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The Riverman by Stewart Edward White

Part 2 out of 7

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"Then why this joyless demeanour?" begged Orde.

Charlie grumbled, fiercely inarticulate; but Johnny Challan
interposed with a chuckle of enjoyment.

"He got 'bunked.'"

"Tell us!" cried Orde delightedly.

"It was down at McNeill's place," explained Johnny Challan;
encouraged by the interest of his audience. "They was a couple of
sports there who throwed out three cards on the table and bet you
couldn't pick the jack. They showed you where the jack was before
they throwed, and it surely looked like a picnic, but it wasn't."

"Three-card monte," said Newmark.

"How much?" asked Simms.

"About fifty dollars," replied the boy.

Orde turned on the disgruntled cook.

"And you had fifty in your turkey, camping with this outfit of hard
citizens!" he cried. "You ought to lose it."

Johnny Challan was explaining to his companions exactly how the game
was played.

"It's a case of keep your eye on the card, I should think," said big
Tim Nolan. "If you got a quick enough eye to see him flip the card
around, you ought to be able to pick her."

"That's what this sport said," agreed Challan. "'Your eye agin my
hand,' says he."

"Well, I'd like to take a try at her," mused Tim.

But at this point Newmark broke into the discussion. "Have you a
pack of cards?" he asked in his dry, incisive manner.

Somebody rummaged in a turkey and produced the remains of an old

"I don't believe this is a full deck," said he, "and I think they's
part of two decks in it."

"I only want three," assured Newmark, reaching his hand
for the pack.

The men crowded around close, those in front squatting, those behind
looking over their shoulders.

Newmark cleared a cracker-box of drying socks and drew it to him.

"These three are the cards," he said, speaking rapidly. "There is
the jack of hearts. I pass my hands--so. Pick the jack, one of
you," he challenged, leaning back from the cracker-box on which lay
the three cards, back up. "Any of you," he urged. "You, North."

Thus directly singled out, the foreman leaned forward and rather
hesitatingly laid a blunt forefinger on one of the bits of

Without a word, Newmark turned it over. It was the ten of spades.

"Let me try," interposed Tim Nolan, pressing his big shoulders
forward. "I bet I know which it was that time; and I bet I can pick
her next time."

"Oh, yes, you BET!" shrugged Newmark. "And that's where the card-
sharps get you fellows every time. Well, pick it," said he, again
deftly flipping the cards.

Nolan, who had watched keenly, indicated one without hesitation.
Again it proved to be the ten of spades.

"Anybody else ambitious?" inquired Newmark. Everybody was
ambitious; and the young man, with inexhaustible patience, threw out
the cards, the corners of his mouth twitching sardonically at each
wrong guess.

At length he called a halt.

"By this time I'd have had all your money," he pointed out. "Now,
I'll pick the jack."

For the last time he made his swift passes and distributed the
cards. Then quite calmly, without disturbing the three on the
cracker-box, he held before their eyes the jack of hearts.

An exclamation broke from the interested group. Tim Nolan, who was
the nearest, leaned forward and turned over the three on the board.
They were the eight of diamonds and two tens of spades.

"That's how the thing is worked nine times out of ten," announced
Newmark. "Once in a while you'll run against a straight game, but
not often."

"But you showed us the jack every time before you throwed them!"
puzzled Johnny Simms.

"Sleight of hand," explained Newmark. "The simplest kind of

"Well, Charlie," said big Tim, "looks to me as if you had just about
as much chance as a snowball in hell."

"Where'd you get onto doing all that, Newmark?" inquired North.
"You ain't a tin horn yourself?"

Newmark laughed briefly. "Not I," said he. "I learned a lot of
those tricks from a travelling magician in college."

During this demonstration Orde had sat well in the background, his
chin propped on his hand, watching intently all that was going on.
After the comment and exclamations following the exposure of the
method had subsided, he spoke.

"Boys," said he, "how game are you to get Charlie's money back--and
then some?"

"Try us," returned big Tim.

"This game's at McNeill's, and McNeill's is a tough hole," warned
Orde. "Maybe everything will go peaceful, and maybe not. And you
boys that go with me have got to keep sober. There isn't going to
be any row unless I say so, and I'm not taking any contract to
handle a lot of drunken river-hogs as well as go against a game."

"All right," agreed Nolan, "I'm with you."

The thirty or so men of the rear crew then in camp signified their
intention to stay by the procession.

"You can't make those sharps disgorge," counselled Newmark. "At the
first look of trouble they will light out. They have it all fixed.
Force won't do you much good--and may get some of you shot."

"I'm not going to use force," denied Orde. "I'm just going to play
their game. But I bet I can make it go. Only I sort of want the
moral support of the boys."

"I tell you, you CAN'T win!" cried Newmark disgustedly. "It's a
brace game pure and simple."

"I don't know about it's being pure," replied Orde drolly, "but it's
simple enough, if you know how to make the wheels go 'round. How is
it, boys--will you back my play?"

And such was their confidence that, in face of Newmark's
demonstration, they said they would.


After the men had been paid off, perhaps a dozen of them hung around
the yards awaiting evening and the rendezvous named by Orde. The
rest drifted away full of good intentions, but did not show up
again. Orde himself was busy up to the last moment, but finally
stamped out of the office just as the boarding-house bell rang for
supper. He surveyed what remained of his old crew and grinned.

"Well, boys, ready for trouble?" he greeted them. "Come on."

They set out up the long reach of Water Street, their steel caulks
biting deep into the pitted board-walks.

For nearly a mile the street was flanked solely by lumber-yards,
small mills, and factories. Then came a strip of unimproved land,
followed immediately by the wooden, ramshackle structures of Hell's

In the old days every town of any size had its Hell's Half-Mile, or
the equivalent. Saginaw boasted of its Catacombs; Muskegon, Alpena,
Port Huron, Ludington, had their "Pens," "White Rows," "River
Streets," "Kilyubbin," and so forth. They supported row upon row of
saloons, alike stuffy and squalid; gambling hells of all sorts;
refreshment "parlours," where drinks were served by dozens of
"pretty waiter-girls," and huge dance-halls.

The proprietors of these places were a bold and unscrupulous lot.
In their everyday business they had to deal with the most dangerous
rough-and-tumble fighters this country has ever known; with men
bubbling over with the joy of life, ready for quarrel if quarrel
also spelled fun, drinking deep, and heavy-handed and fearless in
their cups. But each of these rivermen had two or three hundred
dollars to "blow" as soon as possible. The pickings were good. Men
got rich very quickly at this business. And there existed this
great advantage in favour of the dive-keeper: nobody cared what
happened to a riverman. You could pound him over the head with a
lead pipe, or drug his drink, or choke him to insensibility, or rob
him and throw him out into the street, or even drop him tidily
through a trap-door into the river flowing conveniently beneath.
Nobody bothered--unless, of course, the affair was so bungled as to
become public. The police knew enough to stay away when the drive
hit town. They would have been annihilated if they had not. The
only fly in the divekeeper's ointment was that the riverman would
fight back.

And fight back he did, until from one end of his street to the other
he had left the battered evidences of his skill as a warrior. His
constant heavy lifting made him as hard as nails and as strong as a
horse; the continual demand on his agility in riding the logs kept
him active and prevented him from becoming muscle-bound; in his wild
heart was not the least trace of fear of anything that walked,
crawled, or flew. And he was as tireless as machinery, and
apparently as indifferent to punishment as a man cast in iron.

Add to this a happy and complete disregard of consequences--to
himself or others--of anything he did, and, in his own words, he was
a "hard man to nick."

As yet the season was too early for much joy along Hell's Half-Mile.
Orde's little crew, and the forty or fifty men of the drive that had
preceded him, constituted the rank and file at that moment in town.
A little later, when all the drives on the river should be in, and
those of its tributaries, and the men still lingering at the woods
camps, at least five hundred woods-weary men would be turned loose.
Then Hell's Half-Mile would awaken in earnest from its hibernation.
The lights would blaze from day to day. From its opened windows
would blare the music, the cries of men and women, the shuffle of
feet, the noise of fighting, the shrieks of wild laughter, curses
deep and frank and unashamed, songs broken and interrupted. Crews
of men, arms locked, would surge up and down the narrow sidewalks,
their little felt hats cocked one side, their heads back, their
fearless eyes challenging the devil and all his works--and getting
the challenge accepted. Girls would flit across the lit windows
like shadows before flames, or stand in the doorways hailing the men
jovially by name. And every few moments, above the roar of this
wild inferno, would sound the sudden crash and the dull blows of
combat. Only, never was heard the bark of the pistol. The fighting
was fierce, and it included kicking with the sharp steel boot-
caulks, biting and gouging; but it barred knives and firearms. And
when Hell's Half-Mile was thus in full eruption, the citizens of
Redding stayed away from Water Street after dark. "Drive's in,"
said they, and had business elsewhere. And the next group of
rivermen, hurrying toward the fun, broke into an eager dog-trot.
"Taking the old town apart to-night," they told each other. "Let's
get in the game."

To-night, however, the street was comparatively quiet. The saloons
were of modified illumination. In many of them men stood drinking,
but in a sociable rather than a hilarious mood. Old friends of the
two drives were getting together for a friendly glass. The
barkeepers were listlessly wiping the bars. The "pretty waiter-
girls" gossiped with each other and yawned behind their hands. From
several doorways Orde's little compact group was accosted by the
burly saloonkeepers.

"Hullo, boys!" said they invariably, "glad to see you back. Come in
and have a drink on me."

Well these men knew that one free drink would mean a dozen paid for.
But the rivermen merely shook their heads.

"Huh!" sneered one of the girls. "Them's no river-jacks! Them's
just off the hay trail, I bet!"

But even this time-honoured and generally effective taunt was

In the middle of the third block Orde wheeled sharp to the left down
a dark and dangerous-looking alley. Another turn to the right
brought him into a very narrow street. Facing this street stood a
three-story wooden structure, into which led a high-arched entrance
up a broad half-flight of wooden steps. This was McNeill's.

As Orde and his men turned into the narrow street, a figure detached
itself from the shadow and approached. Orde uttered an exclamation.

"You here, Newmark?" he cried.

"Yes," replied that young man. "I want to see this through."

"With those clothes?" marvelled Orde. "It's a wonder some of these
thugs haven't held you up long ago! I'll get Johnny here to go back
with you to the main street."

"No," argued Newmark, "I want to go in with you."

"It's dangerous," explained Orde. "You're likely to get slugged."

"I can stand it if you can," returned Newmark.

"I doubt it," said Orde grimly. "However, it's your funeral. Come
on, if you want to."

McNeill's lower story was given over entirely to drinking. A bar
ran down all one side of the room. Dozens of little tables occupied
the floor. "Pretty waiter-girls" were prepared to serve drinks at
these latter--and to share in them, at a commission. The second
floor was a theatre, and the third a dance-hall. Beneath the
building were still viler depths. From this basement the riverman
and the shanty boy generally graduated penniless, and perhaps
unconscious, to the street. Now, your lumber-jack did not
customarily arrive at this stage without more or less lively doings
en route; therefore McNeill's maintained a force of fighters. They
were burly, sodden men, in striking contrast to the clean-cut,
clear-eyed rivermen, but strong in their experience and their
discipline. To be sure, they might not last quite as long as their
antagonists could--a whisky training is not conducive to long wind--
but they always lasted plenty long enough. Sand-bags and brass
knuckles helped some, ruthless singleness of purpose counted, and
team work finished the job. At times the storm rose high, but up to
now McNeill had always ridden it.

Orde and his men entered the lower hall, as though sauntering in
without definite aim. Perhaps a score of men were in the room. Two
tables of cards were under way--with a great deal of noisy card-
slapping that proclaimed the game merely friendly. Eight or ten
other men wandered about idly, chaffing loudly with the girls,
pausing to overlook the card games, glancing with purposeless
curiosity at the professional gamblers sitting quietly behind their
various lay-outs. It was a dull evening.

Orde wandered about with the rest, a wide, good-natured smile on his

"Start your little ball to rolling for that," he instructed the
roulette man, tossing down a bill. "Dropped again!" he lamented
humorously. "Can't seem to have any luck."

He drifted on to the crap game.

"Throw us the little bones, pardner," he said. "I'll go you a five
on it."

He lost here, and so found himself at the table presided over by the
three-card monte men. The rest of his party, who had according to
instructions scattered about the place, now began quietly to
gravitate in his direction.

"What kind of a lay-out is this?" inquired Orde.

The dealer held up the three cards face out.

"What kind of an eye have you got, bub?" he asked.

"Oh, I don't know. A pretty fair eye. Why?"

"Do you think you could pick out the jack when I throw them out like
this?" asked the dealer.

"Sure! She's that one."

"Well," exclaimed the gambler with a pretence of disgust, "damn if
you didn't! I bet you five dollars you can't do it again."

"Take you!" replied Orde. "Put up your five."

Again Orde was permitted to pick the jack.

"You've got the best eye that's been in this place since I got
here," claimed the dealer admiringly. "Here, Dennis," said he to
his partner, "try if you can fool this fellow."

Dennis obligingly took the cards, threw them, and lost. By this
time the men, augmented by the idlers not busy with the card games,
had drawn close.

"Sail into 'em, bub," encouraged one.

Whether it was that the gamblers, expert in the reading of a man's
mood and intentions, sensed the fact that Orde might be led to
plunge, or whether, more simply, they were using him as a capper to
draw the crowd into their game, it would be difficult to say, but
twice more they bungled the throw and permitted him to win.

Newmark plucked him at the sleeve.

"You're twenty dollars ahead," he muttered. "Quit it! I never saw
anybody beat this game that much before."

Orde merely shrugged him off with an appearance of growing
excitement, while an HABITUE of the place, probably one of the hired
fighters, growled into Newmark's ear.

"Shut up, you damn dude!" warned this man. "Keep out of what ain't
none of your business."

"What limit do you put on this game, anyway?" Orde leaned forward,
his eyes alight.

The two gamblers spoke swiftly apart.

"How much do you want to bet?" asked one.

"Would you stand for five hundred dollars?" asked Orde.

A dead silence fell on the group. Plainly could be heard the men's
quickened breathing. The shouts and noise from the card parties
blundered through the stillness. Some one tiptoed across and
whispered in the ear of the nearest player. A moment later the
chairs at the two tables scraped back. One of them fell violently
to the floor. Their occupants joined the tense group about the
monte game. All the girls drew near. Only behind the bar the
white-aproned bartenders wiped their glasses with apparent
imperturbability, their eyes, however, on their brass knuckles
hanging just beneath the counter, their ears pricked up for the riot

The gambler pretended to deliberate, his cool, shifty eyes running
over the group before him. A small door immediately behind him
swung slowly ajar an inch or so.

"Got the money?" he asked.

"Have you?" countered Orde.

Apparently satisfied, the man nodded.

"I'll go you, bub, if I lose," said he. "Lay out your money."

Orde counted out nine fifty-dollar bills and five tens. Probably no
one in the group of men standing about had realised quite how much
money five hundred dollars meant until they saw it thus tallied out
before them.

"All right," said the gambler, taking up the cards.

"Hold on!" cried Orde. "Where's yours?"

"Oh, that's all right," the gambler reassured him. "I'm with the
house. I guess McNeill's credit is good," he laughed.

"That may all be," insisted Orde, "but I'm putting up my good money,
and I expect to see good money put up in return."

They wrangled over this point for some time, but Orde was obstinate.
Finally the gamblers yielded. A canvass of the drawer, helped out
by the bar and the other games, made up the sum. It bulked large on
the table beside Orde's higher denominations.

The interested audience now consisted of the dozen men comprised by
Orde's friends; nearly twice as many strangers, evidently rivermen;
eight hangers-on of the joint, probably fighters and "bouncers";
half a dozen professional gamblers, and several waitresses. The
four barkeepers still held their positions. Of these, the rivermen
were scattered loosely back of Orde, although Orde's own friends had
by now gathered compactly enough at his shoulder. The mercenaries
and gamblers had divided, and flanked the table at either side.
Newmark, a growing wonder and disgust creeping into his usually
unexpressive face, recognised the strategic advantage of this
arrangement. In case of difficulty, a determined push would
separate the rivermen from the gamblers long enough for the latter
to disappear quietly through the small door at the back.

"Satisfied?" inquired the gambler briefly.

"Let her flicker," replied Orde with equal brevity.

A gasp of anticipation went up. Quite coolly the gambler made his
passes. With equal coolness and not the slightest hesitation, Orde
planted his great red fist on one of the cards.

"That is the jack," he announced, looking the gambler in the eye.

"Oh, is it?" sneered the dealer. "Well, turn it over and let's

"No!" roared Orde. "YOU TURN OVER THE OTHER TWO!"

A low oath broke from the gambler, and his face contorted in a
spasm. The barkeepers slid out from behind the bar. For a moment
the situation was tense and threatening. The dealer with a sweeping
glance again searched the faces of those before him. In that
moment, probably, he made up his mind that an open scandal must be
avoided. Force and broken bones, even murder, might be all right
enough under colour of right. If Orde had turned up for a jack the
card on which he now held his fist, and then had attempted to prove
cheating, a cry of robbery and a lively fight would have given
opportunity for making way with the stakes. But McNeill's could not
afford to be shown up before thirty interested rivermen as running
an open-and-shut brace-game. However, the gambler made a desperate
try at what he must have known was a very forlorn hope.

"That isn't the way this game is played," said he. "Show up your

"It's the way I play it," replied Orde sternly. "These gentlemen
heard the bet." He reached over and dexterously flipped over the
other two cards. "You see, neither of these is the jack; this must

"You win," assented the gambler, after a pause.

Orde, his fist still on the third card, began pocketing the stakes
with the other hand. The gambler reached, palm up, across the

"Give me the other card," said he.

Orde picked it up, laughing. For a moment he seemed to hesitate,
holding the bit of pasteboard tantalisingly outstretched, as though
he were going to turn also this one face up. Then, quite
deliberately he looked to right and to left where the fighters
awaited their signal, laughed again, and handed the card to the

At once pandemonium broke loose. The rivermen of Orde's party
fairly shouted with joy over the unexpected trick; the employees of
the resort whispered apart; the gambler explained, low-voiced and
angry, his reasons for not putting up a fight for so rich a stake.

"All to the bar!" yelled Orde.

They made a rush, and lined up and ordered their drinks. Orde
poured his on the floor and took the glass belonging to the man next

"Get them to give you another, Tim," said he. "No knock-out drops,
if I can help it."

The men drank, and some one ordered another round.

"Tim," said Orde, low-voiced, "get the crowd together and we'll pull
out. I've a thousand dollars on me, and they'll sand-bag me sure if
I go alone. And let's get out right off."

Ten minutes later they all stood safely on the lighted thoroughfare
of Water Street.

"Good-night, boys," said Orde. "Go easy, and show up at the booms

He turned up the street toward the main part of the town. Newmark
joined him.

"I'll walk a little ways with you," he explained. "And I say, Orde,
I want to apologise to you. 'Most of the evening I've been thinking
you the worst fool I ever saw, but you can take care of yourself at
every stage of the game. The trick was good, but your taking the
other fellow's drink beat it."


Orde heard no more of Newmark--and hardly thought of him--until over
two weeks later.

In the meantime the riverman, assuming the more conventional
garments of civilisation, lived with his parents in the old Orde
homestead at the edge of town. This was a rather pretentious two-
story brick structure, in the old solid, square architecture,
surrounded by a small orchard, some hickories, and a garden. Orde's
father had built it when he arrived in the pioneer country from New
England forty years before. At that time it was considered well out
in the country. Since then the town had crept to it, so that the
row of grand old maples in front shaded a stone-guttered street. A
little patch of corn opposite, and many still vacant lots above,
placed it, however, as about the present limit of growth.

Jack Orde was the youngest and most energetic of a large family that
had long since scattered to diverse cities and industries. He and
Grandpa and Grandma Orde dwelt now in the big, echoing, old-
fashioned house alone, save for the one girl who called herself the
"help" rather than the servant. Grandpa Orde, now above sixty, was
tall, straight, slender. His hair was quite white, and worn a
little long. His features were finely chiselled and aquiline. From
them looked a pair of piercing, young, black eyes. In his time,
Grandpa Orde had been a mighty breaker of the wilderness; but his
time had passed, and with the advent of a more intensive
civilisation he had fallen upon somewhat straitened ways. Grandma
Orde, on the other hand, was a very small, spry old lady, with a
small face, a small figure, small hands and feet. She dressed in
the then usual cap and black silk of old ladies. Half her time she
spent at her housekeeping, which she loved, jingling about from
cellar to attic store-room, seeing that Amanda, the "help," had
everything in order. The other half she sat in a wooden "Dutch"
rocking-chair by a window overlooking the garden. Her silk-shod
feet rested neatly side by side on a carpet-covered hassock, her
back against a gay tapestried cushion. Near her purred big Jim, a
maltese rumoured to weigh fifteen pounds. Above her twittered a

And the interior of the house itself was in keeping. The low
ceilings, the slight irregularities of structure peculiar to the
rather rule-of-thumb methods of the earlier builders, the deep
window embrasures due to the thickness of the walls, the unexpected
passages leading to unsuspected rooms, and the fact that many of
these apartments were approached by a step or so up or a step or so
down--these lent to it a quaint, old-fashioned atmosphere enhanced
further by the steel engravings, the antique furnishings, the many-
paned windows, and all the belongings of old people who have passed
from a previous generation untouched by modern ideas.

To this house and these people Orde came direct from the greatness
of the wilderness and the ferocity of Hell's Half-Mile. Such
contrasts were possible even ten or fifteen years ago. The untamed
country lay at the doors of the most modern civilisation.

Newmark, reappearing one Sunday afternoon at the end of the two
weeks, was apparently bothered. He examined the Orde place for some
moments; walked on beyond it; finding nothing there, he returned,
and after some hesitation turned in up the tar sidewalk and pulled
at the old-fashioned wire bell-pull. Grandma Orde herself answered
the door.

At sight of her fine features, her dainty lace cap and mitts, and
the stiffness of her rustling black silks, Newmark took off his gray
felt hat.

"Good-afternoon," said he. "Will you kindly tell me where Mr. Orde

"This is Mr. Orde's," replied the little old lady.

"Pardon me," persisted Newmark, "I am looking for Mr. Jack Orde, and
I was directed here. I am sorry to have troubled you."

"Mr. Jack Orde lives here," returned Grandma Orde. "He is my son.
Would you like to see him?"

"If you please," assented Newmark gravely, his thin, shrewd face
masking itself with its usual expression of quizzical cynicism.

"Step this way, please, and I'll call him," requested his
interlocutor, standing aside from the doorway.

Newmark entered the cool, dusky interior, and was shown to the left
into a dim, long room. He perched on a mahogany chair, and had time
to notice the bookcases with the white owl atop, the old piano with
the yellowing keys, the haircloth sofa and chairs, the steel
engravings, and the two oil portraits, when Orde's large figure
darkened the door.

For an instant the young man, who must just have come in from the
outside sunshine, blinked into the dimness. Newmark, too, blinked
back, although he could by this time see perfectly well.

Newmark had known Orde only as a riverman. Like most Easterners,
then and now, he was unable to imagine a man in rough clothes as
being anything but essentially a rough man. The figure he saw
before him was decently and correctly dressed in what was then the
proper Sunday costume. His big figure set off the cloth to
advantage, and even his wind-reddened face seemed toned down and
refined by the change in costume and surroundings.

"Oh, it's you, Mr. Newmark!" cried Orde in his hearty way, and
holding out his hand. "I'm glad to see you. Where you been? Come
on out of there. This is the 'company place.'" Without awaiting a
reply, he led the way into the narrow hall, whence the two entered
another, brighter room, in which Grandma Orde sat, the canary
singing above her head.

"Mother," said Orde, "this is Mr. Newmark, who was with us on the
drive this spring."

Grandma Orde laid her gold-bowed glasses and her black leather Bible
on the stand beside her.

"Mr. Newmark and I spoke at the door," said she, extending her frail
hand with dignity. "If you were on the drive, Mr. Newmark, you must
have been one of the High Privates in this dreadful war we all read

Newmark laughed and made some appropriate reply. A few moments
later, at Orde's suggestion, the two passed out a side door and back
into the remains of the old orchard.

"It's pretty nice here under the trees," said Orde. "Sit down and
light up. Where you been for the last couple of weeks?"

"I caught Johnson's drive and went on down river with him to the
lake," replied Newmark, thrusting the offered cigar in one corner of
his mouth and shaking his head at Orde's proffer of a light.

"You must like camp life."

"I do not like it at all," negatived Newmark emphatically, "but the
drive interested me. It interested me so much that I've come back
to talk to you about it."

"Fire ahead," acquiesced Orde.

"I'm going to ask you a few questions about yourself, and you can
answer them or not, just as you please."

"Oh, I'm not bashful about my career," laughed Orde.

"How old are you?" inquired Newmark abruptly.


"How long have you been doing that sort of thing--driving, I mean?"

"Off and on, about six years."

"Why did you go into that particular sort of thing?"

Orde selected a twig and carefully threw it at a lump in the turf.

"Because there's nothing ahead of shovelling but dirt," he replied
with a quaint grin.

"I see," said Newmark, after a pause. "Then you think there's more
future to that sort of thing than the sort of thing the rest of your
friends go in for--law, and wholesale groceries, and banking and the
rest of it?"

"There is for me," replied Orde simply.

"Yet you're merely river-driving on a salary at thirty."

Orde flushed slowly, and shifted his position.

"Exactly so--Mr. District Attorney," he said drily.

Newmark started from his absorption in his questioning and shifted
his unlighted cigar.

"Does sound like it," he admitted; "but I'm not asking all this out
of idle curiosity. I've got a scheme in my head that I think may
work out big for us both."

"Well," assented Orde reservedly, "in that case--I'm foreman on this
drive because my outfit went kerplunk two years ago, and I'm making
a fresh go at it."

"Failed?" inquired Newmark.

"Partner skedaddled," replied Orde. "Now, if you're satisfied with
my family history, suppose you tell me what the devil you're driving

He was plainly restive under the cross-examination to which he had
been subjected.

"Look here," said Newmark, abruptly changing the subject, "you know
that rapids up river flanked by shallows, where the logs are always
going aground?"

"I do," replied Orde, still grim.

"Well, why wouldn't it help to put a string of piers down both
sides, with booms between them to hold the logs in the deeper

"It would," said Orde.

"Why isn't it done, then?"

"Who would do it?" countered Orde, leaning back more easily in the
interest of this new discussion. "If Daly did it, for instance,
then all the rest of the drivers would get the advantage of it for

"Get them to pay their share."

Orde grinned. "I'd like to see you get any three men to agree to
anything on this river."

"And a sort of dam would help at that Spruce Rapids?"

"Sure! If you improved the river for driving, she'd be easier to
drive. That goes without saying."

"How many firms drive logs on this stream?"

"Ten," replied Orde, without hesitation.

"How many men do they employ?"

"Driving?" asked Orde.


"About five hundred; a few more or less."

"Now suppose," Newmark leaned forward impressively, "suppose a firm
should be organised to drive ALL the logs on the river. Suppose it
improved the river with necessary piers, dams, and all the rest of
it, so that the driving would be easier. Couldn't it drive with
less than five hundred men, and couldn't it save money on the cost
of driving?"

"It might," agreed Orde.

"You know the conditions here. If such a firm should be organised
and should offer to drive the logs for these ten firmsaat so much
a thousand, do you suppose it would get the business?"

"It would depend on the driving firm," said Orde. "You see, mill
men have got to have their logs. They can't afford to take chances.
It wouldn't pay."

"Then that's all right," agreed Newmark, with a gleam of
satisfaction across his thin face. "Would you form a partnership
with me having such an object in view?"

Orde threw back his head and laughed with genuine amusement.

"I guess you don't realise the situation," said he. "We'd have to
have a few little things like distributing booms, and tugs, and a
lot of tools and supplies and works of various kinds."

"Well, we'd get them."

It was now Orde's turn to ask questions.

"How much are you worth?" he inquired bluntly.

"About twenty thousand dollars," replied Newmark.

"Well, if I raise very much more than twenty thousand cents, I'm
lucky just now."

"How much capital would we have to have?" asked Newmark.

Orde thought for several minutes, twisting the petal of an old
apple-blossom between his strong, blunt fingers.

"Somewhere near seventy-five thousand dollars," he estimated at

"That's easy," cried Newmark. "We'll make a stock company--say a
hundred thousand shares. We'll keep just enough between us to
control the company--say fifty-one thousand. I'll put in my pile,
and you can pay for yours out of the earnings of the company."

"That doesn't sound fair," objected Orde.

"You pay interest," explained Newmark. "Then we'll sell the rest of
the stock to raise the rest of the money."

"If we can," interjected Orde.

"I think we can," asserted Newmark.

Orde fell into a brown study, occasionally throwing a twig or a
particle of earth at the offending lump in the turf. Overhead the
migratory warblers balanced right-side up or up-side down, searching
busily among the new leaves, uttering their simple calls. The air
was warm and soft and still, the sky bright. Fat hens clucked among
the grasses. A feel of Sunday was in the air.

"I must have something to live on," said he thoughtfully at last.

"So must I," said Newmark. "We'll have to pay ourselves salaries,
of course, but the smaller the better at first. You'll have to take
charge of the men and the work and all the rest of it--I don't know
anything about that. I'll attend to the incorporating and the
routine, and I'll try to place the stock. You'll have to see, first
of all, whether you can get contracts from the logging firms to
drive the logs."

"How can I tell what to charge them?"

"We'll have to figure that very closely. You know where these
different drives would start from, and how long each of them would

"Oh, yes; I know the river pretty well."

"Well, then we'll figure how many days' driving there is for each,
and how many men there are, and what it costs for wages, grub,
tools--we'll just have to figure as near as we can to the actual
cost, and then add a margin for profit and for interest on our

"It might work out all right," admitted Orde.

"I'm confident it would," asserted Newmark. "And there'd be no harm
figuring it all out, would there?"

"No," agreed Orde, "that would be fun all right."

At this moment Amanda appeared at the back door and waved an apron.

"Mr. Jack!" she called. "Come in to dinner."

Newmark looked puzzled, and, as he arose, glanced surreptitiously at
his watch. Orde seemed to take the summons as one to be expected,
however. In fact, the strange hour was the usual Sunday custom in
the Redding of that day, and had to do with the late-church freedom
of Amanda and her like.

"Come in and eat with us," invited Orde. "We'd be glad to have

But Newmark declined.

"Come up to-morrow night, then, at half-past six, for supper," Orde
urged him. "We can figure on these things a little. I'm in Daly's
all day, and hardly have time except evenings."

To this Newmark assented. Orde walked with him down the deep-shaded
driveway with the clipped privet hedge on one side, to the iron gate
that swung open when one drove over a projecting lever. There he
said good-bye.

A moment later he entered the long dining-room, where Grandpa and
Grandma Orde were already seated. An old-fashioned service of
smooth silver and ivory-handled steel knives gave distinction to the
plain white linen. A tea-pot smothered in a "cosey" stood at
Grandma Orde's right. A sirloin roast on a noble platter awaited
Grandpa Orde's knife.

Orde dropped into his place with satisfaction.

"Shut up, Cheep!" he remarked to a frantic canary hanging in the

"Your friend seems a nice-appearing young man," said Grandma Orde.
"Wouldn't he stay to dinner?"

"I asked him," replied Orde, "but he couldn't. He and I have a
scheme for making our everlasting fortunes."

"Who is he?" asked grandma.

Orde dropped his napkin into his lap with a comical chuckle of

"Blest if I have the slightest idea, mother," he said. "Newmark
joined us on the drive. Said he was a lawyer, and was out in the
woods for his health. He's been with us, studying and watching the
work, ever since."


"I think I'll go see Jane Hubbard this evening," Orde remarked to
his mother, as he arose from the table. This was his method of
announcing that he would not be home for supper.

Jane Hubbard lived in a low one-story house of blue granite,
situated amid a grove of oaks at the top of the hill. She was a
kindly girl, whose parents gave her free swing, and whose house, in
consequence, was popular with the younger people. Every Sunday she
offered to all who came a "Sunday-night lunch," which consisted of
cold meats, cold salad, bread, butter, cottage cheese, jam,
preserves, and the like, warmed by a cup of excellent tea. These
refreshments were served by the guests themselves. It did not much
matter how few or how many came.

On the Sunday evening in question Orde found about the usual crowd
gathered. Jane herself, tall, deliberate in movement and in speech,
kindly and thoughtful, talked in a corner with Ernest Colburn, who
was just out of college, and who worked in a bank. Mignonne Smith,
a plump, rather pretty little body with a tremendous aureole of hair
like spun golden fire, was trying to balance a croquet-ball on the
end of a ruler. The ball regularly fell off. Three young men,
standing in attentive attitudes, thereupon dove forward in an
attempt to catch it before it should hit the floor--which it
generally did with a loud thump. A collapsed chair of slender lines
stacked against the wall attested previous acrobatics. This much
Orde, standing in the doorway, looked upon quite as the usual thing.
Only he missed the Incubus. Searching the room with his eyes, he at
length discovered that incoherent, desiccated, but persistent youth
VIS-A-VIS with a stranger. Orde made out the white of her gown in
the shadows, the willowy outline of her small and slender figure,
and the gracious forward bend of her head.

The company present caught sight of Orde standing in the doorway,
and suspended occupations to shout at him joyfully. He was
evidently a favourite. The strange girl in the corner turned to him
a white, long face, of which he could see only the outline and the
redness of the lips where the lamplight reached them. She leaned
slightly forward and the lips parted. Orde's muscular figure,
standing square and uncompromising in the doorway, the out-of-door
freshness of his complexion, the steadiness of his eyes laughing
back a greeting, had evidently attracted her. Or perhaps anything
was a relief from the Incubus.

"So you're back at last, are you, Jack?" drawled Jane in her lazy,
good-natured way. "Come and meet Miss Bishop. Carroll, I want to
present Mr. Orde."

Orde bowed ceremoniously into the penumbra cast by the lamp's broad
shade. The girl inclined gracefully her small head with the glossy
hair. The Incubus, his thin hands clasped on his knee, his sallow
face twisted in one of its customary wry smiles, held to the edge of
his chair with characteristic pertinacity.

"Well, Walter," Orde addressed him genially, "are you having a good

"Yes-indeed!" replied the Incubus as though it were one word.

His chair was planted squarely to exclude all others. Orde surveyed
the situation with good-humour.

"Going to keep the other fellow from getting a chance, I see."

"Yes-indeed!" replied the Incubus.

Orde bent over, and with great ease lifted Incubus, chair, and all,
and set him facing Mignonne Smith and the croquet-ball.

"Here, Mignonne," said he, "I've brought you another assistant."

He returned to the lamp, to find the girl, her dark eyes alight with
amusement, watching him intently. She held the tip of a closed fan
against her lips, which brought her head slightly forward in an
attitude as though she listened. Somehow there was about her an air
of poise, of absolute balanced repose quite different from Jane's
rather awkward statics, and in direct contrast to Mignonne's

"Walter is a very bright man in his own line," said Orde, swinging
forward a chair, "but he mustn't be allowed any monopolies."

"How do you know I want him so summarily removed?" the girl asked
him, without changing either her graceful attitude of suspended
motion or the intentness of her gaze.

"Well," argued Orde, "I got him to say all he ever says to any girl--
'Yes-indeed!'--so you couldn't have any more conversation from him.
If you want to look at him, why, there he is in plain sight.
Besides, I want to talk to you myself."

"Do you always get what you want?" inquired the girl.

Orde laughed.

"Any one can get anything he wants, if only he wants it bad enough,"
he asserted.

The girl pondered this for a moment, and finally lowered and opened
her fan, and threw back her head in a more relaxed attitude.

"Some people," she amended. "However, I forgive you. I will even
flatter you by saying I am glad you came. You look to have reached
the age of discretion. I venture to say that these boys' idea of a
lively evening is to throw bread about the table."

Orde flushed a little. The last time he had supped at Jane
Hubbard's, that was exactly what they did do.

"They are young, of course," he said, "and you and I are very old
and wise. But having a noisy, good time isn't such a great crime--
or is it where you came from?"

The girl leaned forward, a sparkle of interest in her eyes.

"Are you and I going to fight?" she demanded.

"That depends on you," returned Orde squarely, but with perfect

They eyed each other a moment. Then the girl closed her fan, and
leaned forward to touch him on the arm with it.

"You are quite right not to allow me to say mean things about your
friends, and I am a nasty little snip."

Orde bowed with sudden gravity.

"And they do throw bread," said he.

They both laughed. She leaned back with a movement of satisfaction,
seeming to sink into the shadows.

"Now, tell me; what do you do?"

"What do I do?" asked Orde, puzzled.

"Yes. Everybody does something out West here. It's a disgrace not
to do something, isn't it?"

"Oh, my business! I'm a river-driver just now."

"A river-driver?" she repeated, once more leaning forward. "Why,
I've just been hearing a great deal about you."

"That so?" he inquired.

"Yes, from Mrs. Baggs."

"Oh!" said Orde. "Then you know what a drunken, swearing, worthless
lot of bums and toughs we are, don't you?"

For the first time, in some subtle way she broke the poise of her

"There is Hell's Half-Mile," she reminded him.

"Oh, yes," said Orde bitterly, "there's Hell's Half-Mile! Whose
fault is that? My rivermen's? My boys? Look here! I suppose you
couldn't understand it, if you tried a month; but suppose you were
working out in the woods nine months of the year, up early in the
morning and in late at night. Suppose you slept in rough blankets,
on the ground or in bunks, ate rough food, never saw a woman or a
book, undertook work to scare your city men up a tree and into a
hole too easy, risked your life a dozen times a week in a tangle of
logs, with the big river roaring behind just waiting to swallow you;
saw nothing but woods and river, were cold and hungry and wet, and
so tired you couldn't wiggle, until you got to feeling like the
thing was never going to end, and until you got sick of it way
through in spite of the excitement and danger. And then suppose you
hit town, where there were all the things you hadn't had--and the
first thing you struck was Hell's Half-Mile. Say! you've seen water
behind a jam, haven't you? Water-power's a good thing in a mill
course, where it has wheels to turn; but behind a jam it just RIPS
things--oh, what's the use talking! A girl doesn't know what it
means. She couldn't understand."

He broke off with an impatient gesture. She was looking at him
intently, her lips again half-parted.

"I think I begin to understand a little," said she softly. She
smiled to herself. "But they are a hard and heartless class in
spite of all their energy and courage, aren't they?" she drew him

"Hard and heartless!" exploded Orde. "There's no kinder lot of men
on earth, let me tell you. Why, there isn't a man on that river who
doesn't chip in five or ten dollars when a man is hurt or killed;
and that means three or four days' hard work for him. And he may
not know or like the injured man at all! Why--"

"What's all the excitement?" drawled Jane Hubbard behind them.
"Can't you make it a to-be-continued-in-our-next? We're 'most

"Yes-indeed!" chimed in the Incubus.

The company trooped out to the dining-room where the table, spread
with all the good things, awaited them.

"Ernest, you light the candles," drawled Jane, drifting slowly along
the table with her eye on the arrangements, "and some of you boys go
get the butter and the milk-pitcher from the ice-box."

To Orde's relief, no one threw any bread, although the whole-hearted
fun grew boisterous enough before the close of the meal. Miss
Bishop sat directly across from him. He had small chance of
conversation with her in the hubbub that raged, but he gained full
leisure to examine her more closely in the fuller illumination.
Throughout, her note was of fineness. Her hands, as he had already
noticed, were long, the fingers tapering; her wrists were finely
moulded, but slender, and running without abrupt swelling of muscles
into the long lines of her forearm; her figure was rounded, but
built on the curves of slenderness; her piled, glossy hair was so
fine that though it was full of wonderful soft shadows denied
coarser tresses, its mass hardly did justice to its abundance. Her
face, again, was long and oval, with a peculiar transparence to the
skin and a peculiar faint, healthy circulation of the blood well
below the surface, which relieved her complexion of pallor, but did
not give her a colour. The lips, on the contrary, were satin red,
and Orde was mildly surprised, after his recent talk, to find them
sensitively moulded, and with a quaint, child-like quirk at the
corners. Her eyes were rather contemplative, and so black as to
resemble spots.

In spite of her half-scornful references to "bread-throwing," she
joined with evident pleasure in the badinage and more practical fun
which struck the note of the supper. Only Orde thought to discern
even in her more boisterous movements a graceful, courteous
restraint, to catch in the bend of her head a dainty concession to
the joy of the moment, to hear in the tones of her laughter a
reservation of herself, which nevertheless was not at all a
reservation, against the others.

After the meal was finished, each had his candle to blow out, and
then all returned to the parlour, leaving the debris for the later
attention of the "hired help."

Orde with determination made his way to Miss Bishop's side. She
smiled at him.

"You see, I am a hypocrite as well as a mean little snip," said she.
"I threw a little bread myself."

"Threw bread?" repeated Orde. "I didn't see you."

"The moon is made of green cheese," she mocked him, "and there are
countries where men's heads do grow beneath their shoulders." She
moved gracefully away toward Jane Hubbard. "Do you Western
'business men' never deal in figures of speech as well as figures of
the other sort?" she wafted back to him over her shoulder.

"I was very stupid," acknowledged Orde, following her.

She stopped and faced him in the middle of the room, smiling

"Well?" she challenged.

"Well, what?" asked Orde, puzzled.

"I thought perhaps you wanted to ask me something."


"Your following me," she explained, the corners of her mouth
smiling. "I had turned away--"

"I just wanted to talk to you," said Orde.

"And you always get what you want," she repeated. "Well?" she
conceded, with a shrug of mock resignation. But the four other men
here cut in with a demand.

"Music!" they clamoured. "We want music!"

With a nod, Miss Bishop turned to the piano, sweeping aside her
white draperies as she sat. She struck a few soft chords, and then,
her long hands wandering idly and softly up and down the keys, she
smiled at them over her shoulder.

"What shall it be?" she inquired.

Some one thrust an open song-book on the rack in front of her. The
others gathered close about, leaning forward to see.

Song followed song, at first quickly, then at longer intervals. At
last the members of the chorus dropped away one by one to
occupations of their own. The girl still sat at the piano, her head
thrown back idly, her hands wandering softly in and out of melodies
and modulations. Watching her, Orde finally saw only the shimmer of
her white figure, and the white outline of her head and throat. All
the rest of the room was gray from the concentration of his gaze.
At last her hands fell in her lap. She sat looking straight ahead
of her.

Orde at once arose and came to her.

"That was a wonderfully quaint and beautiful thing," said he. "What
was it?"

She turned to him, and he saw that the mocking had gone from her
eyes and mouth, leaving them quite simple, like a child's.

"Did you like it?" she asked.

"Yes," said Orde. He hesitated and stammered awkwardly. "It was so
still and soothing, it made me think of the river sometimes about
dusk. What was it?"

"It wasn't anything. I was improvising."

"You made it up yourself?"

"It was myself, I suppose. I love to build myself a garden, and
wander on until I lose myself in it. I'm glad there was a river in
the garden--a nice, still, twilight river."

She flashed up at him, her head sidewise.

"There isn't always." She struck a crashing discord on the piano.

Every one looked up at the sudden noise of it.

"Oh, don't stop!" they cried in chorus, as though each had been
listening intently.

The girl laughed up at Orde in amusement. Somehow this flash of an
especial understanding between them to the exclusion of the others
sent a warm glow to his heart.

"I do wish you had your harp here," said Jane Hubbard, coming
indolently forward. "You just ought to hear her play the harp," she
told the rest. "It's just the best thing you ever DID hear!"

At this moment the outside door opened to admit Mr and Mrs. Hubbard,
who had, according to their usual Sunday custom, been spending the
evening with a neighbour. This was the signal for departure. The
company began to break up.

Orde pushed his broad shoulders in to screen Carroll Bishop from the

"Are you staying here?" he asked.

She opened her eyes wide at his brusqueness.

"I'm visiting Jane," she replied at length, with an affectation of

"Are you going to be here long?" was Orde's next question.

"About a month."

"I am coming to see you," announced Orde. "Good-night."

He took her hand, dropped it, and followed the others into the hall,
leaving her standing by the lamp. She watched him until the outer
door had closed behind him. Not once did he look back. Jane
Hubbard, returning after a moment from the hall, found her at the
piano again, her head slightly one side, playing with painful and
accurate exactness a simple one-finger melody.

Orde walked home down the hill in company with the Incubus. Neither
had anything to say; Orde because he was absorbed in thought, the
Incubus because nothing occurred to draw from him his one remark.
Their feet clipped sharply against the tar walks, or rang more
hollow on the boards. Overhead the stars twinkled through the
still-bare branches of the trees. With few exceptions the houses
were dark. People "retired" early in Redding. An occasional hall
light burned dimly, awaiting some one's return. At the gate of the
Orde place, Orde roused himself to say good-night. He let himself
into the dim-lighted hall, hung up his hat, and turned out the gas.
For some time he stood in the dark, quite motionless; then, with the
accuracy of long habitude, he walked confidently to the narrow
stairs and ascended them. Subconsciously he avoided the creaking
step, but outside his mother's door he stopped, arrested by a
greeting from within.

"That you, Jack?" queried Grandma Orde.

For answer Orde pushed open the door, which stood an inch or so
ajar, and entered. A dim light from a distant street-lamp, filtered
through the branches of a tree, flickered against the ceiling. By
its aid he made out the great square bed, and divined the tiny
figure of his mother. He seated himself sidewise on the edge of the

"Go to Jane's?" queried grandma in a low voice, to avoid awakening
grandpa, who slept in the adjoining room.

"Yes," replied Orde, in the same tone.

"Who was there?"

"Oh, about the usual crowd."

He fell into an abstracted silence, which endured for several

"Mother," said he abruptly, at last, "I've met the girl I want for
my wife."

Grandma Orde sat up in bed.

"Who is she?" she demanded.

"Her name is Carroll Bishop," said Orde, "and she's visiting Jane

"Yes, but WHO is she?" insisted Grandma Orde. "Where is she from?"

Orde stared at her in the dim light.

"Why, mother," he repeated for the second time that day, "blest if I
know that!"


Orde was up and out at six o'clock the following morning. By eight
he had reported for work at Daly's mill, where, with the assistance
of a portion of the river crew, he was occupied in sorting the logs
in the booms. Not until six o'clock in the evening did the whistle
blow for the shut-down. Then he hastened home, to find that Newmark
had preceded him by some few moments and was engaged in conversation
with Grandma Orde. The young man was talking easily, though rather
precisely and with brevity. He nodded to Orde and finished his

After supper Orde led the way up two flights of narrow stairs to his
own room. This was among the gables, a chamber of strangely
diversified ceiling, which slanted here and there according to the
demands of the roof outside.

"Well," said he, "I've made up my mind to-day to go in with you. It
may not work out, but it's a good chance, and I want to get in
something that looks like money. I don't know who you are, nor how
much of a business man you are or what your experience is, but I'll
risk it."

"I'm putting in twenty thousand dollars," pointed out Newmark.

"And I'm putting in my everlasting reputation," said Orde. "If we
tell these fellows that we'll get out their logs for them, and then
don't do it, I'll be DEAD around here."

"So that's about a stand-off," said Newmark. "I'm betting twenty
thousand on what I've seen and heard of you, and you're risking your
reputation that I don't want to drop my money."

Orde laughed.

"And I reckon we're both right," he responded.

"Still," Newmark pursued the subject, "I've no objection to telling
you about myself. New York born and bred; experience with Cooper
and Dunne, brokers, eight years. Money from a legacy. Parents
dead. No relatives to speak to."

Orde nodded gravely twice in acknowledgment.

"Now," said Newmark, "have you had time to do any figuring?"

"Well," replied Orde, "I got at it a little yesterday afternoon, and
a little this noon. I have a rough idea." He produced a bundle of
scribbled papers from his coat-pocket. "Here you are. I take Daly
as a sample, because I've been with his outfit. It costs him to run
and deliver his logs one hundred miles about two dollars a thousand
feet. He's the only big manufacturer up here; the rest are all at
Monrovia, where they can get shipping by water. I suppose it costs
the other nine firms doing business on the river from two to two and
a half a thousand."

Newmark produced a note-book and began to jot down figures.

"Do these men all conduct separate drives?" he inquired.

"All but Proctor and old Heinzman. They pool in together."

"Now," went on Newmark, "if we were to drive the whole river, how
could we improve on that?"

"Well, I haven't got it down very fine, of course," Orde told him,
"but in the first place we wouldn't need so many men. I could run
the river on three hundred easy enough. That saves wages and grub
on two hundred right there. And, of course, a few improvements on
the river would save time, which in our case would mean money. We
would not need so many separate cook outfits and all that. Of
course, that part of it we'd have to get right down and figure on,
and it will take time. Then, too, if we agreed to sort and deliver,
we'd have to build sorting booms down at Monrovia."

"Suppose we had all that. What, for example, do you reckon you
could bring Daly's logs down for?"

Orde fell into deep thought, from which he emerged occasionally to
scribble on the back of his memoranda.

"I suppose somewhere about a dollar," he announced at last. He
looked up a trifle startled. "Why," he cried, "that looks like big
money! A hundred per cent!"

Newmark watched him for a moment, a quizzical smile wrinkling the
corners of his eyes.

"Hold your horses," said he at last. "I don't know anything about
this business, but I can see a few things. In the first place,
close figuring will probably add a few cents to that dollar. And
then, of course, all our improvements will be absolutely valueless
to anybody after we've got through using them. You said yesterday
they'd probably stand us in seventy-five thousand dollars. Even at
a dollar profit, we'd have to drive seventy-five million before we
got a cent back. And, of course, we've got to agree to drive for a
little less than they could themselves."

"That's so," agreed Orde, his crest falling.

"However," said Newmark briskly, as he arose, "there's good money in
it, as you say. Now, how soon can you leave Daly?"

"By the middle of the week we ought to be through with this job."

"That's good. Then we'll go into this matter of expense thoroughly,
and establish our schedule of rates to submit to the different

Newmark said a punctilious farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Orde.

"By the way," said Orde to him at the gate, "where are you staying?"

"At the Grand."

"I know most of the people here--all the young folks. I'd be glad
to take you around and get you acquainted."

"Thank you," replied Newmark, "you are very kind. But I don't go in
much for that sort of thing, and I expect to be very busy now on
this new matter; so I won't trouble you."


The new partners, as soon as Orde had released himself from Daly,
gave all their time to working out a schedule of tolls. Orde drew
on his intimate knowledge of the river and its tributaries, and the
locations of the different rollways, to estimate as closely as
possible the time it would take to drive them. He also hunted up
Tom North and others of the older men domiciled in the cheap
boarding-houses of Hell's Half-Mile, talked with them, and verified
his own impressions. Together, he and Newmark visited the supply
houses, got prices, obtained lists. All the evenings they figured
busily, until at last Newmark expressed himself as satisfied.

"Now, Orde," said he, "here is where you come in. It's now your job
to go out and interview these men and get their contracts for
driving their next winter's cut."

But Orde drew back.

"Look here, Joe," he objected, "that's more in your line. You can
talk business to them better than I can."

"Not a bit," negatived Newmark. "They don't know me from Adam, and
they do know you, and all about you. We've got to carry this thing
through at first on our face, and they'd be more apt to entrust the
matter to you personally."

"All right," agreed Orde. "I'll start in on Daly."

He did so the following morning. Daly swung his bulk around in his
revolving office-chair and listened attentively.

"Well, Jack," said he, "I think you're a good riverman, and I
believe you can do it. I'd be only too glad to get rid of the
nuisance of it, let alone get it done cheaper. If you'll draw up
your contract and bring it in here, I'll sign it. I suppose you'll
break out the rollways?"

"No," said Orde; "we hadn't thought of doing more than the driving
and distributing. You'll have to deliver the logs in the river.
Maybe another year, after we get better organised, we'll be able to
break rollways--at a price per thousand--but until we get a-going
we'll have to rush her through."

Orde repeated this to his associate.

"That was smooth enough sailing," he exulted.

"Yes," pondered Newmark, removing his glasses and tapping his thumb
with their edge. "Yes," he repeated, "that was smooth sailing.
What was that about rollways?"

"Oh, I told him we'd expect him to break out his own," said Orde.

"Yes, but what does that mean exactly?"

"Why," explained Orde, with a slight stare of surprise, "when the
logs are cut and hauled during the winter, they are banked on the
river-banks, and even in the river-channel itself. Then, when the
thaws come in the spring, these piles are broken down and set afloat
in the river."

"I see," said Newmark. "Well, but why shouldn't we undertake that
part of it? I should think that would he more the job of the river-

"It would hold back our drive too much to have to stop and break
rollways," explained Orde.

The next morning they took the early train for Monrovia, where were
situated the big mills and the offices of the nine other lumber
companies. Within an hour they had descended at the small frame
terminal station, and were walking together up the village street.

Monrovia was at that time a very spread-out little place of perhaps
two thousand population. It was situated a half mile from Lake
Michigan, behind the sparsely wooded sand hills of its shore. From
the river, which had here grown to a great depth and width, its main
street ran directly at right angles. Four brick blocks of three
stories lent impressiveness to the vista. The stores in general,
however, were low frame structures. All faced broad plank sidewalks
raised above the street to the level of a waggon body. From this
main street ran off, to right and left, other streets, rendered
lovely by maple trees that fairly met across the way. In summer,
over sidewalk and roadway alike rested a dense, refreshing dark
shadow that seemed to throw from itself an odour of coolness. This
was rendered further attractive by the warm spicy odour of damp pine
that arose from the resilient surface of sawdust and shingles broken
beneath the wheels of traffic. Back from these trees, in wide,
well-cultivated lawns, stood the better residences. They were
almost invariably built of many corners, with steep roofs meeting
each other at all angles, with wide and ornamented red chimneys,
numerous windows, and much scroll work adorning each apex and
cornice. The ridge poles bristled in fancy foot-high palisades of
wood. Chimneys were provided with lightning-rods. Occasionally an
older structure, on square lines, recorded the era of a more
dignified architecture. Everywhere ran broad sidewalks and picket
fences. Beyond the better residence districts were the board
shanties of the mill workers.

Orde and Newmark tramped up the plank walk to the farthest brick
building. When they came to a cross street, they had to descend to
it by a short flight of steps on one side, and ascend from it by a
corresponding flight on the other. At the hotel, Newmark seated
himself in a rocking-chair next the big window.

"Good luck!" said he.

Orde mounted a wide, dark flight of stairs that led from the street
to a darker hall. The smell of stale cigars and cocoa matting was
in the air. Down the dim length of this hall he made his way to a
door, which without ceremony he pushed open.

He found himself in a railed-off space, separated from the main part
of the room by a high walnut grill.

"Mr. Heinzman in?" he asked of a clerk.

"I think so," replied the clerk, to whom evidently Orde was known.

Orde spent the rest of the morning with Heinzman, a very rotund,
cautious person of German extraction and accent. Heinzman occupied
the time in asking questions of all sorts about the new enterprise.
At twelve he had not in any way committed himself nor expressed an
opinion. He, however, instructed Orde to return the afternoon of
the following day.

"I vill see Proctor," said he.

Orde, rather exhausted, returned to find Newmark still sitting in
the rocking-chair with his unlighted cigar. The two had lunch
together, after which Orde, somewhat refreshed, started out. He
succeeded in getting two more promises of contracts and two more
deferred interviews.

"That's going a little faster," he told Newmark cheerfully.

The following morning, also, he was much encouraged by the reception
his plan gained from the other lumbermen. At lunch he recapitulated
to Newmark.

"That's four contracts already," said he, "and three more
practically a sure thing. Proctor and Heinzman are slower than
molasses about everything, and mean as pusley, and Johnson's up in
the air, the way he always is, for fear some one's going to do him."

"It isn't a bad outlook," admitted Newmark.

But Heinzman offered a new problem for Orde's consideration.

"I haf talked with Proctor," said he, "and ve like your scheme. If
you can deliffer our logs here for two dollars and a quarter, why,
that is better as ve can do it; but how do ve know you vill do it?"

"I'll guarantee to get them here all right," laughed Orde.

"But what is your guarantee good for?" persisted Heinzman blandly,
locking his fingers over his rotund little stomach. "Suppose the
logs are not deliffered--what then? How responsible are you

"Well, we're investing seventy-five thousand dollars or so."

Heinzman rubbed his thumb and forefinger together and wafted the
imaginary pulverisation away.

"Worth that for a judgment," said he.

He allowed a pause to ensue.

"If you vill give a bond for the performance of your contract,"
pursued Heinzman, "that vould be satisfactory."

Orde's mind was struck chaotic by the reasonableness of this
request, and the utter impossibility of acceding to it.

"How much of a bond?" he asked.

"Twenty-fife thousand vould satisfy us," said Heinzman. "Bring us a
suitable bond for that amount and ve vill sign your contract."

Orde ran down the stairs to find Newmark. "Heinzman won't sign
unless we give him a bond for performance," he said in a low tone,
as he dropped into the chair next to Newmark.

Newmark removed his unlighted cigar, looked at the chewed end, and
returned it to the corner of his mouth.

"Heinzman has sense," said he drily. "I was wondering if ordinary
business caution was unknown out here."

"Can we get such a bond? Nobody would go on my bond for that

"Mine either," said Newmark. "We'll just have to let them go and
drive ahead without them. I only hope they won't spread the idea.
Better get those other contracts signed up as soon as we can."

With this object in view, Orde started out early the next morning,
carrying with him the duplicate contracts on which Newmark had been

"Rope 'em in," advised Newmark. "It's Saturday, and we don't want
to let things simmer over Sunday, if we can help it."

About eleven o'clock a clerk of the Welton Lumber Co. entered Mr.
Welton's private office to deliver to Orde a note.

"This just came by special messenger," he explained.

Orde, with an apology, tore it open. It was from Heinzman, and
requested an immediate interview. Orde delayed only long enough to
get Mr. Welton's signature, then hastened as fast as his horse could
take him across the drawbridge to the village.

Heinzman he found awaiting him. The little German, with his round,
rosy cheeks, his dot of a nose, his big spectacles, and his rotund
body, looked even more than usual like a spider or a Santa Clause--
Orde could not decide which.

"I haf been thinking of that bond," he began, waving a pudgy hand
toward a seat, "and I haf been talking with Proctor."

"Yes," said Orde hopefully.

"I suppose you would not be prepared to gif a bond?"

"I hardly think so."

"Vell, suppose ve fix him this way," went on Heinzman, clasping his
hands over his stomach and beaming through his spectacles. "Proctor
and I haf talked it ofer, and ve are agreet that the probosition is
a good one. Also ve think it is vell to help the young fellers along."
He laughed silently in such a manner as to shake himself all over.
"Ve do not vish to be too severe, and yet ve must be assured that ve
get our logs on time. Now, I unterstood you to say that this new
concern is a stock company."

Orde did not remember having said so, but he nodded.

"Vell, if you gif us a bond secured with stock in the new company,
that would be satisfactory to us."

Orde's face cleared.

"Do you mean that, Mr. Heinzman?"

"Sure. Ve must haf some security, but ve do not vish to be too hard
on you boys."

"Now, I call that a mighty good way out!" cried Orde.

"Make your contract out according to these terms, then," said
Heinzman, handing him a paper, "and bring it in Monday."

Orde glanced over the slip. It recited two and a quarter as the
agreed price; specified the date of delivery at Heinzman and
Proctor's booms; named twenty-five thousand dollars as the amount of
the bond, to be secured by fifty thousand dollars' worth of stock in
the new company. This looked satisfactery. Orde arose.

"I'm much obliged to you, Mr. Heinzman," said he. "I'll bring it
around Monday."

He had reached the gate to the grill before Heinzman called him

"By the vay," the little German beamed up at him, swinging his fat
legs as the office-chair tipped back on its springs, "if it is to be
a stock company, you vill be selling some of the stock to raise
money, is it not so?"

"Yes," agreed Orde, "I expect so."

"How much vill you capitalise for?"

"We expect a hundred thousand ought to do the trick," replied Orde.

"Vell," said Heinzman, "ven you put it on the market, come and see
me." He nodded paternally at Orde, beaming through his thick

That evening, well after six, Orde returned to the hotel. After
freshening up in the marbled and boarded washroom, he hunted up

"Well, Joe," said he, "I'm as hungry as a bear. Come on, eat, and
I'll tell you all about it."

They deposited their hats on the racks and pushed open the swinging
screen doors that led into the dining-room. There they were taken
in charge by a marvellously haughty and redundant head-waitress, who
signalled them to follow down through ranks of small tables watched
by more stately damsels. Newmark, reserved and precise,
irreproachably correct in his neat gray, seemed enveloped in an
aloofness as impenetrable as that of the head-waitress herself.
Orde, however, was as breezy as ever. He hastened his stride to
overtake the head-waitress.

"Annie, be good!" he said in his jolly way. "We've got business to
talk. Put us somewhere alone."

Newmark nodded approval, and thrust his hand in his pocket. But
Annie looked up into Orde's frank, laughing face, and her lips
curved ever so faintly in the condescension of a smile.

"Sure, sorr," said she, in a most unexpected brogue.

"Well, I've got 'em all," said Orde, as soon as the waitress had
gone with the order. "But the best stroke of business you'd never
guess. I roped in Heinzman."

"Good!" approved Newmark briefly.

"It was really pretty decent of the little Dutchman. He agreed to
let us put up our stock as security. Of course, that security is
good only if we win out; and if we win out, why, then he'll get his
logs, so he won't have any use for security. So it's just one way
of beating the devil around the bush. He evidently wanted to give
us the business, but he hated like the devil to pass up his rules--
you know how those old shellbacks are."

"H'm, yes," said Newmark.

The waitress sailed in through a violently kicked swinging door,
bearing aloft a tin tray heaped perilously. She slanted around a
corner in graceful opposition to the centrifugal, brought the tray
to port on a sort of landing stage by a pillar, and began
energetically to distribute small "iron-ware" dishes, each
containing a dab of something. When the clash of arrival had died,
Orde went on:

"I got into your department a little, too."

"How's that?" asked Newmark, spearing a baked potato. "Heinzman
said he'd buy some of our stock. He seems to think we have a pretty
good show."

Newmark paused, his potato half-way to his plate.

"Kind of him," said he after a moment. "Did he sign a contract?"

"It wasn't made out," Orde reminded him. "I've the memoranda here.
We'll make it out to-night. I am to bring it in Monday."

"I see we're hung up here over Sunday," observed Newmark. "No
Sunday trains to Redding."

Orde became grave.

"I know it. I tried to hurry matters to catch the six o'clock, but
couldn't make it." His round, jolly face fell sombre, as though a
light within had been extinguished. After a moment the light
returned. "Can't be helped," said he philosophically.

They ate hungrily, then drifted out into the office again, where
Orde lit a cigar.

"Now, let's see your memoranda," said Newmark.

He frowned over the three simple items for some time.

"It's got me," he confessed at last.

"What?" inquired Orde.

"What Heinzman is up to."

"What do you mean?" asked Orde, turning in his chair with an air of
slow surprise.

"It all looks queer to me. He's got something up his sleeve. Why
should he take a bond with that security from us? If we can't
deliver the logs, our company fails; that makes the stock worthless;
that makes the bond worthless--just when it is needed. Of course,
it's as plain as the nose on your face that he thinks the
proposition a good one and is trying to get control."

"Oh, no!" cried Orde, astounded.

"Orde, you're all right on the river," said Newmark, with a dry
little laugh, "but you're a babe in the woods at this game."

"But Heinzman is honest," cried Orde. "Why, he is a church member,
and has a class in Sunday-school."

Newmark selected a cigar from his case, examined it from end to end,
finally put it between his lips. The corners of his mouth were
twitching quietly with amusement.

"Besides, he is going to buy some stock," added Orde, after a

"Heinzman has not the slightest intention of buying a dollar's worth
of stock," asserted Newmark.

"But why--"

"--Did he make that bluff?" finished Newmark. "Because he wanted to
find out how much stock would be issued. You told him it would be a
hundred thousand dollars, didn't you?"

"Why--yes, I believe I did," said Orde, pondering. Newmark threw
back his head and laughed noiselessly.

"So now he knows that if we forfeit the bond he'll have controlling
interest," he pointed out.

Orde smoked rapidly, his brow troubled.

"But what I can't make out," reflected Newmark, "is why he's so sure
we'll have to forfeit."

"I think he's just taking a long shot at it," suggested Orde, who
seemed finally to have decided against Newmark's opinion. "I
believe you're shying at mare's nests."

"Not he. He has some good reason for thinking we won't deliver the
logs. Why does he insist on putting in a date for delivery? None
of the others does."

"I don't know," replied Orde. "Just to put some sort of a time
limit on the thing, I suppose."

"You say you surely can get the drive through by then?"

Orde laughed.

"Sure? Why, it gives me two weeks' leeway over the worst possible
luck I could have. You're too almighty suspicious, Joe."

Newmark shook his head.

"You let me figure this out," said he.

But bedtime found him without a solution. He retired to his room
under fire of Orde's good-natured raillery. Orde himself shut his
door, the smile still on his lips. As he began removing his coat,
however, the smile died. The week had been a busy one. Hardly had
he exchanged a dozen words with his parents, for he had even been
forced to eat his dinner and supper away from home. This Sunday he
had promised himself to make his deferred but much-desired call on
Jane Hubbard--and her guest. He turned out the gas with a shrug of
resignation. For the first time his brain cleared of its turmoil of
calculations, of guesses, of estimates, and of men. He saw clearly
the limited illumination cast downward by the lamp beneath its wide
shade, the graceful, white figure against the shadow of the easy
chair, the oval face cut in half by the lamplight to show plainly
the red lips with the quaint upward quirks at the corners, and dimly
the inscrutable eyes and the hair with the soft shadows. With a
sigh he fell asleep.

Some time in the night he was awakened by a persistent tapping on
the door. In the woodsman's manner, he was instantly broad awake.
He lit the gas and opened the door to admit Newmark, partially
dressed over his night gown.

"Orde," said he briefly and without preliminary, "didn't you tell me
the other day that rollways were piled both on the banks and IN the

"Yes, sometimes," said Orde. "Why?

"Then they might obstruct the river?"


"I thought so!" cried Newmark, with as near an approach to
exultation as he ever permitted himself. "Now, just one other
thing: aren't Heinzman's rollways below most of the others?"

"Yes, I believe they are," said Orde.

"And, of course, it was agreed, as usual, that Heinzman was to break
out his own rollways?"

"I see," said Orde slowly. "You think he intends to delay things
enough so we can't deliver on the date agreed on."

"I know it," stated Newmark positively.

"But if he refuses to deliver the logs, no court of law will--"

"Law!" cried Newmark. "Refuse to deliver! You don't know that
kind. He won't refuse to deliver. There'll just be a lot of
inevitable delays, and his foreman will misunderstand, and all that.
You ought to know more about that than I do."

Orde nodded, his eye abstracted.

"It's a child-like scheme," commented Newmark. "If I'd had more
knowledge of the business, I'd have seen it sooner."

"I'd never have seen it at all," said Orde humbly. "You seem to be
the valuable member of this firm, Joe."

"In my way," said Newmark, "you in yours. We ought to make a good


Sunday afternoon, Orde, leaving Newmark to devices of his own,
walked slowly up the main street, turned to the right down one of
the shaded side residence streets that ended finally in a beautiful
glistening sand-hill. Up this he toiled slowly, starting at every
step avalanches and streams down the slope. Shortly he found
himself on the summit, and paused for a breath of air from the lake.

He was just above the tops of the maples, which seen from this angle
stretched away like a forest through which occasionally thrust roofs
and spires. Some distance beyond a number of taller buildings and
the red of bricks were visible. Beyond them still were other sand-
hills, planted raggedly with wind-twisted and stunted trees. But
between the brick buildings and these sand-hills flowed the river--
wide, deep, and still--bordered by the steamboat landings on the
town side and by fishermen's huts and net-racks and small boats on
the other. Orde seated himself on the smooth, clean sand and
removed his hat. He saw these things, and in imagination the far
upper stretches of the river, with the mills and yards and booms
extending for miles; and still above them the marshes and the
flats where the river widened below the Big Bend. That would be the
location for the booms of the new company--a cheap property on which
the partners had already secured a valuation. And below he dropped
in imagination with the slackening current until between two greater

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