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The Fifth String by John Philip Sousa

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``How old is he?'' continued the old man.

``Twenty-eight next month; why do you
wish to know?'' she quizzically asked.

``Simply idle curiosity,'' old Sanders
carelessly replied. ``I wonder if he is
in love with any one in Tuscany?''

``Of course not; how could he be?''
quickly rejoined the girl.

``And why not?'' added old Sanders.

``Why? Because, because--he is in
love with some one in America.''

``Ah, with you, I see,'' said the old
man, as if it were the greatest discovery
of his life; ``are you sure he has not
some beautiful sweetheart in Tuscany
as well as here?''

``What a foolish question,'' she
replied. ``Men like Angelo Diotti do
not fall in love as soldiers fall in line.
Love to a man of his nobility is too
serious to be treated so lightly.''

``Very true, and that's what has
excited my curiosity!'' whereupon the old
man smoked away in silence.

``Excited your curiosity!'' said
Mildred. ``What do you mean?''

``It may be something; it may be
nothing; but my speculative instinct has
been aroused by a strange peculiarity in
his playing.''

``His playing is wonderful!'' replied
Mildred proudly.

``Aye, more than wonderful! I
watched him intently,'' said the old
man; ``I noted with what marvelous
facility he went from one string to the
other. But however rapid, however difficult
the composition, he steadily avoided
one string; in fact, that string remained
untouched during the entire hour he
played for us.''

``Perhaps the composition did not
call for its use,'' suggested Mildred,
unconscious of any other meaning in the
old man's observation, save praise for
her lover.

``Perhaps so, but the oddity
impressed me; it was a new string to me.
I have never seen one like it on a violin

``That can scarcely be, for I do not
remember of Signor Diotti telling me
there was anything unusual about his

``I am sure it has a fifth string.''

``And I am equally sure the string
can be of no importance or Angelo
would have told me of it,'' Mildred
quickly rejoined.

``I recall a strange story of
Paganini,'' continued the old man,
apparently not noticing her interruption; ``he
became infatuated with a lady of high
rank, who was insensible of the admiration
he had for her beauty.

``He composed a love scene for two
strings, the `E' and `G,' the first was
to personate the lady, the second himself.
It commenced with a species of
dialogue, intending to represent her
indifference and his passion; now sportive,
now sad; laughter on her part and
tears from him, ending in an apotheosis
of loving reconciliation. It affected the
lady to that degree that ever after she
loved the violinist.''

``And no doubt they were happy?''
Mildred suggested smilingly.

``Yes,'' said the old man, with
assumed sentiment, ``even when his
profession called him far away, for she had
made him promise her he never would
play upon the two strings whose music
had won her heart, so those strings were
mute, except for her.''

The old man puffed away in silence
for a moment, then with logical directness
continued: ``Perhaps the string
that's mute upon Diotti's violin is mute
for some such reason.''

``Nonsense,'' said the girl, half impatiently.

``The string is black and glossy as
the tresses that fall in tangled skeins on
the shoulders of the dreamy beauties of
Tuscany. It may be an idle fancy, but
if that string is not a woven strand from
some woman's crowning glory, then I
have no discernment.''

``You are jesting, uncle,'' she
replied, but her heart was heavy already.

``Ask him to play on that string; I'll
wager he'll refuse,'' said the old man,

``He will not refuse when I ask him,
but I will not to-night,'' answered the
unhappy girl, with forced determina-
tion. Then, taking the old man's hands,
she said: ``Good-night, I am going to
my room; please make my excuses to
Signor Diotti and father,'' and wearily
she ascended the stairs.

Mr. Wallace and the violinist soon
after joined old Sanders, fresh cigars
were lighted and regrets most earnestly
expressed by the violinist for Mildred's
``sick headache.''

``No need to worry; she will be all
right in the morning,'' said Sanders,
and he and the violinist buttoned their
coats tightly about them, for the night
was bitter cold, and together they left
the house.

In her bed-chamber Mildred stood
looking at the portrait of her lover. She
studied his face long and intently, then
crossing the room she mechanically took
a volume from the shelf, and as she
opened it her eyes fell on these lines:

``How art thou fallen from Heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the Morning!''


Old Sanders builded better than he knew.


When Diotti and old Sanders left
the house they walked rapidly
down Fifth Avenue. It was after eleven,
and the streets were bare of pedestrians,
but blinking-eyed cabs came up the avenue,
looking at a distance like a trail
of Megatheriums, gliding through the
darkness. The piercing wind made the
men hasten their steps, the old man by
a semi-rotary motion keeping up with
the longer strides and measured tread of
the younger.

When they reached Fourteenth Street,
the elder said, ``I live but a block from
here,'' pointing eastward; ``what do
you say to a hot toddy? It will warm
the cockles of your heart; come over to
my house and I'll mix you the best
drink in New York.''

The younger thought the suggestion
a good one and they turned toward the
house of old Sanders.

It was a neat, red brick, two-story
house, well in from the street, off the
line of the more pretentious buildings on
either side. As the old man opened the
iron gate, the police officer on the beat
passed; he peered into the faces of the
men, and recognizing Sanders, said,
``tough night, sir.''

``Very,'' replied the addressed.

``All good old gentlemen should be in
bed at this hour,'' said the officer, lifting
one foot after the other in an effort
to keep warm, and in so doing showing
little terpsichorean grace.

``It's only the shank of the evening,
officer,'' rejoined the old man, as he
fumbled with the latch key and finally
opened the door. The two men entered
and the officer passed on.

Every man has a fad. One will tell
you he sees nothing in billiards or pool
or golf or tennis, but will grow enthusiastic
over the scientific possibilities of
mumble-peg; you agree with him, only
you substitute ``skittles'' for ``mumble-

Old Sanders' fad was mixing toddies
and punches.

``The nectar of the gods pales into
nothingness when compared with a toddy
such as I make,'' said he. ``Ambrosia
may have been all right for the
degenerates of the old Grecian and
Roman days, but an American gentleman
demands a toddy--a hot toddy.'' And
then he proceeded with circumspection
and dignity to demonstrate the process
of decocting that mysterious beverage.

The two men took off their overcoats
and went into the sitting-room. A pile
of logs burned brightly in the fire-place.
The old man threw another on the burning
heap, filled the kettle with water and
hung it over the fire. Next he went to
the sideboard and brought forth the
various ingredients for the toddy.

``How do you like America?'' said
the elder, with commonplace indifference,
as he crunched a lump of sugar in
the bottom of the glass, dissolving the
particles with a few drops of water.

``Very much, indeed,'' said the
Tuscan, with the air of a man who had
answered the question before.

``Great country for girls!'' said
Sanders, pouring a liberal quantity of Old
Tom gin in the glass and placing it
where it gradually would get warm.

``And for men!'' responded Diotti,

``Men don't amount to much here,
women run everything,'' retorted the
elder, while he repeated the process of
preparing the sugar and gin in the second
glass. The kettle began to sing.

``That's music for you,'' chuckled the
old man, raising the lid to see if the
water had boiled sufficiently. ``Do you
know I think a dinner horn and a singing
kettle beat a symphony all hollow
for real down-right melody,'' and he
lifted the kettle from the fire-place.

Diotti smiled.

With mathematical accuracy the old man
filled the two tumblers with boiling water.

``Try that,'' handing a glass of the
toddy to Diotti; ``you will find it all
right,'' and the old man drew an arm-
chair toward the fire-place, smacking his
lips in anticipation.

The violinist placed his chair closer to
the fire and sipped the drink.

``Your country is noted for its beautiful women?''

``We have exquisite types of femininity
in Tuscany,'' said the young man,
with patriotic ardor.

``Any as fine looking as--as--as--well,
say the young lady we dined with to-night?''

``Miss Wallace?'' queried the Tuscan.

``Yes, Miss Wallace,'' this rather impatiently.

``She is very beautiful,'' said Diotti,
with solemn admiration.

``Have you ever seen any one prettier?''
questioned the old man, after a
second prolonged sip.

``I have no desire to see any one
more beautiful,'' said the violinist, feeling
that the other was trying to draw
him out, and determined not to yield.

``You will pardon the inquisitiveness
of an old man, but are not you musicians
a most impressionable lot?''

``We are human,'' answered the violinist.

``I imagined you were like sailors and
had a sweetheart in every port.''

``That would be a delightful prospect
to one having polygamous aspirations,
but for myself, one sweetheart is enough,''
laughingly said the musician.

``Only one! Well, here's to her!
With this nectar fit for the gods and
goddesses of Olympus, let us drink to her,''
said old Sanders, with convivial dignity,
his glass raised on high. ``Here's wishing
health and happiness to the dreamy-
eyed Tuscan beauty, whom you love and
who loves you.''

``Stop!'' said Diotti; ``we will drink
to the first part of that toast,'' and holding
his glass against that of his bibulous
host, continued: ``To the dreamy-eyed
women of my country, exacting of
their lovers; obedient to their parents
and loyal to their husbands,'' and his
voice rose in sonorous rhythm with the

``Now for the rest of the toast, to the
one you love and who loves you,'' came
from Sanders.

``To the one I love and who loves me,
God bless her!'' fervently cried the guest.

``Is she a Tuscan?'' asked old Sanders slyly.

``She is an angel!'' impetuously answered
the violinist.

``Then she is an American!'' said the
old man gallantly.

``She is an American,'' repeated
Diotti, forgetting himself for the instant.

``Let me see if I can guess her
name,'' said old Sanders. ``It's--it's
Mildred Wallace!'' and his manner
suggested a child solving a riddle.

The violinist, about to speak, checked
himself and remained silent.

``I sincerely pity Mildred if ever she
falls in love,'' abstractedly continued
the host while filling another glass.

``Pray why?'' was anxiously asked.

The old man shifted his position and
assumed a confidential tone and attitude:
``Signor Diotti, jealousy is a more
universal passion than love itself.
Environment may develop our character,
influence our tastes and even soften our
features, but heredity determines the
intensity of the two leading passions, love
and jealousy. Mildred's mother was a
beautiful woman, but consumed with an
overpowering jealousy of her husband.
It was because she loved him. The
body-guard of jealousy--envy, malice
and hatred--were not in her composition.
When Mildred was a child of
twelve I have seen her mother suffer
the keenest anguish because Mr. Wallace
fondled the child. She thought the
child had robbed her of her husband's

``Such a woman as Miss Wallace
would command the entire love and
admiration of her husband at all times,''
said the artist.

``If she should marry a man she
simply likes, her chances for happiness
would be normal.''

``In what manner?'' asked the lover.

``Because she would be little
concerned about him or his actions.''

``Then you believe,'' said the
musician, ``that the man who loves her and
whom she loves should give her up
because her chances of happiness would be
greater away from him than with him?''

``That would be an unselfish love,''
said the elder.

``Suppose they have declared their
passion?'' asked Diotti.

``A parting before doubt and jealousy
had entered her mind would let the image
of her sacrificing lover live within
her soul as a tender and lasting memory;
he always would be her ideal,'' and the
accent old Sanders placed on ALWAYS left
no doubt of his belief.

``Why should doubt and jealousy enter
her life?'' said the violinist, falling
into the personal character of the discussion
despite himself.

``My dear sir, from what I observed
to-night, she loves you. You are a dan-
gerous man for a jealous woman to love.
You are not a cloistered monk, you are
a man before the public; you win the
admiration of many; some women do not
hesitate to show you their preference. To
a woman like Mildred that would be torture;
she could not and would not separate
the professional artist from the lover
or husband.''

And Diotti, remembering Mildred's
words, could not refute the old man's

``If you had known her mother as I
did,'' continued the old man, realizing
his argument was making an impression
on the violinist, ``you would see the
agony in store for the daughter if she
married a man such as you, a public servant,
a public favorite.''

``I would live my life not to excite her
suspicions or jealousy,'' said the artist,
with boyish enthusiasm and simplicity.

``Foolish fellow,'' retorted Sanders,
skeptically; ``women imagine, they don't
reason. A scented note unopened on
the dressing table can cause more
unhappiness to your wife than the loss of
his country to a king. My advice to you
is: do not marry; but if you must, choose
one who is more interested in your
gastronomic felicity than in your marital

Diotti was silent. He was pondering
the words of his host. Instead of seeing
in Mildred a possibly jealous woman,
causing mental misery, she appeared a
vision of single-hearted devotion. He
felt: ``To be loved by such a one is
bliss beyond the dreams of this world.''


A tipsy man is never interesting,
and Sanders in that condition
was no exception. The old man arose
with some effort, walked toward the
window and, shading his eyes, looked
out. The snow was drifting, swept
hither and thither by the cutting wind
that came through the streets in great
gusts. Turning to the violinist, he said,
``It's an awful night; better remain here
until morning. You'll not find a cab; in
fact, I will not let you go while this
storm continues,'' and the old man
raised the window, thrusting his head
out for an instant. As he did so the icy
blast that came in settled any doubt in
the young man's mind and he concluded
to stop over night.

It was nearly two o'clock; Sanders
showed him to his room and then
returned down stairs to see that everything
was snug and secure. After changing
his heavy shoes for a pair of old slippers
and wrapping a dressing gown around
him, the old man stretched his legs
toward the fire and sipped his toddy.

``He isn't a bad sort for a violinist,''
mused the old man; ``if he were worth
a million, I believe I'd advise Wallace to
let him marry her. A fiddler! A million!
Sounds funny,'' and he laughed

He turned his head and his eyes
caught sight of Diotti's violin case resting
on the center table. He staggered
from the chair and went toward it; opening
the lid softly, he lifted the silken
coverlet placed over the instrument and
examined the strings intently. ``I am
right,'' he said; ``it is wrapped with
hair, and no doubt from a woman's head.
Eureka!'' and the old man, happy in the
discovery that his surmises were correct,
returned to his chair and his toddy.

He sat looking into the fire. The
violin had brought back memories of the
past and its dead. He mumbled, as if
to the fire, ``she loved me; she loved
my violin. I was a devil; my violin
was a devil,'' and the shadows on the
wall swayed like accusing spirits. He
buried his face in his hands and cried
piteously, ``I was so young; too young
to know.'' He spoke as if he would
conciliate the ghastly shades that moved
restlessly up and down, when suddenly
--``Sanders, don't be a fool!''

He ambled toward the table again.
``I wonder who made the violin? He
would not tell me when I asked him to-
night; thank you for your pains, but I
will find out myself,'' and he took the
violin from the case. Holding it with
the light slanting over it, he peered
inside, but found no inscription. ``No
maker's name--strange,'' he said. He
tiptoed to the foot of the stairs and
listened intently; ``he must be asleep; he
won't hear me,'' and noiselessly he
closed the door. ``I guess if I play a
tune on it he won't know.''

He took the bow from its place in the
case and tightened it. He listened
again. ``He is fast asleep,'' he whispered.
``I'll play the song I always
played for her--until,'' and the old man
repeated the words of the refrain:

``Fair as a lily, joyous and free,
Light of the prairie home was she;
Every one who knew her felt the gentle power
Of Rosalie, the Prairie Flower.''

He sat again in the arm-chair and
placed the violin under his chin.
Tremulously he drew the bow across the
middle string, his bloodless fingers moving
slowly up and down.

The theme he played was the melody
to the verse he had just repeated, but the
expression was remorse.


Diotti sat upright in bed. ``I am
positive I heard a violin!'' he said, holding
one hand toward his head in an attitude
of listening. He was wide awake. The
drifting snow beat against the window
panes and the wind without shrieked like
a thousand demons of the night. He
could sleep no more. He arose and
hastily dressed. The room was bitterly
cold; he was shivering. He thought of
the crackling logs in the fire-place below.
He groped his way along the darkened
staircase. As he opened the door leading
into the sitting-room the fitful gleam
of the dying embers cast a ghastly light
over the face of a corpse.

Diotti stood a moment, his eyes
transfixed with horror. The violin and bow
still in the hands of the dead man told
him plainer than words what had happened.
He went toward the chair, took
the instrument from old Sanders' hands
and laid it on the table. Then he knelt
beside the body, and placing his ear
close over the heart, listened for some
sign of life, but the old man was beyond
human aid.

He wheeled the chair to the side of
the room and moved the body to the
sofa. Gently he covered it with a robe.
The awfulness of the situation forced
itself upon him, and bitterly he blamed
himself. The terrible power of the
instrument dawned upon him in all its
force. Often he had played on the strings
telling of pity, hope, love and joy, but
now, for the first time, he realized what
that fifth string meant.

``I must give it back to its owner.''

``If you do you can never regain it,''
whispered a voice within.

``I do not need it,'' said the violinist,
almost audibly.

``Perhaps not,'' said the voice, ``but
if her love should wane how would you
rekindle it? Without the violin you
would be helpless.''

``Is it not possible that, in this old man's death,
all its fatal power has been expended?''

He went to the table and took the
instrument from its place. ``You won her
for me; you have brought happiness
and sunshine into my life. No! No!
I can not, will not give you up,'' then
placing the violin and bow in its case he
locked it.

The day was breaking. In an hour
the baker's boy came. Diotti went to
the door, gave him a note addressed to
Mr. Wallace and asked him to deliver it
at once. The boy consented and drove
rapidly away.

Within an hour Mr. Wallace arrived;
Diotti told the story of the night. After
the undertaker had taken charge of the
body he found on the dead man's neck,
just to the left of the chin, a dullish,
black bruise which might have been
caused by the pressing of some blunt
instrument, or by a man's thumb. Considering
it of much importance, he notified
the coroner, who ordered an inquest.

At six o'clock that evening a jury was
impaneled, and two hours later its
verdict was reported.


On leaving the house of the dead man
Diotti walked wearily to his hotel.
In flaring type at every street corner he
saw the announcement for Thursday
evening, March thirty-first, of Angelo
Diotti's last appearance: ``To-night I
play for the last time,'' he murmured in
a voice filled with deepest regret.

The feeling of exultation so common
to artists who finally reach the goal of
their ambition was wanting in Diotti this
morning. He could not rid himself of
the memory of Sanders' tragic death.
The figure of the old man clutching the
violin and staring with glassy eyes into
the dying fire would not away.

When he reached the hotel he tried to
rest, but his excited brain banished
every thought of slumber. Restlessly
he moved about the room, and finally
dressing, he left the hotel for his daily
call on Mildred. It was after five o'clock
when he arrived. She received him coldly
and without any mark of affection.

She had heard of Mr. Sanders' death;
her father had sent word. ``It shocked
me greatly,'' she said; ``but perhaps the
old man is happier in a world far from
strife and care. When we realize all the
misery there is in this world we often
wonder why we should care to live.''
Her tone was despondent, her face was
drawn and blanched, and her eyes gave
evidence of weeping.

Diotti divined that something beyond
sympathy for old Sanders' sudden death
racked her soul. He went toward her
and lovingly taking her hands, bent low
and pressed his lips to them; they were
cold as marble.

``Darling,'' he said; ``something has
made you unhappy. What is it?''

``Tell me, Angelo, and truly; is your
violin like other violins?''

This unexpected question came so
suddenly he could not control his agitation.

``Why do you ask?'' he said.

``You must answer me directly!''

``No, Mildred; my violin is different
from any other I have ever seen,'' this
hesitatingly and with great effort at

``In what way is it different?'' she
almost demanded.

``It is peculiarly constructed; it has
an extra string. But why this sudden
interest in the violin? Let us talk of
you, of me, of both, of our future,'' said
he with enforced cheerfulness.

``No, we will talk of the violin. Of
what use is the extra string?''

``None whatever,'' was the quick reply.

``Then why not cut it off?''

``No, no, Mildred; you do not
understand,'' he cried; ``I can not do

``You can not do it when I ask it?''
she exclaimed.

``Oh Mildred, do not ask me; I can
not, can not do it,'' and the face of the
affrighted musician told plainer than
words of the turmoil raging in his soul.

``You made me believe that I was the
only one you loved,'' passionately she
cried; ``the only one; that your happiness
was incomplete without me. You led
me into the region of light only to make
the darkness greater when I descended
to earth again. I ask you to do a simple
thing and you refuse; you refuse because
another has commanded you.''

``Mildred, Mildred; if you love me do
not speak thus!''

And she, with imagination greater than
reasoning power, at once saw a Tuscan
beauty and Diotti mutually pledging their
love with their lives.

``Go,'' she said, pointing to the door,
``go to the one who owns you, body and
soul; then say that a foolish woman threw
her heart at your feet and that you
scorned it!'' She sank to the sofa.

He went toward the door, and in a
voice that sounded like the echo of
despair, protested: ``Mildred, I love you;
love you a thousand times more than I
do my life. If I should destroy the
string, as you ask, love and hope would
leave me forevermore. Death would
not be robbed of its terror!'' and with
bowed head he went forth into the twilight.

She ran to the window and watched
his retreating figure as he vanished.
``Uncle Sanders was right; he loves
another woman, and that string binds them
together. He belongs to her!'' Long
and silently she stood by the window,
gazing at the shadowing curtain of the
coming night. At last her face softened.
``Perhaps he does not love her now, but
fears her vengeance. No, no; he is not
a coward! I should have approached
him differently; he is proud, and maybe
he resented my imperative manner,''
and a thousand reasons why he should
or should not have removed that string
flashed through her mind.

``I will go early to the concert to-
night and see him before he plays.
Uncle Sanders said he did not touch that
string when he played. Of course he
will play on it for me, even if he will not
cut it off, and then if he says he loves
me, and only me, I will believe him. I
want to believe him; I want to believe
him,'' all this in a semi-hysterical way
addressed to the violinist's portrait on
the piano.

When she entered her carriage an hour
later, telling the coachman to drive direct
to the stage-door of the Academy, she
appeared more fascinating than ever before.

She was sitting in his dressing-room
waiting for him when he arrived. He
had aged years in a day. His step was
uncertain, his eyes were sunken and his
hand trembled. His face brightened as
she arose, and Mildred met him in the
center of the room. He lifted her hand
and pressed a kiss upon it.

``Angelo, dear,'' she said in repentant tone;
``I am sorry I pained you this afternoon;
but I am jealous, so jealous of you.''

``Jealous?'' he said smilingly; ``there
is no need of jealousy in our lives; we
love each other truly and only.''

``That is just what I think, we will
never doubt each other again, will we?''

``Never!'' he said solemnly.

He had placed his violin case on the
table in the room. She went to it and
tapped the top playfully; then suddenly
said: ``I am going to look at your violin,
Angelo,'' and before he could interfere,
she had taken the silken coverlet off and
was examining the instrument closely.
``Sure enough, it has five strings; the
middle one stands higher than the rest
and is of glossy blackness. Uncle Sanders
was right; it is a woman's hair!

``Why is that string made of hair?''
she asked, controlling her emotion.

``Only a fancy,'' he said, feigning

``Though you would not remove it at my wish
this afternoon, Angelo; I know you will not
refuse to play on it for me now.''

He raised his hands in supplication.
``Mildred! Mildred! Stop! do not ask it!''

``You refuse after I have come
repentant, and confessing my doubts and
fears? Uncle Sanders said you would
not play upon it for me; he told me it
was wrapped with a woman's hair, the
hair of the woman you love.''

``I swear to you, Mildred, that I love but you!''

``Love me? Bah! And another woman's
tresses sacred to you? Another
woman's pledge sacred to you? I asked
you to remove the string; you refused.
I ask you now to play upon it; you re-
fuse,'' and she paced the room like a
caged tigress.

``I will watch to-night when you
play,'' she flashed. ``If you do not use
that string we part forever.''

He stood before her and attempted to
take her hand; she repulsed him savagely.

Sadly then he asked: ``And if I do
play upon it?''

``I am yours forever--yours through
life--through eternity,'' she cried

The call-boy announced Diotti's turn;
the violinist led Mildred to a seat at the
entrance of the stage. His appearance
was the signal for prolonged and enthusiastic
greeting from the enormous audience
present. He clearly was the idol
of the metropolis.

The lights were lowered, a single
calcium playing with its soft and silvery
rays upon his face and shoulders. The
expectant audience scarcely breathed as
he began his theme. It was pity--pity
molded into a concord of beautiful
sounds, and when he began the second
movement it was but a continuation of
the first; his fingers sought but one
string, that of pity. Again he played,
and once more pity stole from the violin.

When he left the stage Mildred rushed
So him. ``You did not touch that string;
you refuse my wish?'' and the sounds
of mighty applause without drowned his
pleading voice.

``I told you if you refused me I was
lost to you forever! Do you understand?''

Diotti returned slowly to the center of
the stage and remained motionless until
the audience subsided. Facing Mildred,
whose color was heightened by the in-
tensity of her emotion, he began softly
to play. His fingers sought the string
of Death. The audience listened with
breathless interest. The composition
was weirdly and strangely fascinating.

The player told with wondrous power
of despair,--of hope, of faith; sunshine
crept into the hearts of all as he pictured
the promise of an eternal day; higher
and higher, softer and softer grew the
theme until it echoed as if it were afar in
the realms of light and floating o'er the
waves of a golden sea.

Suddenly the audience was startled by
the snapping of a string; the violin and
bow dropped from the nerveless hands of
the player. He fell helpless to the stage.

Mildred rushed to him, crying,
``Angelo, Angelo, what is it? What has
happened?'' Bending over him she
gently raised his head and showered un-
restrained kisses upon his lips,
oblivious of all save her lover.

``Speak! Speak!'' she implored.

A faint smile illumined his face; he
gazed with ineffable tenderness into her
weeping eyes, then slowly closed his own
as if in slumber.

The Conspirators

Arriving opposite the Franklin
house, Tom Foley took position in a
near-by alley, where he could keep close
watch on the front gate. After hours of
nervous waiting, little Lillian Franklin
came out, and Tom's heart gave a jump.
She was alone, and began to roll a hoop,
which her friend Sandy had given her
that morning. Down the street she
tripped, all smiles and happiness.

Tom watched her until she had turned
a corner, then he rushed up the alley
to intercept her. When he emerged into
the street, he saw her resting on a rustic
bench, and hastened to join her. As he
came up, he was greeted with:

``Why, Tom, I thought you went fishing
with Gil, and papa, and Sandy, and
the rest.''

``No, Lily. I felt so bad 'bout my
dad being arrested yest'day I couldn't git
up no courage to go,'' answered the boy
with simulated contrition. What d'yer
say? let's s'prise Gil, and go down to
the landin' an' meet him when he comes
in from fishin','' suggested Foley, knowing
the intense love she had for her brother.

``That'll be lovely, won't it? And
Gil will be so glad if I come.''

Lillian whipped the hoop rapidly, and
Tom kept pace with her.

``Gil will be surprised, sure enough,
when he sees me coming, won't he?''

``Yes, he'll be s'prised, you bet!'' said
the boy, taking a firmer hold of her hand.

The night was fast approaching and
Foley was leading the child through
unfrequented alleys and streets.

``But maybe Gil won't come back
this way, and it's getting awful dark.''

``Oh, he'll come back this way, all right.''

They were now on the shore of the
river, dark and desolate in its winter
dress. The restless splash of the water
sent icy sprays over the child, and,
clinging still closer to her treacherous
companion, she stopped him for a second
and begged him to return.

``Don't be afear'd, nuthin's goin' ter
happen to yer,'' he said, jerking her
savagely, and almost breaking into a run
at the same time.

``Oh, Tom, please let's go back,''
supplicated the child.

They were now at the old wharf. He
gave a low whistle, and, without waiting
for an answer, pulled the helpless child
through the entrance. Then, groping his
way over the slimy stones and through
the oozing mud, he dragged the affrighted
little one after him, to the mouth of the
cave, and called:

``Dad, I'm here.''

``Come right in,'' answered a voice.

``I've got her, an' I got her easy as
dirt,'' said the son, pushing the terrified
child into the cave, and then roughly
into the arms of his father.

``Don't yell, yer brat!'' said the older,
clasping his hand over mouth, and drawing
her brutally toward him. ``Shut
up, or I'll kill yer.''

Foley now called Hildey, who was,
asleep in the corner, and said, ``Cul,
we've got to git out er this place jest as
quick as possible. It's too near the
city, an' if we're tracked here we'll stand
no more chance than a snowball on
Beelzebub's gridiron.''

``What's yer lay, Dennis?'' questioned Hildey.

``Move up the river,'' was the reply.
``I knows jest the place where we wouldn't
be found in a thousand years.''

``When d'yer want to start?'' asked Tom.

In ten minutes the abductors, with
the stolen child, were slowly winding
their way along the deserted beach.

It was now very dark. No stars
were shining, and it had become bitterly
cold. Suddenly voices were heard, and
the abductors stopped to listen. They
were in a ravine near the magazine
landing, not more than fifty feet from the
spot where the Lillian was launched.
Foley, Tom, and Hildey crouched low,
and drew the little girl closer.

The steady dip of oars was heard up
stream, and the voices grew plainer.
Out of the mingled sounds was heard,

``I agrees with Sandy, he's the dirtiest
coward as ever went unhung.''

Lillian started, for she recognized the
voice of the Jedge, who with Colonel Franklin,
Sandy, Dink, Leander and Gilbert,
were returning from a sail up the river

Foley became frightened, and bending
over, hissed into the child's ear:

``Remember what I tol' yer: if yer
utter a sound, I'll kill yer.''

The sailing party meantime had reached
the landing and stepped ashore. Sandy
and the other three boys lowered the sail,
rolled and carried it into the boat-house.
The whole party then, marching three
abreast, with steady step, went up the
graveled walk of the old magazine road,
singing in unison:
Shoot that ni**er if he don't keep step.
Shoot that ni**er if he don't keep step.''

While its cadence was continued by
Colonel Franklin and the Jedge, the four
boys, in marching rhythm, sang out
cheerily into the crisp cold night:

``When other lips and other hearts,
Their tales of love shall tell,
In accents whose excess imparts
The power they feel so well.
There may, perhaps, in such a scene,
Some recollection be,
Of days that have as happy been,
And you'll remember me.''

The three scoundrels listened, as the
voices rose and fell on the air. The
child, with the fear of death before her,
and in the clutches of her horrible captor,
gave one convulsive sob and sank swooning
at his feet.

Foley picked her up and, walking
quickly, placed her in the very boat her
father and friends had left but a moment
before. He wrapped her in a ragged
coat, loosened the hasp of the door on the
boat-house, and took out the oars.

Quickly the captors pushed the craft
into deep water, and with muffled stroke
moved through the inky waves, a somber
specter sneaking along the banks of the
sleeping marches.

When they neared the upper bridge,
Foley ran the boat ashore and abandoned
it. Picking up the exhausted and benumbed
child, he led his two companions
along the causeway and over the road
leading to the bridge.

The wind came out of the north,
howling through the leafless boughs of
the mighty monarchs of the forest. The
last flickering light of the town was left
far behind, and darkness, like a great
shroud, enveloped river, valley and woods.

In due time Colonel Franklin and his
party reached home, hungry after their fine
sail on the river, and all in high spirits.

``Jedge, you and the boys sit right
down, and we'll have supper in a jiffy.''

The guests thoroughly enjoyed the
evening meal. The repast was about
concluded when Edith, who had just
returned from the parsonage, came in,
and called cheerily:

``Hurry up, Lily, it's time to go to the
festival. They're going to light up thet
tree at half-past eight, and it's nearly
that now.''

``Why, chil', Lily ain't here. She's
wif yo' folks,'' exclaimed Delia.

``With us? She hasn't been with us
at all,'' responded Edith.

``It's likely she's at one of the
neighbors,'' ventured the Colonel.

``I'll fin' her, Muster Franklin, an'
I'se gwine to scol' her good an' hard fo'
worryin' her ol' mammy. At this she
put a shawl over her head and shoulderst
and started in search of the absent one

``Suppose I go too,'' suggested Gilbert, rising.

``I don't think that's necessary,''
interposed the Colonel.

``It'll only take me a minute,'' assured
the son, as he began to put on his overcoat.

``Go if you like then,'' consented the Colonel.

``An' if yer don't mind, Miss Deed,''
volunteered Sandy, ``I'll go up to church
with yer, an' then come back an' fetch
Lily and Gil.''

``That's a good idea,'' answered Edith,
``bring her right over to the church, and
I'll be waiting for you there.''

``I guess I'll go up to my house an'
look. Mebbe Lily is playin' with Zorah,
an' if she is, I'll come right back an' tell
yer,'' put in Dink.

Edith, Delia and the three boys
departed, leaving the Colonel and the
Jedge alone, smoking their pipes and
discussing the sensational events of the week,
in which Dennis Foley was the central

The conversation was stopped by the
appearance of Delia and Gilbert, who
declared that not one of the neighbors
had seen Lillian that afternoon.

``It seems almost incredible that she
could be lost,'' said the father, ``she must
be somewhere about here. Perhaps she
went to the church, and fell asleep in
one of the pews.''

The searching party set out once more,
this time accompanied by the Colonel
himself, and by the Jedge. At the church
they heard from Sandy and Dink that
no trace of the child had been found,
so the father requested the minister to
inquire of the congregation if the missing
one had been seen anywhere. There was no
response from those present, and the family
and friends began to show grave concern.

Another effort at finding her was
immediately made. The police sergeant was
notified, and he sent out a general alarm.

All night long, and all the next day the
hunt was continued. Wells were explored,
basements, cellars and out-of-the-way
places were ransacked, lumber yards and
coal yards were gone through most carefully.
In fact, not a foot of the town was
left unsearched, but all to no avail, and
the once happy home of the Franklins
was steeped in sorrow and despair.

The morning after Lillian's disappearance,
Mrs. Foley inquired of the boys
in the neighborhood if they had seen
anything of her son Tom, who, she
declared, had been gone since the
previous morning.

From Sandy she learned that Tom
had taken dinner at Gilbert's the day
before, but that when the party had
started for the river he had dropped
out, claiming he was too down-hearted
to join in the pleasure.

``That's the way he acted at home,''
said the widow, ``and it seemed to me
it was almost unnacheral for him to
talk against his father, as he did.
However, I'm not bothered about him, for
he comes and goes just as he pleases,
and when he gets good and ready he'll
turn up, like a bad penny. I've stopped
worryin' about him years an' years ago.''

``If I see Tom,'' volunteered the boy,
``I'll tell him yer want him,''--and he
hurried away.

The next morning Sandy left home
earlier than usual, and on his own account
began a search for Lillian. A new theory
had taken possession of him, and he
started at once for the river. At the
magazine gate he chatted with the sentry
about the mysterious disappearance, and
passed on. When he reached the shore
half a mile beyond, he was surprised to
find that the padlock on the door of the
shed had been pried off, and that his
boat was missing.

Opening the door he saw that his
oars and blankets were gone, and he began
to feel that his theory might lead him
to important discoveries. For fully five
minutes he stood motionless, and gazed
into the river, buried deep in his own
thoughts. Then he soliloquized: ``I
wonder if Lily's been stolen? S'pose,
while we've been searchin' fer her high
an' low, Foley an' the galoot what
whacked me jest took the little girl an'
carried her off in my boat? That 'ere
story 'bout Dennis Foley buyin' a ticket
for Philadelphy struck me as fishy when
I fust heerd it, an' now I don't believe
it a t'all. They couldn't git through the
magazine gate 'thout the guards seein'
them, an' whoever took my boat either
came up the shore or down the shore.
'Tain't likely they came from up shore,
'cause they could 'a' found a hundred
boats 'tween here an' the upper bridge.''

Turning around, Sandy started down
the beach toward the cemetery. He was
studying carefully the ground beyond the
point of high tide, and in a few moments
reached the ravine where, two nights
before, the three abductors had stopped,
upon hearing Colonel Franklin and his
sailing party approach.

``Well, I'll be durned,'' he exclaimed,
for in the sand before his very eyes was
the impress of four pairs of shoes. Two
were evidently those of men, one small
enough to be that of a boy, and one so tiny
as to convince him it was that of a child.

``This is the way they come,'' he con-
tinued, ``and there wuz three of 'em in
the gang besides the little one, an' I'm
sure er that.''

He followed the footprints until he
reached the old wharf. Peering through
the rotten timbers, he said:

``That's a rum ol' hole. I don't
believe Satan hisself would go in there,
but I'm goin', an' see what I kin see.''

Sandy had no difficulty in entering the
cave, which he found strewn with whisky
bottles, pieces of bread and newly-picked
bones, evidence enough that some one
had been there but a short time before.
Penetrating deeper in his search, he
made a find of the utmost importance.
Lying at one side, and near a bed of
rags, was an envelop addressed to
Dennis Foley, and, on a peg which had
been driven into the wall, was hanging
an old hat, which he had often seen on
Hildey's head.

Elated at the results of his quest, he
began to retrace his steps, and in eager
haste he left the cave. Picking his way
along the slimy stones under the wharf,
he soon neared the outlet and there was
startled by the most significant of all
his discoveries. Right before him lay
the identical hoop which he had given
the lost child only Christmas Day, and
which bore the inscription, ``From Sandy
Coggles to Lillian Franklin.''

Every suspicion now was confirmed, and
he was sure he knew the culprits. Taking
the hoop, he returned to his boat-
house with all possible speed, and leaping
into his skiff, paddled up the river,
his eyes scanning the marsh lines on
either bank of the channel. Arriving at
the bridge, he learned by inquiry from
the tender stationed there that he had
not seen the Lillian coming up stream
within the past three days.

``But,'' explained the bridge-tender,
``I'm only on from six to six during
daylight, and of course if anything
comes through at night I wouldn't know
about it. I'm pretty sure, though, there's
been nothing up this way for a month
of Sundays, 'cept Buck Wesley, who
creeped up 'bout two hours ago, following
a gang of ducks that uses right over
there above Mayhew's Meadows. And
the way Buck's been shooting for the last
hour, he must be having a time and no

``Well, so long,'' called Sandy. ``I
guess I'll go up the river a little further
and have a look.'' And once more he
took up his paddles. As he came abreast
of the Meadows he saw Buck Wesley
coming out of the creek in his gunning

``Is that you, Sandy?'' shouted the gunner.

``That's me,'' was the boy's answer.

``Come over here, I want to talk to you,''
requested Buck.

When Sandy got alongside the hunter's boat, he asked:

``Well, Buck, what's the trouble?''

``No trouble, Sandy, but when I come
up the river this mornin'--I ain't been
up for three weeks, it's been such pore
weather for ducks--I seen a bunch of
widgeon go down right over here, an'
as I skims up by the collard patch t'other
side of the bridge, I noticed a boat lyin'
in the mud, and when I gits near to her,
I knows by the cut of her jib that she's
yer Lillian.''

``My Lillian? Wher'd yer say yer seen her?''
asked Sandy excitedly.

``Why, by the collard patch, not fifty
yards from the Causeway. She looked
like she'd drifted on the marsh. I calc'lated
when I got through shootin' that
I'd pick her up an' take her down to
yer landin'. The oars wuz in, an' I
guess she must 'a' strayed from the shore,
through somebody fergettin' to tie her up.''

``I'm much 'bliged, Buck,'' thanked
Sandy, ``but yer needn't bother. I'll
bring her down, an' the next galoot that
takes her an' lets her git away from him,
is goin' to hear from me.''

Sandy retraced the course he had come,
and after turning on the other side of
the bridge, had no trouble in finding
his boat. She was lying on a sand-bar,
but he soon succeeded in floating her
and bringing her ashore.

Safely securing the skiff and the boat,
he began another search along the beach,
and almost immediately was rewarded
by finding a knot of blue ribbon, such as
he had often seen Lillian wear in her
hair. Farther along, he discovered tracks
in the sand. These he followed, Indian
fashion, up the embankment, lost trace
of them for a moment on the hardened
surface of the carriage way, but speedily
picked them up again in the soft soil
that ran downward on the other side.

Then, it was easy to pursue them along
a pathway that led to a graveled beach
where a dozen or more skiffs had been
drawn up and tied to stakes for the
winter. From here on, all further traces
were obliterated.

Thoroughly familiar with all the river
craft belonging there, even to the individual
ownership, Sandy noticed at once
that one of the boats was missing, and
that its painter had only recently been cut.

``Why, it's Willie Bagner's boat they've
got,'' he said to himself as he recognized
which boat was missing, ``an' I'll bet my
life the scalawags are hidin' somewhere
up the river.''

Hurrying back, he rowed to the landing
and started in haste for his home, with
a plan of rescue fully developed in his
mind. He sought out Leander, Dink and
Gilbert, and asked them to call at his
house without delay.

While Sandy's investigation had
convinced him that Lillian was stolen, Colonel
Franklin had been made to realize the
same terrible fact in another and more
brutal way. When he reached his office
on the same afternoon, he found on his
desk a letter that read as follows:

dere sur--if U meen bizness i can put
U on to whar your dorter is but its goin
to kost U sum muney if U evr want to
see her agin theres a big gang got her hid
where U woodnt find hur in a 100 yerze
but if U will plank down 10000 dolers
sheze yourze if U dont you'll nevr see
hur no moar if sheze wurth thet much
to U U can git her by not blabin to
nobudy that yer got this leter an plankin
down the rino taint no use fer U to try
an git the police on our trax fer one uv
the gang is alwayz with the kid an we
have sworn to kill her if enny of us is
jugged if U meen bizness an will leeve
a noat under the big stone in front of
the ded tree by oyster shell landin up
the river we will git it an rite U where to
meet us to bring the muney and git the
child member we dont stand fer no
trechery an if U squeel we ll no it and we ll
take it out on the kid mums the word
if yer want ter see the kid again c o d
and fare deelin is our moto a word to
the wize is sufishent

yourze trooley a frend

The Colonel was completely unnerved
by the horrible knowledge that his little
daughter was in the hands of desperate
criminals. Without delay he wrote a note
offering to pay the money demanded,
agreeing to deliver it at any spot they
might name, and vowing to share his
secret with no one.

Sealing the missive, he placed it
carefully in his pocket, and drove out along
the river turnpike to a point about a
quarter of a mile from the place
designated by the anonymous writer. Tying
his horse to a tree, he walked through
the woods, and hid the note under the
stone mentioned in the letter. It was
after nightfall when he reached home,
where he was met with the heartrending
and oft-repeated question,

``Have you heard anything from Lily?''

Fearing to betray himself, even to his
family, and thus perhaps endanger the
life of his child, he was compelled to
answer, ``No, not a thing.'' With a
heavy heart, he passed into his study.
Supper was announced shortly after-
ward, and as the family gathered about
the table, the father noticed that his
son was not present.

``Where is Gilbert?'' he inquired nervously.

``Sandy was here and asked Gilbert
to come over and spend the night with
him,'' answered Mrs. Franklin. ``I hadn't
the heart to refuse him, for I don't believe
any one has worked harder to find our
lost darling than Sandy, and he seems to
be the only one that can give Gilbert
any consolation.''

``I think it's better that the boys stop
searching,'' said the father. ``They might
get themselves into trouble; it's too

``I don't believe you could stop those
boys from hunting for Lillian, if they
had to go into the very jaws of death,''
interposed the grandmother.

``Oh, well,'' spoke the father; ``they
must not wear themselves out, and to-
morrow, I will tell Gilbert and Sandy
to leave the investigation to the police.''

``They'll never do it,'' objected the
grandmother, ``they love Lillian too
much. You mark my words.''

At this very moment, Sandy, Leander,
Gilbert and Dink were together, in Sandy's
little garret room. Sandy closed the
door carefully, locked it, and called his
companions about him in the middle
of the room.

``Boys,'' he whispered, ``afore I sez
anythin', I wants yer to gimme yer
word, honor bright, an' cross yer heart
three times, that yer won't spout a syllable
of what I tells yer to a soul.''

All were agreed, and the boy began:

``Now, it's this 'ere way. My boat
wuz stolen an' left, right below the upper
bridge, an' I foun' footprints an' this
'ere piece of ribbon, which Gil knows
b'longed to his sister, for she wore it
round her hair. Willie Bagner's skiff's
bin stolen, an' I believe the party that
took it hez got little Lily, because I foun'
the hoop I give her, an' this envellup in
the same place, an' it seems to me the
galoot whose name's on it is hid somewhere
up the river, an' I'm goin' after
him if I has to go alone.''

``But you won't go alone, while I'm alive,''
insisted Leander, intensely excited.

``An' I'm goin', too, even if I never
come back,'' added Dink, taking it for
granted that he was needed.

``And you must take me,'' said Gilbert

The four boys grasped one another's
hands, and Sandy declared in a solemn

``We'll stick together to the bitter end.''

``What's your plan?'' asked Leander,
with great interest.

``Without breathin' a word to a soul,
to-night about nine o'clock we wants
to leave the boat-house, you an' Dink
in one skiff, an' me an' Gil in t'other,
an' sneak up the river, an' try so nobody
won't see us. When we gits to the upper
bridge, paddle in as close to the Causeway
on the right, as we kin, huggin'
the marsh all the way. Jest before we
git to Beaver Dam, there's a deep gut
that runs 'longside of it fer a hundred
yards or more. Foller me in there,
Leander, an' stay hid till I sez move.
Don't speak a word, from the time we
push off till I sez so. Beaver Dam is
the lonesomest creek in the world, an'
mebbe Gil's little sister is kept in one of
them ol' shacks what muskrat hunters
live in, in the spring an' summer. If
them galoots is in there, they're mighty
apt ter come out late at night, when they
don't expec' nobody's roun'. Of course,
nacherelly they have some plan about
gettin' paid fer little Lily, an' they ain't
a-goin' to stay in hidin' without tryin'
to find out the lay er the land, an' jest
how hot the police is on their trail. My
idee is to go an' lay in ambush fer 'em
all night. If they don't come out, we'll
explore in the mornin', an' if we don't
find 'em hidin' roun' Beaver Dam, then
we'll lay low all day, an' push up the river
to-morrow night. But somehow, I think
that's the place they would pick out to
hide in. 'Tain't one person out er a
million that would know how to git
through Beaver Dam without gittin' lost,
an' I'm a recollectin' I took Tom Foley
through there onct an' that's why I'm
goin' there to-night. I knows it so well,
I could go through with my eyes shet.

``Each of us wants his pistol loaded
fer keeps, a knife, an' about three yards
er rope he can tie round his waist. Let's
have a bite o' supper right here in my
house, an' then we'll start fer the river,
but each feller goin' alone, an' in a different
way. Now, remember, no talkin'
to nobody, an' let's all say honor bright,
an' cross our hearts three times ag'in.''

Sandy was the first to arrive at the
boat-house. Securing the paddles, he put
them into the skiffs and watched for his
companions. He had not long to wait.
Gilbert came in a few moments, then
Leander, and shortly afterward, Dink.
Not a word was spoken. Sandy motioned
Gilbert to sit in the center seat of the
Dolly, while he took his accustomed
place at the stern. Noiselessly they
pushed into the stream, followed by
Leander and Dink.

The tide was going out, and had,
perhaps, two hours to ebb. The boys
hugged the channel bank on the right,
passed under the bridge unnoticed, and
kept on their silent and anxious way,
mile after mile. Finally, Sandy steered
into a creek and glided softly against the
mud bank, holding his skiff firmly by driving
a paddle into the soft soil. Leander
and Dink followed suit. That they might
be screened from any one coming out of
Beaver Dam, which was separated by
a narrow strip of marsh-land, they lay
flat on the bottom of their boats.

The night was not especially dark, for
the moon was looking through a mist
of hazy clouds. It was bitingly cold,
and though the boys became numb from
the many minutes of inactivity, not
one of them moved. For fully an hour
they had remained motionless, when
faintly over the water was heard the
splash, splash, splash, of paddles, far away.

The searching party were all alert in
an instant, and with raised heads, peered
cautiously over the top of the marsh
line in the direction of the sounds. Hardly
a minute had passed, when out of the
shadows that hid the entrance to Beaver
Dam, there came slowly a skiff into the
clear water. It approached to within
fifteen feet of the hidden boys, when they
recognized a voice, distinctly saying:

``I hope that guy Franklin's ben up
to the landin' an' left the note where I
tol' him to, an' don't try no shenanigan.''

``He ain't goin' to try no flapdoodles
with us,'' was the quick answer.

``Well, if he knows when he's well off,''
the first voice resumed, ``he'll come
round with the rhino mighty quick, an'
give us no more trouble.''

``I kin see us livin' like gent'men, a'ready.''

``Gent'men born an'--'' the other began,
but the last of his sentence was lost as
the boat turned up the river, and the
cadence of the paddles died in the distance.

Sandy waited until the rascals had
disappeared around the bend, then shoving
his skiff quickly alongside Leander's,
he whispered into the latter's ear:

``Me an' Gil is goin' in to Beaver Dam.
Yer knows them two fellers, an' so do I.
One of 'em is the feller what whacked me,
an' the t'other is that bum Hildey. If
they gits here afore I come back, you an'
Dink'll have to do somethin' desp'ret.''

``All right,'' said Leander, clutching
his pistol, ``you can trust me.''

Sandy rounded the point that divided
the two creeks, and in a short time had
paddled past the trees and vines that
hung over and partly covered the entrance
to Beaver Dam. The boat was managed
with consummate skill, now left, now
right, through the sinuous waterway,
and the two boys had gone fully half
a mile, when, without warning, they
were rudely jolted as the skiff grated
harshly on a bar. Ordinarily, such an
incident would have been without effect
upon them, but now their nerves were
so highly strung, that the noise of the
boat rubbing against the gravel seemed
as loud as the report of a cannon.

Using all possible force, Sandy and
Gilbert succeeded in shoving their craft
back into the water. Then they pressed
forward into the shadow of an embankment
on the left, and not a moment too
soon did they reach Gover, for the door
of a hut was thrown open, and the voice
of Tom Foley was heard, asking:

``Is that you, dad?''

An instant later Foley was seen standing
in the dim light of the doorway, shading his
eyes and peering into the darkness.

``I say, dad, is that you?'' came again.
``I'll be doggoned if I didn't think I heerd
somebody comin'. I guess 'tain't
nuthin',''--looking anxiously to the right
and left. ``I cert'nly does git scared out
er my boots aroun' here, though, when
I'm left alone. I'm goin' to wake up the
brat an' make her keep me comp'ny,''--
and the door closed with a bang.

He had hardly gone inside when the
piteous cry of a child was heard, ``Please
don't beat me, Tom.''

``I ain't beatin' yer; go ahead, dance fer me.''

Sandy and Gilbert were fairly crazed,
and in their anger rushed up toward the hut.

Again came the cry, ``Please don't hit me, Tom.''

``Dance, I say,''--and the sharp swish
of a whip was heard.

It took but a second for Sandy to
bound into the room. Surprised and
terrified, Foley made a dart for the door,
but was met by Gilbert, who, pistol in
hand, held him stock still. In desperation
Foley reached for a club and ran
back of the frightened child in the hope
that she might serve as guard against
his assailant. Like a flash, Sandy followed,
and knocked the cowardly brute
senseless with the barrel of his pistol.

Gilbert ran to his sister, and, taking her
up, showered loving kisses upon her.
With her arms clasped about his neck and
her head nestling on his shoulder, she cried:

``Oh, Gil, I'm so glad you've come. I've
been waiting all this time for you. I knew
Sandy would come, because he ain't afraid
of robbers, or anybody else, even if he had
his hands tied behind him. I've been
praying for you every minute, and here
you are.'' Again Gilbert pressed his sister
to his heart, and kissed her.

Young Foley was still lying unconscious,
as the result of the blow he had received,
and Sandy was clutching him tightly
by the throat.

``Take yer sister, little codger,'' said
Sandy, ``wrap her up, git in the skiff,
an' I'll be with yer as soon as I tie
this chuckle-headed idiot fast and tight.''

Gilbert left the hut with Lillian, while
the other boy remained long enough to
loosen the rope around his waist, and
bind the young ruffian securely. Then
he placed him in a corner of the room.
Locking the door behind him, Sandy
joined Gilbert in the skiff, and together
they paddled furiously out of the creek
into the river.

The moon was up in all her splendor,
and objects on the water were plainly
visible for some distance. Lillian was
seated in the bow, facing the two boys
at the paddles. Leander and Dink fell
in the wake of Sandy's skiff, about ten
yards in the rear.

As the party reached the middle of
the channel, a skiff came into view from
the bend, a short way above, and steered
directly toward them. With a cry,
Lillian stood up:

``Oh, Gil, here come those two bad
men that took me away.''

The boys turned, and they, too,
recognized Dennis Foley and Hildey as the
occupants of the approaching boat.

``Lie flat, little one,'' whispered Sandy,
``an' don't move till I tells yer.''

The child obeyed, but already Foley
and his partner had espied her, and it
was evident they were using all their
efforts to catch up. Leander now called:

``It's the same gang, Sandy, that came
out of the creek. What shall we do?''

``Paddle fer all ye're worth,'' was
shouted back.

``Hold up, or we'll shoot,'' yelled Dennis Foley.

With that a pistol-shot was heard
coming from the direction of the
pursuers, but the bullet went wide of its
mark, and the boys sped on.

``Don't waste yer load unless yer haveto,''
cautioned Sandy, `` 'cause yer won't have
time to put in 'nother, an' I don't want er
draw their fire, fer fear they might hit Lily.''

The race had become one of life and
death. The boys strained to the utmost
their strong young muscles, and, with
paddles bent almost double, drove their
little craft like the wind before them.
Down past Turtle Creek they flew; Licking
Banks were soon left behind, and
shortly, they were alongside the
Sycamores. Dink looked back over his
shoulder, and whispered:

``We ain't gained on 'em a bit, an'
they seem to be goin' strong.''

When the Meadows were reached, Dink
said again:

``They're comin' like everythin'.''

``Don't weaken,'' urged Leander; ``as
long as we're between them and Sandy's
skiff, they'll have to kill us before they
can get to Lillian.''

The moon was casting its light on the
waters like a great silvery path, and the
splashing of the paddles was the only

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