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Shock waited till Smiley opened the door, whereupon, stepping
quickly forward, he set his foot against the lower panel and pushed
the door wide open.

In a small room, bare of furniture except for tables and chairs and
a hanging lamp, sat four men, of whom Shock recognised two. The Kid
was one, and Macfarren the other. Across the table from these sat
two men, one by his uniform the Inspector of the Mounted Police. The
face of the other had to Shock a familiar look, but where he had
seen him he could not remember.

As Shock opened the door the man in uniform started up with an oath,
and Macfarren blew out the light.

"What's that for, Macfarren?" said The Kid.

"Shut up, you fool," growled Macfarren.

"What did you say, sir?" enquired The Kid, in a voice somewhat thick
and unsteady.

"Get him out of here," said Macfarren, in a low tone.

"I want to have a few words with Mr. Stanton," said Shock, standing
in the doorway.

"Here you are. Fire away," replied the boy. "The light is not good,
but I can hear in the dark."

"You are wanted, Mr. Stanton, very earnestly by a friend of yours."

"Let him walk right in if he wants me," replied The Kid.

"That he cannot do. He is very ill."

"Ah! who is he, may I ask?" enquired Stanton, striking a match.

It was promptly blown out.

"I wouldn't do that again," he said gently. "Who is it?" he
repeated, striking. another match and lighting the lamp.

"It is Ike," said Shock. "He is very ill--dying, for all I know, and
he wants you."

For answer there was a contemptuous laugh from the Mounted
Policeman, in which Macfarren joined.

"Rather good that," said Macfarren.

"Excuse me, gentlemen," said the boy, making a strenuous effort to
pull himself together. "I hate to leave this good company, but I
must go. I happen to pay Ike wages, but he is my friend. He has
asked for me, and I am going to him."

"Oh, blank it all! Don't be a fool," said the policeman. "Ike's all
right. He has been taking an extra drink, but you can't kill Ike.
Wait for half an hour, and we'll go down and see how he is."

The young lad hesitated. The stranger made a signal to Smiley, and
suddenly Shock found himself; pushed backward from the entrance, and
the door slammed in his face.

"Open that door!" he heard The Kid cry.

There was a murmur in response.

"Open it, I say, Simmons."

Again a murmur.

"No, I am going. I will go myself. Ike wants me." The boy's voice
was loud and hard.

"That's mine," the voice cried again. "Let that go at once!"

There was a sound of scuffling and of falling chairs. With a kick
Shock sent the door flying open, and saw three men struggling with
Stanton. Smiley had wound his long arms, about him from behind, the
Inspector held his arm in a firm grip with one hand and with the
other had hold of the stranger, who had The Kid by the throat.
Macfarren was still at the table, evidently gathering up what lay
upon it.

In an instant Shock sprang into the fray. With a single jerk he tore
Smiley from his victim and flung him on the floor. Reaching for the
stranger, who was choking The Kid, he caught his wrist and gave it a
slight turn. With a yell of pain the stranger turned upon him and
aimed a blow at Shock's face. Catching the blow on his arm, Shock
seized his assailant by the shoulder, jerked him clear of his feet,
and flung him far into the corner of the room. At this the policeman
immediately gave back.

For a few seconds The Kid stood swaying unsteadily. Then, after he
recovered his breath he turned to Shock and said, "I hardly expected
to ever feel grateful to you, but I assure you I appreciate your
timely help."

Then turning to the others, and regaining his wonted smile and easy
manner, he continued,

"Gentlemen, you are somewhat insistent in your hospitality. It is
always instructive, and sometimes pleasant, to extend our knowledge
of our friends, and now let me say that a more blackguardly lot of
thieves I have never met, and if this gentleman who has dropped in
so opportunely will kindly stand at my back for a few minutes, I
shall be delighted to make good my words by slapping your faces" The
Kid's tone was low and gentle, even sweet.

"Mr. Macfarren, your venerable beard prevents me. Simmons, your
general sliminess protects you, but as for you, Inspector Haynes, it
gives me great pleasure to express my opinion of you--thus!"

His open hand flashed out as he spoke and caught Haynes on the cheek
a stinging blow.

With an oath the Inspector jerked out his pistol and sprang at him.
"I arrest you, sir, in the name of the Queen. Move your hand and you
are a dead man."

"So be you, Mr. Inspector," drawled a quiet voice in the door.

Shock turned, and to his unspeakable amazement saw his sick friend
standing with his gun covering the Inspector.

"One step back, please, Mr. Inspector. Quick! This trigger goes
mighty easy. Now, right wheel!"

The Inspector hesitated a second. "Quick!" cried Ike sharply. "Don't
you fool too long obeyin' orders. I aint used to it. I'm here
exercisin' a public function, preventin' murder, in short, and I'll
drop you in your tracks if you don't move at the next word. You here
me? And if you don't intend to move at the next word, say your
prayers in this interval. Now then, back up to that table and put
down that gun. Correct. Very nice, indeed."

Ike's voice took on more and more of its customary drawl.

"Now, two steps forward. Right. Now, you can--go--to--the--devil!"

Ike stepped to the table, took up the pistol, and returned to his
place at the door, saying:

"Say, boss, this prayer meetin's over. Let's go home."

"Not until the Inspector says so," said The Kid, who had recovered
himself, and who was now quite sober. "He has the word now, Ikey, so
don't interfere."

"All right, Kiddie, play your game. You're equivalent to it, I

"I think so," said the Kid sweetly. Then, turning to the Inspector,
he continued in a voice of gentle consideration, "There is something
on your cheek, Inspector Haynes. You have not observed it. Allow me
to point it out to you."

He moved forward as he spoke, but Shock interposed.

"I think that is enough, Mr. Stanton," he said.

"Let the matter drop now."

The boy turned quickly, and looking steadily into Shock's face,
began in a quiet, even voice, "Mr.--ah"

"Macgregor," supplied Shock.

"Mr. Macgregor, you are a stranger. In this country in a matter of
this kind we never allow interference."

"And yet," said Shock in a voice equally quiet, "interference is not
unwelcome at times."

"What you say is quite true," replied the boy, "and, as I have said,
I am not ungrateful for your timely assistance."

"Oh, I was thinking of Ike," said Shock hurriedly.

"But surely you will let this matter drop now."

"Drop!" roared the Inspector. "Blank your impudence! He has called
me a thief, and he has slapped my face while doing my duty. I will
have the lot of you arrested for interference with justice. And as
for you, Stanton, we shall settle this again."

So saying, the Inspector made for the door. At the door Ike still
stood on guard.

"When you want me, Mr. Inspector," he said, "don't have any
delinquency in sendin' for me. I surmise I can contribute some
valuable evidence on the point of guns, games, and such."

The Inspector glared at him.

"I'll take my gun," he said.

"Your gun? Why, cert! Did you drop it somewheres? Perhaps if you
look round when the light's good you'll find it. Slimey, here, will
help you. I'm pretty nigh certain you'll extradite that weapon in
the morning. Good-night."

With a curse the Inspector passed out.

"Now, Ikey," said The Kid coolly, "stand aside, for there is a cur
here that had the audacity to throttle me."

With these words he sprang past Shock, seized the stranger by the
throat, cuffed him with his open hand, and dragging him to the door
sent him forth with a parting kick and au imprecation.

"Now, Macfarren," he said, turning to that gentleman, who still sat
by the table, "you have some money not belonging to you. Put it on
the table."

Without a moment's hesitation Macfarren hastily poured forth from
his pocket poker-chips, gold pieces, and bills.

"I assure you, Mr. Stanton," he hurried to say, "I was simply
holding them till the--ah trouble should be over."

"That was most kind," replied Stanton. "I have no very clear
remembrance, but I was under the impression that it was your
suggestion to lock the door."

As he spoke he swept the money into his pocket.

"Certainly, but my only intention was to keep but ah--strangers and-
-intruders. You know, Mr. Stanton, I would be no party to robbery,
and, indeed, I do not believe 'for a moment that any robbery was
intended. It was an unfortunate eagerness on the part of Crawley to
secure his winnings that precipitated the trouble. I really hope you
do not think me capable of anything of the sort."

Macfarren's manner was abject, but his tone was evidently sincere.

"You were unfortunate in your company, then, Mr. Macfarren. Come on,
Ike. We are done with this gang. Lucky I was not quite slewed, or
my, creditors would have been in mourning to-morrow. Mr. Macgregor,
where do you put up?"

"He's with me to-night," said Ike, "and a mighty fortunate
circumstance it was for us all. This here business had got beyond my
capabilities.. Some of us need a keeper."

"That's me, Ikey. Yes, I know. Rub it in. It's a keeper I need.
Well, I give you my word I am done with this gang. Fool! Fool!" he
continued bitterly, "a cursed fool, Ikey. Three years of it now."

"That's what," said Ikey, leading the way down the street. "For the
past two years, boss, you know you've beat me. Though I don't hold
myself out as no sort of paradox--"

"Paragon, Ikey," said The Kid, with a gentle laugh. He always found
his cowboy's English amusing.

"Paragon, eh? Well, all the same, I aint no sort of paragon, but I
know where to stop,"

"Where are we now, Ike? At the end of the rope, eh?"

"No, by the livin' Gimmini! but gettin' there on the jump," said
Ike, with grave emphasis.

Without further conversation they made their way through the dark
streets till they reached Ike's shack.

The doctor lay still asleep in the corner.

"He kidnapped him," was Ike's explanation to The Kid, nodding his
head toward Shock. "So I'd advise that you hitch on to the preacher
here for a period. Give him the job of windin' you up."

"Could you undertake that, do you think?" There was a curious smile
on the boy's face, but an undertone of seriousness in his voice.

"No," said Shock gravely, "I could not undertake that."

"You see, Ike, I am too uncertain. Too far gone, I guess."

Ike was too puzzled to reply. He had a kind of dim idea that in
Shock there was some help for his boss, and he was disappointed at
Shock's answer.

For some time Shock sat in silence, looking at the fire. His heart
was sore. He felt his helplessness. This clever, gay-hearted young
fellow, with all his gentleness of manner, was unapproachable. He
belonged to another world, and yet Shock yearned over him with a
tenderness inexplicable to himself. The Kid gave him no opening.
There was a kind of gay defiance in his bearing, as if he had read
Shock's heart and were determined to keep him at arm's length.
Instinctively Shock knew that he must wait his opportunity.

"Well, guess we'd better turn in," suggested Ike. "Can you two bunk
together? That bed'll hold you both, I guess."

"No, thanks," said Shock decidedly. "That is your bed. I'll spread
my blankets on the floor."

"In this country," said Stanton, "we give the stranger the bed, so
you need not scruple to turn Ike out of his. Ike and I will take the

"Not this time," said Shock firmly. "I am thankful enough for
shelter, without taking a man's bed. Besides," he added, suddenly
remembering, "Ike needs his bed to-night, after his sick turn."

"Yes, by Jove! By the way," exclaimed Stanton, "what happened, Ike?"

"A sudden and unexpected predisposition which takes me now and
then," turning his back upon Shock and solemnly winking at The Kid;
"but I recover just as quickly, and when I do I'm as slick as ever,
and slicker. These here turns work off a lot of bad blood, I guess."

During his speech he continued winking at The Kid. That young
gentleman gazed at him in amazed silence. Gradually, a light broke
in upon him.

"Look here, Ike, what in thunder do you mean?"

"I say, boss," said Ike persuasively, "just go easy. You oughn't to
excite yourself. 'Taint good for you, and 'taint good for me,
either. My doctor says so. I wouldn't persecute your enquiries at
this late hour of the night."

Ike's gravity was imperturbable.

"Well, I be blanked! I beg your pardon, Mr. Macgregor. Ike, you're a
cool one. You've got the nerve of "Here The Kid began to laugh, and
Shock, all unsuspecting of Ike's scheme for getting his boss out of
the clutches of his spoilers, gazed from the one to the other with
an air of such absolute perplexity that The Kid went off into
immoderate fits of laughter. Ike's gravity remained unbroken.

"All the same, boss," he said, "you want to keep an eye on that
outfit. They'll get even. That man Crawley and the Inspector aint
goin' to rest easy. where they are. Marks like what you put on 'em
burn to the bone."

"They cannot hurt me, Ike," said the Kid lightly, "and I think they
will be afraid to try. But Mr. Macgregor here has got into trouble.
Is not Macfarren a church warden, or something, in your Church?"

"He is a manager, I think," said Shock. "Pretty much the same

"Well, he is a man to look out for. I can get along without him, but
you cannot, can you? I mean, he can hurt you."

"No," said Shock quietly, "he cannot hurt me. The only man that can
hurt me is myself. No other man can. And besides," he added, pulling
a little Bible out of his pocket, "I have a Keeper, as Ike said."

As Shock opened the little Bible he became conscious of a sense of
mastery. His opportunity had come.

"Listen to this," he said, and he read in a voice of assured
conviction: "The Lord is thy keeper.
The Lord shall keep thee from all evil.
He shall keep thy soul.
The Lord shall keep thy going out and thy coming in.
From this time forth and forevermore."

He closed the book and put it in his pocket.

"No," he said, "no man can hurt me." Then turning to Ike he said
quietly, "I always say my prayers. My mother started me twenty-five
years ago, and I have never seen any reason to quit."

While his tone was gentle and his manner simple, there was almost a
challenge in his eyes. The fair face of young Stanton flushed
through the tan.

"You do your mother honour," he said, with quiet dignity.

"I say," said Ike slowly, "if you kin do it just as convenient,
perhaps you'd say 'em out. Wouldn't do us no harm, eh, Kiddie?"

"No, I should be pleased."

"Thank you," said Shock. Then for a moment he stood looking first at
Ike's grave face, and then at The Kid, out of whose blue eyes all
the gay, reckless defiance had vanished.

"Don't imagine I think myself a bit better than you," said Shock
hastily, voice and lip quivering.

"Oh, git out!" ejaculated Ike quickly. "That aint sense."

"But," continued Shock, "perhaps I have had a little better chance.
Certainly I have had a good mother."

"And I, too," said the boy, in a husky voice.

So the three kneeled together in Ike's shack, each wondering how it
had come about that it should seem so natural and easy for him to be
in that attitude.

In a voice steady and controlled Shock made his prayer. Humility and
gratitude for all that had been done for him in his life, an
overwhelming sense of need for the life demanded in this God-
forgetting country, and a great love and compassion for the two men
with whom he had so strangely been brought into such close relation
swelled in his heart and vibrated through his prayer.

Ike's face never lost its impassive gravity. Whatever may have been
his feelings, he gave no sign of emotion. But the lad that kneeled
on the other side of Shock pressed his face down hard into his
hands, while his frame shook with choking, silent sobs. All that was
holiest and tenderest in his past came crowding in upon him, in sad
and terrible contrast to his present.

Immediately after the prayer Shock slipped out of the shack.

"I say, boss," said Ike, as he poked the fire, "he's a winner, aint
he? Guess he hits the sky all right, when he gets onto his knees. By
the livin' Gimmini! when that feller gits a-goin' he raises
considerable of a promotion."

"Commotion, Ikey," said The Kid gently. "Yes, I believe he hits the
sky--and he says he needs a Keeper."

"Well," said Ike solemnly, "I have a lingerin' suspicion that you're
correct, but if he needs a Keeper, what about us?"



Dr. Burton was never quite clear as to how he had found himself in
the early morning on the Loon Lake trail, with a man whom he had
never seen before, nor how, after he had discovered himself in that
position, he had been persuaded to continue his journey, much less
to take up with such enthusiasm the treatment of the cases to which
he had been summoned by that same stranger. Indeed, he did not come
to a clear consciousness of his sayings and doings until he found
himself seated at a most comfortable breakfast in the house of the
Old Prospector, with this same strange gentleman sitting opposite
him. Even then, before reaching a solution of the problem as to how
he had arrived at that particular place and in that particular
company, to his amazement he found himself interested in the
discussion of the cases on hand.

With the Old Prospector he had little difficulty. Inflammatory
rheumatism, with a complication of pneumonia; in itself not
necessarily fatal, or even dangerous, but with a man of the Old
Prospector's age and habits of life this complication might any
moment become serious. He left some medicine, ordered nourishing
food, perfect rest and quiet, and was about to depart.

"How soon shall I be up, doctor?" enquired the Old Prospector.

"I wouldn't worry."

"A week?"

"A week! If you are on your legs in a month you may be thankful."

"Doctor," said the Old Prospector in a tone of quiet resolution, "it
is vitally important that. I should be on my journey sooner than a
month. My business admits of no delay."

"Well," said the doctor in his courteous, gentle tone, "if you move
you will likely die."

"I shall certainly die if I do not."

For once the Old Prospector broke through his wonted philosophic
calm. His voice trembled, and his eyes glittered in his excitement.

"Well, well," said the doctor soothingly, noting these symptoms,
"wait a week or so. Follow the directions carefully, and we shall

"I shall wait a week, doctor, but no longer. In ten days I shall be
on the trail."

"Well, well," repeated the doctor, looking keenly into the old man's
face, "we won't worry about it for a week."

"No; for a week I am content."

Leaving the Old Prospector's shack Shock conducted the doctor to the
little room at the back of the Stopping Place where little Patsy
lay. At the door they were met by the mother, vociferous with
lamentations, prayers, blessings, and entreaties. Within the room,
seated beside the bed, was Carroll, gloomy and taciturn.

The doctor drew back the blind and let in the morning light. It
showed poor little Patsy, pale and wasted, his angelic face
surrounded with a golden aureole of yellow curls that floated across
the white pillow. The doctor was startled and moved.

"What is this?" he cried. "What is the matter?"

"Just an accident, doctor," said Mrs. Carroll volubly. "It was a
blow he got."

"I struck him wid a chair," said Carroll bitterly.

"Whisht, now, darlin'. You're not to be blamin' yourself at all, at
all. Sure, you didn't mane to do it. And what's a bit of discoosion
between men? The little Patsy, the brave little heart that he is,
run in to help his dad, so he did!" And Mrs. Carroll continued with
a description which became more and more incoherent and more and
more broken with sobs and tears.

"It's a wonder he didn't kill him," said the doctor.

"Arrah, ye may say it. But they do be tellin' me that his riverence
there beyant, he stood in under the blow. God bless his sowl! It's a
hairo he is--a hairo!"

She ran toward Shock as if to embrace him, but Shock, who had come
to know her ways, avoided her, dodging behind the doctor.

"Not at all," he said. "Any man would have done the same."

"Now, God pardon your riverence for the lie ye've told."

"But how did YOU get into the row?" asked the doctor, turning to

"And ye may ask," interrupted Mrs. Carroll. "It's all av that
squirmin' little worm of a Frenchman. May the divil fly away wid
him! I'm not sayin' but Carroll there is quick with his tongue, and
betimes with his hands, too--the high spirit that he has! but sure,
it's a tinder heart he carries inside av him if they'd lave him be."

Meantime the doctor had been proceeding with his examination.

"He has lain a week like this, eh?"

"Yes, a week, with never a move till him, and niver a look out av
his lovely eyes."

"But he takes his nourishment, does he?"

"Yes, once in a while a cup of milk with a wee drap av whisky intill
it, doctor."

The doctor nodded.

"Won't hurt him. Not too much, mind. A teaspoonful in a large cup."

The doctor stood for some moments after he had finished his
examination, looking down upon the little white face, so wasted, so
beautiful. Then he shook has head sorrowfully.

"Ah, doctor, darlin'!" burst out Mrs. Carroll. "Don't say the wurrd!
Don't say the wurrd!"

At this Carroll lifted his head and enquired briefly, "Will he get
better, doctor?"

"He has a chance. He has a slight chance."

And with a look at Shock he left the room. After speaking a few
words of comfort and hope to the mother Shock followed the doctor
from the house.

"It is a case for trephining, I fear," said the doctor. "A clear
case. It is the only chance he has, and it ought to be done at

"You mean to-day?" asked Shock.

"Yes, to-day. But--" The doctor hesitated. "I am not ready."

"I could get your instruments and anything else you might order,"
said Shock eagerly.

"No, it is not that," said the doctor. "The truth is, I have not the
nerve. Nice confession to make, isn't it? Look at that hand."

He held out his hand as he spoke, and Shock saw that not only the
hand, but the whole arm, indeed the whole gaunt frame of the doctor,
was all in a tremble. Shock's experience in the city wards made him
realise something of the shame and humiliation of the moment to the
doctor. He hastened to turn his attention in a happier direction.

"You have performed this operation before?"

"Yes, frequently in the old country, once or twice here. I have seen
some practice, sir," said the doctor, straightening himself up. "But
there it is," holding out again his shaking hand.

"Well," said Shock, "we must wait till--till everything is ready."

"Yes," said the doctor. "Not before three days would I dare to touch
a knife. In three days, sir, I shall return, bringing all the
appliances necessary, and in the interval the time will not be
entirely lost. We shall take every means to tone the boy up. By the
way, I suppose there is someone in the village with sufficient nerve
to render assistance?"

"I do not know. There is only one man in this country whom I can
think of as being reliable for an affair of this kind. Do you happen
to know of the cowboy, Ike?"

"The very man," said the doctor. "He lives on the Stanton ranch
between this and the fort. We can see him on our way."

Before the doctor left for home he had called to prepare the
Carrolls for the operation. At first Tim would not hear of it. He
fiercely declared that he would kill any man that dared put a knife
on his lad. His wife was equally determined that the operation
should not take place.

"Very well," said the doctor, "then your boy will die, and, Carroll,
I shall have you arrested for manslaughter forthwith."

This aspect of the case made little impression upon Carroll.

"If the lad dies," he said hoarsely, "divil a care what happens to

But Mrs. Carroll became anxiously desirous. that the operation
should be performed.

"And sure the good God wouldn't be after takin' him from us, for
didn't his riverence there put up a prayer that would melt the heart
of the angels, and I did promise God meself a rale fast, with niver
an egg nor a bit of a fish to my teeth, if he should lave him wid
us. And Carroll, darlin', ye'll not be after breakin' ye're wife's
heart, nor makin' her a widow? Just ye come on, doctor, and niver a
word he'll say till ye."

And so it came, in three days that the doctor returned, clean,
steady, and fit for his work, with Ike, Shock, and The Kid on hand
as his assistants.

"I asked the doctor if I might come along," said the latter,
explaining his presence, "and though he did not encourage me, here I

"We will make him nurse or outside guard," said Shock. "We will give
him full charge of the family."

"Yes," replied the doctor, in his gentle, professional voice, "the
family. Let them be removed to some distance. The house must be kept
entirely quiet, entirely quiet. An interruption might be serious.
Mr. and Mrs. Carroll and the children had better be taken away to
some remote distance, so that we may have in the house perfect
peace--perfect peace."

But in Carroll they met an unexpected difficulty.

"Not a fut of me will I lave," he announced, and from this position
was immovable.

"Let us say no more at present," said the doctor quietly to his
assistants. "There are various methods of removing an obstruction. I
have found various methods."

And so The Kid, with Mrs. Carroll, Tim, Nora, Eileen, Jimmie, and
little Michael, set of for Jumping Rock at the lake. After the
procession had formed, however, another difficulty arose. Michael
refused point blank to go, and on being urged threw himself down
upon the ground and kicked and yelled vociferously.

"Indade, there's no use of tryin' to make him do what he don't
want," said his mother, with a conviction born of long experience of
Michael's tempers and ways.

The procession halted, The Kid looking helpless and foolish. In vain
he offered his watch, his pistol with the charge drawn. All his
possessions availed not at all.

In his desperation he was on the point of proceeding to extreme
measures when a voice, singularly sweet and musical, sounded behind

"Perhaps I can help," it said.

The Kid swung round, hat in hand. It was Marion, the Old
Prospector's daughter.

"I shall be profoundly thankful. And for that matter doubtless he
will, too, for I had come to the conclusion that the situation
demanded a change of tactics."

The girl sat down beside Michael, and lifting him to her knee began
to beguile him from his present misery with promises of songs, and
snatches of tales, whose powers of enchantment had evidently been
proved in similar circumstances, till finally his interest was
diverted, his curiosity excited, and at length Michael was persuaded
to join the company with smiling expectation of good things to come.

"I wish you would confide to me the secret of your power, Miss--"
said The Kid, with a most courteous bow.

"I am Marion Mowbray," she said simply.

"Miss Mowbray," continued The Kid, "I know your father very well,
and"--looking into the girl's eyes, so very piercing and so very
black--"I should like to know his daughter, too."

But Marion devoted herself chiefly to Michael, giving such attention
as she could to the older and more active and more venturous Eileen
and Jimmie, and The Kid found his duties to Mrs. Carroll, Tim, and
Nora so engrossing that he had little time to bestow any further
attention upon the girl.

While Marion with tales and songs held the younger portion in an
enthralled circle about her upon the Jumping Rock, The Kid upon the
lake shore below was using his most strenuous endeavours to make the
hour pass happily for Mrs. Carroll, Tim, and Nora.

Meantime, in the back room of the Stopping-Place Dr. Burton was
making his preparations for a very critical operation. All his
movements were marked by a swift dexterity and an attention to
detail that gave Shock the impression that here was a man not only a
master of his art, but, for the time being at least, master of
himself. He laid out and thoroughly disinfected his instruments,
prepared his lint, bandages, sponges, and explained clearly to each
of his two assistants the part he was to take. Shock, who had had
some slight experience in the surgical operations attendant upon an
active football career, was to be the assistant in chief, being
expected to take charge of the instruments, and to take part, if
necessary, in the actual operation. Ike was instructed to be in
readiness with a basin, sponge, and anything else that might be

"We shall not give you much to do," said the doctor, "but what you
have to do must be done promptly and well. Now, then," he continued,
lifting his scissors with a flourish which did not fail to impress
Carroll, who was seated near by, "we shall proceed."

"Will it hurt, doctor?" groaned Carroll, gazing upon the row of
instruments with fascinated eyes.

"Before we are finished it is quite possible the patient may be
conscious of nervous disturbance, accompanied by sensations more or
less painful."

"Will it hurt, blank you!" replied Carroll, whose hoarse voice
showed the intensity of his repressed emotion.

"As I was saying," said the doctor in his calm, even tone, and
examining his instruments one by one with affectionate care, "there
is every possibility that the nerve centres may be--"

"Oh," groaned Carroll, still fascinated by the instruments that the
doctor was handling with such loving touches, "will someone shut up
this blank, blatherin' fool? He'd drive a man crazy, so he wud!"

"Mr. Carroll, we must be calm. We must be entirely calm," observed
the doctor. "Now," continuing his monologue, "we shall remove the
hair from the field of operation. Cleanliness in an operation of
this kind is of prime importance. Recent scientific investigations
show that the chief danger in operations is from septic poisoning.
Yes, every precaution must be taken. Then we shall bathe with this
weak solution of carbolic--three percent will be quite sufficient,
quite sufficient--the injured parts and the surrounding area, and
then we shall examine the extent of the wound. If the dura mater be
penetrated, and the arachnoid cavity be opened, then there will be
in all probability a very considerable extravasation of blood, and
by this time, doubtless, serious inflammation of all the surrounding
tissues. The aperture being very small and the depression somewhat
extensive, it will be necessary to remove--to saw out, in short--a
portion of the skull," lifting up a fierce-looking instrument.

Carroll groaned.

"Let me out!" he whispered hoarsely, rising and feeling his way with
outstretched hand to the door. "I can't stand this bloody divil!"

Ike opened the door, while Shock sprang to support the groping man.

"Lave me be!" he said fiercely, with a curse, and pushing Shock back
he stumbled out.

"Ah," said the doctor, with evident satisfaction, "there are various
methods of removing obstructions, as I have said. We shall now no
longer delay." And he proceeded to clip away the golden curls from
about the wound. "These," he said, holding them up in his fingers
and looking at them admiringly, "we had better preserve. These
beautiful locks may be priceless to the mother, priceless indeed.
Poor, bonnie laddie! Now we shall prepare, we shall aseptically
prepare, the whole field of operation. A sponge that's it. That will
do. Now, let us examine the extent of the injury," feeling with
dextrous fingers about the edge of the slight wound, and over all
the depressed surface.

"Ah! as I feared. The internal table is widely comminuted, and there
is possibly injury to the dura mater. We must excise a small portion
of the bone. The scalpel, please." Then, after laying back with a
few swift, dexterous movements the scalp from about the wounded
parts: "The saw. Yes, the saw. The removal of a section," he
continued, in his gentle monotone, beginning to saw, "will allow
examination of the internal table. A sponge, please. Thank you. And
if the dura mater--" Here the stillness of the room was broken by a
sound from Ike. The doctor glanced at him.

"This is a very simple part of the operation," he explained, "a very
simple part, indeed, and attended with absolutely no pain. A sponge,
please. Thank you. Now the forceps. Yes."

He snipped off a section of the bone. Ike winced "Ah, as I feared.
There is considerable comminution and extravasation. Yes, and owing
to the long delay, and doubtless to the wet applications which the
uninitiated invariably apply, pus. Now, the carbolic solution," to
Ike, who was standing with white face and set teeth.

"You are doing remarkably well," said the doctor encouragingly to
him, "remarkably well. To a novice this at times presents a shocking
aspect. Now we shall attack this depression. The elevator, please.
No, the elevator, Mr. Macgregor. There it lies. Yes. Now gently,
gently. Just hold that in position," offering Shock the end of the
instrument which he was using as a lever to raise the depressed
portion of the skull. "The other scalpel, please. Now, a slight
pressure. Gently, gently. We must be extremely careful of the edges.
No, that will not do. Then we must have recourse to the trephine."

He lifted the instrument as he spoke, and gazed at it with every
mark of affection.

"This is one of the most beautiful of all the instruments of modern
surgery. A lovely instrument, a lovely instrument, indeed. Let us
secure our firm surface. That seems satisfactory," beginning to

This was too much for Ike. He hastily set down the basin and sponge
on a chair, then straightened up in a vain effort to regain mastery
of himself.

"Ah," said the doctor. "Poor Ike! The spirit is willing, but the
sympathetic nerve is evidently seriously disturbed, thereby
affecting the vasomotor, and will likely produce complete syncope.
Lay him down on his back immediately."

"No," said Ike, "I aint no good. I'm going out."

"Now," said the doctor calmly, when Shock and he had been left
alone, "I hope there will be no more interruption. We must proceed
with the trephining. Ah, beautiful, beautiful!" his quick moving,
deft fingers keeping pace with his monologue.

"There now," after a few minutes' work with the trephine, "the
depression is lifted. We shall soon be finished."

With supple, firm fingers he sewed the scalp, dressed the wound, and
was done.

"Thank God!" said Shock, with a long breath. "Will he live?"

"It is a question now of strength and vitality. If the inflammation
is not too widely extended the child may recover. Young life is very

The doctor washed his hands, wiped his instruments, put them
carefully away in their case, and sat down.

"Doctor," said Shock, "that is a great work. Even to a layman that
operation seems wonderful."

Under the stimulus of his professional work the doctor's face, which
but two days before had been soft and flabby, seemed to have taken
on a firmer, harder appearance, and his whole manner, which had been
shuffling and slovenly, had become alert and self-reliant.

"A man who can do that, doctor, can do great things."

A shadow fell on his face. The look of keen intelligence became
clouded. His very frame lost its erect poise, and seemed to fall
together. His professional air of jaunty cheerfulness forsook him.
He huddled himself down into his chair, put his face in his hands,
and shuddered.

"My dear sir," he said, lifting up his face, "it is quite useless,
quite hopeless."

"No," said Shock eagerly, "do not say that. Surely the Almighty God-

The doctor put up his hand.

"I know all you would say. How often have I heard it! The fault is
not with the Almighty, but with myself. I am still honest with
myself, and yet--" Here he paused for some moments. "I have tried--
and I have failed. I am a wreck. I have prayed--prayed with tears
and groans. I have done my best. But I am beyond help."

For a full minute Shock stood, gazing sadly at the noble head, the
face so marred, the huddling form. He knew something of the agony of
remorse, humiliation, fear, and despair that the man was suffering.

"Dr. Burton," said Shock, with the air of a man who has formed a
purpose, "you are not telling the truth, sir."

The doctor looked up with a flash of indignation in his eyes.

"You are misrepresenting facts in two important particulars. You
have just said that you have done your best, and that you are beyond
all help. The simple truth is you have neither done your best, nor
are you beyond help."

"Beyond help!" cried the doctor, starting up and beginning to pace
the floor, casting aside his usual gentle manner. "You use plain
speech, sir, but your evident sincerity forbids resentment. If you
knew my history you would agree with me that I state the simple
truth when I declare that I am beyond help. You see before you, sir,
the sometime President of the Faculty of Guy's, London, a man with a
reputation second to none in the Metropolis. But neither reputation,
nor fortune, nor friends could avail to save me from this curse. I
came to this country in desperation. It was a prohibition country.
Cursed be those who perpetrated that fraud upon the British public!
If London be bad, this country, with its isolation, its monotony of
life, and this damnable permit system, is a thousand times worse.
God pity the fool who leaves England in the hope of recovering his
manhood and freedom here. I came to this God-forsaken, homeless
country with some hope of recovery in my heart. That hope has long
since vanished. I am now beyond all help."

"No," said Shock in a quiet, firm voice, "you have told me nothing
to prove that you are beyond help. "In fact," he continued almost
brusquely, "no man of sense and honesty has a right to say that.
"Yes," he continued, in answer to the doctor's astonished look,
"salvation, as it is called, is a matter of common sense and

"I thought you clergymen preached salvation to be a matter of

"Faith, yes. That is the same thing. Common sense, I call it. A man
is a fool to think he is beyond help while he has life. A little
common sense and honesty is all you want. Now, let us find Carroll.
But, doctor, let my last word to you be this--do not ever say or
think what you have said to me to-day, It simply is not true. And I
repeat, the man who can do that sort of thing," pointing to the
child lying on the bed, "can do a great deal more. Good things are
waiting you."

"Oh, Lord God Almighty!" said the doctor, throwing up his hands in
the intensity of his emotion. "You almost make me think there is
some hope."

"Don't be a fool, doctor," said Shock in a matter of fact voice.
"You are going to recover your manhood and your reputation. I know
it. But as I said before, remember I expect common sense and

"Common sense and honesty," said the doctor as if to himself. "No

"There you are," said Shock. "I did not say that. I did say common
sense and honesty. But now, do go and find poor Carroll. He will be
in agony."

"Oh, a little of it won't hurt him. He is rather an undeveloped
specimen," said the doctor, resuming his professional tone.

In a few minutes he returned with Carroll, whose face was contorted
with his efforts to seem calm.

"Tell me," he said to Shock. "Will the lad live?"

"The operation is entirely successful, thanks to the skill of Dr.
Burton there."

"Will he live?" said Carroll to the doctor in a husky tone.

"Well, he has a chance--a chance now which before he had not; and if
he does, you owe it to Mr. Macgregor there."

"And if he doesn't, I shall owe that to him," hissed Carroll through
his clenched teeth.

For this Shock had no reply.

"I shall go for Mrs. Carroll and the children now," he said quietly,
and passed out of the room.

"Carroll," said the doctor with stern deliberation, "I have always
known you to be a bully, but never before that you were a brute.
This man saved your child's life at very considerable danger to his
own. And a second time--if the child recovers he has saved his life,
for had the operation not been performed today your child would have
died, and you would have been arrested for manslaughter."

"Doctor," said Carroll, turning upon him, and standing nervous and
shaking, "it is that man or me. The country won't hold us both."

"Then, Carroll, let me tell you, you had better move out, for that
man won't move till he wants to. Why, bless my soul, man, he could
grind you up in his hands. And as for nerve--well, I have seen some
in my professional career, but never such as his. My advice to you
is, do not trifle with him."

"Blank his sowl! I'll be even wid him," said Carroll, pouring out a
stream of oaths.

"Dad." The weak voice seemed to pierce through Carroll's curses like
a shaft of light through a dark room.

Carroll dropped on his knees by the bedside in a rush of tears.

"Ah, Patsy, my Patsy! Is it your own voice I'm hearin'?"

"Dad, darlin', ye didn't mane it, did ye, dad?"

"What, Patsy?"

"To hit me."

"Ah, may God forgive me! but it's meself would sooner die than
strike ye."

The little lad drew a deep breath of content.

"And the big man," he said. "He put out his hand over me. Ye didn't
hurt him, dad, did ye?"

"No, no, Patsy, darlin'," said the big Irishman, burying his face in
the pillow. "Speak to your dad again wid your lovely voice."

"Now, Carroll," said the doctor in a stern whisper. "That is enough.
Not a word more. Do you want to kill your child?"

Carroll at once with a tremendous effort grew still, stroking the
white hand he held in his, and kissing the golden curls that
streamed across the pillow, whispering over and over, "Patsy,
darlin'!" till the doctor, hardened as he was to scenes like this,
was forced to steal out from the room and leave them together.



For six weeks the Old Prospector lay fretting his life away in his
shack, not so ill as to be in danger. The pneumonia had almost
disappeared and the rheumatism had subsided, but yet such grave
symptoms remained as made the doctor forbid his setting forth upon
his annual quest of the Lost River. In these days his chief comfort
was Shock, whose old habit of sharing his experiences in imagination
with those who could not share them in reality, relieved for the Old
Prospector many a monotonous hour.

But Shock's days, and most of his nights, even, were spent upon the
trail rounding up "strays and mavericks," as Ike said, searching out
the lonely bachelor shacks, and lonelier homes where women dwelt
whose husbands' days were spent on the range, and whose nearest
neighbour might be eight or ten miles away, bringing a touch of the
outer world, and leaving a gleam of the light that he carried in his
own sunny, honest face.

And so Shock soon came to know more of the far back settlers than
did even the oldest timer; and, what was better, he began to
establish among them some sort of social life. It was Shock, for
instance, that discovered old Mrs. Hamilton and her two sons, and
drove her after much persuasion eight miles over "The Rise," past
which she had not set her foot for the nine long, sad years that had
dragged out their lonely length since her husband left her alone
with her two boys of seven and nine, to visit Mrs. Macnamara, the
delicate wife of the rollicking Irish rancher, who, seldom out of
the saddle himself, had never been able to understand the heart-
hunger that only became less as her own life ran low. It was her
little family growing up about her, at once draining her vitality
but, thank God, nourishing in her heart hope and courage, that
preserved for her faith and reason. It was a great day for the
Macnamaras when their big fiend drove over their next neighbour,
Mrs. Hamilton, to make her first call.

Another result of Shock's work became apparent in the gradual
development of Loon Lake, or "The Lake," as it was most frequently
named, into a centre of social life. In the first place a school had
been established, in which Marion had been installed as teacher, and
once the children came to the village it was easier for the parents
to find their way thither.

Every week, too, The Kid and Ike found occasions to visit The Lake
and call for Shock, who made his home, for the most part, with the
Old Prospector. Every week, too, the doctor would appear to pay a
visit to his patients; but, indeed, in some way or other the doctor
was being constantly employed on cases discovered by Shock. The
Macnamara's baby with the club-foot, Scrub Kettle's girl with the
spinal trouble; Lawrence Delamere, the handsome young English lad up
in "The Pass," whose leg, injured in a mine accident, never would
heal till the doctor had scraped the bone--these and many others
owed their soundness to Shock's prospecting powers and to the
doctor's skill. And so many a mile they drove together to their
mutual good. For, while the doctor prosecuted with delight and
diligence his healing art, all unconsciously he himself was
regaining something of his freedom and manhood.

"Digs 'em up, don't he?" said Ike one Sunday, when the second flat
of Jim Ross's store was filled with men and women who, though they
had lived in the country for from two to twenty years, were still
for the most part strangers to each other. "Digs 'em up like the
boys dig the badgers. Got to come out of their holes when he gits
after 'em."

"Dat's so," said Perault, who had become an ardent follower of
Shock's. "Dat's so. All same lak ole boss."

"Prospector, eh?" said Ike.

"Oui. Prospector, sure enough, by gar!" replied Perault, with the
emphasis of a man who has stumbled upon a great find; and the name
came at once to be recognised as so eminently suitable that from
that time forth it stuck, and all the more that before many weeks
there was none to dispute the title with him.

All this time the Old Prospector fretted and wasted with an inward
fever that baffled the doctor's skill, and but for the visits of his
friends and their constant assurances that next week would see him
fit, the old man would have succumbed.

"It's my opinion," said Ike, who with The Kid had made a habit of
dropping in for a visit to the sick man, and then would dispose
themselves outside for a smoke, listening the while to the flow of
song and story wherewith his daughter would beguile the old man from
his weariness; "it's my opinion that it aint either that rheumatism
nor that there pewmonia,"--Ike had once glanced at the doctor's
label which distinguished the pneumonia medicine from that
prescribed for rheumatism,--"it aint either the rheumatism nor that
there pewmonia," he repeated, "that's a-killin' him."

"What then do you think it is, Ike?" said the doctor, to whom Ike
had been confiding this opinion.

"It's frettin'; frettin' after the trail and the Lost River. For
thirteen years he's chased that river, and he'll die a-chasin' it."

"Well, he'll certainly die if he starts after it in his present

"Maybe so, doctor. I wouldn't interdict any opinion of yours. But I
reckon he'd die a mighty sight easier."

"Well, Ike, my boy," said the doctor in his gentle voice, "perhaps
you are right, perhaps you're right. The suggestion is worth

And the result seemed to justify Ike's opinion, for from the day
that the doctor fixed the time for the Old Prospector's departure
the fever abated, his philosophic calm returned, he became daily
stronger and daily more cheerful and courageous, and though he was
troubled still with a cough he departed one bright day, with
Perault, in high spirits.

"I shall remember you all," he cried, waving his hand gaily in
farewell. "Doctor, I shall build you a hospital where your skill
will have opportunity and scope. Mr. Macgregor, your heart will be
delighted with that church-manse-school building of yours." This was
Shock's pet scheme for the present. "To all of you suitable rewards.
This time I see success. Farewell."

After he had turned away he reined back his pony and addressed Shock

"Mr. Macgregor," he said, with almost solemn earnestness, "I give my
daughter into your charge. I am sure you will watch over her. She
will be comfortable with Josie, and she will be safe under your

His spirit of enthusiastic confidence caught all the crowd standing
by, so that they gave him a hearty cheer in farewell.

"Did not say what he would give us, eh, Carroll?" said Crawley, who
with Carroll stood at the back of the crowd.

"Blanked old fool!" growled Carroll.

"And yet he has a marvellous instinct for mines," said Crawley, "and
this time he has got something more than usual in his head, I
believe. He has been particularly secretive. I could not get
anything out of him. Guess he means to euchre us out of our share of
anything big, partner."

"Curse him for an owld thief!" said Carroll. "I'll have it out av
his hide, so I will, if he tries that."

"Then, Carroll, you'll have to do it when his big friend is not

Carroll's answer was a perfect flood of profanity, copious enough to
include not only the Old Prospector, Shock, all the relatives living
and dead, but Crawley, who stood listening with a sarcastic grin on
his evil face.

"Well, well," at last said Crawley soothingly, "your time will come.
And, partner, you may depend on me when it comes. I owe him
something, too, and I would rather pay it than get a mine."

The days that followed the Old Prospector's departure were lonely
enough for his daughter. Her father's illness had brought to them
both the inestimable boon of mutual acquaintance and affection. It
was the girl's first experience of having near her one to whom she
could freely give the long-hoarded treasures of her love; and now
that he was gone she could only wonder how she could have lived so
long without him. It was well for her that she had her school, which
she transferred now to her father's house, for though Shock occupied
the inner room he was very little at home.

In addition to the school there was Patsy, who, never very strong,
had not regained even his puny strength since the operation. Every
fine day Marion would take the little lad for a glorious canter up
the trail that ran along The Lake, but the day was never complete to
Patsy unless it included a visit to the Jumping Rock, and there a
tale, and at least one song. In these rides Stanton, as often as he
visited the village, would join, and then it was the Swallow that
the little cripple would ride, holding his reins in cowboy style
high in one hand, and swaying with careless security in the saddle,
and all the more because of the strong arm about him.

These were happy days to Patsy, happy to young Stanton, happier than
she knew to Marion, and all the happier by contrast to the dark, sad
days that followed.

About three weeks after the Old Prospector's departure a half-breed,
on a cayuse wet and leg-weary, appeared at the Loon Lake Stopping
Place, asking for the preacher.

"Blanked if I know!" growled Carroll. "Off on some fool hunt or

"Ask Ike there," said Crawley, who was sitting on the stoop. "You
belong to his flock, don't you, Ike? Elder, aint you?"

"His flock?" echoed Ike. "Wouldn't mind if I did. I'd be sure of my
company, which I can't always be almost anywhere else. Want the
preacher, eh?" turning to the half-breed.

"Letter from de old man."

"What old man? Let me see it," said Crawley quickly. "Ah! 'Rev. Mr.
Macgregor, or one of his friends.' Guess this is from the Old
Prospector, eh?"

The half-breed nodded.

"Where is he?"

"Way up in mountain," he said, waving his hand toward the hills.

"Well, the preacher isn't here. It must be important," continued
Crawley. "I suppose I might as well open it, especially as it is
likely it will be something about outfit. Eh, Carroll?"

He was about to tear the letter open when Ike interposed.

"Hold up, there. It strikes me you're a little rapid in your
conclusions. Let's have a look at the letter."

Crawley very unwillingly gave it up.

"One of his friends," read Ike, with some difficulty, "You count
yourself in there, do you?" to Crawley. "You'd be mighty lucky if he
agreed with you on that there point. Now I judge this ought to go to
the preacher or, if he aint round, to the young lady."

So saying, Ike, without another glance at the disappointed Crawley,
strode away with the letter to find Marion.

He found her busy in the school. She read the letter, looked at Ike
with white face and wide-open eyes, read it a second time, and said,
"He wants Mr. Macgregor, quick--and me. He is ill. Oh, Ike!" she
cried suddenly, "he is ill, and Mr. Macgregor is away."

"Where did he go?" said Ike shortly.

"I heard him say to Willow Creek, to the Martins. The doctor is with

"The Martins, eh? Why, that's only eight miles, I reckon. Well, git
yourself ready and your horse. I'll be back in an hour and a half."

He turned away, but after he had gone a few steps he strode back.

"No use lookin' like that," he said almost gruffly. "We'll git a
wagon and bring him home easy. A wagon's easier than ridin', though
'taint likely he's very bad."

"Bad!" exclaimed Marion, with a sob. "Oh, Ike you don't know my
father. If he were not bad he would not--" Here her voice failed

"Don't you worry, miss. We'll be on the trail in two hours. And look
here, we'll want beddin' and lots of things, so hustle." And Ike set
off with long strides. "Hustle's the word for her. Got to keep her
busy, poor girl!" he said to himself. "Guess he's a goner. You bet
that old chap don't weaken for no belly-ache. He's right bad."

The only wagon in the place belonged to Carroll. "Want your wagon
and outfit, Carroll," said Ike briefly. "Old Prospector's pretty
bad. Got to get him home."

Carroll growled a refusal. He had never recovered his wanted good
nature since his encounter with Shock, and his resentment against
the one man, seemed to poison his whole nature against all.

"What!" said Ike, amazed at Carroll's refusal. In that country men
in need of anything helped themselves without reference to the

"Why, sure, Carroll," interposed Crawley hastily. "You'll let Ike
have that wagon. I tell you what, I'll drive it for him. Shut up,
Carroll!" he said in an aside. "When do you start, Ike? Two hours?
I'll be there."

In an hour and a half, true to his word, Ike was back with Shock and
the doctor. Before another half hour had gone past they were all on
the trail, Marion riding her pony, Shock and the doctor in the
buckboard, and Crawley driving the wagon, in which, besides mattress
and bedding, were saddles for use when the trail should forbid

After long hesitation Ike decided that he ought not to join the

"That there Crawley," he argued to himself, "aint to be trusted,
especially when he's goin' round lookin' like a blank hyena. But I
guess I'll have to let him go and git back to the ranch." And so
with an uneasy feeling Ike watched them set off.

Half-way back to the ranch he met his boss.

"Hello, Ike," saluted The Kid gaily. "You're needing a powder. Off
your feed, eh?"

"Howdy, boss," replied the cowboy gravely.

"I'm feelin' proper enough, but there's others not so frisky."

"What's up, Ike? Your grandmother poorly?"

"Well, do you know," said Ike, watching The Kid keenly with his half
shut eyes, "there's been a great mix-up at The Lake there. A breed,
half dead with the saddle, came from the Old Prospector askin' for
the preacher. Guess the old chap's about quittin' the trail."

The Kid's hand tightened on the reins.

"Hit him there, I reckon," grunted Ike to himself, but the other
paid no attention. "So," continued Ike, "they've all gone off."


"Why the hull town, seemingly. There's the preacher, and the doctor,
and that there Crawley, with Carroll's wagon outfit. They looked a
little like a circus, except that there want any wild animals.
Unless you'd count Crawley for a monkey, which would be rather hard
on the monkey, I guess."

Ike chuckled, a rare chuckle that seemed to begin a long way below
his diaphragm and work slowly up to his lips.

"What the deuce are you talking about?" enquired The Kid. "What has
Crawley got to do with this?"

"Why," said Ike in a surprised tone, "dunno, onless he's a friend of
the old man's. They do have a lot of business together seemingly. Or
perhaps as company for the gel."

"The girl! Steady there, Swallow," to his mare, for Swallow had
given a sudden spring. "What girl?" demanded The Kid. "Why don't you
talk sense? You didn't say anything about a girl."

"Why, didn't I mention about that gel? Well, I'm gettin' forgetful.
Why, what gel do you think? They aint growin' on rose bushes or old
willows round here, so far as I've seen. Now, how many gels have you
observed in your pilgrimages round that town?"

"Oh, blank you for an idiot!" said The Kid wrathfully. "Do you mean
that the--Miss Mowbray has gone off with the rest?" In spite of his
splendid self-control, as The Kid spoke the name a red flush on his
face could be suddenly seen through the brown tan.

Ike nodded gravely.

"Yes, she's gone. But she'll be all right. The preacher's there.
He'll be busy with the old man, of course, but he'll find some time
for her. And then there's the other chap, you know. He's been mighty
kind to-day, mighty kind, and considerable, too. Can't say as I'd
just cotton to him, but when he likes he's ingraciousin' ways,
mighty ingraciousin' ways."

"Oh!" roared The Kid. "Crawley" Then he looked at his cowboy's face.
"Confound you, Ike! So you were pulling my leg a little, were you?
Never mind, my day will come."

With this he turned the Swallow toward the Lake and set off.

"Good-bye," called out Ike. "Where you going?"

"Oh, I say," cried The Kid, wheeling the Swallow.

"What trail did they take?"

"You mean Crawley?" inquired Ike.

With a curse The Kid bore down upon him.

"Which way did they go?" he demanded.

"Okanagan trail," said Ike, with a slow grin. "So long."

"Good-bye, Ike. You'll see me when I come back."

And The Kid waved his hand, and gave the Swallow her head.

Ike looked after him, and allowed himself the very, unusual
indulgence of a hearty laugh.

"Well," he said, "I tried to help Crawley a little, but somehow it
didn't seem to go right."

A tail chase is a long chase, and so The Kid found it, for the speed
and endurance of the Swallow were both fully tested before the
advance party were overtaken.

As he came in sight of them he pulled himself up with the question,
"What am I doing here? What is my business with that party?" For a
mile or so he rode slowly, keeping out of their sight, trying to
find such answer to this question as would satisfy not so much
himself but those before him, to whom, somehow, he felt an answer
was due. The difficulty of explaining his presence became sensibly
greater as he pictured himself attempting to make it clear to

"It is none of his business, anyway," at length he said impatiently.
"She doesn't want him around. How did he know?"

Crawley was a man of some parts. He had money and ability. He was a
scholar, and could talk well about rocks and plants. The Kid had
heard him discourse to the Old Prospector and Marion many a day on
these subjects, and intelligently, too.

"Well," he said at length, "I may be of some use, anyway. Surely a
fellow has a right to offer his services to his friends in trouble."

With this explanation on his lips he sailed down upon the company.
Marion and the half-breed were riding far in front, Crawley
following as closely as he could with the wagon. Some distance in
the rear were Shock and the doctor in the backboard. The Kid could
hear Crawley pointing out to Marion in a loud voice the striking
features of the beauty that lay around them in such a wealth and
variety of profusion. The words of Ike came to his mind, "mighty

"Confound his impudence!" he growled. "I wonder if she knows the
kind of snake he is? I believe I'll tell her, for her own sake. No,
that won't do, either. Well, I guess I must wait my chance."

Put the chance seemed slow in coming.

"Thought I would ride after you and offer--see if you--if I could be
of service."

"And we are very glad to have you," said Shock heartily.

"Yes, we found you useful on occasion before, and doubtless shall
again," said the doctor, in a tone of pleasant sufferance.

The Kid reined up behind the buckboard, waiting for an excuse to
ride forward, but for miles finding a none.

"I wonder now," said Shock at length, "if we had not better stop and
have tea, and then ride till dark before we camp. If Marion is not
tired that would be the better way."

"I'll ride up and ask," said The Kid eagerly, and before any other
suggestion could be made he was gone.

The proposition found acceptance with Marion and, what was of more
importance, with the half-breed guide.

If The Kid had any doubt of his reception by the girl the glad,
grateful look in her eyes as he drew near was enough to assure him
of her welcome; and as he took the guide's place by her side she
hastened to say, "I am glad you came, Mr. Stanton. It was very kind
of you to come. It was awful riding alone mile after mile."

"Alone!" echoed The Kid.

"Well, I mean you know he cannot talk much English and--"

"Of course," promptly replied The Kid, "I am awfully glad I came,
now. Wasn't sure just how you might take it. I mean, I did not like
pushing myself in, you understand."

"Oh, surely one does not need to explain a kindness such as this,"
said the girl simply. "You see, the doctor and Mr. Macgregor are
together, and will be, and the others--well, I hardly know them."

The trail wound in and out, with short curves and sharp ascents,
among the hills, whose round tops were roughened with the rocks that
jutted through the turf, and were decked with clumps of poplar and
spruce and pine. The world seemed full of brightness to the boy. His
heart overflowed with kindness to all mankind. He found it possible,
indeed, to think of Crawley, even, with a benignant compassion.

Far up in the Pass they camped, in a little sheltered dell all thick
with jack pines, through whose wide-spreading roots ran and
chattered a little mountain brook. But for the anxiety that lay like
lead upon her heart, how delightful to Marion would have been this,
her first, experience of a night out of doors. And when after tea
Shock, sitting close by the fire, read that evening Psalm, breathing
a trust and peace that no circumstances of ill could break, the
spicy air and the deep blue sky overhead, sown with stars that
rained down their gentle beams through the silent night, made for
Marion a holy place where God seemed near, and where it was good to
lie down and rest. "I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for
thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety"

And that sense of security, of being under tender, loving care, did
not forsake her all through the long watches of the night, and
through the weary miles of the next day's travel that brought them
at length to the Old Prospector's camp.

As they neared the camp the trail emerged out of thick bushes into a
wide valley, where great pines stood, with wide spaces between, and
clear of all underbrush. The whole valley was carpeted thick with
pine needles, and gleamed like gold in the yellow light of the
evening sun. The lower boughs under which they rode were dead, and
hung with long streamers of grey moss that gave the trees the
appearance of hoary age.

As they entered the valley instinctively they lowered their voices
and spoke in reverent tones, as if they had been ushered into an
assemblage of ancient and silent sages. On every side the stately
pines led away in long vistas that suggested the aisles of some
noble cathedral. There was no sign of life anywhere, no motion of
leaf or bough, no sound to break the solemn stillness. The clatter
of a hoof over a stone broke on the ear with startling discordance.
The wide reaches of yellow carpet of pine needles, golden and with
black bars of shadow, the long drawn aisles of tall pines, bearing
aloft like stately pillars the high, arched roof of green, the lower
limbs sticking out from the trunks bony and bare but for the pendant
streamers of grey moss, all bathed in the diffused radiance of the
yellow afternoon light, suggested some weird and mighty fane of a
people long dead, whose spirits, haunting these solemn spaces, still
kept over their temple a silent and awful watch.

Out on the trail they met Perault in a frenzy of anxious excitement.

"Tank de Bon Dieu!" he cried brokenly, with hands uplifted. "Come
wit' me, queek! queek!"

"Perault, tell us how your boss is." The doctor's voice was quiet
and authoritative. "And tell us how long he has been ill, and how it
came on. Be very particular. Take plenty of time."

Perault's Gallic temperament responded to the doctor's quiet tone
and manner.

"Oui. Bon," he said, settling down. "Listen to me. We come nice and
slow to dis place, an' den we go up dat gulch for little prospect.
Good ting, too. Good mine dere, sure. But old boss he can't stay. He
must go, go, go. Den we go up 'noder gulch, tree, four day more, for
'noder mine. Pretty good, too. Den one night we comin' back to camp,
old boss feel good. Skeep along lak small sheep. By gar, he's feel
too good! He's fall in crik. Dat's noting. No! Good fire, plenty
blanket make dat all right. But dat night I hear de ole boss groan,
and cry, and turn overe and overe. Light de fire; give him one big
drink wheesky. No good. He's go bad all dat night. Nex' day he's het
noting. Nex' day he's worser and worser. Wat I can do I can't tell.
Den de Bon Dieu he send along dat half-breed. De ole boss he write
letter, an' you come here queek."

"Thank you, Perault. A very lucid explanation, indeed. Now, we shall
see the patient; and you, Miss Marion, had better remain here by the
fire for a few moments."

The doctor passed with Shock into the Old Prospector's tent.

"Mr. Macgregor," cried the old man, stretching out both hands
eagerly to him, "I'm glad you have come. I feared you would not be
in time. But now," sinking back upon his balsam bed, "now all will

"Mr. Mowbray," said Shock, "I have brought the doctor with me. Let
him examine you now, and then we shall soon have you on your feet

The old gentleman smiled up into Shock's face, a smile quiet and

"No," he said between short breaths, "I have taken the long trail.
My quest is over. It is not for me."

"Let the doctor have a look at you," entreated Shock.

"Most certainly," said the Old Prospector, in his wonted calm voice.
"Let the doctor examine me. I am not a man to throw away any hope,
however slight."

As the doctor proceeded with his examination his face grew more and
more grave. At length he said, "It is idle for me to try to conceal
the truth from you, Mr. Mowbray. You are a very sick man. The
inflammation has become general over both lobes of the lung. The
walls of the vessels and the surrounding tissues have lost their
vitality; the vessels are extremely dilated, while exudation and
infiltration have proceeded to an alarming extent. The process of
engorgement is complete."

"Do you consider his condition dangerous, doctor?" said Shock,
breaking in upon the doctor's technical description.

"In a young person the danger would not be so great, but, Mr.
Mowbray, I always tell the truth to my patients. In a man of your
age I think the hope of recovery is very slight indeed."

"Thank you, doctor" said the old man cheerfully. "I knew it long
ago, but I am content that my quest should cease at this point. And
now, if you will give me a few moments of close attention," he said,
turning to Shock, "and if you will see that the privacy of this tent
is absolutely secure, there is little more that I shall require of

The doctor stepped to the door.

"Doctor," said the Old Prospector, "I do not wish you to go. It is
more than I hoped, that there should be beside me when I passed out
of this life two men that I can trust, such as yourself and Mr.
Macgregor. Sit down close beside me and listen."

He pulled out from beneath his pillow an oil-skin parcel, which he
opened, discovering a small bag of buckskin tied with a thong.

"Open it," he said to Shock. "Take out the paper." His voice became
low and eager, and his manner bespoke intense excitement.

"My dear friend," said the doctor, "this will be too much for you.
You must be calm."

"Give me something to drink, doctor, something to steady me a bit,
for I must convey to you the secret of my life's quest."

The doctor administered a stimulant, and then, with less excitement,
but with no less eagerness, the old man proceeded with his story.

"Here," he said, pointing with a trembling finger to a line upon the
paper Shock had spread before him, "here is the trail that leads to
the Lost River. At this point we are now camped. Follow the course
of this stream to this point, half a day's journey, not more; turn
toward the east and cross over this low mountain ridge and you come
to a valley that will strike you as one of peculiar formation. It
has no apparent outlet. That valley," said the Old Prospector,
lowering his voice to a whisper, "is the valley of the Lost River.
This end," keeping his trembling finger at a certain point on the
paper, "has been blocked up by a mountain slide. The other turns
very abruptly, still to the east. Three mountain peaks, kept in
perfect line, will lead you across this blockade to the source of
the Lost River."

"Mr. Mowbray," said Shock, "Perault tells us you only made short
excursions from this point where we are now."

"Listen," said the old man. "I made this discovery last year. I have
breathed it to no one. My claim is yet unstaked, but here," said he,
taking another small buckskin bag from his breast, "here is what I

He tried in vain with his trembling fingers to undo the knot. Shock
took the bag from him and opened it up.

"Empty it out," said the old man, his eyes glittering with fever and

Shock poured forth gold dust and nuggets.

"There," he sighed. "I found these at that spot. Empty the other
bag," he said to Shock. "These are the ones given me by the Indian
so many years ago. The same gold, the same rock, the same nuggets.
There is my Lost River. I thought to stake my claim this summer. I
ought to have staked it last year, but a terrible storm drove me out
of the mountains and I could not complete my work."

The old man ceased his tale, and lay back upon his couch with closed
eyes, and breathing quickly. The doctor and Shock stood looking at
each other in amazement and perplexity.

"Is he quite himself?" said Shock, in a low voice.

The old man caught the question and opened his eyes.

"Doctor, I am quite sane. You know I am quite sane. I am excited, I
confess, but I am quite sane. For thirteen years and more I have
sought for those little pieces of metal and rock, but, thank God! I
have found them, not for myself, but for my girl. I ruined her life-
-I now redeem. And now, Mr. Macgregor, will you undertake a charge
for me? Will you swear to be true, to faithfully carry out the
request I am to make?"

Shock hesitated.

"Do not disappoint me," said the old man, taking hold of Shock's
hand eagerly with his two hands so thin and worn and trembling.
"Promise me," he said.

"I promise," said Shock solemnly.

"I want you to follow this trail, to stake out this claim, to
register it in your name for my daughter, and to develop or dispose
of this mine in the way that may seem best to yourself. I trust you
entirely. I have watched you carefully through these months, and
have regained my faith in my fellow men and my faith in God through
knowing you. I will die in peace because I know you will prove true,
and," after a pause, "because I know God will receive a sinful,
broken man like me. You promise me this, Mr. Macgregor?" The old man
in his eagerness raised himself upon his elbow and stretched out his
hand to Shock.

"Once more," said Shock, in a broken voice, "I promise you, Mr.
Mowbray. I will do my best to carry out what you desire, and so may
God help me!"

The old man sank quietly back on his couch. A smile spread over his
face as he lay with closed eyes, and he breathed, "Thank God! I can
trust you as if you were my son."

"Hark!" he said a moment afterwards in an anxious whisper. "There is
someone near the tent." The doctor hurried out, and found Crawley in
the neighbourhood of the tent gathering some sticks for the fire. He
hastened back.

"It is only Mr. Crawley," he said, "getting some wood for the fire."

A spasm of fear distorted the old man's face.

"Crawley!" he whispered, "I fear him. Don't let him see--or know.
Now take these things--away. I have done with them--I have done with
them! You will give my love--to my daughter," he said to Shock after
some moments of silence.

"She is here," said Shock quietly.

"Here! Now! I feared to ask. God is good. Yes, God is good."

The doctor stepped out of the tent. The old man lay with eager eyes
watching the door.

Swiftly, but with a step composed and steady, his daughter came to

"Father, I am here," she said, dropping on her knees beside him.

"My daughter!" he cried with a sob, while his arms held her in a
close embrace. "My daughter! my daughter! God is good to us."

For a long time they remained silent with their arms about each
other. Shock moved to the door. The girl was the first to master her

"Father," she said quietly, "the doctor tells me you are very ill."

"Yes, my daughter, very ill, but soon I shall be better. Soon quite

The girl lifted up her face quickly.

"Oh, father!" she cried joyfully, "do you think--" The look on her
father's face checked her joy. She could not mistake its meaning.
She threw herself with passionate sobs on the ground beside him.

"Yes, my daughter," went on the old man in a clear, steady voice,
"soon I shall be well. My life has been for years a fevered dream,
but the dream is past. I am about to awake. Dear child, I have
spoiled your life. We have only a few precious hours left. Help me
not to spoil these for you."

At once the girl sat up, wiped her eyes, and grew still.

"Yes, father, we will not lose them."

She put her hand in his.

"You make me strong, my daughter. I have much to say to you, much to
say to you of my past."

She put her fingers on his lips gently.

"Is that best, father, do you think?" she said. looking lovingly
into his face.

He glanced at her in quick surprise. She was a girl no longer, but a
woman, wise and strong and brave.

"Perhaps you are right, my daughter. But you will remember that it
was for you I lived my lonely life, for you I pursued my fevered
quest. You were all I had left in the world after I had laid your
mother in her grave. I feared to bring you to me. Now I know I need
not have feared. Now I know what I have missed, my daughter."

"We have found each other, dear, dear father," the girl said, and
while her voice broke for a moment in a sob her face was bright with

"Yes, my daughter, we have found each other at length. The doors of
my heart, long closed, had grown rusty, but now they are wide open,
and gladly I welcome you."

There was silence for some minutes, then the old man went on,
painfully, with ever-shortening breath. "Now, listen to me
carefully." And then he told her the tale of his search for the Lost
River, ending with the eager exclamation: "And last year I found it.
It is a mine rich beyond my fondest hopes, and it is yours. It is
yours, my daughter."

"Oh, father," cried the girl, losing herself for a moment, "I don't
want the mine. It is you I want."

"Yes, my daughter, I know that well, but for the present it is not
the will of God that I should be with you, and I have learned that
it is good to trust to Him, and without fear I give you, my
daughter, to His care."

Again the girl grew steady and calm.

"Call Mr. Macgregor and the doctor, my dear," her father said.
"These gentlemen alone," he continued when they had come to him,
"hold my secret. Even Perault does not know all. He knows the valley
which we explored last year, but he does not know it is the Lost
River. Mr. Macgregor has promised to see the claim staked. Perault
will guide him to it."

"This paper," taking a packet from his breast, "is my will. In it a
full disposal is made of all. Now I will sign it."

The paper was duly signed and witnessed. With a sigh of content the
old man sank back upon his bed.

"Now all is done. I am well content."

For some time he lay with closed eyes. Then, waking suddenly, he
looked at Shock and said: "Carry me out, Mr. Macgregor. Carry me out
where I can see the trees and the stars. Through long years they
have been my best friends. There, too, I would lie in my long

They made a bed of boughs and skins for him before the camp-fire,
and out into the dry, warm night Shock carried him. In the wide
valley there still lingered the soft light of the dying day, but the
shadows were everywhere lying deeper. Night was rapidly drawing up
her curtains upon the world. The great trees stood in the dim light
silent, solemn, and shadowy, keeping kindly watch over the valley
and all things therein. Over the eastern hill the full moon was just
beginning to rise. The mingled lights of silver and gold falling
through the trees lent a rare, unearthly loveliness to the whole

The Old Prospector, reclining on his couch, let his eyes wander over
the valley and up through the trees to the sky and the stars, while
a smile of full content rested on his face.

"It is a lovely night, dear father," said his daughter, quick to
interpret his thought.

"Yes, my daughter, a rare night. Often have I seen such nights in
this very spot, but never till to-night did their full joy enter my
heart. My life was one long, terrible unreality. To-night the world
is new, and full of loveliness and all peace."

Then he lay in long silence. The doctor came near, touched his
wrist, listened to the beating of his heart, and whispered to his
daughter, "It will not be long now."

The old man opened his eyes. "You are near, my daughter," he said.

"Yes, father, dear, I am here," she replied, pressing his hand
between hers.

"Could you sing something, do you think?"

The girl drew in her breath sharply as with a sob of pain.

"No," said her father. "Never mind, my daughter. It is too much to

"Yes, yes, father, I will sing. What shall I sing?"

"Sing Bernard's great hymn, 'The world is very evil.'"

It was a hymn she had often sung for him, selecting such of its
verses as were more familiar, and as expressed more nearly the
thought in their hearts.

As she began to sing the doctor passed out beyond the firelight to
the side of the tent. There he found Stanton, with his head bowed
low between his knees.

"My boy," said the doctor, "that is very beautiful, but it is very
hard to bear."

"Yes," said Stanton. "I'm a baby. I would like to help her, but I

"Well, my boy, she needs no help that either you or I can give."

Perault, the half-breed, and Crawley sat in silence at the other
side of the fire. Shock remained near, the girl, wondering at her
marvellous self-control. Verse after verse she sang in a voice low,
but clear and sweet. As the refrain occurred again and again,

"O sweet and blessed country, the home of God's elect,
O sweet and blessed country that eager hearts expect,
Jesus, in mercy bring us to that dear land of rest,"

the only change was that the song rose a little clearer and fuller
and with deeper tone.

After she had finished the camp lay in perfect silence.

"Are you asleep, father, dear?" his daughter said at length, but
there was no reply. She touched his hands and his face.

"Father!" she cried in a voice of awe and fear, but still there was
no reply.

The doctor came hastily into the light, looked into the old man's
face, and said: "He is gone."

With a long, low, wailing cry the girl laid herself upon the ground
by her father's side and put her arms around him. They all gathered
about the couch, with the doctor and Shock standing nearest.

"Poor child!" said the doctor softly. "This is a sad night for her."

"Yes," said Shock, in a voice quiet and steady. "For her the night
is sad, but for him the day has dawned and there shall be night no

There, in that wide valley where the yellow pine needles lie deep
and where morning and evening the mingling lights fall softly
through the overarching boughs, they laid the Old Prospector to rest
under the pines and the stars that had been his companions for so



In the main room of the Old Prospector's house some ten or twelve
stern-faced men had gathered. The easy, careless manner that was
characteristic of the ranchers and cowboys of the district had given
place to an air of stern and serious determination. It was evident
that they had gathered for some purpose of more than ordinary
moment. By common consent Sinclair, a shrewd and fair-minded Scotch
rancher who possessed the complete confidence of every man in the
company, both for his integrity and his intelligence, was in the

"Where is Mr. Macgregor?" he enquired.

"Gone to the Fort," answered The Kid. "He is on duty there to-
morrow. He wished me to say, however, that he has no desire to push
this matter, as far as he is personally concerned, but that if the
committee thinks the public good demands his presence and his
testimony he will appear on Monday."

"He ought to be here," said Sinclair, and his tone almost conveyed a

"He'll come if he's wanted, I guess," drawled out Ike, quick to take
his friend's part.

"Well, then let us proceed. Let us get the facts first," said
Sinclair. "Stanton, we would like to hear what you have to say."

"Well," said The Kid, "there is not much that I have to tell, but I
shall begin at the beginning and give you all I know." Stanton's air
of boyish carelessness had quite disappeared, his voice took a
deeper tone than usual, his manner was grave and stern.

"It was six days ago that I happened to call at the Old Prospector's

"To see the preacher, I guess," interrupted Ike gravely, winking at
Macnamara, who responded with a hearty "Ha! ha! Of course!"

"Quit that, Ike," said Sinclair sternly. "We have got business on

"As I was saying," continued the Kid; with heightened colour, "I
called at the Old Prospector's house and found Miss Mowbray in a
state of great anxiety in regard to Mr. Macgregor. She told me how
the doctor had come to see Mr. Macgregor about a week before, in
great excitement, and had informed him that Carroll and Crawley had
set off for the mountains two days before, and how, upon hearing
that, Mr. Macgregor and Perault had hastily followed, having with
them about a week's provisions."

"What reason did Miss Mowbray assign for this?" enquired Sinclair.

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