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The Fourth Watch by H. A. Cody

Part 4 out of 5

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with animation, and the blood tingled and surged through his body. He felt
like shouting at the mere joy of being alive.

"Guess I must be like the bears," he thought. "They stay in their dens all
winter and come out in the spring. I'm just like one now."

He knew the direction, for had he not listened time and time again to the
conversations in the store? The talk had often turned upon Rodgers &
Peterson's big lumbering operations in Big Creek Valley. Yes, he was sure
he could find the place. Up the river to Rocky Point, from thence along a
big cove, then over a hill and down into a valley. He had dreamed of the
way; how long it would take him, and what he would say when he got there.
All day long he plodded steadily onward, and when night shut down he
stopped by a large stack of hay which had been brought from the lowlands
when the river was frozen. He was tired, and the soft hay inviting. Into
this he crawled, and ere long was fast asleep. Early the next morning he
was up and on again. His supply of food was now getting low. At noon he
ruefully viewed the little that was left. "Enough only for supper," he
murmured. "Maybe I'll get there to-morrow."

During the day he learned from several people he met that he was on the
right road. They had looked with interest upon the little figure, and
asked him numerous questions. But Dan gave only indefinite answers. He
wished to go to Big Creek Valley to Rodgers & Peterson's lumber camp. When
the second night arrived he was very weary and footsore. He had eaten his
last scrap of food before sundown, and as he trudged on he wondered what
he would do in the morning. He disliked the idea of asking at any of the
farm-houses for food. His father had always scoffed at tramps and beggars.
"They are spongers," he had often said, "and people cannot afford to have
such useless people around."

That word "sponger" as it came to Dan caused him to straighten himself up
and step forward more quickly. He was not a sponger now. His face flushed
at Farrington's insult. He would show the whole world that he could pay
for his keep, and if he could not do it in one way, he would in another.

That night no friendly haystack stood by the road-side, but over there in
the field he saw a barn near a farm-house. He could find shelter in that.
Waiting until it was dark, he crept cautiously through a small sheep door,
and entered. He heard in another part of the building the cattle munching
the last of their evening meal. It was good to know that they were near,
and that he was not altogether alone. As he threw himself upon a small
bunch of straw which he found as he felt around with his hands, a great
feeling of loneliness came over him. He longed for the Rectory and a
glimpse of Nellie's face. Was she thinking of him, he wondered, or had she
forgotten him, and believed him to be an ungrateful scamp? He clenched his
hands, and the blood surged to his face as he thought of it. No, he would
show her he was not a scamp, but a real man. Oh, she should know what he
could do!

Thinking thus he found himself no longer in the barn, but back again at
the Rectory. He could see the fire burning brightly on the hearth, and a
number of people standing around. They were all looking upon him, and he
saw the doctor there, too. But Nellie's face riveted his attention. She
was gazing upon him with such a deep look of love. And yet it did not seem
altogether like Nellie, and, when she spoke, it was a different voice.
Suddenly a strange sound fell upon his ears. The room at the Rectory
faded, and in ita stead there was the rough barn floor, and the bunch of
straw on which he was lying. For an instant he gazed around him in a
bewildered manner. He could not realize just where he was. A childish
laugh caused him to turn his head, and there looking in at him from a
small door to the left was a little maiden, with curly, auburn hair and
cheeks twin sisters to the rosiest apples that ever grew.

"Oo azy ittle boy!" she cried, clapping her hands. "Oo must det up. Turn,
daddy, tee azy, azy ittle boy."

Presently there apppeared at her side, a large man, holding a pail in his
left hand.

"What is it, dearie?" he asked. "What's all the fun and chattering about?"

"Tee, tee, azy boy," and she pointed with a fat little finger to the
corner of the barn floor.

By this time Dan had leaped to his feet, and stood confronting the man. He
felt that he was a trespasser, and perhaps he would be punished. But as he
looked into the big man's eyes he read with the instinct of a wild animal
that he had nothing to fear, for only pity shone in those clear, grey

"Did you sleep there all night?" the man asked, pointing to the straw.

"Yes, sir," was the reply. "I hope you're not cross."

"I'm cross, boy, to think that you didn't come to the house and ask for a

"I didn't like to, sir. I didn't like to bother anybody. But I knew
whoever owned the barn wouldn't mind if I slept here. It's a comfortable
place, and I was tired."

"Did you have any supper last night?" the man asked, looking keenly into
Dan's face.

"Yes, sir; a piece of bread."

"What, nothing more?"

"No. But I had a grand drink from that spring back yonder, and with the
good sleep I've had, I think I can manage to-day."

"Look here, boy, you'll not leave this place until you have your
breakfast. So come. Marion, you found this little stranger, and you must
take him to the house."

But Dan drew back, as the little maiden toddled up to take him by the

"I can't go," he stammered. "I've got no money, and I won't be a sponger."

"A what?" asked the man.

"A sponger. I hate a sponger, and so did my father. I'll split wood for my
breakfast if you'll let me, sir, for I am hungry."

"That's a bargain," said the man, much pleased at the spirit of the boy.
"So hurry off now. I haven't much time to lose."

Proudly the little maiden conducted her charge to the house, and told in
broken language about her marvellous find. Dan felt much at home with
Marion's mother, and during breakfast he told her where he was going.

"What! to Rodgers & Peterson's camp!" exclaimed: the big man at the head
of the table. "That's where I'm going myself, and that's why I'm up so
early this morning. I'm glad to hear of that, for I'll have company."

"But I must split the wood," Dan insisted. "I shall try to earn my
breakfast, but what about the ride?"

"Oh, I'll give you work along the way," laughed the man. "You'll have
plenty to do, so don't worry."

While the horses were being harnessed Dan vigorously swung the axe in the
wood-house. Perched upon the door-step Marion watched him with admiring
eyes. He knew that she was looking at him, and his bosom swelled with
pride. He was not a sponger, but a man working for his breakfast. At times
he stole a glance at the little figure sitting there. "How pretty she is,"
he thought. "I wish I had a sister like her. He longed to stay there, to
be near the little maiden, and to work for the big, kind man. He sighed as
he laid down the axe, and gazed at the wood he had chopped.

"It ain't much," he remarked, as he stood ready to climb into the waggon.
"Wish I had more time."

"It will do," responded the big man. "I am satisfied if you are."

Dan had no time to answer, for at that instant a little voice sounded
forth. Looking quickly around he beheld Marion hurrying towards him
holding in her hand a small rose.

"Me div dis to oo, ittle boy," she cried. "It's off my own woes bus. Oo
must teep it."

Hardly knowing what he did Dan took the little flower, and stood staring
at Marion.

"Come, lassie," cried her father, catching her in his arms and giving her
a loving hug and a kiss. Take good care of mother. We must be off."

"Oo div me tiss, too," and she lifted up her lips to Dan's.

The latter's face flushed scarlet, and he trembled. Never in his life had
he kissed a little girl like that. What should he do? He longed for the
ground to open or something dreadful to happen. He would have welcomed
anything just then.

"Tiss me, ittle boy," urged Marion. She had him by the coat now with both
hands, drawing him down to her. There was nothing for him to do. He must
go through the ordeal. Suddenly he bent his head and shut his eyes. His
face came close to hers; he felt her lips touch his cheek, and heard her
childish laugh of delight.

"Dood ittle boy!" she exclaimed. "Now dood-by. Don't lose my pitty fower."

Too much confused to say a word Dan scrambled into the waggon, and soon
the horses were speeding off down the lane to the road. For some time he
sat bolt upright on the seat, silent and thoughtful, clutching in his hand
that tiny rose. The big man at his side asked no questions, but seemed
intent solely upon managing his horses. But not a motion of the little lad
at his side escaped his notice. He loved children, and had the rare gift
of understanding them. A faint smile played about his mouth as from the
corner of his eye he saw Dan take a piece of paper from his pocket, shyly
place the rose between the folds and then return it to its former place.
He could not hear the boy's heart thumping hard beneath his jacket, but he
understood, and what more was needed?

All day long they jogged over the road, stopping only at noon to feed the
horses and eat a lunch Marion's mother had tucked away in the corner of
the waggon. Dan found it easy to talk to the big man sitting by his side.
He told him about his father's death, Parson John, and the accident, to
which his companion listened with much interest. But concerning the object
of his visit to the lumber camp, Dan was silent. Several times he was at
the point of explaining everything, but always he hesitated and determined
to wait.

"I did not tell Nellie," he said to himself, "and why should I tell a
stranger first?"

The sun was sinking far westward as they wound their way along a woodland
road. Down to the left the water of Big Creek Brook raced and swirled.
Occasionally they caught glimpses of the rushing torrent as the road
dipped closer to the bank.

"We should meet the drive ere long," the big man remarked, as he flicked
the horses with his whip. "I'm afraid the logs have jammed in Giant Gorge,
or else they would have been here by this time. It's a bad, rocky place,
and seldom a drive gets through without trouble."

Presently he pulled up his horses before a little log shack standing to
the right.

"I shall leave the horses here for the night, boy," he said. "There's a
path down yonder to the left. If you're in a hurry you can take that. It
will lead to the stream, and you can follow it up until you meet the men.
If they ask any questions tell them you came with Big Sam, and everything
will be all right. Take care and don't fall into the water."

Dan was only too anxious to be on foot. He was cramped from sitting so
long in the waggon. Moreover, he was restless to get to the end of his
journey, and accomplish his business. Thanking the big man, he leaped from
the waggon and was soon speeding down the path, and in a few minutes
reached the edge of the brook, roaring and foaming between its steep
banks. Looking up-stream he could see no sign of the drive, but the
well-beaten path was there, and along this he hurried. Ere long he reached
a bend in the stream and as he rounded this, and lifted up his eyes, a
wild, terrible scene was presented to view. Away to the right he beheld
Giant Gorge, a narrow gash in the rocks, through which the waters were
seething and boiling in wildest commotion. On the hither side a flood of
logs was sweeping and tearing down, like a mighty breastwork suddenly
loosened. Dan started back in terror at the sight, and was about to spring
up the bank to a place of safety, when his eyes rested upon the form of a
man out in the midst of that rush of destruction, vainly trying to free
himself from the watery chasm which had suddenly yawned beneath his feet.
Dan's heart beat wildly at the sight. But only for an instant did he
hesitate. Then forward he leaped like a greyhound. Forgotten was the
rushing torrent, and his own danger. He thought only of that frantically
clinging man. He reached the edge of the stream, leaped upon the nearest
logs, and, with the agility of a wildcat, threaded his way through that
terrible labyrinth of grinding, crashing, heaving monsters.

Chapter XXIV

The Rush of Doom

To bring a drive of logs down Big Creek Brook required skill, patience and
courage. It was a nasty, crooked stream, filled with sunken rocks, bad
bends and stretches of shallow water. Rodgers & Peterson had their logs in
the stream early, and everything pointed to a successful season's work.
For awhile all went well, but then mishap after mishap held them back. The
logs jammed in several places, and days were lost in getting them cleared.
Then they grounded upon bars and shoals, which caused a great delay. But
the most serious of all was the hold-up in Giant Gorge. This was the most
dreaded spot in the whole stream, and seldom had a drive been brought
through without some disaster. Much blasting had been done, and a number
of obstacles blown away. But for all that there were rocks which defied
the skill of man to remove. Two flinty walls reared their frowning sides
for several rods along the brook. Between these an immense boulder lifted
its head, around which the waters incessantly swirled. But when the stream
was swollen high enough the logs would clear this obstacle at a bound,
like chargers leaping a fence, and plunge into the whirling eddies below.

When the "R & P" drive, the name by which it was commonly known, reached
Giant Gorge, it was confidently believed that there was enough water to
carry it safely through. But such reckoning was wrong. As the logs came
sweeping down and were sucked into the Gorge they began to crowd, and,
instead of rushing through loose and free, they jammed against the rocky
walls, while a huge monster became wedged on the sunken boulder, and,
acting as a key log, held in check the whole drive. Then began a wild
scene, which once beheld can never be forgotten. Stopped in their mad
career, the logs presented the spectacle of unrestrained passion. The
mighty, heaving, twisting mass groaned, pressed and writhed for freedom,
but with the awful grip of death the sturdy key log held firm. Steadily
the jam increased in size, and whiter threw the foam, as one by one those
giant logs swept crashing down, to be wedged amidst their companions as if
driven by the sledge of Thor.

The drivers stood upon the bank and watched the logs piling higher and
higher. Well did they know what the delay might mean to Rodgers &
Peterson. Much depended upon that drive coming out, and for it to be held
up during summer meant almost ruin to the firm. They were a hardy body of
men who stood there late that afternoon discussing the matter. They were
great workmen these, well versed in woodland lore. All winter long had
they taken their part in that big lumber operation, and, now that the work
was almost completed, it was certainly aggravating to be thus checked.

As the men talked, and several lighted their pipes, one strapping fellow
stood on the bank, his eyes fixed upon that immovable key log. During the
whole winter Tony Stickles had been the butt as well as the curiosity of
the men. His long, lank figure was the source of much ridicule, while his
remarks, which were always slow and few, were generally greeted with
merriment. From the first night in camp he had been a marked man. Ere he
threw himself into the rude bunk he had knelt down on the floor in the
presence of them all, and said his evening prayer. A boot had been thrown
at his head, and a laugh had gone about the room. Tony had risen from his
knees, and with a flushed face sought his couch, surprised at the action
on the part of these men. But one middle-aged man of great stature and
strength had watched it all. He sat quietly smoking for several minutes
after the laughter had subsided.

"Boys," he said at length, taking his pipe from his mouth, "I'm real sorry
at what ye've done to-night. I've six little ones of me own, an' I hope to
God when they grow up they'll not be afeered to kneel down an' do as yon
lad has done to-night. I'm not a good man meself, more's the pity. But
that boy's had a good mother's teachin'. I honour her an' 'im. An' let me
tell ye this, men, if I ketch ye doin' agin what ye did to-night, ye'll
have to reckon with me. So jist try it on, an' I won't give a second

Jake Purdy calmly resumed his smoking, and the men looked at one another
in silence. They knew very well from certain past unpleasant experiences
what it meant to cross this quiet, plain-spoken man. He said little, and
never entered into a quarrel without some reason. But when he did there
was cause for the stoutest heart to quake.

Tony listened to it all concealed away in his bunk. His heart thumped
beneath his rough shirt, and he wished to thank Jake for taking his part.
But strive as he might he never had the opportunity. The big woodsman
never seemed to notice him. Days passed into weeks, and still Tony did not
utter the gratitude which was lying in his heart. To him Jake was more
than ordinary--a hero. He watched him as he chopped, and drank in greedily
the few words he let fall from time to time in the camp.

"Boys, that drive must go through."

It was the boss who spoke, as he jerked his thumb towards the Gorge. "Yes,
it's got to go through to-night, or it's all up. The water's falling off
fast, and if we wait till to-morrow, we'll wait till next fall. I've
always said there should be a dam at the head of the Gorge, and I say it
now more emphatically than ever. But as it is not there, it's up to us to
get this d--n thing through as best we can. I've never been stuck yet in
bringing out a drive, and I hope this won't be the first time."

"But what's your plan?" asked one. "Hadn't ye better pick one of us to go
down into that hell-hole, an' cut that key log?"

"No, that isn't my plan," and the boss scratched the back of his head.
"I'm not going to be responsible for the carcase of any man. If I say to
one 'Go,' and he goes and gets pinched, I'll worry about it to my dying
day. I'd rather go myself first. But if we draw for it, then it's off my
shoulders, and I stand the same chance as the rest of ye. I believe that
whatever is to be will be, and the right man to go down there will be
chosen. Do you agree to that, boys?"

"Ay, ay," came the response. "Go ahead, Tim. We'll stand by the

Some brown paper was accordingly found, and cut with a big jack-knife into
twenty pieces, according to the number of the men. On one of these a large
X was marked with a blue lead-pencil, which one of the men had in his
pocket. A tin lunch can was next produced, and into this the pieces of
paper were all thrown and the cover shut down tight. When the can had been
thoroughly shaken, the men came up one by one, shut their eyes, put in
their hands and drew forth a slip. A tense silence reigned during this
performance, and the hearts of these sturdy men beat fast as each glanced
at his paper to see what it contained. Jake Purdy was one of the last to
approach, and, thrusting in a huge, hairy hand, jerked forth his piece,
and as he looked upon it his face turned pale, though he said not a word
as he held up the slip for all to see the fatal X scrawled upon it. At
that instant Tony Stickles started forward, and confronted Jake. His eyes
were wide with excitement, and his long, lank figure was drawn up to its
full height.

"You mustn't go!" he cried. "No, no! You've got six little ones at home,
an' a wife who wants ye. I'll go in yer place."

Big Jake looked at Tony in surprise, and into his strong, determined face
came an expression of tenderness which the men had never seen before.

"No, lad," he replied, "it can't be. The lot's fallen to me, an' I'm the
one to do it. I thank ye kindly all the same."

Tony waited to hear no more. His eyes glanced upon an axe lying near.
Springing towards this he seized it, and before a restraining hand could
be laid upon him he bounded towards the Gorge, sprang down the bank and
leaped upon the logs.

Big Jake rushed after him, calling and imploring him to come back. But his
cries were unheeded. Tony was now between the rocky walls, working his way
over those tossed and twisted monsters, deaf to all entreaties from the

"Come back, Jake!" roared the men from behind. "It's no use for you to go
now. He's taken the matter into his own hands, an' one's enough."

Reluctantly he obeyed, and stood with the rest watching with breathless
interest to see what would happen.

Tony had now reached the front of the jam, and was carefully picking his
way to the gripping key log. Balancing himself as well as he could he
chose a spot where the strain was the greatest. Then the axe cleaved the
air, the keen blade bit the wood, and the whirling chips played about his
head. Deeper and deeper the steel ate into the side of the giant spruce.
Suddenly a report like a cannon split the air, the axe was hurled like a
rocket out into midstream to sink with a splash into the foaming eddies.
Tony turned, leaped like lightning back upon the main body of logs, and
started for the shore. But he was too late. With a roar of pent-up wrath
the mighty drive moved forward. Down through the Gorge it surged, gaining
in speed every instant from the terrible pressure behind. And down with it
went Tony, enwrapped with foam and spray. Nobly he kept his feet. He
leaped from one log to another. He dodged monster after monster, which
rose on end and threatened to strike him down. It was a wild race with
death. Should he miss his footing or lose his head only for an instant he
would have been ground to pieces in that rush of doom. The watching men
stood as if transfixed to the spot. They saw him speeding onward and
drawing nearer to the shore at the sharp bend in the stream. It looked as
if he would gain the bank, and a cheer of encouragement rang out over the
waters. But the words had scarcely died upon their lips ere they beheld
the logs part asunder right beneath Tony's feet, and with a wild cry he
plunged into the rushing current below. Frantically he clutched at the
nearest logs, and endeavoured to pull himself up from that watery grave.
At times he managed to draw himself part way out, but the swirling waters
sucked him down. It needed only a little help, but the logs were wet and
slippery, and there was nothing on which to obtain a firm grip. His body
was becoming numb from the icy waters, and at each terrible struggle he
felt himself growing weaker. He knew he could last but little longer in
such a position. Was he to drown there? His thoughts flashed to his little
home in Glendow. Were they thinking of him? he wondered. What would his
mother say when they carried her the news? Oh, if he could only feel her
strong hand in his now, how soon he would be lifted from that awful place.
Suddenly there came into his mind her parting words when he had left home.

"Tony," she had said, "ye may be often in danger out thar in the woods.
But remember what the good Lord said, 'Call upon me in the day of trouble
an' I will deliver ye.'"

And there in the midst of that swirling death he lifted up his voice. "Oh,
Lord!" he cried, "help me! save me!"

And even as he prayed, and made one more mighty struggle, a small hand
reached out and grasped his. It was all that was needed. He felt the
watery grip loosen, and numbed to the bone he sprawled his full length
across a big log at Dan's feet. And not a moment too soon had that helping
hand been stretched forth, for glancing back he saw the logs had closed
again, grinding and tearing as before. They had struck a wild eddy and all
was confusion. He staggered to his feet at the shock and barely escaped a
huge log which suddenly shot up from below. But Dan was not so fortunate,
for a glancing blow sent him reeling back, a helpless, pathetic little
figure. Tony was all alert now. Leaping forward he caught the unconscious
boy in his arms, and started for the shore. Then began a fierce,
determined fight, a hand-to-hand encounter with cold, relentless death.
Step by step Tony staggered forward, baffled here, retreating a few paces
there, but steadily gaining. At first he did not mind Dan's weight, but
after a few minutes the burden began to tell. He was weak anyway from the
terrible strain and experience through which he had recently passed. Could
he hold out until he reached the shore? His face was drawn and tense; his
eyes stared wildly upon those rolling, moving, writhing things beneath his
feet. They seemed like thousands of serpents trying to capture him as he
leaped from one to the other. His brain reeled; he was falling, but at
that moment he felt strong arms about him. His burden was snatched away.
He heard voices, friendly, encouraging and cheering, and then, oblivion.

When Tony opened his eyes he found himself lying upon the shore with
several men standing near, watching him with keen interest. There was no
merriment or ridicule in their faces now, but only anxiety and sympathy.
The hearts of these rough men had been touched by what they had recently
witnessed. Most of them were with the drive, but a few had been told off
to look after the two lads.

"Where's that boy?" asked Tony as the terrible scene flashed back into his

"Over there," replied one, jerking his thumb to the left.

"Is he all right?" was Tony's next query.

"Can't say. He's not come to yet."

At this Tony struggled to his feet, and walked slowly over to where Dan
was lying, unconscious still, and breathing hard.

"Who is he? Where did he come from?" were the questions which these men
asked one another as they rubbed Dan's body, and bathed his forehead.

Something white sticking from a little pocket in Dan's coat caught Tony's
eye. Reaching down he drew it forth, and as he did so the little crushed
rose dropped to the ground. One of the men picked it up and holding it in
his big, rough hand looked curiously upon it. But Tony did not notice the
flower, for his eyes were fixed upon the paper on which he saw his own
name. Slowly and with difficulty he spelled out the queer letters scrawled

"deR toNy," so the missive began. "cUm hoM qiK they say paRson John sTol
ol bilees goLD i tHINK yoU nO weR IT ISS

"yeR friEND TruLEE


Tony held the letter in his hand for some minutes and stared at those
quaint words. He had heard from his mother of the death of old Billy and
the burning of his house. But of the trouble later he knew nothing, for
letters from home had been few. Now a new light dawned upon his mind.
Something must be wrong, and this lad had come all the way for him! But
who was Dan? He had never seen nor heard of him before.

"As he stood there Big Sam drew near. He started with surprise as he saw
the boy lying on the ground, his little pale face resting upon a rough

"What! what's this?" he exclaimed. "Why, this is the boy who came with me
to-day! Has he fallen into the stream? I warned him to be careful."

"Poor boy! poor boy!" he remarked when the story of the brave deed had
been related. "Do you think he's badly hurt?"

"Can't say," replied one. "But do ye know who he is?"

"Yes," and Big Sam in a few words told all that he knew.

"We must get him away from this as soon as possible," said the former
speaker. "He needs the doctor. Where had we better take him?"

"Look here, boys," said Sam after a moment's thought. "As soon as those
horses have munched their oats they shall head for home. I'll take the boy
with me, and my wife will care for him. The doctor lives near."

Tony stood by listening to it all with his eyes fixed intently upon Dan's
face, while his hand still clutched the letter. He was weak, and ready to
drop. But a burning desire throbbed within his breast. He partly realized
the situation at Glendow. There was trouble, deep, serious trouble, and he
was needed.

Chapter XXV

Beneath the Ashes

Far away in the West the sun was sinking low as Stephen Frenelle stood on
the shore looking out over his newly rafted logs. Not a ripple disturbed
the surface of the noble river, or the waters of the little creek lying
between its semi-wooded banks. It was a balmy spring evening when the
whole world seemed at peace. On a night such as this new longings and
aspirations swell the heart, and the blood tingles joyfully through the
body. Stephen had remained after the rest of the men had gone home. He
wished to examine the logs to see that the work was well done. As he now
stood on the shore his thoughts were not upon the glassy river or Nature's
loveliness. His mind was disturbed. All through the winter he had been
looking forward to the time when the logs would be floating there secured
by their wooden bonds. He had planned to have Nellie come to see the
completion of his work. He knew how she would rejoice at what he had
accomplished, and in his mind he had heard her words of congratulation.
But now all was changed. The work was done, but Nellie was not there to
behold his victory. How lonely seemed the parish since her departure. He
had thrown himself with great energy into his task, and the days had sped
by. But, try as he might, he could not free himself from the weight which
pressed upon his heart. Everything in the parish moved on as before. The
new clergyman came, and service had been held in the church as usual. Many
spoke favourably of the new man. He was young, full of spirit, and a
clear, forcible speaker. But to Stephen it was not the same as formerly.
He missed the white-haired, venerable man in his accustomed place. The
moment he entered the church his eyes sought the seat where Nellie always
sat. It was empty. That form so dear to him was not there. He saw her
Prayer Book and Hymn Book in the little rack, and a lump came into his
throat, as he knew they would not be used.

He thought of these things, standing there on the shore. His tall, manly
figure was drawn to its full height. He gazed straight before. It was a
far-off vision he beheld, and suddenly there came into his heart a peace
such as he had not known since she left. She seemed to be very near,
standing right by his side. He saw her face, beheld her eyes looking into
his, and heard her voice bidding him to be of good cheer, and to look up.

A sound near by startled him. He glanced quickly around, half expecting to
see Nellie standing there. Instead, however, he beheld the tall, lank form
of Tony Stickles approaching. His face was gaunt, his step weak and slow.
But Stephen did not notice these, so surprised was he to see him.

"Tony!" he exclaimed, reaching out his hand, "where did you drop from? I
thought you were on the big drive."

"So I was, Steve," Tony replied, taking a seat upon a large boulder.

"Didn't get fired, eh?"

To this Tony made no response. He looked thoughtfully before him for a

"Say, Steve," he at length remarked. "How's Parson John?"

"He's gone, Tony. Driven from Glendow."

"What!" and Tony sprang to his feet in excitement. "When did he leave?"

"Last week."

"Then I'm too late! I was afraid of it! But I came fast--I ran sometimes;
but it was no use. Is he in the lockup?"

"In the lockup! What do you mean?" and Stephen stared at him in amazement.

From the depth of a capacious pocket Tony brought forth Dan's soiled
letter, and held it up.

"Read that," he said. "It's all I know."

Quickly Stephen scanned the quaint words, drinking in almost intuitively
the meaning of it all.

"Did Dan give you this?" he demanded.


"And where is the boy now?"

Tony's eyes dropped at the question, and he did not answer.

"Is anything wrong?" Stephen insisted.

"Yes, I'm afraid so. But set down close, Steve. I've somethin' great to
tell ye."

And sitting there in the dusk of even Tony poured into his companion's
ears the story of that terrible scene in Giant Gorge, and of Dan's brave

Stephen listened spell-bound to the tale. The meaning of Dan's departure
was all clear now. While people had been blaming the lad as an ungrateful
runaway he had fared forth in loving service on behalf of his guardians. A
mistiness blurred Stephen's eyes as Tony paused.

"Where is Dan now?" he asked.

"At Big Sam's house. We brought 'im down on the waggon, an' I helped carry
'im in."

"Who is Big Sam?"

"Oh, he's the teamster. The booms are near his place whar the raftin' will
be done. Sam hauls the stuff fer the gang."

"And you don't know how badly Dan is hurt?"

"No, I came away at once. I wanted to help the old parson. An' say, Steve,
did they find the gold?"

"Find it? No. And I don't think they will now. It's a great mystery."

"An' they say the parson took it?"

"Yes, some do."

"An' didn't they find the iron box?"


"Did they look beneath the ashes?"

"They searched every nook and corner, and even sifted the ashes, but could
find nothing."

"An' didn't Billy say nuthin'?"

"No, he was too weak. He tried to speak after the parson had carried him
out, but no one could understand him."

Tony did not speak for a while, but remained lost in thought.

"Steve," he at length remarked. "I'd like to go to that old place. Will ye
go with me?"

"What! to-night?"

"Yes, right away."

"It will be dark there now, Tony. Why not wait until morning?"

"No, no. I must go to-night. We kin git a lantern, an' I want a shovel,
too. Will ye come?"

"Yes, if you want me," was Stephen's reluctant reply. "But you might as
well save yourself the trouble. The place has been so thoroughly searched
by daylight that I don't see we can do much at night. Anyway, I shall go
with you."

Together they moved on their way up the road, Stephen carrying his peevy
upon his shoulder. As they came to the store he stopped.

"Wait here, Tony," he said, "till I run in and get the mail. I shall be
only a minute."

Entering the building he found Farrington sitting behind the counter
writing. He looked up as Stephen entered, and laid down his pen. He was
affable to all now, for election day was but a week off, and he needed
every vote.

"Raftin' all done, Steve?" he asked as he handed out the mail.

"Yes, all finished," was the reply.

"Ye'll be to the p'litical meetin' to-night, Steve, won't ye?"

"Oh, I had forgotten all about it."

"But ye must come. I want ye to hear what I hev to say. Gadsby'll be thar,
an' I've got a dose fer 'im which he won't soon fergit. I'll show 'im a
thing or two, an' the people'll learn that they need a real, live
practical man for councillor. Ye must certainly come."

"I'm not sure that I can come," Stephen replied. "I have an engagement
to-night. I may be there, however, if I can get through in time. But I
must be off now; Tony's waiting for me."

At these last words Farrington started, and an expression of concern swept
over his face. He leaned anxiously forward and looked intently at Stephen.

"Did ye say that Tony Stickles is out thar?"

"Yes. He has just arrived."

"Why, w--what's he back so soon fer?"

"Special business, so he tells me. But I must be off."

Stephen noted Farrington's remarkable interest in Tony's return, and
wondered what it meant. He had no mind to tell him about Dan, for he
preferred to have as few words as possible with this man who was such a
thorn in the flesh. He left Farrington standing in the door and proceeded
with Tony up the road. As they moved along he noticed how his companion
lagged behind. Usually he was such a rapid walker, and this slowness was a
surprise to Stephen.

"Are you not well, Tony?" he asked.

"I'm all right," was the reply. "I've had a long walk to-day."

"Since when?"


"And did you rest?"


"Look here," and Stephen faced sharply about "Have you had anything to eat

Tony's face flushed, and he gave a slight, evasive laugh. But Stephen was
not to be put off.

"No, that won't do. I want to know. Have you been walking all day without
any food?"

"Oh, I didn't mind, Steve. I was in a hurry to get home. Besides I--"

"Yes, I know," interrupted Stephen. "You didn't have your pay, and were
too proud to beg. Oh, you're a great one. But you shall have supper with
me at once before you go digging among those ashes."

For a while Tony was stubborn, but in the end Stephen led him off in
triumph. Supper was ready, and Mrs. Frenelle gave the visitor a hearty
welcome, and in his own quaint way he told of his work in the woods, and
his experience on the drive.

"I feel like a new man," he said, rising from the table. "I was about
tuckered out. Now I'm ready fer that bizness up yon. Guess we'll turn up
somethin' tonight, or my name ain't Tony Stickles."

It was quite dark by the time they reached the ruins of the old house. The
lantern threw its fitful light over the charred sticks and blackened

"My! this is a scary place!" Tony exclaimed as he glanced around. "Poor
old Billy was good to me, an' many a square meal I've had here. Now let's
begin operations."

The wreck of the old-fashioned chimney stood out gaunt and desolate, while
the large fire-place was filled with sticks and stones. These Tony began
to clear away, tossing them far from the foundation. Placing the lantern
in a secure position, Stephen assisted him in his task. Why he did so he
could not tell, but there was something so sure and masterful about Tony's
words and actions that he felt compelled to do something.

"Now fer the shovel, Steve. We'll soon see what's here," and Tony began to
dig up ashes and earth in a lively manner. "I think this is the place.
Yes, right down under the big hearth-stone, a little to the right. He told
me about it time an' time agin. Poor Billy! Poor Billy! Ye never thought
it 'ud come to this."

Stephen was all attention now. He watched Tony, digging and talking,
uncertain whether the lad was really in his right mind. Had the fearful
experience in Giant Gorge turned his brain? he wondered. He had read of
such things. There was something uncanny about the way Tony talked to
himself, and, brave though he was, a strange feeling crept through
Stephen's body, making him long to be away from the spot. And still the
digging went on, down through the yielding soil.

"Should be here purty close," Tony remarked. "Under the hearth-stone, well
to the right. I ought to be near--Hello! what's this?"

The exclamation was caused by the point of the shovel striking something
hard. Again and again the thrust was made, and each time a hollow sound
was produced.

"It's it! It's it!" shouted Tony, now much excited. "I knowed it was
here," and he dug away frantically, until presently an iron box about a
foot long and six inches wide was exposed to view. Throwing aside the
shovel, he seized the treasure with both hands, tore it from its
hiding-place and held it aloft.

"Look, Steve!" he cried, trembling with excitement, "I knowed thar was
somethin' here!"

Stephen was now as much aroused as Tony. "What's in it, do you think?" he

"Gold! that's what's in it! Ye'll soon see," and Tony pulled back a little
iron pin and threw up the cover. As he did so he gave a cry of surprise,
for the light falling upon the interior showed nothing there but a few
pieces of paper. Tony rubbed his eyes in amazement, and then looked at

"Whar's that gold?" he fiercely demanded. "What has become of it?"

Stephen scarcely heard him, for a terrible idea had flashed into his mind.
Someone had taken it, and was it--? He hardly dare let the name beat for
an instant through his brain. It was cruel. No, no, it could not be! That
white-haired man of God would not stoop to such a thing! But where was the

The moon rose clear and full above the distant horizon. It seemed to ask
silently the same question. A dog from a farm-house up the road split the
air with its hoarse bark of wonder. Stephen placed his hand to his
forehead in an abstracted manner. Then he glanced at the box, and the
papers lying therein arrested his attention. He reached down and took them
in his hand. They were tied with an old piece of tarred twine, and were
much blackened and soiled. Drawing forth the first and holding it close to
the lantern, Stephen read the brief words recorded there. It took him but
a minute to do this, and then followed an exclamation which gave Tony a
distinct start.

"What is it, Steve?" he asked. "What hev ye found?"

"Read this, and judge for yourself," Stephen replied, thrusting the paper
into his companion's hands.

As Tony spelled out the words his eyes bulged with astonishment.

"Oh, Steve!" he gasped, "I'm so glad it isn't the parson. But do ye think
this is all right?"

"It. looks like it. See the date, November 10th of last year. And notice,
too, these words 'for safe keeping' and 'until called for.' Why, it's as
plain as day. Then, here's the amount, 'five thousand dollars, all in
gold, to be left in the iron box marked with a cross in white paint.'"

"Say, Tony," Stephen asked, "did Billy have such a box, another one like

"Why, yes, I do remember one very well. It was smaller than this; 'twas
stouter an' had a lock an' key. He kept some papers an' loose change in
it. It allus sot on the old mantel-piece over the fire-place."

"Tony!" said Stephen, looking hard at the paper, "if that box of gold is
there yet, and that man has been silent and let another take the blame,
it's the smallest, vilest piece of work of which I ever heard."

"Sure 'tis, an' I say let's go an' ax 'im 'bout it."

"But he's at the meeting now."

"Well, all the better. It's right that the people should hear. But say,
Steve, what's that other paper?"

"Oh, I forgot it. Maybe it will explain things further."

"Why, it's Billy's will!" cried Stephen, running his eyes over the closely
written sheets, "and he's left the whole of his property, gold, farm and
all, to you."

"To me! To me!" exclaimed Tony. "Ye must be mistaken."

"Read it for yourself, then," and Stephen passed over the will. "It's all
there in black and white."

As Tony read, his face flushed, and his hands clutched the paper in the
intensity of his feelings. His eyes flashed as he turned them hard upon

"I understand now!" he cried. "That villain has tried to cheat me outer
all this. He thought the will an' everythin' else was burned. But he was
mistaken. Oh, yes, he didn't know what was beneath the ashes. Come, Steve,
let's go an' ax 'im a few questions. Mebbe he'll explain things. Anyway
we'll give 'im a chance. Come, let's hurry!"

Chapter XXVI

A Rope of Sand

Silas Farrington was much disturbed by Tony Stickles' arrival in Glendow.
He had always laughed at the lad, considering him a stupid, ungainly
creature. Occasionally he had overtaken Tony on the road trudging wearily
along, but it had never occurred to him to offer him a seat in his waggon
or sleigh.

"It spiles sich people," he had often said, "to take too much notice of
'em. They have a sartin place in life, an' should be made to keep it." But
standing in the store that evening after Stephen's departure, the despised
Tony occupied an important place in his mind. He would have laughed to
scorn anyone who had suggested such a thing. But down deep in his heart,
small and narrow though it was, dwelt considerable unrest. "What had the
lad come back for?" he asked himself over and over again. "What was the
special business which brought him so unexpectedly? Did he know anything?"
Harrington's face twitched as he thought of these things. He strode up and
down in the store. Once he paused before the safe standing in the corner,
and looked long and thoughtfully upon it. A muttered curse escaped his
lips. This was succeeded by a scornful laugh. "What a fool I am!" he
exclaimed, "to worry about sich things! What is thar to find out? Let 'em
do their best and be damned! We'll see who holds the stoutest and longest
rope. That Steve Frenelle's a cur, an' I hate 'im. He's jist the one to
stir up trouble. I've suspected 'im all along. He knows too much fer one
of his age. Wait 'till I'm councillor, an' then I'll show 'im a thing or
two." Waggons rattling along the road startled him. He glanced at his
watch. "My! I didn't know 'twas so late; almost time for the meetin'. I
must git ready."

The big public hall of Glendow was packed to the door. People came from
all over the parish to this political meeting, for lively scenes were
expected. The two candidates opposed to each other were to be there to
discuss various problems of local interest. On the front seat sat Mrs.
Farrington, Eudora and Dick.

Philip Gadsby was the first speaker. He was a man tall and somewhat thin,
with a kind, thoughtful face. His voice was soft, well modulated, and his
words carefully chosen. There was nothing of the orator about him, in fact
his speech was somewhat of a hesitating nature. But he was possessed of a
convincing manner, and all who were there knew they were listening to a
man who was more than his words, and that what he said he would endeavour
to accomplish to the best of his ability. He spoke about the needs of the
parish, better roads, improvement of the schools, and the efforts which
should be made to form an agricultural society in Glendow, which was
essentially a farming community.

"Our watchword," he said in conclusion, "should be progress. Look at our
roads. Money is spent upon them every season, but not in an intelligent
way. We find men at times appointed roadmasters who seldom drive over the
highway. Mud and sods are heaped up in the centre in a confused fashion,
late in the fall. Let us do less, do it well, and use more gravel. Look at
our schools. The buildings are old, ill equipped, and sometimes fifty to
sixty children are crowded into one room fitted only to accommodate
twenty, and one teacher to manage all. And we do need an agricultural
society. We are farmers. We need to read, study, meet together and hear
addresses from experts. New methods are employed elsewhere, while we are
behind the times. Yes, we must advance. I have the welfare of the parish
at heart, and whether elected or not I shall still take my part in the
forward movement."

Often during the speech Gadsby was greeted with cheers and clapping, for
those present realized the effectiveness of what he said, and he sat down
amid great applause.

It was then that Farrington rose to his feet and mounted the platform. He
had listened to Gadsby's speech with amused tolerance, and occasionally
whispered something to his wife sitting by his side. He was a man
possessed of an abundance of words, and he turned his attention at once
upon the first speaker. Gadsby had made no personal allusion to his
opponent. He simply stated his case and ceased. But not so Farrington.
From the first word he uttered he began to pour forth contempt and
ridicule. He laughed at Gadsby's ideas of progress.

"I think we're purty well advanced," he shouted. "The schools an' roads
are good enough fer me. Progress means more money, an' more money means
bigger taxes. The children of Glendow are well supplied, an' as fer the
roads they're good enough. As fer an agricultural society--well," and here
he cast a significant look at Gadsby, "them who talk sich things had
better look at their own farms. Before I go out shoutin' about progress I
had better be sure that my own bizness is on a good footin'. I generally
find that sich people spend too much time gaddin' about instid of
attendin' to their own home affairs."

And thus Farrington talked for over an hour. He wandered off into all
kinds of subjects, made jokes at which the boys laughed, and told funny
stories. He imagined he was putting his hearers in good humour, and he
took their cheers and stamping as signs of approval. But he little knew
what the serious-minded were thinking about. They were slow of speech, but
they were keen observers, and they were mentally comparing the two
candidates before them. Farrington knew nothing of this. He was in a
rollicking, fine humour. He felt pleased with the people for their
apparent approval, but more pleased with himself for the speech he was
making. "I'm real glad to see so many of yez here," he said in conclusion.
"I think nearly all the voters are present, at any rate every family is
represented. Now if any of yez would like to ax a question I shall be glad
fer 'im to do so. I take it that the meetin' is open fer free discussion."

"Guess I've made a hit," Farrington whispered to his wife as he resumed
his seat by her side. "The people know a good thing when they find it."

"Ye done well, Si," was the reply. "I'm sartinly proud of ye. Thar's no
doubt now about yer election."

The clapping and stamping had not ceased ere a man was noticed pushing his
way through the crowd to the front of the hall. As he mounted the platform
the noise suddenly stopped, for all were much surprised to see Stephen
Frenelle standing there. Never before had he been known to do such a
thing, especially at a political meeting. What could he have to say? All
wondered. And Stephen, too, was surprised. He was not accustomed to public
speaking, and shrank from the thought of facing so many people. But he was
very calm now, and in his eyes flashed a light which bespoke danger. In
his right hand he clutched several papers, which all noted. He looked
steadily over the heads of the people before speaking, and an almost
breathless silence ensued.

"You wonder why I am here," he began at length. "I am not used to the
platform, and only a matter of great importance would ever make me mount
it. The last speaker has given permission for all to ask questions. He has
said that nearly all the voters are here, and that every family is
represented. I will tell you of one voter who is not here, one who on an
occasion like this was generally present. I need hardly mention his name,
for you all know. I now ask why isn't Parson John with us to-night?" He
paused as if for an answer, and looked into the faces before him. "You all
know," he continued, "as well as I do. Because he was actually driven from
the parish. He left it almost a heart-broken man."

At these words, Farrington sprang to his feet.

"What has all this nonsense to do with the election?" he cried. "He's out
of order, an' I appeal to the chairman to stop 'im."

"Hear! hear!" yelled several. "Go ahead, Steve!" shouted others.

"Yes, I intend to go ahead," replied the latter. "You will find out, Mr.
Farrington, before I am through the meaning of my words, and perhaps I
will not be the only one out of order. It's more likely to be disorder.

"I was asking the question when I was interrupted, 'Why was Parson John
driven from the parish?' Because of vile stories which were circulated
about him. And what were those stories? You know as well as I do. I need
not mention them all; of one only shall I speak. When old Billy Fletcher's
house was burned to the ground, and the gold which he was supposed to have
could not be found, what did some say? That Parson John took it. Yes,
that's what they said, and you all know it. I've heard it ever since then.
His friends knew it was a lie, but what could they say? What proof could
they bring forward? I now ask you what became of that gold? It is a secret
no longer. The witness is here," and Stephen held the papers aloft. The
silence which now pervaded the hall was most intense. Every ear was
strained to its utmost, and every eye was fixed full upon that up-lifted

"Here is my witness," repeated Stephen, "and I ask the man, the last
speaker, whose name is signed to this paper, to stand up and give us an

During the latter part of this speech, Farrington had turned as white as
death. He sat bolt upright, with his hands clutching convulsively the edge
of the seat. He felt that something terrible was pending, and a horrible,
craven fear overwhelmed him! He knew that paper held up there only too
well. It was simply a sheet of cheap writing-paper, and yet it was his
ruin. It was damning him as a scoundrel and a sneak in the presence of
these people!

"Cannot the last speaker explain how his name happens to be here and what
he knows about that gold?"

These words fell like the knell of doom upon Farrington's ears. What was
he to do? But something must be done.

"What d'ye mean?" he gasped. "What d'ye want me to explain?"

"About this writing."

"What writin', an' whar did ye git any writin' of mine? It's some mean
trick!" he shouted, jumping to his feet. "This villain has come here fer
the purpose of injurin' me! I tell ye it's false! it's false!"

"But what about this?" Stephen insisted, calmly holding up one of the
papers. "And there are others."

"What is it? What is it? Read it, Steve," came the cry from the audience.

"I say it's false!" shouted Farrington, springing again to his feet, his
face blanched with terror. "It's a mean trick! Put the villain out! Will
ye let an honest man be put upon in this way?"

"Read the paper, Steve," urged several. "Let's know what's the matter. We
don't understand this fuss."

Farrington made a pathetic figure as he stood there uncertain what to do.
He knew he was in a trap, but he had not the moral courage to stand up and
face the worst like a man. Had he done so there were many who would have
pitied him. But he blustered and raved and threatened what he would do.

"If that man will be still for a few minutes," said Stephen, "I shall tell
you what these papers contain."

"Sit down, Farrington!" came a general yell. "We'll hear you later."

"Now," began Stephen. "I shall read this one first. It is not long.

"'To-day October 30, 18-- I placed the sum of $5,000 in gold in Silas
Farrington's safe for him to keep until called for. The money is locked in
a stout, iron box marked with a cross with white paint. I do not like
banks--they are not to be depended upon, and are always failing. This
seems to be the best place to put my money. I am to give Mr. Farrington
one dollar a month for the use of the safe. 'WILLIAM FLETCHER.'"

As Stephen finished the reading, a movement took place among the people
and angry, threatening words were interchanged.

"It's a lie!" yelled Farrington. "It's made up to ruin me! Will ye believe
sich a story?"

"Just wait a minute," continued Stephen, holding forth another small piece
of paper. Here is further evidence which might be of some service. Listen
to this.

"'Glendow, Friday, Oct. 30th, 18-- Received from William Fletcher, the sum
of $5,000 in gold, in an iron box, to be kept for him in trust in my safe
until called for, he promising to pay me one dollar a month for the use of

An intense silence now reigned in the hall. All were waiting to see what
would happen next. It was the calm before the storm. The people were more
than surprised, they were dumfounded at this sudden turn of events. The
purpose of the meeting was forgotten. Then one wild cry went up. There was
confusion everywhere, all talking and shouting at once. At this the
chairman rose to his feet, and held up his hand for peace. Gradually the
commotion subsided, and all waited to hear what he had to say.

"We are much astonished at what has happened," he began. "It is a very
serious matter. These papers are of a most damaging nature to one of the
candidates here to-night. He has emphatically denied the statements made
therein. But we demand further proof. Let him now come forward and speak.
Perhaps he can explain matters fully."

"Hear! Hear!" came from every part of the building.

Half dazed and trembling, Farrington staggered forward, and grasped the
back of a chair for support.

"It's a lie, I tell ye!" he shouted. "But I want to ax one question. Whar
did them papers come from? Ye all know very well that everything was
burned which old Billy had in the house. Not a scrap of anything was left,
and how did them papers escape? That's proof enough to show what a mean
trick has been played upon me. I am the one to ax fer an explanation."

"That shall be granted at once," Stephen replied, and in a few words he
told of Tony Stickles' arrival, their search beneath the large
hearth-stone, and the discovery of the iron box containing the valuable

"Tony is here," said Stephen in conclusion, "and if you do not believe me,
ask him."

But there was no need for Tony's witness. The evidence was already strong
enough, and the people were aroused.

"Mr. Farrington," said the chairman, motioning the audience to be quiet.
"If you have that gold in your safe, it will save considerable trouble if
you produce it at once. If it is there and you have kept silence and
allowed that man of God to suffer, you deserve the severest punishment. Is
it the wish of the people here that the safe should be opened?"

"Ay, ay!" came like a roar of thunder.

"Ye can't do it!" yelled Farrington, rising to his feet. "It's my private
property, an' I defy anyone to touch my safe."

"Oh, we'll not touch it," the chairman coolly remarked. "We'll not lay
hands on it. All we ask you to do is to throw open the door and show us
what's inside."

"It ain't lawful, I say," shouted the desperate man.

"Maybe it isn't lawful. But we'll attend to that, I reckon. Sometimes
people take the law into their own hands, and I guess that's what we'll do
to-night. In my opinion there's not a judge or a jury in the whole land
but would support our action. Come now, you'd better do as we desire at

Farrington, excited though he was, found it necessary to do some rapid
thinking. He knew he could not delay that angry assembly much longer. One
hope only remained, and upon this he acted.

"Very well," he replied, "I might as well go at once. Come when you like,
you kin examine everything in the safe. I'm not afeer'd fer ye to look."

He took a step or two forward with the intention of leaving.

"Wait a minute," said the chairman. "Don't be in too big a hurry. We'll go
along with you. It's always good to have company on such occasions."

"I don't want anyone," snapped Farrington, turning angrily upon him.

"No, I know you don't. But we're not considering your feelings just now."

"Then, I'll not go! Do what you like with me!" and Farrington sank back
upon the seat, a pitiable bundle of wretched humanity.

Chapter XXVII

In the Toils

During the whole of this excitement, Mrs. Farrington had remained
motionless, striving to comprehend the meaning of it all. At first a great
rage filled her heart at the thought of Stephen Frenelle talking in such a
way to her husband. But when the papers had been read her anger was
changed to fear, which was much increased by Farrington's excited
condition. She realized that he was placed in an unenviable position, but
thought not so much of the meanness of his deed as of what the neighbours
would say. How could she ever hold up her head again? she wondered. How
the women would talk! And then to think that Si was in danger of losing
the election, all on account of this Stephen Frenelle. What business had
he to interfere? It was no concern of his. She watched everything which
took place, and listened eagerly to each word. She heard the chairman
ordering her husband to wait until several went with him to search his
safe. Then when she had seen him sink upon the seat at her side, she gave
one cry and fell prostrate upon the floor.

At once several people sprang forward, and strong arms bore her through
the crowd into the open air.

Farrington hardly noticed what was taking place. He sat huddled upon the
seat where he had dropped, helpless and full of despair.

"Come, Mr. Farrington"--it was the chairman's voice--"we must get through
with this business, and we are determined to get through with it to-night.
Will you go quietly and open that safe, or must we carry you there?"

No answer coming from the wretched man, the chairman continued: "Very
well, then, men, there's only one thing left--and what's your wish?"

"Drag him there," was the shout, and a yell of derision arose whilst a
number of sturdy forms rushed forward. The people were wildly excited now.
They realized the nature of the trick which had been imposed upon an
innocent man. Had the money been merely stolen, or had Farrington
committed forgery, they would have let the law take its course. But in
this case the vile meanness of the deed, the criminal silence of months,
stirred their hearts, inflamed their passions, and carried them beyond the
bounds of reason.

"Let me alone!" yelled Farrington, as a dozen hands were laid upon him.

"Will you come, then?"

"Y-y--es," was the quaking reply.

"Well, hurry up about it," and as the wretched man started for the door,
he was rushed forward by the crowd which surged about him. Hatless and
almost breathless, with wild staring eyes, Farrington staggered along the
road. The store was reached.

"Unlock the door," was the command, "and make haste about it."

This was soon done and the crowd pressed into the building.

"Now open the safe!" the chairman demanded, "and show us what's there."

But just here Farrington, terrified though he was, hesitated. Like the man
who, about to die on the gallows, cherishes hope of deliverance almost to
the last, so did he. Perhaps his friends would interfere to save him from
the ignominy. But alas! his former boon companions, Tom Fletcher and his
gang, were nowhere to be seen. They had quietly slunk away, fearful for
their own safety from the infuriated people. Now that safe door stood only
between Farrington and eternal disgrace. It was no wonder that he paused.
How could he do it? The perspiration stood in great beads upon his
forehead, and his knees would hardly support his body.

"I can't!" he gasped, looking imploringly around.

A yell was the only response to his appeal.

"Boys," cried the chairman, when the confusion had subsided, "there's a
coil of new rope over there in the corner, and a stout tree stands
outside. Suppose we give him his choice. He can either open the safe or go
up to the first limb."

"Hear, hear!" was the reply, and a rush was made for the rope, a long
piece cut off and a loop formed. The chairman had no idea of carrying out
the latter design, and he knew very well that such an extreme measure
would not be needed. It was simply a ruse to get the safe open. And in
this he was right. When Farrington heard their terrible words, and saw the
noose made ready, with a groan he sank upon his knees before the safe.
With trembling hands he turned the steel disk, but somehow the combination
would not work. Again and again he tried, the people becoming more and
more impatient. They believed he was only mocking them, while in reality
he was so confused that he hardly knew what he was doing. But at length
the right turn was made and the heavy door swung open upon its iron

"Bring out the stuff," demanded the chairman.

One by one the articles were brought forward, and last of all from a back
corner Farrington slowly dragged forth an iron box with a white cross mark
upon it.

A shout of triumph rose from those who first beheld it, and then yells of

"Order!" commanded the chairman.

"Is that Billy Fletcher's box?"


"And you knew it was there all the time, and let Parson John get the blame
for stealing it?"

"Y-y--es. B-b--ut fer God's sake have mercy! I--I--didn't mean to do it! I
was o-only j-j--okin'! I intended to ex-p-plain everything."

There was an ominous movement among the bystanders, and those in the rear
did some excited talking, while several left the building. Presently the
sound of heavy blows was heard in the store-room adjoining the shop. Then
a rush of feet ensued, and Farrington was suddenly caught and hurried
forward. The light of a small lamp shed its feeble beams over the place,
making it look more ghostly than ever. The intentions of his captors
flashed into Farrington's mind. Standing there was a large cask of tar
used for boats and the roofs of houses. The head had been smashed in, and
the odour was pouring forth.

"Fer God's sake not that!" shrieked the wretched man. "Oh, help, help!

But his cries were all in vain. Rough hands were laid upon him, his
clothes were hurriedly ripped off, and he was lifted bodily, and lowered
feet first into the black, slimy depth. He resisted, but it was useless.
He was forced down upon his knees, and the tar covered him to his very
ears. Silence reigned now in the room. They were determined men who were
handling this nasty job, and with set mouths and intense grimness they
watched the victim flounder about and then give up in despair.

When he had been soused and soaked to their satisfaction he was helped
out, and with the tar dripping from his body he was led back into the main
store. There a large feather-bed was seen spread out upon the floor. It
had been ripped open, and into this Farrington was plunged. He yelled and
cursed, but to no avail. He was rolled over and over among the yielding
feathers, and when at length he was allowed to stand upon his feet he
presented the picture of a strange, incongruous bird with the head and
feet of a man. No hand touched him now, and he stood there not knowing
what to expect.

"Go," cried the chairman pointing to the back door leading into his house,
"and the sooner you pull up stakes and leave the parish the better for
yourself and family."

As soon as Stephen knew that his services were no longer needed, he stood
back and let matters take their course. He followed the crowd to the store
to see what would happen. Not until he had seen the box with his own eyes
could he be completely satisfied with his evening's work. But when at
length the safe was opened and the box exposed to view, he gave a deep
sigh of relief. He had waited to see what the men would do with
Farrington. He knew that the punishment inflicted was just. Stephen did
not believe in the mob spirit, but he realized that the most effective
remedy at times was that administered when the people aroused in
righteous indignation tarred and feathered the culprit, bestowed the
cat-o'-nine-tails or ducked him in the nearest pond. Though not in
accordance with the British Constitution it is certainly the most
effective way of dealing with some mean, contemptible cases. And
Farrington's was one of them. With clever legal counsel he might be able
to prove that he was acting within his right in holding the money "until
called for," according to the wording of the paper he had signed, while
the real motive that prompted him to keep silence might not be considered
at all.

Having thus seen Farrington receive his just deserts, Stephen hurried
home. A light was burning in the sitting-room which his mother had left
for him ere she retired for the night. He threw himself into an armchair
and reviewed the exciting scenes of the evening. A weight had been
suddenly lifted from his mind, and his heart was filled with thankfulness.
He thought of the joy which would shine in Nellie's face when she learned
how her father had been cleared of that terrible charge. He longed to see
her, to look into her eyes, to clasp her hands and tell her what had so
unexpectedly happened. Was she thinking of him? he wondered, and what was
she doing? He realized more than ever what she meant to him. Life was
unbearable without her sweet, loving presence.

At length, taking the lamp in his hand he sought his own room, but not to
sleep. He threw himself upon the bed, clothes and all. But try as he might
his eyes would not close. Ever before him rose that white-haired old man,
with the weary face, bearing so patiently the burden of injustice. Why
should he carry the load any longer? Why should he not know the truth as
soon as possible? And how would he know unless someone went at once?
Acting upon the thought he sprang from the bed, lighted the lamp and stole
softly downstairs. He was about to leave the house, when he paused, and
turning back went to a little writing-desk and drew forth a sheet of
paper. Taking a pencil from his pocket he wrote a brief message to his
mother, and laid it upon the dining-room table, where she would be sure to
find it in the morning.

Having accomplished this he left the house and made his way to the barn.
His favourite horse was startled from his sleep, and laid back his ears in
resentment as the saddle was placed upon his back, and he was led out of
the stable. The moon was flooding the whole land with its silver beams as
Stephen sprang into the saddle and headed Dexter for the main road. Then
the ring of steel-shod hoofs echoed upon the still air as horse and rider
sped through the night, on to a little village far away beyond the hills.

Chapter XXVIII

Waiting and Serving

"I feel completely side-tracked now. Life moves forward, but here I am a
useless burden."

It was Parson John who spoke, as he leaned back in an easy-chair and gazed
dreamily out of the window.

Nellie laid down the book she had been reading aloud and looked anxiously
at her father. This was the third day they had been at Morristown, and it
was the first time her father had uttered any word of complaint. The
change had been restful, and he had enjoyed it thoroughly. There had been
so many things to see and to talk about with his brother that he hardly
missed the separation from Glendow. A sense of glad freedom had been his.
There was no responsibility of parish work, and no long, tiresome drives
ahead. He need not worry about sermons for the following Sunday, nor feel
concerned for any who might be sick. It was a luxury to sit there quietly
in the large, airy room with the fresh breath of spring pervading the
place, and to watch the trees putting forth their tender leaves and the
fields donning their robe of green, yellow and white. Occasionally Nellie
read to him from some favourite author, although much of her time was
taken up helping her aunt with various household duties. The change which
she beheld in her father caused her much joy. "It is just what he needs,"
she thought. "A good rest will restore him more than anything else." So
now on this bright afternoon to hear him complain of being side-tracked,
of no use in the world, worried her.

"You must remember, father dear," she replied, "it is well to be
side-tracked sometimes. Engines are often laid by for repairs, and I have
heard you say that we need rest that mind and body might be strengthened."

"True, very true, Nellie. But I seem to be useless. There are so many
things to be done, and but little time in which to do them. When one has
been engaged in a work for over thirty years it is not easy to lay it
suddenly aside. It becomes part of one's life. Some may think that rest is
sitting still and doing nothing. But to me such a thought is terrible.
'Rest,' as a great poet has well said, 'is not quitting life's busy
career. Rest is the fitting of self to one's sphere!'"

"Yes, father, but did not blind old Milton say that 'They also serve who
only stand and wait.'"

"But how am I serving, Nellie? What is there for me to do here? I sit all
day long and think, while others serve me."

"Father," Nellie replied after a brief silence, "I believe a stroll would
do you good. You have been staying in the house too much. I have
discovered some very pleasant walks out from the village, and, if it will
not weary you, suppose we start off now."

Her father looked up quickly at the suggestion.

"Capital!" he exclaimed. "It's just what I need. I am becoming too moody,
and the fresh air will revive me."

He was almost like a child now in his eagerness to be off. With his stout
cane in one hand, and leaning upon his daughter's arm, he moved slowly
along the dry road, through the village and out into the country where the
houses were few.

"Oh, this is life, grand, true life!" and he stood for a few minutes
looking far away across the broad fields. The air laden with the freshness
of spring drifted about them; the birds flitting overhead were pouring
forth their joyous music, while on every side early flowers were lifting
their tiny heads. All nature seemed to combine to give a glad welcome to
these two wayfarers.

At length, coming to a cross road, Nellie paused.

"Look, father," and she pointed to a large tree near by. "What a cool,
shady spot! Suppose we rest there for a while, and I will read some from
the little book I have brought with me."

Willingly Mr. Westmore conceded to her wish, and soon they were snugly
seated on the grassy sward. With his back against the tree, Parson John
breathed a sigh of relief as he wiped the perspiration from his forehead
with a large, white handkerchief.

So absorbed did they both become in the book that neither noticed the
black clouds which had been gathering away to the south, and were now
rolling up fearful and threatening beneath the sun. A distant peal of
thunder, followed by a bright flash of lightning, startled them.

"A storm is coming!" exclaimed Nellie, springing to her feet. "We must
hurry home at once! The road to the right is shorter. I know it quite
well; we had better take that."

They had not proceeded far, however, before the peals of thunder became
more intense, and soon large drops of rain came spattering down.

"We're in for a heavy storm," panted Mr. Westmore. "It's about to burst
upon us. We must seek shelter!"

"There's a house right ahead," Nellie replied. "Perhaps we can get in

They plodded on in silence now, and turned in at a little gate none too
soon. Scarcely had they entered the small porch in front of the house ere
the storm broke. Hail, mingled with rain, came thundering down upon the
roof, and, dashing against the glass, threatened to smash in every pane.
The thunder crashed and shook the house, while the lightning streaked the
air with blinding flashes.

"This is terrible!" exclaimed Nellie, clinging to her father's arm, her
face very white. "We must get into the house!"

They knocked upon the door, but received no response. Again they rapped
louder than before, and at length a key was slowly turned and a woman,
neatly dressed and fair to look upon, peered timidly forth. A relieved
look came into her face as she saw the two standing there.

"Come in," she said, giving a little nervous laugh. "This fearful storm
has quite overcome me."

She led the way into a cosy sitting-room, and offered her visitors chairs.

"You will pardon our intrusion, I am sure," explained Mr. Westmore. "We
came simply for shelter. We are much obliged to you."

"Not at all, sir," replied the woman. "I am so glad you came. I am alone
with the children, and they are all much frightened."

"And your husband is away?"

"Yes. He's been gone all winter. He was working in the woods for Rodgers &
Peterson, and is now on the drive."

"Dear me! it must be hard for you to have him away so much."

"It is, sir. But he will stay home after this. He has earned enough this
winter to make the last payment on our farm. We have been struggling for
years, saving every cent and working hard to get the place free from debt,
and now it will be our very own if--if--," and the woman hesitated.

"How glad your husband will be to be home," said Nellie, with her eyes
fixed upon several bright little faces in the doorway. "He must long to
see you all."

"Ay, indeed he does, but especially Doris. She is our invalid girl, you
see, and is very dear to us. She can't romp and play like the others, and
I suppose for that reason she appeals to us the more."

"Has she been ill long?" questioned Mr. Westmore, becoming now much

"For five years. It's hip disease, and she will never walk without a
crutch, if she does then. Perhaps you would like to see her."

They were conducted into a small bedroom, and the sight which met their
eyes moved them both. Lying on the bed was a girl of about fifteen years
of age, with a sweet, fair face, large, expressive eyes, and a high
forehead crowned by a wealth of jet-black hair, parted in the middle and
combed back with considerable care. The room was as neat and clean as
loving hands could make it. A bright smile illumined the girl's face,
which Nellie thought the most beautiful she had ever looked upon.

"It's so good of you to come to see me," she said. "Very few come, and I
do get lonely at times."

"You will be glad when your father comes home, will you not?" Nellie
remarked, taking the girl's thin, white hand.

"Oh, it will be delightful! He has been away so long. Let me see," and she
counted on her fingers. "He has not been home since Christmas."

"But he writes to you, though?"

"Yes, such lovely letters, all about his work. But the last one was so
sad. I have cried over it many times. I have it right here. Would you like
to read it? It's so interesting."

"Suppose you tell us about it, dear," said Mr. Westmore, taking a chair by
the side of the bed. "That will be better."

The girl's face flushed a little, and she hesitated.

"I'm afraid I can't tell it half as well as father does in his letter. You
know, the men were bringing the logs down Big Creek Brook, and they all
got stuck in a nasty place called Giant Gorge. One big log in some way, I
don't understand, stopped the rest, and it had to be cut out. It was a
dangerous thing to do, and the men drew lots to see who would go down into
that awful place. And just think, papa drew the paper with the mark upon
it, which meant that he was to do it! I shudder and cry every time I think
about it. Well, as dear papa was about to go, a young man, Tony Stickles,
sprang forward and said he would go, because papa had six children and a
wife who needed him. Wasn't that lovely of him? I should like to see him.
And just think, before papa could stop him he sprang upon the logs, cut
away the one which held the rest, and all rushed down right on top of him.
Papa said he was sure Tony would be killed, but he jumped from one log to
another, and when all thought he would get to the shore, the logs opened
and he fell into the water. Then something wonderful happened, so papa
said. As Tony was clinging there a boy suddenly came along, jumped upon
the logs, ran over them, and pulled Tony out just in time. But a log hit
the poor little boy, and Tony had to carry him ashore. Don't you think
that's a lovely story, and weren't they both very brave, real heroes like
you read about in books? Oh, I lie here hour by hour and think it all

The girl's face was quite flushed now, for she had spoken hurriedly, and
her eyes shone brighter than ever. She was living the scene she related.

"What a nice story you have told us," Nellie replied when Doris had
finished. "I am glad to hear what a brave deed Tony did, for we both know

"What! you know him?" cried the girl.

"Yes, very well. Ever since he was a baby."

"How nice it must be to know a real hero!" sighed the girl. "Please tell
me about him."

And there in the little room Nellie told about Tony, his mother, brothers
and sisters, to which Doris listened most eagerly.

"We must go now," said Mr. Westmore rising to his feet and looking out of
the window. "The storm has cleared and the sun is shining brightly."

"But you will both come again, won't you?" Doris inquired as she held out
her hand.

"Yes, if you want us to do so," Nellie replied. "But we don't wish to tire

"You won't tire me. I long for someone to talk to, and you know so much."

Parson John had now left the room, and Nellie was holding the girl's hand.
She glanced at the door to make sure that her father could not hear, then
she bent over the bed.

"Did your father tell you the name of that boy who saved Tony's life?"

"No. He said he didn't know."

"Did he say what he was doing there?"

"No, only he had a funny little letter for Tony. It was in his pocket, and
when they opened it a small rose fell out."

"And he didn't say what the letter was about?"


"Thank you, dear, I must go now," and as Nellie stooped down and gave the
girl a kiss, Doris suddenly clasped her arms about her neck.

"I love you! I love you!" she murmured. "You are so beautiful and good!
Come soon, will you?"

"Yes, dear, to-morrow, perhaps," and as Nellie left the room her eyes were
moist with the tears she found impossible to restrain.

As she walked along the wet road by her father's side her mind was busy
thinking over what she had just heard. Who was that boy? He must be a
stranger to that place, and what was the letter about? Could it be Dan?
How often had she and her father talked about the boy. They believed that
he would come back some day. Suddenly there flashed into her mind the
persistent efforts Dan had made to write a letter, and how he had time and
time again asked her the way to spell certain words. She had thought
little about it then, but now she remembered that one of the words was
"Tony." Her father looked up in surprise as Nellie paused, and clutched
his arm more firmly.

"What's the matter, dear?" he asked. "Are you tired? Perhaps we are
walking too fast."

"No, father," and Nellie gave a little laugh. "I was Only thinking, and my
thoughts run away with me sometimes. But I am glad we are almost home, for
the walking is heavy and our shoes are covered with mud. See that
beautiful rainbow, father!"

They both stood still for a few minutes, and looked upon the grand arch
spanning the heavens and resting upon earth.

"The bow of promise, Nellie," said Mr. Westmore. "It appears to-day, the
same as of old, to remind us all that 'His mercies still endure, ever
faithful, ever sure.'"

"Perhaps it's a sign to us, father, that our storm has past, and the sun
will break forth again." "It may be true, child. God grant it so," and
Mr. Westmore sighed as he turned in at the gate leading to his brother's

Chapter XXIX

Rifted Clouds

Again the next day they both visited the invalid girl. Nellie read to her,
while Parson John sat and listened. They were becoming firm friends now,
and Doris chatted unreservedly.

"I shall tell papa all about you," she said. "I have a letter almost
finished, and shall mail it to-night. How I wish you could see him."

All through the day Dan had been much in Nellie's mind. The idea which had
come to her the evening before was growing stronger. She believed it was
Dan and no other who had rescued Tony. It was just like him, and she
thought of the afternoon he had saved her and her cousin on the river.
Should she tell her father? That was the question which she debated with
herself hour after hour, and when they returned from their visit to Doris,
she had not yet decided.

That evening she strolled out of the house, and down the road leading to a
little brook. The air was balmy and fresh, and this was her favourite
walk. Trees lined the way, stern old oaks, beeches and maples--the grove
on her uncle's farm, the place where people came for miles to hold

As Nellie walked along her thoughts turned often to Glendow. She wondered
what Stephen was doing, and if his logs were rafted. She missed him
greatly. They had been so much together, had grown up as children, but not
until this separation had she fully realized what he meant to her. She
thought of the night he had come to tell about Nora and to say good-bye.
Her face flushed, and a sweet peace came into her heart as she dwelt upon
Stephen's manner that night--his confusion--his stammering words--and the
burning kiss upon her hand. She stood on the little bridge now, in the
quiet dusk of even, leaning against the railing and looking pensively down
into the shallow water below. Suddenly she raised her hand and pressed it
again and again to her lips--the same hand which Stephen had kissed.

A step upon the bridge startled her, and her heart beat fast. Had anyone
seen what she did? She thought she was alone, but somebody was coming. She
turned away her flushed face, and gazed down into the water, leaning her
arms upon the railing. The steps drew nearer. They were opposite her, and
soon they would pass. Some neighbour, no doubt, going home. If he had seen
her action he would tell others, and soon every person around would know.
Presently the steps paused. The silence frightened her. It was dusk; no
house in sight, and she was alone. Quickly she faced about, and there
standing before her was Stephen. A cry of surprise escaped her, and the
next instant she felt his strong arms about her and his lips fervently
pressing her own.

"Stephen!" she cried, struggling to free Herself. "How dare you! When did
you come?"

"Just from home, and was resting under that big tree," Stephen replied
still holding her tenderly. "I dared much after I saw what you did a few
minutes ago. Oh, Nellie, Nellie. I have been waiting long for this moment!
Surely, surely you are mine at last!"

The flush had left Nellie's face now, leaving it very white, though in the
deepening twilight this was not noticeable. Her heart was beating
tumultuously, and a new feeling of peace and rest was stealing over her.
How powerful seemed the man standing there. So long had she been called
upon to be strong, always helping, ever taking such a responsible place in
life, caring for her father, strengthening him in his work--and upon her
he depended. But now to feel that she could give herself up to another,
one who had passed through a stern fight in the strength of his sturdy
young manhood, and had come forth as victor. Yet mingling with this
new-found joy came the thought of the dark shadow hanging over her
father's life. How could she be happy when he was in trouble? For his sake
she had kept the brave spirit and presented only the bright sunny face,
and cheery words of hope. The tension for weeks, nay months, had been a
severe strain--and now this sudden joy! It unnerved her. Words would not
come to Stephen's passionate pleading, but in their stead tears stole down
her cheeks, while her form trembled with convulsive sobs.

Stephen started in surprise.

"Nellie! Nellie!" he cried. "What have I done! Forgive me! I did not mean
to hurt you! I thought you would understand. If you only knew how I love
you--if you only----"

"I know it, Stephen--I know it. I am very foolish. Please forgive me. I
cannot explain these tears--they come unbidden."

"Then you're not unhappy, Nellie? You are not cross with me?"

"Cross, dear Stephen, no. I am so happy, very happy. But why should I he
happy when my father is in trouble? How dare I! Is it right?"

"Then you love me, Nellie! Oh, speak the word--let me hear it from your
own lips!"

"Yes, Stephen, I do love you, don't you know it? I am yours, your very

"Thank God! thank God!" he cried, drawing her closer to him, and kissing
her again and again. She did not resist now, but allowed him to hold her
there while he breathed into her ear his sweet words of love. They were no
studied, well-rounded phrases, but such as leaped from a true, noble
heart, and the woman listening knew their worth.

"Why didn't you write to me, Stephen?" Nellie whispered, "and tell me you
were coming? I have been worried lately, and it would have been something
to look forward to."

"I didn't know I was coming until this morning," came the reply.

"Didn't know?"

"No--I left in the night."

"This is more mysterious than ever."

"Yes, I left very early this morning, and should have been here by the
middle of the afternoon, but Dexter threw a shoe about five miles back. I
had to leave him at a farm, and walk the remainder of the way. I was
resting by the bridge when you came along. I was quite put out to think I
had to tramp that distance and be so late. But now I know it was for the
best. Doesn't everything turn out right, Nellie?"

"Y-y--es, some things do," was the reluctant reply. "This has, anyway, and
I try to believe that all things concerning my poor father will come out
right, too. I think we had better go to him now and tell him of our
happiness. It may brighten him up a bit."

Side by side they walked slowly along the road, and Stephen told the whole
story of Tony's return, the hidden box, the political meeting, the
discovery of the gold in the safe, and Farrington's ignominious

They had reached the house by the time he had finished, and stood for a
moment on the doorstep before entering. In Nellie's heart was such a joy
that words would not come to her lips. She felt she must be asleep, and
would awake to find it only an unsubstantial dream. But Stephen's arm
around her, and his strong presence near, assured her that it was a
blessed reality.

They found Mr. Westmore sitting alone in his little room, reading by the
shaded lamp. He glanced quickly up and was surprised to see Stephen
standing by Nellie's side. He saw the look of rapture upon their faces,
and read at once the meaning of it all, and into his own weary face came a
light which Nellie had not seen in many a day. She tried to speak, but
words failed, and moving quickly forward she threw her arms about her
father's neck, and kissed him fervently.

"Oh, father, I am so happy!" she whispered. "Do you know? Can you

"Yes, darling," he replied. "I do understand. Come near, Stephen, my son,"
and as the young man approached, he joined their hands, and bade them to
kneel before him. Then stretching out his hand over the bowed heads, and
in a voice trembling with emotion, he gave them his benediction. "May the
Lord bless you and keep you," he said. "May the Lord make His face to
shine upon you, and be gracious unto you, and keep you true to Him and to
each other unto your lives' end."

Sitting by Mr. Westmore's side that evening, Stephen told the story he had
recently related to Nellie. Parson John sat straight upright in his chair,
and his eyes never once left Stephen's face.

"And do you tell me!" he cried, when the latter ceased, "that Dan is
injured--lying unconscious?"

"He was when Tony left."

"Poor dear boy! and he did it all for me!" murmured the parson. "What a
sacrifice to make of his bright young life I I must go to him, Nellie, at
once! In the morning! Poor Dan! Poor Dan!"

Thus the three sat for some time talking of the accident and planning for
the journey. Not once did Mr. Westmore speak about the recovery of the
gold, but that night in the quietness of his own room he poured out his
soul, in a great, fervent prayer of thankfulness to the Father above, and
also he sought His aid on behalf of a little wounded lad lying on a bed of
pain in a farm-house miles away.

Chapter XXX

Beneath the Surface

Across the mouth of Big Creek stream a long double boom cradled the large
"R & P" drive. The last log had shot safely down the crooked brook and
rested calmly by the side of its companions. There were thousands of them
there, scarred and battered by rock and flood; worthy veterans were they,
this hardy army of the forest, reposing now after their fierce, mad

The work of the drivers was done, and the last peevy had been tossed with
a resounding thud among its companions. A score of men were they who for
months had been confined to the lonely life of the woods, and who for days
had often been face to face with death. Naturally their eyes turned
towards the river some distance away. There on its bank nestled the little
town, and there, too, stood the Flood Gate Tavern, the most notorious
place in the whole countryside. How often during the winter evenings had
they talked of the many wild scenes which had been enacted there, and of
the wages of months squandered in a night. Though they talked about the
place and cursed it, yet, like moths singed by the candle's flame, they
had returned spring after spring to the Hood Gate Tavern to spend the
wages needed at home. Their money, too, was awaiting them there in the
Company's office. But now they hesitated. Never before had such a thing
been known. Formerly there was a rush to the town when the last log had
come in.

It was evening as the men stood there, and the sun was hanging low far in
the west. The yearning for the tavern was strong--it called, it appealed
to them. But another power was holding these rugged drivers in check.
Their hearts had been much stirred these last few days, although not one
acknowledged it. A little helpless, suffering child was unconsciously
restraining the brute nature within them. He was holding them in leash,
binding them by strange, invisible cords. In silence they ate their supper
in the rafting house near by.

"Boys," said Jake Purdy as the men sat outside smoking. "I'm goin' down
town to see if there's any mail. Any of ye comin'?"

It was all that was needed, and at once every man responded. Down the road
they marched, their great boots making a heavy thud as they moved along.
Into the post office they tramped, and stood around while the few letters
were doled out. For Jake, there was one, written by a child's trembling
hand. Eagerly he opened it, and, as he read, his face underwent a
remarkable change. The rugged lines softened, and when he turned to the
men waiting for him, there was no gruffness in his voice.

"'Spose we git our money, lads, an' hike back," he remarked.

"Ay, ay," was the response, but in several hearts there was a keen longing
to remain.

Right in front of the Company's office stood the Flood Gate Tavern. The
proprietor had been expecting the drivers and was well stocked up. He saw
them coming into town and watched them enter the office for their money.

"They'll be here soon, Joe," he said to his assistant, "an' mind ye don't
let an opportunity slip. Them bottles must go tonight. I know there'll be
lively times about here. Them d--n temperance workers are dead set agin
us, an' it looks as if they'd make trouble. But we'll win out tonight, and
they can go to ----. Say, here they come. Now for the time--an' money. Oh,
they're jist achin' to give me their wages. They won't forgit old Ned,
that's sure. Ha, ha!" and the saloon-keeper rubbed his hands with glee.

The drivers were outside the office now, and were casting furtive glances
across the way. Big Jake saw the looks and knew the longing which dwelt in
their hearts. He drew forth his pipe, stuck his little finger deliberately
into the bowl to see how much tobacco it contained.

"Boys," he began, "have yez anything on fer the night?"

"No," came the somewhat surly response, "unless we go over there."

"Don't go," said Jake. "We've spent too much there in past years. Let's
save our money fer them wot needs it at home. Let me tell ye somethin'.
Comin' down the road from the boom to-night I felt like seven devils. I
was jist longin' to git into that saloon an' have a big drink. But as luck
'ud have it I went into the post office first, an' found this here letter.
An' who is it from, d'ye think? From me own little sick lassie at home.
Look at the writin', boys. Ain't it fine? An' what a letter it is. She
says she's waitin' fer me, an' counts the days until I come. Listen to
these words: 'Don't go near the saloon, papa. Come straight home, an'
bring the money to pay fer the farm. I pray fer you every day, papa, an' I
pray fer all the men on the drive, and fer that poor little boy who got
hurt.' Ain't them great words, boys?"

"Ay, ay," came the reply, and into several hearts throbbed a desire to be
stronger men, and a few brushed their sleeves across their eyes.

"But that ain't all," Jake continued. "She says that little boy wot got
hurt belongs to an old man--a parson--an' his beautiful daughter, who have
been good to her. They didn't know where the little boy was, but when they
found out they was all upsot, an' left in a hurry, but stopped in to say
good-bye to my little Doris. That was two days ago, and they must be up
there at Big Sam's now. Boys, let me tell ye this: Anyone who is good to
my little sick lass is good to me, an' Jake Purdy isn't a man to fergit;
yez know that. Now I have a suggestion to make. Instead of spendin' our
hard-earned money with that old wretch, Ned, let's go up in a body to the
house an' inquire fer the sick lad. We can't do nuthin', I know, but mebbe
it'll please the old man an' his daughter to know that we ain't fergotten
the brave little boy. An' come to think further it's no mor'n our duty.
That lad saved one of us from death, an' the one that was saved, saved me.
Boys, ye can do as yez like, but I'm goin' anyway."

There was no hesitation now among these men. With one accord they turned
their backs upon the village, and struck along the road leading out into
the country. Old Ned, the saloon-keeper, watched them in amazement. Never
before had they done such a thing. What would become of all the whisky in
those bottles standing on the shelves?

"The idiots!" he yelled. "What's the matter with 'em?"

Bareheaded he rushed out into the street and lifted up his voice.

"Hi! hi!" he shouted.

The drivers paused and looked around.

"Wait!" panted Ned running up to where they were standing.

"What's wrong, old man?" questioned one.

"Wrong! What's wrong with you? Why are ye leavin' without droppin' in to
see me? Surely ye ain't goin' to go away without a friendly call?"

"Look here, Ned," replied Jake, acting as spokesman for the others, "we've

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