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Darrel of the Blessed Isles by Irving Bacheller

Part 5 out of 5

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"No, he had one give to him."

"Come and tell me about it."

Tilly followed Trove up the old stairway into the little shop.

"Beg yer pardon," said Thurst, turning, as they sat down, "are you
armed?"

"No," said Trove, smiling.

"A man shot me once when I wan't doin' nothin' but tryin' t' tell a
story, an' I don't take no chances. Do you remember my boss
tellin' that night in the woods how he lost his money in the fire
o' '35?"

"Yes."

"Wal, I guess it had suthin' t' do with that. One day the boss an'
me was out in the door-yard, an' a stranger come along. 'You're
John Thompson,' says he to the boss; 'An' you're so an' so,' says
the boss. I don't eggzac'ly remember the name he give." Tilly
stopped to think.

"Can you describe him?" Trove inquired.

"He was a big man with white whiskers an' hair, an' he wore light
breeches an' a short, blue coat."

"Again the friend of Darrel," Trove thought.

"Did you tell the tinker about your boss the night we were all at
Robin's Inn last summer?"

"I told him the whole story, an' he pumped me dry. I'd answer him,
an' he'd holler 'Very well,' an' shoot another question at me."

"Well, Thurst, go on with your story."

"Couldn't tell ye jest what happened. They went off int' the
house. Nex' day the boss tol' me he wa'n't no longer a poor man
an' was goin' t' sell his farm an' leave for Californy. In a
tavern near where we lived the stranger died sudden that night, an'
the funeral was at our house, an' he was buried there in Iowy."

Trove walked to the bench and stood a moment looking out of a
window.

"Strange!" said he, returning presently with tearful eyes. "Do you
remember the date?"

"'Twas a Friday, 'bout the middle o' September."

Trove turned, looking up at the brazen dial of the tall clock. It
indicated four-thirty in the morning of September 19th.

"Were there any with him when he died?"

"Yes, the tavern keeper--it was some kind of a stroke they told me."

"And your boss--did he go to California?" Trove asked.

"He sold the farm an' went to Californy. I worked there a while,
but the boss an' me couldn't agree, an' so I pulled up an' trotted
fer home."

"To what part of California did Thompson go?"

"Hadn't no idee where he would stick his stakes. He was goin' in
t' the gold business."

Trove sat busy with his own thoughts while Thurston Tilly, warming
to new confidence, boiled over with enthusiasm for the far west. A
school friend of the boy came, by and by, whereupon Tilly whistled
on his thumb and hurried away.

"Did you know," said the newcomer, when Trove and he were alone,
"that Roberts--the man who tried to send you up--is a young lawyer
and is going to settle here? He and Polly are engaged."

"Engaged!"

"So he gave me to understand."

"Well, if she loves him and he's a good fellow, I 've no right to
complain," Trove answered.

"I don't believe that he's a good fellow," said the other.

"Why do you say that?"

"Well, a detective is--is--"

"A necessary evil?" Trove suggested.

"Just that," said the other. "He must pretend to be what he isn't
and--well, a gentleman is not apt to sell himself for that purpose,
Now he's trying to convince people that you knew as much about the
crime as Darrel. In my opinion he isn't honest. Good looks and
fine raiment are all there is to that fellow--take my word for it."

"You're inclined to judge him harshly," said Trove. "But I'm
worried, for I fear he's unworthy of her and---and I must leave
town to-morrow."

"Shall you go to see her?"

"No; not until I know more about him. I have friends here and they
will give her good counsel. Soon they'll know what kind of a man
he is, and, if necessary, they'll warn her. I'm beset with
trouble, but, thank God, I know which way to turn."

XXXIII

The White Guard

Next morning Trove was on his way to Quebec--a long, hard journey
in the wintertime, those days. Leblanc had moved again,--so they
told him in Quebec,--this time to Plattsburg of Clinton County, New
York. There, however, Trove was unable to find the Frenchman. A
week of patient inquiry, then, leaving promises of reward for
information, he came away. He had yet another object of his
travels--the prison at Dannemora--and came there of a Sunday
morning late in February. Its towers were bathed in sunlight; its
shadows lay dark and far upon the snow. Peace and light and
silence had fallen out of the sky upon that little city of regret,
as if to hush and illumine its tumult of dark passions. He
shivered in the gloom of its shadow as he went up a driveway and
rang a bell. The warden received him kindly.

"I wish to see Roderick Darrel,---he is my friend,' said Trove, as
he gave the warden a letter.

"Come with me," said the official, presently. "He is talking to
the men."

They passed through gloomy corridors to the chapel door. Trove
halted to compose himself, for now he could hear the voice of
Darrel.

"Let me stand here a while--I cannot go in now," he whispered.

The words of the old man were vibrant with colour and dramatic
force.

"Night!" he was saying, "the guard passes; the lights are out; ye
lie thinking. Hark! a bell! 'Tis in the golden city o'
remembrance. Ye hear it calling. Haste away, men, haste away.
Ah, look!--flowers by the roadside! an' sunlight, an', just ahead,
spires o' the city, an' beneath them--oh! what is there beneath
them ye go so many times to see?

"Who is this?

"Here is a man beside ye.

"'Halt!' he says, an cuts ye with a sword.

"Now the bell is tolling--the sky overcast. The spires fall, the
flowers wither. Ye turn to look at the man. He is a giant. See
the face of him now. It makes ye tremble. He is the White Guard
an' he brings ye back. Ah, then, mayhap ye rise in the dark, as I
have heard ye, an' shake the iron doors. But ye cannot escape him
though ye could fly on the wind. Know ye the White Guard? Dear
man! his name is thy name; he is thyself; day an' night he sits in
the watch tower o' thy soul; he has all charge o' thee. Make a
friend o' him, men, make a friend o' him. Any evening send for me,
an' mayhap they'll let me come an' tell thee how."

He paused. Trove could hear the tread of guards in the chapel.
They seemed to enter the magnetic field of the speaker and quickly
halted.

"Mind the White Guard! Save him ye have none to fear.

"Once, at night, I saw a man smiling in his sleep. 'Twas over
there in the hospital. The day long he had been sick with remorse,
an' I had given him, betimes, a word o' comfort as well as the
medicine. Now when I looked the frown had left his brow. Oh,
'twas a goodly sight to see! He smiled an' murmured o' the days
gone. The man o' guilt lay dead--the child of innocence was
living. An' he woke, an' again the shadow fell upon him, an' he
wept.

"'I have been wandering in the land o' love,' he said.

"'Get thee back, man, get thee back,' said I to him.

"'Alas! how can I?' said he; 'for 'tis only Sleep that opens the
door.'

"'Nay, Sleep doth lift the garment o' thy bitterness, but only for
an hour,' said I. 'Love, Love shall lift it from thee forever.'
An' now, I thank the good God, the smile o' that brief hour is ever
on his face. Ye know him well, men. Were I to bid him stand
before ye, there's many here would wish to kiss his hand. Even
here in the frowning shadow o' these walls he has come into a land
o' love, an' when he returns to his people ye shall weep, men, ye
shall weep, an' they shall rejoice. O the land o' love! it hath a
strong gate. An' the White Guard, he hath the key.

"Remember, men, ye cannot reap unless ye sow. If any would reap
the corn, he must plant the corn.

"Have ye stood of a bright summer day to watch the little people o'
the field?--those millions that throng the grass an' fly in the
sunlight--bird an' bee an' ant an' bug an' butterfly? 'Tis a land
flowing with milk an' honey--but hear me, good men, not one o' them
may take as much as would fill the mouth of a cricket unless he
pays the price.

"One day I saw an ant trying to rob a thistle-blow. Now the law o'
the field is that none shall have honey who cannot sow for the
flower. While a bee probes he gathers the seed-dust in his hairy
jacket, an' away he flies, sowing it far an' wide. Now, an ant is
in no-wise able to serve a thistle-blow, but he is ever trying to
rob her house. Knowing her danger, she has put around it a
wonderful barricade. Down at the root her stem has a thicket o'
fuzz an' hair. I watched the little thief, an' he was a long time
passing through it. Then he came on a barrier o' horny-edged
leaves. Underneath they were covered with thick, webby hairs an'
he sank over his head in them an' toiled long; an' lo! when he had
passed them there was yet another row o' leaves curving so as to
weary an' bewilder him, an' thick set with thorns. Slowly he
climbed, coming ever to some dread obstruction. By an' by he stood
looking up at the green, round wall o' the palace. Above him were
its treasure an' its purple dome. He started upward an' fell
suddenly into a moat, full o' sticky gum, an' there perished. Men,
'tis the law o' God: unless ye sow the seed that bears it, ye shall
not have the honey o' forgiveness. An' remember the seed o'
forgiveness is forgiveness. If any have been hard upon thee,
bearing false witness an' robbing thee o' thy freedom an' thy good
name, go not hence until ye forgive.

"Ah, then the White Guard shall no longer sit in the tower."

The voice had stopped. There was a moment of deep silence. Some
power, greater, far greater, than his words, had gone out of the
man. Those many who sat before him and they standing there by the
door had felt it and were deeply moved. There was a quick stir in
the audience--a stir of hands and handkerchiefs. Trove entered;
the chaplain was now reading a hymn. Darrel sat behind him on a
raised platform, the silken spray upon his brows, long and white as
snow, his face thoughtful and serious. The reading over, he came
and sat among the men, singing as they sang. The benediction, a
stir of feet, and the prisoners began to press about him, some
kissing his hands. He gave each a kindly greeting. It was like
the night of the party on Cedar Hill. A moment more, and the crowd
was filing away, some looking back curiously at Trove, who stood,
his arms about the old man.

"Courage, boy!" the latter was saying; "I know it cuts thee like a
sword, an' would to God I could have spared thee even this. Look!
in yon high window I can see the sunlight, an', believe me, there
is not a creature it shines upon so happy as I. God love thee,
boy, God love thee!"

He put his cheek upon that of the boy and stroked his hair gently.
Then a little time of silence, and the storm had passed.

"A fine, fine lad ye are," said Darrel, looking proudly at the
young man, who stood now quite composed. "Let me take thy hand.
Ay, 'tis a mighty arm ye have, an' some day, some day it will shake
the towers."

"You will both dine with me in my quarters at one," said the
warden, presently.

Trove turned with a look of surprise.

"Thank ye, sor; an' mind ye make room for Wit an' Happiness," said
the tinker.

"Bring them along--they're always welcome at my table," the warden
answered with a laugh.

"Know ye not they're in prison, now, for keeping bad company?" said
Darrel, as he turned. "At one, boy," he, added, shaking the boy's
hand. "Ah, then, good cheer an' many a merry jest."

Darrel left the room, waving his hand. Trove and the warden made
their way to the prison office.

"A wonderful man!" said the latter, as they went. "We love and
respect him and give him all the liberty we can. For a long time
he has been nursing in the hospital, and when I see that he is
overworking I bring him to my office and set him at easy jobs."

Darrel came presently, and they went to dinner. The tinker bowed
politely to the warden's wife and led her to the table.

"Good friends," said he, as they were sitting down, "there is an
hour that is short o' minutes an' yet holds a week o' pleasure--who
pan tell me which hour it is?"

"I never guessed a riddle," said the woman.

"Marry, dear madam, 'tis the hour o' thy hospitality," said the old
man.

"When you are in it," she answered with good humour.

"Fellow-travellers on the road to heaven," said Darrel, raising his
glass, "St. Peter is fond of a smiling face."

"And when you see him you'll make a jest," were the words of the
warden.

"For I believe he is a lover o' good company," said Darrel.

The warden's wife remarked, then, that she had enjoyed his talk in
the chapel.

"I'm a new form o' punishment," said Darrel, soberly.

"But they all enjoy it," she answered.

"I'm not so rough as the ministers. They use fire an' the fume o'
sulphur."

"And the men go to sleep."

"Ay, the cruel master makes a thick hide," said Darrel, quickly.
"So Nature puts her hand between the whip an' the horse, an' sleep
between cruelty an' the congregation."

"Nature is kind," was the remark of the warden.

"An' shows the intent o' the Almighty," said Darrel. "There are
two words. In them are all the sermons."

"And what are they?" the woman asked.

"Fear," Darrel answered thoughtfully; "that is one o' them." He
paused to sip his tea.

"And the other is?"

"Love."

There was half a moment of silence.

"Here's Life to Love an' Death to Fear," the tinker added, draining
his cup. "Ay, madam, fill again--'tis memorable tea."

The woman refilled his cup.

"Many a time I've sat at meat an' thought, O that mine enemy could
taste thy tea! But this, dear lady, this beverage is for a friend."

So the dinner went on, others talking only to encourage the tongue
of Darrel. Trove, well as he knew the old man, had been surprised
by his fortitude. Far from being broken, the spirit in him was
happy, masterful, triumphant. He had work to do and was earning
that high reward of happiness--to him the best thing under heaven.
The dinner over, all rose, and Darrel bowed politely to the
warden's wife. Then he quoted:--

"'Like as the waves make toward the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end.'

"Dear madam, they do hasten but to come as well as to go. Thanks
an' au revoir."

Darrel and Trove went away with the warden, who bade them sit a
while in his office. Tinker and young man were there talking until
the day was gone. The warden sat apart, reading. Now and again
they whispered earnestly, as if they were not agreed, Darrel
shaking his forefinger and his head, Trove came away as the dark
fell, a sad and thoughtful look upon him.

XXXIV

More Evidence

Trove went to the inn at Dannemora that evening he left Darrel and
there found a letter. It said that Leblanc was living near St.
Albans. Posted in Plattsburg and signed "Henry Hope," the letter
gave no hint of bad faith, and with all haste he went to the place
it named. He was there a fortnight, seeking the Frenchman, but
getting no word of him, and then came a new letter from the man
Hope. It said now that Leblanc had moved on to Middlebury. Trove
went there, spent the last of his money, and sat one day in the
tavern office, considering what to do; for now, after weeks of
wandering, he was, it seemed, no nearer the man he sought. He had
soon reached a thought of some value: this information of the
unknown correspondent was, at least, unreliable, and he would give
it no further heed. What should he do? On that point he was not
long undecided, for while he was thinking of it a boy came and said:

"There's a lady waiting to see you in the parlour, sir."

He went immediately to the parlour above stairs, and there sat
Polly in her best gown--"the sweetest-looking creature," he was
wont to say, "this side of Paradise." Polly rose, and his
amazement checked his feet a moment. Then he advanced quickly and
would have kissed her, but she turned her face away and Stood
looking down. They were in a silence full of history. Twice she
tried to speak, but an odd stillness followed the first word,
giving possibly the more adequate expression to her thoughts.

"How came you here?" he whispered presently.

"I--I have been trying to find you." said she, at length.

He turned, looking from end to end of the large room; they were
quite alone.

"Polly," he whispered, "I believe you do love me."

For a little time she made no answer.

"No," she whispered, shaking her head; "that is, I--I do not think
I love you."

"Then why have you come to find me?"

"Because--because you did not come to find me," she answered,
glancing down at the toe of her pretty shoe.

She turned impatiently and stood by an open window. She was
looking out upon a white orchard. Odours of spring flower and
apple blossom were in the soft wings of the wind. Somehow they
mingled with her feeling and were always in her memory of that
hour. Her arm moved slowly and a 'kerchief went to her eyes.
Then, a little tremor in the plume upon her hat Trove went to her
side.

"Dear Polly!" he said, as he took her hand in his. Gently she
pulled it away.

"I--I cannot speak to you now," she whispered.

Then a long silence. The low music of a million tiny wings came
floating in at the window. It seemed, somehow, like a voice of the
past, with minutes, like the bees, hymning indistinguishably.
Polly and Trove were thinking of the same things. "I can doubt him
no more," she thought, "and I know--I know that he loves me." They
could hear the flutter of bird wings beyond the window and in the
stillness they got some understanding of each other. She turned
suddenly, and went to where he stood.

"Sidney," she said, "I am sorry--I am sorry if I have hurt you."

She lifted one of his hands and pressed her red cheek upon it
fondly. In a moment he spoke.

"Long ago I knew that you were doubting me, but I couldn't help
it," he said.

"It was that--that horrible secret," she whispered.

"I had no, right to your love," said he, "until--" he hesitated for
a little, "until I could tell you the truth."

"You loved somebody else?" she whispered, turning to him. "Didn't
you, now? Tell me."

"No," said he, calmly. "The fact is--the fact is I had learned
that my father was a thief."

"Your father!" she answered. "Do you think I care what your father
did? Your honour and your love were enough for me."

"I did not know," he whispered, "and I should have made my way to
you, but--" he paused again.

"But what?" she demanded, impatiently.

"Well, it was only fair you should have a chance to meet others,
and I thought you were in love with Roberts."

"Roberts! He would have been glad of my love, I can tell you
that." She looked up at him. "I have endured much for you, Sidney
Trove, and I cannot keep my secret any longer. He says that Darrel
is now in prison for your crime."

"And you believe him?" Trove whispered.

"Not that," she answered quickly, "but you know I loved the dear
old man; I cannot think him guilty any more than I could think it
of you. But there's a deep mystery in it all. It has made me
wretched. Every one thinks you know more than you have told about
it."

"A beautiful mystery!" the young man whispered. "He thought I
should be convicted--who wouldn't? I think he loved me, so that he
took the shame and the suffering and the prison to save me."

"He would have died for you," she answered; "but, Sidney, it was
dreadful to let them take him away. Couldn't you have done
something?"

"Something, dear Polly! and I with a foot in the grave?"

"Where did you go that night?"

"I do not know; but in the morning I found myself in our great
pasture and was ill. Some instinct led me home, and, as usual, I
had gone across lots." Then he told the story of that day and
night and the illness that followed.

"I, too, was ill," said Polly, "and I thought you were cruel not to
come to me. When I began to go out of doors they told me you were
low with fever. Then I got ready to go to you, and that very day I
saw you pass the door. I thought surely you would come to see me,
but--but you went away."

Polly's lips were trembling, and she covered her eyes a moment with
her handkerchief.

"I feared to be unwelcome," said he.

"You and every one, except my mother, was determined that I should
marry Roberts," Polly went on. "He has been urgent, but you,
Sidney, you wouldn't have me. You have done everything you could
to help him. Now I've found you, and I'm going to tell you all,
and you've got to listen to me. He has proof, he says, that you
are guilty of another crime, and--and he says you are now a
fugitive trying to escape arrest."

A little silence followed, in which Trove was thinking of the Hope
letters and of Roberts' claim that he was engaged to Polly.

"You have been wrapped in mysteries long enough. I shall not let
you go until you explain," she continued.

"There's no mystery about this," said Trove, calmly. "Roberts is a
rascal, and that's the reason I'm here."

She turned quickly with a look of surprise.

"I mean it. He knows I am guilty of no crime, but he does know
that I am looking for Louis Leblanc, and he has fooled me with
lying letters to keep me out of the way and win you with his guile."

A serious look came into the eyes of Polly.

"You are looking for Louis Leblanc," she whispered.

"Yes; it is the first move in a plan to free Darrel, for I am sure
that Leblanc committed the crime. I shall know soon after I meet
him."

"How?"

"If he should have a certain mark on the back of his left hand and
were to satisfy me in two other details, I'd give my life to one
purpose,--that of making him confess. God help me! I cannot find
the man. But I shall not give up; I shall go and see the Governor."

Turning her face away and looking out of the window, she felt for
his hand. Then she pressed it fondly. That was the giving of all
sacred things forever, and he knew it. He was the same Sidney
Trove, but never until that day had she seen the full height of his
noble manhood, ever holding above its own the happiness of them it
loved. Suddenly her heart was full with thinking of the power and
beauty of it.

"I do love you, Polly," said Trove, at length. "I've answered your
queries,--all of them,--and now it's my turn. If we were at
Robin's Inn, I should put my arms about you, and I should not let
you go until--until you had promised to be my wife."

"And I should not promise for at least an hour," said she, smiling,
as she turned, her dark eyes full of their new discovery. "Let us
go home."

"I'm going to be imperative," said he, "and you must answer before
I will let you go--"

"Dear Sidney," said she, "let's wait until we reach home. It's too
bad to spoil it here. But--" she whispered, looking about the
room, "you may kiss me once now."

"It's like a tale in _Harper's_," said he, presently. "It's 'to be
continued,' always, at the most exciting passage."

"I shall take the cars at one o'clock," said she, smiling. "But I
shall not allow you to go with me. You know the weird sisters."

"It would be impossible," said Trove. "I must get work somewhere;
my money is gone."

"Money!" said she, opening her purse. "I'm a Lady Bountiful.
Think of it--I've two hundred dollars here. Didn't you know Riley
Brooke cancelled the mortgage? Mother had saved this money for a
payment."

"Cancelled the mortgage!" said Trove.

"Yes, the dear old tinker repaired him, and now he's a new man.
I'll give you a job, Sidney."

"What to do?"

"Go and see the Governor, and then--and then you are to report to
me at Robin's Inn. Mind you, there's to be no delay, and I'll pay
you--let's see, I'll pay you a hundred dollars."

Trove began to laugh, and thought of this odd fulfilling of the
ancient promises.

"I shall stay to-night with a cousin at Burlington. Oh, there's
one more thing--you're to get a new suit of clothes at Albany, and,
remember, it must be very grand."

It was near train time, and they left the inn.

"I'm going to tell you everything," said she, as they were on their
way to the depot. "The day after to-morrow I am to see that
dreadful Roberts. I'm longing to give him his answer."

Not an hour before then Roberts had passed them on his way to
Boston.

XXXV

At the Sign of the Golden Spool[1]

[1 The author desires to say that this chapter relates to no shop
now in existence.]

It was early May and a bright morning in Hillsborough. There were
lines of stores and houses on either side of the main thoroughfare
from the river to Moosehead Inn, a long, low, white building that
faced the public square. Hunters coming off its veranda and gazing
down the street, as if sighting over gun-barrels at the bridge,
were wont to reckon the distance "nigh on to forty rod." There
were "Boston Stores" and "Great Emporiums" and shops, modest as
they were small, in that forty rods of Hillsborough. Midway was a
little white building, its eaves within reach of one's hand, its
gable on the line of the sidewalk overhanging which, from a crane
above the door, was a big, golden spool. In its two windows were
lace and ribbons and ladies' hats and spools of thread, and blue
shades drawn high from seven o'clock in the morning until dark. It
was the little shop of Ruth Tole--a house of Fate on the way from
happening to history. There secrets, travel-worn, were nourished a
while and sent on their way; reputations were made over and often
trimmed with excellent taste and discrimination. The wicked might
prosper for a time, but by and by the fates were at work on them,
there in the little shop, and then every one smiled as the sinner
passed, with the decoration of his rank upon him. And the sinner
smiled also, seeing not the badge on his own back but only that on
the back of his brother, and was highly pleased, for, if he had sin
deeper than his brother's he had some discretion. Relentless and
not over-just were they of this weird sisterhood. Since the time
of the gods they have been without honour but never without work,
and often they have had a better purpose than they knew. Those of
Hillsborough did their work as if with a sense of its great
solemnity. There was a flavour of awe in their nods and whispers,
and they seemed to know they were touching immortal souls. But now
and then they put on the masque of comedy.

Ruth Tole was behind the counter, sorting threads. She was a
maiden of middle life and severe countenance, of few and decisive
words. The door of the little shop was ajar, and near it a woman
sat knitting. She had a position favourable for eye and ear. She
could see all who passed, on either side of the way, and not a word
or move in the shop escaped her. In the sisterhood she bore the
familiar name of Lize. She had been talking about that old case of
Riley Brooke and the Widow Glover.

"Looks to me," said she, thoughtfully, as she tickled her scalp
with a knitting-needle, "that she took the kinks out o' him. He's
a good deal more respectable."

"Like a panther with his teeth pulled," said a woman who stood by
the counter, buying a spool of thread. "Ain't you heard how they
made up?"

"Land sakes, no!" said the sister Lize, hurriedly finishing a
stitch and then halting her fingers to pull the yarn.

The shopkeeper began rolling ribbons with a look of indifference.
She never took part in the gossip and, although she loved to hear
it, had, mostly, the air of one without ears.

"Well, that old tinker gave 'em both a good talking to," said the
customer. "He brings 'em face to face, and he says to him, says
he, 'In the day o' the Judgment God'll mind the look o' your wife,'
and then he says the same to her."

"Singular man!" said the comely sister Lize, who now resumed her
knitting.

"He never robbed that bank, either, any more 'n I did."

"Men ain't apt to claim a sin that don't belong to 'em--that's my
opinion."

"He did it to shield another."

"Sidney Trove?" was the half-whispered query of the sister Lize.

"Trove, no!" said the other, quickly. "It was that old man with a
gray beard who never spoke to anybody an' used to visit the tinker."

She was interrupted by a newcomer--a stout woman of middle age who
fluttered in, breathing heavily, under a look of pallor and
agitation.

"Sh-h-h!" said she, lifting a large hand. She sank upon a chair,
fanning herself. She said nothing for a little, as if to give the
Recording Angel a chance to dip her pen. The customer, who was now
counting a box of beads, turned quickly, and she that was called
Lize dropped her knitting.

"What is it, Bet, for mercy's sake?" said the latter.

"Have you heard the news?" said she that was called Bet.

"Land sakes, no!" said both the others.

Then followed a moment of suspense, during which the newcomer sat
biting her under lip, a merry smile in her face. She was like a
child dallying with a red plum.

"You're too provoking!" said the sister Lize, impatiently. "Why
do you keep us hanging by the eyebrows?" She pulled her yarn with
some violence, and the ball dropped to the floor, rolling half
across it.

"Sh-h-h!" said the dear sister Bet again. Another woman had
stopped by the door. Then a scornful whisper from the sister Lize.

"It's that horrible Kate Tredder. Mercy! is she coming in?"

She came in. Long since she had ceased to enjoy credit or
confidence at the little shop.

"Nice day," said she.

The sister Lize moved impatiently and picked up her work. This
untimely entrance had left her "hanging by the eyebrows" and red
with anxiety. She gave the newcomer a sweeping glance, sighed and
said, "Yes." The sister Bet grew serious and began tapping the
floor with her toe.

"I've been clear 'round the square," said Mrs. Tredder, "an' I
guess I'll sit a while. I ain't done a thing to-day, an' I don't
b'lieve I'll try 'til after dinner. Miss Tole, you may give me
another yard o' that red silk ribbon."

She sat by the counter, and Miss Tole sniffed a little and began to
measure the ribbon. She was deeply if secretly offended by this
intrusion.

"What's the news?" said the newcomer, turning to the sister Bet.

"Oh, nothing!" said the other, wearily.

"Ain't you heard about that woman up at the Moosehead?"

"Heard all I care to," said the sister Bet, with jealous feeling.
Here was another red plum off the same tree.

"What about her?" said the sister Lize, now reaching on tiptoe, as
it were. The sister Bet rose impatiently and made for the door.

"Going?" said she that was called Lize, a note of alarm in her
voice.

"Yes; do you think I've nothing else to do but sit here and
gossip," said sister Bet, disappearing suddenly, her face red.

The newcomer sat in a thoughtful attitude, her elbow on the counter.

"Well?" said the sister Lize.

"You all treat me so funny here I guess I'll go," said Mrs.
Tredder, who now got up, her face darkening, and hurried away.
They of the plums had both vanished.

"Wretch!" said the sister Lize, hotly; "I could have choked her."
She squirmed a little, moving her chair roughly.

"She's forever sticking her nose into other people's business,"
were the words of the customer who was counting beads. She seemed
to be near the point of tears.

"Maybe that's why it's so red," the other answered with unspeakable
contempt. "I'm so mad I can hardly sit still."

She wound her yarn close and stuck her needle into the ball.

"Thank goodness!" said she, suddenly; "here comes Serene."

The sister Serene Davis, a frail, fair lady, entered.

"Well," said the latter, "I suppose you've heard--" she paused to
get her breath.

"What?" said the sister Lize, in a whisper, approaching the new
arrival.

"My heart is all in a flutter--don't hurry me."

The sister Lize went to the door and closed it. Then she turned
quickly, facing the other woman.

"Serene Davis," she began solemnly, "you'll never leave this room
alive until you tell us."

"Can't you let a body enjoy herself a minute?"

"Tell me," she insisted, threatening with a needle.

Ruth Tole regarded them with a look of firmness which seemed to
say, "Stab her if she doesn't tell."

"Well," said the sister Serene, "you know that stylish young widow
that came a while ago to the Moosehead--the one that wore the
splendid black silk the night o' the ball?"

"Yes."

"She was a detective,"--this in a whisper.

"What!" said the other two, awesomely.

"A detective."

Then a quick movement of chairs and a pulling of yarn. Ruth
dropped a spool of thread which rattled, as it fell, and rolled a
space and lay neglected.

The sister Serene was now laughing.

"It's ridiculous!" she remarked.

"Go on," said the others, and one of them added, "Land sakes! don't
stop now."

"Well, she got sick the other day and sent for a lawyer, an' who do
you suppose it was?"

"I dunno," said Ruth Tole. The words had broken away from her, and
she covered her mouth, quickly, and began to look out of the
window. The speaker had begun to laugh again.

"'Twas Dick Roberts," she went on. "He went over to the tavern;
she lay there in bed and had a nurse in the room with her--a woman
she got in Ogdensburg. She tells the young lawyer she wants him to
make her will. Then she describes her property and he puts it
down. There was a palace in Wales and a castle on the Rhine and
pearls and diamonds and fifty thousand pounds in a foreign bank,
and I don't know what all. Well, ye know, she was pert and
handsome, and he began to take notice."

The sisters looked from one to another and gave up to gleeful
smiles, but Ruth was, if anything, a bit firmer than before.

"Next day he brought her some flowers, and she began to get better.
Then he took her out to ride. One night about ten o'clock the
nurse comes into the room sudden like, and finds him on his knees
before the widow, kissing her dress an' talking all kinds o'
nonsense."

"Here! stop a minute," said the sister Lize, who had now dropped
her knitting and begun to fan herself. "You take my breath away."
The details were too important for hasty consideration.

"Makin' love?" said she with the beads, thoughtfully.

"I should think likely," said the other, whereupon the three began
to laugh again. Their merriment over, through smiles they gave
each other looks of dreamy reflection.

"Now go on," said the sister Lize, leaning forward, her chin upon
her hands.

"There he knelt, kissing her dress," the narrator continued.

"Why didn't he kiss her face?"

"Because she wouldn't let him, I suppose."

"Oh!" said the others, nodding their heads, thoughtfully.

"When the nurse came," the sister Serene continued, "the widow went
to a desk and wrote a letter and brought it to Dick. Then says the
widow, says she: 'You take this to my uncle in Boston. If you can
make him give his consent, I'd be glad to see you again.'

"Dick, he rushed off that very evening an' took the cars at Madrid.
What do you suppose the letter said?"

The sister Serene began to shake with laughter.

"What?" was the eager demand of the two sisters.

"Well, the widow told the nurse and she told Mary Jones and Mary
told me. The letter was kind o' short and about like this:--

"'Pardon me for introducing a scamp by the name of Roberts. He's
engaged to a very sweet young lady and has the impudence to make
love to me. I wish to get him out of this town for a while, and
can't think of any better way. Don't use him too roughly. He was
a detective once himself.'

"Well, in a couple of days the widow got a telegraph message from
her uncle, an' what do you suppose it said?"

The sister Serene covered her face and began to quiver. The other
two were leaning toward her, smiling, their mouths open.

"What was it?" said the sister Lize.

"'Kicked him downstairs,'" the narrator quoted.

"Y!" the two whispered.

"Good enough for him." It was the verdict of the little
shopkeeper, sharply spoken, as she went on with her work.

"So I say,"--this from the other three, who were now quite serious.

"He'd better not come back here," said the sister Lize.

"He never will, probably."

"Who employed the widow?"

"Nobody knows," said the sister Serene. "Before she left town she
had a check cashed, an' it come from Riley Brooke. Some think
Martha Vaughn herself knows all about it. Sh-h-h! there goes
Sidney Trove."

"Ain't he splendid looking?" said she with the beads.

Ruth Tole had opened the door, and they were now observing the
street and those who were passing in it.

"One of these days there'll be some tall love-making up there at
the Widow Vaughn's," said she that was called Lize.

"Like to be behind the door"--this from her with the beads.

"I wouldn't," said the sister Serene.

"No, you wouldn't!"

"I'd rather be up next to the young man." A merry laugh, and then a
sigh from the sister Lize, who looked a bit dreamy and began to
tickle her head with a knitting-needle.

"What are you sighing for?" said she with the beads,

"Oh, well," said the other, yawning, "it makes me think o' the time
when I was a girl."

"Look! there's Jeanne Brulet,"--it was a quick whisper.

They gathered close and began to shake their heads and frown. Now,
indeed, they were as the Fates of old.

"Look at her clothes," another whispered.

"They're better than I can wear. I'd like to know where she gets
the money."

Then a look from one to the other--a look of fateful import, soon
to travel far, and loose a hundred tongues. That moment the bowl
was broken, but the weird sisters knew not the truth.

She that was called Lize, put up her knitting and rose from her
chair.

"There's work waiting for me at home," said she.

"Quilting?"

"No; I'm working on a shroud."

XXXVI

The Law's Approval

Trove had come to Hillsborough that very hour he passed the Golden
Spool. In him a touch of dignity had sobered the careless eye of
youth. He was, indeed, a comely young man, his attire fashionable,
his form erect. Soon he was on the familiar road to Robin's Inn.
There was now a sprinkle of yellow in the green valley; wings of
azure and of gray in the sunlight; a scatter of song in the
silence. High on distant hills, here and there, was a little bank
of snow. These few dusty rags were all that remained of the great
robe of winter. Men were sowing and planting. In the air was an
odour of the harrowed earth, and up in the hills a shout of
greeting came out of field or garden as Trove went by.

It was a walk to remember, and when he had come near the far side
of Pleasant Valley he could see Polly waving her hand to him at the
edge of the maple grove.

"Supper is waiting," said she, merrily, as she came to meet him.
"There's blueberries, and biscuit, and lots of nice things."

"I'm hungry," said be; "but first, dear, let us enjoy love and
kisses."

Then by the lonely road he held her close to him, and each could
feel the heart-beat of the other; and for quite a moment speech
would have been most idle and inadequate.

"Now the promise, Polly," said he soon. "I go not another step
until I have your promise to be my wife."

"You do not think I'd let one treat me that way unless I expected
to marry him, do you ?" said Polly, as she fussed with a ribbon
bow, her face red with blushes. "You've mussed me all up."

"I'm to be a teacher in the big school, and if you were willing, we
could be married soon."

"Oh, dear!" said she, sighing, and looking up at him with a smile;
"I'm too happy to think." Then followed another moment of silence,
in which the little god, if he were near them, must have smiled.

"Won't you name the day now?" he insisted.

"Oh, let's keep that for the next chapter!" said she. "Don't you
know supper is waiting?"

"It's all like those tales 'to be continued in our next,'" he
answered with a laugh.

Then they walked slowly up the long hill, arm in arm.

"How very grand you look!" said she, proudly. "Did you see the
Governor?"

"Yes, but he can do nothing now. It's the only cloud in the sky."

"Dear old man!" said Polly. "We'll find a way to help him."

"But he wouldn't thank us for help--there's the truth of it," said
Trove, quickly. "He's happy and content. Here is a letter that
came to-day. 'Dear Sidney,' he writes. 'Think of all I have said
to thee, an', if ye remember well, boy, it will bear thee up. Were
I, indeed, as ye believe, drinking the cup o' bitterness for thy
sake, know ye not the law will make it sweet for me? After all I
have said to thee, are ye not prepared? Is my work wasted; is the
seed fallen upon the rocks? And if ye hold to thy view,
consider--would ye rob the dark world o' the light o' sacrifice?
"Nay," ye will answer. Then I say: "If ye would give me peace, go
to thy work, boy, and cease to waste thyself with worry and foolish
wandering."'

"Somehow it puts me to shame," said Trove, as he put the letter in
his pocket. "I'm so far beneath him. I shall obey and go to work
and pray for the speedy coming of God's justice."

"It's the only thing to do," said she. "Sidney, I hope now I have
a right to ask if you know who is your father?"

"I believe him to be dead."

"Dead!" there was a note of surprise in the word.

"I know not even his name."

"It is all very strange," said Polly. In a moment she added, "I
hope you will forgive my mother if she seemed to doubt you."

"I forgive all," said the young man. "I know it was hard to
believe me innocent."

"And impossible to believe you guilty. She was only waiting for
more light."

The widow and her two boys came out to meet them.

"Mother, behold this big man! He is to be my husband." The girl
looked up at him proudly.

"And my son?" said Mrs. Vaughn, with a smile, as she kissed him.
"You've lost no time."

"Oh! I didn't intend to give up so soon," said Polly, "but--but
the supper would have been ruined."

"It's now on the table," said Mrs. Vaughn.

"I've news for you," said Polly, as they were sitting down. "Tunk
has reformed."

"He must have been busy," said Trove, "and he's ruined his epitaph."

"His epitaph?"

"Yes; that one Darrel wrote for him: 'Here lies Tunk. O Grave!
where is thy victory?'"

"Tunk has one merit: he never deceived any one but himself," said
the widow.

"Horses have run away with him," Trove continued. "His character
is like a broken buggy; and his imagination--that's the unbroken
colt. Every day, for a long time, the colt has run away with the
wagon, tipping it over and dragging it in the ditch, until every
bolt is loose, and every spoke rattling, and every wheel awry. I
do hope he's repaired his 'ex.'"

"He walks better and complains less," the widow answered.

"Often he stands very straight and walks like you," said Polly,
laughing.

"He thinks you are the only great man," so spoke the widow.

"Gone from one illusion to another," said Trove. "It's a lesson;
every one should go softly. Tom, will you now describe the
melancholy feat of Theophilus Thistleton?"

The fable was quickly repeated.

"That Mr. Thistleton was a foolish fellow, and there's many like
him," said Trove. "He had better have been thrusting blueberries
into his mouth. I declare!" he added, sitting back with a look of
surprise, "I'm happy again."

"And we are going to keep you so," Polly answered with decision.

"Darrel would tell me that I am at last in harmony with a great law
which, until now, I have been defying. It is true; I have thought
too much of my own desires."

"I do not understand you," said Polly. "Now, we heard of the shot
and iron--how you came by them and how, one night, you threw them
into the river at Hillsborough. That led, perhaps, to most of your
trouble. I'd like to know what moral law you were breaking when
you flung them into the river?"

"A great law," Trove answered; "but one hard to phrase."

"Suppose you try."

"The innocent shall have no fear," said he. "Until then I had kept
the commandment."

There was a little time of silence.

"If you watch a coward, you'll see a most unhappy creature." It
was Trove who spoke. "Darrel said once, 'A coward is the prey of
all evil and the mark of thunderbolts.'"

"I'll not admit you're a coward," were the words of Polly.

"Well," said he, rising, "I had fear of only one thing,--that I
should lose your love."

Reaching home next day, Trove found that Allen had sold Phyllis.
The mare had been shipped away.

"She brought a thousand dollars," said his foster father, "and I'll
divide the profit with you."

The young man was now able to pay his debt to Polly, but for the
first time he had a sense of guilt.

Trove bought another filly--a proud-stepping great-granddaughter of
old Justin Morgan.

A rough-furred, awkward creature, of the size of a small dog, fled
before him, as he entered the house in Brier Dale, and sought
refuge under a table. It was a young painter which Allen had
captured back in the deep woods, after killing its dam. Soon it
rushed across the floor, chasing a ball of yarn, but quickly got
under cover. Before the end of that day Trove and the new pet were
done with all distrust of each other. The big cat grew in size and
playful confidence. Often it stalked the young man with still foot
and lashing tail, leaping stealthily over chairs and, betimes,
landing upon Trove's back.

* * * * * *

It was a June day, and Trove was at Robin's Inn. A little before
noon Polly and he and the two boys started for Brier Dale. They
waded the flowering meadows in Pleasant Valley, crossed a great
pasture, and came under the forest roof. Their feet were muffled
in new ferns. Their trail wavered up the side of a steep ridge,
and slanted off in long loops to the farther valley. There it
crossed a brook and, for a mile or more, followed the mossy banks.
On a ledge, mottled with rock velvet, by a waterfall, they sat down
to rest, and Polly opened the dinner basket. Somehow the music and
the minted breath of the water and the scent of the moss and the
wild violet seemed to flavour their meal. Tom had brought a small
gun with him, and, soon after they resumed their walk, saw some
partridges and fired upon them. All the birds flew save a hen that
stood clucking with spread wings. Coming close, they could see her
eyes blinking in drops of blood. Trove put his hand upon her, but
she only bent her head a little and spread her wings the wider.

"Tom," said he, "look at this little preacher of the woods. Do you
know what she's saying?"

"No," said the boy, soberly.

"Well, she's saying: 'Look at me and see what you've done.
Hereafter, O boy! think before you pull the trigger.' It's a pity,
but we must finish the job."

As they came out upon Brier Road the boys found a nest of hornets.
It hung on a bough above the roadway. Soon Paul had flung a stone
that broke the nest open. Hornets began to buzz around them, and
all ran for refuge to a thicket of young firs. In a moment they
could hear a horse coming at a slow trot. Trove peered through the
bushes. He could see Ezra Tower--that man of scornful piety--on a
white horse. Trove shouted a warning, but with no effect.
Suddenly Tower broke his long silence, and the horse began to run.
The little party made a detour, and came again to the road.

"He did speak to the hornets," said Polly.

"Swore, too," said Paul.

"Nature has her own way with folly; you can't hold your tongue when
she speaks to you," Trove answered.

Near sunset, they came into Brier Dale. Tunk was to be there at
supper time, and drive home with Polly and her brothers. The widow
had told him not to come by the Brier Road; it would take him past
Rickard's Inn, where he loved to tarry and display horsemanship.

Mary Allen met them at the door.

"Mother, here is my future wife," said Trove, proudly.

Then ruddy lips of youth touched the faded cheek of the good woman.

"We shall be married in September," said Trove, tossing his hat in
the air. "We're going to have a grand time, and mind you, mother,
no more hard work for you. Where is Tige?" Tige was the young
painter.

"I don't know," said Mary Allen. "He's up in a tree somewhere,
maybe. Come in, all of you; supper's ready."

While they were eating. Trove heard a sound of wheels, and went to
the door. Tunk had arrived. He had a lump, the size of an
apple,-on his forehead; another on his chin. As Trove approached
him, he spat over a front wheel, and sat looking down sadly.

"Tunk, what's the matter ?"

"Kicked," said he, with growing sadness.

"A horse?" Trove inquired, with sympathy.

Tunk thought a moment.

"Couldn't say what 'twas," he answered presently.

"I fear," said Trove, smiling, "that you came by the Brier Road."

Suddenly there was a quick stir of boughs and a flash of tawny fur
above them. Then the young painter landed full on the back of
Tunkhannock Hosely. There was a wild yell; the horse leaped and
ran, breaking through a fence and wrecking the wagon; the painter
spat, and made for the woods, and was seen no more of men. Tunk
had picked up an axe, and climbed a ladder that stood leaning to
the roof. Trove and Allen caught the frightened horse.

"Now," said the former, "let's try and capture Tunk."

"He's taken to the roof," said Allen.

"Where's that air painter?" Tunk shouted, as they came near.

"Gone to the woods."

"Heavens!" said Tunk, gloomily. "I'm all tore up; there ain't
nothin' left o' me--boots full o' blood. I tell ye this country's
a leetle too wild fer me."

He came down the ladder slowly, and sat on the step and drew off
his boots. There was no blood in them. Trove helped him remove
his coat; all, save his imagination, was unharmed.

"Wal," said he, thoughtfully, "that's what ye git fer doin' suthin'
ye hadn't ought to. I ain't goin' t' take no more chances."

XXXVII

The Return of Santa Claus

Did ye hear the cock crow? By the beard of my father, I'd
forgotten you and myself and everything but the story. It's near
morning, and I've a weary tongue. Another log and one more pipe.
Then, sir, then I'll let you go. I'm near the end.

"Let me see--it's a winter day in New York City, after four years.
The streets are crowded. Here are men and women, but I see only
the horses,--you know, sir, how I love them. They go by with heavy
truck and cab, steaming, straining', slipping in the deep snow.
You hear the song of lashes, the whack of whips, and, now and then,
the shout of some bedevilled voice. Horses fall, and struggle, and
lie helpless, and their drivers--well, if I were to watch them
long, I should be in danger of madness and hell-fire. Well, here
is a big stable. A tall man has halted by its open door, and
addresses the manager.

"'I learn that you have a bay mare with starred face and a white
stocking.' It is Trove who speaks.

"'Yes; there she is, coming yonder.'

"The mare is a rack of bones, limping, weary, sore. But see her
foot lift! You can't kill the pride of the Barbary. She falters;
her driver lashes her over the head. Trove is running toward her.
He climbs a front wheel, and down comes the driver. In a minute
Trove has her by the bit. He calls her by name--Phyllis! The slim
ears begin to move. She nickers. God, sir! she is trying to see
him. One eye is bleeding, the other blind. His arms go round her
neck, sir, and he hides his face in her mane. That mare you
ride--she is the granddaughter of Phyllis. I'd as soon think of
selling my wife. Really, sir, Darrel was right. God'll mind the
look of your horses."

So spake an old man sitting in the firelight. Since they sat down
the short hand of the clock had nearly circled the dial. There was
a little pause. He did love a horse--that old man of the hills.

"Trove went home with the mare," he continued. "She recovered the
sight of one eye, and had a box-stall and the brook pasture--you
know, that one by the beech grove. He got home the day before
Christmas. Polly met him at the depot--a charming lady, sir, and a
child of three was with her,--a little girl, dark eyes and flaxen,
curly hair. You remember Beryl?--eyes like her mother's.

"I was there at the depot that day. Well, it looked as if they
were still in their honeymoon.

"'Dear little wife!' said Trove, as he kissed Polly. Then he took
the child in his arms, and I went to dinner with them. They lived
half a mile or so out of Hillsborough.

"'Hello!' said Trove, as we entered. 'Here's a merry Christmas!'

"Polly had trimmed the house. There against the wall was a
tapering fir-tree, hung with tinsel and popcorn. All around the
room were green branches of holly and hemlock.

"'I'm glad you found Phyllis,' said she.

"'Poor Phyllis!' he answered. 'They broke her down with hard work,
and then sold her. She'll be here to-morrow.'

"'You saw Darrel on the way?'

"'Yes, and he is the same miracle of happiness. I think he will
soon be free. Leblanc is there in prison--convicted of a crime in
Whitehall. As I expected, there is a red mark on the back of his
left hand. Day after to-morrow we go again to Dannemora.
Sweetheart! I hurried home to see you.' And then--well, I do like
to see it--the fondness of young people.

"Night came, dark and stormy, with snow in the west wind. They
were sitting there by the Christmas tree, all bright with
candles--Polly, Trove, and the little child. They were talking of
old times. They heard a rap at the door. Trove flung it open. He
spoke a word of surprise. There was the old Santa Claus of Cedar
Hill--upon my word, sir--the very one. He entered, shaking his
great coat, his beard full of snow. He let down his sack there by
the lighted tree. He beckoned to the little one.

"'Go and see him--it is old Santa Claus,' said Polly, her voice
trembling as she led the child.

"Then, quickly, she took the hand of her husband.

"'He is your father,' she whispered.

"A moment they stood with hearts full, looking at Santa Claus and
the child. That little one had her arms about a knee, and, dumb
with great wonder, gazed up at him. There was a timid appeal in
her sweet face.

"The man did not move; he was looking down at the child. In a
moment she began to prattle and tug at him. They saw his knees
bend a bit. Ah, sir, it seemed as if the baby were pulling him
down. He gently pushed the child away. They heard a little cry--a
kind of a wailing 'Oh-o-o,'--like that you hear in the chimney.
Then, sir, down he went in his tracks--a quivering little
heap,--and lay there at the foot of the tree. Polly and Trove were
bending over him. Cap and wig had fallen from his head. He was an
old man.

"'Father!' Trove whispered, touching the long white hair. 'O my
father! speak to me. Let me--let me see your face.'

"Slowly--slowly, the old man rose, Trove helping him, and put on
his cap. Then, sir, he took a step back and stood straight as a
king. He waved them away with his hand.

"'Nay, boy, remember,' he whispered. 'Ye were to let him pass.'
And then he started for the door.

"Trove went before him and stood against it.

"'Hear me, boy, 'tis better that ye let him sleep until the trumpet
calls an' ye both stand with all the quick an' the dead.'

"'No, I have waited long, and I love--I love him,' Trove answered.

"Those fair young people knelt beside the old man, clinging to his
hands.

"The good saint was crying.

"'I came not here to bring shame,' said he presently.

"'We honour and with all our souls we love you,' Trove answered.

"'Who shall stand before it?' said the old man. 'Behold--behold
how Love hath raised the dead!' He flung off his cap and beard.

"'If ye will have it so, know ye that I--Roderick Darrel--am thy
father.'"

"Now, sir, you may go. I wish ye merry Christmas!" said that old
man of the hills.

But the other tarried, thoughtfully puffing his pipe.

"And the father was not dead?"

"'Twas only the living death," said the old man, now lighting a
lantern. "You know that grave in a poem of Sidney Trove:

'It has neither sod nor stone;
It has neither dust nor bone.'

He planned to be as one dead to the world."

"And the other man of mystery--who was he?"

"Some child of misfortune. He was befriended by the tinker and did
errands for him."

"He took the money to Trove that night the latter slept in the
woods?"

"And, for Darrel, returned to Thompson his own with usury.
Thompson was the chief creditor."

"With usury?"

"Yes; for years it lay under the bed of Darrel. By and by he put
the money in a savings bank--all but a few dollars."

"And why did he wait so long, before returning it?"

"He tried to be rid of the money, but was unable to find Thompson.
And Trove, he lived to repay every creditor. Ah, sir, he was a man
of a thousand."

"That story of Darrel's in the little shop--I see--it was fact in a
setting of fiction."

"That's all it pretended to be," said the old man of the hills.

"One more query," said the other. He was now mounted. "I know
Darrel went to prison for the sake of the boy, but did some one set
him free?"

"His own character. Leblanc came to love him--like the other
prisoners--and, sir, he confessed. I declare!--it's daylight now
and here I am with the lantern. Good-by, and Merry Christmas!"

The other rode away, slowly, looking back at the dim glow of the
lantern, which now, indeed, was like a symbol of the past.

* * * * * *

Eben Holden

A Tale of the North Country

By IRVING BACHELLER. Bound in red silk cloth, decorative cover,
gilt top, rough edges. Size, 5 x 7 3/4 Price, $1.50

The most popular book in America.

Within eight months after publication it had reached its two
hundred and fiftieth thousand. The most American of recent novels,
it has indeed been hailed as the long looked for "American novel."

William Dean Howells says of it: "I have read 'Eben Holden' with a
great joy in its truth and freshness. You have got into your book
a kind of life not in literature before, and you have got it there
simply and frankly. It is 'as pure as water and as good as bread.'"

Edmund Clarence Stedman says of it: "It is a forest-scented,
fresh-aired, bracing, and wholly American story of country and town
life."

D'RI AND I

By IRVING BACHELLER, author of "Eben Holden." Seven drawings by F.
C. Yohn. Red silk cloth, illustrated cover, gilt top, rough edges.
Size, 5 1/4 x 7 3/4 Price, $1.50. 160th Thousand.

THE LONDON TIMES says; "Mr. Bacheller is admirable alike in his
scenes of peace and war. He paints the silent woods in the fall of
the year with the rich golden glow of the Indian summer. He is
eloquently poetical in the lonely watcher's contemplation of
thousands of twinkling stars reflected from the broad bosom of the
St. Lawrence, and he is grimly humorous in some of his dramatic
episodes. Nor does anything in Crane's 'Red Badge of Courage'
bring home to us more forcibly the horrors of war than the
between-decks and the cockpit of a crippled ship swept from stem to
stern by the British broadsides in an action brought a entrance on
Lake Erie."

CANDLE LIGHT

Being sundry tales and thoughts in verse. By IRVING BACHELLER,
author of "Eben Holden" and "D'ri and I." Six illustrations by
prominent illustrators. Decorative cover, gilt top, rough edges.
Price, $1.25, net.

MR. BACHELLER'S Poems in a book very handsome in the points of
typography, binding, and illustration is made up of a collection of
verse ranging from dramatic incidents of peace and war to lovely
idyllic pictures and verse read on academic occasions. The whole
collection is marked by virility, simplicity of manner, and genuine
strength and feeling. It will be widely welcomed by lovers of good
poetry and the admirers of Mr. Bacheller's famous books of fiction.

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