rim from the bottom. "Thish do," he said. "Splendid
marksh. Shinesh jish like coon's eyesh in torch light."

He carried the pail to the back wall and hung it over a nail. The
nail was straight, and the pail flaring. The pail fell. Jimmy
kicked it across the room, and then gathered it up, and drove a
dent in it with his heel that would hold over the nail. Then he
went back to the Thread Man." Theresh mark, Ruben. Blash away!"
he said.

The Boston man hesitated. "Whatsh the matter? Cansh shoot off
nothing but your mouth?" demanded Jimmy. He caught the revolver
and fired three shots so rapidly that the sounds came almost as
one. Two bullets pierced the bottom of the pail, and the other
the side as it fell.

The door opened, and with the rush of cold air Jimmy gave just
one glance toward it, and slid the revolver into his pocket,
reached for his hat, and started in the direction of his coat.
"Glad to see you, Micnoun," he said. "If you are goingsh home,
I'll jish ride out with you. Good night, boysh. Don't forgetsh
the coon hunt," and Jimmy was gone.

A minute later the door opened again, and this time a man of
nearly forty stepped inside. He had a manly form, and a manly
face, was above the average in looks, and spoke with a slight
Scotch accent.

"Do any of ye boys happen to know what it was Jimmy had with him
when he came in here?"

A roar of laughter greeted the query. The Thread Man picked up
the pail. As he handed it to Dannie, he said: "Mr. Malone said he
was initiating a new milk pail, but I am afraid he has overdone
the job."

"Thank ye," said Dannie, and taking the battered thing, he went
out into the night.

Jimmy was asleep when he reached the buggy. Dannie had long since
found it convenient to have no fence about his dooryard. He drove
to the door, dragged Jimmy from the buggy, and stabled the horse.
By hard work he removed Jimmy's coat and boots, laid him across
the bed, and covered him. Then he grimly looked at the light in
the next cabin. "Why doesna she go to bed?" he said. He summoned
courage, and crossing the space between the two buildings, he
tapped on the window. "It's me, Mary," he called. "The skins are
only half done, and Jimmy is going to help me finish. He will
come over in the morning. Ye go to bed. Ye needna be afraid. We
will hear ye if ye even snore." There was no answer, but by a
movement in the cabin Dannie knew that Mary was still dressed and
waiting. He started back, but for an instant, heedless of the
scurrying snow and biting cold, he faced the sky.

"I wonder if ye have na found a glib tongue and light feet the
least part o' matrimony," he said. "Why in God's name couldna ye
have married me? I'd like to know why."

As he closed the door, the cold air roused Jimmy.

"Dannie," he said, "donsh forget the milk pail. All 'niciate good
now."

Chapter III

THE FIFTY COONS OF THE CANOPER

Near noon of the next day, Jimmy opened his eyes and stretched
himself on Dannie's bed. It did not occur to him that he was
sprawled across it in such a fashion that if Dannie had any sleep
that night, he had taken it on chairs before the fireplace. At
first Jimmy decided that he had a head on him, and would turn
over and go back where he came from. Then he thought of the coon
hunt, and sitting on the edge of the bed he laughed, as he looked
about for his boots.

"I am glad ye are feeling so fine," said Dannie at the door, in a
relieved voice. "I had a notion that ye wad be crosser than a
badger when ye came to."

Jimmy laughed on.

"What's the fun?" inquired Dannie.

Jimmy thought hard a minute. Here was one instance where the
truth would serve better than any invention, so he virtuously
told Dannie all about it. Dannie thought of the lonely little
woman next door, and rebelled.

"But, Jimmy!" he cried, "ye canna be gone all nicht again. It's
too lonely fra Mary, and there's always a chance I might sleep
sound and wadna hear if she should be sick or need ye."

"Then she can just yell louder, or come after you, or get well,
for I am going, see? He was a thrid peddler in a dinky little
pleated coat, Dannie. He laid up against the counter with his
feet crossed at a dancing-girl angle. But I will say for him that
he was running at the mouth with the finest flow of language I
iver heard. I learned a lot of it, and Cap knows the stuff, and
I'm goin' to have him get you the book. But, Dannie, he wouldn't
drink with us, but he stayed to iducate us up a little. That
little spool man, Dannie, iducatin' Jones of the gravel gang, and
Bingham of the Standard, and York of the 'lectric railway, and
Haines of the timber gang, not to mintion the champeen
rat-catcher of the Wabash."

Jimmy hugged himself, and rocked on the edge of the bed.

"Oh, I can just see it, Dannie," he cried. "I can just see it
now! I was pretty drunk, but I wasn't too drunk to think of it,
and it came to me sudden like."

Dannie stared at Jimmy wide-eyed, while he explained the details,
and then he too began to laugh, and the longer he laughed the
funnier it grew.

"I've got to start," said Jimmy. "I've an awful afternoon's work.
I must find him some rubber boots. He's to have the inestimable
privilege of carryin' me gun, Dannie, and have the first shot at
the coons, fifty, I'm thinkin' I said. And if I don't put some
frills on his cute little coat! Oh, Dannie, it will break the
heart of me if he don't wear that pleated coat!"

Dannie wiped his eyes.

"Come on to the kitchen," he said, "I've something ready fra ye
to eat. Wash, while I dish it."

"I wish to Heaven you were a woman, Dannie," said Jimmy. "A
fellow could fall in love with you, and marry you with some
satisfaction. Crimminy, but I'm hungry!"

Jimmy ate greedily, and Dannie stepped about setting the cabin to
rights. It lacked many feminine touches that distinguished
Jimmy's as the abode of a woman; but it was neat and clean, and
there seemed to be a place where everything belonged.

"Now, I'm off," said Jimmy, rising. "I'll take your gun, because
I ain't goin' to see Mary till I get back."

"Oh, Jimmy, dinna do that!" pleaded Dannie. "I want my gun. Go
and get your own, and tell her where ye are going and what ye are
going to do. She'd feel less lonely."

"I know how she would feel better than you do," retorted Jimmy.
"I am not going. If you won't give me your gun, I'll borrow one;
or have all my fun spoiled."

Dannie took down the shining gun and passed it over. Jimmy
instantly relented. He smiled an old boyish smile, that always
caught Dannie in his softest spot.

"You are the bist frind I have on earth, Dannie," he said
winsomely. "You are a man worth tying to. By gum, there's NOTHING
I wouldn't do for you! Now go on, like the good fellow you are,
and fix it up with Mary."

So Dannie started for the wood pile. In summer he could stand
outside and speak through the screen. In winter he had to enter
the cabin for errands like this, and as Jimmy's wood box was as
heavily weighted on his mind as his own, there was nothing
unnatural in his stamping snow on Jimmy's back stoop, and calling
"Open!" to Mary at any hour of the day he happened to be passing
the wood pile.

He stood at a distance, and patiently waited until a gray and
black nut-hatch that foraged on the wood covered all the new
territory discovered by the last disturbance of the pile. From
loosened bark Dannie watched the bird take several good-sized
white worms and a few dormant ants. As it flew away he gathered
an armload of wood. He was very careful to clean his feet on the
stoop, place the wood without tearing the neat covering of wall
paper, and brush from his coat the snow and moss so that it fell
in the box. He had heard Mary tell the careless Jimmy to do all
these things, and Dannie knew that they saved her work. There was
a whiteness on her face that morning that startled him, and long
after the last particle of moss was cleaned from his sleeve he
bent over the box trying to get something said. The cleaning took
such a length of time that the glint of a smile crept into the
grave eyes of the woman, and the grim line of her lips softened.

"Don't be feeling so badly about it, Dannie," she said. "I could
have told you when you went after him last night that he would go
back as soon as he wakened to-day. I know he is gone. I watched
him lave."

Dannie brushed the other sleeve, on which there had been nothing
at the start, and answered: "Noo, dinna ye misjudge him, Mary.
He's goin' to a coon hunt to-nicht. Dinna ye see him take my
gun?"

This evidence so bolstered Dannie that he faced Mary with
confidence.

"There's a traveling man frae Boston in town, Mary, and he was
edifying the boys a little, and Jimmy dinna like it. He's going
to show him a little country sport to-nicht to edify him."

Dannie outlined the plan of Jimmy's campaign. Despite
disapproval, and a sore heart, Mary Malone had to smile--perhaps
as much over Dannie's eagerness in telling what was contemplated
as anything.

"Why don't you take Jimmy's gun and go yoursilf?" she asked. "You
haven't had a day off since fishing was over."

"But I have the work to do," replied Dannie, "and I couldna
leave--" He broke off abruptly, but the woman supplied the word.

"Why can't you lave me, if Jimmy can? I'm not afraid. The snow
and the cold will furnish me protiction to-night. There'll be no
one to fear. Why should you do Jimmy's work, and miss the sport,
to guard the thing he holds so lightly?"

The red flushed Dannie's cheeks. Mary never before had spoken
like that. He had to say something for Jimmy quickly, and
quickness was not his forte. His lips opened, but nothing came;
for as Jimmy had boasted, Dannie never lied, except for him, and
at those times he had careful preparation before he faced Mary.
Now, he was overtaken unawares. He looked so boyish in his
confusion, the mother in Mary's heart was touched.

"I'll till you what we'll do, Dannie," she said. "You tind the
stock, and get in wood enough so that things won't be frazin'
here; and then you hitch up and I'll go with you to town, and
stay all night with Mrs. Dolan. You can put the horse in my
sister's stable, and whin you and Jimmy get back, you'll be tired
enough that you'll be glad to ride home. A visit with Katie will
be good for me; I have been blue the last few days, and I can see
you are just aching to go with the boys. Isn't that a fine plan?"

"I should say that IS a guid plan," answered the delighted
Dannie. Anything to save Mary another night alone was good, and
then--that coon hunt did sound alluring.

And that was how it happened that at nine o'clock that night,
just as arrangements were being completed at Casey's, Dannie
Macnoun stepped into the group and said to the astonished Jimmy:
"Mary wanted to come to her sister's over nicht, so I fixed
everything, and I'm going to the coon hunt, too, if you boys want
me."

The crowd closed around Dannie, patted his back and cheered him,
and he was introduced to Mister O'Khayam, of Boston, who tried to
drown the clamor enough to tell what his name really was, "in
case of accident"; but he couldn't be heard for Jimmy yelling
that a good old Irish name like O'Khayam couldn't be beat in case
of anything. And Dannie took a hasty glance at the Thread Man, to
see if he wore that hated pleated coat, which lay at the bottom
of Jimmy's anger.

Then they started. Casey's wife was to be left in charge of the
saloon, and the Thread Man half angered Casey by a whispered
conversation with her in a corner. Jimmy cut his crowd as low as
he possibly could, but it numbered fifteen men, and no one
counted the dogs. Jimmy led the way, the Thread Man beside him,
and the crowd followed. The walking would be best to follow the
railroad to the Canoper, and also they could cross the railroad
bridge over the river and save quite a distance.

Jimmy helped the Thread Man into a borrowed overcoat and mittens,
and loaded him with a twelve-pound gun, and they started. Jimmy
carried a torch, and as torch bearer he was a rank failure, for
he had a careless way of turning it and flashing it into people's
faces that compelled them to jump to save themselves. Where the
track lay clear and straight ahead the torch seemed to light it
like day; but in dark places it was suddenly lowered or wavering
somewhere else. It was through this carelessness of Jimmy's that
at the first cattle-guard north of the village the torch
flickered backward, ostensibly to locate Dannie, and the Thread
Man went crashing down between the iron bars, and across the gun.
Instantly Jimmy sprawled on top of him, and the next two men
followed suit. The torch plowed into the snow and went out, and
the yells of Jimmy alarmed the adjoining village.

He was hurt the worst of all, and the busiest getting in marching
order again. "Howly smoke!" he panted. "I was havin' the time of
me life, and plum forgot that cow-kitcher. Thought it was a
quarter of a mile away yet. And liked to killed meself with me
carelessness. But that's always the way in true sport. You got to
take the knocks with the fun." No one asked the Thread Man if he
was hurt, and he did not like to seem unmanly by mentioning a
skinned shin, when Jimmy Malone seemed to have bursted most of
his inside; so he shouldered his gun and limped along, now
slightly in the rear of Jimmy. The river bridge was a serious
matter with its icy coat, and danger of specials, and the
torches suddenly flashed out from all sides; and the Thread Man
gave thanks for Dannie Macnoun, who reached him a steady hand
across the ties. The walk was three miles, and the railroad lay
at from twenty to thirty feet elevation along the river and
through the bottom land. The Boston man would have been thankful
for the light, but as the last man stepped from the ties of the
bridge all the torches went out save one. Jimmy explained they
simply had to save them so that they could see where the coon
fell when they began to shake the coon tree.

Just beside the water tank, and where the embankment was twenty
feet sheer, Jimmy was cautioning the Boston man to look out, when
the hunter next behind him gave a wild yell and plunged into his
back. Jimmy's grab for him seemed more a push than a pull, and
the three rolled to the bottom, and half way across the flooded
ditch. The ditch was frozen over, but they were shaken, and
smothered in snow. The whole howling party came streaming down
the embankment. Dannie held aloft his torch and discovered Jimmy
lying face down in a drift, making no effort to rise, and the
Thread Man feebly tugging at him and imploring some one to come
and help get Malone out. Then Dannie slunk behind the others and
yelled until he was tired.

By and by Jimmy allowed himself to be dragged out.

"Who the thunder was that come buttin' into us?" he blustered. "I
don't allow no man to butt into me when I'm on an imbankmint.
Send the fool back here till I kill him."

The Thread Man was pulling at Jimmy's arm. "Don't mind, Jimmy,"
he gasped. "It was an accident! The man slipped. This is an awful
place. I will be glad when we reach the woods. I'll feel safer
with ground that's holding up trees under my feet. Come on, now!
Are we not almost there? Should we not keep quiet from now on?
Will we not alarm the coons?"

"Sure," said Jimmy. "Boys, don't hollo so much. Every blamed coon
will be scared out of its hollow!"

"Amazing!" said the Thread Man. "How clever! Came on the spur of
the moment. I must remember that to tell the Club. Do not hollo.
Scare the coon out of its hollow!"

"Oh, I do miles of things like that," said Jimmy dryly, "and
mostly I have to do thim before the spur of the moment; because
our moments go so domn fast out here mighty few of thim have time
to grow their spurs before they are gone. Here's where we turn.
Now, boys, they've been trying to get this biler across the
tracks here, and they've broke the ice. The water in this ditch
is three feet deep and freezing cold. They've stuck getting the
biler over, but I wonder if we can't cross on it, and hit the
wood beyond. Maybe we can walk it."

Jimmy set a foot on the ice-covered boiler, howled, and fell back
on the men behind him. "Jimminy crickets, we niver can do that!"
he yelled. "It's a glare of ice and roundin'. Let's crawl through
it! The rist of you can get through if I can. We'd better take
off our overcoats, to make us smaller. We can roll thim into a
bundle, and the last man can pull it through behind him."

Jimmy threw off his coat and entered the wrecked oil engine. He
knew how to hobble through on his toes, but the pleated coat of
the Boston man, who tried to pass through by stooping, got almost
all Jimmy had in store for it. Jimmy came out all right with a
shout. The Thread Man did not step half so far, and landed knee
deep in the icy oil-covered slush of the ditch. That threw him
off his balance, and Jimmy let him sink one arm in the pool, and
then grabbed him, and scooped oil on his back with the other hand
as he pulled. During the excitement and struggles of Jimmy and
the Thread Man, the rest of the party jumped the ditch and
gathered about, rubbing soot and oil on the Boston man, and he
did not see how they crossed.

Jimmy continued to rub oil and soot into the hated coat
industriously. The dogs leaped the ditch, and the instant they
struck the woods broke away baying over fresh tracks. The men
yelled like mad. Jimmy struggled into his overcoat, and helped
the almost insane Boston man into his and then they hurried after
the dogs.

The scent was so new and clear the dogs simply raged. The Thread
Man was wild, Jimmy was wilder, and the thirteen contributed all
they could for laughing. Dannie forgot to be ashamed of himself
and followed the example of the crowd. Deeper and deeper into the
wild, swampy Canoper led the chase. With a man on either side to
guide him into the deepest holes and to shove him into bushy
thickets, the skinned, soot-covered, oil-coated Boston man toiled
and sweated. He had no time to think, the excitement was so
intense. He scrambled out of each pitfall set for him, and
plunged into the next with such uncomplaining bravery that Dannie
very shortly grew ashamed, and crowding up beside him he took the
heavy gun and tried to protect him all he could without falling
under the eye of Jimmy, who was keeping close watch on the Boston
man.

Wild yelling told that the dogs had treed, and with shaking
fingers the Thread Man pulled off the big mittens he wore and
tried to lift the gun. Jimmy flashed a torch, and sure enough, in
the top of a medium hickory tree, the light was reflected in
streams from the big shining eyes of a coon. "Treed!" yelled
Jimmy frantically. "Treed! and big as an elephant. Company's
first shot. Here, Mister O'Khayam, here's a good place to stand.
Gee, what luck! Coon in sight first thing, and Mellen's food coon
at that! Shoot, Mister O'Khayam, shoot!"

The Thread Man lifted the wavering gun, but it was no use.

"Tell you what, Ruben," said Jimmy. "You are too tired to shoot
straight. Let's take a rist, and ate our lunch. Then we'll cut
down the tree and let the dogs get cooney. That way there won't
be any shot marks in his skin. What do you say? Is that a good
plan?"

They all said that was the proper course, so they built a fire,
and placed the Thread Man where he could see the gleaming eyes of
the frightened coon, and where all of them could feast on his
soot and oil-covered face. Then they opened the bag and passed
the sandwiches.

"I really am hungry," said the weary Thread Man, biting into his
with great relish. His jaws moved once or twice experimentally,
and then he lifted his handkerchief to his lips.

"I wish 'twas as big as me head," said Jimmy, taking a great
bite, and then he began to curse uproariously.

"What ails the things?" inquired Dannie, ejecting a mouthful. And
then all of them began to spit birdshot, and started an inquest
simultaneously. Jimmy raged. He swore some enemy had secured the
bag and mined the feast; but the boys who knew him laughed until
it seemed the Thread Man must suspect. He indignantly declared it
was a dirty trick. By the light of the fire he knelt and tried
to free one of the sandwiches from its sprinkling of birdshot, so
that it would be fit for poor Jimmy, who had worked so hard to
lead them there and tree the coon. For the first time Jimmy
looked thoughtful.

But the sight of the Thread Man was too much for him, and a
second later he was thrusting an ax into the hands accustomed to
handling a thread case. Then he led the way to the tree, and
began chopping at the green hickory. It was slow work, and soon
the perspiration streamed. Jimmy pulled off his coat and threw it
aside. He assisted the Thread Man out of his and tossed it behind
him. The coat alighted in the fire, and was badly scorched before
it was rescued. But the Thread Man was game. Fifty times that
night it had been said that he was to have the first coon, of
course he should work for it. So with the ax with which Casey
chopped ice for his refrigerator, the Boston man banged against
the hickory, and swore to himself because he could not make the
chips fly as Jimmy did.

"Iverybody clear out!" cried Jimmy. "Number one is coming down.
Get the coffee sack ready. Baste cooney over the head and shove
him in before the dogs tear the skin. We want a dandy big pelt
out of this!"

There was a crack, and the tree fell with a crash. All the Boston
man could see was that from a tumbled pile of branches, dogs, and
men, some one at last stepped back, gripping a sack, and cried:
"Got it all right, and it's a buster."

"Now for the other forty-nine!" shouted Jimmy, straining into his
coat.

"Come on, boys, we must secure a coon for every one," cried the
Thread Man, heartily as any member of the party might have said
it. But the rest of the boys suddenly grew tired. They did not
want any coons, and after some persuasion the party agreed to go
back to Casey's to warm up. The Thread Man got into his scorched,
besooted, oil-smeared coat, and the overcoat which had been
loaned him, and shouldered the gun. Jimmy hesitated. But Dannie
came up to the Boston man and said: "There's a place in my
shoulder that gun juist fits, and it's lonesome without it. Pass
it over." Only the sorely bruised and strained Thread Man knew
how glad he was to let it go.

It was Dannie, too, who whispered to the Thread Man to keep close
behind him; and when the party trudged back to Casey's it was so
surprising how much better he knew the way going back than Jimmy
had known it coming out, that the Thread Man did remark about it.
But Jimmy explained that after one had been out a few hours their
eyes became accustomed to the darkness and they could see better.
That was reasonable, for the Thread Man knew it was true in his
own experience.

So they got back to Casey's, and found a long table set, and a
steaming big oyster supper ready for them; and that explained the
Thread Man's conference with Mrs. Casey. He took the head of the
table, with his back to the wall, and placed Jimmy on his right
and Dannie on his left. Mrs. Casey had furnished soap and towels,
and at least part of the Boston man's face was clean. The oysters
were fine, and well cooked. The Thread Man recited more of the
wonderful poem for Dannie's benefit, and told jokes and stories.
They laughed until they were so weak they could only pound the
table to indicate how funny it was. And at the close, just as
they were making a movement to rise, Casey proposed that he bring
in the coon, and let all of them get a good look at their night's
work. The Thread Man applauded, and Casey brought in the bag and
shook it bottom up over the floor. Therefrom there issued a poor,
frightened, maltreated little pet coon of Mrs. Casey's, and it
dexterously ran up Casey's trouser leg and hid its nose in his
collar, its chain dragging behind. And that was so funny the boys
doubled over the table, and laughed and screamed until a sudden
movement brought them to their senses.

The Thread Man was on his feet, and his eyes were no laughing
matter. He gripped his chair back, and leaned toward Jimmy. "You
walked me into that cattle-guard on purpose!" he cried.

Silence.

"You led me into that boiler, and fixed the oil at the end!"

No answer.

"You mauled me all over the woods, and loaded those sandwiches
yourself, and sored me for a week trying to chop down a tree with
a pet coon chained in it! You----! You----! What had I done to
you?"

"You wouldn't drink with me, and I didn't like the domned, dinky,
little pleated coat you wore," answered Jimmy.

One instant amazement held sway on the Thread Man's face; the
next, "And damned if I like yours!" he cried, and catching up a
bowl half filled with broth he flung it squarely into Jimmy's
face.

Jimmy, with a great oath, sprang at the Boston man. But once in
his life Dannie was quick. For the only time on record he was
ahead of Jimmy, and he caught the uplifted fist in a grip that
Jimmy's use of whiskey and suffering from rheumatism had made his
master.

"Steady--Jimmy, wait a minute," panted Dannie. "This mon is na
even wi' ye yet. When every muscle in your body is strained, and
every inch of it bruised, and ye are daubed wi' soot, and
bedraggled in oil, and he's made ye the laughin' stock fra
strangers by the hour, ye will be juist even, and ready to talk
to him. Every minute of the nicht he's proved himself a mon, and
right now he's showed he's na coward. It's up to ye, Jimmy. Do it
royal. Be as much of a mon as he is. Say ye are sorry!"

One tense instant the two friends faced each other.

Then Jimmy's fist unclenched, and his arms dropped. Dannie
stepped back, trying to breathe lightly, and it was between Jimmy
and the Thread Man.

"I am sorry," said Jimmy. "I carried my objictions to your
wardrobe too far. If you'll let me, I'll clean you up. If you'll
take it, I'll raise you the price of a new coat, but I'll be domn
if I'll hilp put such a man as you are into another of the
fiminine ginder."

The Thread Man laughed, and shook Jimmy's hand; and then Jimmy
proved why every one liked him by turning to Dannie and taking
his hand. "Thank you, Dannie," he said. "You sure hilped me to
mesilf that time. If I'd hit him, I couldn't have hild up me head
in the morning."

Chapter IV

WHEN THE KINGFISHER AND THE BLACK BASS CAME HOME

"Crimminy, but you are slow." Jimmy made the statement, not as
one voices a newly discovered fact, but as one iterates a
time-worn truism. He sat on a girder of the Limberlost bridge,
and scraped the black muck from his boots in a little heap. Then
he twisted a stick into the top of his rat sack, preparatory to
his walk home. The ice had broken on the river, and now the
partners had to separate at the bridge, each following his own
line of traps to the last one, and return to the bridge so that
Jimmy could cross to reach home. Jimmy was always waiting, after
the river opened, and it was a remarkable fact to him that as
soon as the ice was gone his luck failed him. This evening the
bag at his feet proved by its bulk that it contained just about
one-half the rats Dannie carried.

"I must set my traps in my own way," answered Dannie calmly. "If
I stuck them into the water ony way and went on, so would the
rats. A trap is no a trap unless it is concealed."

"That's it! Go on and give me a sarmon!" urged Jimmy derisively.
"Who's got the bulk of the rats all winter? The truth is that my
side of the river is the best catching in the extrame cold, and
you get the most after the thaws begin to come. The rats seem to
have a lot of burrows and shift around among thim. One time I'm
ahead, and the nixt day they go to you: But it don't mane that
you are any better TRAPPER than I am. I only got siven to-night.
That's a sweet day's work for a whole man. Fifteen cints apace
for sivin rats. I've a big notion to cut the rat business, and
compete with Rocky in ile."

Dannie laughed. "Let's hurry home, and get the skinning over
before nicht," he said. "I think the days are growing a little
longer. I seem to scent spring in the air to-day."

Jimmy looked at Dannie's mud-covered, wet clothing, his blood-
stained mittens and coat back, and the dripping bag he had rested
on the bridge. "I've got some music in me head, and some action
in me feet," he said, "but I guess God forgot to put much
sintimint into me heart. The breath of spring niver got so strong
with me that I could smell it above a bag of muskrats and me
trappin' clothes."

He arose, swung his bag to his shoulder, and together they left
the bridge, and struck the road leading to Rainbow Bottom. It was
late February. The air was raw,and the walking heavy. Jimmy saw
little around him, and there was little Dannie did not see. To
him, his farm, the river, and the cabins in Rainbow Bottom meant
all there was of life, for all he loved on earth was there. But
loafing in town on rainy days, when Dannie sat with a book;
hearing the talk at Casey's, at the hotel, and on the streets,
had given Jimmy different views of life, and made his lot seem
paltry compared with that of men who had greater possessions. On
days when Jimmy's luck was bad, or when a fever of thirst burned
him, he usually discoursed on some sort of intangible experience
that men had, which he called "seeing life." His rat bag was
unusually light that night, and in a vague way he connected it
with the breaking up of the ice. When the river lay solid he
usually carried home just twice the rats Dannie had, and as he
had patronized Dannie all his life, it fretted Jimmy to be
behind even one day at the traps.

"Be Jasus, I get tired of this!" he said. "Always and foriver the
same thing. I kape goin' this trail so much that I've got a
speakin' acquaintance with meself. Some of these days I'm goin'
to take a trip, and have a little change. I'd like to see
Chicago, and as far west as the middle, anyway."

"Well, ye canna go," said Dannie. "Ye mind the time when ye were
married, and I thought I'd be best away, and packed my trunk?
When ye and Mary caught me, ye got mad as fire, and she cried,
and I had to stay. Just ye try going, and I'll get mad, and Mary
will cry, and ye will stay at home, juist like I did."

There was a fear deep in Dannie's soul that some day Jimmy would
fulfill this long-time threat of his. "I dinna think there is ony
place in all the world so guid as the place ye own," Dannie said
earnestly. "I dinna care a penny what anybody else has, probably
they have what they want. What _I_ want is the land that my
feyther owned before me, and the house that my mither kept. And
they'll have to show me the place they call Eden before I'll give
up that it beats Rainbow Bottom--Summer, Autumn, or Winter. I
dinna give twa hoops fra the palaces men rig up, or the thing
they call `landscape gardening'. When did men ever compete with
the work of God? All the men that have peopled the earth since
time began could have their brains rolled into one, and he would
stand helpless before the anatomy of one of the rats in these
bags. The thing God does is guid enough fra me."

"Why don't you take a short cut to the matin'-house?" inquired
Jimmy.

"Because I wad have nothing to say when I got there," retorted
Dannie. "I've a meetin'-house of my ain, and it juist suits me;
and I've a God, too, and whether He is spirit or essence, He
suits me. I dinna want to be held to sharper account than He
faces me up to, when I hold communion with mesel'. I dinna want
any better meetin'-house than Rainbow Bottom. I dinna care for
better talkin' than the `tongues in the trees'; sounder preachin'
than the `sermons in the stones'; finer readin' than the books in
the river; no, nor better music than the choir o' the birds, each
singin' in its ain way fit to burst its leetle throat about the
mate it won, the nest they built, and the babies they are
raising. That's what I call the music o' God, spontaneous, and
the soul o' joy. Give it me every time compared with notes frae a
book. And all the fine places that the wealth o' men ever evolved
winna begin to compare with the work o' God, and I've got that
around me every day."

"But I want to see life," wailed Jimmy.

"Then open your eyes, mon, fra the love o' mercy, open your eyes!
There's life sailing over your heid in that flock o' crows going
home fra the night. Why dinna ye, or some other mon, fly like
that? There's living roots, and seeds, and insects, and worms by
the million wherever ye are setting foot. Why dinna ye creep into
the earth and sleep through the winter, and renew your life with
the spring? The trouble with ye, Jimmy, is that ye've always
followed your heels. If ye'd stayed by the books, as I begged ye,
there now would be that in your heid that would teach ye that the
old story of the Rainbow is true. There is a pot of gold, of the
purest gold ever smelted, at its foot, and we've been born, and
own a good living richt there. An' the gold is there; that I
know, wealth to shame any bilious millionaire, and both of us
missing the pot when we hold the location. Ye've the first
chance, mon, fra in your life is the great prize mine will
forever lack. I canna get to the bottom of the pot, but I'm going
to come close to it as I can; and as for ye, empty it! Take it
all! It's yours! It's fra the mon who finds it, and we own the
location."

"Aha! We own the location," repeated Jimmy. "I should say we do!
Behold our hotbed of riches! I often lay awake nights thinkin'
about my attachmint to the place.

"How dear to me heart are the scanes of me childhood,
Fondly gaze on the cabin where I'm doomed to dwell,
Those chicken-coop, thim pig-pen, these highly piled-wood
Around which I've always raised Hell."

Jimmy turned in at his own gate, while Dannie passed to the
cabin beyond. He entered, set the dripping rat bag in a tub,
raked open the buried fire and threw on a log. He always ate at
Jimmy's when Jimmy was at home, so there was no supper to get. He
went out to the barn, wading mud ankle deep, fed and bedded his
horses, and then went over to Jimmy's barn, and completed his
work up to milking. Jimmy came out with the pail, and a very
large hole in the bottom of it was covered with dried dough.
Jimmy looked at it disapprovingly.

"I bought a new milk pail the other night. I know I did," he
said. "Mary was kicking for one a month ago, and I went after it
the night I met Ruben O'Khayam. Now what the nation did I do with
that pail?"

"I have wondered mysel'," answered Dannie, as he leaned over and
lifted a strange looking object from a barrel. "This is what ye
brought home, Jimmy."

Jimmy stared at the shining, battered, bullet-punctured pail in
amazement. Slowly he turned it over and around, and then he
lifted bewildered eyes to Dannie.

"Are you foolin'?" he asked. "Did I bring that thing home in that
shape?"

"Honest!" said Dannie.

"I remember buyin' it," said Jimmy slowly. "I remember hanging on
to it like grim death, for it was the wan excuse I had for goin',
but I don't just know how--!" Slowly he revolved the pail, and
then he rolled over in the hay and laughed until he was tired.
Then he sat up and wiped his eyes. "Great day! What a lot of fun
I must have had before I got that milk pail into that shape," he
said. "Domned if I don't go straight to town and buy another one;
yes, bedad! I'll buy two!"

In the meantime Dannie milked, fed and watered the cattle, and
Jimmy picked up the pail of milk and carried it to the house.
Dannie came by the wood pile and brought in a heavy load. Then
they washed, and sat down to supper.

"Seems to me you look unusually perky," said Jimmy to his wife.
"Had any good news?"

"Splendid!" said Mary. "I am so glad! And I don't belave you two
stupids know!"

"You niver can tell by lookin' at me what I know," said Jimmy.
"Whin I look the wisest I know the least. Whin I look like a
fool, I'm thinkin' like a philosopher."

"Give it up," said Dannie promptly. You would not catch him
knowing anything it would make Mary's eyes shine to tell.

"Sap is running!" announced Mary.

"The Divil you say!" cried Jimmy.

"It is!" beamed Mary. "It will be full in three days. Didn't you
notice how green the maples are? I took a little walk down to the
bottom to-day. I niver in all my life was so tired of winter, and
the first thing I saw was that wet look on the maples, and on the
low land, where they are sheltered and yet get the sun, several
of them are oozing!"

"Grand!" cried Dannie. "Jimmy, we must peel those rats in a
hurry, and then clean the spiles, and see how mony new ones we
will need. To-morrow we must come frae the traps early and look
up our troughs."

"Oh, for pity sake, don't pile up work enough to kill a horse,"
cried Jimmy. "Ain't you ever happy unless you are workin'?"

"Yes," said Dannie. "Sometimes I find a book that suits me, and
sometimes the fish bite, and sometimes it's in the air."

"Git the condinser" said Jimmy. "And that reminds me, Mary,
Dannie smelled spring in the air to-day."

"Well, what if he did?" questioned Mary. "I can always smell it.
A little later, when the sap begins to run in all the trees, and
the buds swell, and the ice breaks up, and the wild geese go
over, I always scent spring; and when the catkins bloom, then it
comes strong, and I just love it. Spring is my happiest time. I
have more news, too!"

"Don't spring so much at wance!" cried Jimmy, "you'll spoil my
appetite."

"I guess there's no danger," replied Mary.

"There is," said Jimmy. "At laste in the fore siction. `Appe' is
Frinch, and manes atin'. `Tite' is Irish, and manes drinkin'.
Appetite manes atin' and drinkin' togither. `Tite' manes drinkin'
without atin', see?"

"I was just goin' to mintion it meself," said Mary, "it's where
you come in strong. There's no danger of anybody spoilin' your
drinkin', if they could interfere with your atin'. You guess,
Dannie."

"The dominick hen is setting," ventured Dannie, and Mary's face
showed that he had blundered on the truth.

"She is," affirmed Mary, pouring the tea, "but it is real mane of
you to guess it, when I've so few new things to tell. She has
been setting two days, and she went over fifteen fresh eggs
to-day. In just twinty-one days I will have fiftane the
cunningest little chickens you ever saw, and there is more yet. I
found the nest of the gray goose, and there are three big eggs in
it, all buried in feathers. She must have stripped her breast
almost bare to cover them. And I'm the happiest I've been all
winter. I hate the long, lonely, shut-in time. I am going on a
delightful spree. I shall help boil down sugar-water and make
maple syrup. I shall set hins, and geese, and turkeys. I shall
make soap, and clane house, and plant seed, and all my flowers
will bloom again. Goody for summer; it can't come too soon to
suit me."

"Lord! I don't see what there is in any of those things," said
Jimmy. "I've got just one sign of spring that interests me. If
you want to see me caper, somebody mention to me the first rattle
of the Kingfisher. Whin he comes home, and house cleans in his
tunnel in the embankment, and takes possession of his stump in
the river, the nixt day the Black Bass locates in the deep water
below the shoals. THIN you can count me in. There is where
business begins for Jimmy boy. I am going to have that Bass this
summer, if I don't plant an acre of corn."

"I bet you that's the truth!" said Mary, so quickly that both men
laughed.

"Ahem!" said Dannie. "Then I will have to do my plowing by a
heidlicht, so I can fish as much as ye do in the day time. I
hereby make, enact, and enforce a law that neither of us is to
fish in the Bass hole when the other is not there to fish also.
That is the only fair way. I've as much richt to him as ye have."

"Of course!" said Mary. "That is a fair way. Make that a rule,
and kape it. If you both fish at once, it's got to be a fair
catch for the one that lands it; but whoever catches it, _I_
shall ate it, so it don't much matter to me."

"You ate it!" howled Jimnmy. "I guess not. Not a taste of that
fish, when he's teased me for years? He's as big as a whale. If
Jonah had had the good fortune of falling in the Wabash, and
being swallowed by the Black Bass, he could have ridden from Peru
to Terre Haute, and suffered no inconvanience makin' a landin'.
Siven pounds he'll weigh by the steelyard I'll wager you."

"Five, Jimmy, five," corrected Dannie.

"Siven!" shouted Jimmy. " Ain't I hooked him repeated? Ain't I
seen him broadside? I wonder if thim domn lines of mine have gone
and rotted."

He left his supper, carrying his chair, and standing on it he
began rummaging the top shelf of the cupboard for his box of
tackle. He knocked a bottle from the shelf, but caught it in
mid-air with a dexterous sweep.

"Spirits are movin'," cried Jimmy, as he restored the camphor to
its place. He carried the box to the window, and became so deeply
engrossed in its contents that he did not notice when Dannie
picked up his rat bag and told him to come on and help skin their
day's catch. Mary tried to send him, and he was going in a
minute, but the minute stretched and stretched, and both of them
were surprised when the door opened and Dannie entered with an
armload of spiles, and the rat-skinning was all over. So Jimmy
went on unwinding lines, and sharpening hooks, and talking fish;
while Dannie and Mary cleaned the spiles, and figured on how many
new elders must be cut and prepared for more on the morrow; and
planned the sugar making.

When it was bedtime, and Dannie had gone an Jimmy and Mary closed
their cabin for the night, Mary stepped to the window that looked
on Dannie's home to see if his light was burning. It was, and
clear in its rays stood Dannie, stripping yard after yard of fine
line through his fingers, and carefully examining it. Jimmy came
and stood beside her as she wondered.

"Why, the domn son of the Rainbow," he cried, "if he ain't
testing his fish lines!"

The next day Mary Malone was rejoicing when the men returned from
trapping, and gathering and cleaning the sugar-water troughs.
There had been a robin at the well.

"Kape your eye on, Mary" advised Jimmy. "If she ain't watched
close from this time on, she'll be settin' hins in snowdrifts,
and pouring biling water on the daffodils to sprout them."

On the first of March, five killdeers flew over in a flock, and a
half hour later one straggler crying piteously followed in their
wake.

"Oh, the mane things!" almost sobbed Mary. "Why don't they wait
for it?"

She stood by a big kettle of boiling syrup at the sugar camp,
almost helpless in Jimmy's boots and Dannie's great coat. Jimmy
cut and carried wood, and Dannie hauled sap. All the woods were
stirred by the smell of the curling smoke and the odor of the
boiling sap, fine as the fragrance of flowers. Bright-eyed deer
mice peeped at her from under old logs, the chickadees,
nuthatches, and jays started an investigating committee to learn
if anything interesting to them was occurring. One gayly-dressed
little sapsucker hammered a tree near by and scolded vigorously.

"Right you are!" said Mary. "It's a pity you're not big enough to
drive us from the woods, for into one kittle goes enough sap to
last you a lifetime."

The squirrels were sure it was an intrusion, and raced among the
branches overhead, barking loud defiance. At night the three rode
home on the sled, with the syrup jugs beside them, and Mary's
apron was filled with big green rolls of pungent woolly-dog moss.

Jimmy built the fires, Dannie fed the stock, and Mary cooked the
supper. When it was over, while the men warmed chilled feet and
fingers by the fire, Mary poured some syrup into a kettle, and
just as it "sugared off" she dipped streams of the amber
sweetness into cups of water. All of them ate it like big
children, and oh, but it was good! Two days more of the same work
ended sugar making, but for the next three days Dannie gathered
the rapidly diminishing sap for the vinegar barrel.

Then there were more hens ready to set, water must be poured
hourly into the ash hopper to start the flow of lye for soap
making, and the smoke house must be gotten ready to cure the hams
and pickled meats, so that they would keep during warm weather.
The bluebells were pushing through the sod in a race with the
Easter and star flowers. One morning Mary aroused Jimmy with a
pull at his arm.

"Jimmy, Jimmy," she cried. "Wake up!"

"Do you mane, wake up, or get up?" asked Jimmy sleepily.

"Both," cried Mary. "The larks are here!"

A little later Jimmy shouted from the back door to the barn:
"Dannie, do you hear the larks?"

"Ye bet I do," answered Dannie. "Heard ane goin' over in the
nicht. How long is it now till the Kingfisher comes?"

"Just a little while," said Jimmy. "If only these March storms
would let up 'stid of down! He can't come until he can fish, you
know. He's got to have crabs and minnies to live on."

A few days later the green hylas began to pipe in the swamps, the
bullfrogs drummed among the pools in the bottom, the doves cooed
in the thickets, and the breath of spring was in the nostrils of
all creation, for the wind was heavy with the pungent odor of
catkin pollen. The spring flowers were two inches high. The
peonies and rhubarb were pushing bright yellow and red cones
through the earth. The old gander, leading his flock along the
Wabash, had hailed passing flocks bound northward until he was
hoarse; and the Brahma rooster had threshed the yellow dorkin
until he took refuge under the pig pen, and dare not stick out
his unprotected head.

The doors had stood open at supper time, and Dannie staid up
late, mending and oiling the harness. Jimmy sat by cleaning his
gun, for to his mortification he had that day missed killing a
crow which stole from the ash hopper the egg with which Mary
tested the strength of the lye. In a basket behind the kitchen
stove fifteen newly hatched yellow chickens, with brown stripes
on their backs, were peeping and nestling; and on wing the
killdeers cried half the night. At two o'clock in the morning
came a tap on the Malone's bedroom window.

"Dannie?" questioned Mary, half startled.

"Tell Jimmy!" cried Dannie's breathless voice outside. "Tell him
the Kingfisher has juist struck the river!"

Jimmy sat straight up in bed.

"Then glory be!" he cried. "To-morrow the Black Bass comes home!"

Chapter V

WHEN THE RAINBOW SET ITS ARCH IN THE SKY

"Where did Jimmy go?" asked Mary.

Jimmy had been up in time to feed the chickens and carry in the
milk, but he disappeared shortly after breakfast.

Dannie almost blushed as he answered: "He went to take a peep at
the river. It's going down fast. When it gets into its regular
channel, spawning will be over and the fish will come back to
their old places. We figure that the Black Bass will be home
to-day."

"When you go digging for bait," said Mary, "I wonder if the two
of you could make it convanient to spade an onion bed. If I had
it spaded I could stick the sets mesilf."

"Now, that amna fair, Mary," said Dannie. "We never went fishing
till the garden was made, and the crops at least wouldna suffer.
We'll make the beds, of course, juist as soon as they can be
spaded, and plant the seed, too."

"I want to plant the seeds mesilf," said Mary.

"And we dinna want ye should," replied Dannie. "All we want ye to
do, is to boss."

"But I'm going to do the planting mesilf," Mary was emphatic. "It
will be good for me to be in the sunshine, and I do enjoy working
in the dirt, so that for a little while I'm happy."

"If ye want to put the onions in the highest place, I should
think I could spade ane bed now, and enough fra lettuce and
radishes."

Dannie went after a spade, and Mary Malone laughed softly as she
saw that he also carried an old tin can. He tested the earth in
several places, and then called to her: "All right, Mary! Ground
in prime shape. Turns up dry and mellow. We will have the garden
started in no time."

He had spaded but a minute when Mary saw him run past the window,
leap the fence, and go hurrying down the path to the river. She
went to the door. At the head of the lane stood Jimmy, waving his
hat, and the fresh morning air carried his cry clearly: "Gee,
Dannie! Come hear him splash!"

Just why that cry, and the sight of Dannie Macnoun racing toward
the river, his spade lying on the upturned earth of her scarcely
begun onion bed, should have made her angry, it would be hard to
explain. He had no tackle or bait, and reason easily could have
told her that he would return shortly, and finish anything she
wanted done; but when was a lonely, disappointed woman ever
reasonable?

She set the dish water on the stove, wiped her hands on her
apron, and walking to the garden, picked up the spade and began
turning great pieces of earth. She had never done rough farm
work, such as women all about her did; she had little exercise
during the long, cold winter, and the first half dozen spadefuls
tired her until the tears of self-pity rolled.

"I wish there was a turtle as big as a wash tub in the river" she
sobbed, "and I wish it would eat that old Black Bass to the last
scale. And I'm going to take the shotgun, and go over to the
embankment, and poke it into the tunnel, and blow the old
Kingfisher through into the cornfield. Then maybe Dannie won't go
off too and leave me. I want this onion bed spaded right away, so
I do."

"Drop that! Idjit! What you doing?" yelled Jimmy.

"Mary, ye goose!" panted Dannie, as he came hurrying across the
yard. "Wha' do ye mean? Ye knew I'd be back in a minute! Jimmy
juist called me to hear the Bass splash. I was comin' back. Mary,
this amna fair."

Dannie took the spade from her hand, and Mary fled sobbing to the
house.

"What's the row?" demanded Jimmy of the suffering Dannie.

"I'd juist started spadin' this onion bed," explained Dannie. "Of
course, she thought we were going to stay all day."

"With no poles, and no bait, and no grub? She didn't think any
such a domn thing," said Jimmy. "You don't know women! She just
got to the place where it's her time to spill brine, and raise a
rumpus about something, and aisy brathin' would start her. Just
let her bawl it out, and thin--we'll get something dacent for
dinner."

Dannie turned a spadeful of earth and broke it open, and Jimmy
squatted by the can, and began picking out the angle worms.

"I see where we dinna fish much this summer," said Dannie, as he
waited. "And where we fish close home when we do, and where all
the work is done before we go."

"Aha, borrow me rose-colored specks!" cried Jimmy. "I don't see
anything but what I've always seen. I'll come and go as I please,
and Mary can do the same. I don't throw no `jeminy fit' every
time a woman acts the fool a little, and if you'd lived with one
fiftane years you wouldn't either. Of course we'll make the
garden. Wish to goodness it was a beer garden! Wouldn't I like to
plant a lot of hop seed and see rows of little green beer bottles
humpin' up the dirt. Oh, my! What all does she want done?"

Dannie turned another spadeful of earth and studied the premises,
while Jimmy gathered the worms.

"Palins all on the fence?" asked Dannie.

"Yep," said Jimmy.

"Well, the yard is to be raked."

"Yep."

"The flooer beds spaded."

"Yep."

"Stones around the peonies, phlox, and hollyhocks raised and
manure worked in. All the trees must be pruned, the bushes and
vines trimmed, and the gooseberries, currants, and raspberries
thinned. The strawberry bed must be fixed up, and the rhubarb and
asparagus spaded around and manured. This whole garden must be
made----"

"And the road swept, and the gate sandpapered, and the barn
whitewashed! Return to grazing, Nebuchadnezzar," said Jimmy. "We
do what's raisonable, and then we go fishin'. See?"

Three beds spaded, squared, and ready for seeding lay in the warm
spring sunshine before noon. Jimmy raked the yard, and Dannie
trimmed the gooseberries. Then he wheeled a barrel of swamp loam
for a flower bed by the cabin wall, and listened intently between
each shovelful he threw. He could not hear a sound. What was
more, he could not bear it. He went to Jimmy.

"Say, Jimmy," he said. "Dinna ye have to gae in fra a drink?"

"House or town?" inquired Jimmy sweetly.

"The house!" exploded Dannie. "I dinna hear a sound yet. Ye gae
in fra a drink, and tell Mary I want to know where she'd like the
new flooer bed she's been talking about."

Jimmy leaned the rake against a tree, and started.

"And Jimmy," said Dannie. "If she's quit crying, ask her what was
the matter. I want to know."

Jimmy vanished. Presently he passed Dannie where he worked.

"Come on," whispered Jimmy.

The bewildered Dannie followed. Jimmy passed the wood pile, and
pig pen, and slunk around behind the barn, where he leaned
against the logs and held his sides. Dannie stared at him.

"She says," wheezed Jimmy, "that she guesses SHE wanted to go and
hear the Bass splash, too!"

Dannie's mouth fell open, and then closed with a snap.

"Us fra the fool killer!" he said. "Ye dinna let her see ye
laugh?"

"Let her see me laugh!" cried Jimmy. "Let her see me laugh! I
told her she wasn't to go for a few days yet, because we were
sawin' the Kingfisher's stump up into a rustic sate for her, and
we were goin' to carry her out to it, and she was to sit there
and sew, and umpire the fishin', and whichiver bait she told the
Bass to take, that one of us would be gettin' it. And she was
pleased as anything, me lad, and now it's up to us to rig up some
sort of a dacint sate, and tag a woman along half the time. You
thick-tongued descindint of a bagpipe baboon, what did you sind
me in there for?"

"Maybe a little of it will tire her," groaned Dannie.

"It will if she undertakes to follow me," Jimmy said. "I know
where horse-weeds grow giraffe high."

Then they went back to work, and presently many savory odors
began to steal from the cabin. Whereat Jimmy looked at Dannie,
and winked an `I-told-you-so' wink. A garden grows fast under the
hands of two strong men really working, and by the time the first
slice of sugar-cured ham from the smoke house for that season
struck the sizzling skillet, and Mary very meekly called from the
back door to know if one of them wanted to dig a little horse
radish, the garden was almost ready for planting. Then they went
into the cabin and ate fragrant, thick slices of juicy fried ham,
seasoned with horse radish; fried eggs, freckled with the ham fat
in which they were cooked; fluffy mashed potatoes, with a little
well of melted butter in the center of the mound overflowing the
sides; raisin pie, soda biscuit, and their own maple syrup.

"Ohumahoh!" said Jimmy. "I don't know as I hanker for city life
so much as I sometimes think I do. What do you suppose the
adulterated stuff we read about in papers tastes like?"

"I've often wondered," answered Dannie. "Look at some of the hogs
and cattle that we see shipped from here to city markets. The
folks that sell them would starve before they'd eat a bit o'
them, yet somebody eats them, and what do ye suppose maple syrup
made from hickory bark and brown sugar tastes like?"

"And cold-storage eggs, and cotton-seed butter, and even horse
radish half turnip," added Mary. "Bate up the cream a little
before you put it in your coffee, or it will be in lumps. Whin
the cattle are on clover it raises so thick."

Jimmy speared a piece of salt-rising bread crust soaked in ham
gravy made with cream, and said: "I wish I could bring that Thrid
Man home with me to one meal of the real thing nixt time he
strikes town. I belave he would injoy it. May I, Mary?"

Mary's face flushed slightly. "Depends on whin he comes, she
said. "Of course, if I am cleaning house, or busy with something
I can't put off----"

"Sure!" cried Jimmy. "I'd ask you before I brought him, because
I'd want him to have something spicial. Some of this ham, and
horse radish, and maple syrup to begin with, and thin your fried
spring chicken and your stewed squirrel is a drame, Mary. Nobody
iver makes turtle soup half so rich as yours, and your green peas
in cream, and asparagus on toast is a rivilation--don't you
rimimber 'twas Father Michael that said it? I ought to be able to
find mushrooms in a few weeks, and I can taste your rhubarb pie
over from last year. Gee! But I wish he'd come in strawberrying!
Berries from the vines, butter in the crust, crame you have to
bate to make it smooth--talk about shortcake!"

"What's wrong wi' cherry cobbler?" asked Dannie.

"Or blackberry pie?"

"Or greens cooked wi' bacon?"

"Or chicken pie?"

"Or catfish, rolled in cornmeal and fried in ham fat?"

"Or guineas stewed in cream, with hard-boiled eggs in the gravy?"

"Oh, stop!" cried the delighted Mary. "It makes me dead tired
thinkin' how I'll iver be cookin' all you'll want. Sure, have him
come, and both of you can pick out the things you like the best,
and I'll fix thim for him. Pure, fresh stuff might be a trate to
a city man. When Dolan took sister Katie to New York with him,
his boss sent them to a five-dollar-a-day house, and they thought
they was some up. By the third day poor Katie was cryin' for a
square male. She couldn't touch the butter, the eggs made her
sick, and the cold-storage meat and chicken never got nearer her
stomach than her nose. So she just ate fish, because they were
fresh, and she ate, and she ate, till if you mintion New York to
poor Katie she turns pale, and tastes fish. She vows and declares
that she feeds her chickens and hogs better food twice a day than
people fed her in New York."

"I'll bet my new milk pail the grub we eat ivery day would be a
trate that would raise him," said Jimmy. "Provided his taste
ain't so depraved with saltpeter and chalk he don't know fresh,
pure food whin he tastes it. I understand some of the victims
really don't."

"Your new milk pail?" questioned Mary.

"That's what!" said Jimmy." The next time I go to town I'm goin'
to get you two."

"But I only need one," protested Mary. "Instead of two, get me a
new dishpan. Mine leaks, and smears the stove and table."

"Be Gorry!" sighed Jimmy. "There goes me tongue, lettin' me in
for it again. I'll look over the skins, and if any of thim are
ripe, I'll get you a milk pail and a dishpan the nixt time I go
to town. And, by gee! If that dandy big coon hide I got last fall
looks good, I'm going to comb it up, and work the skin fine, and
send it to the Thrid Man, with me complimints. I don't feel right
about him yet. Wonder what his name railly is, and where he
lives, or whether I killed him complate."

"Any dry goods man in town can tell ye," said Dannie.

"Ask the clerk in the hotel," suggested Mary.

"You've said it," cried Jimmy. "That's the stuff! And I can find
out whin he will be here again."

Two hours more they faithfully worked on the garden, and then
Jimmy began to grow restless.

"Ah, go on!" cried Mary. "You have done all that is needed just
now, and more too. There won't any fish bite to-day, but you can
have the pleasure of stringin' thim poor sufferin' worms on a
hook and soaking thim in the river."

"`Sufferin' worms!' Sufferin' Job!" cried Jimmy. "What nixt? Go
on, Dannie, get your pole!"

Dannie went. As he came back Jimmy was sprinkling a thin layer of
earth over the bait in the can. "Why not come along, Mary?" he
suggested.

"I'm not done planting my seeds," she answered. "I'll be tired
when I am, and I thought that place wasn't fixed for me yet."

"We can't fix that till a little later," said Jimmy. "We can't
tell where it's going to be grassy and shady yet, and the wood is
too wet to fix a sate."

"Any kind of a sate will do," said Mary. "I guess you better not
try to make one out of the Kingfisher stump. If you take it out
it may change the pool and drive away the Bass."

"Sure!" cried Jimmy. "What a head you've got! We'll have to find
some other stump for a sate."

"I don't want to go until it gets dry under foot, and warmer"
said Mary. "You boys go on. I'll till you whin I am riddy to go."

"There!" said Jimmy, when well on the way to the river. "What did
I tell you? Won't go if she has the chance! Jist wants to be
ASKED."

"I dinna pretend to know women," said Dannie gravely. "But
whatever Mary does is all richt with me."

"So I've obsarved," remarked Jimmy. "Now, how will we get at this
fishin' to be parfectly fair?"

"Tell ye what I think," said Dannie. "I think we ought to pick
out the twa best places about the Black Bass pool, and ye take
ane fra yours and I'll take the ither fra mine, and then we'll
each fish from his own place."

"Nothing fair about that," answered Jimmy. "You might just happen
to strike the bed where he lays most, and be gettin' bites all
the time, and me none; or I might strike it and you be left out.
And thin there's days whin the wind has to do, and the light. We
ought to change places ivery hour."

"There's nothing fair in that either," broke in Dannie. "I might
have him tolled up to my place, and juist be feedin' him my bait,
and here you'd come along and prove by your watch that my time
was up, and take him when I had him all ready to bite."

"That's so for you!" hurried in Jimmy. "I'll be hanged if I'd
leave a place by the watch whin I had a strike!"

"Me either," said Dannie. "'Tis past human nature to ask it. I'll
tell ye what we'll do. We'll go to work and rig up a sort of a
bridge where it's so narrow and shallow, juist above Kingfisher
shoals, and then we'll toss up fra sides. Then each will keep to
his side. With a decent pole either of us can throw across the
pool, and both of us can fish as we please. Then each fellow can
pick his bait, and cast or fish deep as he thinks best. What d'ye
say to that?"

"I don't see how anything could be fairer than that," said Jimmy.
"I don't want to fish for anything but the Bass. I'm goin' back
and get our rubber boots, and you be rollin' logs, and we'll
build that crossing right now."

"All richt," said Dannie.

So they laid aside their poles and tackle, and Dannie rolled logs
and gathered material for the bridge, while Jimmy went back after
their boots. Then both of them entered the water and began
clearing away drift and laying the foundations. As the first log
of the crossing lifted above the water Dannie paused.

"How about the Kingfisher?" he asked. "Winna this scare him
away?"

"Not if he ain't a domn fool," said Jimmy; "and if he is, let him
go!"

"Seems like the river would no be juist richt without him," said
Dannie, breaking off a spice limb and nibbling the fragrant buds.
"Let's only use what we bare need to get across. And where will
we fix fra Mary?"

"Oh, git out!" said Jimmy. "I ain't goin' to fool with that."

"Well, we best fix a place. Then we can tell her we fixed it, and
it's all ready."

"Sure!" cried Jimmy. "You are catchin' it from your neighbor.
Till her a place is all fixed and watin', and you couldn't drag
her here with a team of oxen. Till her you are GOING to fix it
soon, and she'll come to see if you've done it, if she has to be
carried on a stritcher."

So they selected a spot that they thought would be all right for
Mary, and not close enough to disturb the Bass and the
Kingfisher, rolled two logs, and fished a board that had been
carried by a freshet from the water and laid it across them, and
decided that would have to serve until they could do better.

Then they sat astride the board, Dannie drew out a coin, and they
tossed it to see which was heads and tails. Dannie won heads.
Then they tossed to see which bank was heads or tails, and the
right, which was on Rainbow side, came heads. So Jimmy was to use
the bridge. Then they went home, and began the night work. The
first thing Jimmy espied was the barrel containing the milk pail.
He fished out the pail, and while Dannie fed the stock, shoveled
manure, and milked, Jimmy pounded out the dents, closed the
bullet holes, emptied the bait into it, half filled it with
mellow earth, and went to Mary for some corn meal to sprinkle on
the top to feed the worms.

At four o'clock the next morning, Dannie was up feeding, milking,
scraping plows, and setting bolts. After breakfast they piled
their implements on a mudboat, which Dannie drove, while Jimmy
rode one of his team, and led the other, and opened the gates.
They began on Dannie's field, because it was closest, and for the
next two weeks, unless it were too rainy to work, they plowed,
harrowed, lined off, and planted the seed.

The blackbirds followed along the furrows picking up grubs, the
crows cawed from high tree tops, the bluebirds twittered about
hollow stumps and fence rails, the wood thrushes sang out their
souls in the thickets across the river, and the King Cardinal of
Rainbow Bottom whistled to split his throat from the giant
sycamore. Tender greens were showing along the river and in the
fields, and the purple of red-bud mingled with the white of wild
plum all along the Wabash.

The sunny side of the hill that sloped down to Rainbow Bottom was
a mass of spring beauties, anemones, and violets; thread-like
ramps rose rank to the scent among them, and round ginger leaves
were thrusting their folded heads through the mold. The
Kingfisher was cleaning his house and fishing from his favorite
stump in the river, while near him, at the fall of every luckless
worm that missed its hold on a blossom-whitened thorn tree, came
the splash of the great Black Bass. Every morning the Bass took a
trip around Horseshoe Bend food hunting, and the small fry raced
for life before his big, shear-like jaws. During the heat of noon
he lay in the deep pool below the stump, and rested; but when
evening came he set out in search of supper, and frequently he
felt so good that he leaped clear of the water, and fell back
with a splash that threw shining spray about him, or lashed out
with his tail and sent widening circles of waves rolling from his
lurking place. Then the Kingfisher rattled with all his might,
and flew for the tunnel in the embankment.

Some of these days the air was still, the earth warmed in the
golden sunshine, and murmured a low song of sleepy content. Some
days the wind raised, whirling dead leaves before it, and
covering the earth with drifts of plum, cherry, and apple bloom,
like late falling snow. Then great black clouds came sweeping
across the sky, and massed above Rainbow Bottom. The lightning
flashed as if the heavens were being cracked open, and the
rolling thunder sent terror to the hearts of man and beast. When
the birds flew for shelter, Dannie and Jimmy unhitched their
horses, and raced for the stables to escape the storm, and to be
with Mary, whom electricity made nervous.

They would sit on the little front porch, and watch the greedy
earth drink the downpour. They could almost see the grass and
flowers grow. When the clouds scattered, the thunder grew
fainter; and the sun shone again between light sprinkles of rain.
Then a great, glittering rainbow set its arch in the sky, and it
planted one of its feet in Horseshoe Bend, and the other so far
away they could not even guess where.

If it rained lightly, in a little while Dannie and Jimmy could go
back to their work afield. If the downpour was heavy, and made
plowing impossible, they pulled weeds, and hoed in the garden.
Dannie discoursed on the wholesome freshness of the earth, and
Jimmy ever waited a chance to twist his words, and ring in a
laugh on him. He usually found it. Sometimes, after a rain, they
took their bait cans, and rods, and went down to the river to
fish.

If one could not go, the other religiously refrained from casting
bait into the pool where the Black Bass lay. Once, when they were
fishing together, the Bass rose to a white moth, skittered over
the surface by Dannie late in the evening, and twice Jimmy had
strikes which he averred had taken the arm almost off him, but
neither really had the Bass on his hook. They kept to their own
land, and fished when they pleased, for game laws and wardens
were unknown to them.

Truth to tell, neither of them really hoped to get the Bass
before fall. The water was too high in the spring. Minnows were
plentiful, and as Jimmy said, "It seemed as if the domn plum tree
just rained caterpillars." So they bided their time, and the
signs prohibiting trespass on all sides of their land were many
and emphatic, and Mary had instructions to ring the dinner bell
if she caught sight of any strangers.

The days grew longer, and the sun was insistent. Untold miles
they trudged back and forth across their land, guiding their
horses, jerked about with plows, their feet weighted with the
damp, clinging earth, and their clothing pasted to their wet
bodies. Jimmy was growing restless. Never in all his life had he
worked so faithfully as that spring, and never had his visits to
Casey's so told on him. No matter where they started, or how hard
they worked, Dannie was across the middle of the field, and
helping Jimmy before the finish. It was always Dannie who plowed
on, while Jimmy rode to town for the missing bolt or buckle, and
he generally rolled from his horse into a fence corner, and
slept the remainder of the day on his return.

The work and heat were beginning to tire him, and his trips to
Casey's had been much less frequent than he desired. He grew to
feel that between them Dannie and Mary were driving him, and a
desire to balk at slight cause, gathered in his breast. He
deliberately tied his team in a fence corner, lay down, and fell
asleep. The clanging of the supper bell aroused him. He opened
his eyes, and as he rose, found that Dannie had been to the barn,
and brought a horse blanket to cover him. Well as he knew
anything, Jimmy knew that he had no business sleeping in fence
corners so early in the season. With candor he would have
admitted to himself that a part of his brittle temper came from
aching bones and rheumatic twinges. Some way, the sight of Dannie
swinging across the field, looking as fresh as in the early
morning, and the fact that he had carried a blanket to cover him,
and the further fact that he was wild for drink, and could think
of no excuse on earth for going to town, brought him to a
fighting crisis.

Dannie turned his horses at Jimmy's feet.

"Come on, Jimmy, supper bell has rung," he cried. "We mustn't
keep Mary waiting. She wants us to help her plant the sweet
potatoes to-nicht."

Jimmy rose, and his joints almost creaked. The pain angered him.
He leaned forward and glared at Dannie.

"Is there one minute of the day whin you ain't thinkin' about my
wife?" he demanded, oh, so slowly, and so ugly!

Dannie met his hateful gaze squarely. "Na a minute," he answered,
"excepting when I am thinking about ye."

"The Hell you say!" exploded the astonished Jimmy.

Dannie stepped out of the furrow, and came closer. "See here,
Jimmy Malone," he said. "Ye ain't forgot the nicht when I told ye
I loved Mary, with all my heart, and that I'd never love another
woman. I sent ye to tell her fra me, and to ask if I might come
to her. And ye brought me her answer. It's na your fault that she
preferred ye. Everybody did. But it IS your fault that I've
stayed on here. I tried to go, and ye wouldna let me. So for
fifteen years, ye have lain with the woman I love, and I have
lain alone in a few rods of ye. If that ain't Man-Hell, try some
other on me, and see if it will touch me! I sent ye to tell her
that I loved her; have I ever sent ye to tell her that I've quit?
I should think you'd know, by this time, that I'm na quitter.
Love her! Why, I love her till I can see her standin' plain
before me, when I know she's a mile away. Love her! Why, I can
smell her any place I am, sweeter than any flower I ever held to
my face. Love her! Till the day I dee I'll love her. But it ain't
any fault of yours, and if ye've come to the place where I worry
ye, that's the place where I go, as I wanted to on the same day
ye brought Mary to Rainbow Bottom."

Jimmy's gray jaws fell open. Jimmy's sullen eyes cleared. He
caught Dannie by the arm.

"For the love of Hivin, what did I say, Dannie?" he panted. "I
must have been half asleep. Go! You go! You leave Rainbow Bottom!
Thin, by God, I go too! I won't stay here without you, not a day.
If I had to take my choice between you, I'd give up Mary before
I'd give up the best frind I iver had. Go! I guess not, unless I
go with you! She can go to----"

"Jimmy! Jimmy!" cautioned Dannie.

"I mane ivery domn word of it," said Jimmy. "I think more of you,
than I iver did of any woman."

Dannie drew a deep breath. "Then why in the name of God did ye
SAY that thing to me? I have na betrayed your trust in me, not
ever, Jimmy, and ye know it. What's the matter with ye?"

Jimmy heaved a deep sigh, and rubbed his hands across his hot,
angry face. "Oh, I'm just so domn sore!" he said. "Some days I
get about wild. Things haven't come out like I thought they
would."

"Jimmy, if ye are in trouble, why do ye na tell me? Canna I help
ye? Have'nt I always helped ye if I could?"

"Yes, you have," said Jimmy. "Always, been a thousand times too
good to me. But you can't help here. I'm up agin it alone, but
put this in your pipe, and smoke it good and brown, if you go, I
go. I don't stay here without you."

"Then it's up to ye na to make it impossible for me to stay,"
said Dannie. "After this, I'll try to be carefu'. I've had no
guard on my lips. I've said whatever came into my heid."

The supper bell clanged sharply a second time.

"That manes more Hivin on the Wabash," said Jimmy. "Wish I had a
bracer before I face it."

"How long has it been, Jimmy?" asked Dannie.

"Etarnity!" replied Jimmy briefly.

Dannie stood thinking, and then light broke. Jimmy was always
short of money in summer. When trapping was over, and before any
crops were ready, he was usually out of funds. Dannie hesitated,
and then he said, "Would a small loan be what ye need, Jimmy?"

Jimmy's eyes gleamed. "It would put new life into me," he cried.
"Forgive me, Dannie. I am almost crazy."

Dannie handed over a coin, and after supper Jimmy went to town.
Then Dannie saw his mistake. He had purchased peace for himself,
but what about Mary?

Chapter VI

THE HEART OF MARY MALONE

"This is the job that was done with the reaper,
If we hustle we can do it ourselves,
Thus securing to us a little cheaper,
The bread and pie upon our pantry shelves.

Eat this wheat, by and by,
On this beautiful Wabash shore,
Drink this rye, by and by,
Eat and drink on this beautiful shore."

So sang Jimmy as he drove through the wheat, oats and rye
accompanied by the clacking machinery. Dannie stopped stacking
sheaves to mop his warm, perspiring face and to listen. Jimmy
always with an eye to the effect he was producing immediately
broke into wilder parody:

"Drive this mower, a little slower,
On this beautiful Wabash shore,
Cuttin' wheat to buy our meat,
Cuttin' oats, to buy our coats,
Also pants, if we get the chance.

By and by, we'll cut the rye,
But I bet my hat I drink that, I drink that.
Drive this mower a little slower,
In this wheat, in this wheat, by and by."

The larks scolded, fluttering over head, for at times the reaper
overtook their belated broods. The bobolinks danced and chattered
on stumps and fences, in an agony of suspense, when their nests
were approached, and cried pitifully if they were destroyed. The
chewinks flashed from the ground to the fences and trees, and
back, crying "Che-wink?" "Che-wee!" to each other, in such
excitement that they appeared to be in danger of flirting off
their long tails. The quail ran about the shorn fields, and
excitedly called from fence riders to draw their flocks into the
security of Rainbow Bottom.

Frightened hares bounded through the wheat, and if the cruel
blade sheared into their nests, Dannie gathered the wounded and
helpless of the scattered broods in his hat, and carried them to
Mary.

Then came threshing, which was a busy time, but after that,
through the long hot days of late July and August, there was
little to do afield, and fishing was impossible. Dannie grubbed
fence corners, mended fences, chopped and corded wood for winter,
and in spare time read his books. For the most part Jimmy kept
close to Dannie. Jimmy's temper never had been so variable.
Dannie was greatly troubled, for despite Jimmy's protests of
devotion, he flared at a word, and sometimes at no word at all.
The only thing in which he really seemed interested was the coon
skin he was dressing to send to Boston. Over that he worked by
the hour, sometimes with earnest face, and sometimes he raised
his head, and let out a whoop that almost frightened Mary. At
such times he was sure to go on and give her some new detail of
the hunt for the fifty coons, that he had forgotten to tell her
before.

He had been to the hotel, and learned the Thread Man's name and
address, and found that he did not come regularly, and no one
knew when to expect him; so when he had combed and brushed the
fur to its finest point, and worked the skin until it was velvet
soft, and bleached it until it was muslin white, he made it into
a neat package and sent it with his compliments to the Boston
man. After he had waited for a week, he began going to town every
day to the post office for the letter he expected, and coming
home much worse for a visit to Casey's. Since plowing time he had
asked Dannie for money as he wanted it, telling him to keep an
account, and he would pay him in the fall. He seemed to forget or
not to know how fast his bills grew.

Then came a week in August when the heat invaded even the cool
retreat along the river. Out on the highway passing wheels rolled
back the dust like water, and raised it in clouds after them. The
rag weeds hung wilted heads along the road. The goldenrod and
purple ironwort were dust-colored and dust-choked. The trees were
thirsty, and their leaves shriveling. The river bed was bare its
width in places, and while the Kingfisher made merry with his
family, and rattled, feasting from Abram Johnson's to the
Gar-hole, the Black Bass sought its deep pool, and lay still. It
was a rare thing to hear it splash in those days.

The prickly heat burned until the souls of men were tried. Mary
slipped listlessly about or lay much of the time on a couch
beside a window, where a breath of air stirred. Despite the good
beginning he had made in the spring, Jimmy slumped with the heat
and exposures he had risked, and was hard to live with.

Dannie was not having a good time himself. Since Jimmy's wedding,
life had been all grind to Dannie, but he kept his reason,
accepted his lot, and ground his grist with patience and such
cheer as few men could have summoned to the aid of so poor a
cause. Had there been any one to notice it, Dannie was tired and
heat-ridden also, but as always, Dannie sank self, and labored
uncomplainingly with Jimmy's problems. On a burning August
morning Dannie went to breakfast, and found Mary white and
nervous, little prepared to eat, and no sign of Jimmy.

"Jimmy sleeping?" he asked.

"I don't know where Jimmy is," Mary answered coldly.

"Since when?" asked Dannie, gulping coffee, and taking hasty
bites, for he had begun his breakfast supposing that Jimmy would
come presently.

"He left as soon as you went home last night," she said, "and he
has not come back yet."

Dannie did not know what to say. Loyal to the bone to Jimmy,
loving each hair on the head of Mary Malone, and she worn and
neglected; the problem was heartbreaking in any solution he
attempted, and he felt none too well himself. He arose hastily,
muttering something about getting the work done. He brought in
wood and water, and asked if there was anything more he could do.

"Sure!" said Mary, in a calm, even voice. "Go to the barn, and
shovel manure for Jimmy Malone, and do all the work he shirks,
before you do anything for yoursilf."

Dannie always had admitted that he did not understand women, but
he understood a plain danger signal, and he almost ran from the
cabin. In the fear that Mary might think he had heeded her hasty
words, he went to his own barn first, just to show her that he
did not do Jimmy's work. The flies and mosquitoes were so bad he
kept his horses stabled through the day, and turned them to
pasture at night. So their stalls were to be cleaned, and he set
to work. When he had finished his own barn, as he had nothing
else to do, he went on to Jimmy's. He had finished the stalls,
and was sweeping when he heard a sound at the back door, and
turning saw Jimmy clinging to the casing, unable to stand
longer. Dannie sprang to him, and helped him inside. Jimmy sank
to the floor. Dannie caught up several empty grain sacks, folded
them, and pushed them under Jimmy's head for a pillow.

"Dannish, didsh shay y'r nash'nal flowerish wash shisle?" asked
Jimmy.

"Yes," said Dannie, lifting the heavy auburn head to smooth the
folds from the sacks.

"Whysh like me?"

"I dinna," answered Dannie wearily.

"Awful jagsh on," murmured Jimmy, sighed heavily, and was off.
His clothing was torn and dust-covered, his face was purple and
bloated, and his hair was dusty and disordered. He was a
repulsive sight. As Dannie straightened Jimmy's limbs he thought
he heard a step. He lifted his head and leaned forward to listen.

"Dannie Micnoun?" called the same even, cold voice he had heard
at breakfast. "Have you left me, too?"

Dannie sprang for a manger. He caught a great armload of hay, and
threw it over Jimmy. He gave one hurried toss to scatter it, for
Mary was in the barn. As he turned to interpose his body between
her and the manger, which partially screened Jimmy, his heart
sickened. He was too late. She had seen. Frightened to the soul,
he stared at her. She came a step closer, and with her foot gave
a hand of Jimmy's that lay exposed a contemptuous shove.

"You didn't get him complately covered," she said. "How long have
you had him here?"

Dannie was frightened into speech. "Na a minute, Mary; he juist
came in when I heard ye. I was trying to spare ye."

"Him, you mane," she said, in that same strange voice. "I suppose
you give him money, and he has a bottle, and he's been here all
night."

"Mary," said Dannie, "that's na true. I have furnished him money.
He'd mortgage the farm, or do something worse if I didna; but I
dinna WHERE he has been all nicht, and in trying to cover him, my
only thought was to save ye pain."

"And whin you let him spind money you know you'll never get back,
and loaf while you do his work, and when you lie mountain high,
times without number, who is it for?"

Then fifteen years' restraint slid from Dannie like a cloak, and
in the torture of his soul his slow tongue outran all its
previous history.

"Ye!" he shouted. "It's fra Jimmy, too, but ye first. Always ye
first!" Mary began to tremble. Her white cheeks burned red. Her
figure straightened, and her hands clenched.

"On the cross! Will you swear it?" she cried.

"On the sacred body of Jesus Himself, if I could face Him,"
answered Dannie. "anything! Everything is fra ye first, Mary!"

"Then why?" she panted between gasps for breath. "Tell me why? If
you have cared for me enough to stay here all these years and see
that I had the bist tratemint you could get for me, why didn't
you care for me enough more to save me this? Oh, Dannie, tell me
why?"

And then she shook with strangled sobs until she scarce could
stand alone. Dannie Macnoun cleared the space between them and
took her in his arms. Her trembling hands clung to him, her head
dropped on his breast, and the perfume of her hair in his
nostrils drove him mad. Then the tense bulk of her body struck
against him, and horror filled his soul. One second he held her,
the next, Jimmy smothering under the hay, threw up an arm, and
called like a petulant child, "Dannie! Make shun quit shinish my
fashe!"

And Dannie awoke to the realization that Mary was another man's,
and that man, one who trusted him completely. The problem was so
much too big for poor Dannie that reason kindly slipped a cog. He
broke from the grasp of the woman, fled through the back door,
and took to the woods.

He ran as if fiends were after him, and he ran and ran. And when
he could run no longer, he walked, but he went on. Just on and
on. He crossed forests and fields, orchards and highways, streams
and rivers, deep woods and swamps, and on, and on he went. He
felt nothing, and saw nothing, and thought nothing, save to go
on, always on. In the dark he stumbled on and through the day he
staggered on, and he stopped for nothing, save at times to lift
water to his parched lips.

The bushes took his hat, the thorns ripped his shirt, the water
soaked his shoes and they spread and his feet came through and
the stones cut them until they bled. Leaves and twigs stuck in
his hair, and his eyes grew bloodshot, his lips and tongue
swollen, and when he could go no further on his feet, he crawled
on his knees, until at last he pitched forward on his face and
lay still. The tumult was over and Mother Nature set to work to
see about repairing damages.

Dannie was so badly damaged, soul, heart, and body, that she
never would have been equal to the task, but another woman
happened that way and she helped. Dannie was carried to a house
and a doctor dressed his hurts. When the physician got down to
first principles, and found a big, white-bodied, fine-faced
Scotchman in the heart of the wreck, he was amazed. A wild man,
but not a whiskey bloat. A crazy man, but not a maniac. He stood
long beside Dannie as he lay unconscious.

"I'll take oath that man has wronged no one," he said. "What in
the name of God has some woman been doing to him?"

He took money from Dannie's wallet and bought clothing to replace
the rags he had burned. He filled Dannie with nourishment, and
told the woman who found him that when he awoke, if he did not
remember, to tell him that his name was Dannie Macnoun, and that
he lived in Rainbow Bottom, Adams County. Because just at that
time Dannie was halfway across the state.

A day later he awoke, in a strange room and among strange faces.
He took up life exactly where he left off. And in his ears, as he
remembered his flight, rang the awful cry uttered by Mary Malone,
and not until then did there come to Dannie the realization that
she had been driven to seek him for help, because her woman's
hour was upon her. Cold fear froze Dannie's soul.

He went back by railway and walked the train most of the way. He
dropped from the cars at the water tank and struck across
country, and again he ran. But this time it was no headlong
flight. Straight as a homing bird went Dannie with all speed,
toward the foot of the Rainbow and Mary Malone.

The Kingfisher sped rattling down the river when Dannie came
crashing along the bank.

"Oh, God, let her be alive!" prayed Dannie as he leaned panting
against a tree for an instant, because he was very close now and
sickeningly afraid. Then he ran on. In a minute it would be over.
At the next turn he could see the cabins. As he dashed along,
Jimmy Malone rose from a log and faced him. A white Jimmy, with
black- ringed eyes and shaking hands.

"Where the Hell have you been?" Jimmy demanded.

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