Part 4 out of 7
And if rip-roaring, swashbuckling, drunken glory is what he is after,
he gets it. The only trouble is, that a whole winter's hard work
goes in two or three weeks. The only redeeming feature is, that he
is never, in or out of his cups, afraid of anything that walks the
A man comes out of the woods or off the drive with two or three
hundred dollars, which he is only too anxious to throw away by the
double handful. It follows naturally that a crew of sharpers are
on hand to find out who gets it. They are a hard lot. Bold,
unprincipled men, they too are afraid of nothing; not even a
drunken lumber-jack, which is one of the dangerous wild animals
of the American fauna. Their business is to relieve the man of
his money as soon as possible. They are experts at their business.
The towns of Bay City and Saginaw alone in 1878 supported over
fourteen hundred tough characters. Block after block was devoted
entirely to saloons. In a radius of three hundred feet from the
famous old Catacombs could be numbered forty saloons, where drinks
were sold by from three to ten "pretty waiter girls." When the
boys struck town, the proprietors and waitresses stood in their
doorways to welcome them.
"Why, Jack!" one would cry, "when did you drift in? Tickled to
death to see you! Come in an' have a drink. That your chum? Come
in, old man, and have a drink. Never mind the pay; that's all right."
And after the first drink, Jack, of course, had to treat, and then
Or if Jack resisted temptation and walked resolutely on, one of the
girls would remark audibly to another.
"He ain't no lumber-jack! You can see that easy 'nuff! He's jest
off th' hay-trail!"
Ten to one that brought him, for the woodsman is above all things
proud and jealous of his craft.
In the center of this whirlpool of iniquity stood the Catacombs as
the hub from which lesser spokes in the wheel radiated. Any old
logger of the Saginaw Valley can tell you of the Catacombs, just
as any old logger of any other valley will tell you of the "Pen,"
the "White Row," the "Water Streets" of Alpena, Port Huron,
Ludington, Muskegon, and a dozen other lumber towns.
The Catacombs was a three-story building. In the basement were
vile, ill-smelling, ill-lighted dens, small, isolated, dangerous.
The shanty boy with a small stake, far gone in drunkenness, there
tasted the last drop of wickedness, and thence was flung unconscious
and penniless on the streets. A trap-door directly into the river
accommodated those who were inconsiderate enough to succumb under
The second story was given over to drinking. Polly Dickson there
reigned supreme, an anomaly. She was as pretty and fresh and
pure-looking as a child; and at the same time was one of the most
ruthless and unscrupulous of the gang. She could at will exercise
a fascination the more terrible in that it appealed at once to her
victim's nobler instincts of reverence, his capacity for what might
be called aesthetic fascination, as well as his passions. When she
finally held him, she crushed him as calmly as she would a fly.
Four bars supplied the drinkables. Dozens of "pretty waiter girls"
served the customers. A force of professional fighters was maintained
by the establishment to preserve that degree of peace which should
look to the preservation of mirrors and glassware.
The third story contained a dance hall and a theater. The character
of both would better be left to the imagination.
Night after night during the season, this den ran at top-steam.
By midnight, when the orgy was at its height, the windows brilliantly
illuminated, the various bursts of music, laughing, cursing, singing,
shouting, fighting, breaking in turn or all together from its open
windows, it was, as Jackson Hines once expressed it to me, like hell
let out for noon.
The respectable elements of the towns were powerless. They could
not control the elections. Their police would only have risked
total annihilation by attempting a raid. At the first sign of
trouble they walked straightly in the paths of their own affairs,
awaiting the time soon to come when, his stake "blown-in," the
last bitter dregs of his pleasure gulped down, the shanty boy would
again start for the woods.
Now in August, however, the first turmoil had died. The "jam" had
boiled into town, "taken it apart," and left the inhabitants to
piece it together again as they could; the "rear" had not yet
arrived. As a consequence, Thorpe found the city comparatively
Here and there swaggered a strapping riverman, his small felt hat
cocked aggressively over one eye, its brim curled up behind; a
cigar stump protruding at an angle from beneath his sweeping
moustache; his hands thrust into the pockets of his trousers,
"stagged" off at the knee; the spikes of his river boots cutting
little triangular pieces from the wooden sidewalk. His eye was
aggressively humorous, and the smile of his face was a challenge.
For in the last month he had faced almost certain death a dozen
times a day. He had ridden logs down the rapids where a loss of
balance meant in one instant a ducking and in the next a blow on
the back from some following battering-ram; he had tugged and
strained and jerked with his peavey under a sheer wall of tangled
timber twenty feet high,--behind which pressed the full power of
the freshet,--only to jump with the agility of a cat from one bit
of unstable footing to another when the first sharp CRACK warned him
that he had done his work, and that the whole mass was about to
break down on him like a wave on the shore; he had worked fourteen
hours a day in ice-water, and had slept damp; he had pried at the
key log in the rollways on the bank until the whole pile had begun
to rattle down into the river like a cascade, and had jumped, or
ridden, or even dived out of danger at the last second. In a
hundred passes he had juggled with death as a child plays with a
rubber balloon. No wonder that he has brought to the town and his
vices a little of the lofty bearing of an heroic age. No wonder
that he fears no man, since nature's most terrible forces of the
flood have hurled a thousand weapons at him in vain. His muscles
have been hardened, his eye is quiet and sure, his courage is
undaunted, and his movements are as quick and accurate as a panther's.
Probably nowhere in the world is a more dangerous man of his hands
than the riverman. He would rather fight than eat, especially when
he is drunk, as, like the cow-boy, he usually is when he gets into
town. A history could be written of the feuds, the wars, the raids
instituted by one camp or one town against another.
The men would go in force sometimes to another city with the avowed
purpose of cleaning it out. One battle I know of lasted nearly all
night. Deadly weapons were almost never resorted to, unless indeed
a hundred and eighty pounds of muscle behind a fist hard as iron
might be considered a deadly weapon. A man hard pressed by numbers
often resorted to a billiard cue, or an ax, or anything else that
happened to be handy, but that was an expedient called out by
necessity. Knives or six-shooters implied a certain premeditation
which was discountenanced.
On the other hand, the code of fair fighting obtained hardly at
all. The long spikes of river-boots made an admirable weapon in the
straight kick. I have seen men whose faces were punctured as thickly
as though by small-pox, where the steel points had penetrated. In a
free-for-all knock-down-and-drag-out, kicking, gouging, and biting
are all legitimate. Anything to injure the other man, provided
always you do not knife him. And when you take a half dozen of these
enduring, active, muscular, and fiery men, not one entertaining in
his innermost heart the faintest hesitation or fear, and set them at
each other with the lightning tirelessness of so many wild-cats, you
get as hard a fight as you could desire. And they seem to like it.
One old fellow, a good deal of a character in his way, used to be
on the "drive" for a firm lumbering near Six Lakes. He was
intensely loyal to his "Old Fellows," and every time he got a
little "budge" in him, he instituted a raid on the town owned by
a rival firm. So frequent and so severe did these battles become
that finally the men were informed that another such expedition
would mean instant discharge. The rule had its effect. The raids
But one day old Dan visited the saloon once too often. He became
very warlike. The other men merely laughed, for they were strong
enough themselves to recognize firmness in others, and it never
occurred to them that they could disobey so absolute a command.
So finally Dan started out quite alone.
He invaded the enemy's camp, attempted to clean out the saloon with
a billiard cue single handed, was knocked down, and would have been
kicked to death as he lay on the floor if he had not succeeded in
rolling under the billiard table where the men's boots could not
reach him. As it was, his clothes were literally torn to ribbons,
one eye was blacked, his nose broken, one ear hung to its place by
a mere shred of skin, and his face and flesh were ripped and torn
everywhere by the "corks" on the boots. Any but a riverman would
have qualified for the hospital. Dan rolled to the other side of
the table, made a sudden break, and escaped.
But his fighting blood was not all spilled. He raided the butcher-
shop, seized the big carving knife, and returned to the battle field.
The enemy decamped--rapidly--some of them through the window. Dan
managed to get in but one blow. He ripped the coat down the man's
back as neatly as though it had been done with shears, one clean
straight cut from collar to bottom seam. A quarter of an inch
nearer would have split the fellow's backbone. As it was, he
escaped without even a scratch.
Dan commandeered two bottles of whisky, and, gory and wounded as he
was, took up the six-mile tramp home, bearing the knife over his
shoulder as a banner of triumph.
Next morning, weak from the combined effects of war and whisky, he
reported to headquarters.
"What is it, Dan?" asked the Old Fellow without turning.
"I come to get my time," replied the riverman humbly.
"What for?" inquired the lumberman.
"I have been over to Howard City," confessed Dan.
The owner turned and looked him over.
"They sort of got ahead of me a little," explained Dan sheepishly.
The lumberman took stock of the old man's cuts and bruises, and
turned away to hide a smile.
"I guess I'll let you off this trip," said he. "Go to work--when
you can. I don't believe you'll go back there again."
"No, sir," replied Dan humbly."
And so the life of alternate work and pleasure, both full of personal
danger, develops in time a class of men whose like is be found only
among the cowboys, scouts, trappers, and Indian fighters of our other
frontiers. The moralists will always hold up the hands of horror at
such types; the philosopher will admire them as the last incarnation
of the heroic age, when the man is bigger than his work. Soon the
factories, the machines, the mechanical structures and constructions,
the various branches of co-operation will produce quasi-automatically
institutions evidently more important than the genius or force of
any one human being. The personal element will have become nearly
eliminated. In the woods and on the frontier still are many whose
powers are greater than their works; whose fame is greater than their
deeds. They are men, powerful, virile, even brutal at times; but
magnificent with the strength of courage and resource.
All this may seem a digression from the thread of our tale, but as
a matter of fact it is necessary that you understand the conditions
of the time and place in which Harry Thorpe had set himself the duty
He had seen too much of incompetent labor to be satisfied with
anything but the best. Although his ideas were not as yet
formulated, he hoped to be able to pick up a crew of first-class
men from those who had come down with the advance, or "jam," of the
spring's drive. They should have finished their orgies by now, and,
empty of pocket, should be found hanging about the boarding-houses
and the quieter saloons. Thorpe intended to offer good wages for
good men. He would not need more than twenty at first, for during
the approaching winter he purposed to log on a very small scale
indeed. The time for expansion would come later.
With this object in view he set out from his hotel about half-past
seven on the day of his arrival, to cruise about in the lumber-jack
district already described. The hotel clerk had obligingly given him
the names of a number of the quieter saloons, where the boys "hung
out" between bursts of prosperity. In the first of these Thorpe was
helped materially in his vague and uncertain quest by encountering
an old acquaintance.
From the sidewalk he heard the vigorous sounds of a one-sided
altercation punctuated by frequent bursts of quickly silenced
laughter. Evidently some one was very angry, and the rest amused.
After a moment Thorpe imagined he recognized the excited voice. So
he pushed open the swinging screen door and entered.
The place was typical. Across one side ran the hard-wood bar with
foot-rest and little towels hung in metal clasps under its edge.
Behind it was a long mirror, a symmetrical pile of glasses, a
number of plain or ornamental bottles, and a miniature keg or so of
porcelain containing the finer whiskys and brandies. The bar-keeper
drew beer from two pumps immediately in front of him, and rinsed
glasses in some sort of a sink under the edge of the bar. The
center of the room was occupied by a tremendous stove capable of
burning whole logs of cordwood. A stovepipe led from the stove here
and there in wire suspension to a final exit near the other corner.
On the wall were two sporting chromos, and a good variety of
lithographed calendars and illuminated tin signs advertising beers
and spirits. The floor was liberally sprinkled with damp sawdust,
and was occupied, besides the stove, by a number of wooden chairs
and a single round table.
The latter, a clumsy heavy affair beyond the strength of an ordinary
man, was being deftly interposed between himself and the attacks of
the possessor of the angry voice by a gigantic young riverman in the
conventional stagged (i.e., chopped off) trousers, "cork" shoes, and
broad belt typical of his craft. In the aggressor Thorpe recognized
old Jackson Hines.
"Damn you!" cried the old man, qualifying the oath, "let me get at
you, you great big sock-stealer, I'll make you hop high! I'll snatch
you bald-headed so quick that you'll think you never had any hair!"
"I'll settle with you in the morning, Jackson," laughed the riverman.
"You want to eat a good breakfast, then, because you won't have no
appetite for dinner."
The men roared, with encouraging calls. The riverman put on a
ludicrous appearance of offended dignity.
"Oh, you needn't swell up like a poisoned pup!" cried old Jackson
plaintively, ceasing his attacks from sheer weariness. "You know
you're as safe as a cow tied to a brick wall behind that table."
Thorpe seized the opportunity to approach.
"Hello, Jackson," said he.
The old man peered at him out of the blur of his excitement.
"Don't you know me?" inquired Thorpe.
"Them lamps gives 'bout as much light as a piece of chalk,"
complained Jackson testily. "Knows you? You bet I do! How are
you, Harry? Where you been keepin' yourself? You look 'bout as
fat as a stall-fed knittin' needle."
"I've been landlooking in the upper peninsula," explained Thorpe,
"on the Ossawinamakee, up in the Marquette country."
"Sho'" commented Jackson in wonder, "way up there where the moon
"It's a fine country," went on Thorpe so everyone could hear, "with
a great cutting of white pine. It runs as high as twelve hundred
thousand to the forty sometimes."
"Trees clean an' free of limbs?" asked Jackson.
"They're as good as the stuff over on seventeen; you remember that."
"Clean as a baby's leg," agreed Jackson.
"Have a glass of beer?" asked Thorpe.
"Dry as a tobacco box," confessed Hines.
"Have something, the rest of you?" invited Thorpe.
So they all drank.
On a sudden inspiration Thorpe resolved to ask the old man's advice
as to crew and horses. It might not be good for much, but it would
do no harm.
Jackson listened attentively to the other's brief recital.
"Why don't you see Tim Shearer? He ain't doin' nothin' since the
jam came down," was his comment.
"Isn't he with the M. & D. people?" asked Thorpe.
"'Count of Morrison. Morrison he comes up to run things some. He
does. Tim he's getting the drive in shape, and he don't want to be
bothered, but old Morrison he's as busy as hell beatin' tan-bark.
Finally Tim, he calls him. "'Look here, Mr. Morrison,' says he,
'I'm runnin' this drive. If I don't get her there, all right; you
can give me my time. 'Till then you ain't got nothin' to say.'
"Well, that makes the Old Fellow as sore as a scalded pup. He's
used to bossin' clerks and such things, and don't have much of an
idea of lumber-jacks. He has big ideas of respect, so he 'calls'
Tim dignified like.
"Tim didn't hit him; but I guess he felt like th' man who met the
bear without any weapon,--even a newspaper would 'a' come handy. He
hands in his time t' once and quits. Sence then he's been as mad as
a bar-keep with a lead quarter, which ain't usual for Tim. He's been
filin' his teeth for M. & D. right along. Somethin's behind it all,
"Where'll I find him?" asked Thorpe.
Jackson gave the name of a small boarding-house. Shortly after,
Thorpe left him to amuse the others with his unique conversation,
and hunted up Shearer's stopping-place.
The boarding-house proved to be of the typical lumber-jack class, a
narrow "stoop," a hall-way and stairs in the center, and an office
and bar on either side. Shearer and a half dozen other men about
his own age sat, their chairs on two legs and their "cork" boots on
the rounds of the chairs, smoking placidly in the tepid evening air.
The light came from inside the building, so that while Thorpe was
in plain view, he could not make out which of the dark figures on
the piazza was the man he wanted. He approached, and attempted an
identifying scrutiny. The men, with the taciturnity of their class
in the presence of a stranger, said nothing.
"Well, bub," finally drawled a voice from the corner, "blowed that
stake you made out of Radway, yet?"
"That you, Shearer?" inquired Thorpe advancing. "You're the man I'm
"You've found me," replied the old man dryly.
Thorpe was requested elaborately to "shake hands" with the owners
of six names. Then he had a chance to intimate quietly to Shearer
that he wanted a word with him alone. The riverman rose silently
and led the way up the straight, uncarpeted stairs, along a narrow,
uncarpeted hall, to a square, uncarpeted bedroom. The walls and
ceiling of this apartment were of unpainted planed pine. It
contained a cheap bureau, one chair, and a bed and washstand to
match the bureau. Shearer lit the lamp and sat on the bed.
"What is it?" he asked.
"I have a little pine up in the northern peninsula within walking
distance of Marquette," said Thorpe, "and I want to get a crew of
about twenty men. It occurred to me that you might be willing to
The riverman frowned steadily at his interlocutor from under his
"How much pine you got?" he asked finally.
"About three hundred millions," replied Thorpe quietly.
The old man's blue eyes fixed themselves with unwavering steadiness
on Thorpe's face.
"You're jobbing some of it, eh?" he submitted finally as the only
probable conclusion. "Do you think you know enough about it? Who
does it belong to?"
"It belongs to a man named Carpenter and myself."
The riverman pondered this slowly for an appreciable interval, and
then shot out another question.
"How'd you get it?"
Thorpe told him simply, omitting nothing except the name of the firm
up-river. When he had finished, Shearer evinced no astonishment nor
"You done well," he commented finally. Then after another interval:
"Have you found out who was the men stealin' the pine?"
"Yes," replied Thorpe quietly, "it was Morrison & Daly."
The old man flickered not an eyelid. He slowly filled his pipe and
"I'll get you a crew of men," said he, "if you'll take me as foreman."
"But it's a little job at first," protested Thorpe. "I only want
a camp of twenty. It wouldn't be worth your while."
"That's my look-out. I'll take th' job," replied the logger grimly.
"You got three hundred million there, ain't you? And you're goin'
to cut it? It ain't such a small job."
Thorpe could hardly believe his good-fortune in having gained so
important a recruit. With a practical man as foreman, his mind
would be relieved of a great deal of worry over unfamiliar detail.
He saw at once that he would himself be able to perform all the
duties of scaler, keep in touch with the needs of the camp, and
supervise the campaign. Nevertheless he answered the older man's
glance with one as keen, and said:
"Look here, Shearer, if you take this job, we may as well understand
each other at the start. This is going to be my camp, and I'm going
to be boss. I don't know much about logging, and I shall want you
to take charge of all that, but I shall want to know just why you do
each thing, and if my judgment advises otherwise, my judgment goes.
If I want to discharge a man, he WALKS without any question. I know
about what I shall expect of each man; and I intend to get it out of
him. And in questions of policy mine is the say-so every trip. Now
I know you're a good man, one of the best there is,and I presume I
shall find your judgment the best, but I don't want any mistakes to
start with. If you want to be my foreman on those terms, just say
so, and I'll be tickled to death to have you."
For the first time the lumberman's face lost, during a single
instant, its mask of immobility. His steel-blue eyes flashed, his
mouth twitched with some strong emotion. For the first time, too,
he spoke without his contemplative pause of preparation.
"That's th' way to talk!" he cried. "Go with you? Well I should
rise to remark! You're the boss; and I always said it. I'll get
you a gang of bully boys that will roll logs till there's skating
Thorpe left, after making an appointment at his own hotel for the
following day, more than pleased with his luck. Although he had by
now fairly good and practical ideas in regard to the logging of a
bunch of pine, he felt himself to be very deficient in the details.
In fact, he anticipated his next step with shaky confidence. He
would now be called upon to buy four or five teams of horses, and
enough feed to last them the entire winter; he would have to arrange
for provisions in abundance and variety for his men; he would have to
figure on blankets, harness, cook-camp utensils, stoves, blacksmith
tools, iron, axes, chains, cant-hooks, van-goods, pails, lamps, oil,
matches, all sorts of hardware,--in short, all the thousand and one
things, from needles to court-plaster, of which a self-sufficing
community might come in need. And he would have to figure out his
requirements for the entire winter. After navigation closed, he
could import nothing more.
How could he know what to buy,--how many barrels of flour, how much
coffee, raisins, baking powder, soda, pork, beans, dried apples,
sugar, nutmeg, pepper, salt, crackers, molasses, ginger, lard, tea,
corned beef, catsup, mustard,--to last twenty men five or six months?
How could he be expected to think of each item of a list of two
hundred, the lack of which meant measureless bother, and the
desirability of which suggested itself only when the necessity
arose? It is easy, when the mind is occupied with multitudinous
detail, to forget simple things, like brooms or iron shovels. With
Tim Shearer to help his inexperience, he felt easy. He knew he
could attend to advantageous buying, and to making arrangements
with the steamship line to Marquette for the landing of his goods
at the mouth of the Ossawinamakee.
Deep in these thoughts, he wandered on at random. He suddenly came
to himself in the toughest quarter of Bay City.
Through the summer night shrilled the sound of cachinations painted
to the colors of mirth. A cheap piano rattled and thumped through
an open window. Men's and women's voices mingled in rising and
falling gradations of harshness. Lights streamed irregularly across
Thorpe became aware of a figure crouched in the door-way almost at
his feet. The sill lay in shadow so the bulk was lost, but the
flickering rays of a distant street lamp threw into relief the
high-lights of a violin, and a head. The face upturned to him was
thin and white and wolfish under a broad white brow. Dark eyes
gleamed at him with the expression of a fierce animal. Across the
forehead ran a long but shallow cut from which blood dripped. The
creature clasped both arms around a violin. He crouched there and
stared up at Thorpe, who stared down at him.
"What's the matter?" asked the latter finally.
The creature made no reply, but drew his arms closer about his
instrument, and blinked his wolf eyes.
Moved by some strange, half-tolerant whim of compassion, Thorpe
made a sign to the unknown to rise.
"Come with me," said he, "and I'll have your forehead attended to."
The wolf eyes gleamed into his with a sudden savage concentration.
Then their owner obediently arose.
Thorpe now saw that the body before him was of a cripple, short-
legged, hunch-backed, long-armed, pigeon-breasted. The large
head sat strangely top-heavy between even the broad shoulders.
It confirmed the hopeless but sullen despair that brooded on the
At the hotel Thorpe, examining the cut, found it more serious in
appearance than in reality. With a few pieces of sticking plaster
he drew its edges together.
Then he attempted to interrogate his find.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"How did you get hurt?"
"Were you playing your fiddle in one of those houses?"
The cripple nodded slowly.
"Are you hungry?" asked Thorpe, with a sudden thoughtfulness.
"Yes," replied the cripple, with a lightning gleam in his wolf eyes.
Thorpe rang the bell. To the boy who answered it he said:
"Bring me half a dozen beef sandwiches and a glass of milk, and be
quick about it."
"Do you play the fiddle much?" continued Thorpe.
The cripple nodded again.
"Let's hear what you can do."
"They cut my strings!" cried Phil with a passionate wail.
The cry came from the heart, and Thorpe was touched by it. The price
of strings was evidently a big sum.
"I'll get you more in the morning," said he. "Would you like to
leave Bay City?"
"Yes" cried the boy with passion.
"You would have to work. You would have to be chore-boy in a lumber
camp, and play fiddle for the men when they wanted you to."
"I'll do it," said the cripple.
"Are you sure you could? You will have to split all the wood for
the men, the cook, and the office; you will have to draw the water,
and fill the lamps, and keep the camps clean. You will be paid for
it, but it is quite a job. And you would have to do it well. If
you did not do it well, I would discharge you."
"I will do it!" repeated the cripple with a shade more earnestness.
"All right, then I'll take you," replied Thorpe.
The cripple said nothing, nor moved a muscle of his face, but the
gleam of the wolf faded to give place to the soft, affectionate glow
seen in the eyes of a setter dog. Thorpe was startled at the change.
A knock announced the sandwiches and milk. The cripple fell upon
them with both hands in a sudden ecstacy of hunger. When he had
finished, he looked again at Thorpe, and this time there were tears
in his eyes.
A little later Thorpe interviewed the proprietor of the hotel.
"I wish you'd give this boy a good cheap room and charge his keep
to me," said he. "He's going north with me."
Phil was led away by the irreverent porter, hugging tightly his
unstrung violin to his bosom.
Thorpe lay awake for some time after retiring. Phil claimed a
share of his thoughts.
Thorpe's winter in the woods had impressed upon him that a good
cook and a fiddler will do more to keep men contented than high
wages and easy work. So his protection of the cripple was not
entirely disinterested. But his imagination persisted in occupying
itself with the boy. What terrible life of want and vicious
associates had he led in this terrible town? What treatment could
have lit that wolf-gleam in his eyes? What hell had he inhabited
that he was so eager to get away? In an hour or so he dozed. He
dreamed that the cripple had grown to enormous proportions and was
overshadowing his life. A slight noise outside his bed-room door
brought him to his feet.
He opened the door and found that in the stillness of the night the
poor deformed creature had taken the blankets from his bed and had
spread them across the door-sill of the man who had befriended him.
Three weeks later the steam barge Pole Star sailed down the reach
of Saginaw Bay.
Thorpe had received letters from Carpenter advising him of a credit
to him at a Marquette bank, and inclosing a draft sufficient for
current expenses. Tim Shearer had helped make out the list of
necessaries. In time everything was loaded, the gang-plank hauled
in, and the little band of Argonauts set their faces toward the
point where the Big Dipper swings.
The weather was beautiful. Each morning the sun rose out of the
frosty blue lake water, and set in a sea of deep purple. The moon,
once again at the full, drew broad paths across the pathless waste.
From the southeast blew daily the lake trades, to die at sunset,
and then to return in the soft still nights from the west. A more
propitious beginning for the adventure could not be imagined.
The ten horses in the hold munched their hay and oats as peaceably
as though at home in their own stables. Jackson Hines had helped
select them from the stock of firms changing locality or going out
of business. His judgment in such matters was infallible, but he
had resolutely refused to take the position of barn-boss which
Thorpe offered him.
"No," said he, "she's too far north. I'm gettin' old, and the
rheumatics ain't what you might call abandonin' of me. Up there
it's colder than hell on a stoker's holiday."
So Shearer had picked out a barn-boss of his own. This man was
important, for the horses are the mainstay of logging operations.
He had selected also, a blacksmith, a cook, four teamsters, half
a dozen cant-hook men, and as many handy with ax or saw.
"The blacksmith is also a good wood-butcher (carpenter)," explained
Shearer. "Four teams is all we ought to keep going at a clip. If
we need a few axmen, we can pick 'em up at Marquette. I think this
gang'll stick. I picked 'em."
There was not a young man in the lot. They were most of them in the
prime of middle life, between thirty and forty, rugged in appearance,
"cocky" in manner, with the swagger and the oath of so many
hard as nails. Altogether Thorpe thought them about as rough a set
of customers as he had ever seen. Throughout the day they played
cards on deck, and spat tobacco juice abroad, and swore incessantly.
Toward himself and Shearer their manner was an odd mixture of
independent equality and a slight deference. It was as much as
to say, "You're the boss, but I'm as good a man as you any day."
They would be a rough, turbulent, unruly mob to handle, but under
a strong man they might accomplish wonders.
Constituting the elite of the profession, as it were,--whose swagger
every lad new to the woods and river tried to emulate, to whom
lesser lights looked up as heroes and models, and whose lofty, half-
contemptuous scorn of everything and everybody outside their circle
of "bully boys" was truly the aristocracy of class,--Thorpe might
have wondered at their consenting to work for an obscure little camp
belonging to a greenhorn. Loyalty to and pride in the firm for
which he works is a strong characteristic of the lumber-jack. He
will fight at the drop of a hat on behalf of his "Old Fellows"; brag
loud and long of the season's cut, the big loads, the smart methods
of his camps; and even after he has been discharged for some flagrant
debauch, he cherishes no rancor, but speaks with a soft reminiscence
to the end of his days concerning "that winter in '8I when the Old
Fellows put in sixty million on Flat River."
For this reason he feels that he owes it to his reputation to ally
himself only with firms of creditable size and efficiency. The small
camps are for the youngsters. Occasionally you will see two or three
of the veterans in such a camp, but it is generally a case of lacking
The truth is, Shearer had managed to inspire in the minds of his
cronies an idea that they were about to participate in a fight. He
re-told Thorpe's story artistically, shading the yellows and the
reds. He detailed the situation as it existed. The men agreed that
the "young fellow had sand enough for a lake front." After that
there needed but a little skillful maneuvering to inspire them with
the idea that it would be a great thing to take a hand, to "make a
camp" in spite of the big concern up-river.
Shearer knew that this attitude was tentative. Everything depended
on how well Thorpe lived up to his reputation at the outset,--how
good a first impression of force and virility he would manage to
convey,--for the first impression possessed the power of transmuting
the present rather ill-defined enthusiasm into loyalty or
dissatisfaction. But Tim himself believed in Thorpe blindly. So he
had no fears.
A little incident at the beginning of the voyage did much to reassure
him. It was on the old question of whisky.
Thorpe had given orders that no whisky was to be brought aboard,
as he intended to tolerate no high-sea orgies. Soon after leaving
dock he saw one of the teamsters drinking from a pint flask. Without
a word he stepped briskly forward, snatched the bottle from the man's
lips, and threw it overboard. Then he turned sharp on his heel and
walked away, without troubling himself as to how the fellow was going
to take it.
The occurrence pleased the men, for it showed them they had made no
mistake. But it meant little else. The chief danger really was
lest they become too settled in the protective attitude. As they
took it, they were about, good-naturedly, to help along a worthy
greenhorn. This they considered exceedingly generous on their part,
and in their own minds they were inclined to look on Thorpe much as
a grown man would look on a child. There needed an occasion for him
to prove himself bigger than they.
Fine weather followed them up the long blue reach of Lake Huron;
into the noble breadth of the Detour Passage, past the opening
through the Thousand Islands of the Georgian Bay; into the St.
Mary's River. They were locked through after some delay on
account of the grain barges from Duluth, and at last turned their
prow westward in the Big Sea Water, beyond which lay Hiawatha's
Po-ne-mah, the Land of the Hereafter.
Thorpe was about late that night, drinking in the mystic beauty of
the scene. Northern lights, pale and dim, stretched their arc
across beneath the Dipper. The air, soft as the dead leaves of
spring, fanned his cheek. By and by the moon, like a red fire
at sea, lifted itself from the waves. Thorpe made his way to the
stern, beyond the square deck house, where he intended to lean on
the rail in silent contemplation of the moon-path.
He found another before him. Phil, the little cripple, was peering
into the wonderful east, its light in his eyes. He did not look at
Thorpe when the latter approached, but seemed aware of his presence,
for he moved swiftly to give room.
"It is very beautiful; isn't it, Phil?" said Thorpe after a moment.
"It is the Heart Song of the Sea," replied the cripple in a hushed
Thorpe looked down surprised.
"Who told you that?" he asked.
But the cripple, repeating the words of a chance preacher, could
explain himself no farther. In a dim way the ready-made phrase had
expressed the smothered poetic craving of his heart,--the belief
that the sea, the sky, the woods, the men and women, you, I, all
have our Heart Songs, the Song which is most beautiful.
"The Heart Song of the Sea," he repeated gropingly. "I don't know
. . .I play it," and he made the motion of drawing a bow across
strings, "very still and low." And this was all Thorpe's question
Thorpe fell silent in the spell of the night, and pondered over
the chances of life which had cast on the shores of the deep as
driftwood the soul of a poet.
"Your Song," said the cripple timidly, "some day I will hear it.
Not yet. That night in Bay City, when you took me in, I heard it
very dim. But I cannot play it yet on my violin."
"Has your violin a song of its own?" queried the man.
"I cannot hear it. It tries to sing, but there is something in the
way. I cannot. Some day I will hear it and play it, but--" and he
drew nearer Thorpe and touched his arm--"that day will be very bad
for me. I lose something." His eyes of the wistful dog were big
"Queer little Phil!" cried Thorpe laughing whimsically. "Who tells
you these things?"
"Nobody," said the cripple dreamily, "they come when it is like to-
night. In Bay City they do not come."
At this moment a third voice broke in on them.
"Oh, it's you, Mr. Thorpe," said the captain of the vessel. "Thought
it was some of them lumber-jacks, and I was going to fire 'em below.
"It is that," answered Thorpe, again the cold, unresponsive man of
reticence. "When do you expect to get in, Captain?"
"About to-morrow noon," replied the captain, moving away. Thorpe
followed him a short distance, discussing the landing. The cripple
stood all night, his bright, luminous eyes gazing clear and unwinking
at the moonlight, listening to his Heart Song of the Sea.
Next morning continued the traditions of its calm predecessors.
Therefore by daybreak every man was at work. The hatches were
opened, and soon between-decks was cumbered with boxes, packing
cases, barrels, and crates. In their improvised stalls, the patient
horses seemed to catch a hint of shore-going and whinnied. By ten
o'clock there loomed against the strange coast line of the Pictured
Rocks, a shallow bay and what looked to be a dock distorted by the
"That's her," said the captain.
Two hours later the steamboat swept a wide curve, slid between the
yellow waters of two outlying reefs, and, with slackened speed,
moved slowly toward the wharf of log cribs filled with stone.
The bay or the dock Thorpe had never seen. He took them on the
captain's say-so. He knew very well that the structure had been
erected by and belonged to Morrison & Daly, but the young man had
had the foresight to purchase the land lying on the deep water side
of the bay. He therefore anticipated no trouble in unloading; for
while Morrison & Daly owned the pier itself, the land on which it
abutted belonged to him.
From the arms of the bay he could make out a dozen figures standing
near the end of the wharf. When, with propeller reversed, the Pole
Star bore slowly down towards her moorings, Thorpe recognized Dyer
at the head of eight or ten woodsmen. The sight of Radway's old
scaler somehow filled him with a quiet but dangerous anger, especially
since that official, on whom rested a portion at least of the
responsibility of the jobber's failure, was now found in the employ
of the very company which had attempted that failure. It looked
"Catch this line!" sung out the mate, hurling the coil of a handline
on the wharf.
No one moved, and the little rope, after a moment, slid overboard
with a splash.
The captain, with a curse, signalled full speed astern.
"Captain Morse!" cried Dyer, stepping forward. "My orders are that
you are to land here nothing but M. & D. merchandise."
"I have a right to land," answered Thorpe. "The shore belongs to
"This dock doesn't," retorted the other sharply, "and you can't
set foot on her."
"You have no legal status. You had no business building in the
first place---" began Thorpe, and then stopped with a choke of
anger at the futility of arguing legality in such a case.
The men had gathered interestedly in the waist of the ship, cool,
impartial, severely critical. The vessel, gathering speed astern,
but not yet obeying her reversed helm, swung her bow in towards the
dock. Thorpe ran swiftly forward, and during the instant of rubbing
He alighted squarely upon his feet. Without an instant's hesitation,
hot with angry energy at finding his enemy within reach of his hand,
he rushed on Dyer, and with one full, clean in-blow stretched him
stunned on the dock. For a moment there was a pause of astonishment.
Then the woodsmen closed upon him.
During that instant Thorpe had become possessed of a weapon It came
hurling through the air from above to fall at his feet. Shearer,
with the cool calculation of the pioneer whom no excitement can
distract from the main issue, had seen that it would be impossible
to follow his chief, and so had done the next best thing,--thrown
him a heavy iron belaying pin.
Thorpe was active, alert, and strong. The men could come at him
only in front. As offset, he could not give ground, even for one
step. Still, in the hands of a powerful man, the belaying pin is by
no means a despicable weapon. Thorpe hit with all his strength and
quickness. He was conscious once of being on the point of defeat.
Then he had cleared a little space for himself. Then the men were
on him again more savagely than ever. One fellow even succeeded in
hitting him a glancing blow on the shoulder.
Then came a sudden crash. Thorpe was nearly thrown from his feet.
The next instant a score of yelling men leaped behind and all
around him. There ensued a moment's scuffle, the sound of dull
blows; and the dock was clear of all but Dyer and three others
who were, like himself, unconscious. The captain, yielding to
the excitement, had run his prow plump against the wharf.
Some of the crew received the mooring lines. All was ready for
Bryan Moloney, a strapping Irish-American of the big-boned, red-
cheeked type, threw some water over the four stunned combatants.
Slowly they came to life. They were promptly yanked to their feet
by the irate rivermen, who commenced at once to bestow sundry
vigorous kicks and shakings by way of punishment. Thorpe interposed.
"Quit it!" he commanded. "Let them go!"
The men grumbled. One or two were inclined to be openly rebellious.
"If I hear another peep out of you," said Thorpe to these latter,
"you can climb right aboard and take the return trip." He looked
them in the eye until they muttered, and then went on: "Now, we've
got to get unloaded and our goods ashore before those fellows report
to camp. Get right moving, and hustle!"
If the men expected any comment, approval, or familiarity from their
leader on account of their little fracas, they were disappointed.
This was a good thing. The lumber-jack demands in his boss a
certain fundamental unapproachability, whatever surface bonhomie
he may evince.
So Dyer and his men picked themselves out of the trouble sullenly
and departed. The ex-scaler had nothing to say as long as he was
within reach, but when he had gained the shore, he turned.
"You won't think this is so funny when you get in the law-courts!"
Thorpe made no reply. "I guess we'll keep even," he muttered.
"By the jumping Moses," snarled Scotty Parsons turning in threat.
"Scotty!" said Thorpe sharply.
Scotty turned back to his task, which was to help the blacksmith
put together the wagon, the component parts of which the others had
With thirty men at the job it does not take a great while to move
a small cargo thirty or forty feet. By three o'clock the Pole Star
was ready to continue her journey. Thorpe climbed aboard, leaving
Shearer in charge.
Keep the men at it, Tim," said he. "Put up the walls of the warehouse
good and strong, and move the stuff in. If it rains, you can spread
the tent over the roof, and camp in with the provisions. If you get
through before I return, you might take a scout up the river and fix
on a camp site. I'll bring back the lumber for roofs, floors, and
trimmings with me, and will try to pick up a few axmen for swamping.
Above all things, have a good man or so always in charge. Those
fellows won't bother us any more for the present, I think; but it
pays to be on deck. So long."
In Marquette, Thorpe arranged for the cashing of his time checks
and orders; bought lumber at the mills; talked contract with old
Harvey, the mill-owner and prospective buyer of the young man's
cut; and engaged four axmen whom he found loafing about, waiting
for the season to open.
When he returned to the bay he found the warehouse complete except
for the roofs and gables. These, with their reinforcement of tar-
paper, were nailed on in short order. Shearer and Andrews, the
surveyor, were scouting up the river.
"No trouble from above, boys?" asked Thorpe.
"Nary trouble," they replied.
The warehouse was secured by padlocks, the wagon loaded with the
tent and the necessaries of life and work. Early in the morning
the little procession laughing, joking, skylarking with the high
spirits of men in the woods took its way up the river-trail. Late
that evening, tired, but still inclined to mischief, they came to
the first dam, where Shearer and Andrews met them.
"How do you like it, Tim?" asked Thorpe that evening.
"She's all right," replied the riverman with emphasis; which, for
him, was putting it strong.
At noon of the following day the party arrived at the second dam.
Here Shearer had decided to build the permanent camp. Injin Charley
was constructing one of his endless series of birch-bark canoes.
Later he would paddle the whole string to Marquette, where he would
sell them to a hardware dealer for two dollars and a half apiece.
To Thorpe, who had walked on ahead with his foreman, it seemed that
he had never been away. There was the knoll; the rude camp with the
deer hides; the venison hanging suspended from the pole; the endless
broil and tumult of the clear north-country stream; the yellow glow
over the hill opposite. Yet he had gone a nearly penniless
he returned at the head of an enterprise.
Injin Charley looked up and grunted as Thorpe approached.
"How are you, Charley?" greeted Thorpe reticently.
"You gettum pine? Good!" replied Charley in the same tone.
That was all; for strong men never talk freely of what is in their
hearts. There is no need; they understand.
Two months passed away. Winter set in. The camp was built and
inhabited. Routine had established itself, and all was going well.
The first move of the M. & D. Company had been one of conciliation.
Thorpe was approached by the walking-boss of the camps up-river. The
man made no reference to or excuse for what had occurred, nor did he
pretend to any hypocritical friendship for the younger firm. His
proposition was entirely one of mutual advantage. The Company had
gone to considerable expense in constructing the pier of stone cribs.
It would be impossible for the steamer to land at any other point.
Thorpe had undisputed possession of the shore, but the Company could
as indisputably remove the dock. Let it stay where it was. Both
companies could then use it for their mutual convenience.
To this Thorpe agreed. Baker, the walking-boss, tried to get him to
sign a contract to that effect. Thorpe refused.
"Leave your dock where it is and use it when you want to," said
he. "I'll agree not to interfere as long as you people behave
The actual logging was opening up well. Both Shearer and Thorpe
agreed that it would not do to be too ambitious the first year.
They set about clearing their banking ground about a half mile
below the first dam; and during the six weeks before snow-fall cut
three short roads of half a mile each. Approximately two million
feet would be put in from these--roads which could be extended in
years to come--while another million could be travoyed directly to
the landing from its immediate vicinity.
"We won't skid them," said Tim. "We'll haul from the stump to the
bank. And we'll tackle only a snowroad proposition:--we ain't got
time to monkey with buildin' sprinklers and plows this year. We'll
make a little stake ahead, and then next year we'll do it right and
get in twenty million. That railroad'll get along a ways by then,
and men'll be more plenty."
Through the lengthening evenings they sat crouched on wooden boxes
either side of the stove, conversing rarely, gazing at one spot
with a steady persistency which was only an outward indication of
the persistency with which their minds held to the work in hand.
Tim, the older at the business, showed this trait more strongly
than Thorpe. The old man thought of nothing but logging. From
the stump to the bank, from the bank to the camp, from the camp
to the stump again, his restless intelligence travelled tirelessly,
picking up, turning over, examining the littlest details with an
ever-fresh curiosity and interest. Nothing was too small to escape
this deliberate scrutiny. Nothing was in so perfect a state that it
did not bear one more inspection. He played the logging as a chess
player his game. One by one he adopted the various possibilities,
remote and otherwise, as hypotheses, and thought out to the uttermost
copper rivet what would be the best method of procedure in case that
possibility should confront him.
Occasionally Thorpe would introduce some other topic of conversation.
The old man would listen to his remark with the attention of courtesy;
would allow a decent period of silence to intervene; and then,
reverting to the old subject without comment on the new, would emit
one of his terse practical suggestions, result of a long spell of
figuring. That is how success is made.
In the men's camp the crew lounged, smoked, danced, or played cards.
In those days no one thought of forbidding gambling. One evening
Thorpe, who had been too busy to remember Phil's violin,--although
he noticed, as he did every other detail of the camp, the cripple's
industry, and the precision with which he performed his duties,--
strolled over and looked through the window. A dance was in progress.
The men were waltzing, whirling solemnly round and round, gripping
firmly each other's loose sleeves just above the elbow. At every
third step of the waltz they stamped one foot.
Perched on a cracker box sat Phil. His head was thrust forward
almost aggressively over his instrument, and his eyes glared at the
dancing men with the old wolf-like gleam. As he played, he drew the
bow across with a swift jerk, thrust it back with another, threw
his shoulders from one side to the other in abrupt time to the
music. And the music! Thorpe unconsciously shuddered; then sighed
in pity. It was atrocious. It was not even in tune. Two out of
three of the notes were either sharp or flat, not so flagrantly as
to produce absolute disharmony, but just enough to set the teeth on
edge. And the rendition was as colorless as that of a poor hand-
The performer seemed to grind out his fearful stuff with a fierce
delight, in which appeared little of the esthetic pleasure of the
artist. Thorpe was at a loss to define it.
"Poor Phil," he said to himself. "He has the musical soul without
even the musical ear!"
Next day, while passing out of the cook camp he addressed one of
"Well, Billy," he inquired, "how do you like your fiddler?"
"All RIGHT!" replied Billy with emphasis. "She's got some go to her."
In the woods the work proceeded finely. From the travoy sledges and
the short roads a constant stream of logs emptied itself on the
bank. There long parallel skidways had been laid the whole width
of the river valley. Each log as it came was dragged across those
monster andirons and rolled to the bank of the river. The cant-hook
men dug their implements into the rough bark, leaned, lifted, or
clung to the projecting stocks until slowly the log moved, rolling
with gradually increasing momentum. Then they attacked it with fury
lest the momentum be lost. Whenever it began to deviate from the
straight rolling necessary to keep it on the center of the skids,
one of the workers thrust the shoe of his cant-hook under one end
of the log. That end promptly stopped; the other, still rolling,
soon caught up; and the log moved on evenly, as was fitting.
At the end of the rollway the log collided with other logs and
stopped with the impact of one bowling ball against another. The
men knew that being caught between the two meant death or crippling
for life. Nevertheless they escaped from the narrowing interval at
the latest possible moment, for it is easier to keep a log rolling
than to start it.
Then other men piled them by means of long steel chains and horses,
just as they would have skidded them in the woods. Only now the logs
mounted up and up until the skidways were thirty or forty feet high.
Eventually the pile of logs would fill the banking ground utterly,
burying the landing under a nearly continuous carpet of timber as
thick as a two-story house is tall. The work is dangerous. A saw
log containing six hundred board feet weighs about one ton. This is
the weight of an ordinary iron safe. When one of them rolls or falls
from even a moderate height, its force is irresistible. But when
twenty or thirty cascade down the bold front of a skidway, carrying
a man or so with them, the affair becomes a catastrophe.
Thorpe's men, however, were all old-timers, and nothing of the sort
occurred. At first it made him catch his breath to see the apparent
chances they took; but after a little he perceived that seeming
luck was in reality a coolness of judgment and a long experience in
the peculiar ways of that most erratic of inanimate cussedness--the
pine log. The banks grew daily. Everybody was safe and sound.
The young lumberman had sense enough to know that, while a crew
such as his is supremely effective, it requires careful handling to
keep it good-humored and willing. He knew every man by his first
name, and each day made it a point to talk with him for a moment
or so. The subject was invariably some phase of the work. Thorpe
never permitted himself the familiarity of introducing any other
topic. By this course he preserved the nice balance between too
great reserve, which chills the lumber-jack's rather independent
enthusiasm, and the too great familiarity, which loses his respect.
He never replied directly to an objection or a request, but listened
to it non-committally; and later, without explanation or reasoning,
acted as his judgment dictated. Even Shearer, with whom he was in
most intimate contact, respected this trait in him. Gradually he
came to feel that he was making a way with his men. It was a
status, not assured as yet nor even very firm, but a status for
Then one day one of the best men, a teamster, came in to make some
objection to the cooking. As a matter of fact, the cooking was
perfectly good. It generally is, in a well-conducted camp, but
the lumber-jack is a great hand to growl, and he usually begins
with his food.
Thorpe listened to his vague objections in silence.
"All right," he remarked simply.
Next day he touched the man on the shoulder just as he was starting
"Step into the office and get your time," said he.
"What's the matter?" asked the man.
"I don't need you any longer."
The two entered the little office. Thorpe looked through the ledger
and van book, and finally handed the man his slip.
"Where do I get this?" asked the teamster, looking at it uncertainly.
"At the bank in Marquette," replied Thorpe without glancing around.
"Have I got to go 'way up to Marquette?"
"Certainly," replied Thorpe briefly.
"Who's going to pay my fare south?"
"You are. You can get work at Marquette."
"That ain't a fair shake," cried the man excitedly.
"I'll have no growlers in this camp," said Thorpe with decision.
"By God!" cried the man, "you damned---"
"You get out of here!" cried Thorpe with a concentrated blaze of
energetic passion that made the fellow step back.
"I ain't goin' to get on the wrong side of the law by foolin' with
this office," cried the other at the door, "but if I had you
outside for a minute---"
"Leave this office!" shouted Thorpe.
"S'pose you make me!" challenged the man insolently.
In a moment the defiance had come, endangering the careful structure
Thorpe had reared with such pains. The young man was suddenly angry
in exactly the same blind, unreasoning manner as when he had leaped
single-handed to tackle Dyer's crew.
Without a word he sprang across the shack, seized a two-bladed ax
from the pile behind the door, swung it around his head and cast
it full at the now frightened teamster. The latter dodged, and the
swirling steel buried itself in the snowbank beyond. Without an
instant's hesitation Thorpe reached back for another. The man took
to his heels.
"I don't want to see you around here again!" shouted Thorpe after
Then in a moment he returned to the office and sat down overcome
"It might have been murder!" he told himself, awe-stricken.
But, as it happened, nothing could have turned out better.
Thorpe had instinctively seized the only method by which these
strong men could be impressed. A rough-and-tumble attempt at
ejectment would have been useless. Now the entire crew looked with
vast admiration on their boss as a man who intended to have his own
way no matter what difficulties or consequences might tend to deter
him. And that is the kind of man they liked. This one deed was
more effective in cementing their loyalty than any increase of
wages would have been.
Thorpe knew that their restless spirits would soon tire of the
monotony of work without ultimate interest. Ordinarily the hope of
a big cut is sufficient to keep men of the right sort working for a
record. But these men had no such hope--the camp was too small, and
they were too few. Thorpe adopted the expedient, now quite common,
of posting the results of each day's work in the men's shanty.
Three teams were engaged in travoying, and two in skidding the logs,
either on the banking ground, or along the road. Thorpe divided his
camp into four sections, which he distinguished by the names of the
teamsters. Roughly speaking, each of the three hauling teams had its
own gang of sawyers and skidders to supply it with logs and to take
them from it, for of the skidding teams, one was split;--the horses
were big enough so that one of them to a skidway sufficed. Thus
three gangs of men were performing each day practically the same
work. Thorpe scaled the results, and placed them conspicuously for
Red Jacket, the teamster of the sorrels, one day was credited with
11,OOO feet; while Long Pine Jim and Rollway Charley had put in
but 1O,500 and 1O,250 respectively. That evening all the sawyers,
swampers, and skidders belonging to Red Jacket's outfit were
considerably elated; while the others said little and prepared
for business on the morrow.
Once Long Pine Jim lurked at the bottom for three days. Thorpe
happened by the skidway just as Long Pine arrived with a log. The
young fellow glanced solicitously at the splendid buckskins, the
best horses in camp.
"I'm afraid I didn't give you a very good team, Jimmy," said he,
and passed on.
That was all; but men of the rival gangs had heard. In camp Long
Pine Jim and his crew received chaffing with balefully red glares.
Next day they stood at the top by a good margin, and always after
were competitors to be feared.
Injin Charley, silent and enigmatical as ever, had constructed a
log shack near a little creek over in the hardwood. There he
attended diligently to the business of trapping. Thorpe had brought
him a deer knife from Detroit; a beautiful instrument made of the
best tool steel, in one long piece extending through the buck-horn
handle. One could even break bones with it. He had also lent the
Indian the assistance of two of his Marquette men in erecting the
shanty; and had given him a barrel of flour for the winter. From
time to time Injin Charley brought in fresh meat, for which he was
paid. This with his trapping, and his manufacture of moccasins,
snowshoes and birch canoes, made him a very prosperous Indian indeed.
Thorpe rarely found time to visit him, but he often glided into the
office, smoked a pipeful of the white man's tobacco in friendly
fashion by the stove, and glided out again without having spoken a
Wallace made one visit before the big snows came, and was charmed.
He ate with gusto of the "salt-horse," baked beans, stewed prunes,
mince pie, and cakes. He tramped around gaily in his moccasins or
on the fancy snowshoes he promptly purchased of Injin Chariey.
There was nothing new to report in regard to financial matters.
The loan had been negotiated easily on the basis of a mortgage
guaranteed by Carpenter's personal signature. Nothing had been
heard from Morrison & Daly.
When he departed, he left behind him four little long-eared,
short-legged beagle hounds. They were solemn animals, who took
life seriously. Never a smile appeared in their questioning eyes.
Wherever one went, the others followed, pattering gravely along in
serried ranks. Soon they discovered that the swamp over the knoll
contained big white hares. Their mission in life was evident.
Thereafter from the earliest peep of daylight until the men quit
work at night they chased rabbits. The quest was hopeless, but they
kept obstinately at it, wallowing with contained excitement over a
hundred paces of snow before they would get near enough to scare
their quarry to another jump. It used to amuse the hares. All day
long the mellow bell-tones echoed over the knoll. It came in time
to be part of the color of the camp, just as were the pines and
birches, or the cold northern sky. At the fall of night, exhausted,
trailing their long ears almost to the ground, they returned to the
cook, who fed them and made much of them. Next morning they were
at it as hard as ever. To them it was the quest for the Grail,--
hopeless, but glorious.
Little Phil, entrusted with the alarm clock, was the first up in
the morning In the fearful biting cold of an extinct camp, he
lighted his lantern and with numb hands raked the ashes from the
stove. A few sticks of dried pine topped by split wood of birch or
maple, all well dashed with kerosene, took the flame eagerly. Then
he awakened the cook, and stole silently into the office, where
Thorpe and Shearer and Andrews, the surveyor, lay asleep. There
quietly he built another fire, and filled the water-pail afresh.
By the time this task was finished, the cook sounded many times
a conch, and the sleeping camp awoke.
Later Phil drew water for the other shanties, swept out all three,
split wood and carried it in to the cook and to the living-camps,
filled and trimmed the lamps, perhaps helped the cook. About half
the remainder of the day he wielded an ax, saw and wedge in the
hardwood, collecting painfully--for his strength was not great--
material for the constant fires it was his duty to maintain. Often
he would stand motionless in the vast frozen, creaking forest,
listening with awe to the voices which spoke to him alone. There
was something uncanny in the misshapen dwarf with the fixed marble
white face and the expressive changing eyes,--something uncanny,
and something indefinably beautiful.
He seemed to possess an instinct which warned him of the approach
of wild animals. Long before a white man, or even an Indian, would
have suspected the presence of game, little Phil would lift his
head with a peculiar listening toss. Soon, stepping daintily
through the snow near the swamp edge, would come a deer; or pat-
apat-patting on his broad hairy paws, a lynx would steal by.
Except Injin Charley, Phil was the only man in that country who
ever saw a beaver in the open daylight.
At camp sometimes when all the men were away and his own work was
done, he would crouch like a raccoon in the far corner of his deep
square bunk with the board ends that made of it a sort of little
cabin, and play to himself softly on his violin. No one ever heard
him. After supper he was docilely ready to fiddle to the men's
dancing. Always then he gradually worked himself to a certain pitch
of excitement. His eyes glared with the wolf-gleam, and the music
was vulgarly atrocious and out of tune.
As Christmas drew near, the weather increased in severity. Blinding
snow-squalls swept whirling from the northeast, accompanied by a
high wind. The air was full of it,--fine, dry, powdery, like the
dust of glass. The men worked covered with it as a tree is covered
after a sleet. Sometimes it was impossible to work at all for hours
at a time, but Thorpe did not allow a bad morning to spoil a good
afternoon. The instant a lull fell on the storm, he was out with
his scaling rule, and he expected the men to give him something to
scale. He grappled the fierce winter by the throat, and shook from
it the price of success.
Then came a succession of bright cold days and clear cold nights.
The aurora gleamed so brilliantly that the forest was as bright as
by moonlight. In the strange weird shadow cast by its waverings the
wolves stole silently, or broke into wild ululations as they struck
the trail of game. Except for these weird invaders, the silence of
death fell on the wilderness. Deer left the country. Partridges
crouched trailing under the snow. All the weak and timid creatures
of the woods shrank into concealment and silence before these fierce
woods-marauders with the glaring famine-struck eyes.
Injin Charley found his traps robbed. In return he constructed
deadfalls, and dried several scalps. When spring came, he would
send them out for the bounty In the night, from time to time, the
horses would awake trembling at an unknown terror. Then the long
weird howl would shiver across the starlight near at hand, and the
chattering man who rose hastily to quiet the horses' frantic
kicking, would catch a glimpse of gaunt forms skirting the edge
of the forest.
And the little beagles were disconsolate, for their quarry had
fled. In place of the fan-shaped triangular trail for which they
sought, they came upon dog-like prints. These they sniffed at
curiously, and then departed growling, the hair on their backbones
erect and stiff.
By the end of the winter some four million feet of logs were piled
in the bed or upon the banks of the stream. To understand what that
means, you must imagine a pile of solid timber a mile in length.
This tremendous mass lay directly in the course of the stream. When
the winter broke up, it had to be separated and floated piecemeal
down the current. The process is an interesting and dangerous one,
and one of great delicacy. It requires for its successful completion
picked men of skill, and demands as toll its yearly quota of crippled
and dead. While on the drive, men work fourteen hours a day, up to
their waists in water filled with floating ice.
On the Ossawinamakee, as has been stated, three dams had been
erected to simplify the process of driving. When the logs were in
right distribution, the gates were raised, and the proper head of
water floated them down.
Now the river being navigable, Thorpe was possessed of certain
rights on it. Technically he was entitled to a normal head of
water, whenever he needed it; or a special head, according to
agreement with the parties owning the dam. Early in the drive, he
found that Morrison & Daly intended to cause him trouble. It began
in a narrows of the river between high, rocky banks. Thorpe's drive
was floating through close-packed. The situation was ticklish.
Men with spiked boots ran here and there from one bobbing log to
another, pushing with their peaveys, hurrying one log, retarding
another, working like beavers to keep the whole mass straight.
The entire surface of the water was practically covered with the
floating timbers. A moment's reflection will show the importance
of preserving a full head of water. The moment the stream should
drop an inch or so, its surface would contract, the logs would then
be drawn close together in the narrow space; and, unless an immediate
rise should lift them up and apart from each other, a jam would form,
behind which the water, rapidly damming, would press to entangle it
This is exactly what happened. In a moment, as though by magic, the
loose wooden carpet ground together. A log in the advance up-ended;
another thrust under it. The whole mass ground together, stopped,
and began rapidly to pile up. The men escaped to the shore in a
marvellous manner of their own.
Tim Shearer found that the gate at the dam above had been closed.
The man in charge had simply obeyed orders. He supposed M. & D.
wished to back up the water for their own logs.
Tim indulged in some picturesque language.
"You ain't got no right to close off more'n enough to leave us th'
nat'ral flow unless by agreement," he concluded, and opened the gates.
Then it was a question of breaking the jam. This had to be done
by pulling out or chopping through certain "key" logs which locked
the whole mass. Men stood under the face of imminent ruin--over
them a frowning sheer wall of bristling logs, behind which pressed
the weight of the rising waters--and hacked and tugged calmly until
the mass began to stir. Then they escaped. A moment later, with a
roar, the jam vomited down on the spot where they had stood. It was
dangerous work. Just one half day later it had to be done again,
and for the same reason.
This time Thorpe went back with Shearer. No one was at the dam, but
the gates were closed. The two opened them again.
That very evening a man rode up on horseback inquiring for Mr. Thorpe.
"I'm he," said the young fellow.
The man thereupon dismounted and served a paper. It proved to be
an injunction issued by Judge Sherman enjoining Thorpe against
interfering with the property of Morrison & Daly,--to wit, certain
dams erected at designated points on the Ossawinamakee. There had
not elapsed sufficient time since the commission of the offense for
the other firm to secure the issuance of this interesting document,
so it was at once evident that the whole affair had been pre-arranged
by the up-river firm for the purpose of blocking off Thorpe's drive.
After serving the injunction, the official rode away.
Thorpe called his foreman. The latter read the injunction attentively
through a pair of steel-bowed spectacles.
"Well, what you going to do?" he asked.
"Of all the consummate gall!" exploded Thorpe. "Trying to enjoin me
from touching a dam when they're refusing me the natural flow! They
must have bribed that fool judge. Why, his injunction isn't worth
the powder to blow it up!"
"Then you're all right, ain't ye?" inquired Tim.
"It'll be the middle of summer before we get a hearing in court,"
said he. "Oh, they're a cute layout! They expect to hang me up
until it's too late to do anything with the season's cut!"
He arose and began to pace back and forth.
"Tim," said he, "is there a man in the crew who's afraid of nothing
and will obey orders?"
"A dozen," replied Tim promptly.
"Who's the best?"
"Ask him to step here."
In a moment the man entered the office.
"Scotty," said Thorpe, "I want you to understand that I stand
responsible for whatever I order you to do."
"All right, sir," replied the man.
"In the morning," said Thorpe, "you take two men and build some
sort of a shack right over the sluice-gate of that second dam,--
nothing very fancy, but good enough to camp in. I want you to
live there day and night. Never leave it, not even for a minute.
The cookee will bring you grub. Take this Winchester. If any of
the men from up-river try to go out on the dam, you warn them off.
If they persist, you shoot near them. If they keep coming, you
shoot at them. Understand?"
"You bet," answered Scotty with enthusiasm.
"All right," concluded Thorpe.
Next day Scotty established himself, as had been agreed. He did not
need to shoot anybody. Daly himself came down to investigate the
state of affairs, when his men reported to him the occupancy of the
dam. He attempted to parley, but Scotty would have none of it.
"Get out!" was his first and last word.
Daly knew men. He was at the wrong end of the whip. Thorpe's game
was desperate, but so was his need, and this was a backwoods country
a long ways from the little technicalities of the law. It was one
thing to serve an injunction; another to enforce it. Thorpe finished
his drive with no more of the difficulties than ordinarily bother a
At the mouth of the river, booms of logs chained together at the
ends had been prepared. Into the enclosure the drive was floated
and stopped. Then a raft was formed by passing new manila ropes
over the logs, to each one of which the line was fastened by a
hardwood forked pin driven astride of it. A tug dragged the raft
Now Thorpe was summoned legally on two counts. First, Judge Sherman
cited him for contempt of court. Second, Morrison & Daly sued him
for alleged damages in obstructing their drive by holding open the
dam-sluice beyond the legal head of water.
Such is a brief but true account of the coup-de-force actually
carried out by Thorpe's lumbering firm in northern Michigan. It
is better known to the craft than to the public at large, because
eventually the affair was compromised. The manner of that
compromise is to follow.
Pending the call of trial, Thorpe took a three weeks' vacation to
visit his sister. Time, filled with excitement and responsibility,
had erased from his mind the bitterness of their parting. He had
before been too busy, too grimly in earnest, to allow himself the
luxury of anticipation. Now he found himself so impatient that he
could hardly wait to get there. He pictured their meeting, the
things they would say to each other.
As formerly, he learned on his arrival that she was not at home. It
was the penalty of an attempted surprise. Mrs. Renwick proved not
nearly so cordial as the year before; but Thorpe, absorbed in his
eagerness, did not notice it. If he had, he might have guessed the
truth: that the long propinquity of the fine and the commonplace,
however safe at first from the insulation of breeding and natural
kindliness, was at last beginning to generate sparks.
No, Mrs. Renwick did not know where Helen was: thought she had gone
over to the Hughes's. The Hughes live two blocks down the street
and three to the right, in a brown house back from the street.
Very well, then; she would expect Mr. Thorpe to spend the night.
The latter wandered slowly down the charming driveways of the little
western town. The broad dusty street was brown with sprinkling from
numberless garden hose. A double row of big soft maples met over it,
and shaded the sidewalk and part of the wide lawns. The grass was
fresh and green. Houses with capacious verandas on which were
glimpsed easy chairs and hammocks, sent forth a mild glow from a
silk-shaded lamp or two. Across the evening air floated the sounds
of light conversation and laughter from these verandas, the tinkle
of a banjo, the thrum of a guitar. Automatic sprinklers whirled and
hummed here and there. Their delicious artificial coolness struck
refreshingly against the cheek.
Thorpe found the Hughes residence without difficulty, and turned up
the straight walk to the veranda. On the steps of the latter a rug
had been spread. A dozen youths and maidens lounged in well-bred
ease on its soft surface. The gleam of white summer dresses, of
variegated outing clothes, the rustle o frocks, the tinkle of low,
well-bred laughter confused Thorpe, so that, as he approached the
light from a tall lamp just inside the hall, he hesitated, vainly
trying to make out the figures before him.
So it was that Helen Thorpe saw him first, and came fluttering to
"Oh, Harry! What a surprise!" she cried, and flung her arms about
his neck to kiss him.
"How do you do, Helen," he replied sedately.
This was the meeting he had anticipated so long. The presence of
others brought out in him, irresistibly, the repression of public
display which was so strong an element of his character.
A little chilled, Helen turned to introduce him to her friends. In
the cold light of her commonplace reception she noticed what in a
warmer effusion of feelings she would never have seen,--that her
brother's clothes were out of date and worn; and that, though his
carriage was notably strong and graceful, the trifling constraint
and dignity of his younger days had become almost an awkwardness
after two years among uncultivated men. It occurred to Helen to be
just a little ashamed of him.
He took a place on the steps and sat without saying a word all the
evening. There was nothing for him to say. These young people
talked thoughtlessly, as young people do, of the affairs belonging
to their own little circle. Thorpe knew nothing of the cotillion,
or the brake ride, or of the girl who visited Alice Southerland;
all of which gave occasion for so much lively comment. Nor was
the situation improved when some of them, in a noble effort at
politeness, turned the conversation into more general channels.
The topics of the day's light talk were absolutely unknown to him.
The plays, the new books, the latest popular songs, jokes depending
for their point on an intimate knowledge of the prevailing vaudeville
mode, were as unfamiliar to him as Miss Alice Southerland's guest.
He had thought pine and forest and the trail so long, that he found
these square-elbowed subjects refusing to be jostled aside by any
So he sat there silent in the semi-darkness. This man, whose
lightest experience would have aroused the eager attention of the
entire party, held his peace because he thought he had nothing to
He took Helen back to Mrs. Renwick's about ten o'clock. They
walked slowly beneath the broad-leaved maples, whose shadows
danced under the tall electric lights,--and talked.
Helen was an affectionate, warm-hearted girl. Ordinarily she would
have been blind to everything except the delight of having her
brother once more with her. But his apparently cold reception had
first chilled, then thrown her violently into a critical mood. His
subsequent social inadequacy had settled her into the common-sense
level of everyday life.
"How have you done, Harry?" she inquired anxiously. "Your letters
have been so vague."
"Pretty well," he replied. "If things go right, I hope some day
to have a better place for you than this."
Her heart contracted suddenly. It was all she could do to keep
from bursting into tears. One would have to realize perfectly her
youth, the life to which she had been accustomed, the lack of
encouragement she had labored under, the distastefulness of her
surroundings, the pent-up dogged patience she had displayed during
the last two years, the hopeless feeling of battering against a
brick wall she always experienced when she received the replies
to her attempts on Harry's confidence, to appreciate how the
indefiniteness of his answer exasperated her and filled her
with sullen despair. She said nothing for twenty steps. Then:
"Harry," she said quietly, "can't you take me away from Mrs.
Renwick's this year?"
"I don't know, Helen. I can't tell yet. Not just now, at any rate."
"Harry," she cried, "you don't know what you're doing. I tell you
I can't STAND Mrs. Renwick any longer." She calmed herself with an
effort, and went on more quietly. "Really, Harry, she's awfully
disagreeable. If you can't afford to keep me anywhere else--" she
glanced timidly at his face and for the first time saw the strong
lines about the jaw and the tiny furrows between the eyebrows. "I
know you've worked hard, Harry dear," she said with a sudden
sympathy, "and that you'd give me more, if you could. But so have
I worked hard. Now we ought to change this in some way. I can get
a position as teacher, or some other work somewhere. Won't you let
me do that?"
Thorpe was thinking that it would be easy enough to obtain Wallace
Carpenter's consent to his taking a thousand dollars from the
profits of the year. But he knew also that the struggle in the
courts might need every cent the new company could spare. It would
look much better were he to wait until after the verdict. If
favorable, there would be no difficulty about sparing the money. If
adverse, there would be no money to spare. The latter contingency
he did not seriously anticipate, but still it had to be considered.
And so, until the thing was absolutely certain, he hesitated to
explain the situation to Helen for fear of disappointing her!
"I think you'd better wait, Helen," said he. "There'll be time
enough for all that later when it becomes necessary. You are very
young yet, and it will not hurt you a bit to continue your education
for a little while longer."
"And in the meantime stay with Mrs. Renwick?" flashed Helen.
"Yes. I hope it will not have to be for very long."
"How long do you think, Harry?" pleaded the girl.
"That depends on circumstances," replied Thorpe
"Oh!" she cried indignantly.
"Harry," she ventured after a time, "why not write to Uncle Amos?"
Thorpe stopped and looked at her searchingly.
"You can't mean that, Helen," he said, drawing a long breath.
"But why not?" she persisted.
"You ought to know."
"Who would have done any different? If you had a brother and
discovered that he had--appropriated--most all the money of a
concern of which you were president, wouldn't you think it your
duty to have him arrested?"
"No!" cried Thorpe suddenly excited. "Never! If he was my brother,
I'd help him, even if he'd committed murder!"
"We differ there," replied the girl coldly. "I consider that Uncle
Amos was a strong man who did his duty as he saw it, in spite of his
feelings. That he had father arrested is nothing against him in my
eyes. And his wanting us to come to him since, seems to me very
generous. I am going to write to him."
"You will do nothing of the kind," commanded Thorpe sternly. "Amos
Thorpe is an unscrupulous man who became unscrupulously rich. He
deliberately used our father as a tool, and then destroyed him. I
consider that anyone of our family who would have anything to do
with him is a traitor!"
The girl did not reply.
Next morning Thorpe felt uneasily repentant for his strong language.
After all, the girl did lead a monotonous life, and he could not
blame her for rebelling against it from time to time. Her remarks
had been born of the rebellion; they had meant nothing in themselves.
He could not doubt for a moment her loyalty to the family.
But he did not tell her so. That is not the way of men of his stamp.
Rather he cast about to see what he could do.
Injin Charley had, during the winter just past, occupied odd
moments in embroidering with beads and porcupine quills a wonderful
outfit of soft buckskin gauntlets, a shirt of the same material, and
moccasins of moose-hide. They were beautifully worked, and Thorpe,
on receiving them, had at once conceived the idea of giving them
to his sister. To this end he had consulted another Indian near
Marquette, to whom he had confided the task of reducing the gloves
and moccasins. The shirt would do as it was, for it was intended
to be worn as a sort of belted blouse. As has been said, all were
thickly beaded, and represented a vast quantity of work. Probably
fifty dollars could not have bought them, even in the north country.
Thorpe tendered this as a peace offering. Not understanding women
in the least, he was surprised to see his gift received by a burst
of tears and a sudden exit from the room. Helen thought he had
bought the things; and she was still sore from the pinch of the
poverty she had touched the evening before. Nothing will exasperate
a woman more than to be presented with something expensive for which
she does not particularly care, after being denied, on the ground of
economy, something she wants very much.
Thorpe stared after her in hurt astonishment. Mrs. Renwick sniffed.
That afternoon the latter estimable lady attempted to reprove Miss
Helen, and was snubbed; she persisted, and an open quarrel ensued.
"I will not be dictated to by you, Mrs. Renwick," said Helen, "and I
don't intend to have you interfere in any way with my family affairs."
"They won't stand MUCH investigation," replied Mrs. Renwick, goaded
out of her placidity.
Thorpe entered to hear the last two speeches. He said nothing, but
that night he wrote to Wallace Carpenter for a thousand dollars.
Every stroke of the pen hurt him. But of course Helen could not
stay here now.
"And to think, just to THINK that he let that woman insult me so,
and didn't say a word!" cried Helen to herself.
Her method would have been to have acted irrevocably on the spot,
and sought ways and means afterwards. Thorpe's, however, was to
perfect all his plans before making the first step.
Wallace Carpenter was not in town. Before the letter had followed
him to his new address, and the answer had returned, a week had
passed. Of course the money was gladly put at Thorpe's disposal.
The latter at once interviewed his sister.
"Helen," he said, "I have made arrangements for some money. What
would you like to do this year?"
She raised her head and looked at him with clear bright gaze. If
he could so easily raise the money, why had he not done so before?
He knew how much she wanted it. Her happiness did not count. Only
when his quixotic ideas of family honor were attacked did he bestir
"I am going to Uncle Amos's," she replied distinctly.
"What?" asked Thorpe incredulously.
For answer she pointed to a letter lying open on the table. Thorpe
took it and read:
"My dear Niece:
"Both Mrs. Thorpe and myself more than rejoice that time and
reflection have removed that, I must confess, natural prejudice
which the unfortunate family affair, to which I will not allude,
raised in your mind against us. As we said long ago, our home is
your's when you may wish to make it so. You state your present
readiness to come immediately. Unless you wire to the contrary, we
shall expect you next Tuesday evening on the four-forty train. I
shall be at the Central Station myself to meet you. If your brother
is now with you, I should be pleased to see him also, and will be
most happy to give him a position with the firm.
"Aff. your uncle,
"New York, June 6, 1883."
On finishing the last paragraph the reader crumpled the letter and
threw it into the grate.
"I am sorry you did that, Helen," said he, "but I don't blame you,
and it can't be helped. We won't need to take advantage of his
'kind offer' now."
"I intend to do so, however," replied the girl coldly.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean," she cried, "that I am sick of waiting on your good
pleasure. I waited, and slaved, and stood unbearable things for
two years. I did it cheerfully. And in return I don't get a civil
word, not a decent explanation, not even a--caress," she fairly
sobbed out the last word. "I can't stand it any longer. I have
tried and tried and tried, and then when I've come to you for the
littlest word of encouragement, you have pecked at me with those
stingy little kisses, and have told me I was young and ought to
finish my education. You put me in uncongenial surroundings, and
go off into the woods camping yourself. You refuse me money enough
to live in a three-dollar boarding-house, and you buy expensive
rifles and fishing tackle for yourself. You can't afford to send
me away somewhere for the summer, but you bring me back gee-gaws
you have happened to fancy, worth a month's board in the country.
You haven't a cent when it is a question of what I want; but you
raise money quick enough when your old family is insulted. Isn't
it my family too? And then you blame me because, after waiting in
vain two years for you to do something, I start out to do the best
I can for myself. I'm not of age but you're not my guardian!"
During this long speech Thorpe had stood motionless, growing paler
and paler. Like most noble natures, when absolutely in the right,
he was incapable of defending himself against misunderstandings.
He was too wounded; he was hurt to the soul.
"You know that is not true, Helen," he replied, almost sternly.
"It IS true!" she asseverated, "and I'm THROUGH!"
"It's a little hard," said Thorpe passing his hand wearily before
his eyes, "to work hard this way for years, and then---"
She laughed with a hard little note of scorn.
"Helen," said Thorpe with new energy, "I forbid you to have anything
to do with Amos Thorpe. I think he is a scoundrel and a sneak."
"What grounds have you to think so?"
"None," he confessed, "that is, nothing definite. But I know men;
and I know his type. Some day I shall be able to prove something.
I do not wish you to have anything to do with him."
"I shall do as I please," she replied, crossing her hands behind her.
Thorpe's eyes darkened.
"We have talked this over a great many times," he warned, "and
you've always agreed with me. Remember, you owe something to the
"Most of the family seem to owe something," she replied with a
flippant laugh. "I'm sure I didn't choose the family. If I had,
I'd have picked out a better one!"
The flippancy was only a weapon which she used unconsciously,
blindly, in her struggle. The man could not know this. His
face hardened, and his voice grew cold.
"You may take your choice, Helen," he said formally. "If you go
into the household of Amos Thorpe, if you deliberately prefer your
comfort to your honor, we will have nothing more in common."
They faced each other with the cool, deadly glance of the race, so
similar in appearance but so unlike in nature.
"I, too, offer you a home, such as it is," repeated the man.
At the mention of the home for which means were so quickly
forthcoming when Thorpe, not she, considered it needful, the girl's
eyes flashed. She stooped and dragged violently from beneath the
bed a flat steamer trunk, the lid of which she threw open. A dress
lay on the bed. With a fine dramatic gesture she folded the garment
and laid it in the bottom of the trunk. Then she knelt, and without
vouchsafing another glance at her brother standing rigid by the door,
she began feverishly to arrange the folds.
The choice was made. He turned and went out.
With Thorpe there could be no half-way measure. He saw that the
rupture with his sister was final, and the thrust attained him
in one of his few unprotected points. It was not as though he
felt either himself or his sister consciously in the wrong. He