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The Fourth Watch by H. A. Cody

Part 5 out of 5

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made too many friendly calls at your place fer our own good. This year
we're goin' to cut it out. So go home an' don't interfere."

Had the saloon-keeper been less excited he would have noticed the warning
note in Jake's voice, and the sombre looks of the rest. They were in no
mood for interruption at the present time. But Ned was blind to all this.

"Ye fools!" he roared, stamping on the ground in his rage. "Will ye let
all that good stuff spile down yonder? Surely ye ain't gone an' jined the
temperance gang, an' took the pledge?"

Fiercely Jake turned upon him.

"Ned," and his voice was laden with meaning, "will ye go home an' leave us

"No, h----if I will, unless ye all come back with me."

Jake's eyes turned suddenly to the right. They rested upon a pond of dirty
water several feet deep lying there. Like a flash he reached out and
caught the saloon-keeper in both hands, lifted him clear of the ground,
carried him wriggling and cursing to the edge, and tossed him in like a
ball. With a splash and a yell Ned went under, came up puffing and
blowing, and dashing the water from his eyes and ears. A shout of derision
went up from the drivers.

"Go home now, Ned," they cried. "You've soaked us fer years with yer
stuff, an' you've got soaked now. Good-bye."

With that they continued on their way, leaving the victim to scramble out
of the pond and make his way home, beaten and crestfallen.

Along the road the drivers marched, then up the hill leading to Big Sam's
abode. It was dim twilight as they stood before the house. The evening was
balmy, and the front door stood partly open. For a minute they hesitated,
and a whispered conversation ensued.

"You go in, Jake. You've got a tongue fer sich things," suggested his

But before a reply could be made there floated out upon the air a sweet
voice singing an old familiar hymn. Instinctively every driver pulled off
his rough hat, and bowed his shaggy head. It was a woman's voice they
heard, low and tender. There was a pleading note in the singer's voice--
the cry of a soul for help in trouble.

Little did Nellie realize as she sat by Dan's side this evening, and sang,
that she had such attentive listeners. The past two days had been a time
of much anxiety. When first she and her father had arrived, Dan did not
know them. He was lying upon the bed, his little curly head resting upon
the pillow as white as his own white face. Would he ever come out of that
stupor? they asked each other time and time again as they sat and watched
him. Often he talked, calling aloud for help, and pleading for someone to
hurry. Now it was of Tony and again Nellie and Parson John. Occasionally
he mentioned his father, and asked why he was so long in coming. The
doctor stood by the bedside with an anxious face.

"Do you think he will recover?" Nellie asked.

"I can't say," was the reply. "He has been badly injured. But we should
know soon one way or the other. This condition can't go on much longer."

It was hard for Nellie to persuade her father to take any rest. He would
insist upon sitting by the bed, and holding Dan's hand.

"Poor, dear boy," he murmured. "Why did you do it? Why did you run such a
risk for my sake?"

Once coming quietly into the room Nellie saw her father kneeling by the
bedside. His lips were moving in silent prayer. In his heart a deep love
had been formed for this little wounded lad. For months past the two had
been much together, and the bond of affection had been strongly formed. At
length Nellie had persuaded her father to take some rest. He had cast one
long, searching look upon the boy's face, and then silently left the room.
For some time Nellie sat by Dan's side watching his fitful breathing. One
little hand lay outside the quilt. Would it ever work for her again? she
wondered. It was a brown hand--the same hand which had reached over and
drawn Tony from death. As she sat there the door was quietly pushed open,
and Marion stood before her. Her eyes looked towards the bed with a
questioning appeal. In her right hand she clutched a little rose. It was
the first time she had been in the sick room, and on this evening while
her mother was busy she had softly stolen away.

"Give dis to ittle sick boy," she said. "He like pitty woses."

"Come here, dear," Nellie replied, and as the child approached she took
the flower, and placed the stem in Dan's doubled-up hand. She did it
merely to please Marion, but it thrilled her own heart to behold the
little maiden's sweet offering lying in that poor, nerveless fist. "God
bless you, darling," she said, drawing Marion to her. "You love the sick
boy, don't you?"

"Me love him," came the response, "an' me lore oo. Will Dod make him

"God will do what is best, dearie. You will pray for him, won't you?"

"Me pray for him every night. Will oo sing to Dod to make him better?"

"Why do you wish me to sing?"

"When I'm sick my mamma sings to Dod. I fink He hears better dat way, an'
I det better. Will oo sing?"

"If you wish me to, I will."

"Let me det in oor lap den," and Marion, climbing up, made herself
perfectly at home.

Nellie was not in a singing mood this evening, but the child's words had
touched her. She thought they were alone--just two, to hear. Verse after
verses she sang, and as she reached the chorus of the last verse she gave
a start of surprise, suddenly ceased, and looked towards the door. A
number of men's voices had taken up the chorus, and they were singing, not
loud, but as softly as possible:

"Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast,
There by His love o'ershadowed
Sweetly my soul shall rest."

Nellie had put Marion down now, had risen to her feet, and crossed the
room to the door. Almost unconsciously the drivers had joined in that
chorus. They had forgotten how it would startle the sweet singer, and when
they saw Nellie standing in the doorway they were much abashed. They felt
like a group of schoolboys caught in some act of mischief, and they longed
to get away.

As Nellie looked upon them, a bright smile illumined her face. She
surmised the purpose of their visit, and it pleased her.

"Thank you for that chorus," she said, hardly knowing what else to say. "I
didn't know you were here."

"Pardon us, miss," Jake replied, stepping forward. "It wasn't fair of us
to be standin' here listenin'. But we couldn't help it. An' when ye sang
that old hymn it jist melted us down. We come to inquire about the boy.
Mebbe ye'd tell us how he's gettin' along."

"There's no change as yet, that we can see," Nellie replied. "But the
doctor says it must come soon one way or the other. Would you like to see
him? If you come in one at a time, I don't think it will do any harm."

Without a word Jake followed her into the room, and stood with his hat in
his hand looking down upon the bed.

"Poor little chap," he whispered. "Ain't it a pity?"

Hardly had he ceased speaking when Dan suddenly opened his eyes and looked
about him in a dazed manner.

"Where--where's my rose?" he cried.

Nellie was by his side in an instant.

"Here, Dan," and she lifted up the flower so he could see it. "Hush now,
don't speak."

Dan gave a sigh of relief. He looked wearily around, then his eyes slowly
closed, and he passed into a gentle sleep. A step was heard in the room,
and the doctor stood by the bed.

"When did the change take place?" he asked.

"Just now," Nellie replied in a low voice.

"It is well. The crisis is past. He must have perfect quietness. We'll
pull him through now, for sure."

Jake waited to hear no more. He stole from the house, and motioned to his
companions. Silently they moved away and strode back to the camp. They
were rough men outwardly, this score of river drivers, but a glimpse had
been seen beneath the surface. Their hearts had been stirred as never
before, and they were not ashamed.

Chapter XXXI

Light at Eventide

It was a bright buoyant day, with scarcely a cloud to be seen. Not a
breath of wind stirred the air, and every nimble leaf was still. The river
flowed on its way, its glassy surface mirroring the numerous trees along
its banks. Across the fields, fresh with the young green grass, came the
sweet incense wafted up from countless early flowers.

Several people stood before the Rectory, beneath the shade of a large
horse-chestnut tree. Their eyes were turned up the road with an eager,
watchful expression. Across the gateway a rude arch had been formed, and
upon it the words "Welcome Home" in large white letters had been painted,
while evergreens and leaves lavishly decorated the whole. It was Glendow's
preparation for the return of their absent Rector and his daughter.

Numerous changes had taken place since the night on which the gold had
been found in the safe. The store was now closed and the Farringtons had
departed. There had been many threats made by the defeated storekeeper,
but they amounted to nothing. Glendow had been aroused, and the one desire
which filled all hearts was to have their old Rector back again. They
realized as never before the sterling character of the man they had
suspected, and what a true friend they had lost. Dan's accident soon
reached their ears, and all breathed a prayer of thankfulness when news
arrived of his recovery. Nothing short of a reception must take place, and
so now more than threescore people, old and young, stood anxiously
awaiting the arrival.

"There they come," shouted one, and far up the road a cloud of dust could
he seen, and soon a carriage was observed bowling along, containing Parson
John, Nellie and Dan.

Their eyes opened wide with amazement as they drew near, saw the cheering
crowd, and drove beneath the overhanging arch. Silently they alighted and
grasped the numerous outstretched hands. The past was forgotten in the joy
of the present, and the shepherd and his flock were once again united.

"It all seems like a wonderful dream," said Parson John to Nellie as they
sat that evening together after the others had departed. "We went out as
culprits, with only a few to bid us good-bye, and now we come home to the
love of our people. Surely the Lord has been good to us, and has led us by
ways that we knew not. Truly His ways are not our ways, and He does all
things well."

Dan speedily recovered his former strength and his old-time spirit. He was
like a new lad. The weight which had pressed upon him so long had been
removed. He felt he was no longer a sponger, a useless being. His longing
to read and write increased, and as the days passed he made rapid
progress. Mr. Westmore loved to have the boy by his side and would often
read to him, and Dan would always listen with deep wonder. New fields of
knowledge were being gradually opened of which he knew nothing.

"When I grow to be a big man will I know all about those things?" he one
day asked, when Mr. Westmore had been reading to him from an interesting
book of History.

"That all rests with yourself, Dan," was the reply. "If you want to know,
you can. But it will mean hard work. There is no royal road to learning."

"Then I'm going to learn," Dan emphatically responded, and from that day
Mr. Westmore began to plan for the boy's future as he had never done

One evening about sundown, several weeks later, Nellie and her father were
sitting on the veranda. It was a sultry night, and far in the distance
faint rumblings of thunder could be heard.

"A storm is coming," Nellie remarked. "I hope Mr. Larkins will get back
from the office before it reaches us."

Hardly had she spoken ere a step sounded upon the gravel walk and Mr.
Larkins appeared.

"We were just speaking about you," Nellie exclaimed, and now you are

"You know the old saying," he laughingly replied.

"Have a seat, do," and Mr. Westmore pushed forward a rustic chair.

"No, thank you, I have some chores to do before the storm breaks. Here is
your mail. Several papers and only one letter."

"It's from my boy out west," Mr. Westmore remarked after Mr. Larkins had
gone. "We've had little news from him lately. I hope nothing's wrong."

His hand trembled slightly as he opened the letter and unfolded several
sheets of paper within. Nellie picked up one of the papers, a daily from
the city, and was soon engrossed in its pages. An exclamation from her
father caused her to look quickly up. The expression on his face was one
of joy. It was that of a man from whom a heavy burden of care has been
unexpectedly lifted.

"Nellie, Nellie!" he cried. "Good news from Philip! He's won his case! The
mine is ours beyond dispute, and it is far richer than was at first
believed. Read it for yourself," and he eagerly thrust the letter into her

Trembling with excitement Nellie did as she was commanded. The first part
of the letter told about the long, stern fight which had been made, and of
the victory which had been won.

"You little know, father dear," Philip wrote in conclusion, "what this
will mean to us all. Upon my suggestion you invested your all in this
mine, and at one time it looked as if we would lose everything. But now
all that is changed. I am a rich man to-day and you will no longer want
for anything. Your investment will be increased a hundredfold, and you
will make more in one year than you have made in your whole life. As soon
as I get matters in a settled condition I hope to come home for a short
visit, and then. I shall be able to tell you everything in detail."

For some time Nellie held the letter silently in her hand. Her father was
sitting near with a far-away look in his eyes. Gone were time and place.
He was thinking of the day he had bidden Philip good-bye. He saw the
mother clasping her only son to her heart, and it was the last good-bye.
What hopes and fears had been theirs concerning their absent boy. What
struggles had been his out in the great busy world, and how often had his
home letters been weighted with despair. Many and many a night had they
knelt together and lifted up their voices in prayer on Philip's behalf.
Now she was gone. Oh, to have her there by his side to share his joy! A
mistiness rose before his eyes, and several tears stole down his furrowed
cheeks. Hastily he drew forth his handkerchief and brushed them away.
Nellie noticed his embarrassed manner, and surmised the cause. Going over
to where he was sitting she put her arms about his neck and gave him a
loving kiss.

"You have me, father dear," she said, "and nothing but death can separate

"I know it, darling. I know it," was the reply. "I am somewhat unsettled
to-night. This news is so sudden. To think that Philip has conquered! Now
you shall have many comforts which have been denied you so long."

"Don't say that, father dear. What comforts have been denied me? My whole
life has been surrounded by love. We have our little home here, with books
and music in the winter, and the sweet flowers and birds in the summer.
Does not happiness, father, consist in enjoying the good things around us?
Not for my sake am I glad that this good fortune has come, but for yours.
If Philip is correct, and we are to have more money than ever before, you
will be able to rest and enjoy life to the full."

"Nellie, Nellie! What do you mean? Do I understand you aright? Do you wish
me to give up my work?"

"But you need rest, father. You have laboured so long, surely you can
afford to let someone else do it now."

"No, no. The Lord needs me yet. There is much work for me to do. Life to
me is in ministering to others. During those long days at Morristown, when
that cloud overshadowed us, how wretched was my life. Nothing to do--only
to sit with folded hands while others waited upon me. I shudder when I
think of that time. No, let me be up and doing, and God grant I may die in
harness, and not rust out in miserable disuse."

"But you should have an assistant, father," Nellie suggested, "and he can
give you great help."

"I have been thinking of that, dear. It seems now as if one great wish of
my life is to be granted. I have always longed to give several years to
God's service, without being chargeable to any one. Oh, to go among my
people, to comfort them, not as a servant, a hireling paid to do such
things, but as a shepherd who loves his flock, and whose reward is in
doing the Master's work, for the good of others. The people may pay the
assistant, but not me. I wish to be free, free for God's service."

Footsteps were now heard approaching, and in a minute more Stephen stood
before them. The flush of joy that suffused Nellie's face told of the
happiness in her heart.

"Welcome, Stephen, my son," said Parson John, reaching out his hand. "Your
visit is timely when our cup of joy is full to the brim and running over.
We have not seen you for two whole days. Where have you kept yourself?"

"Why, Stephen has been to the city," was Nellie's laughing response.
"Didn't I tell you how he had gone with his logs?"

"Dear me, so you did. How stupid of me to forget."

"Yes," said Stephen, "my winter's work is all settled and I have come now
to make the first payment on the farm. There it is. Please count it," and
the young man placed a bulky envelope into his Rector's hand. "That is a
token of my new life, and with God's help it shall continue."

For several minutes Mr. Westmore held the package in his hand without once
looking upon it.

"Sit down, Stephen," he at length commanded. "I have something to say--to
you--and I feel I can say it now with a clear conscience. Since the day I
paid the four thousand dollars for your homestead, people have been
wondering where I obtained the money, and they certainly had good reason
to wonder. They knew I had invested all I could gather together in that
mine in British Columbia, and that I could pay down such an amount was
very puzzling. It is only right that you and Nellie should hear the truth
from my own lips. You well know," he continued after a pause, "that your
father was a very dear friend of mine. We had grown up as boys together.
We knew each other's affairs intimately, and we often discussed the
future. Your father made considerable money, and had a fairly large bank
account. One day he came to me--only several months before his death--and
we had a most serious talk together. He seemed to have some premonition
that he would not be much longer upon earth, and was most anxious that I
should consent to a plan which he had in his mind. He was fearful lest
after his death something should go wrong. He knew what a headstrong lad
you were, Stephen, and what a temptation it would be to spend recklessly
his hard-earned money. He therefore wished me to act as trustee, with
another firm friend who is living in the city, and to place in the bank in
our names the sum of six thousand dollars. This was to be left there,
unknown to others, until you proved yourself to be a man in every sense of
the word. In case of disaster or trouble we were to use the money at our
discretion for the welfare of the family and not to allow your mother or
sister to come to want. That, in brief, is the substance of the plan. At
first I did not feel like undertaking such a responsibility. But your
father was so insistent I at last consented. I need hardly tell you the
rest, for you know it already. I could not, in justice to your father's
express wish, divulge the secret until I was sure that you had taken a
firm grip of life. You needed to be tested, to pass through the fire. Now
I know you can he depended upon, and so I give you back this money, Keep
it; it is yours, and may God bless you. Part of the balance which remained
in the bank we used on Nora with such splendid results. The rest shall be
handed over to your mother, and I shall thus be relieved of all
responsibility. Will that be satisfactory to you?"

Mr. Westmore ceased, and held forth the envelope. Stephen had risen now
and was standing erect. His hands remained clasped before him.

"Take it," said the parson.

"No," was the reply, "I cannot."

"You cannot? It is yours!"

"Yes, I know that. But remember, I have undertaken to pay back that four
thousand dollars. Through my recklessness I made it necessary to use my
dear father's hard-earned money. Not a cent will I touch until the full
amount is restored, and if I have my health it shall be done. Do not urge
me any more. Put that money where it belongs. It may take me some time to
pay all, but not until it is accomplished shall I feel satisfied."

"Stephen, Stephen!" cried the parson, "give me your hand. Now I know that
you are in earnest. I shall do as you desire. My heart is full of joy
to-night. May God be glorified for all His blessings. I shall away to rest
now, for the many wonders of the day have tired me much."

The storm which had been threatening rolled to westward. Far off the moon
rose slowly above the horizon. The night was still. Everything betokened
peace. On the little veranda sat the two young lovers hand in hand. Heart
responded to heart, and time was no more. The present and the future were
blended. The rapture of living was theirs, for where love reigns there is
life in all its fulness.

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