THE JUNGLE FUGITIVES
A Tale of Life and Adventure in India
Many Stories of American Adventure, Enterprise and Daring
EDWARD S. ELLIS, A.M.
Hurst and Company
THE JUNGLE FUGITIVES
LOST IN THE WOODS
IN THE NICK OF TIME
LOST IN THE SOUTH SEA
AN UNPLEASANT COMPANION
A STIRRING INCIDENT
CYCLONES AND TORNADOES
LOST IN A BLIZZARD
THROWING THE RIATA
AN HEROIC WOMAN
THE WRITING FOUND IN A BOTTLE
THAT HORNET'S NEST
A YOUNG HERO
A BATTLE IN THE AIR
WHO SHALL EXPLAIN IT?
A FOOL OF A GENIUS
THE JUNGLE FUGITIVES.
IN THE SPRING OF 1857.
All through India, with its fanatical population five times as great as
that of England, the rumblings of the coming uprising had been heard
for months. The disaffection had been spreading and taking root. The
emissaries of the arch-plotters had passed back and forth almost from
end to end of the vast empire, with their messages of hatred and
appeal. The people were assured that the "Inglese loge" were
perfecting their insidious schemes for overthrowing their religion, and
the faithful everywhere were called upon to crush the infidels in the
dust. The evil seed fell upon the rankest of soil, and grew with a
vigor and exuberance that threatened to strangle every other growth.
The plot, as agreed upon, was that a general uprising was to take place
throughout India on the last day of May, 1857, but, as is often the
case in such far-reaching schemes, the impatience of the mutineers
precipitated the tremendous tragedy.
The first serious outbreak took place at Meerut on Sunday, May 10th,
just three weeks previous to the time set for the general uprising.
That town, with its population of about 40,000 at that time, lies
thirty-two miles northeast from Delhi, which was to be the capital of
the resurrected Mogul Empire. It was the precipitancy of this first
revolt that prevented its fullest success. The intention was to kill
every white man, woman and child in the place. Two regiments were
clamorous for beginning the massacre, but the Eleventh Native Infantry
held back so persistently that the others became enraged and fired a
volley among them, killing a number. Thereupon the Eleventh announced
themselves ready to take their part in the slaughter that was to free
India from the execrated "Inglese loge."
Seeing now for the first time the real peril, the colonel of the
Eleventh made an impassioned appeal to the regiment to stand by its
colors and to take no part in the useless revolt. While he was
speaking, a volley riddled his body, and he tumbled lifeless from his
saddle. The Eleventh, however, covered the flight of the other
officers, but helped to release a thousand prisoners, suffering
punishment for various offenses, and then the hell fire burst forth.
The bungalows of the officers, the mess houses of the troops, and all
the buildings between the native lines and Meerut were fired, and the
whole became a roaring conflagration, whose glare at night was visible
When an appeal was made to the Emperor of Delhi by the troopers, he
inquired their errand. The lacklustre eyes flashed with a light that
had not been seen in them for years, the bowed form acquired new
energy, and he gave orders to admit the troopers.
Their message was enough to fan into life the slumbering fires of
ambition in the breast of a dying person.
He yielded to the dazzling dream. A throne of silver, laid away for
years, was brought into the "hall of special audience," and the
tottering form was helped to the seat, into which he sank and looked
around upon his frenzied followers. Mohammed Suraj-oo-deen Shah Gezee
was now the Great Mogul of India. A royal salute of twenty-one guns
was fired by two troops of artillery from Meerut in front of the
palace, and the wild multitudes again strained their throats. To the
thunder of artillery, the strains of martial music and the shouting of
the people, the gates of the palace were flung open, and Prince Mirza
Mogul, with his brother, Prince Abu Beker, at the head of the royal
bodyguard, rode forth, the king following in an open chariot,
surrounded by his bodyguard.
With impressive slowness this strange procession made its way through
the principal street, the populace becoming as frantic as so many ghost
dancers. Finally a halt was made at the Juma Musjeed, the largest
mosque in India, where the banner of the Prophet was unfurled and the
Mogul Empire proclaimed.
ON AN AFTERNOON.
Almost due east from Delhi Dr. Hugh Marlowe, a venerable American
physician, had lived for more than twenty years. Since the death of
his wife, six years previous to the Mutiny, he had dwelt alone with his
only daughter, Mary, and their single servant, Mustad, a devout
Mussulman. A portion of the time mentioned had been passed without the
society of his beloved child, who spent several years in New England
(where the physician himself was born and had received his education)
at one of the fashionable schools.
Shortly after her graduation, Miss Marlowe met Jack Everson, fresh from
Yale, and the acquaintance ripened into mutual love, though the filial
affection of the young woman was too profound to permit her to form an
engagement with the young man until the consent of her father was
obtained, and he would not give that consent until he had met and
conversed with the young gentleman face to face and taken his measure,
as may be said.
"If he doesn't esteem you enough to make a little journey like the one
from America to this country he isn't worth thinking about."
"But he will make the journey," said the blushing daughter, patting
the bronzed cheek of the parent whom she idolized as much as he
"Don't be to sure of that, my young lady; romantic young girls like you
have altogether too much faith in the other sex."
"But he has started," she added with a sly smile.
"He has, eh? He will change his mind before he reaches here. How far
has he got?"
"He was due in England many weeks ago."
"Well, well! How soon will he arrive here?"
"I think he is due now."
"Very probably, but his fancy will give out before he reaches this
"I think not, papa."
"Of course not, of course not; I just told you that that is the way
with all foolish girls like you."
The old gentleman had assumed a stern earnestness, and he added: "I
tell you he will never show himself here! I know what I'm talking
"But he is here, papa; let me introduce you to Jack Everson, a
physician like yourself."
All this time the smiling young man was standing directly behind the
old doctor, who was lazily reclining in a hammock on the shaded lawn,
smoking a cheroot, while his daughter sat on a camp stool, with one
hand resting on the edge of the hammock, so as to permit her gently to
sway it back and forth. As she spoke the tall, muscular American
walked forward and extended his hand.
"Doctor, I am glad to make your acquaintance," he said, in his cheery
way. The astonished physician came to an upright position like the
clicking of the blade of a jackknife, and meeting the salutation,
"Well, I'll be hanged! I never knew a girl so full of nonsense and
tricks as Mary. You are welcome, doctor, to my house; let me have a
look at you!"
Jack Everson laughingly stepped hack a couple of paces and posed for
inspection. The elder deliberately drew his spectacle case from his
pocket, adjusted the glasses and coolly scrutinized the young man from
head to foot.
"You'll do," he quietly remarked, removing his glasses and returning
them to the morocco case; "now, if you'll be good enough to seat
yourself, we'll talk over matters until dinner time. When did you
Jack seated himself on the remaining camp stool, a few paces from the
happy young lady, accepted a cheroot from his host, and the
conversation became general. Like most Americans, when at home or
travelling, Jack Everson kept his eyes and ears open. He heard at
Calcutta, his starting point, at Benares, Allahabad, Cawnpore and other
places, the whisperings of the uprising that was soon to come, and his
alarm increased as he penetrated the country.
"Worse than all," he said gravely, speaking of his trip, "one of my
bearers spoke English well, and quite an intimacy sprang up between us.
Since his companions could not utter a word in our language, we
conversed freely without being understood. He was reticent at first
concerning the impending danger and professed to know nothing of it,
but this forenoon be gave me to understand, in words that could not be
mistaken, that the whole country would soon be aflame with
"Did he offer any advice?" asked Dr. Marlowe, less impressed with the
news than was his visitor or his daughter.
"He did; he said that the escape of myself and of your family could be
secured only by leaving this place at the earliest moment possible."
"But whither can we go? We are hundreds of miles from the seacoast and
should have to journey for weeks through a country swarming with
"I asked him that question, and his answer was that we should make for
"That is the province to the east of us. It is a mountainous country,
a long way off, and hard to reach. Why should he advise us to go
"I questioned him, but he seemed to fear that his companions would grow
suspicious over our conversation and he said nothing more. I thought
he would add something definite when we came to separate, and, to
loosen his tongue, I gave him an extra fee, but he added never a word,
and, unless I am mistaken, regretted what he had already said."
"It seems to me," observed the daughter, "that the man knew it is
impossible for us to get to the seacoast, and believed that by going
further into the interior we should reach the people who are not
affected by the insurrection. Wide as it may be, there must be many
points that will not feel it."
"That is the true reason," said her parent, "but, confound it! I have
lived in this spot for twenty years; the little town of Akwar lies
near, and there is hardly a person in it who has not been my patient.
I am known even in Meerut and Delhi, and I can hardly believe the
mutineers, for such they seem to be, will harm me or my friends."
"You once told me," replied Mary, "that when an appeal was made to the
religion of this people they knew no such thing as fear or mercy."
"And I told you the truth," said her father gravely. "But since we
have weapons and plenty of ammunition, and know how to handle the
firearms we shall not be led like lambs to the slaughter."
"That is true enough," said Jack, "but it will be of little avail, when
our enemies are numbered by the hundred and perhaps the thousand."
"I take it, then, that you favor an abandonment of our home?"
"I do, and with the least possible delay."
"And you, my daughter, are you of the same mind?"
"I am," was the emphatic response.
"Then my decision is that we shall start for the interior and stay
there until it is safe to show ourselves again among these people,
provided it ever shall be safe."
"When shall you start?"
The parent looked at the sky.
"It is two or three hours to nightfall. We will set out early
to-morrow morning before the sun is high in the sky."
"But will we not be more liable to discovery?" asked Jack.
"Not if we use care. I am familiar with the country for miles in every
direction. We shall have to travel for the first two or three days
through a thick jungle, and it is too dangerous work to undertake in
the night-time. This, you know, is the land of the cobra and the
tiger, not to mention a few other animals and reptiles equally
unpleasant in their nature. Last night," continued the doctor, "I saw
a glare in the sky off to the westward on the opposite side of the
river in the direction of Meerut. I wonder what it meant?"
"By Jove!" exclaimed Jack, "that explains something that the palanquin
bearer said to me about there being so many Inglese where there are
none to-day. I could not catch his meaning, though he mentioned
Meerut. But he gave me to understand that it was not quite time yet
for the uprising, which would come in a few weeks."
"Those things are apt to be precipitated. I have no doubt that the
mutineers burned the city last night. If so, the main body will hurry
to Delhi, which, being the ancient capital of the Mogul Empire, will
become the new one. Some of the rebels may take it into their heads to
come in this direction. What is the matter, Dr. Everson?"
As Jack Everson was seated he faced the broad, sluggish Ganges, with
the low, green banks beyond. He was looking over the water, in the
rays of the declining sun, when he saw something that caused him to
rise hastily from his seat and peer earnestly across the river toward
the opposite shore. Observing his action, the doctor asked his
question. Both he and his daughter, rising to their feet, gazed in the
same direction. It was easy to see what had attracted the attention of
their guest. A party of horsemen, fully twenty, if not more, in
number, had approached the river and were now halted on the other side,
looking across in the direction of Dr. Marlowe's home, as if debating
the question of making it a visit.
"Let me get my glass," said Mary, starting toward the house, hardly a
hundred feet distant.
"Allow me to bring it," interrupted Jack. "It is on one of the chairs
on the veranda, and I want my rifle."
Taking the glass from him on his return, the young woman levelled it at
the group of horsemen on the other side.
"I cannot make out who they are," she said, passing the glass to her
It took the parent but a few seconds to answer the question. One
sweeping glance told him.
"They are Ghoojurs," he remarked, with as much calmness as he could
"And who are Ghoojurs?" asked Jack Everson, less excited than his
"They belong to the nomadic tribes which originally occupied India, and
are among the worst wretches in the world. They are brigands and
robbers, who are to be dreaded at all times. Now, if the revolt has
broken out, they will be as merciless as tigers."
"It looks as if they intended to make us a visit, doctor?"
"Alas! there can be no earthly doubt of it."
"Let us hurry into the jungle," said Mary, her face paling with fear.
"We have not a minute to waste."
"The advice is good, but before acting on it I should like to make an
During this brief interval Jack Everson had carefully examined his
rifle to assure himself that it was in good condition.
"Heavens, man!" exclaimed Dr. Marlowe, "you are not going to try a shot
"That is my intention."
"They are a mile distant!"
"One of my medals was won for hitting a target at exactly that
distance," replied Jack, continuing his preparations.
"It is impossible that you should succeed."
"But not impossible that I should try, so please don't bother the man
at the wheel."
"They have ridden into the water," added the young woman, still nervous
"Which will serve to shorten the distance somewhat."
"Why not wait until they are halfway across; or, better still, not wait
at all?" inquired the doctor.
Jack Everson made no reply, but, lying down on his back, he slightly
separated his raised knees, and, by crossing his ankles, made a rest
for the barrel of his rifle. The left arm was crooked under his head,
so as to serve as a pillow or support, leaving the hand to steady the
stock of his gun, while the right inclosed the trigger guard.
The horsemen, instead of riding side by side, were strung along in a
line, with the leader several paces in advance and mounted on a rather
large horse of a coal-black color. Directly behind him came one upon a
bay, while a little further back rode another on a white steed. There
could be no question that they were on their way to kill without mercy.
The situation was intensely trying to father and daughter. The whole
party of Ghoojurs had entered the Ganges and were steadily approaching.
The water was so shallow that it could be seen as it splashed about the
bodies of the riders, who were talking and laughing, as if in
anticipation of the enjoyment awaiting them. They preserved their
single file, like so many American Indians in crossing a stream, and
their last thought must have been of any possible danger that could
threaten them from the three on the further bank.
The situation was becoming unbearable when the rifle cracked with a
noise no louder than a Chinese cracker, and a faint puff of smoke
curled upward from the muzzle of the weapon. At the same moment the
Ghoojur at the front, on his black horse, flung up his arms and tumbled
sideways into the water, which splashed over his animal's head.
Frightened, the horse reared, pawed the air, and, whirling about,
galloped back to the bank, sending the water flying in showers from his
"Score me a bull's-eye!" called Jack Everson, who in his pleasure over
his success, could not wait for the result.
"But see!" cried Mary, "you have only infuriated them. Oh! father, how
can we save ourselves?"
The success of the first shot gave Jack Everson self-confidence and he
took less time in aiming the second, which was as unerring as the
first. Another Ghoojur plunged off his horse and gave but a single
struggle when he sank from sight in the shallow water.
"Another bull's-eye!" called Jack, proceeding to reload his piece. "I
hope, doctor, you are keeping a correct score; I must have credit for
all I do."
"Now for my distinguished friend on the milk-white steed," said Jack,
proceeding to adjust his telescopic sight to that individual. "If they
will send over the three horses it will give us one apiece."
But the Ghoojurs had had enough of this fearful business. They saw
that some unaccountable fatality was at work and it was madness for
them to remain. With never a suspicion of the truth they wheeled their
animals about and sent them galloping for the bank which they had left
a short time before full of hope and anticipation.
"I'm sorry for that," reflected Jack Everson, "for it mixes things and
I can't pick out my man, but here goes."
In one sense, his opportunity was better than before; for, while he
could not select his particular target, he had but to aim at the bunch
to make sure of hitting somebody, which is precisely what he did.
The Ghoojur whom he punctured did not fall, for the reason that two of
his friends reached out and prevented him. It was a piece of
supererogation on their part, for when the party emerged from the
Ganges upon dry land that fellow was of no further account.
Jack now showed more haste than before in reloading his weapon, fearing
that the party would get beyond his reach before he could fire for the
fourth time. Much to his regret, they did so, for though he made the
shot, it was necessarily so hurried that it inflicted no injury, and
the whole party galloped out of sight over the slight swell without
showing any further concern for their companions left behind. Jack now
rose to his feet with the question:
"What is my record, doctor?"
"Three bull's-eyes; your score is perfect."
"Hardly, for the last was a miss; however, three out of a possible four
is pretty fair when the circumstances are considered. I suspect that
that particular party is not likely to give us further trouble."
"No, they will not forget the lesson."
"If we can induce our enemies to make their approach by the same ford
and when the sun is shining this will become truly amusing."
"But the Ghoojurs will not repeat that mistake. This affair has served
another purpose," added the physician, "we must not delay our
"Do you advise our going while it is night?"
"I advised the contrary a little while ago, but I confess I am afraid
to stay in the house, even for a few hours. However, we will take our
dinner there, gather a few belongings and then hurry off. We shall
find some spot where it will be safe to pass the night, and where we
are not likely to be molested, because no one will know where to find
All glanced in the direction of the other shore, and seeing nothing to
cause misgiving moved to the house, a low, roomy structure, though of
moderate proportions, with a broad veranda extending along two sides.
It was time for the evening meal, and there was some surprise felt that
Mustad, the servant, had not summoned them before.
This surprise turned to astonishment and alarm when it was discovered
that Mustad was not in the house. No preparation had been made for
dinner, and though his name was called several times in a loud voice,
there was no response.
"He has left us," said the doctor.
"What does it mean?" asked Mary.
"It can have but one meaning: by some legerdemain, such as our own
Indians show in telegraphing news from one mountain top to another,
word has reached Mustad of what has taken place, and he has been called
upon to join the faithful, and has been only too glad to do it."
"I should think he would have attempted to do us harm before going."
"He is too great a coward."
"But his fanaticism will make him reckless."
"When he gets among his friends then he will be among the worst."
"But, father, he was always meek and gentle and respectful."
"Those are the kind who become directly the opposite."
"Do you think he would harm us?"
"I have no doubt of it," was the reply of the doctor. "I know the
breed; I have twice been the means of saving his life through my
medicines, and Mary nursed him for three weeks when he was suffering
from a fever."
"Yon may be doing him an injustice," ventured Jack Everson, to whom the
judgment of his friend seemed bitter.
"I wish I could think so, but, Mary, if you can provide us with
something in the way of food, Mr. Everson and I will get the things
together that we are to take with us."
Dr. Marlowe wisely decided not to burden themselves with unnecessary
luggage. Jack took from his trunk a few needed articles and stowed
them into a travelling bag whose supporting strap could be flung over
one shoulder. Though a physician himself, admitted to practice, he had
brought none of his instruments with him, for the good reason that he
saw no sense in doing so. Into the somewhat larger bag of the elder
doctor were placed his most delicate instruments and several medical
preparations, mostly the results of his experiments. They were too
precious to be lost if there was any way of preserving them. Mary
packed her articles in a small travelling bag, the strap of which she,
too, flung over her shoulder, though Jack asked to be allowed to
It was after the hurried meal had been eaten by lamplight that the
three completed their preparations for departure. That to which they
paid the most attention was their means of defense. Jack Everson had
brought a plentiful supply of cartridges for his superb breechloader;
and the belt was already secured around his body. Dr. Marlowe never
allowed his supply of ammunition to run low, so that the two were well
supplied in that respect.
Jack was pleased to find that the revolver belonging to Mary Marlowe
was of the same calibre as his own, so that the cartridges could be
"I remember," he said to her, when the parent was just beyond hearing,
"that you were quite skillful with your weapon."
"Not specially so, but what skill I gained is due to your tuition."
"Not so much to that as to the aptness of the pupil."
"Your remark is more gallant than true, but I hope I shall not be
called upon to use this weapon as you used yours awhile ago."
"Such is my prayer, but if the necessity arises do not hesitate."
"Be assured I shall not," she replied, with a flash of her fine eyes
and a compression of her lips.
COMPANIONS IN FLIGHT.
Everything needed having been gathered, the lamps were extinguished,
and with the physician in the lead, the three passed out of the front
door to the veranda. The doctor decided to leave the door unfastened,
since it was useless to secure it.
Suddenly, when the doctor was about to give the word to move, he saw a
shadowy figure in the direction of the river.
"Sh!" he whispered; "it looks as if we had waited too long; some one is
approaching. Be ready to use your gun or to retreat into the house if
necessary to fight it out there."
"It is a white man," said the daughter in an undertone; "he may be a
It was clear by this time that the stranger was not a native, for he
was dressed in civilized costume and his gait was that of a European.
He did not perceive the silent figures until within a few paces of the
veranda, when he paused abruptly, as if startled.
"Good evening," he said in English. "Is this Dr. Marlowe?"
"It is; who are you?"
"My name is Anderson; I was looking for you."
"In what way can I serve you?"
"You have heard the news, I suppose," said the man, keeping his
position, and looking up to the three, who were now all on the edge of
the veranda; "the native soldiers at Meerut mutinied yesterday, killed
most of their officers, plundered the city, slaying every white person
they could find, after which most of them hurried to Delhi."
"You bring dreadful tidings; I had heard nothing definite, but
suspected all that you have told me. Are you alone and why do you come
"I fled with my wife and two other families, Turner and Wharton, from
the outskirts of Meerut as soon as there seemed a chance for us. We
made our way to the river, found a boat and paddled to this place, for
we had no sail and there was scarcely any wind."
"Where are your friends?"
"I left them by the edge of the river in the boat, promising to rejoin
them in a few minutes."
"Have you no companions, but those you named?"
"None; my wife and I buried two children last Summer; Mr. Turner has
none, and Mr. Wharton and his young wife were but recently married."
"You have not told me why you come to me?"
"Chiefly to warn you of your peril and to beseech you to fly before it
is too late."
"I thank you very much for your solicitude; it was kind on the part of
you and your friends, but it strikes me that one place is about as safe
"We are so far from the large cities and the coast that it is useless
to attempt to reach any of them. Our first aim was to get as far from
Meerut as possible; then as we found ourselves approaching your home,
it seemed to us there was a chance for our lives by pushing to the
northward, into the wilder and less settled country, where the flames
of the insurrection may not reach."
"Your sentiments are our own; you have been wonderfully fortunate in
getting this far; my friends and I have seen enough to warn us to lose
no time, and we were on the point of starting when I saw you."
"May I ask what course you intend to take?"
"I have lived here for twenty years, so that I am acquainted with the
section. My intention was to follow a slightly travelled road, which,
in fact, is little more than a bridle path, until several miles beyond
Akwar, when we should come back to the main highway and keep to that
for fifty or perhaps a hundred miles. By that time, we should be safe,
if such a thing as safety is possible."
"Your plan is a good one, but is not mine better?"
"What is that?"
"I, too, am familiar with this part of the country; a stream empties
into the Ganges just eastward of your house, hardly a half mile
distant; it must have its source somewhere among the foothills of the
Himalayas. At any rate, it is navigable for all of a hundred miles.
It seems to me that when paddling up that stream at night, between the
wooded banks, there will be less chance of being discovered by enemies
than when travelling overland, as you contemplate."
"I am favorably impressed with your plan; do I understand you to invite
us to join your party?"
"You are more than welcome; our boat will accommodate us all without
crowding, but I regret to say we have but a single gun among us. That
is mine, which I left with my friends against my return."
"We are well supplied in that respect; we accept your invitation with
As the doctor spoke he stepped down from the veranda, followed by the
others, and Mr. Anderson led the way across the lawn to the river,
where his friends were awaiting his coming with many misgivings. A
general introduction followed. A common danger makes friends of
strangers, and in a few minutes all were as well acquainted as if they
had known one another for days and weeks. Anderson and Turner were men
in middle life, while Wharton was of about the same age as Jack
Everson. They had lived for several years on the outskirts of Meerut,
but it was young Wharton who discovered the impending peril, and it was
due to him that the three families escaped the fate of hundreds of
others on that woful night. The young wife and Mary Marlowe became
intimate friends at once, while, as has been said, there was a hearty,
genuine comradeship immediately established among all.
The boat was larger than Dr. Marlowe and his companions suspected. It
was more than twenty feet in length, with a cabin at the stern, a place
for a mast, though there was neither mast nor sail on board. Anderson
had spoken of paddling to this point, when, had he spoken correctly, he
would have said that no paddles were used, but that the craft was
propelled by means of poles.
ON THE GANGES.
While all the members of the party were cheered by hope, none forgot
that a dreadful peril impended. Enough time had passed since the
revolt at Meerut for the news to spread even beyond the little town of
Akwar, which was within a fourth of a mile of the home of Dr. Marlowe.
He was aware that some of the most fanatical Mussulmans in all India
lived there. The action of the servant Mustad, who owed his life to
the father and child, was proof of what might be expected from these
miscreants when swept off their feet by the delirium that was spreading
with the frightful swiftness of a prairie fire.
Accordingly no time was lost. There was a hurried scrambling on board,
the water fortunately being deep enough near shore to allow all to step
upon the boat dry shod. The faint moon revealed the smooth surface of
the Ganges for nearly a hundred yards from land, but the further shore
was veiled in darkness. It was at this juncture that Miss Marlowe made
an annoying discovery.
"Oh, papa, I have forgotten my pistol!"
"Wait and I'll soon get it," she added, starting to leap the short
distance from the gunwale to land, but Jack Everson caught her arm.
"You must not think of it; tell me where you left the weapon and I'll
"I laid it on the table in the dining-room and in the hurry forgot it
when we left."
Jack turned to his friends.
"Don't wait here," he said, aware of the nervousness of the whole
party. "Push down stream, and I'll quickly overtake you."
Without waiting for further explanation, he leaped the slight space and
started up the lawn on a loping trot. For convenience he left his
rifle behind, but made sure that his revolver was in his hip pocket.
He did not apprehend that he would need the weapon in the short time he
expected to be absent, but if anything went awry it would be more
useful than the rifle.
In that moment of profound stillness following the disappearance of the
young man among the trees grouped about the lawn, the motionless people
on the boat felt a thrill of terror at the unmistakable sound of oars
from some point on the river not distant.
"Let us land and take refuge in your house," suggested young Wharton;
"we cannot make a decent fight in this boat."
"We shall have a better chance than in the house," was the reply of the
physician; "the bank of the river is shaded by trees a little further
down; we must lose no time in getting there, and avoid the least noise."
There were two long poles belonging to the boat, one of which was
grasped by Wharton, while Anderson swayed the other, the remainder
watching their movements, which could not have been more skillful.
Pressing the end against the bank, and afterwards against the clayey
bottom, the craft speedily swung several rods from shore.
While the two men were thus employed, the others peered off in the
gloom and listened for a repetition of the sounds that had frightened
them a few minutes before. They were not heard again, nor could the
straining vision detect anything of the dreaded object, which could not
be far away. Not a person on board doubted that a number of their
enemies were near and searching for them. Dr. Marlowe would have taken
comfort from this fact had the circumstances been different; for the
men who were hunting for him would go to his house, since it was there
they must gain their first knowledge of his flight; but, as he viewed
it, it was impossible that they should be wholly ignorant of the boat
and its occupants, which must have made most of the distance before
night closed in.
It followed, therefore, that if they were looking for the doctor and
his family they were also looking for the boat and the fugitives it
contained. The low-lying shore, with no trees fringing the bank, was
the worst place for him and his friends, and he was in a fever of
eagerness to reach the protecting shadows along shore. The nerves of
all were keyed to the tensest point, when they caught the dim outlines
of the overhanging growth, with the leafage as exuberant as it always
is in a subtropical region at that season of the year. The men toiled
with vigor and care, while the others glanced from the gloom of the
river to the deeper gloom of the bank, which seemed to recede as they
labored toward it. With a relief that cannot be imagined the bulky
craft glided into the bank of deeper gloom, which so wrapped it about
that it was invisible from any point more than a dozen yards distant.
It is inconceivable how a narrower escape could have come about, for
the two men had hardly ceased poling, allowing the boat to move forward
with the momentum already gained, when their enemies were discovered.
Mary Marlowe's arm was interlocked with that of her father, when she
nervously clutched it and whispered:
"Yonder is their boat!"
All saw the terrifying sight at the same moment. Almost opposite, and
barely fifty yards out on the river, could be traced a moving shadow,
the outlines of which showed a craft similarly shaped to their own,
except that it was somewhat smaller and sat lower in the water. The
men were too dimly seen for their number to be counted or their motions
observed, but, as in the former instance, the sounds indicated that
they were using paddles.
Since it was certain that the natives were searching for the fugitives
in the boat under the shadows of the bank every one of the latter
wondered that the pursuers remained out in the stream, when there was
need of unimpeded vision. They half expected their enemies to turn to
the left and come directly for them. But nothing of the kind took
place. The craft headed down the river, the sound of the paddles so
slight that only the closely listening ear could hear them, until it
melted in the gloom and vanished from sight.
It was a vast relief for the moment, but little comfort could our
friends take from the fact. Their enemies were not likely to go far,
when they would suspect that something of the nature described had
occurred, and they would return and grope along shore for their
victims. So certain was Dr. Marlowe of this turn that he believed the
wisest course was for the entire party to abandon the boat, and, as may
be said, "take to the woods." They had the whole night before them,
and, with his intimate knowledge of the roads, paths and trails of the
country and jungles, he was confident of guiding them beyond danger and
to some place where, when morning dawned, there would be little to fear
in the way of discovery.
This course would have been taken except for the absence of Jack
Everson. There was no way of apprising him of the change of plan, and,
with his ignorance of the topography of their surroundings, he would be
certain to go astray, and for any one in his situation, to go astray
AN UNEXPECTED MEETING.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jack Everson found matters exceedingly interesting.
When he informed his friends that he would rejoin them in the course of
a few minutes the possibility of anything interfering with his promise
did not occur to him. That danger threatened every member of the
little company may be set down as self-evident, but what could happen
to disturb him in the brief interval spent in running up the slope,
dashing into the house and back again to the river's side?
Such were his thoughts as he entered the shadows and hurriedly
approached the front veranda. Although he had reached this spot within
the preceding twenty-four hours the evening meal and the preparations
for flight had given him sufficient knowledge of the interior to remove
all difficulty in going straight to the table in the dining-room and
taking the forgotten revolver therefrom.
The first tingle of misgiving came to the young man when he was close
to the porch and about to step upon it. He remembered that it was
himself who had extinguished the lamp on the table as the three were
about to pass into the hall and out of doors, but lo! a light was
shining from that very room. What could it mean?
"That's deuced queer," he thought, coming to an abrupt halt; "I screwed
down that lamp and blew into the chimney in the orthodox fashion, so it
couldn't have been that I unconsciously left the wick burning."
At this juncture he made another significant discovery. The front door
which he had seen Dr. Marlowe close was partly open. The inference was
inevitable: some one was in the house. In the brief time that had
passed one or more persons had entered and were busy at that moment in
the interior. Perhaps they had been watching among the shadows on the
outside for the occupants to leave the way open for them to pass within.
Prudence dictated that Jack Everson should not linger another moment.
Indeed, he ought to have counted himself fortunate that he had made his
discovery in time to save himself from running into a trap. He should
return to his friends with the alarming news and help them in getting
away with the utmost haste possible. But Jack did nothing of the sort.
The chief cause of his lingering was his desire to obtain the revolver
belonging to Miss Marlowe. Recalling the paucity of firearms among the
people on the boat he felt that a single weapon could be ill spared.
But above and beyond this cold truth was a vague, shuddering suspicion,
amounting to a belief, that the young woman would soon need that very
weapon; that, without it she would become another of the unspeakable
victims of the fiends who made the Sepoy Mutiny one of the most hideous
blots that darken the pages of history. He compressed his lips and
swore that the revolver should be recovered, if the thing were
possible, failing in which he would compel her to take his own.
The first thing was to learn whether there was more than one person in
the house and what business had brought them there. His own return was
not expected, so that that advantage was in his favor. He stepped
lightly upon the veranda and, like a burglar in his stocking feet,
passed across the porch and pushed back the door far enough to admit
him. This required but a few inches, and the hinges gave out not the
slightest creak. The entrance to the dining-room was closed, so that
all was darkness, but he plainly saw the yellow thread along the edges
of the door, caused by the lamp in the room beyond.
Once within the hall he listened intently, but could not detect the
slightest sound within the building. He had already drawn his
revolver, and held it ready for instant use. Knowing the value of
seconds, he began moving along the hall toward the door, which was only
a few paces distant, and had passed half the space when a muttered
execration escaped him, for his foot struck some object that was kicked
the remaining length of the hall with a clatter that he verily believed
must have been heard by his friends on the boat.
No use now for precaution. Determined to have the other weapon, but
not unmindful of the peril involved, he strode the few remaining steps
and hastily shoved open the door of the dining-room. If a foe was
there with the revolver he was quite likely to hold it levelled at the
intruder, because of which Jack, when he burst into the room, held his
own weapon pointed, so as to prevent any enemy from "getting the drop"
For one moment the young man believed it was all a mistake and that,
despite the precaution taken upon leaving the house, he had not
extinguished the lamp, whose wick had recovered its vigor, but the
suspicion was hardly formed when he knew there was no foundation for
it. In the first place no lamp ever acts that way, and, the front door
having been closed, could not open of itself. More convincing than all
was the fact that Mary Marlowe's revolver, which had brought him back,
Diagonally across the dining-room from where Jack Everson stood was the
door leading to the rear of the house. This was open for three or four
inches, and while searching the apartment with all the keenness of his
powerful vision, he distinctly saw it move. The distance was no more
than an inch, but he was not mistaken, and knew it had been drawn that
much nearer shut. Since no air was stirring the conclusion was
inevitable that some one was on the other side who was aware of the
entrance of the American.
The position of the lamp on the table threw the crevice caused by the
slight opening of the door in shadow, and all was blank darkness
beyond. But, looking in that direction, Jack caught the gleam of a
pair of eyes, peering from the gloom like the orbs of a jungle tiger
gathering himself for a spring. Nothing could be seen but the glow of
the eyes, that seemed to have something of the phosphorescence of the
cat species, but he could not mistake the meaning of what he saw.
Jack had partly lowered his revolver, after the first glance around the
room, but it now came to a level again with the suddenness of lightning
and was pointed straight at the gleaming eyes, as he spoke in a low,
"Come forth or I'll send a bullet through your infernal brain!"
Never was man more fairly caught. In the language of the West, Jack
Everson had the drop on him, and none could be more alive to the fact
than the fellow who was thus taken at disadvantage. It was merited
punishment for his foolhardiness in inviting his own discomfiture. At
first the chances of the two were equal, but the white man was more
alive to the situation.
The Asiatic showed his appreciation of the situation by stepping
forward into the lamplight.
Incredible as it may seem, he not only held a pistol in his right hand,
but it was half raised and pointed at Jack Everson.
The East Indian who stood before Jack Everson, thoroughly cowed and
submissive, was unusually tall, dark, and thin to emaciation. He wore
a turban, a light linen jacket which encompassed his chest to below the
waist, with a sash or girdle, loose flapping trousers and sandals. In
the girdle at his waist was a long, formidable knife or yataghan, which
he would have been glad to bury in the heart of the man who had thus
brought him to his knees.
When Jack Everson demanded to know his identity the fellow replied in a
low voice that was not lacking in a certain musical quality:
The young man half expected the answer.
"What business brings you here?"
"He is my master; I work for him. I have been to see my aged mother,
who is very ill. I have just returned to serve my master."
"That is not true! You went away to bring some of your people to kill
the doctor and his family."
"Sahib does Mustad great wrong," replied that individual in a grieved
voice. "I love my master and my mistress. I am not ungrateful. I
would give my life sooner than harm a hair of their heads. Where have
It was the last question that removed all lingering doubt of the
native's treachery. He had returned to bring about their overthrow,
but knew not where to look for them. When he could ascertain whither
they had fled he and his brother miscreants would be at their heels.
"Suppose I should tell you that they had gone to Meerut or Delhi?"
"Allah be praised!" exclaimed the other devoutly; "for then they will
"Is there no trouble in Meerut or Delhi?"
"What trouble can there be!" asked Mustad, with well-feigned
simplicity. "It is in those cities that the missionaries and many of
the Inglese live. They have lived there many years. What harm could
By this time Jack Everson had lost all doubt of the perfidy of the man.
He could not fail to know what had taken place within the preceding
twenty-four hours in the cities named, and he lacked his usual cunning
when he tried to deceive his questioner.
The young man saw that it was a waste of time to question Mustad. No
reliance could be placed on anything he said.
"You will wait here, then, until Dr. Marlowe comes back?"
Mustad vigorously nodded his head and replied:
"I shall wait, and my eyes will be filled with tears until I see the
good man and his child again. When will they come to their home?"
"Well, the best thing you can do is to wait here until you see them
As Jack made this remark he took a quick step forward and picked up the
revolver. He did not pause to examine it, but was sure that none of
the chambers had been discharged. Slipping the weapon into his coat
pocket, and still grasping his own, he said:
"I think I shall go out on the veranda and await the return of the
As he made this remark he committed a mistake for which there was no
excuse. Instead of backing out of the room he turned about and started
through the open door into the hall. The walking cane against which he
had once struck his foot still lay where he had kicked it, and he
tripped over it a second time. The mishap, slight as it was, saved his
life. As he stumbled in the gloom something whizzed like the rush of a
cobra's head past his temple, nipping his hat and striking the opposite
wall with force enough to kill two or three men. It was the yataghan
of Mustad, who had drawn and hurled it with inconceivable quickness and
with an aim so unerring that it would have brained the unsuspecting
American but for his fortunate stumble.
The furious Jack whirled around with the purpose of sending a bullet
through the brain of the wretch, but something like a shadow flitted
through the lamplight while Jack was in the act of turning and, before
he could secure any aim, the scoundrel had vanished. Determined not to
be balked the young man let fly, and then, bounding across the room,
snapped back the door, meaning to repeat the shot at the first glimpse
of Mustad. But the latter was familiar with all the turnings of the
house, while Jack knew nothing of that portion of the building. He
could neither see nor hear anything, and did not deem it prudent to use
the lamp to help in the search, though it was hard to retire from the
field and leave the miscreant unpunished.
To do so, however, was the wiser course, and again he moved into the
hall. This time he backed thither, though, since Mustad had no weapon,
it was impossible that the attempt upon the young man's life should be
repeated. The outer door was opened, and once more he stood on the
Before venturing across the lawn in the direction of the river he spent
a minute or two in peering into the surrounding gloom and listening.
He may have been mistaken, but he fancied he heard more than one person
moving stealthily about in the house. Once he was sure he caught the
sound of whispered words, so that the astounding fact was established
that during the few minutes occupied in talking with Mustad he had a
friend within instant call.
"All of which goes to prove that these people are cowards at heart,"
was the sage conclusion of Jack Everson. "They will throw away their
lives for the sake of Islamism, and they will fight like wildcats if a
man turns his back upon them; but when he stands face to face they are
Since there was no doubt that Mustad and his companions would be on the
alert to note the course taken by Everson, so as to learn what had
become of his friends, the young man saw the need of misleading them.
He took care not to return to the river over his own trail. Instead of
doing so he moved to the right, as if on his way to the nearby town of
Akwar. When satisfied he was beyond range of the keen vision of those
in the house of Dr. Marlowe he made an abrupt change, which led him
toward the Ganges, forgetting, when he did so, that there might be
natives in the vicinity who were not in the building at all.
Had Mr. Jack Everson spent a few years in Hindoostan he would not have
made the blunders that we are obliged to record concerning his
movements after parting from his friends on the boat. He had acquitted
himself pluckily while in the house of the physician, but his escape
from death at the hands of Mustad and his companion was providential
and, under similar circumstances, was not likely to be repeated once in
a thousand times.
Moreover, with his knowledge, already gained, of Asiatic cunning, he
ought to have reflected that if two of their dusky enemies were within
the house there were likely to be others in the immediate neighborhood.
It looked as if Mustad had entered the dwelling expecting to find the
physician there. He was prepared with an excuse for his abrupt
departure and an explanation that would satisfy his indulgent master
and mistress. Keeping his companion in the background the wretch could
then complete his plans for turning the party over to the fury of their
brother murderers, who probably were calmly waiting on the outside for
Nothing of all this, we repeat, entered the head of Jack until he had
made the change in the course he was following and had passed down the
slope to the river bank. His effort to mislead his enemies necessarily
took him some distance above the point where he had left the boat, and
he now set out to find his way to it. It was while he was engaged in
doing so that he became aware that he was followed.
"Well, I'll be hanged!" he muttered, coming to an abrupt stop; "it
seems to me that these infernal imps are everywhere."
He had not seen any one, but a rustling, grating noise in the shadow of
the nearest tree told him where the immediate danger lay. Believing
that an unexpected course was best he wheeled and ran at full speed
toward the tree, which contained a large number of dense,
The result was surprising. Instead of one native, two leaped out from
cover and ran away at full speed. They had been stealing after him, on
the watch for a chance to bring him down by a blow in the back, when
the tables were turned in this unexpected manner. Jack, therefore, had
no hesitation in firing at the one on his right, and immediately after
at his companion, whose superior speed had placed him considerably in
advance. As a consequence, he missed the latter, while the first
emitted a screech, leaped high in air and sprawled forward on his face
as dead as Julius Caesar.
The fact that his pursuers were two in number led the young man to
believe they were Mustad and his companion, whom he had heard in the
house. A few minutes later he made another halt. He was able, despite
the gloom, to identify the spot where he had left the boat, but it was
not in sight.
"I told them not to wait for me, and they acted on my suggestion. They
can't be far off, and I hope have run into no trouble."
The occurrences of the last quarter of an hour gave Jack a vivid idea
of the increasing peril. The natives from the nearby town were hunting
for the physician, his daughter and himself, all of whom had not left
the house a minute too soon and now, while he paused on the shore of
the river and listened, he too caught the sound that had filled his
friends with dread. There were no noises from the jungles to the
eastward, though at times the outcries are terrifying, and the shouts
and shrieks of the mutineers and their victims at Meerut and Delhi were
too far away to reach his ears, but he heard now and then the faint
sound of paddles out on the stream.
"Anderson spoke of using paddles," reflected Jack, "but it was a
misnomer, for they have none, and they would not have pushed so far out
from shore when they knew I expected to return so soon. All that
proves that a party of devils have also a boat and are hunting for the
one in which our new friends are groping for safety."
This threatened to make a new complication, but the plain course for
Jack was to keep along the shore of the river and press his search for
the craft, which he was certain was not far off.
His experience had taught him the need of unceasing vigilance, and as
he advanced, he scrutinized the ground in front and on every hand, like
a scout stealing into a hostile camp. Within less time than he counted
upon he saw the boat lying close to shore, where his friends were
awaiting him. As soon as he recognized the craft he announced himself
in a guarded undertone, to guard against any mistake, and the next
moment clambered aboard, where, it need not be said, he was warmly
After they had exchanged greetings the doctor asked:
"Did I not hear the report of your pistol a little while ago?"
"Inasmuch as I discharged it very probably you did."
Thereupon Jack told of what he had seen and done since leaving the boat
to recover the pistol of Miss Marlowe. It was a story of deep interest
to all, and his account of his meeting with the faithless Mustad deeply
stirred his master.
"Despite my denunciation of the fellow I confess I had a lingering
suspicion that I might have been mistaken; but all doubt now is
removed. There is no native in all India to be more dreaded than he."
"I have a faint hope that it was he with whom I made my fourth
bull's-eye," remarked Jack.
"Hardly likely. Probably there were two others skulking on the outside
and waiting for a chance at us."
"But they had all the chance they could have asked at me."
"It may have been the doctor and his daughter whom they were the most
eager to secure," suggested Mr. Turner.
"That is my belief," added Anderson.
"And mine, too," joined the doctor himself. "It seems to be a trait of
our perverse human nature to hate with the deepest intensity those who
have done us the greatest kindness."
This remark meant more to Jack Everson than to any one else, for he
believed that it was the daughter who was the special object of the
natives. That reminded him of the weapon he had secured.
"Here," he said, "take it before I forget to return it."
"You risked a good deal for my sake," she said gratefully, accepting
the weapon, "and I cannot thank you sufficiently—— Well, I declare!"
She was in the act of placing the pistol in the pocket of her dress
when she made the discovery that her weapon was already there. Jack
Everson had taken Mustad's own property from him.
The curious incident served to lift for a brief time the oppression
that rested upon all. The remarkable part of it was how Miss Marlowe
could believe she had left her revolver in her home when it was in the
pocket of her dress, where, it would seem, she ought to have felt it
while walking across the lawn to the boat, even if she had forgotten to
examine that most natural receptacle for it when she first missed the
"It is the most stupid thing I ever did," she declared. "I meant to
keep it in my hand while coming from the house, and, awaking to the
fact that it was not there, did not stop to examine my pocket. It is
"We have gained an additional means of defense," observed Mr. Turner,
"and that may be decisive before we are through with this business."
Now that all were together again each was impatient to be on the move.
Wharton and Turner began using the poles with the skill shown some time
before, and once more the unwieldy craft swung slowly down the Ganges,
with all on board alert for the first sign of their enemies. The women
were advised to remain in the small cabin, where they would be safe
against stealthy shots.
As the boat crept under the shadows along shore the spirits of all
improved, for it seemed that with every rod placed behind, them the
danger was diminished, and by and by would vanish altogether.
"That, however, cannot be," said the doctor to Jack Everson, as they
sat a little apart from the rest, near the bow of the craft. "In
truth, I see but one possible escape for this party."
"What is that?"
"I have already referred to it. It will take us weeks to reach
Calcutta on the east or Bombay on the west, and between us and each of
these points the hell fire will rage for months to come. To go south
is equally suicidal, since it would take us into the heart of the
insurrection. I repeat that there is but one thing to be done: that is
to push northward, as I said, until we reach a people too far removed
to be affected by this deviltry."
"To find a simple people where our knowledge of medicine will cause us
to be looked upon as superior beings. I have discovered a remedy for
the bite of a cobra which will stand one in good stead, should a native
be bitten. They believe, you know, as does the rest of the world, that
the bite of this serpent is certain death. But I have discovered a
remedy, the necessary drugs of which I carry in this case," touching
the leather case strapped to his back.
"Beyond all doubt. You have tested this remedy of yours?"
"I have, twice."
"Upon man or brute?"
Although the two physicians were deeply interested in the question of
toxicology they could not forget their situation and its perils. The
craft had nearly completed its half mile to the mouth of the tributary
which it was intended to ascend, when the polemen, pausing for a
moment's rest, whispered that they heard the sound of paddles again.
"There they are!"
It was Jack Everson who uttered the exclamation, loud enough for all to
hear. He pointed down stream as he spoke, and every one perceived the
dreaded boat returning.
Although nearer at hand than before, it seemed to be following the
course of the river, and there was hope that it would again pass
without discovering the shrinking ones so near land.
When first observed the other boat was fifty yards out and not quite so
far down stream. Moving against the current its progress was slower
than before, but its advance was plainly perceptible. The craft of the
white people had lost the momentum imparted by the poling, and was now
controlled only by the current, which was so sluggish close to the land
that the motion was hardly noticeable.
The hopes of our friends steadily rose until the other boat was almost
directly abreast. It would seem that if the occupants intended
attacking they would have veered inward before this, but there could be
no assurance so long as they remained visible.
Every one started when the gaunt, sloping figure suddenly became
upright at the prow of the boat and stood motionless. He had ceased
using the pole that he had been plying with so much vigor. At the same
moment the noise of the paddles ceased, proving that the men
controlling them had also stopped work. What could it mean?
No one of the white people stirred or whispered. Could they have done
so they would have checked the beating of their hearts through fear of
being betrayed. Surely something had awakened the suspicion of the
Suddenly some one spoke on board the craft. The voice was audible, but
the doctor, who was a master of Hindoostanee, could not catch what was
said. At the same instant a splash was heard, and the lank form bent
over, as he pressed the long pole against the bottom of the river and
resumed his slow walking toward the stern. The noise of paddles, too,
was heard again. The craft had resumed its progress, and for an
instant every one believed it was about to pass by. Then Jack Everson
"By heaven! they're coming for us!"
All saw that the boat was swinging around so as to head toward them.
"Into the cabin, quick!" commanded the doctor, and the women quickly
scrambled out of sight, while the men lay down, so as to screen their
bodies as much as possible.
"It won't do to let them come too near," added the physician. "Try to
make every shot tell."
As he spoke he took the best aim he could and fired. Jack Everson was
but a moment behind him, and Anderson discharged his gun almost
A WHITE MAN'S VICTORY.
It was clear that the reception was a stunning surprise to the Asiatics
in the other boat. In times of confusion and terror strong men often
sit dazed and meekly submit to massacre when sturdy resistance would
leave a far different tale to tell. Such was the case at Meerut, at
Delhi, at Cawnpore, at Lucknow and scores of places where the human
fiends revelled in massacre and crime.
But here, where evidently the same submissiveness was expected, the
miscreants were fired upon before they had discharged a single shot
themselves. Not only that, but the Caucasians kept the thing up. This
was contrary to all rule and precedent.
If, however, the white men did not wait to be slain, neither did the
dusky barbarians sit still and allow themselves to be shot down. They
ceased paddling and appealed to their guns, whose bullets began
whistling about the heads of the defenders in the other boat.
Who of our friends did it will never be known, but one of them
perforated the gaunt scoundrel who, with his form bent over, was
pushing the pole while he stalked the length of the boat, returning
again to the prow to repeat the performance. The fellow emitted a
screech like a wounded tiger and leaped several feet in air, coming
down on the gunwale, over which he toppled into the water and was seen
no more. It was the spirited defiance of the white men that told.
Screening themselves as best they could they continued firing, Jack
Everson occasionally adding a shot from his revolver by way of variety.
The conformation of the other boat and its crowded condition prevented
the natives from sheltering themselves as did those who were using them
as targets. In short, the wretches were getting the worst of the
business, and it did not take them long to learn the fact. Left
without control, their boat began drifting with the current, which
being stronger than along shore gradually carried it down stream and
out of sight. So long, however, as it was visible its occupants
continued firing, while the white people did still better, for they
sent several shots after their enemies when they could see nothing and
fired wholly by guess.
There could be no question that the promptness of Dr. Marlowe and the
vigor of the resistance threw their foes into a sort of panic from
which they did not recover until beyond range. They had been taught a
lesson that they were sure to remember for a long time; though, when
our friends came to think the matter over, after finding no one of them
had been hurt, they could not escape the belief that the consequences
were certain to be of the most serious nature to themselves, and in
this conclusion, sad to say, they were not mistaken.
UNDER THE BANK.
A few minutes later an open space appeared in front of the boat. It
was the month of the tributary flowing into the Ganges from the left or
north, and was more than a hundred yards across. Since it was
necessary to stem the current in order to take advantage of this
refuge, the doctor contemplated it with misgiving, for the work of
poling it up stream promised to be laborious. He had not forgotten his
original plan of abandoning the boat and striking across the country on
foot, taking advantage of the less-frequented roads and paths that were
well known to him. He was relieved, however, to find the flow so
languid that it was easy to make headway against it.
"I have never followed this stream far," he remarked, "and, therefore,
have less knowledge of it than the rest of the country, but my
impression is that it cannot serve us long."
"It will be time enough to leave the boat and take to the woods when we
can go no further," said Jack Everson; "but we cannot get away from the
main stream too soon."
This was self-evident. It was not likely that the natives after their
decisive repulse would abandon their purpose of massacring the party,
but they would be more guarded in what they did and probably secure
reinforcements, an easy thing to do when the sanguinary wretches
everywhere were thirsting for victims.
Jack had seized one of the poles, and he and young Wharton plied them
with so much sturdiness that the heavy craft made better progress than
at any time since it was used as a vehicle of safety. The course of
the tributary was winding, and our friends had not gone far when they
were shut out from the sight of any persons passing up and down the
main river, even if close to the northern bank.
Would the natives suspect the course taken by the whites? That was the
all-important question that must soon be answered. After searching up
and down the Ganges without success, it was likely they would penetrate
the stratagem and follow them, in which event the fugitives would be in
a critical situation, since the straightness of the stream and the
wooded shores would place them at much greater disadvantage than if
they remained upon the Ganges.
When the boat had ascended the tributary for perhaps an eighth of a
mile it was deemed safe to lessen the work of poling. Careful
listening failed to detect any sound of pursuit, and there was ground
for hoping that their enemies neither knew nor suspected what had been
Several facts had become apparent. The densely wooded shores offered
excellent concealment. By running the boat beneath the dense branches
and among the heavy vegetation the keenest-eyed Asiatics might pass up
or down stream almost within arm's length without suspecting its
presence. But the tributary had perceptibly narrowed and its current
was swifter than at the mouth. All this pointed to the truth of what
Dr. Marlowe suspected—the stream could not serve them much further.
The night was now so far advanced that the women took the advice of
their friends and withdrew to the cabin for slumber. Their quarters
were cramped, but they made themselves fairly comfortable. The night
was cooler than the day, but only sufficiently so to be pleasant. It
was not deemed probable that anything would be seen of their enemies
before the morrow, and perhaps not even then.
Dr. Marlowe insisted upon taking his turn in poling, but since there
were four vigorous men without him, they would not consent. When two
had toiled for an hour or more, they gave way to the other couple, and
the progress thus continued without interruption, while the time slowly
dragged along. The resting spells gave each the opportunity for sleep,
thus husbanding their vigor for the morrow. Finding that there was
nothing to which he could turn his hand, the physician reclined at the
bow and soon joined the others in dreamland.
It was probably one o'clock when Jack Everson, who had been sleeping
for nearly an hour, was awakened by a gentle shaking of his shoulder.
Opening his eyes and looking up he saw Wharton bending over him.
"All right," remarked the American; "I'm ready for my turn," and he
rose, yawning, to his feet.
"I think we had better rest until morning."
"The current has become so rapid that it is hard to make progress; this
stream can't be of much further use to us."
It needed but a glance around in the gloom to see that it was as his
friend had declared. The boat was so close to the left-hand shore that
it was held motionless by Anderson at the bow, who gripped an
overhanging branch, with one hand. The water rippled around the front
of the craft, and when Jack dipped the end of one of the poles into the
current it swept downward at a rate that astonished him.
"I esteem your advice good," he said, "but it will not do to leave the
boat in sight."
With the help of the limbs and the use of the poles it was easy to
force the craft under the bank, where it was screened from observation.
Then it was secured in place against drifting and all work for the time
Wharton and Jack Everson were the only persons awake. The women had
been sleeping for several hours, while Anderson and Turner had long
since joined the venerable doctor in the realms of unconsciousness.
The two young men sat down where they could speak in low tones without
"It won't do for all of us to sleep at the same time," remarked Jack;
"the scoundrels may be creeping up stream after us."
"That is hardly possible; I am sure that for the present we are as safe
as if in the heart of London."
"I cannot believe as you do; since I have just enjoyed an hour's sleep
I will act as sentinel until daybreak. I can easily keep awake for the
few hours that remain."
"As you think best, though I am sure it is an unnecessary precaution."
"We must not forget that there are perils from the jungle as well as
from the river. There is no saying what wild beast may pay us a visit."
Inasmuch as Jack could not be dissuaded from his purpose, and Wharton
began to suspect his friend was half right, the question was decided.
Wharton stretched out on the deck, falling asleep almost immediately,
and Jack thus found himself the only one with his senses at command and
with the safety of the others dependent upon him.
He took his place near the cabin, where the women were slumbering, with
his breechloader in hand. He was never more wide awake and was sure he
would remain so for hours to come. Wharton had offered to divide the
duty with him in acting as sentinel, but our hero preferred to keep the
matter in his own hands. He was sure his friend did not realize the
full peril of their situation.
The stillness was broken only by the peculiar cries in the jungle,
which it may be said were never wholly silent. First on the right,
then on the left, then from the front, and again from different points
on both sides of the stream he heard the sounds, some faint and far
away, with others alarmingly close. The hoarse snarl of the tiger, the
finer cry of the leopard, the squawking of night birds, with other
noises that he could not identify, were continually in the air. Had
they been heard for the first time he would have been in a tremor of
fear and nervousness; but man soon becomes accustomed to danger, and
the nearest must come still nearer to cause his pulse an additional
Jack Everson was sensible that through this medley of strange noises
there was one sound that was continuous and never changing. So faint
that at first he and Wharton failed to notice it, it now impressed
itself too distinctly upon his consciousness for him to be mistaken.
It was a low, steady hum or moaning, such as the traveller hears when
miles inland from the ocean. He could not identify it, though he made
several guesses, and was still speculating unsatisfactorily, when he
received a startling reminder that there was a new peril at his very
The first notice was a faint purring sound, as if made by a gigantic
cat, accompanied by a rustling of the vegetation scarcely a dozen feet
away. He instantly grasped his rifle with both hands and was alert.
It was impossible to distinguish ordinary objects in the gloom, but
suddenly two small circles glittered with a greenish light and the
purring was succeeded by a low, cavernous growl. Then it all became
clear to him: a royal Bengal tiger was stealing upon the boat and was
probably gathering himself for a leap at that very moment.
Had all the occupants been asleep the frightful terror would have
played sad havoc with them before they could defend themselves. As it
was, it looked as if more than one fatality must follow his attack.
But for that phosphorescent gleam of the brute's eyes Jack Everson
would not have been able to locate him, but the glow of the two objects
defined the outlines and locality of the horrible thing as unmistakably
as if the sun were overhead. The occasion was one in which everything
depended upon promptness. The tiger was likely to shift his position
and turn his head so that the eyes would fail to show.
Jack reflected that there probably were a number of spots in the
anatomy of the jungle terror that were more vulnerable than others;
that a well-aimed bullet might be instantly fatal in one, while able to
inflict only a partial wound in another. Be that as it may, he was
sure that a conical bullet driven between the eyes and through bone,
muscle and brain by a rifle that could kill a man at the distance of a
mile must do effective work when that brain was not a dozen feet
distant from the muzzle of the weapon. At any rate, there was no time
for inquiry and he did not hesitate.
Aiming for a point midway between the gleaming orbs he pressed the
trigger. It takes a well-aimed weapon to kill a royal Bengal tiger,
even at a short distance, but Jack's rifle was well aimed. The tiny
sphere of lead darted through the brain and along the spinal marrow as
if fired with the vicious energy of a charge of dynamite.
It so happened that the tiger was in the act of making his graceful but
fearful leap that was to land him upon the breast of the young man, who
had risen to his feet just before firing. The check at that instant
produced a queer result, the like of which is not often seen. The
shock of the bullet crashing into the head of the muscular beast at the
instant he was calling into play his prodigious strength intensified
that strength to a sudden and astonishing degree. The consequence was
that the tiger, instead of making the leap he intended, made one twice
as great and overshot the mark. From out the gloom the beautiful
sinewy body, of which only a glimpse could be caught, emerged as if
fired from the throat of a Columbiad and, curving over the shoulders of
the man and the boat, dropped into the stream with a splash that sent
the water flying in every direction.
Beyond the line of shadow, where the faint moonlight fell upon him, the
tiger was seen to be a beast of extraordinary size. He emitted one
rasping snarl while sailing through the air, but was already dead when
he fell into the water, where it could not be seen he had made a
struggle. The sinewy body dipped out of sight, bobbed up again and the
next minute was swept beyond view by the rapid current.
Rather strangely, not one of the women was awakened by the report of
the rifle so near them, and of the men Dr. Marlowe and Anderson were
the only ones who rose to a sitting posture and anxiously inquired the
cause of the firing.
"I discovered an animal prowling near the boat," replied Jack, who
thought it well not to disturb them with the whole truth, "and I winged
"You are sure you killed him?" asked the doctor; "most likely it was a
"I am quite sure of that, and am just as sure that, considered strictly
as a tiger, he is of no further account. I made another bull's-eye in
"How many is that?" asked the physician, entering into the spirit of
"My fifth, counting only those that I am sure of."
"You are doing well; keep it up; let the good work go on," replied the
elder, again adjusting himself for slumber, quite content to leave the
valiant young American in charge of the boat and its occupants. Jack
had it in mind to question him about that distant murmuring sound that
puzzled him, but when ready to do so he discovered that the doctor was
again asleep and he did not disturb him.
The fact that one denizen of the jungle had paid the boat a visit was
ground for looking for a call from another. Jack remained, therefore,
on the alert, and though under ordinary circumstances he would have
fallen asleep he kept wide awake until the growing light in the sky
told of the coming day. Before the sun was fairly above the horizon
all were astir. They bathed faces and hands in the roiled water and
greeted one another with thankfulness that the night had passed without
harm to any member of the little company.
When the three men and their wives fled from Meerut they took with them
enough food to last for several days. There is little excuse for
people dying of starvation in any part of India, though sad to say it
is only recently that thousands were swept away by famine. Fruit is
abundant and little meat is necessary in hot countries. Before the
morning meal was partaken of Jack Everson asked Dr. Marlowe to explain
the cause of the low moaning noise that had been in his ears for moat
of the night. The elder listened for a minute and replied:
"What I expected! We are very near the head of navigation; that sound
comes from falls or rapids, above which we cannot go with this boat."
This announcement precipitated a discussion as to what was the best
course to follow. The physician left no doubt of his sentiments.
"The devils will be prowling up this stream within a few hours; I
should not be surprised if they are near us this moment; the boat is of
no further use to us."
The three, Anderson, Turner and Wharton, did not agree with him. The
craft had served them so well that they were unwilling to abandon it.
They seemed to believe that it offered a much safer means of defense
than they could find anywhere on land.
"But you cannot stay forever on it," protested the doctor impatiently.
"We do not expect to," replied Anderson; "we may decide to descend to
the Ganges again, and continue down the river."
"To Cawnpore or some point nearer."
The doctor was aghast.
"You mean to leap straight into the hornet's nest; those are the
places, of all others, that must be avoided."
"It may be as you say, but I am hopeful that the English garrisons have
been able to hold out against the mutineers."
"It is a woeful mistake, my friend; if you persist in it we must part
THE SOUND OF FIRING.
Jack Everson was hardly less impatient than the doctor over the
obstinacy of their lately made friends. He reminded them that the
physician had spent a score of years in that part of the world, with
which he was so familiar that his judgment ought to outweigh theirs,
but the argument was useless. They had decided to stick to the boat
that had served them so well and could not be dissuaded. Their plan,
as they had intimated, now that they found they could go little further
up stream, was to descend to the Ganges, with a view of working their
way down to some of the cities, where they hoped to find the English
had succeeded in holding out against the mutineers.
Could this be done, and could such a haven be reached, all would be
well, but the doctor assured them they were leaning upon a broken reed.
When it became evident that all persuasions were useless the parties
separated. A common peril had brought them near to one another and it
was impossible that that they should part except as friends. All felt
the solemnity of the hour. Each wife kissed and embraced Mary Marlowe,
and like her shed tears at what they felt was probably the final
parting, so far as this world was concerned. The men warmly shook
hands and there was more than one tremulous voice when the three passed
over the side of the boat and said farewell.
The latter walked some distance through the jungle, which was so dense
that they were obliged to follow one of the numerous paths made by the
animals in going to and coming from the water. The doctor, by virtue
of his superior knowledge, took the lead, with his daughter close
behind, and Jack Everson bringing up the rear. They were silent and
thoughtful, for their spirits were oppressed by a deep gloom and the
feeling that something dreadful impended.
Not far off the path which they were following expanded into a natural
clearing two or three rods in extent. When they reached the spot the
doctor halted and faced his companions.
"I now know where we are," he said in an undertone; "we have to follow
this path a little way back, when we enter a hilly and rough country,
where the jungle is more open. It is cut up by numerous trails like
this, most of which have been made by the feet of wild animals, but one
of them leads northward and finally enters a highway, which if followed
far enough will land us in the Nepaul country."
"I assume from what you have said that it will not be safe to stick to
this road?" said Jack.
"No; for two or three days while travelling over it we shall be in
constant danger; our task will be to make our way over it without
attracting the notice of any of our enemies who are scouring the
country for us."
"Is the thing possible?"
"I should not undertake it did I not think so; the danger will threaten
for probably a hundred miles, though growing steadily less as we
"Will it not be safer to do our travelling by night?" asked the
"That is what I mean to do after reaching the more plainly marked path,
which connects with the highway. I see no risk in pushing through the
jungle by day, since the only foes we are likely to encounter are
four-footed ones. If we meet any such we must refrain from firing,
since the reports of our guns will be sure to draw attention to us. I
mean, of course," explained the doctor, "that our weapons are not to be
appealed to unless there is no escape otherwise, as was the case with
While he was speaking, Mary gave a faint gasp and caught his arm. She
and Jack were facing the point toward which his back was turned.
Seeing that it was something behind him that had startled both, the
doctor turned his head. As if to emphasize the words just spoken, he
saw an immense spotted leopard, motionless in the trail not more than
fifty feet away. Evidently he was trotting to the stream, when he
caught sight of the three persons, stopped short, raised his head and
stared wonderingly at them.
The leopard shares the reputation of the tiger for deadly ferocity and
daring. When more than 20,000 persons are killed in India every year
by wild animals and serpents, it will be found that the leopard is one
of the most active among these factors of death, and holds his own well
up with the tiger.
Like the venomous serpent, the leopard had a terrible beauty all his
own. As he stood with head raised, eyes glaring, mouth slightly parted
and his long tail lashing his sides with a force that made the thumping
against his glossy ribs plainly audible, his pose was perfect. What a
picture he made!
The question that was to be quickly answered was whether the fearful
brute would allow himself to be turned aside from the path and withdraw
again into the jungle with his thirst unslaked. If he did he would not
be molested; if he presumed to advance upon the party, whom he
evidently held in slight fear, let him be prepared for the consequences!
Jack Everson fumbled his rifle and looked with sparkling eyes at the
"What a chance for another bull's-eye!" he said, in a low voice. "I
would take him right between and above his forelegs, where I should be
sure of reaching his heart."
"Don't fire unless he advances to attack us," warned the elder.
It would be hard to say what induced the leopard to retreat, for, as
has been said, he is one of the most dangerous denizens of the jungle;
but, while our friends were expecting a charge from him, he wheeled
about and trotted off.
"It looks as if he had learned something of your skill," remarked the
doctor with a smile.
Again, while the words were in the mouth of the speaker, he was
interrupted, this time in a more terrifying manner than before.
From the direction of the stream which they had left but a short time
previous, and undoubtedly from the boat itself, came the reports of
firearms. There were no shouts or outcries, but the firing was rapid
and apparently made by gun and pistol.
"They have been attacked!" exclaimed Mary; "we must go to their help!"
She impulsively started along the path, but her father seized her arm
and said sternly:
"Remain here! It is no place for you; Jack and I will do what we can."
Perhaps in the excitement of the moment the parent did not fully
comprehend the danger of leaving his daughter alone in the jungle, even
at so slight a distance and for so brief a time as he anticipated, with
nothing but a revolver as a means of defence; but he and Jack Everson
were eager to rush to the aid of their friends, and they hurried over
the trail without even looking back at her.
The young man was slightly behind his companion and both broke into a
loping trot. Each held his rifle in hand, on the alert to use it the
instant the opportunity presented itself.
It will be borne in mind that the distance from the slight natural
opening to the boat was short, and a few minutes sufficed for the two
men to cover it; but a strange thing happened. The reports of firearms
which had broken out with such suddenness ceased with the same
abruptness, and the silence because of the contrast was tenfold more
oppressive than before.
"What can that mean?" asked Jack, as his companion slackened his pace.
"It means that they are through!" replied the doctor, whose face was
of deathly paleness. "My God! what have we escaped!"
"We shall soon know," replied Jack, catching the awful significance of
the words; and then he added to himself:
"We may have escaped it, but for how long?"
A few rods further and they were at the side of the stream, and the
boat loomed to view through the thick undergrowth and vegetation.
Neither Jack Everson nor Dr. Marlowe forgot his own personal danger in
hurrying to the help of their imperilled friends. If the two were too
late to be of any assistance they were imminently likely to precipitate
themselves into the same whirlpool of woe and death. They had slowed
their gait to a walk as they neared the spot, and when they caught the
dim outlines of the boat the two stood still.
So far as they could see there was no change in its surroundings. It
was still moored against the bank, so close that any one could step
aboard, but no sign of living person was visible on or about it. There
was something so uncanny in it all that but for their mutual knowledge
they would have doubted the evidence of their senses.
"I don't understand it," whispered Jack. "Suppose you stay here while
I steal nigh enough to learn something that will help clear up the
"You are running frightful risk," said the doctor; "I cannot advise you
to try it."
"All the same, I shall do it."
Thus, it will be observed that the three persons composing the little
party became separated from one another for greater or less distances.
The daughter was waiting, two or three hundred yards away, for the
return of her father and lover, while they had just parted company,
though they expected to remain in sight of each other.
Dr. Marlowe stood in the path, partly sheltering himself behind a
couple of tree trunks, but with his eyes fixed upon his young friend,
who walked cautiously but unhesitatingly forward. Jack held his rifle
in a trailing position at his side, his shoulders bent slightly
forward, while he stepped lightly, his senses alert, like those of a
scout entering the camp of an enemy. That he was running into great
danger was self-evident, but he was determined not to turn back until
he learned something of the strange occurrences.
Watching his young friend, the doctor saw him stop when at the side of
the motionless boat. His profile showed first on one side and then, on
the other, while he listened for the slightest sound that could give an
atom of knowledge. Apparently the effort was useless, for the next
moment he placed his left hand on the gunwale and vaulted lightly upon
deck. He stood a few moments as if transfixed, then turning abruptly
about leaped to the ground, and, breaking into a run, hurried back to
his friend, who noticed that his face was more ghastly than before,
while his eyes stared as if they still looked upon unutterable things.
"What is it?" asked the elder in a ghostly whisper.
"My God! don't ask me to tell!"
"You forget that we are both physicians."
"But not that we are human beings; thank Heaven forever that you did
not look upon the sight my eyes saw a moment ago. Let it suffice,
doctor, to say that of the three men and women to whom we bade good-bye
within the past twenty minutes not one is alive! The fiends have been
Not the least singular fact connected with this hideous incident was
that the devils who committed the unspeakable crime had vanished, so
far as could be seen, as utterly as if the ground had opened beneath
their feet and swallowed them. Two men had come back upon the scene
within a few minutes after all this was done, and yet the doers were
nowhere in sight. What was the meaning of their hasty departure?
It was unreasonable to think they had gone far. They must be in the
vicinity. They must have noticed the absence of the doctor and his
companions; doubtless they were looking for them along shore; possibly
they had started over some of the trails and ere long would strike the
one along which the three had fled.
"A wonderful Providence has preserved us thus far," said Jack Everson;
"but it is too much to expect we shall emerge unscathed from this hell
"I hope nothing will happen to Mary before we rejoin her."
"We shall be with her in a minute."
Nevertheless, a vague fear disturbed both. The parent was again
leading, and he unconsciously hastened his footsteps. Only a slight
distance beyond they came to the small opening where they had left her
standing but a brief while before. Since the men had passed over the
intervening distance to the river it was unlikely that anything had
occurred to alarm the young woman, but there was no saying what might
happen in those times and in that part of the world.
The real shock came to the parent when he turned in the trail and saw
the open space but failed to observe his daughter. He hurried on
without speaking, but Jack, directly behind him, had made the
discovery, for a moment he was so breathless and dizzy that he barely
saved himself from falling. His heart became lead, and the awful
conviction got hold of him that the most woeful affliction of all had
come upon them, and that his betrothed was lost irrecoverably.
But the sight of the anguish of the parent when he turned about and
faintly gasped, "Where is my child?" brought the self-command of the
young man back.
It was the despairing question wrung from the heart of the parent, with
a grief that was no keener than that of Jack Everson himself. Here was
another instance of the appalling suddenness with which tragedies began
and were completed in this infernal country. A band of half a dozen
was cut off within the space of a few minutes, and now, in still less
time, a young woman vanished as if she had never been.
Jack did not dare trust his voice in the effort to speak, but when his
eyes met those of the parent he shook his head, saying by the gesture:
"God have mercy, I cannot answer."
But strong men do not remain dazed and helpless in the presence of a
shuddering calamity. If any one thing could be set down as certain it
was that Miss Marlowe had left the place by fleeing deeper into the
jungle. She could not have approached them without being observed:
therefore they must seek her by taking the same direction.
The energy of the man more than threescore under the spur of his
anguish was like that of the athlete of one-third of his years. He
still led the way, and, after the brief halt under the fearful blow, he
rallied and compelled Jack Everson to keep upon a trot to save himself
from falling behind.
A hundred paces from the opening they reached a point where the trails
forked. They stopped, the parent being the first to do so.
"Jack," said he, using the less formal name, for under the awful shadow
they had drawn nearer to each other, "we can't afford to make any
"There shall be none if you tell me how to prevent it."
"She must have followed one of these paths, but who shall say which?"
He stooped over and peered at the ground. Within the dim hush of the
jungle he was unable to discern the slightest disturbance of the earth.
"No use of that," said the doctor, reading his intention; "therefore we
will separate; one of us will overtake them."
"Have you any idea of the identity of these devils?"
"I think they are Ghoojurs, but it makes no difference; Mussulmans and
Hindoos are the same; each of us has a rifle and revolver; if you get
sight of them don't wait to notify me; shoot to kill; you know how to
"I shall shrink from nothing, but the case may be hopeless."
"If it is will you promise me one thing?" asked, the parent of the
young man looking him in the eye.
"I do; what is the pledge?"
"That you point your gun at her?"
A SHADOWY PURSUIT.
It was a fearful pledge to exact, but Jack Everson gave it without
"You understand me; enough; let us lose no more time; I will turn to
the right; good-bye; we are all in the hands of God."
There was not a tear in the eye of the parent. His heart might be torn
by grief, but he was now the Roman from whose lips no murmuring was
It seemed to Jack Everson that the strangeness of the incidents of the
past hour had lifted him into a state of exaltation. He never felt
calmer nor more self-possessed than when hurrying over the path, rifle
in hand, revolver at his hip with the belief that there was not one
chance in a thousand that he would ever again look upon the one who had
won his heart when the two were on the other side of the world and for
whose sake he was ready to go to the uttermost lengths of the earth.
His feeling was: "They have stolen her from us, but by the Eternal she
shall cost them dear!"
There was no thought of what all this implied to himself. He did not
care what the consequences were, so far as he was concerned. It came
to be a legend among the men desperately defending their families and
themselves during the horrors of the Sepoy mutiny, that in fighting the
unspeakable fiends, the European should save a bullet apiece for his
dear ones and one for himself.
Such was the resolve of the young American who was now making all haste
to find his beloved and her captors, and settling down into that
resolution he acted with the coolness of a veteran.
The first truth that impressed itself upon him was that the path which
he was following steadily ascended, being quite steep in many places.
This showed as a matter of course that he was attaining higher ground.
He was not familiar enough with the country to know that he was
approaching a steep ridge of hills, for the doctor had told him nothing
of the fact, and the elevated section had been passed in the boat at
night. He observed, too, that his course trended to the right, proving
that he was penetrating deeper into the country.
"If the line that the doctor is following holds straight on we must
approach each other, but his may turn more than mine—confound it!"
He had reached a point where the paths forked again. Supposing he had
been fortunate enough to take the right course at the beginning, how
could he maintain it?
Swallowing his exasperation, he reflected coolly. The trail to the
left was less travelled than the one which kept directly forward. He
believed the Ghoojurs had kept to it possibly because there was less
danger of pursuit. One fact was self-evident: nothing was to be gained
by standing still, while there was a chance of accomplishing something
by going on. With scarcely a minute's hesitation he advanced at a
rapid stride over the more faintly marked course, peering in advance
for a glimpse of his enemies.
Since the latter had not gained much start it would seem that he ought
to be close upon them, always provided he was traveling in their actual
footsteps. The ground continued rough and broken, but it had no effect
on his progress. Something like a shadow whisked across the path in
front at the moment of his passing round a turn. Some animal had
caught sight of him, and, scared by the vision, had leaped into the
jungle at the side. Whether it was a tiger, leopard, cheetah, wild
boar or another brute he did not know or care. If it dared to dispute
his way he would shoot.
He was pressing forward in this reckless, desperate fashion, when he
dropped as if he had collided with a stone wall, and his heart almost
ceased its beating. He had caught the faint report of a firearm. It
came from a point on his right and sounded as if caused by a revolver,
rather than a larger weapon. The thought that came to him was that it
was the pistol of Mary Marlowe!
"She is at bay; she may have fired it at herself, and yet I do not
think she would do that until some of the bullets had reached the
wretches who have captured her. I am following the wrong path, for
this one leads me away from her."
Without an instant's hesitation he turned and began his return on a
loping trot. He was incensed with himself because of his mistake, and
yet there was no reasonable cause for such feeling, but grief is as
thoughtless as love, and he was stirred to the very depth of his soul
by both. Reaching the last forking, he did not pause, but set out over
the main trail.
In front of him towered a mass of rocks higher than any he had yet
seen. The path wound about these, but instead of following it, he
climbed to the highest part.
"I may gain sight of something from up there," was his thought as he
pushed on, "that will be of some help."
And he did see something from the crest which fairly took away his
Mary Marlowe was an obedient daughter, and when her father checked her
move to go to the aid of the imperilled ones on the boat, and
peremptorily ordered her to wait where she was, she obeyed without
protest. She would have been glad to bear them company, but knew she
would be more of a hindrance than a help.
It was less than five minutes after the disappearance of her father and
betrothed when she was frightened by hearing a slight sound directly
behind her in the path. Her thought naturally was that some wild
animal was stealing upon her, but the first glance told a more dreadful
story. Five men, who, from their ragged, scant attire, their dark
complexion and wild expression of features, she knew to belong to the
terrible bandits called Ghoojurs, had come upon her unnoticed, and
pausing within a half dozen paces, were looking fixedly at her.
The sight was so startling that the young woman gasped and recoiled.
She would have fled after her friends had not the leader made a
gesture, accompanied by the command:
"Stay where you are or you shall be killed! I know you as the daughter
of the doctor, and we seek you and him."
Each of the Ghoojurs carried a long, muzzle-loading gun, and every one
had a yataghan thrust into a girdle around his waist, the weapon being
a foot or more in length, and with a point of needle-like fineness.
The leader spoke in Hindustani, which was as familiar to the young
woman as her own tongue.
The young woman possessed quick wit. She could not doubt that the
five, including Almos and Mustad, were now her deadly enemies. Whether
they had taken part in the massacre of those left on the boat could not
be conjectured, but the probabilities were the other way, since it
would have been well-nigh impossible for them to reach their present
position from the river without colliding with Dr. Marlowe and Jack
Mary showed her shrewdness by acting as if the two men were the friends
they had always shown themselves when their former meetings took place.
"Why, Almos," she said, forcing a smile in which there was no pleasure,
"we have not met before since you came to my home and my father gave
you medicine that cured your illness. How do you do?"
And she had the courage to advance a step and offer her dainty hand,
but the brute refused it. With a shake of his head he retreated a step
"My caste will not allow me."
"But it allowed you to take drink and food from my hand and medicine
from that of my father," she said, stung by the repulse.
"I did evil, for which Allah has pardoned me; the faithful have been
summoned to drive the infidels from India; the followers of Islam have
heard the call, and they are flocking to the banner of the Prophet from
all parts of Hindostan; not one infidel shall be left in all the land."
During these few moments Mustad stood directly behind the leader, with
a fixed grin in which there was a certain shamefacedness, for with all
his fierce fanaticism he could not forget the gentle, sweet nature of
the one who had become a prisoner nor the unvarying kindness he had
received at her hands. True, the devil in his nature was roused, and
there could be little question that he was acting as guide to these
murderers while they hunted for the doctor and his family.
"And do you mean to help kill those who have been your friends,
Mustad?" she asked, with her penetrating eyes fixed upon him.
Had the two been alone, it is possible the edge would have been taken
off the response, but with four Ghoojurs at his elbow, and one of them
the furious Almos, he dared not be behind them in savagery.
"This is a war for our deen; when we fight for that we know none but
the followers of the Prophet! The Inglese loge stole our homes and our
land from us! They have put lard on the cartridges of the Sepoys that
the faithful may become unclean and be shut out of paradise! I hate
them all! I have no friends among them! I shall never sheath my knife
nor stay my hand while one remains alive in India."
"Let it be as you say," she calmly replied, seeing that it was useless
to hold converse with the wretch.
Her wish was to keep the party where they were until Jack and her
father could have time to return. Here would be an opportunity for the
young man to make a few more bull's-eyes, but Almos was too wise to run
the risk. He was not afraid to fight two men, even though not so well
armed as they, but his wish was first to place the young woman beyond
their reach—for when the fight came it would be to the death.
"No harm shall come to you," said the leader in a gentler tone. "Walk
forward over the path and we will guard you against harm."
"Whither do you intend to take me?" she asked, debating whether to obey
or to make a fight then and there and force matters to an issue.
"To place you among friends that your enemies may not reach you."
"Why not take me to my home?"
"It has been burned and the men are hiding among the trees that they
may slay you when you and your father return."
After a moment's hesitation she obeyed, taking the path along which her
parent soon after pressed in the desperate effort to recover her from
DOCTOR AND PATIENT.
The bright wits of Miss Marlowe were active. Mustad took the lead
along the path, she following next, while Almos, the leader of the
Ghoojurs, and his three companions, brought up the rear. Like most of
the trails through the Asiatic jungles, this was inclosed on each side
by a growth of trees, undergrowth and matted vegetation of such density
that it was next to impossible for any one to pick his way forward or
backward except by keeping within the path itself. To step aside into
the jungle would immediately involve one in so inextricable a tangle
that he could move only with the greatest difficulty.
An attempt to escape, therefore, by darting to one side was not to be
thought of, and she knew that her only hope lay with her absent
friends. She was confident that they would speedily return, and,
finding her gone, start in immediate pursuit. A collision between them
and the Ghoojurs was imminent.
The latter acted as if their only interest lay in their prisoner. So
far as she could judge no attention was paid to the rear, whence the
danger of attack threatened. The place of Mustad, at the head,
confirmed her suspicion that he had been playing the part of guide for
the rest from the first.
She did not doubt that her home and its contents had been burned by the
wretches, but under the circumstances the matter gave her little
concern. She was inclined to believe that her captors meant to conduct
her into the town of Akwar, nearby, and with her knowledge of the
fanatical hatred of the population against all Christians she still
hoped to find some friends there who would protect her from harm. And
thus it was that she was not in the state of collapse or despair that
might be supposed.
Suddenly a pistol was fired from some point at the rear beyond her
captors, and out of sight. All the men instantly stopped, grasped
their arms and looked back, the young woman doing the same. Her
thought was: "That was father or Jack, but he did not hit any one;
therefore, it wasn't Jack."
While the six were looking expectantly to the rear Dr. Marlowe, his
face flushed, and his whole appearance, showing his intense excitement,
came into sight. He was panting from his severe exertion, and raised
his hand as a signal for the Ghoojurs to wait for him. It is probable
that he would have received a shot, but for an interruption that was as
unexpected as it was remarkable. Almos, the leader of the Ghoojurs,
emitted a yell that could have been heard a half-mile away, and leaped
several feet in the air, while his companions with exclamations of
terror hastily recoiled from him.
"Great Allah! He has been bitten!" exclaimed the horrified Mustad,
almost knocking the young woman off her feet in his rush towards his
master; but one of the others had perceived the monstrous cobra, and,
clubbing his gun, he beat the life out of it with one blow, before it
could glide away into the jungle. It looked as if this part of the
country was specially pestered by the dreadful reptiles.
Almos knew he was doomed. All hope had vanished, and, dropping to the
ground, he bared his bronzed ankle, looked at the tiny points where the
horrible poison had been injected into his system, and then, like the
fatalist be was, he calmly folded his arms and waited for the last
moment that was rushing upon him. He was a faithful follower of the
Prophet and knew how to meet the inevitable that awaits us all. His
companions, awed and silent, stood around, unable to say or do anything
that could give him comfort. Miss Marlowe, after walking part way to
the group, paused and looked at them and at her father, who was
hurrying to the spot. She wondered that Almos had permitted the
killing of the cobra, since the snake is looked upon as sacred in
India, and few natives can be induced to injure one. The Ghoojurs
probably slew it in the flurry of the moment.
Dr. Marlowe had heard the cry and noted the excitement, but did not
suspect the cause until he drew near the spot. Then Mustad, familiar
with the skill of the medical man, beckoned to him and said:
"Make haste, great sahib, Almos has been bitten by a snake; no one can
save him but you."
The stricken chief, from his seat on the ground, looked up in the face
of the white man, of whose wonderful skill he had received proof in his
own self. The countenance of the Ghoojur was of ashen hue, and the
yearning expression of his eyes told of the hope that had been kindled
within his breast.
Now that the physician had dropped into what may be called his
professional character, he was himself again. He set down the caba
containing his instruments, and medicaments, adjusted his glasses, and
stooping over, intently studied the wound made by the cobra. Then he
drew out his watch, as if he were timing the pulse beats of a patient.
"It is one minute and a half since you were bitten," he said, still
holding the timepiece in his hand, but looking into the face of Almos;
"in three more minutes and a half no power but Allah can save you."
Catching the full meaning of these words, the Ghoojur leader quivered
with suddenly renewed hope.
"Can you save me?" he asked in Hindustani.
"I have in there," replied the physician, tapping his caba with his
long forefinger, "that which will render the bite of the snake as
harmless as the peck of a bird that flies in the air, but barely three
minutes remain in which to apply it."
"Then I beseech you, do not wait," said the eager Almos, shoving his
foot towards the doctor; "great is the English doctor; be quick; why do
"Before I heal you," replied Dr. Marlowe, with maddening deliberation,
"I must be paid my fee; I have attended you before and refused to
accept what you offered, but now I demand payment before applying the
"You shall have it; name it, I beg you; all that I have shall be yours
if you will save me, but haste, O great physician, haste!"
"It is strong, and will do its work well, if it be given the chance."
He next drew out a lancet, with its edge like a razor's. Almos
breathlessly watched him, but when he expected the doctor to begin
work, he leaned back and said:
"Why should I bring you back from death, when you are seeking the lives
of my daughter and myself? The best thing I can do is to let you die,
as you will do in two minutes and a half more," he added, looking again
at his watch; "the venom of the cobra works fast and it will soon
strike your heart."
"You promised to save me if I would pay you in advance.
"So I will."
"Name your fee; be quick with it!"
"It is that you and the rest of the Ghoojurs shall leave me and mine
alone; that you shall depart at once; that you shall not attempt to
follow, nor harm us in any way. Without that pledge on your part, I
shall let you die like the dog that you are. What is your answer?"
"I promise; I promise!" exclaimed Almos, almost beside himself with
excitement and renewed hope. "I will guide you through the jungle to a
safe point, and will watch over you till all danger is gone."
"You have given me your promise, but you may break it; swear by the
mantle of the Prophet, or I shall let you die."
"I swear by the mantle of the Prophet!" the Ghoojur chieftain fairly
shrieked, "that I will do as I have promised! Quick, quick, or it will
be too late!"
"You have made the most sacred vow that a Mussulman can make; I will
test it by saving your life."
One quick movement with the lancet made an incision across the red
specks left by the fangs of the cobra, and into the opening he poured a
teaspoonful of the yellowish fluid, which was so much like liquid fire
and pepper that even the dusky scoundrel gasped with agony. Then he
was made to open his mouth and swallow something from a large bottle,
which, as regards strength and flavor, was a twin of that which was
consuming his flesh.
All at once the countenance of the physician expanded with a beaming
smile as he looked at his patient and said gently as if speaking to his
"All danger is past, Almos."
From the abundance of rags which fluttered about his person, the doctor
tore a piece and bandaged the wound. Then he said in a business-like
"I am through; now you and the rest of you may go."
"You have saved my life: is there nothing I can do for you?"
"I have just told you what to do—leave?"
Probably there would have been less promptness in complying with the
command had there been less in uttering it. As it was, Almos, without
a word, motioned to the rest of his band, and led the way down the path
in the direction of the stream, the four tramping after him like so
many ragged phantoms.
Dr. Marlowe was more eager to leave the place than he would permit his
child to know. He had no faith in Almos's promise, knowing that the
Ghoojur chieftain would break his oath, which he and his brother
fanatics did not consider binding when made to infidels, and the only
hope, therefore, was for the fugitives to conceal themselves from the
miscreants—a thing which the physician's intimate knowledge of the
country would enable him to do.
Footfalls sounded along the path over which the two had just come, and
a minute later Almos, Mustad and their three companions emerged into
the opening and approached the couple, one of whom suspected nothing
until her father spoke.
"Well, Almos, what do you want?" demanded Dr. Marlowe, calmly looking
up at the Ghoojur chieftain, as he paused in front of him and made a
"We have come for the infidel and his daughter; our deen commands us to
put them to death."
"What does the oath you gave me a little while ago command you to do?"
"That was made to an infidel; it is not binding upon a true son of the
"A true son of the devil!" exclaimed the physician, unable to repress
Turning to his daughter, he said:
"My child, you have a pistol; when they make a move, shoot; leave Almos
to me and save your last bullet for yourself."
"The infidels shall be destroyed everywhere," said Almos; "none of the
Inglese loge shall be left in India. The faithful have risen and they
will crush them all, for so commands the Prophet——"
Dr. Marlowe had placed his hand on the butt of his revolver at his hip,
meaning to whip out the weapon and fire before the miscreant had
finished his high-sounding tomfoolery. His daughter had also grasped
hers, intending to obey to the letter the command of her parent, when
the Ghoojur chieftain abruptly paused in his speech, staggered for a
moment, and then sank to the ground like a bundle of rags, with the
breath of life gone from his body.
The incident would have been as inexplicable to parent and child as to
the Ghoojurs, had they not caught the faint, far-away report of a
rifle, which, if heard by the bandits, was not associated by them with
the startling thing that had taken place before their eyes. But the
doctor and Mary knew the connection.
And about half-a-mile away, on the top of that huge rock, hot enough
under the flaming sun to roast eggs, Jack Everson had assumed the same
position that he held the afternoon before on the bank of the Ganges,
when he checked the advance of the Ghoojur horsemen across the river.
With the aid of the glasses, he had descried the forms of his beloved
and her father when the bright eyes failed to detect his own. Then,
when about to start to join them, he observed their visitors, and the
glass again helped to identify them, after which he "proceeded to
The instant he made his aim sure he pulled the trigger, came to a
sitting position, readjusted a cartridge, and placing the glasses to
his eyes that he might see the more plainly, watched the result of his
"By Jove; another bull's-eye!" he gleefully exclaimed, as he saw his
man stagger and fall almost at the feet of Dr. Marlowe. "I don't know
the gentleman's name, but a first-class obituary notice is in order.
That makes six, and now for the seventh. I really hope the doctor is
keeping score for me."
The professional eye of the physician saw where the pellet of lead had
passed through the chest of Almos, but it was not observed by Mustad or
the other Ghoojurs, who probably attributed it in some way to the bite
of the cobra, in spite of the miraculous cure that seemed to have been
wrought before their eyes. The three remained in the background, but
the fall of the leader appeared to add flames to the hatred of Mustad,
who, assuming the mantle of the fallen chieftain, stepped to the front.
"You shall not escape us!" he hissed; "all the Inglese loge shall die!"
"But before any more of them perish, you shall go to the infernal
regions to keep company with the imp that has just gone thither."
The doctor had learned from the exhibition of the preceding afternoon
the time required by Jack Everson to repeat his marvelous shots. He
knew, therefore, about the moment when a second was due, and he decided
to make its arrival as dramatic as possible.
"You stand almost on the same spot where stood Almos; he dropped dead
before me, and," raising his hand impressively, "I command you to do
Again the faint report swept across the extent of jungle, travelling
with almost the same speed as the bullet, which, like its predecessor,
bored through the dusky chest of the victim and lost itself in the
vegetation beyond. Mustad gasped, convulsively clasped one hand to his
breast, flung out both arms, groped blindly for an instant, and then
slumped down as dead as one of the mummies of the Pyramids.
And the young American, still reclining on that gray, blistering rock,
again rose to a sitting posture and clapped the glasses to his eyes to
observe more clearly the result of his last trial at markmanship.
"That makes seven bull's-eyes!" was his delighted exclamation, "but I
have done as well when the distance was twice as great. I must keep
the number in mind, for it will be like the doctor to insist that I
made but six out of a possible eight. I notice that three gentlemen
are left and require attention."
With the same care as before, he lay back and drew bead on the group,
but the next moment uttered an impatient exclamation and straightened
"They have fled; only Mary and her father are left, and there's no call
to send any bullets in their direction."
The fall of Mustad at the command of the wrathful physician was more
than the other Ghoojurs could stand. Suspecting no connection between
the almost inaudible reports and the terrifying incidents, they
believed their only hope was in headlong flight. Without a word they
dashed down the trail, quickly passing from sight, and were seen no
Meanwhile Jack Everson, finding no demand for long shooting, sprang
from the rock and made all haste to the spot where he had recognized
his friends, and where they awaited his coming with an anxiety that
could not have been more intense. That others of their enemies were in
the neighborhood was certain, and their vengeance could not be
restrained or turned aside as had been that of the Ghoojurs. A
collision between them and the fugitives must be fatal to the latter.
Great, therefore, was the delight of father and daughter when the brave
fellow bounded into sight, his whole concern, as it seemed, being to
learn whether the score kept by the doctor agreed with his own. When
assured that it did, he announced that he was at the disposal of the
venerable physician and his daughter.
The three pushed steadily toward Nepaul, cheered by the knowledge that
with every mile passed their danger lessened. They were in great peril
more than once. Twice they exchanged shots with marauding bands, and
once their destruction seemed inevitable; but good fortune attended
them, and at the end of a week they entered the wild, mountainous and
sparsely-settled region, where at last all danger was at an end.
So it came about that when the young people took their final departure
down the Ganges for Calcutta, thence to return to the United States,
Dr. Marlowe went with them. He and his son-in-law formed a partnership
in the practice of their profession, and it is only a few years since
that the aged physician was laid to rest. He was full of years and
honors, and willing to go, for he knew that the happiness of his
daughter could be in no safer hands than those of Jack Everson.
LOST IN THE WOODS.
THE CABIN IN THE WOOD.
Harvey Bradley had been superintendent of the Rollo Mills not quite a
year when, to his annoyance, the first strike in their history took
Young Bradley was a college graduate, a trained athlete, and a bright
and ambitious man, whose father was president of the company in New
York which owned the extensive mills. It was deemed best to have a
direct representative of the corporation on the ground, and Harvey
qualified himself for the responsible situation by a six-months'
apprenticeship, during all of which he wrought as hard as any laborer
in the establishment.
He made his home in the remote village of Bardstown, where the Rollo
Mills had been built. He lived with his Aunt Maria, (who went all the
way from New York with her favorite nephew that she might look after
him), and his sister Dollie, only six years old. The plan was that she
should stay until Christmas, when her father was to come and take her
home. Aunt Maria, with the help of honest Maggie Murray, kept house
for Harvey, who found his hands and brains fully occupied in looking
after the interests of the Rollo Mills, which gave employment to two
hundred men, women and children.
All went well with the young superintendent for some months after the
assumption of his duties. He was alert, and surprised every one by his
practical knowledge. He was stern and strict, and, after warning
several negligent employes, discharged them. This did not help his
popularity, but, so long as the directors were satisfied, Harvey cared
for the opinion of no one else.
When dull times came, Superintendent Bradley scaled down the wages of
all, including his own. The promise to restore them, as soon as
business warranted the step, averted the threatened strike. Within a
month the restoration took place, but every employe was required to
work a half hour over time without additional pay.
A strike was averted for the time, but the friendly feeling and mutual
confidence that ought to exist between the employer and the employed
was destroyed. The latter kept at work, and the former felt that he
had not sacrificed his dignity nor his discipline.
But the discontent increased. One day Hugh O'Hara, the chief foreman,
and Thomas Hansell, one of the most influential of the workmen, called
upon Mr. Bradley, and speaking for the employes, protested against the
new arrangement. They said every man, woman and child was willing to
work the extra half hour, but inasmuch as the need for such extra time
indicated an improvement in business, they asked for the additional pay
to which they were clearly entitled.
Harvey was looking for such protest and he was prepared. He said it
was an error to think there was an improvement in business. While in
one sense it might be true, yet the price of the manufactured goods had
fallen so low that the mills really made less money than before. The
wages that had been paid were better than were warranted by the state
of trade. Now, when the employes were asked to help in a slight degree
their employers who had done so much for them, they would not do so.
O'Hara and Hansell, showing a wish to discuss the matter, the
superintendent cut them short by saying that it was idle to talk
further. He would not make any reduction in their time, nor would he
pay any extra compensation.
That night 200 employes of the Rollo Mills quit work, with the
intention of staying out until justice was done them. Harvey asserted
that he would never yield; he would spend a few days in overhauling the
machinery and in making a few needed repairs; then, if the employes
chose, they could come back. All who did not do so would not be taken
back afterwards. New hands would be engaged and in a short time the
mills would be running the same as before.
O'Hara and Hansell warned the superintendent that serious trouble would
follow any such course. While making no threat themselves, they told
him that blood was likely to be shed. Harvey pooh-poohed and reminded
them that a few men and children would make sorry show in fighting the
whole state, for, in the event of interference by the strikers, he
meant to appeal to the authorities.
The repairs needed at the mills were soon made. Steam was gotten up
and the whistle called the hands to work. Only O'Hara and Hansell came
forward. They explained that all would be glad to take their places if
the superintendent would allow them a slight increase of pay for
overwork. They had held a meeting and talked over the matter, and now
abated a part of their first demand; they were willing to accept
one-half rate for overtime.
The superintendent would not yield a jot. The most that he would
consent to do was to wait until noon for them to go to work. The two
men went away muttering threats; not one of the hands answered the
second call to work.
Quite sure that such would be the result, Harvey had telegraphed to
Carville, fifty miles away, for sixty men, to take the place of those
who had quit work. He asked only for men, since it would have been
unwise to bring women and children to become involved in difficulties.
By some means this step became known, and, as is always the case, it
added fuel to the flames. Warning notices were sent to the
superintendent that if the new hands went to work they would be
attacked; Bradley himself was told to keep out of sight unless ready to
come to the terms of the strikers. Even in his own home, he could not
be guaranteed safety. His house as well as the mills would be burnt.
Harvey felt no special alarm because of these threats; he did not
believe that those who made them dare carry them out. But that night
the mills escaped destruction only by the vigilance of the extra
watchmen. The same evening Aunt Maria was stopped on the village
street and told that it was best she should lose no time in moving away
with her little niece Dollie, since it was more than likely the
innocent would suffer with the guilty. For the first time, Harvey
understood the earnestness of the men; but he clung to his resolution
all the same.
You can see how easily the trouble could have been ended. The employes
had abated their first demand and were willing to compromise. Had
Harvey spoken his honest thoughts, he would have said the men were
right, or at any rate he ought to have agreed to their proposal to
submit the dispute to arbitration; but he was too proud to yield.
"They will take it for weakness on my part," was his thought; "it will
make an end of all system and open the way for demands that in the end
will destroy the business."
The sixty new hands reached Bardstown and were about as numerous as the
men who wrought in the mills before the strike. They looked like a
determined band, who would be able to take care of themselves in the
troubles that impended.
The arrivals were received with scowls by the old employes, who hooted
and jeered them as they marched grimly to the mills. No blows were
struck, though more than once an outbreak was imminent. It was too
late in the day to begin work, but the new hands were shown through the
establishment, with a view of familiarizing them to some extent with
their new duties. Most of them had had some experience in the same
kind of work, but there was enough ignorance to insure much vexation
The night that followed was so quiet that Harvey believed the strikers
had been awed by his threat to appeal to the law and by the determined
front of the new men.
"It's a dear lesson," he said to himself, "but they need it, and it is
high time it was taught to them."
The next morning the whistle sent out its ear-splitting screech, whose
echoes swung back and forth, like so many pendulums between the hills,
but to the amazement of Harvey Bradley, not a person was seen coming
toward the mills. The whistle called them again, and Hugh O'Hara and
Tom Hansell strolled leisurely up the street to the office, where Mr.
Bradley wonderingly awaited them.
"You'll have to blow that whistle a little louder," said O'Hara, with a
"What do you mean, sir?"
"Those chaps all left town last night; they must be about forty miles
away; you see we explained matters to them; I don't think, if I was
you, I would feel bad about it; they believe they can get along better
at Carville than at Bardstown."
For the first time since the trouble began, Harvey Bradley lost his
temper. To be defied and taunted in this manner was more than he could
bear. He vowed over again that not one of the strikers should do
another day's work for him, even if he begged for it on his knees and
he was starving. He at once telegraphed to Vining, fully one hundred
miles away, where he knew there were many people idle, for one hundred
men who would not only come, but stay. He preferred those who knew
something about the business, but the first need was that the men would
remain at their posts, and if necessary fight for their positions. He
guaranteed larger wages than he had ever paid experienced hands, but he
wanted no man who would not help hold the fort against all comers. The
superintendent was on his mettle; he meant to win.
Having sent off this message, for which it cannot be denied, Harvey had
every legal and moral warrant, he set out on a long tramp through the
woods at the rear of Bardstown. It was a crisp autumn day, and the
long brisk walk did him much good. The glow came to his cheeks, his
blood was warmed, and his brain cleared by the invigorating exercise.
So much indeed did he enjoy it that he kept it up until, to his
surprise, he saw that it was growing dark, and he was several miles
It was snowing, though not heavily. He walked fast, but, when night
had fully come, paused with the uncomfortable discovery that he was
hopelessly lost in the woods.
"Well, this is pleasant!" he exclaimed, looking around in vain for some
landmark in the gloom. "I believe I shall have to spend the night out
doors, though I seem to be following some sort of path."
He struck a match, shading it with his hand from the chilly wind, and
stooped down. Yes; there was an unmistakable trail, and with renewed
hope he hurried on, taking care not to stray to either side. Within
the next ten minutes, to his delight, he caught the twinkle of a
star-like point of light among the trees, a short distance ahead.
While making his way hopefully forward, Harvey became aware of a
singular fact. The air around him was tainted with a peculiar odor,
such as he had never met before. It was of a rank nature, and, while
not agreeable, could not be said to be really unpleasant. It might
have interested him more, but for his anxiety to reach the shelter
which was now so near at hand.
Arriving at the cabin, he found the latch-string hanging out. A sharp
pull, the door was swung inward and Harvey stepped into a small room,
lit up by a crackling wood-fire on the hearth.
As he entered, two men who were smoking their pipes, looked up. The
visitor could not hide his expression of surprise, for they were Hugh
O'Hara and Thomas Hansell, the last persons in the world he wished to
A POINTED DISCUSSION.
Hugh O'Hara was in middle life. He was of Scotch descent, and, in his
younger days, had received a fair education. Even now he spent much
time over his books. He talked well, and was not without a certain
grace of manner founded, no doubt, on his knowledge of human nature,
which gave him great influence with others. It was this, as much as
his skill, that made him the leading foreman at a time when a score of
others had the right by seniority of service to the place.
But Hugh had dipped into the springs of learning just enough to have
his ideas of right and wrong turned awry and to form a distaste for his
lot that made his leadership dangerous. Besides, he had met with
sorrows that deepened the shadows that lay across his pathway. In that
little cabin he had seen a young wife close her eyes in death, and his
only child, a sweet girl of five years, not long afterward was laid
beside her mother. Many said that Hugh buried his heart with Jennie
and had not been the same man since. He was reserved, except to one or
two intimate friends. Shaggy, beetle-browed and unshaven, his looks
were anything but pleasing to those who did not fully know him.
Tom Hansell was much the same kind of man, except that he lacked the
book education of his companion and leader. He had strong impulses,
and was ready to go to an extreme length in whatever direction he
started, but he always needed a guiding spirit, and that he found in
The latter, after burying his child, moved into the village, saying
that he never wanted to look again upon the cabin that had brought so
much sorrow to him. Most people believed he could not be led to go
near it, and yet on this blustery night he and Tom Hansell were seated
in the structure without any companions except the well known hound
Nero, and were smoking their pipes and plotting mischief.
Hugh and Tom were in their working clothes—coarse trousers, shirts,
and heavy shoes, without vest or coat. Their flabby caps lay on the
floor behind them, and their tousled hair hung over their foreheads
almost to their eyes. Tom had no side whiskers, but a heavy mustache
and chin whiskers, while the face of Hugh was covered with a spiky
black beard that stood out from his face as if each hair was charged
Nero, the hound, raised his nose from between his paws and looked up at
the visitor. Then, as if satisfied, he lowered his head and resumed
Bradley, as I have said, was angry with himself for walking into such a
trap. It was not fear, but a deep dislike of the man who was the head
and front of the trouble at the mills. He was the spokesman and leader
of the strikers, and he was the real cause of the stoppage of the
works. Harvey looked upon him as insolent and brutal, and he was sure
that no circumstances could arise that would permit him to do a stroke
of work in the Rollo Mills again.
"Good evening," said Harvey stiffly, "I did not expect to find you
Hansell nodded in reply to the salutation, but Hugh simply motioned
with the hand that held the pipe toward a low stool standing near the
middle of the apartment.
"Help yourself to a seat, Mr. Bradley; the presence of Tom and myself
here is no odder than is your own."
"I suppose not," replied Harvey with a half-laugh, as he seated
himself; "I started out for a walk to-day and went too far—that is, so
far that I lost my way. I had about made up my mind that I would have
to sleep in the woods, when I caught the light from your window and
made for it."
The glance that passed between Hugh and Tom—sly as it was—did not
elude the eye of Harvey Bradley. He saw that his explanation was not
believed, but he did not care; there was no love between him and them,
and, had it not looked as if he held them in fear, he would have turned
and walked away after stepping across the threshold. As it was, he
meant to withdraw as soon as he could do it without seeming to be
"Is this the first time you have taken a walk up this way?" asked Hugh.
"The fact that I lost my way ought to answer that question; how far is
it, please, to Bardstown?"
"An even mile by the path you came."
"But I didn't come by any path, except for a short distance in front of
"Then how did you get here?"
"Is there no way of traveling through the woods except by the road that
leads to your door?"
The conversation was between Harvey and Hugh alone. Tom was abashed in
the presence of two such persons, and nothing could have led him to
open his mouth unless appealed to by one or the other. Neither made
any allusion to the strike. After the superintendent's rebuff, Hugh
scorned to do so, while Harvey would have stultified himself had he
invited any discussion. The repugnance between the two men was too
strong for them calmly to debate any question. Besides Hugh and Tom
were suspicious; they did not believe that the presence of the
superintendent was accidental; there was a sinister meaning in it which
boded ill for Hugh and his friends, and the former, therefore, was in a
With the conditions named, a wrangle may be set down as one of the
certainties. But Harvey Bradley had defied the fury of half a hundred
men, and he meant to teach this marplot his proper place. There was a
threatening gleam in his eye, but he puffed a few seconds at his pipe,
and then, glaring through the rank smoke that curled upward from his
"There are a good many ways by which Hugh O'Hara's cabin can be found,
but those who come on honest errands stick to the path."
"Which explains why the path is so little worn," was the reply of
"Aye, and your feet have done mighty little to help the wearing of the
"If those who live in the cabin were honest themselves, they would not
tremble every time the latch-string is pulled, nor would they be scared
if they saw a visitor stop to snuff the air in this neighborhood."
This was an ill-timed remark, and Harvey regretted the words the moment
they passed his lips. He saw Hugh and Tom glance at each other; but
the words, having been spoken, could not be recalled, nor did the
superintendent make any attempt to modify them. Before the others
could answer, he added:
"I have heard it said that Hugh O'Hara held this place in such strong
disfavor that nothing could lead him to spend a night here, yet he
smokes his pipe and plots mischief as if the cabin is the one place in
the world with which he is content."
These words were not soothing in their effect, nor did the speaker mean
that they should be. Hugh was insolent, and the superintendent
The only proof of the rising anger in the breast of O'Hara was the
vigorous puffing of his pipe. Tom, as I have said, was too awed to say
anything at all.
"I am of age and free born," growled Hugh, looking into the glowing
embers and speaking as if to himself; "where I go and what I do
concerns no one but myself."
"Not so long as you go to the proper place and do only what is right,"
said Harvey, who, sitting back a few feet from the fire, looked calmly
at the fellow whose rough profile was outlined against the fiery
background behind him.
"Men interpret right according to their own ideas, and they seldom
agree, but most people will pronounce that person the worst sort of
knave who robs poor men of what they earn and looks upon them as he
looks upon the beasts of the field—worth only the amount of money they
bring to him."
The conversation was taking a dangerous shape. Harvey saw that it
would not do for him to stay. Both these men were fierce enough to fly
at his throat. That little cabin in the woods was liable to become the
scene of a tragedy unless he bridled his tongue or went away.
Disdaining to say so much as "good-night," he rose to his feet, opened
the door, shut it behind him, and walked out in the blustery darkness.
"I would rather spend the night fighting tigers than to keep the
company of such miscreants. But the new hands will be here in a few
days, and the fellows will be taught a lesson which they will remember
all their lives. I suppose I ought to pity their dupes, but they
should have enough sense to see that these men are their worst enemies.
It will be a bright day for the Rollo Mills and for Bardstown when they
are well rid of them."
The superintendent did not pause to think where he was going when he
stepped into the open air. The cold wind struck his face and a few
fine particles touched his cheek. The sky had partly cleared, so that
he could see the fine coating of snow around him, but after all, very
little had fallen.
"If I can keep the path," he thought, "I will reach the village, but
that is no easy matter—ah! there it is again."
The peculiar odor that had mystified him before was in the air. He
recalled that Hugh and Tom had made an allusion to it that he did not
"It may come from their chimney and be caused by something burning; but
I looked closely at the wood on the hearth and saw nothing else."
A natural impulse led him, after walking a few rods, to look behind
him. He had heard nothing, but knowing the surly mood of the couple,
he thought it probable they might follow him.
The door of the cabin, was drawn wide open and the form of a man stood
out to view, as if stamped with ink on the flaming background made by
the fire beyond. His lengthened shadow was thrown down the path almost
to the feet of Harvey. The fellow no doubt was peering into the gloom
"I wonder whether they mean to dog me," said Harvey; "it will be an
easy matter to do so, for they know every part of the wood, while I am
a stranger. They are none too good to put me out of the way; it is
such men who have no fear of the law, but they shall not take me
While still looking toward the cabin, all became dark again. The door
was closed, but he could not be sure whether the man stood outside or
"If he means to do me harm he will soon be at my heels."
But the straining eyes could not catch the outlines of any one, and the
only sound was the moaning wind among the bare branches.
"He has gone back into the house, but may come out again."
And so, while picking his way through the dim forests, you may be sure
that Harvey Bradley looked behind him many times. It makes one shiver
with dread to suspect that a foe is softly following him. Harvey had
buttoned his pea jacket to his chin and he now turned up the collar, so
that it touched his ears. His hands were shoved deep into the side
pockets and the right one rested upon his revolver that he had
withdrawn from its usual place at his hip. He was on the alert for
whatever might come.
He was pleased with one fact: the path to which so many references were
made, was so clearly marked that he found it easy to avoid going wrong.
"If I had had sense enough to take the right course when I first struck
it, I would have been home by this time."
After turning around several times without seeing or hearing anything
suspicious, he came to believe that however glad O'Hara and Hansell
might be to do him harm, they lacked the courage, unless almost sure
"Hugh will stir up others to go forward, but he will take good care to
The dull roar that he once fancied he heard when tramping aimlessly
during the day, was now so distinct that he knew he must be near a
stream. The path crossed it at no great distance.
Sure enough, he had only turned a bend and gone down a little slope
when he reached the margin of a deep creek, fully twenty feet wide. It
flowed smooth and dark at his feet, but the turmoil to the left showed
that it tumbled over the rocks, not far away.
Harvey was anything but pleased, when he saw the bridge by which the
stream had to be passed. It was merely the trunk of a tree, that lay
with the base on the side where he stood, while the top rested on the
other bank. Whoever had felled the tree had trimmed the trunk of its
branches from base to top—the result being more ornamental than
useful, for the protuberances would have served to help the footing of
a passenger. The trunk in the middle was no more than six inches in
diameter, and being a little worn by the shoes that had trod its
length, the footing was anything but secure. With the sprinkling of
snow it was more treacherous than ever.
"Must I cross that?" Harvey said aloud, with a feeling akin to dismay.
"You can do so or swim, whichever you choose."
These words were spoken by a man standing on the other side, and who
was about to step on the support, when he paused on seeing another on
the point of doing the same from the opposite bank. In the dim light,
Harvey saw him only indistinctly, but judged that he himself was
recognized by the other.
"I suppose it's safe enough for those accustomed to it," said Harvey in
reply, "but I prefer some other means; do you intend to use it?"
"That I do; I want no better; if you are afraid, get out of the way,
for I am late."
Harvey moved to the right, and watched the other, who stepped upon the
support and walked over with as much certainty as if treading a
pavement on the street.
Harvey looked closely, and as the fellow came toward him, he recognized
him as one of his former employes. He was Jack Hansell—a brother of
Tom, and like him a close associate of Hugh O'Hara, the leader.
"You are out late, Jack," remarked the superintendent, as the other
left the log. To his surprise, Jack did not answer, but quickly
disappeared up the path by which the superintendent had reached the
"He is surly and ill-mannered, like all of them; no doubt he is on his
way to the cabin to plot mischief with the others."
Since nothing was to be gained by waiting, Harvey now stepped on the
trunk and began gingerly making his way across. It was a hard task,
and just beyond the middle, he lost his balance. He was so far along,
however, that a vigorous jump landed him on the other bank.
A little beyond he caught the twinkling lights of the village, and he
hastened his steps, now that, as it may be said, home was in sight. He
felt as if he was famishing, and the thought of the luscious supper
awaiting his return, gave him such speed that he was soon at his own
Though it was late, he saw his aunt was astir, for the lights were
burning brightly. Before he could utter the greeting on his tongue, he
was terrified by the scared face of his relative.
"Why, aunt, what is the matter? Are you ill?"
"Oh, Harvey!" she wailed; "haven't you brought Dollie with you?"
"Dollie!" repeated the other; "I haven't seen her since I left home."
"Then you will never see her again," and, overcome by her terrible
grief, the good woman sank into the nearest chair, covered her face
with her apron and wept.
Harvey Bradley stood petrified. Bright-eyed Dollie, whom he had left a
few hours before, rosy, happy, overflowing with bounding spirits, was
gone, and the sobbing Aunt Maria declared she would never be seen again.
Stepping into the room, Harvey laid his hand on his aunt's shoulder and
in a trembling voice said:
"Why, aunt, what does this mean? Are you in earnest? What has become
of Dollie? Tell me, I beseech you."
"She is lost; she is lost! Oh, why did we ever bring her to this
dreadful country? I wish none of us had ever seen it."
"But what about Dollie? Where is she? How long has she been gone?
Compose yourself and tell."
It was not until he spoke sharply that the hysterical woman was able to
make known that the child had been absent for hours, no one knew where.
When she learned that noon that her big brother would not be back till
night, Dollie had pouted because he had gone off without telling her.
She was not sure she could ever forgive him. However, she ate her
dinner, and soon after went out to play. Some hours later her aunt
went to the door to call her, but she was not within sight or hearing.
Maggie was sent to look for her, but soon came back with word that she
could not be found.
The child had been seen a couple of hours before, running in the
direction of the path that led into the mountains, as if she was
fleeing from some one, Maggie had gone as far as she dared in quest of
her, but her loudest shouts brought no reply and she returned.
The word brought by the servant, as may well be believed, filled the
aunt with the wildest grief. Beyond all doubt, Dollie had formed a
sudden resolve to hunt up her brother Harvey, who had gone away and
left her at home. She had strayed so far into the mountains that she
was lost. Fortunately, she was warmly dressed at the time, but exposed
as she must be to the wintry winds and cold, she could not hold out
until morning unless rescued very soon.
Harvey was stricken with an anguish such as he had never known before,
but he knew that not a minute was to be lost. Dollie must be found at
once or it would be too late. It added a poignancy to his woe to know
that in coming down the mountain path, he must have passed close to
her, who was in sore need of the help he was eager to give.
"Have you made no search for her?" he asked.
"I could not believe she would not come back until it began to grow
dark. I thought she could not be far away; Maggie and I hunted through
the village, inquiring of every one whom we saw; many of the people
were kind, and two or three have gone to hunt for her; I started to do
so, but did not go far, when I was sure she had come back while I was
away, and I hurried home only to find she was not here."
"Are you sure any one is looking for her?"
"There are several."
"Well," said Harvey, impatient with the vacillation shown by his aunt,
"I shall not come back until she is found."
His hand was on the knob of the door when his distressed relative
sprang to her feet.
"Harvey;" she said in a wild, scared manner, "shall I tell you what I
"Dollie did not lose herself: some of those awful men did it."
"Do you mean the strikers?"
"Yes; they have taken her away to spite you."
"Impossible!" exclaimed the young man, passing out the door and
striding up the single street that ran through the village.
But though unwilling to confess it to himself, the same shocking
suspicion had come to him at the moment he learned that Dollie was
lost. Could it be that some of the men, grown desperate in their
resentment, had taken this means of mortally injuring him? Was there
any person in the wide world who would harm an innocent child for the
sake of hurting a strong man? Alas, such things had been done, and why
should they not be done again? The words that he overheard between
Hugh O'Hara and Tom Hansell proved them capable of dark deeds. Could
it be that some of the hints thrown out by them during that brief
interview in the cabin bore any relation to the disappearance of Dollie.
At the moment Harvey turned away from his own house it was his
intention to rouse the village and to ask all to join in the hunt for
the child, but a feeling of bitter resentment led him to change his
purpose. No; they would rejoice over his sorrow; they would give him
no aid, and, if they had had a hand in her taking off, they would do
what they could to baffle him in his search. Slight as was his hope,
he would push on alone.
"O'Hara and Hansell know all about it; I will search the neighborhood
of the path all the way to their cabin and then compel them to tell
what they know; if they refuse——"
He shut his lips tight and walked faster than ever. He strove to fight
back the tempestuous emotions that set his blood boiling. He was moved
by a resolve that would stop at nothing; he would not believe that
there was no hope; he knew he could force the miscreants to give up
their secret, and had a hair of his little sister's head been harmed
the punishment should be swift and terrible.
"When Dollie is found," he muttered, determined to believe she must be
restored to him, "I will send her and Aunt Maria away, and then have it
out with these fellows; I'll make them rue the day they began the
These were dreadful thoughts, but there was excuse for them, his grief
made him half frantic.
The path over which he believed Dollie had either strayed or been led
or carried, entered the woods about a hundred yards from the village
and gradually sloped and wound upward for a mile, when it passed the
door of Hugh O'Hara's cabin and lost itself in the solitude beyond.
The sky had cleared still more during the interval since he came down
the mountain side, and he could not only see the course clearly, but
could distinguish objects several rods away, when the shadow of the
overhanging trees did not shut out the light. But the season was so
far along that few leaves were left on the limbs and it was easy,
therefore, for him to keep the right course.
He had not gone far when he stopped and shouted the name of Dollie.
The sound reached a long way, and he repeated the call several times,
but only the dismal wind among the limbs gave answer.
Striding forward, he stood a few minutes later on the margin of the
creek that was spanned by the fallen tree.
"She would not have dared to walk over," was his thought: "she must
have been on this side, if she wandered off alone."
A moment later he added:
"No; for the very reason that it is dangerous, Dollie would run across;
it would be no trouble for her to do so, and there is just enough peril
to tempt her. Could she have fallen in?"
He looked at the dark water as it swept forward and shivered.
"Rivers and lakes and seas and streams are always thirsting for human
life, and this may have seized her."
Tramping through the undergrowth that lined the bank he fought his way
onward until he stood beside the rocks where the waters made a foaming
cascade, as they dashed downward toward the mills far away.
"If she did fall in, she must be somewhere near this spot——"
His heart seemed to stop beating. Surely that dark object, half
submerged and lying against the edge of the bank, where the water made
an eddy, must be her body. He ran thither and stooped down.
"Thank God," was his exclamation, after touching it with his hands, and
finding it a piece of dark wood that had been carried there from the
Back he came to where the fallen tree spanned the creek, and hurried
across. No snow was falling, but the earth was white with the thin
coating that had filtered down hours before.
"Had it come earlier in the day," he thought, "it would help us to
trace her, but now it will hide her footprints."
Hardly a score of steps from the creek his foot struck something soft,
and he stooped down. Straightening up, he held a small hood in his
hand, such as children wear in cold weather. Faint as was the light,
he recognized it as Dollie's; he had seen her wear it many times.
"What can it mean?" he asked himself; "I must have stepped over or on
that on my way down, but did not notice it. Yes, Dollie is on this
side the stream, but where?"
Aye, that was the question. Once more he raised his voice and shouted
with might and main, but as before no answer came back.
Harvey was now master of himself. He had recovered from the shock that
at first almost took away his senses and he was able to think and act
with his usual coolness. But with this, the belief that Hugh and Tom
had something to do with the disappearance of Dollie grew until at
times he was without any doubt at all. Occasionally, however, he
wavered in his belief.
Thus it was that two theories offered themselves. The first was that
Dollie had set out to find him and had wandered up the mountain path to
some point above the bridge and then had strayed from it and become
lost. Worn out, she had laid down and was at that moment asleep.
The corollary of this theory was that she had perished with cold, or
would thus perish before daylight. True, she was well clad when she
went out that afternoon to play, but her hood was gone and she could
not escape the biting wind that pierced the heavy clothing of Harvey
himself. Then, too, there was the danger from the wild beasts, of
which he had had too late an experience to forget.
Should it prove that Dollie went off in the manner named, then Harvey
made a great error in setting out alone to search for her. He ought to
have roused the village, and, with the hundreds scouring the mountains,
helped by torches and dogs, discovery could not be delayed long.
The other and darker theory was that she had been seen by some of his
enemies as she went into the woods and had been coaxed to some
out-of-the-way place, where her abductors meant to hold and use her as
a means of bringing the superintendent to terms. All must have known
that no method could be so effective as that.
It was hard to believe that the evil-minded men would go any further.
Yet it was easy for them to do so; they could make way with a little
child like her and have it seem that her death was caused by falling
over the rocks or by some other accident that might easily come to her.
"O'Hara and Hansell must have known all about it when I was in their
cabin. They were afraid to assail me in the cabin, for I was prepared,
and the fear of the law kept them from following me after I left their
Harvey was thinking hard when he caught the well-known light, among the
trees in the cabin.
"He, Tom and Jack, precious scamps all of them, are exulting over the
sorrow they have caused, but they shall pay for it."
The latch-string had not yet been withdrawn. Harvey gave it a jerk,
followed by a spiteful push that threw the door wide open.
Disappointment awaited him. Neither Hugh nor Tom was there, but Jack,
looking like a twin brother of Tom, was in the act of lighting the pipe
that his relative had probably left for his use. He was alone, not
even the hound being present.
Jack had partly risen to his feet to reach the pouch of tobacco on the
short mantel above the fireplace. He paused and looked over his
shoulder with a startled expression at the visitor who made such an
"Why—why, Mr. Bradley," he stammered, "I didn't know it was you; will
you take a seat?"
"Where are Hugh and Tom?"
"They went out some time ago."
"Where did they go?" demanded Harvey in an angry voice.
"Down to—the—that is, I don't know."
"Yes, you do know. I want no trifling; I will not stand it."
The fellow, though flustered at first, quickly regained his
self-possession. He had evidently checked himself just in time to keep
back some important knowledge.
"Where have they gone?" repeated the superintendent, bursting with
But Jack Hansell was himself again—sullen and insolent as ever. He
had an intense dislike of his employer—a dislike that had deepened
within the past few days. He slowly sat down and smoked a full minute
before making reply to Harvey, who felt like throttling him.
"I told you I didn't know," he finally said, looking into the embers
and speaking as if to the glowing coals.
"But you do know."
"So I do, but I know another thing as well, and that is that there
ain't any reason why I should tell you if I don't choose to."
It took a great effort of the will for Harvey to hold himself from
doing violence to the man who said he was not bound to tell what he
preferred to keep to himself: but the superintendent saw that nothing
could be gained by violence. The man who can keep cool during a
dispute has ten-fold the advantage over one who does not restrain
After all, Jack Hansell was of small account. It was O'Hara, his
master, and mayhap his companion, whom Harvey Bradley must see. If Tom
chose to tell the truth he could do so, but if he would not, no one
could force him to say the words.
All this was clear to the young man, who, checking his anger, added in
a lower tone:
"You are not bound to answer any question I ask you, even when you have
no reason for your refusal, but you cannot decline to say when they are
likely to be back."
"Yes, I can, for I don't know."
"I wish to see O'Hara on a matter of the first importance."
"But he may not want to see you, and I ain't the man to make things
unpleasant for a friend."
"You certainly expect them back to-night, do you not?"
Jack smoked his pipe a few seconds before giving heed to this simple
question. Then, turning slowly toward Harvey, who was still standing
in the middle of the room, he said:
"You had better sit down, for you won't find Hugh and Tom any sooner by
keeping your feet. What do you want to see 'em for?"
"That I can explain only to them, though it is Hugh whom I particularly
want to meet."
The superintendent took the seat to which he was invited. It was the
stool on which he sat when in the cabin before. It cost him a greater
effort than can be explained to defer to this defiant fellow, who a few
weeks or even days before would have cringed at his feet like a dog.
"That being the case," added Jack, between the puffs at his pipe, "why
you'll have to wait till they come back. That may be inside of five
minutes, and not for an hour; maybe," added Jack in the game
exasperating manner, "that nothing will be seen of 'em till daylight.
You see that since they have been cheated out of their work they have
plenty of time to loaf through the country."
"Any man who is too lazy to work can find time to turn his hand to
dishonest tricks," said the superintendent, meaning that the words
should not be misunderstood.
"Sometimes the tricks that you call dishonest pay better than working
for a superintendent who wants all the wages himself," was the impudent
reply of Jack Hansell.
"That is the excuse of the man who is bad at heart and who prefers
wrong to right. Our state prisons are full of that sort of people."
"Yes—and there are a good many people that ought to be in prison that
"I am sure no one is better qualified than you to speak on that matter."
It struck Harvey just then that he was doing an unworthy thing in
holding such a conversation with any man. If he had anything of the
kind to say, he ought to speak it openly. He now did so.
"There is not a particle of doubt, Jack Hansell, that you and your
brother and Hugh O'Hara are engaged in business that ought to place you
all behind the bars."
"If you think it safe to talk that way before Tom and Hugh you will now
have the chance."
"I will be glad to tell them to their faces what I have told you."
"All right; there they come."
Footsteps and voices in such low tones were heard outside that it was
clear the men brought important news with them. And such indeed proved
to be the case.
THE SEARCH BY HUGH AND TOM.
Never did one person do another a greater injustice than did Harvey
Bradley when he believed that either Hugh O'Hara or any one else had
aught to do with the absence of his little sister Dollie. No men had a
hand in the sad business, nor could any one have been led to harm a
hair of her head. Had Harvey asked for help, no one in the village
would have held back from doing all that could be done to restore the
child to her friends.
The first news that came to Hugh O'Hara's cabin of the loss of the
child was brought by Jack Hansell, who went thither on a far different
errand. After a long talk on business, he gave the tidings, adding:
"I met him at the creek, but thought I wouldn't tell him, for it would
do no good. I kept my eyes open for the gal, but seen nothing of her."
Hugh jerked the pipe from his mouth.
"What's that you are saying? The little girl lost?"
"That's it; she's been missing since noon; they think she come up the
path and got lost in the mountains."
"Good gracious!" gasped Hugh, starting to his feet, "that is bad; do
you know," he added, turning to Tom and speaking with a slight tremor,
"that that little girl Dollie is about the age my Jennie was when she
"I hadn't thought of that," replied Tom.
"And," continued Hugh, swallowing a lump in his throat, "she looks so
much like Jennie that I've often felt as if I would give all I
have—which ain't much—to hold the little one on my knee as I used to
hold my baby. She is a sweet child and likes me; we've had many a talk
together that no one beside us knows about. She's so gentle, so
innocent, so good that it seems to me I see my own darling before me
when she looks up in my face. Come, boys," he added, decisively, as he
walked to the farther end of the room, picked up a lantern and lit the
"Come where?" asked Tom, in amazement.
Hugh turned half angrily toward him.
"Do you think that I could rest while that child is lost in the
mountains? Mr. Bradley hasn't acted right toward us and I bear him no
good will, but this isn't he—it's a little child—she looks and acts
like my Jennie, that's dead and gone."
"But, Hugh, you forget—what about the place?"
"Let it go to the dogs for all I care! What does it amount to against
the life of the little one? But we'll let Jack stay; if any of the
boys come, send them out to help in the hunt; it'll do them more good
than to break the law."
"Suppose some that are strangers come?" said Jack with a grin.
Hugh O'Hara gave a hollow laugh.
"Send them out, too, to help in the search; we'll be sure to find her
when the whole country gets to work. If I was down in the village I
would have every man, woman and child in the woods, and wouldn't let
them eat or drink or sleep till she's found. Tom, there's no one that
knows the woods better than we and Nero. Let's be off!"
The door was drawn inward, and Jack Hansell was left alone. He lit his
pipe, smoked it out, refilled it and was in the act of refilling it,
when Harvey Bradley came in—as has been made known in another place.
While the man sat smoking and alone in the cabin, he fell to brooding
over the troubles at the mills. Thus it came to pass that his feelings
were so bitter at the time the superintendent entered that he kept back
every hint that the absent men were engaged in the most "honest"
business in the world—that is, they were looking for the missing child.
Meanwhile Hugh and Tom went at the task not only with zeal, but with a
sagacity that gave promise of good results. As Hugh had said, they
knew every foot of the mountains for miles, they were free from the
flurry that at first ran away with the judgment of the superintendent,
and they were used to prowling through the woods. Still further Nero
had been trained to follow the faintest footprints.
"Now, Tom," said the leader, when they had walked a short ways, "we
can't do anything till we get on the trail of the little one."
"What do you think has become of her?"
"She's somewhere in the woods asleep or dead, with the chances about
even for either."
"Jack says she was seen coming up the mountain path early this
"Well, she has kept to it till she has either slipped out of the path
without knowing it or she has done it on purpose. She has strolled
along until it became dark or she was tired. Then she has lain down on
the leaves and gone to sleep. Nero, find the trail of the little girl."
"But," said Tom, "the night is so cold."
"So it is, but if the girl went out to play she was well clad, and, if
she knew enough, she has crept under the lee of a rock or into the
bushes, where the wind can't reach her. If she did the same, she
hasn't frozen to death."
"But there are wild animals in these parts."
"I know that, and she would make a meal that any of them would be glad
to get; we can only hope they didn't find her."
Just then Nero, who had been nosing the path in front, uttered a whine
and turned aside. Hugh held up the lantern and saw that he had gone to
the right. He was following a trail of some kind; whether it was that
of the one whom they were seeking was to be learned. It would take a
fine scent to trace the tiny footsteps under the carpet of snow, but
such an exploit is not one-tenth as wonderful as that of the trained
dogs in Georgia, which will stick to the track of a convict when it has
been trampled upon by hundreds of others wearing similar dress and
shoes, and will keep to it for miles by running parallel to the trail
and at a distance of a hundred feet.
But in the latter case the canines have an advantage at the start; they
are put upon the track or directed to hunt for it where it is known to
exist; they are given a clew in some form.
The hound Nero was skilful in taking a scent, but his ability was not
to be compared to that of the dogs to which I have referred, nor indeed
was it necessary that it should be. But he had great intelligence, and
acted as if he understood every word said to him by his master. He had
saved Hugh and his friends many a time by giving warning from afar of
the approach of strange parties. It may seem incredible that he should
know what was wanted of him, but there is the best reason for saying he
understood it all. Having no part of the little one's clothing to
help, he was without the clew which would appear to be indispensable.
His master, however, was satisfied the dog had struck the right trail.
"Stick to it, Nero," said Hugh, encouragingly, "not too fast, but be
sure you're right."
Without pause, the two followed the dog, Hugh in front with lantern in
hand. The woods were so cluttered with undergrowth that they could not
go fast, seeing which Nero suited his pace to theirs. Now and then he
ran ahead, as if impatient with the slow progress of the couple, and
then he calmly awaited their approach.
The single word "Dollie!" rang through the arches of the woods. They
recognized the voice as that of the superintendent, who was hurrying
over the path they had left, and who was not far away. In fact, Hugh
held the lantern in front of him so as to hide its rays.
"I am sorry for him," he said, "but we don't want him with us."
"It cannot be," remarked Tom, after they had struggled further, "that
she has gone as far as this; Nero must be off the track."
At this moment the dog emitted a low, baying whine that would have
startled any one had he not known its meaning. It was the signal which
the remarkable animal always gave when close to the end of a trail.
"We shall soon know the worst," said Hugh, crashing through the wood
with such haste that Tom had to hurry almost into a trot to save
himself from dropping behind.
The singular call of the dog was heard again. He wanted his friends to
move faster. It came from a point slightly to the left.
"Here he is!" exclaimed Hugh, making a sharp turn and showing more
excitement than at any time during the evening.
"I see him! There he stands!" added Tom, stumbling forward.
With his right hand Hugh raised the lantern above his head, so that its
glare was taken from their eyes. The hound was close to a rock that
rose some six or eight feet above the ground, and his nose was pointed
toward the base of the black mass. At the same moment the men saw
something dark and light mixed together, like a bundle of clothing.
One bound and Hugh was on his knees, the lamp held even with his
forehead while he peered downward and softly drew the clothing aside.
Tom was also stooping low and leaning forward with bated breath.
There lay little Dollie Bradley, sleeping as sweetly as if nestling
beside her big brother in the warm bed at home. She must have wandered
through the woods until, worn out, she reached this spot. Then she had
thrown herself on the earth beside the rock and had fallen asleep.
Having lost her hood, her head was without any covering, except her own
native hair, which was abundant. Besides, rugged people do not need to
cover their heads while asleep, even in cold weather.
It was fortunate for Dollie that she was so warmly wrapped. One arm
was doubled under her head, and the cheek that rested on it was pushed
just enough out of shape to add to her picturesqueness. Her heavy coat
having been buttoned around her body, kept its form and could not have
been better arranged. The chubby legs were covered by thick stockings,
and the feet were protected by heavy shoes. True, she ran much risk in
lying upon the cold earth, with nothing between her and the ground, but
there was hope that no serious harm would follow.
The rock not only kept off the wind, but screened her from the snow.
It was almost certain that the little one had been asleep several hours.
Hugh gently examined the limbs and body to see whether there was any
hurt. Her peaceful sleep ought to have satisfied him, but he was not
content. Not a scratch, however, was found, though her clothing had
suffered a good deal.
"Take the lantern," said he in a husky voice to his companion. Then,
softly pushing his brawny arms under the dimpled form, he lifted it as
tenderly as its mother could have done. Tom smoothed the clothing so
as to cover the body as fully as possible. Hugh doffed his coarse cap
and covered the mass of silken tresses that streamed over his shoulder.
Dollie muttered as a child will do when disturbed in its slumber, but,
fitting her head to the changed position, she slept on as sweetly as
"Now lead the way," added Hugh, "and be careful where you step."
Tom was only too glad to do his part. Nero, as happy as the others,
walked in advance, in his dignified manner, now and then wagging his
tail and whining with delight. None knew better than he the noble work
he had done.
Tom used great care. When the bushes could not be avoided, Hugh shoved
them aside with one hand, that they might not brush against the face
resting so close to his own. Perhaps he held the velvety cheek nearer
his shaggy beard than was needed, but who can chide him when his heart
glowed with the sorrowful pleasure that came from the fancy that his
own Jennie, whom he had so often pressed to his breast, was resting
A tear dropped on the cheek of the little one. In that hour new
resolves entered the heart of O'Hara. He had been sullen,
discontented, and had long led a life that grieved his conscience.
By and by when they came back to the path they found the walking easier
"Hugh," said Tom, stopping short and facing about, "ain't you tired of
carryin' the kid? 'cause if you are, I'm ready to give you a lift."
"No; I wish I could carry her forever!"
All too soon the glimmer from the cabin window fell upon them, and they
paused at the door to make sure the clothing of the child was arranged.
They acted as if they were getting ready to go into the presence of
"I don't know as I've done right in not carrying her home," said Hugh,
"but she has been out too long already in the night air; we'll take her
in and keep her while you run down to the village and let the folks
know she is safe."
"Is she still asleep?"
"Yes, hark! some of the boys seem to be inside," added Hugh, as the
sound of voices came to them from within.
The door was pushed open and the two men and dog entered.
Harvey Bradley had risen to his feet, and for one second he stared
angrily at the newcomers. You will recall that hot words had just
passed between him and Jack Hansell, and both were in an ugly mood.
Then Harvey quickly recognized the form in the arms of Hugh and rushed
"Is she alive?"
"Aye, alive and without a scratch," replied Hugh, deftly taking the hat
from the head of the little sleeper and placing her in the outstretched
"How thankful I am," exclaimed Harvey, kissing the cold red cheeks over
and over again, and pressing her to his heart; "yes—she is well—she
was lost and is found—she was dead and is alive again."
"What are you laughing at?" demanded Hugh, wiping his eyes and glaring
savagely at Jack Hansell, who, with open mouth, was looking on in a
bewildered way; "haven't you manners enough to know when gentlemen are
Jack seemed to think that the only way to behave was by keeping his
mouth closed. He shut his jaws with a click like that of a steel trap
and never said a word.
Harvey Bradley sat down on the stool from which he had arisen, first
drawing it closer to the fire, and unfastened the outer clothing of the
little one. He saw that all was well with her. Then he looked up with
moistened eyes and said in a tremulous voice:
"Hugh, tell me all about it."
The short story was soon told. The hardy fellow made light of what he
had done, but the superintendent, who kept his eyes fixed on his face,
saw the sparkle of tears that the speaker could not keep back. It was
hard for any one of the three to believe that only a brief while before
they were ready to fly at each other's throats. Harvey was melted not
only by the rescue of his sister, but by the remembrance of the
dreadful injustice done Hugh O'Hara and his friends, when he allowed
himself to think they had taken part in the disappearance of Dollie,
who, through all the talk, continued sleeping.
"I can never thank you for what you have done," said the
superintendent, hardly able to master his emotion, "but I shall show
you that the charge of ingratitude can never be laid at my door."
"That's all right," replied Hugh, in his off-hand fashion; "Tom and I
are glad to do a turn like that; nobody could want to see any harm come
to such a child, no matter how they might feel toward others related to
her. Do you mean to take her home to-night?"
"Yes; her aunt is frantic with grief."
"But Tom can run down there quicker than you can with the little one."
"No doubt, but we shall feel better to have her with us. She seems to
be well, and we can bundle her up warmly. There may, after all, be
serious results from this exposure, and it is best that we should have
her where we can give her every care."
And drawing the hood from his pocket he fixed it upon Dollie's head.
She opened her eyes for a moment and mumbled something, but sank into
sleep again. Harvey explained how it was he came to have the headgear
"I have a favor to ask of you, Mr. Bradley," said O'Hara, shifting from
one foot to another and as confused as a school-boy.
"Anything that you ask shall be granted, if it be in my power to grant
it," replied Harvey with a fervor that could leave no doubt of his
"It's a long distance to the village, and I will be glad if you will
let me carry her."
He made as if he simply wished to assist the superintendent. The
latter knew better, but he did not say so.
"I shall be glad to have your aid; you have had a rest for several
days, and a little exercise like this won't hurt you."
Hugh brought forth his best coat and gathered it around Dollie, as if
he was tucking her up in her trundle bed. Then Harvey placed her with
much care in his arms and made sure they were fully prepared to go out
The Hansell brothers quietly looked on during these proceedings. They
felt that there was no special use for them, and therefore they kept in
the background. The hound Nero showed much interest. He walked around
Hugh and Harvey, whining and wagging his tail as if he thought his
views ought to have some weight in the questions the couple were called
upon to consider.
"Come, Nero," said his master, as he drew the door inward. The dog
shot through like a flash and the tramp to the village was begun.
Hardly a word was spoken on the way, but when the house was reached
Hugh handed his burden over to Harvey and, refusing to go in, started
to move off. The superintendent put out his free hand.
"Hugh, I want you to come and see me to-morrow afternoon; will you do
"I will. Good-night."
Hugh O'Hara had walked but a short distance up the mountain path when
he was caught in a driving snow-storm. He cared little for it,
however, and reached the cabin in due time, there to perform a strange
A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM.
When Hugh O'Hara came to the door of Harvey Bradley, he was in his best
dress—the same that he wore to church on Sundays. Aunt Maria met him
on the threshold, and, in tremulous tones, thanked him. Then she led
the way to the back parlor, where the young superintendent awaited him.
The moment he entered, there came a flash of sunshine and a merry
exclamation, and with one bound, little Dollie (none the worse,
apparently, for her adventure the night before) landed in the iron-like
arms and kissed the shaggy-bearded fellow, who laughingly took a chair
and held her a willing captive on his knee.
Harvey sat smiling and silent until the earthquake was over. Then, as
his chief foreman looked toward him, he said:
"As I said last night, Hugh, the service you have done is beyond
payment. You know what a storm set in just after Dollie was brought
home, she never could have lived through that."
"It would have gone hard with her, I'm afraid," replied the embarrassed
visitor; "does the little one feel no harm?"
"We observe nothing except a slight cold, which the doctor says is of
no account. I have made up my mind to give to you, Hugh——"
The latter raised his hand in protest. He could accept money for any
service except that of befriending the blue-eyed darling on his knee.
"Never refer to that again."
"I looked for something of the kind; I have a few words to add. I
found out this morning that there was a mortgage of $600 against your
little home in the village. I don't believe in mortgages, and that
particular one has now no existence. If you see any way to help undo
what I have done go ahead, but I beg you not to refuse another small
present that I have prepared for you."
And Harvey turned as if about to take something from his desk, but
stopped when he saw Hugh shake his head almost angrily.
"I would do a good deal to oblige you, Mr. Bradley, but you must not
ask that. I would have been better pleased had you let the mortgage
alone; my wife and little one are under the sod, and it matters nought
to me whether I have a place to lay my head. But," he added with a
faint smile, "what's done can't be undone, and, since you have asked
me, I will drop the matter, but nothing more, I pray you, on the other
"Hugh," said the superintendent, like one who braces himself for a duty
that has its disagreeable as well as its pleasant features, "you know
that I had sent to Vining for men to take the places of those who are
"I heard something of the kind, sir."
"They were to start for Bardstown to-night and are due to-morrow."
"I countermanded the order by telegraph this morning; not a man will
"The whistle will blow to-morrow as usual, ten minutes before 7
o'clock, and I shall expect every one of you to be in place; I have
agreed to your terms."
Hugh looked at the superintendent a moment and then asked a singular
"Is it because I found Dollie that you agree to our terms?"
"Why do you ask that?"
"Because, if that is the reason, I will not accept the terms, for you
would be doing out of gratitude an act which your judgment condemned."
Harvey Bradley felt his respect for this man increase tenfold. Such
manliness was worthy of all admiration. He hastened to add:
"There's where, I am glad to say, you are in error. Now you know as
well as I do that in order to keep discipline the employer must insist
upon his rights. If he were to give all that is asked his business
would be destroyed. But, on the other hand, labor has rights as well
as capital, and the two can never get along together until this truth
is respected by both. In all disputes, there should be an interchange
of views, a full statement of grievances by those who are dissatisfied,
and a fair consideration of them by the party against whom they exist."
O'Hara was not afraid to look his employer in the face and say:
"That has been my opinion all along, Mr. Bradley, and had it been yours
this lock-out would never have come."
"I admit it. You came to me from the employes and asked for a
discussion of the differences between us. I thought you insolent, and
refused to listen to you. Therein I did you all an injustice, for
which I apologize."
"It gives me joy to hear you speak thus, Mr. Bradley."
"Seeing now my mistake, there is but the one course before me. I am
convinced that in all cases of trouble like ours the court of first
resort should be arbitration. The wish to be just is natural to every
one, or at least to the majority of mankind. If the parties concerned
cannot agree, they should appeal to those in whom both have confidence
to bring about an agreement between them; that is according to the
golden rule. Employer and employed, labor and capital, should be
friends, and arbitration is the agent that shall bring about that happy
state of things."
"But I do not see that there has been any arbitration in this dispute."
"But there has been all the same."
"Where is the arbitrator?"
"She sits on your knee wondering what all this talk means. I tell you,
Hugh, there is a good deal more in those little heads than most people
think. Yesterday morning, when Dollie sat in her high chair at the
breakfast-table, she heard her aunt and me talking about the strike.
Though she could not understand it all, she knew there was trouble
between me and my employes. I was out of patience and used some sharp
words. She listened for a few minutes while busy with her bread and
milk, and then what do you think she said?"
"I am sure I have no idea," replied O'Hara, patting the head of the
laughing child, "but whatever it was, it was something nice."
"She says, 'Brother Harvey, when I do anything wrong, you take me on
your knee and talk to me and that makes me feel so bad that I never do
that kind of wrong again. Why don't you take those bad men on your
knee and talk to them, so they won't do so again?' I showed her that
such an arrangement was hardly practicable, and then she fired her
solid shot that pierced my ship between wind and water: 'Brother
Harvey, maybe it's you that has done wrong; why don't you sit down on
their knees and let them give you a talking to? Then you won't be
bad any more."
Hugh and Harvey broke into laughter, during which Dollie, who had
become tired of sitting still full two minutes, slid off O'Hara's knee
and ran out of the room.
"We smile at the odd conceits of the little ones," continued Harvey,
"but you know that the truest wisdom has come from the mouths of babes.
I hushed her, but what she said set me thinking—'Why don't you let
them give you a good talking to?' That was the very thing you had
asked and I had refused. I set out to take a long walk, and was absent
most of the day. Her question kept coming up to me, and I tried to
drive it away. The effort made me angry and ended in a decision to be
sterner than ever. I would not yield a point; I would import a body of
men at large expense and keep them at work, just because I was too
proud to undo what I knew was wrong.
"Still my conscience troubled me, but for all that I don't think I
would have yielded. Pride, the greatest of all stumbling-blocks, was
in my way. Reaching home, I learned that Dollie was lost; then, of
course, every other thought went from my head. Nothing else could be
done until she was found."
Harvey was about to tell his guest his suspicion that he had had a hand
in the abduction of the child, but he was ashamed, and really there was
no call for such a confession.
"Well, it was you who found her. I repeat that my debt to you can
never be paid. And yet I do not believe that that obligation would
have led me to yield, where I felt that a principle was at stake. It
was the words of Dollie, spoken yesterday, that stuck to me. They kept
me awake most of the night and played a part in the dreams that I had
about her being lost in the woods and eaten up by panthers and all
sorts of creatures. When I awoke this morning, the mists had cleared
away. I saw my error, and fully made up my mind to do all I could to
correct it. I went to the telegraph office before breakfast and sent a
message to Vining countermanding the order for the men. Then I came
back and had just finished my meal when a message was brought to my
house. Odd, wasn't it?"
"I see nothing odd in a telegram for you."
"I mean in the telegram itself."
"I could not answer that unless I saw it."
"Of course," said Harvey with a laugh, wheeling about in his chair and
picking up one of the yellow slips of paper which the Western Union
furnishes its patrons gratis.
"There, read that," he added, passing it to Hugh O'Hara, who looked
at it with no little curiosity.
It was dated in the city of New York and signed by Johnson W. Bradley,
father of Harvey, and President of the Rollo Mills Company. This was
the body of the telegram:
"Don't lose sight of the interests of your men. Before hiring other
hands try arbitration."
"That is rather odd," said Hugh; leaning forward, so as to hand the
telegram back to his employer, "but it is sound wisdom all the same."
"Undoubtedly; but are you convinced that I agree to your terms not
because of gratitude, but because I believe them right?"
"I am satisfied," said Hugh; "have you sent the notice to the hands?"
"Yes. I wonder that you did not hear of it on the way here."
"Of course I heard of it. I knew it long ago, but I did not know why
you had decided to restore our time to what it was and to pay the same
wages; that I have learned from yourself. And now that you have done
your part so well," added Hugh, rising to leave, "I assure you that we
shall do ours; we shall give you the best service we can. No one shall
misinterpret your action or try to take advantage of it."
The superintendent was wise enough to avoid a mistake to which persons,
placed as was he, are liable—that is, he did not overdo his part. He
was so happy over the return of his little sister that he was willing
not only to give the old wages and time asked for by his employes, but
he felt like adding to them. He meant to make the pay of O'Hara
greater than before, but changed his purpose at the last moment.
Had he added to the pay of his chief foreman it would have changed the
ratio between that and the wages of the others, unless theirs, too, was
increased. In that event, a reproof was likely to come from the
directors, and he would find it hard to retrace his steps.
Justice called for him to do just what he had done; it would be weak to
do more. "Hugh," said he, also rising to his feet, "I am not quite
through with you; I am now going to ask you to do me a favor."
"I guess it's safe to promise in advance that I will do it—that is, of
course, if it be in my power to do it."
"It is in your power. Last night, when I was in the woods near your
cabin, I noticed a strange odor in the air; I could not imagine its
cause, but I know now what it was."
"What was it?" asked O'Hara, turning crimson.
"You and some of your friends have been illicitly making whiskey. You
have a distillery somewhere in the mountains, and, while working in the
mills during the day, you have taken turns in running the still at
night. I will not ask you to tell me how long you have been doing
this, but you know as well as I that it is a crime."
The two men were silent a moment and then Hugh, without any appearance
of agitation, said:
"You have spoken the truth; the still was not more than a hundred feet
from the cabin, and caused the smell you noticed."
"How could you three attend to it when you were in the cabin?"
"Some one was generally close by. The pipe that carried off the fumes
ran into the chimney of our cabin and mixed with the smoke. We took
turns in looking after it. Tom and I had been there earlier in the
evening, and Jack was to look in now and then against our coming back.
But," added Hugh, "you said you had a favor to ask of me."
"So I have; I ask you to destroy that still, root and branch, and never
take a hand in anything of the kind again."
"I cannot do that."
"Why not? You are engaged in breaking the laws of your country, for
which there is a severe penalty. Now that you will have steady work,
you cannot make the plea that would have been yours if the strike
continued. Why can't you do as I ask you to do?"
"Because it has already been done. After I got back to the cabin last
night, Tom and Jack and I went out and wound up the business. The worm
has been thrown down the rocks, where it can never be found, the mash
has been scattered to the four winds, and everything smashed to general
flinders. It took us nearly to daylight to finish it, but we stuck to
it till the job was done."
"I am delighted to hear that, what was the cause of all this?"
"I guess it must have been the little arbitrator," said O'Hara, with a
smile; "they say that when a man does a bad act he feels like doing
others. That may or may not be true, but I know that when a man does a
good deed, the impulse to do more is awakened, and whatever good there
is in him is strengthened. I have been a bad man; I grew desperate
after the death of Jennie; but when I held your Dollie in my arms it
seemed that some of her goodness found its way into my heart. I
resolved with the help of heaven to be a better man. The first step
toward becoming so was to stop the unlawful work in which I had been
engaged only a short time.
"I thought that Tom and Jack would make trouble, but I didn't care, for
I could manage them. To my surprise, however, they seemed to feel just
as I did. So they fell to work with a will, and the job couldn't have
been done more thoroughly. Now, if you will allow me to kiss Dollie,
who has come back, I will bid you both good day."
Harvey Bradley shook hands with his visitor, during which he handed him
a liberal sum of money for Tom Hansell, who had taken part in the
search for Dollie. He sent naught to Jack, for he deserved none. Then
he went with Hugh to the outer door, giving him a number of encouraging
words on the way.
The whistle of the Rollo Mills never screeched more cheerily than it
did the next morning, and there was never a happier band of employes
than the 300, young and old, who took their places again in the works.
A short time afterward Harvey Bradley opened and furnished a room where
the best of reading was given free to all who chose to accept the
privilege. Still later in the season a night school was started, and
the skilled teacher who took charge was liberally paid by the board of
directors, who never made a better investment of money.
The interest shown by the superintendent in the welfare of his employes
proved to be seed sowed in good ground. All wrought faithfully and
well, and when on the 1st of January the balance sheet was made up, lo!
the net profits of the Rollo Mills were greater than ever before.
IN THE NICK OF TIME.
It may sound like slander for me to say that the elephant, which is
admittedly one of the most intelligent members of the animal creation,
is also one of the most vicious and treacherous. But it is a fact all
the same. I have seen one of those beasts, that had been fed and
treated with the greatest kindness for years by his keeper, turn upon
him like a tiger, and, seizing him with that wonderful trunk of his,
dash him to death before he could do more than utter a cry of protest
I have seen another, after waiting weeks for the opportunity, suddenly
grasp an innocent person, and, kneeling upon him with his beam-like
legs, knead him out of all semblance of humanity.
Columbus, who was the main attraction of Barnum's establishment some
forty years ago, killed several keepers, and was likely to start on one
of his terrible rampages at any moment. The giving away of a bridge in
New England so injured him that he died, long before any of my young
readers were born.
An elephant, fully as bad as Columbus, was Vladdok, who was brought to
this country when quite young. A glimpse at his enormous ears told his
African nativity at once, those from Asia and Ceylon having much
smaller ears. He belonged to the old traveling circus of Blarcom &
Burton, and made several journeys through our country in the days when
those establishments found no use for the railways, but patiently
plodded from town to town, delighting the hearts and eyes of our
grandfathers and grandmothers when they were children just as we are
Vladdok had killed two keepers, besides badly wounding a couple of
spectators in Memphis, when he yielded to one of his vicious moods. He
had been fired upon and wounded more times than any one could remember,
and Mr. Blarcom, who always traveled with his show, had been on the
point more than once of ordering his destruction; but he was of such
large size and possessed such extraordinary intelligence, that he
constituted the main attraction of the exhibition and he hesitated,
well aware that sooner or later, the wicked fellow would die "with his
It was after an afternoon performance in one of the Western States that
Vladdok indulged in his last rampage. His sagacious keeper had come to
understand the animal so well, that he knew the outbreak was coming.
While Vladdok was unusually tractable and obedient, there was a
dangerous glitter in his small eyes, and an occasional nervous movement
of his head, which proved that he was only biding his time and waiting
for the grand chance to present itself.
Fortunately, he did not rebel until after the exhibition was over, and
the crowds had departed. Then, with a fierce trumpeting and one vast
shiver of his enormous bulk, he made a dash which snapped his chains
like so much whip-cord and went through the side of the tent as though
it were cardboard.
On his wild charge, which set all the rest of the animals in a panic,
he reached for his keeper, who with prodding spear and shouts,
interposed himself in his path and tried to check him. But the man's
inimitable dexterity and good fortune enabled him to dodge the beast
and escape by a hair's breadth. The next minute, the elephant reached
the public highway, down which he swung awkwardly but swiftly, on an
excursion that was destined to be the most tragic in his whole career.
The first object on which he vented his wrath was a team of horses,
driven by a farmer, whose wife was sitting beside him on the front
seat. Neither they nor the team knew their danger until the avalanche
of fury was upon them. The animals screamed in an agony of fright, and
were rearing and plunging, when Vladdok grasped one with his trunk,
lifted him in the air and dashed him to death. The other broke loose
and plunged off at such headlong speed, that the elephant followed him
only a few paces, when he turned to attack the man and woman.
But they were nowhere in sight, and, with a trumpet of disgust, he
wheeled about, and turning from the highway, took to the woods.
The couple were saved by a singular occurrence. The violent rearing
and backing of the horses overturned the wagon body, and the farmer and
his better half were caught beneath it, before they could escape. They
had sense enough to remain quiet, until the brute left, when they crept
out, none the worse for their mishap.
"Consarn his pictur!" exclaimed the husband; "if that don't beat all
creation! I allers said that circuses and shows was a burnin' shame,
and now I know it; I'll make the owner of that elephant pay ten
thousand dollars for the damage he done us, for he scart you and me so
bad Betsy, that we'll never grow another inch."
Meanwhile, the runaway kept things moving. He knew his keeper and
attendants were hot on his trail, and his sudden change of course was
undoubtedly with a view of misleading them. It is hardly to be
supposed that he expected to find any "game" in the woods, but
nevertheless he did.
It so happened that Jack Norton and Billy Wiggins, a couple of boys not
more than fourteen years of age, were engaged on a little hunt that
same afternoon. The teachers had sent such bad reports home about them
that their parents inflicted the most awful kind of punishment; they
did not permit them to attend the circus, to which they had been
looking forward for weeks. The father of Billy was specially stern,
and forbade his hopeful to take his gun, when he joined Jack on a
little hunting ramble in the woods. Mr. Norton felt some slight
compunctions, when he noted how patiently his boy accepted his fate,
and relented to that degree that he permitted him to take his rifle,
though he knew there was little chance of his securing any game.
The boys had walked about a mile, and, coming to a fallen tree, sat
down to rest awhile, for the day was warm and the gun which they had
taken turns in carrying, was heavy.
"I guess this hunt ain't agoin' to amount to much," sighed Jack, as he
leaned the rifle against the prostrate trunk, on which they were seated.
"Why not?" asked Billy.
"'Cause there ain't nothin' to hunt; I heerd Budge Jones say that when
he was a boy, these woods used to be full of bears and deers and tigers
and lions and giraffes and that sort of thing."
"Yes, and the folks were so mean they killed 'em all, but I've the
idea, Jack, that maybe some of the lions or tigers has hid somewhere in
the woods and we might find 'em."
"Golly! I don't know whether I'd want to find 'em or not," replied
Jack, looking about him, with a scared expression.
"Why not? Hain't you got a gun?"
"Yes, but while I was killin' one the others might chaw me all to
pieces; but if there was only one, I wouldn't care, if he was an
elephant as big as a barn——"
"My gracious! there he comes!"
A terrific crashing of the undergrowth caused both lads to glance
affrightedly behind them, and there, sure enough, was Vladdok, the
fearful elephant, almost upon them. They started to run, their courses
so diverging that the beast was forced to select one and let the other
alone for the moment. He fixed upon Billy Wiggins, who had taken
barely twenty steps, when the trunk of the beast inclosed his waist and
he was lifted, as if he was a feather from the ground, and the next
instant he felt himself whizzing through space.
A marvelous providence saved him. Instead of dashing him against a
tree, or upon the ground, the elephant, in one of his mad freaks, flung
him from him as though he was a ball. He spun through the air, the
leaves and limbs whizzing against his face and body, and instinctively
clutching with both hands, succeeded in grasping enough branches to
support the weight of his body and check his descent.
Then, when he collected his senses and stared around, he found that he
was a dozen yards above the ground, with the elephant beneath, looking
up, and apparently waiting for him to fall within his reach, that he
might finish him.
"Not much," muttered Billy; "I'm going to stay here and I don't believe
you know how to climb a tree. Helloa! how do you like that?"
Jack Norton had dashed only a few yards, when the terrified look he
cast over his shoulder told him the elephant was giving his whole
attention to Billy, and seemed to have forgotten all about him.
Instantly he was filled with alarm for his young friend, and started
back to the log to get his rifle, that neither had thought of in the
As he knelt behind the fallen tree, to make his aim sure, he descried a
queer object going through the limbs of a large oak, and did not
identify it, until it lodged fast, as his friend Billy Wiggins.
Jack had no more idea of the fatal point at which to aim his weapon
than you have, but knowing that he must do something, and, with a dread
that the elephant after all, might succeed in climbing the oak and
getting at his friend, he let fly.
Gordon Cumming himself could not have done better. The tiny bullet
bored its way into the vast bulk, just back of the fore leg and went
directly through the heart. The huge brute, as if conscious that he
was mortally hurt, swung part way round, so as to face the point whence
the shot had come. Catching sight of the kneeling youngster, with the
muzzle of his rifle still smoking, he plunged toward him. He took a
couple of steps, swayed to one side, moved uncertainly forward again,
then stopped, tried to steady himself, and finally went over sideways,
like a mountain, crashing the saplings and undergrowth near him, and
snapping one of his magnificent tusks into splinters. He was dead.
When the boys fully comprehended what had taken place, they were not a
little alarmed and puzzled, and started home, wondering whether their
game was a descendant of the creatures that used to inhabit that
section, or whether he was a visitor to these parts. They had not gone
far, however, when they met the attaches of the menagerie and circus to
whom they related what had occurred.
The proprietors were relieved on learning the whole truth, for there
could be little doubt that the sudden ending of the career of Vladdok
was the means of saving more than one person from death.
As for Jack Norton and Billy Wiggins, it was generally conceded that
they spoke the truth, when they declared:
"Our fathers wouldn't let us go to the circus that afternoon, but I
guess we had a bigger circus than any of you all to ourselves."
LOST IN THE SOUTH SEA.
Captain William Gooding was commander of the Tewksbury Sweet, of
Portland, Maine, and was lost in the South Pacific in the spring of
1889. This fine American bark sailed from New Castle, New South Wales,
on the 17th of March, bound for Hong Kong. Everything went well until
the 9th of the following month, when she encountered a severe gale.
Despite all that skillful seamanship could do, and in the face of the
most strenuous exertions, she struck the dangerous Susanne Reef, near
Poseat Island, one of the Caroline group of the South Sea.
The wreck was a total one. The vessel broke up rapidly, and seeing
that nothing could be done, the captain and crew, numbering ten men in
all, took to one of the boats, carrying with them only a single
chronometer belonging to the ship. Even after entering the small boat
they were still in great danger, and only succeeded after the utmost
difficulty in reaching a small islet some miles to the southward. The
storm was still raging so violently that the shelter was a most welcome
one, though as there were no animals or vegetation, or even water upon
the island, their stay of necessity could be only temporary. They had
saved nothing to eat or drink, and to remain where they were meant a
After several hours waiting, the tempest abated somewhat, and launching
their boat once more, they rowed toward the main island.
"The end is likely to be the same in either case," remarked the captain
to the second mate, George W. Harrison, as they approached the land.
"And why?" inquired the latter: "we shall find food and water there."
"True enough; but there are no fiercer savages on the South Sea than
those of this island, and I have never heard that they were
particularly friendly toward the crews of shipwrecked vessels."
"They may not discover us until we can signal some passing ship."
"There is no possibility of any such good fortune as that."
"Stranger things have happened, and—"
"Does that look like it?" interrupted the captain in some excitement,
pointing toward the island.
The sight that met the gaze of every one was startling. Fully thirty
canoes, each filled with eight or ten natives, were putting off from
shore and heading toward them. Several of the crew favored turning
about, and putting to sea; but that would have been not only hopeless,
but would have invited attack. Nothing is so encouraging to an enemy
as flight on the part of his opponent. It impels him to greater
exertions and gives him a bravery which otherwise he may not feel.
The savages, in their light, graceful craft, and with their great skill
in manipulating them, would have overhauled the white men "hand over
hand." There was a faint hope that by presenting a bold front, and
acting as though they believed in the friendship of the savages that
they might spare the unfortunates. At any rate, it was clear there was
no choice but to go ahead, and the white men did so, rowing leisurely
and calmly, though the chances in doing so were hastening their own
There could be no mistaking the ardor of the ferocious natives. They
paddled with might and main, and fully a dozen, in their eagerness,
leaped into the sea and swam ahead of their canoes. They were
magnificent swimmers, speeding through the water like so many dolphins.
The Americans, even in their frightful peril, could not repress their
"Did you ever see anything like it?" asked first mate Watchman; "they
are like so many sharks."
"They are indeed," was the significant response of Captain Gooding,
"and I would like it better if they were real sharks."
"Here they are!"
Sure enough; they surrounded the boat in a twinkling, and shouting and
screeching like so many demons, clambered over the gunwales until there
was danger of swamping the craft.
Had our friends possessed firearms, they would have made a desperate
resistance, and possibly might have beaten off their assailants; but,
as it was, they acted the part of wisdom in offering no opposition to
the presence or actions of their unwelcome visitors.
The latter proved that they meant business from the first, for hardly
were they in the boat when they began stripping the officers and
sailors of their property. When they ceased the men had nothing left
but their undershirts, their despoilers flinging the garments into the
canoes that now crowded around.
No more plunder being obtainable, the fleet headed for land, with their
captives in anything but a cheerful frame of mind. The shore was lined
with women and children, who answered the shouts of their friends in
the boats by running back and forth, screeching and yelling and
dancing, as if unable to restrain themselves until the arrival of their
The sailors believed they would be speedily killed and eaten, the
latter horror might have been escaped had they known, what they
afterward learned, that the savages of those islands are not cannibals.
The poor fellows stepped from their boat upon the shore, where they
were immediately environed by the fierce men, women and children, half
naked, wild, boisterous, and seemingly impatient to rend them to
pieces. The prisoners could do nothing but meekly await the next step
in the tragedy.
It was during these trying moments that the sailors were astounded to
hear, amid the babel of voices, several words spoken in English.
Staring about them to learn the meaning of such a strange thing, they
saw a man attired as were the others, that is with only a piece of
cloth about his hips, whose complexion and features showed that he
belonged to the same race with themselves.
He advanced in a cheery, hearty way, and shaking hands with the new
"I think you did not expect to find me here."
"Indeed we did not," was the reply; "you appear to be an Englishman."
"So I am, and I am anxious to give you all the help I can, for your
situation is anything but a desirable one."
"There can be no doubt of that. But how is it that you are here? Were
you shipwrecked like ourselves?"
"No; I may say I was deserted. My name is Charles Irons, and I was
left at Poseat by a trading vessel four years ago."
"How came that?"
"I was to act as the agent of a company of traders on the Cocoanut
Islands. Well, the vessel left me, as I first told you, and that was
the last of it. They forgot all about me, or more likely, did not care
to keep their promise, for I have never seen anything of the vessel
"What an outrage!"
"It was, and there couldn't have been a more wretched person than I was
for several months. I looked longingly out to sea for the ship that
never came, and chafed like a man who is bound hand and foot. But,"
added the Englishman with a smile, "there is nothing like making the
best of things. You can accustom yourself almost to anything if you
will only make up your mind to do so. I was among these people and
there was no help for it, so I decided to adopt their ways and become
one of them."
"You decided when in Rome to do as the Romans do," suggested the
captain, who, like his companions, was greatly cheered, not only by the
presence and friendship of the Englishman, but by the fact that the
savages, who watched the interview with interest, showed no disposition
"That's it. There are a great many worse people in this world than
these. They are not cannibals, as are many of their neighbors, and
they have never harmed me."
"But what about us?" was the anxious inquiry.
The Englishman looked grave.
"I cannot say what their intentions are, but I am afraid they are bad.
They have been used ill by some of the vessels that have stopped here,
and are naturally suspicious of all white people. Then, too, they are
revengeful, and like all barbarians are satisfied, if aggrieved against
our race, to get their satisfaction out of any member of it, whether he
is the one who injured them, or is entirely innocent."
"You seem to be regarded with high favor here."
"I am. I stand next to the chief in authority, so you see I have
reason to believe I may be of some service to you. You may be sure
that I shall leave no stone unturned to help you."
The captain and his companions gave expression to their deep gratitude,
and Irons continued in his bluff, pleasant manner:
"I guess I am about as much a savage as any of them. If I hadn't been
I never would have obtained any control over them. I have seven native
wives, and find I am forgetting a great many details of civilization,
while my desire to return home is growing less every day. After all,
what difference does it make where you are? A man has only a few years
to live, and as long as he is contented, he is a fool to rebel."
There may have been good philosophy in all this, and the captain did
not attempt to gainsay it, but, all the same, it was hard for him to
understand how any one could be so placed as to lose his yearning for
his home and his native land.
It was several days afterward, when the captives had become somewhat
accustomed to their surroundings, that Captain Gooding found he and his
men were mixed in their reckoning.
"It is a question among us whether this is Thursday or Friday," said
he, addressing Irons; "can you settle it for us?"
The Englishman looked at the captain in an odd way and replied:
"I haven't the remotest idea of what day in the week it is, nor what is
the month. It seems four years ago that I was left here, but I am not
sure of it. Will you please give me the year and month?"
"This is April, 1889."
The Englishman bent his head for a few minutes in deep thought. He was
recalling the past, with its singular incidents of his career. When he
looked up he said:
"Yes; it is four years and more since I was abandoned, and if you stay
that long you will be content to remain all your lives."
The captain shook his head, and his eyes were dimmed as he replied:
"I never could forget the loved ones at home, Irons; I would prefer
death at once to a lingering imprisonment here."
"Well, I am going to help you all to leave just as soon as it can be
done. I understand how you feel, and sympathize with you."
The Englishman proved himself the most valuable kind of a friend. The
authority which he possessed over these savage South Sea Islanders was
stretched to the utmost, but he never hesitated to employ it. But for
his presence the Americans would have been put to death within a few
hours at most of their arrival on the mainland, and without his aid it
would have been impossible for them ever to have gotten away.
When everything was in shape, Irons hired a canoe of the natives for
the use of his friends. The craft was not large enough to contain all
the party, and since all real peril had passed, there was no fear in
following the course that had been agreed upon.
Captain Gooding, second mate Harrison; and one of the sailors left
Poseat in the canoe, first mate Watchman and his six companions
remaining on the island. This was ten days after the loss of the
Captain Gooding and all the sailors were in the best of spirits, for
they were confident that their wearisome captivity was substantially
over. The three made their way from island to island, stopping at
eight different points, sometimes for days, and even weeks. Finally
they arrived at Ruk, where they found a missionary station, and
received the most hospitable treatment.
The good men owned a boat abundantly large enough to carry twenty
persons, and the captain asked its use with which to bring the rest of
his crew from Poseat. This was asking more than would be supposed, for
the missionaries told them that they were surrounded by hostile
natives, who were liable to an outbreak at any hour, in which event the
only means of escape the white men possessed was the boat.
The missionaries, however, gave their consent, and Captain Gooding,
hoisting sail in the staunch centre-boarder, set sail for Poseat, where
he safely arrived, without unnecessary delay. He found the first mate
and his sailors well and in high spirits, though they were beginning to
wonder whether their captain, like the friends of Irons, had not
forgotten, and concluded to leave them to themselves.
No objection was offered to their departure, and bidding an
affectionate good-by to the Englishman, who had proven the best kind of
a friend, they returned to the missionary island. Two months later the
missionary vessel, the Morning Star, arrived, and carried them all to
Honolulu, which was reached in November. Thence Captain Gooding and a
part of the crew were brought by the steamer Australia to San
Francisco, from which point the captain made his way to his home in
Yarmouth, where his family and friends welcomed him back as one risen
from the dead, for they had long given up hope of ever seeing him again.
AN UNPLEASANT COMPANION.
"Say, Jack, the shellbarks are droppin' thick down in Big Woods. What
a chance for a fellow to lay up a bushel or two before the crowd gets
down there in the morning."
"Wouldn't it, though, Ned!" I replied wistfully, for if there was
anything I had a fondness for, it was shellbarks.
We were trudging home to our dinner, for Ned and I lived close to the
schoolhouse, much to the envy of some less fortunate pupils who brought
their noonday meal with them in tin pails. It was a late September
Friday, and a soft golden haze lay on hillside and woodland, and the
quail were whistling in the furrows; and, as Ned spoke, I could see in
my mind's eye just how Big Woods would look that afternoon with the
soft sunlight slanting through the trees, and glimmering on the quiet
waters of the creek.
"Well, Jack, will you go?" said Ned abruptly.
"You mean will I play truant?" I asked, a little startled.
"Yes; there's no danger, Jack; we'll tell the teacher we had to stay
home to cut corn."
At first, I resisted Ned's appeal. I had played truant once before, a
long time ago, and the memory of the punishment that I received in the
woodshed at home was still strongly impressed on my memory.
But this, I thought, was an exceptional case, I badly wanted a bushel
or two of shellbarks, and I knew full well that, unless they were
gathered that afternoon, they wouldn't be gathered at all; for bright
and early the next morning all the boys in the neighborhood would be
down in Big Woods, armed with clubs and baskets and sacks, and even the
squirrels would stand a poor show after that invasion.
In our selfishness, we never thought that other people might have a
fondness for shellbarks as well as ourselves. So, after a little more
pleading on Ned's part, I gave in, and we agreed to meet down at the
foot of our orchard, as soon as dinner was over, for Ned lived right
across, on the next farm. In a corner of the barn, I found my old
chestnut club, a hickory stave, well coiled with lead at the top.
Shoving this under my jacket, so no prying eyes could see it, I joined
Ned at the meeting-place, and off we went in high spirits for the
It was a good mile to Big Woods, for we had to circle away down to
Hake's Mill to get across the creek, but we felt well repaid for our
trouble when we arrived there. The fallen nuts lay thick amid the dead
leaves, and up on the half-naked trees the splitting hulls hung in
clusters, willing to drop their burden at the least rustle of the
We heaped the shellbarks in great piles, ready to stow away in Ned's
big wheat bag; and, when the ground was cleaned up pretty well, and the
leaves had been thoroughly raked, we turned our attention to a close
cluster of trees that stood close by the creek. These nuts were
unusually large, and thin-shelled. The hulls were cracked apart, but
very few nuts lay on the ground, so I hauled out my club, and drove it
fairly into the heart of the tree. A shower of nuts came down, with a
merry clatter that gladdened our hearts; but the club, striking the
trunk of the tree, bounded sideways and lodged in the crotch of a limb
overhanging the creek, some twenty or thirty feet above the water.
Here was a dilemma. I didn't want to lose that club, for it had done
good service in past autumns, and had gone through a great many
If we tried to dislodge it by hurling sticks or stones, it would fall
into the water, and just at that point the creek was very deep, and
moreover, as popular tradition held, a treacherous undertow existed
which would render the recovery of the club impossible.
"Climb the tree, Jack," said Ned; "that's your only chance."
I was always considered a pretty good climber, so, after a little
hesitation (for this was an unusually difficult tree), I started up the
slippery trunk, and, with Ned's friendly aid, pulled myself among the
It was an easy matter to reach the particular bough that I wanted, but
then came the tug. I was half-inclined to give up the whole thing and
go down to the ground, but Ned kept egging me on so confidently that I
determined to go through with it.
Straddling the limb, I took a firm hold with both hands in front of me,
for no other boughs were close enough to be grasped, and thus inch by
inch I moved cautiously forward.
The branch creaked and groaned, and at last began to bend in such an
alarming fashion that I stopped short.
There was the club, not four feet away now, and far below I could see
the quiet waters of the creek, wrinkling the reflected foliage as a
dropping nut or stray leaf rippled the surface.
"You're nearly there, now," cried Ned, with hearty encouragement; "just
a little more, Jack, and you'll have it.
"But the limb will break," I called down.
"No, it won't," he insisted, "don't be afraid."
That settled it. I wasn't afraid, and Ned should know it.
I took a firmer grip on the bough, and slid forward half a foot.
Crack, crack,—the big branch slowly began to split, and as I made a
frantic effort to crawl back, a strange noise from the bushy part of
the tree overhead turned my gaze upward.
It's a wonder my hair didn't turn white that very instant, for what I
saw was a big, tawny wild-cat, with blazing eyes and quivering claws,
crouched on a narrow limb. I knew the animal was going to spring, and
I tried to shout as loudly as I could, but my tongue stuck to the roof
of my mouth, and the only sound I made was an odd cry that caused Ned
to laugh, for he couldn't see what was the matter from where he stood.
Then like a streak the brute plumped down on my back, and with a
tremendous splash, limb, wildcat, and myself went into the creek.
I heard Ned shout, as the water closed over me, and then everything
I rose to the surface terribly frightened, for, sad to relate, I had
never learned to swim, and Ned could do very little in that direction.
Instead of clutching at the empty air, as most drowning persons do, I
caught hold of something substantial; and when the water was out of my
eyes and out of my stomach, for I had swallowed about a pint, I saw
that I was hanging to the bushy end of the broken limb. That was all
very well, but the next thing I observed was not so pleasant, for six
feet distant, on the thick part of the branch, sat the wild-cat,
apparently none the worse for his fall. His sharp claws were driven
into the bark, and he was calmly licking his dripping fur. Meanwhile
the current was sweeping us down stream, and Ned was running along the
bank in a sad state of fright and excitement. My back began to hurt
pretty badly, and I discovered that my face was torn and bleeding in
one or two places, though whether this was caused by the fall or by the
wild-cat I did not know.
"Swim, Jack, let go and swim," shouted Ned, and then, remembering
perhaps that I was unable to follow his instructions, he suddenly
turned and ran back through the woods at the top of his speed, instead
of making any effort to help me.
I was badly scared before, and now, when I saw, as I supposed, my last
hope vanish, I began to shout for help as loudly as I could.
But at the very first cry the wild-cat lifted his head, and emitted a
vicious snarl. As I howled louder than ever, he advanced a foot or two
along the limb, ripping off the bark, and fixing his big glaring eyes
savagely on my face.
I was terrified into silence, and, as soon as I ceased shouting, the
brute stopped and coolly proceeded to lick his fur again.
Apparently, he did not object to my presence so long as I remained
quiet. The worst of it was that my end of the branch was pretty far
down in the water, and threatened every moment to carry me entirely
under the surface.
In this precarious situation, I drifted down the creek, until the bend
drew near that sweeps round to Hake's Mill. Here the country was a
little more open, and a farmhouse came into sight over the brow of a
There was a chance of rescue, and in spite of my previous experience, I
decided to try it, for my limbs were becoming chilled, and I knew I
could not hold on much longer.
"Help! Help!" I cried with might and main. No answer came back, but
before I could shout a third time the wild-cat uttered a snarl, and
began creeping toward me, inch by inch, and lashing the water fiercely
with his tail. Lower and lower sank the branch, until my shoulders
were submerged, and still the beast kept advancing.
I continued to shout, but no welcome voice responded, only empty echoes
floating back from the hills.
Then I must have given up all hope, for I remember wondering vaguely
what had become of Ned, and what they were doing in school, and whether
my absence was noticed or not.
The cold water was rippling about my neck now, and the wild-cat was so
close that I could note the horrible colors of the glaring eyes, and
feel the hot breath in my face. I wondered how it would feel when
those two rows of needle-like teeth met in my flesh; and then, before I
could think any more, a deafening report filled my ears, and, through
the cloud of smoke that rolled over the creek, the wild-cat bounded
high in air, and fell into the water with a loud splash. That was all
I remembered then. The next thing I knew, I was lying in a grassy
hollow, alongside the creek, while Ned and an old farmer bent over me,
and threw water in my face. Ned's desertion was explained. He had cut
off the bend in the creek by running over the hill, and, accompanied by
the farmer, who happened to be down in the woods hunting rabbits, they
had arrived just in time to shoot the wild-cat and drag me out of the
water. That was the last time I played truant. I didn't lose my share
of the shellbarks, for Ned went down early the next morning and got
them, but I did lose the chestnut club, and what was worse, in spite of
my sore back, I spent a very unpleasant quarter of an hour out in the
woodshed, just two days later, and Ned, I am happy to say, passed
through the same edifying experience.
A STIRRING INCIDENT.
India is the home of the deadliest serpents and fiercest wild beasts on
the globe. When it is stated that more than twenty thousand persons
are killed annually by the snakes and animals of that country, some
idea may be formed of its attractions in the way of a residence. To
this should be added the fact that, during certain seasons, the climate
is like that of Sahara itself. For days and nights the thermometer
stands above one hundred degrees in the shade and in the city of
Madras, unacclimated persons have died at midnight in their beds from
apoplexy caused by the appalling temperature.
Among the venomous serpents of India, the cobra di capello holds
foremost rank, though it is claimed that a still more deadly reptile
has been found in the interior, and I believe the British Museum has
one of these terrible creatures, whose bite brings death with the
suddenness of the lightning stroke. However, the cobra has been known
to strike two persons in instant succession, proving fatal to both
within ten minutes of each other. It is hard to conceive of any
serpent more venomously destructive than this.
On one of the flaming Sunday mornings, when there was not a cloud in
the brazen skies, a well known missionary came home from early service
and seated himself at the breakfast-table with his family. The door of
the dining-room was open and the Teluga school-teacher was outside,
when he became interested in a novel sight. A frog was hopping along
the front veranda, with an immense cobra chasing it. The serpent
struck at it repeatedly, but the fugitive, in its desperation, eluded
each blow, giving utterance to pitiful cries, as a frog will do when
pursued by a snake.
The end of the veranda reached, the frog leaped off, and the cobra
dropped to the ground in hot pursuit, but a box, standing near, offered
shelter. The creature scrambled beneath, just in time to avoid another
swift blow of the reptile, which was unable to follow it. The cobra
glided around the box, seeking some avenue by which to reach his
victim, but, finding none, moved off in the grass and disappeared.
The teacher hurried into the dining-room, with the announcement of what
he had seen. The missionary listened gravely and then inquired:
"Where is the cobra now?"
"I cannot tell, sir; he moved off among the flower-pots, but I do not
know whither he went."
"It is not my practice to go shooting on Sunday," remarked the
minister, "but it won't do to have that serpent where it is liable to
bite one of us. He must have a hole somewhere near the flower-pots;
please keep watch while I get my pistol."
The missionary always kept a loaded revolver for use when traveling
through the jungle at night, and he speedily stepped out on the
veranda, with the weapon in hand, and started to find the cobra.
Two large native flower-pots stood within a couple of yards of the
veranda. Each contained a fragrant rose, of which the good man's wife
was very fond. Every day she spent some time sprinkling them with
water or removing the dead leaves, never suspecting what proved to be
the fact that while thus employed, she continually moved about a spot
where an immense cobra lay coiled.
An opening was discovered directly between the flower pots, partly
concealed by the grass. It was about as thick as a man's wrist, and
descended perpendicularly, expanding into a small chamber.
The minister called for a hand-mirror, and with little trouble threw
the bright reflection of the sun into the hole, a little more than a
foot deep, fully lighting up the interior.
The cobra was there! It lay motionless in a glistening coil, as if
resting from its fruitless pursuit of the frog and brooding over its
disappointment. It was an alarming sight, but the good man kept cool,
and meant business from the start.
Taking a piece of broken wagon tire, he thrust it slantingly into the
hole, to hold the serpent a prisoner, and shoving the muzzle of his
revolver forward, he let fly.
Not the slightest motion followed. He had missed. He now gently
turned the tire edgewise and fired again. A furious writhing followed,
proving that the snake had been hit hard. The tire was instantly
turned over flat to prevent its coming out. It struck fiercely at the
iron, which in a minute was shifted on its edge again, and the
missionary emptied the remaining chambers of his revolver down the
hole. Then he turned up the tire once more, and allowed the hideous
head to dart forth.
The minister had brought with him a pair of large hedge shears, with
which he seized the protruding neck, drew out the snake and gave it a
flirt toward the compound. He was so absorbed with his task that he
had not noticed the crowd of men, women and children that had gathered
to watch the results of his hunt. When they saw a huge cobra flying
through the air toward them, there was a scampering and screaming,
which might have been less had they known that the grip of the shears
had dislocated the serpent's neck.
The good man did not forget that whenever you find one deadly serpent,
another is quite certain to be close at hand. He had passed the wagon
tire to the teacher, when he began pulling out the wounded cobra, and
asked him to insert it again without an instant's delay. This was
done, and returning with the hand-glass, the missionary once more
conveyed the rays into the underground chamber.
Sure enough a second cobra was there, wriggling and squirming in a way
to show that he had received some of the bullets intended for his
companion. The revolver was reloaded and a fusillade opened, standing
off a few paces, the marksman waited for the head to come forth that he
might seize and draw it out as he had done with the other.
The wounded reptile continued its furious squirming and striking, but
its head did not appear, until shot after shot had been fired. At last
it showed itself, and was immediately gripped with the shears.
Dropping the pistol, the missionary employed both hands in the effort,
and running backward a few steps, the whole frightful length of the
serpent was drawn out upon the ground.
Remembering their former experience, the crowd moved away, but the
missionary spared them a second fright.
Both cobras being helpless, an examination was made of them. The
second one showed the marks of fourteen pistol balls through his body,
any three of which would have proved fatal, but he was still full of
fight, and died while trying to strike the persons near him.
The serpents were now stretched out on the veranda and measured one of
them five feet eleven inches long, and the other six feet two inches.
The last is an extraordinary size, rarely seen even in the favorite
haunts of the reptile. An investigation of their home left no doubt
that they had been living for months right among the flower pots that
were attended to daily, and within six feet of the veranda and twelve
feet of the door of the missionary's study.
As for the frog that crawled under the box just in time to save
himself, he was well and flourishing at the last accounts.
CYCLONES AND TORNADOES.
Science as yet has not been able to grasp the laws that govern
cyclones. They seem to be the result of some intensely electric
condition of the elements, which finds an expression in that form.
Cyclones, until within a few years, meant those circular tempests
encountered in the Pacific and Indian oceans. They are the most
destructive of all storms, being far more deadly than monsoons and
All navigators, when caught in a cyclone know how to get out of it.
They have only to sail at right angles to the wind, when they will
either pass beyond the outer rim of the circular sweep, or reach the
center, where the ocean is calm.
The diameters of the ocean cyclones range from fifty to five hundred or
a thousand miles. Professor Douglas, of Ann Arbor University,
entertains his friends now and then by manufacturing miniature
cyclones. He first suspends a large copper plate by silken cords. The
plate is heavily charged with electricity, which hangs below in a
bag-like mass. He uses arsenious acid gas, which gives the electricity
a greenish tint. That mass of electricity becomes a perfect little
cyclone. It is funnel-shaped and spins around like a top. When he
moves the plate over a table, his cyclone catches up pennies, pens,
pith balls and other small articles, and scatters them in every
Cyclones never touch the equator, though the ocean ones are rare
outside the torrid one. They are caused by the meeting of contrary
currents of winds, and are known under the names of hurricanes,
typhoons, whirlwinds or tornadoes. Those terrifying outbursts which
now and then cause so much destruction in our own country seem to be
the concentration of the prodigious force of an immense ocean cyclone
within a small space, which renders them resistless.
A writer in the N. Y. Herald gives some interesting facts regarding
these scourges of the air. While the cyclone, as we have shown, may
have a diameter of hundreds of miles, the track of a tornado is often
limited to a few hundred feet, and rarely has the width of half a mile.
The cyclone carries with it a velocity of as much as 100 to 140 miles
an hour. It sends a certain amount of warning ahead of its track, and
the acceleration of the wind's speed at any given point, is gradual.
The tornado falls almost without notice, or rather the indications are
often so similar to those of an ordinary thunderstorm that only a
skilled and careful observer can detect the difference.
The phenomena and effects of cyclones in the West Indies have long been
subjects of study and observation. As the center approaches a ship she
is assaulted by wind of a terrible force and a sea that is almost
indescribable. The water no longer runs in waves of regular onward
motion, but leaps up in pyramids and peaks. The wind swirls and
strikes until wherever there is a chance for vibration or flutter, even
in tightly furled sails, the fabric soon gives way. I once saw a brig
go drifting past us in a West Indies cyclone with everything furled and
closely lashed with sea gaskets. We were in company nearly at the
height of the storm, when the center was only a few miles away. There
was a spot in the bunt of the foretopsail where the sail was not
tightly stowed, and for several hours it had doubtless been fluttering
under tremendous pressure. As I watched her a little white puff went
out of the bunt of the topsail, and then the destruction of the sail
was rapid. Long ribbons of canvas went slithering off as if a huge
file had rasped the yard arm, and in a short time there was nothing
left on the yard except the bolt ropes and the reef tackles. We could
do nothing to help the crew, for it was doubtful whether we could keep
off the reefs ourselves, and the brig passed out of sight to her
The local tornado that so frequently plays havoc with property and life
in the West is, like the cyclone, a revolving force, but it carries
with it a variety of phenomena wholly distinct from those that
accompany the larger storm. Many of the effects of one tornado are
wholly absent in others, and the indications that in one case have been
followed by a terrible disaster are not infrequently found at other
times to presage merely a heavy thunder shower.
The freaks of a tornado are wholly unaccountable. In some cases not an
object in its track will fail to feel its power for long distances; in
other instances it will seem to act like a cannon-ball that plows up
the earth on striking, then rises and strikes again, leaving the space
between untouched. Sometimes it will go through a forest leveling the
trees as though a gang of axemen had plied their tools on lines laid
out by surveyors, nothing outside the track being touched; but again in
similar windfalls there will be found occasional pockets scored in the
forest growth jutting off the right line, like small lagoons opening
into a flowing stream. These seem to have been caused by a sort of
attendant whirlwind—a baby offspring from the main monster, which,
having sprung away from the chief disturbance, scoops a hole in the
woods and then expires or rejoins the original movement.
I have seen one of the most violent and, so to speak, compressed of
these storms, cut a road through thick woods so that at a distance the
edges stood out clear and sharp against the sky as would those of a
railway cutting through earth. Trees standing at the edge of the track
had their branches clean swept one side while on the other there was no
perceptible disturbance of the foliage.
Sometimes the tornado acts like an enormous scoop, catching up every
movable thing and sweeping it miles away: and again it becomes a
depositor, as if, tired of carrying so much dead weight, it dumped it
upon the earth preparatory to grabbing up a new cargo. These effects
are particularly noticeable in the tornado that goes by jumps. When it
strikes and absorbs a mass of debris it seems to spring up again like a
projectile that grazes the surface. For a space there will be a very
high wind and some damage, but no such disaster as the tornado has
previously wrought. Out of the clouds will come occasional heavy
missiles and deluges of water. Then down goes the tornado again
crashing and scattering by its own force and adding to its destructive
power by a battery of timbers and other objects brought along from the
previous impact. Relieved of these masses, it again gathers up
miscellaneous movables and repeats its previous operation.
The force with which these objects strike is best seen when they fall
outside of the tornado's path, since the work done by the missile is
not then disturbed by the general destructive force of the storm.
Thus, near Racine, Wis., I have known an ordinary fence rail, slightly
sharpened on one end, to be driven against a young tree like a spear
and pierce it several feet. The velocity of the rail must have been
something enormous, or otherwise the rail would have glanced from such
a round and elastic object.
Many of the settlers in the tornado districts of Southern Minnesota,
Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska excavate a deep cellar beneath their houses
and cover it with heavy timbers as a place of refuge for their families
when a tornado threatens to strike them. While these dugouts are
usually effective, they are not always so. There have been instances
where families having only time to descend and not time enough to close
the trap door have been exposed to the storm's full fury by the tornado
getting into the opening and lifting off the whole roof after having
first swept away the house above. Another pathetic case resulted in
the death of a whole family by an extraordinary freak of the tornado.
The storm first struck a large pond and swept up all the water in it.
Its next plunge deposited this water on one of these dugouts, and the
family were drowned like chipmunks in a hole.
Some of the western tornadoes are accompanied by electrical
manifestations to an extent that has originated a belief in electricity
as their cause. These disturbances are very marked in some cases,
while in others they have not been noticed. In one tornado in Central
Illinois electricity played very peculiar antics not only in the
tornado's track, but also at some distance from it. In the ruined
houses all the iron work was found to have been strongly magnetized, so
that pokers, flatirons and other metal objects were found adhering to
each other. Just off the tornado's track the same effects were
noticed, and several persons experienced sharp electric shocks during
the passage of the storm. Afterward it was found that the magnetic
influence was so strong that clocks and watches were stopped and
rendered wholly useless.
The scooping action of the tornado sometimes makes considerable changes
in the topography of the country, as when it gathers up the water of a
large pond or water course and makes a new pond or opens a new channel.
At Wallingford the water in a pond of very large size was taken bodily
from its bed, carried up a hill and dropped nearly in one mass, so that
gullies and ravines were cut in every direction.
There is a divide in Northeastern Illinois between streams flowing into
Lake Michigan and those running to the Mississippi. So level is a
portion of the land on the summit, and so slight the elevation above
the lake, that in wet seasons the surface-water seems almost as willing
to go one way as the other; and on one occasion the upper streams of
the Desplaines River were nearly permanently diverted toward the lake
by a tornado that gathered up the water and scored the surface in its
track toward the east.
Many are the stories told of the way in which objects are carried away
by the wind and left in strange places. In one Illinois tornado two
children and an infant were caught up. The dead bodies of the children
were found only a few hundred feet distant, but the infant was picked
up alive more than a mile away from the spot where the tornado swept
the children up. An accordion that must have come a long distance—for
it was never claimed—was found so entangled in the branches of a tree
that it was alternately pulled apart and pressed together by the wind,
thus creating such weird and uncanny music during a whole night that an
already sufficiently scared settlement of negroes were kept in a state
of frantic dismay until daylight revealed the cause.
In another case a farmer who followed the tornado's track in search of
missing cattle was astonished to discover one of his cows lodged about
twenty feet above the ground in the branches of a half-stripped maple.
"I allers knew that was an active heifer," he remarked, as he came in
sight of her hanging over the slanting limb, "but I never allowed she
could climb a tree."
LOST IN A BLIZZARD.
If I were given my choice between a visit from a cyclone or a blizzard,
I would unhesitatingly choose the former. True, there is no resisting
its terrific power, and a man caught in its embrace is as helpless as a
child when seized by a Bengal tiger; but there is a chance of escape,
and the whole thing is over in a few minutes. You may be lifted into
the air and dropped with only a few broken bones, or, by plunging into
a "cyclone pit," the fury of the sky may glide harmlessly over your
head; but in the case of a blizzard, however, let me tell you the one
woeful experience of my life.
The snow fell steadily for two days and nights, and looking out from my
home in western Kansas I saw that it lay fully three feet on a level.
By a strange providence my wife, who had been my brave and faithful
helper for several years, was away on a visit to her friends in Topeka,
and my only companion was my servant Jack, a middle-aged African, who
in his youth was a slave in Kentucky.
Things had not gone well with us of late. The grasshoppers and drought
played the mischief with out crops, and it was a question with me for
months whether the wisest course to take was not to throw up my hands,
let everything go to the bow-wows and, in the dry-goods firm, that I
knew was returning to St. Louis, resume my situation still open for me.
A man hates to confess himself beaten, and I decided to remain where I
was one more year. Then, if there was no improvement, I would turn my
back on Kansas forever.
"Master Thomas," said Jack, as the dismal December afternoon drew to a
close, "thar isn't a pound ob flour in de house. Shall I go to de
village and get some?"
"No; I will go myself."
It was the sudden realization of the unutterable loneliness I would
feel without any companion that led me to this rash declaration. The
town was only a mile distant, but it would require hours to make the
journey there and back, and I could not bear the thought of being
without the society of any one for that time. I had read everything in
the house; the single horse and cow I owned had been looked after, and
there was absolutely nothing to do but to sit down before the scant
fire, listen to the sifting of the snow against the window panes, and
give way to gloomy reverie.
Anything was preferable to this, and it was with a feeling akin to
relief that I added:
"I might do so had I not noticed this afternoon that he had gone lame."
"Better let de flour go, den, for de snow am too deep and de storm to
heavy for you to tramp all de way to town and back again."
"No; while I haven't much fear of our starving, yet, if the snow-fall
continues, we shall be in a bad way. I can carry twenty-five pounds
without trouble, and will be back in a few hours; then the storm may
rage as hard as it pleases, for all we care."
The preparations were quickly made, and, to shorten my story, I may say
that, after a laborious tramp, I reached the village without mishap,
bought my quarter of a hundred of flour, slung it over my shoulder, and
started on my return.
By this time I had made several disquieting discoveries. The snow was
falling faster than ever, the cold was increasing, a gale was blowing,
and, under the circumstances, of course there was not a glimmer of
light in the sky. My course was directly across the prairie, and in
the event of my tracks being obliterated by the snow—as was almost
certain to be the case—it was almost impossible for me to prevent
myself from going astray.
My hope lay in Jack's promise that he would keep a bright light burning
in the upper story to guide me on my course. On a clear night this
light was visible from the village, but somehow or other I failed to
take into account the state of the weather. The air was full of
eddying flakes, which would render the headlight of a locomotive
invisible a hundred yards distant. Strange that this important fact
never occurred to me until I was fully a fourth of a mile from the
village. Then, after looking in vain for the beacon light, the danger
of my situation struck me, and I halted.
"I am certain to go wrong," I said to myself.
"It is out of my power to follow a direct course without something to
serve as a compass. I will go back to the village and wait till
Wheeling about in my tracks, I resumed my wearisome tramp through the
heavy snow, and kept it up until I was certain I had travelled fully a
fourth of a mile. Then when I paused a moment and gazed ahead and
around, I was confronted by blank darkness on every hand. What a proof
of a man's tendency to go wrong, that in aiming at a village of fifty
dwellings, and only a fourth of a mile away, I had missed it altogether!
This discovery gave me my first thrill of real alarm. I shouted, but
my voice fell dead in the snowy air. The gale was blowing more
furiously than ever, and the cold was so intense that it penetrated my
thick clothing and caused my teeth to rattle together!
"You can be of no use to me," I exclaimed, flinging away the small bag
of flour. "The village can't be far off, and I will find it."
Determined to retain my self-possession, I made a careful calculation
of the proper course to follow, and plunged into my work with more
vigor than ever. I continually glanced up in quest of the flickering
lights, and listened, in the hope of hearing some sound that could
guide me, but nothing of the kind was seen or heard, and it was not
long before the terrible truth burst upon me that I was lost.
Aye, and lost in a blizzard! The wind had risen almost to a hurricane;
the cold cut through the thickest clothing, and the snow struck my
face like the prick of millions of needles. I shouted again, but,
convinced that it was a useless waste of strength, I soon ceased.
It was certain death to remain motionless, and almost equally fatal to
push on; but there was a possibility that I might strike the right
direction, and anything was preferable to remaining idle. And so, with
a desperation akin to despair, I threw all the vigor at my command into
my benumbed limbs, and bent every possible energy to the life and death
task before me.
The sleet drove against my cheeks with such spiteful and penetrating
fierceness that I could make no use of my eyes, I could only bend my
head to the blast and labor through the snow, praying that Providence
would guide my footsteps in the right direction.
I was plodding forward in this heavy, aimless fashion when I noticed
that the violence of the gale was drifting the snow. Sometimes I would
strike a space of several yards where it did not reach to my ankles.
Then I would suddenly lurch into a wall that reached to my shoulders.
After wallowing through this, I might strike a shallow portion again,
where, while walking quite briskly, a windrow of snow would be hurled
against my breast and face with such fury as to force me backward and
off my feet.
Bracing myself, I waited until there was a sufficient lull in the
blizzard for me to make some use of my eyes. I blinked and peered
toward the different points of the compass, but without catching the
first twinkle of light.
"I am lost—lost—" I moaned; "there is no help for me!"
An extraordinary collapse must have come over me, for my senses seemed
to forsake me on the instant. I went down in the eddying, blinding
snow, and knew no more.
At the moment of giving way I was less than a hundred yards from the
easternmost house of the village. My despairing cry was heard, and
hospitable hands carried me into the dwelling within a quarter of an
hour after losing my consciousness. Intelligent and prompt treatment
prevented any serious consequences, but the remembrance of that brief
time exposed to the fury of the blizzard will remain with me to my
THROWING THE RIATA.
The skill shown by cattlemen in throwing the riata or lasso often
approaches the marvelous. What is more wonderful than the duel
described in the San Francisco Examiner, between Mexican vaqueros, in
which the only weapons used were their riatas? The victor overcame the
other by throwing his noose, so that his enemy's noose passed right
through it, and the conqueror lassoed the other man's arms against his
side and jerked him from his steed.
The despatch then went on to tell of the skill of the victorious riata
man, and mentioned among other wonderful feats, his lassoing an
antelope running at high speed 100 feet away. To make the test more
extraordinary, the correspondent wrote that he would pick out one of
the animal's feet and get the noose around that alone.
An Examiner reporter called on Louis Ohnimus, Superintendent of
Woodward's Gardens, who wielded a riata for many years, and probably
knows as much about throwing the lasso as any man on the coast, and
asked him if the feats referred to were possible.
"The Mexican may have won the duel by lassoing his adversary, riata and
all," was the answer. "It is not an uncommon thing for them to settle
their differences by such a fight, and I have heard of the trick of
ringing the other man's rope, but if that man can catch an antelope one
hundred feet away, by the foot or any other way, he is a better riata
man than I ever encountered. In the first place mighty few men are
strong enough to throw a rope such a distance. Then an ordinary riata
is only fourteen or sixteen yards long—twenty yards is a very long
one. So, you see, a forty-foot throw is a pretty good one."
He was asked to explain how to throw a lasso, and consented to do so.
"The first thing about this business," said Mr. Ohnimus, "is to have a
perfect riata. If you have one perfectly stretched, oiled, and in a
thoroughly good condition, you can throw well; if your rope is kinky or
uneven, you will find it impossible to do accurate work."
"What do you consider a good riata?"
"Well, I can only tell you how a good one is made. First, the rawhide
is cut in thin strips, as long as possible, and half tanned with the
hair on. Then these strips are soaked and stretched over a block.
Then they are braided into a rope, care being taken, of course, to pull
the strands as tight as possible. When the riata is made it should be
buried for a week, ten days, or even a fortnight, in the sand. It
takes up moisture from the ground, without getting hard. Soaking it in
water won't do, nor will anything else that I know of except, as I say,
burying it. When the riata is resurrected it should again be left for
a time stretched over a block, with a weight to hold it taut. Then the
hair should be sandpapered off the outside, and when the riata is
greased with mutton tallow and properly noosed it is ready for use.
Every vaquero that pretends to take care of his apparatus will bury his
riata and stretch it every six or eight months.
"A hair rope does not make a good riata. It is useful to stretch
around camp at night to keep snakes away. For some reason snakes will
not cross a hair rope.
"Now, as to throwing it:
"The riata, say, is hanging from the horn of the saddle—not tied, but
ready for use. No vaquero who understands his trade ties his rope to
his saddle. He knows that his life may depend on his ability to let go
of his rope in an instant, and he isn't going to chance killing himself
or his horse. You see, the vaquero might be on a side hill, and a bull
or steer he wishes to catch be on a trail below him, and the ground
between them to be too steep to admit of his riding down to it. Now,
suppose the noose, instead of catching around the horns of the steer,
should circle his neck and draw down to his shoulders? Accidents are,
of course, as likely to happen in catching cattle as in anything else,
and give a bull such a hold and he could pull a house, let alone a
mustang. That would be one case where it would be very handy to let go
quickly. Then a man is likely to get his hand caught, and if he can't
let his rope go free he is likely to lose a finger or two.
"Our vaquero is trotting along with his rope hanging at his saddle bow
or fastened behind him. He sees a deer or whatever else he wants to
catch, and grabs his rope with the left hand if he is a right-handed
man, though a man to really excel in this business should be
ambi-dextrous. A right-handed man can, under ordinary circumstances,
rope a steer; but he has frequently to turn his horse to gain a good
position. Now it sometimes happens that your horse is in a position
where you can't turn; then it would be awkward, unless you could throw
with either hand. I usually throw with my left hand, though I can use
"I take up the rope from the saddle bow, so."
He lifted his riata in his right hand. His little finger held the
standing end of the rope, the third and middle finders supported the
coil, and the noose dangled from his first finger, while his thumb
steadied the whole rope and held it from slipping. The coils were not
more than a foot or a foot and a half in diameter. The noose was the
"That's a smaller noose than you would use on the range, is it not?"
"No," answered Mr. Ohnimus, "the vaquero never carries his noose long.
If he did, it would be constantly getting tangled up in the horse's
legs. He makes it larger when he swings it. But to get back to the
process of lassoing. As our cowboy gets close to his quarry, he takes
the noose in his lasso hand. I will use my left, as it is a trifle
handier for me. He grips the rope, not too firmly, holding the
standing part and the side of the noose about half the length of the
loop away from the knot. That is to enable him to swing the noose so
that it will fall open. If he holds it at the knot he will throw a
long, narrow noose that is very likely to cross and kink.
"Meanwhile I, representing our cowboy, hold the remaining coils in my
other hand, only changing the position of my forefinger so as to secure
better control of the coils. Then comes the third maneuver—enlarging
the noose. Of course, you have to have a larger noose than one a foot
in diameter to drop over a steer's horns forty feet away. The noose is
enlarged by swinging the noose in your lasso hand until the centrifugal
force pulls it out the size you wish (this is the reason you do not
grasp it too firmly), letting go with the other hand, of course, as
many coils as are necessary to make the noose the right size. Now you
have the noose in the air you do not cease making it circle around your
head until you let it go. When the noose has been let out to the right
size the next trouble is to keep it open and to avoid entangling it in
the brush or other surrounding obstructions. You keep it open, as I
said, by holding the noose from quarter to half its length from the
knot, and by a peculiar twist of the wrist that is only attainable by
practice. To keep it clear of the brush is often a more difficult job,
for the cowboy is not always in a clear place when he wants to throw
his rope. Then it is that his judgment comes into play and determines
whether his cast is a lost one or not. I have seen vaqueros swing a
lasso swiftly almost in the midst of a thicket, and keep it clear
without losing speed, and then let it drive straight as an arrow
between two close trees and rope an object that could not pass where
the noose had gone. Such skill, to be sure, comes only after long
"Well, now we have got the noose circling about the vaquero's head, and
the next thing is to let it fly. There is not much to describe about
this part of throwing a riata, important though it may be. It is only
incessant practice that will enable a man to make a certain cast. The
main thing is to swing the rope just long enough—neither so long as to
give it a side-wise motion when you throw it, nor short enough to
prevent its getting all the force you require. Then the riata man must
throw at a particular limb or projection. This thing of tossing
blindly at an object and trusting to luck that the animal will get into
the rope somehow will not do. You must pick out your mark as carefully
as if you were shooting at it, and then time it. A steer jumping along
changes his position constantly as regards you. If you throw at his
head high up the chances are that it will be away down when your rope
reaches him, and you will overthrow. Now, if you pick out a foot you
must reckon so that that foot will be off the ground when your rope
reaches him. The noose does not travel like a bullet, and this element
of time is most important.
"Of even more importance is it that the distances are gauged correctly.
You remember I spoke about holding the coils lightly in two or three
fingers. Well, that is done in order that as many coils as may be
considered necessary may be let go. If you are wielding a riata you
know that each of your coils is almost two feet or two and one half
feet long. So if you want to lasso something twenty feet away you let
go ten coils.
"As to letting go, you simply open your hand at the correct time and
the rope slips off.
"But even after you have roped your steer your work is not over.
Almost any animal can pull you from your horse, and to prevent this you
must get your rope around the horn of your saddle. There is where you
have to be quick. There are two ways of making this hitch that are
used ordinarily. The one I prefer is simply to take two turns around
the horn, taking care that the second turn comes lower and overlaps the
other. No pull in the world could make that rope slip, while I can,
simply by throwing off one turn, let it all slide off. This other
fashion, which is really taking a 'half-inch' around the horn, holds
just as fast, but you have to push the rope through to loosen it. You
see, in making this sudden twist, a finger is very likely to get
caught, and I have known many fingers being taken off before such a
hitch could be unfastened.
"It is often advisable to take an extra twist around anything you have
lassoed, and this is done by simply throwing a coil. Practice again is
the only thing that can teach this.
"Now you have the whole theory of throwing a rope.
"There are four sorts of throws, but they are all made alike, only the
position of the arm being different. They are the overthrow, the
underthrow, the sidethrow, and the backthrow."
"Yes, backthrow—catching an object behind you—something that you need
not even see. That sounds difficult, does it? Well, you stand behind
me and you can see it done."
The reporter took his station twenty feet behind Mr. Ohnimus, quite out
of sight, of course. He swung the loop around his head, and, without
turning, let it fly backward. It circled the newspaper man exactly,
and by pulling it quickly Ohnimus had his arms pinioned to his side.
"Are there any more trick throws?" asked the reporter.
"Lots of them. I never put myself up as a crack riata man, and I am
out of practice now, but I can lay the noose on the ground at my feet
and kick it around your neck, or pick it off the ground from my horse
and land it around you while the horse is going at full speed, and do
lots of things like that, but none of them is any good. That backthrow
has been used by the Mexican highwaymen to considerable advantage. You
see, in that country the traveler always looks out for danger from the
rear and is prepared for it, but when a pleasant horseman rides past
him, playing with his riata, and wishing him 'Good-day' as he passes,
he is likely to consider the danger as gone by, as well as the man.
That has caused the death of a good many. The bandit gets the right
distance ahead and then lassoes him as I did you. A touch of his spur
jerks his victim from the saddle and that ends it."
"How is the lasso as a weapon of defence?"
"Good. A quick riata man can beat a fellow with a pistol at fairly
"Well, here is a pistol. Put it in your pocket and draw it on me as I
come toward you."
The reporter did as he was directed. He had not raised the weapon when
the noose was around his hand and the pistol was jerked a dozen feet.
"Try again, and tighter," said Ohnimus.
The reporter did so. The pistol was not jerked from his hand this
time, but before he could snap it Ohnimus had thrown a coil around his
neck and pulled his pistol hand up over his shoulder. In another
instant a second coil was around the reporter's body, and both arms
were fastened firmly to his sides. He could not move that pistol an
inch. No clearer demonstration of the use of the lasso as a weapon of
defence was possible.
"What is the most difficult animal, in your opinion, to catch with the
lasso?" was asked.
"A sea lion," answered the rope thrower. "I have caught them off the
southern coast. They go right through a noose. The only way to get
them is to throw the rope around his neck and back of one flipper. A
hog is hard to catch, too. He pulls his legs out of a noose without
half trying, and you can't hold him by the neck or body. The only way
is to get him like the sea lion—back of one foreleg."
Doubtless many of my readers have heard of the dreadful encounters of
vessels with waterspouts, when the ship escaped destruction by firing a
cannon-ball into the waterspout, thus causing it to break apart.
Now these things are by no means such terrible objects as many believe.
No doubt the vessels of the present day are larger and stronger than
formerly, and perhaps waterspouts have become smaller. Be as it may,
the people who go down to the sea in ships need give themselves no
uneasiness about them, for really they amount to little.
The Slavonia, of the Hamburg line left Brunshausen, on the Elbe, on
February 26 last, under the command of Capt. H. Schmidt. She had only
two passengers. The weather was squally and the air full of mist when
she reached the outer Banks, 900 miles from New York, shortly after
sunrise on Sunday, March 16. The big vessel was heading west by north,
when, at 7 o'clock, Second Mate Erichsen, who was on the bridge, saw
emerge through the mist on the starboard side of the ship, at the
distance of about a thousand feet, a towering column which united sea
and sky. The column was in front of the ship to starboard, and was
moving in a southeasterly direction, apparently at the rate of eight
knots an hour.
Although the Slavonia was running 9 1/2 knots, the column seemed likely
to pass in front of the steamship when their paths crossed.
Accordingly Erichsen did not try to alter the course of the Slavonia;
indeed, he would not have altered it had he known ship and spout were
sure to meet, for he had encountered waterspouts before and wasn't
afraid of them. All he did—in fact, all he had time to do—was to
call Third Mate Lorentzen, also an expert in waterspouts.
On rushed the Slavonia, heading west by north: nearer came the
waterspout, heading south by east. It soon became evident that the
spout could not get by before the Slavonia reached it, and it was now
too late to slow up—indeed, a collision was manifestly unavoidable
from the start. Lorentzen had scarcely reached the bridge when the
watery Philistine was upon the Samson. It just hit the steamer's bows
on the starboard side, as depicted in the second cut. A rushing noise
accompanied the column, and the water foamed in its wake. Immediately
above was a great black cloud from which clouds less dark descended to
form a funnel, or inverted cone. The middle of the column was white,
apparently because it contained snow.
The column's narrowest diameter was about twelve feet, while it was
three times as broad as its base, which reproduced in water and
inverted the cloud-formed funnel above. The whole column rotated with
a spiral motion.
The waterspout, when it approached, took all the wind out of the
fore-staysail of the steamship, which went blind, but the schooner-sail
still kept full, and presently the fore-staysail filled again.
The Slavonia shook under the shock caused by contact with the column of
water, but kept on her course none the worse for the collision. A few
flakes of snow on her bow were the only evidence of the collision after
the pillar of water had passed off to port.
While the vessel was uninjured, the waterspout soon showed signs that
it had received its death-blow. As it sailed off to the southeast it
parted in the middle, and the cone of water which formed its base and
the cone of cloud which formed its top began to grow smaller by
degrees. The waterspout was slowly but surely ceasing to be a
waterspout when it disappeared from view in the misty distance some
fifteen minutes or more from the time it was sighted.
The Slavonia's encounter with the waterspout took place in latitude
42 degrees 22 minutes north and longitude 52 degrees 35 minutes west.
This is rather far north for waterspouts so early in the year. The
waterspout crop is generally more plentiful when thunder and lightning
are on top, which is in warmer weather. The temperature of the air at
the time of the encounter was 37 degrees; water 54 degrees. It had
been cold during the night, but grew warmer in the morning. The clouds
which overspread the firmament were of the cumulus pattern.
Erichsen and Lorentzen have not only seen other waterspouts, but the
first, when on a sailing vessel in the tropics, ran into the very
middle of one with no worse result than to deluge the deck of the ship
with water as a heavy shower would have done. He thinks an unusually
large waterspout might possibly sink a very small vessel, say a pilot
boat, but with a ship of ordinary size he considers bombarding a
waterspout with cannon a waste of powder.
AN HEROIC WOMAN.
Every boy and girl should learn to swim. When one recalls how easily
the art is acquired, and the many occasions that are liable to arise,
we cannot but wonder that the accomplishment is so universally
neglected by the other sex. It is pleasant to note, however, that
swimming is growing to be popular among women, and the day is not far
distant, when the majority of young ladies will become the rivals of
their brothers in their ability to keep their heads above water.
Torres Strait separates Australia from Papua or New Guinea; and
connects the Arafura Sea on the west, with the Coral Sea on the east.
Its current is swift and the waters from time immemorial have been
dangerous to navigation. It has been the scene of many shipwrecks, and
it is only a few months since that the steamer Quetta was lost in
those waters. One hundred and sixteen persons perished on that
terrible night in the South Pacific, but among the survivors was Miss
Lacy, whose experience was not only among the most interesting and
thrilling ever recorded, but emphasizes the statement we have made at
the opening of our sketch.
Miss Lacy says she was sitting in the saloon, engaged in writing a
letter, the other ladies practicing for a concert which it was intended
to give on shipboard. Everything was going along, merrily, and all
were in high spirits, when, without the least warning, they were
startled by a harsh, grating noise, the steamer rocked violently, and
nearly every one was thrown into the wildest panic.
The confusion and shouts above showed that some fearful disaster had
occurred. Instantly Miss Lacy made a rush for the deck to learn what
it meant. Quick as were her movements, she found the ship was already
sinking. Going aft was like climbing a steep hill, but she saw that
one portion was high above water, and she struggled bravely to reach
it. But, so rapidly did the Quetta go down that she had hardly gone
forward, when the steamer was swallowed up in the furious waters.
That which followed is beyond description. In an instant, two hundred
human beings were struggling frantically, shrieking in their terror for
the help which was nowhere to be found, clutching each other, praying
and drowning by the score.
Miss Lacy was caught in this fearful swirl, and was in imminent danger
of being dragged down by those around her, who were crazed by the one
wild, despairing hope of saving themselves, no matter at what cost.
But she was a powerful swimmer, and retaining her self-command, she
shook herself free of several who attempted to cling to her. The
whirlpool caused by the sinking of the steamer pulled her beneath the
water, but, with the same wonderful presence of mind she had shown from
the first, she fought her way to the surface, and swam from the
Finding herself her own mistress, and fully aware that her life now
depended on her ability to swim, she removed all her superfluous
clothing and moved hither and thither in the darkness, in the hope of
coming upon some of the survivors.
It was about midnight, that she heard some one shout. The gloom was
too powerful for her to distinguish anything, but she swam toward the
point, whence the call issued, and came upon a raft, that had been
hastily thrown together by the chief officer of the Quetta. Several
persons were clinging to it, and she accepted the invitation to avail
herself of the temporary refuge and give her weary limbs a rest.
The dismal hours wore slowly away, and at last the growing light in the
eastern sky told that the longed-for day was breaking. As soon as the
rays of the sun illumined the wild waste of waters, every eye scanned
the ocean in quest of some sail; but on every side was the vast heavy
sea, with no sign of life except on the little raft. It was water,
water everywhere, with not a drop to drink nor a morsel of food to eat,
and with no prospect of escaping a lingering death of the most
The discouraging feature of the situation to Miss Lacy was that their
rude support was making no progress at all. They had no means of
propelling it, and, had they possessed such means, no one knew what
course to follow. It looked as if days and nights must be passed on
the raft, until one by one the survivors succumbed or ended their
sufferings by plunging into the sea which they had striven so hard to
Far away, however, on the verge of the horizon, an object rose dimly to
view, which, after carefully studying for some time, the shipwrecked
people agreed was a small island, but, as we have stated, they were
powerless to propel their craft thither, and could only gaze and sigh
for the refuge that was as much beyond their reach, as though it were a
thousand leagues distant.
"I am going to swim to it!" exclaimed Miss Lacy.
"Are you mad?" demanded the astonished chief-officer; "it is utterly
"I prefer to risk it rather than remain here."
"But it is much further off than it seems to be; these waters are full
of sharks and you will never live to swim half the distance. Dismiss
the idea at once."
And the brave woman took a header into the sea, and with a long
graceful stroke, that compelled the admiration of every one of the
amazed survivors, began swimming toward the supposed refuge.
But the chief-officer knew more about the difficulties in her way than
she did. She grievously miscalculated the distance, and, though she
was a swimmer of amazing skill and endurance, she began to believe she
had undertaken a task beyond her power of accomplishment.
She swam directly toward the island, husbanding her strength like a
wise person, but making steady progress, until before the afternoon was
half gone, she knew she had placed many a long mile behind her. When
she looked back she could see nothing of the raft and her friends, but
as she rose on the crest of an immense swell, she plainly discerned the
island. It still was in the verge of the horizon, and it was hard for
her to see that she was apparently no nearer to it than when she
Besides this alarming fact, she was threatened by a still greater
peril. As the chief-officer had warned her, the waters abounded with
sharks, of the man-eating species, who were liable to dart forward and
seize her at any moment; but, in recalling her extraordinary
experience, Miss Lacy says that at no time did she feel any fear of
them. She knew they were liable to discover her at any moment, but
they did not, and fortunately indeed she escaped their ferocious jaws.
Her greatest suffering was from the blazing sun, whose rays shot
downward upon her head with pitiless power. When she found her brain
growing dizzy, she averted the danger of sunstroke by dropping or
swimming for some distance below the surface. This always cooled or
refreshed her, though she felt her face and neck blistering under the
In striving to recall her experience, Miss Lacy is unable to remember a
large portion of the time she spent in the water. She believes she
slept for several hours. What an extraordinary situation! Alone in
the midst of the vast strait in the southern Pacific, surrounded by
sharks, with no friendly sail in sight, and yet slumbering and
Of course she was not swimming all this time. When she found herself
growing weary, she floated on her back for long periods, then propelled
herself first upon one side and then upon the other, and all the time
the dim misty object in the distance remained as far away as ever.
Finally, when she raised her head and looked for it, she was dismayed
at being unable to detect it at all. It had vanished.
Then she knew that it had been an optical delusion from the first.
There was no island or land in sight. She was alone on the vast deep.
But the heroic woman did not despair. After she had been in the water
twenty hours altogether, and was in the last stage of exhaustion, she
was picked up by a boat belonging to the search steamer Albatross.
For several hours succeeding her rescue she was delirious, but it was
not long before she was entirely herself, having given a signal proof
of the value of swimming as a lady's accomplishment.
THE WRITING FOUND IN A BOTTLE.
Let me assure the readers, at the beginning of this sketch, that it is
strictly true in every particular. I have no ambition to shine as a
writer of fiction, and, at the request of a number of friends
acquainted with the remarkable circumstances, have sat down to relate,
in a straightforward manner as is at my command; the part that I took
in the history of the famous Buried Treasure.
Not the least singular part of this strange business was that, of the
three individuals concerned two were boys, one being my son Frank
(named for his father) and a playmate, Arthur Newman. The latter was
thirteen years old, while Frank was only a few months his senior.
They were inseparable playmates from early childhood; and as we lived
near a broad, deep inlet, which put in from the Atlantic, they learned
to swim at the age of ten, and soon learned to manage a yacht as well
as veterans. I was sometimes anxious because of their venturesome
disposition, but although they frequently ventured outside, sometimes
in very nasty weather, no accident ever befell them, and the parents of
both boys gradually learned to dismiss all fear concerning them, under
the belief that, as they grew older, they became better fitted to take
care of themselves.
One day in March Frank told me that a suspicious brig had been standing
off shore for the better part of a week, and he and Arthur had come to
the conclusion that it was a pirate. I laughed heartily at their
fancy, and assured them that the days of buccaneers and sea rovers were
long since past, and they must dismiss all such absurd ideas from their
The following week the Atlantic sea-board was devastated by one of the
fiercest storms that had been known for years. Reports of wrecks and
disasters to shipping reached us for several days after, and Frank
remarked one evening at supper that he believed his suspected pirate
was one of the unfortunate vessels that had gone down with all on
board. I smiled at his words, but when I learned that the beach was
strewn with wreckage, and that a great deal of it had washed into the
inlet, I thought it probable that he was right, so far as the fate of
the strange ship was concerned.
It was near the close of the month that my boy brought home a tightly
corked bottle, which he and Arthur had found while cruising in the
inlet. When he said that there was a piece of rolled paper inside, I
felt enough curiosity to withdraw the stopper with the aid of a strong
corkscrew, and to make an examination.
Sure enough there was a small roll of thick, vellum-like paper, on
which, in a cramped hand, evidently written years before, was the
"Three feet under the Beacon Tree."
For a minute or two I was puzzled, and then, as if by inspiration, the
whole truth burst upon me.
The Beacon Tree was the name of an immense poplar that stood near the
mouth of the inlet. The fish-hawks had builded their nests in the
forked tops for a half century. I remember hearing my father say it
was struck by lightning long before and although its upper branches
were shattered, and it had been as dead as a fence-post ever since, yet
its immense size, great height, and peculiar, silver-like appearance
caused it to become a prominent landmark to the vessels when
approaching the coast, and long before I was born it gained the name of
the Beacon Tree, by which title it was known to unnumbered hundreds of
sailors and sea-faring men.
"There is a treasure buried under that tree," I said to Frank,
suppressing my excitement so far as I could. "More than likely it was
placed there by some freebooter a long time ago, and these people were
awaiting a chance to dig it up."
"Maybe Captain Kidd buried it," suggested the boy.
"Possibly he did, for there is reason to believe that he hid a great
deal of treasure along the Atlantic coast. Now, since Arthur was with
you when you found this bottle, he has the same claim to the treasure
that you have. We will not say anything to his father, and you must
take particular care not to give a hint to a living soul. Go over and
tell Arthur to come here this evening. I will furnish the shovels and
lantern, and when we are sure that no one will see us, we will slip
over to the Beacon Tree and dig."
I recall that I was never so absolutely sure of anything in my life as
I was that valuable treasure lay buried under the old poplar. My wife,
to whom I showed the little roll of paper, expressed a doubt, and
smilingly hinted that perhaps I was too much impressed by that
brilliant sketch of Edgar A. Poe called "The Gold Bug."
"Of course," I answered, "disappointment may await us, and I know these
bottles picked up at sea are frequently frauds; but the age of the
writing and the peculiar circumstances convince me that this is
genuine. I am sure something will be found under the Beacon Tree."
Meantime Frank had hurried off to acquaint Arthur with the amazing
discovery, and to warn him against dropping a hint to any one. My son
soon returned with the word that his friend was "b'iling" with
excitement, but alas! his parents were going to spend that evening with
a neighbor, and since they would not be back until late, there was no
possible way of his joining us.
The boys were not more disappointed than I, and the impulse was strong
upon me to make the venture without the help of Arthur, meaning, of
course that such a proceeding should not affect his share in the find;
but it did not strike me that that would be exactly right, and Arthur
was informed that we three would attend to the business the following
I could not avoid strolling out to the Beacon Tree the next day. I did
so in the most off-hand manner and with the most unconcerned expression
I could assume; but had any one scrutinized my countenance, I am sure
he would easily have detected the deep agitation under which I was
I was considerably disturbed, upon examining the immediate surroundings
of the tree, to discover signs which looked as if some one had been
digging there quite recently.
"The secret has become known and the treasure has been carried off," I
gasped, with a rapidly throbbing heart.
Reflection, however, reassured me. No one had seen the writing in the
bottle beside myself (though evidently it must have been known to
others), and it was certain that if any person had succeeded in
unearthing the hidden wealth, he would not have taken the trouble to
hide all signs with such extreme care. Closer examination, too,
convinced me there had been no digging about the tree at all. And yet
I was mistaken.
We three reached the old poplar the next evening between ten and eleven
o'clock. Arthur had escaped inquiry by slipping out of his bedroom
window after bidding his parents good-night; and, inasmuch as the
lantern which I carried was not lit until we arrived at the tree, we
were confident of escaping attention. Still I watched sharply, and was
greatly relieved to discover no persons abroad at that hour beside
Since the treasure was located but three feet below the surface, in
sandy soil, I brought only one shovel, while the boys watched me, one
holding the lantern, and both casting furtive glances around to guard
against eavesdroppers. It would be useless to deny my excitement. My
heart at times throbbed painfully, and more than once I was on the
point of ceasing until I could regain mastery of myself.
"Pop, you must be nearly deep enough," said Frank, in a guarded
"I'm pretty near to the place," I replied stopping a minute to draw my
handkerchief across my perspiring forehead.
"I'm afraid there's somebody watching us," added Arthur.
"Where?" I asked in affright, staring around in the gloom.
"I thought I saw a man moving out yonder."
"Well, it's too late for him to interfere now," I said, compressing my
lips and renewing my digging more determinedly than ever; "I carry a
revolver with me, and I don't mean to be robbed."
The next moment my heart gave a great throb, for the shovel struck
"Hold the lantern down here, Frank, quick!" I commanded in a hoarse
He obeyed, but to my disappointment the object proved to be a large
"I guess it's under that," I whispered, stopping work for a moment.
"Pop, there's another piece of paper," said Frank.
I stooped over and picked it up. I saw that there was writing on it,
and holding it up beside the lantern read:
"Dig three feet under the Beacon Tree and you will be an April fool."
Once again the truth flashed across me. The whole thing was a
"Boys," said I, "what day of the month is this?"
They reflected a moment and answered:
"Why, it's the first of April."
"Let's go home," I added, stepping out of the excavation, "and here's a
half a dollar apiece if you don't tell anybody about it."
As we moved mournfully away I was sure I heard a chuckling laugh
somewhere near in the darkness, but the author of it was prudent enough
to keep beyond reach.
It was not until three months afterward that I learned all the facts
connected with the writing found in a bottle. My neighbor, the father
of Arthur Newman, on whom I had played several jokes, adopted this
means of retaliating on me. He took my son and his own into his
confidence, and I am grieved to say that the young rascals were just as
eager as he. When I proposed to make the search on the last day of
March, my friend resorted to the subterfuge I have mentioned, so as to
insure that it should not take place until the following evening, which
was unquestionably appropriate for my first and last essay in digging
for buried treasure.
THAT HORNET'S NEST.
There was an indignation meeting of the boys at Bushville school, one
sultry day in August. From stress of circumstances it was held at the
noon recess, in the piece of woods back of the old stone building, and
on the banks of the crystal stream in which the youngsters swam and
revelled at morning, noon and night, during the long, delicious days of
All the lads, not quite a score, belonging to the Bushville school,
were present at the impromptu convention, but the proceedings were
chiefly in charge of the lads, Tom Britt, Dick Culver and Fred
Armstrong. There were but a few months' difference in their ages, none
of which was more than fourteen years, but all were so much larger and
older than the rest that they were looked up to as leaders in
everything except study.
It cannot be denied that the three were indolent by nature, inclined to
rebel at authority, and their enforced attendance at school was the
affliction of their lives. They had given their teachers no end of
trouble, and more than once had combined in open rebellion against
their instructors. Tom's father was a trustee, and like the parents of
many ill-trained youths, including those of Dick and Fred, he could see
nothing wrong in the conduct of his son. As a consequence, discipline
at times was set at naught in the Bushville institutions, and one of
the best teachers ever employed by the district threw up his situation
in disgust, and went off without waiting to collect his month's salary.
The successor of this gentleman was Mr. Lathrop, a young man barely
turned twenty, with a beardless face, a mild blue eye, a gentle voice,
and such a soft winning manner that the three leaders gave an
involuntary sniff of contempt when they first saw him and agreed that
he would not last more than a week at the most.
"We'll let up on him, for a few days," Tom explained to some of his
friends, "so as to give him time to get acquainted. I b'lieve in
letting every fellow have a show, but he's got to walk mighty straight
between now and the end of this week," added the youth impressively; "I
ain't in favor of standing any nonsense."
A nodding of heads by Dick and Fred showed that Tom had voiced their
But, somehow or other, Mr. Lathrop was different from the teachers that
had preceded him. He never spoke angrily or shouted, and his first act
on entering the schoolroom was to break up the long tough hickory "gad"
lying on his desk and to fling it out of the window. The next thing he
did, after calling the school to order, was to tell the gaping,
open-eyed children the most entertaining story to which they had ever
listened. The anecdote had its moral too, for woven in and out and
through its charming meshes was the woof of a life of heroic suffering,
of trial and reward.
At its conclusion, the teacher said to the pupils that if they were
studious and transgressed no rules, he would be glad to tell them
another story the next day, if they would remain a few minutes after
the hour of dismissal. The treat was such a rare one that all the
girls and most of the boys resolved to earn the right to enjoy it.
"I'm going to hear the yarn, too," muttered Tom Britt, "for he knows
how to tell 'em, but as for behaving myself that depends."
On the following afternoon, when five o'clock arrived (in those days
most of the country schools opened at eight and closed at five, with an
hour at noon, and not more than two weeks vacation in summer. I have
attended school on more than one Saturday, Fourth of July and
Christmas), the school was all expectation. When Mr. Lathrop saw the
bright eyes turned eagerly toward him, a thrill of pleasure stirred his
heart, for he felt that his was the hand to sow good seed, or this was
the soil where it could be made to spring up and bear fruit a hundred
"I am glad," said he, in his winning voice, "to know that you have done
well and earned the right to hear the best story that I can tell. You
have been studious, obedient and careful to break no rules, and I am
sure that as we become better acquainted, we shall like each other and
get on well together.
"I wish I could say you had all done well, but it grieves me to tell
you, what you know, that one boy has neglected his lessons, been tardy
or so indifferent to my wishes that it would not be right that he
should be allowed to sit with the rest of you and listen to the
incident I am about to relate. I refer to Thomas Britt. Thomas, you
will please take your books and hat and go home."
The words came like a thunderclap. No one expected it, least of all
the youth himself. Every eye was turned toward him and his face
flushed scarlet. He quickly rallied from the daze into which he was
thrown at first, and with his old swagger, looked at the teacher and
replied with an insolence that was defiance itself:
"My father is trustee, and I've as much right here as you or any one
else, and I'm going to stay till I'm ready to go home and you
can't——" but, before he had completed his defiant sentence, the
slightly built teacher was at his side and had grasped the nape of his
coat. It seemed to the lad, that an iron vise had caught his garment
and a span of horses were pulling at him. He clutched desperately at
everything within reach and spread his legs apart and curled up his
toes in the effort to hook into something that would stay proceedings,
but it was in vain. Out he came from the seat, and to the awed
children who were looking on it seemed that his body was elongated to
double its length during the process,—and he was run through the open
door, and his hat tossed after him. Then the teacher walked quietly
back to his seat behind the desk on the platform, and without the
slightest sign of flurry or mental disturbance, he told one of the
sweetest and most delightful incidents to which his pupils had ever
listened. He closed with the promise to give them another at the end
of the week, if they continued in the good course on which they were so
"He catched me foul," explained the indignant Tom Britt the following
day in discussing his hurried exit from the schoolroom; "if he had only
let me know he was coming, it would be him that dove out the door
instead of me."
The sullen youth did not receive much sympathy at first, for Mr.
Lathrop was steadily winning the affections of the pupils; but Dick and
Fred rebelled at such quiet submission to authority, and acted so
sullenly that they, too, were shut out from the privilege of listening
to the next story related by the teacher to the rest of the school. It
had been agreed among the three boys that they should refuse to depart
when ordered to do so by the instructor, and that when he made a move
toward them, they would assail him simultaneously and rout him "horse,
foot and dragoons."
But the business was conducted with such a cyclone rush that the plan
of campaign was entirely overturned. Before the rebels could combine,
all three were out doors, so shaken up that they agreed that a new
system of resistance would have to be adopted.
And thus it came about that at the noon recess, one day of the
following week, the boys of Bushville school gathered in the cool shade
of the woods to listen to the plan of the three malcontents for
destroying the authority of the school. It was mainly curiosity on the
part of the younger portion, who had little sympathy with the motives
of the leaders and were quite sure they would meet with failure.
"I've made up my mind that I won't stand it," announced Tom, after the
situation had been freely discussed; "no boy with any spirit will allow
a teacher to run him out of school in the style he served me."
"What then made you let him do it?" asked little freckled-face Will
Horton, from where he lay on the ground.
"Didn't I tell you he catched me foul?" demanded Tom, glaring at the
urchin; "if I'd knowed what was coming things would have been
"Dick and Fred knowed he was coming for them," added Will, "for he
walked clear across the schoolroom."
"You've got too much to say," retorted Dick Culver, angrily; "when we
want your advice we'll ask for it."
"Well, boys, you had better make up your minds to behave yourselves and
then there won't be any trouble," was the sensible advice of Jimmy
Thompson, who had perched himself on a log, and was swinging his bare
feet back and forth; "Mr. Lathrop is the best teacher we ever had and
he suits the rest of us first rate."
"Of course he suits all boys that ha'n't any spirit," was the crushing
response of the leader, "but I've a plan that'll teach him that me and
Dick and Fred ain't that kind of chaps."
"How are you going to help yourself?"
After several mysterious hints and nods of the head, Tom revealed his
stupendous scheme for bringing the teacher to terms.
"You know the big hornet's nest over in Bear Hollow?"
Inasmuch as there wasn't a boy in the crowd who hadn't shied stones at
the object named (always without hitting it), no further information
"Well, I'm going to put that nest in the teacher's desk, and when he
comes in, takes his seat and raises the lid, won't there be music?"
The scheme was so prodigious that for a full half minute all stared
open mouthed at their leader without speaking.
"The teacher never locks his desk at noon, so it will be easy enough to
slip it in before he gets back."
"But when he opens the desk and the hornets sail out, what will become
of us?" was the pertinent inquiry of Will Horton.
"Why the minute the things begin to swarm out I'll yell, and we'll all
rush out doors."
"Won't the teacher do the same thing?"
"But he'll be the last and he'll catch it the worst. He'll be right
among the critters, and they'll just go for him, so his head will swell
up like a bushel basket and we'll have a week's vacation. By that time
he'll learn how to treat us fellers."
"I am," was the proud reply; "come on and I'll show you."
As he spoke, Tom sprang to his feet and started on a trot toward Bear
Hollow, with the others streaming after him.
It cannot be denied that the youth displayed considerable pluck and
coolness when he came to the test. There hung the hornet's nest from
the lower limb of an oak, so near the ground that it could be easily
reached by one of the larger boys. It was gray in color and of
enormous size. It resembled in shape an overgrown football or
watermelon, pendant by one end. In some portions faint ridges were
visible, like the prints left by tiny wavelets on the sand. Near the
base was a circular opening about as large as an old-fashioned penny.
This was the door of the hornets' residence, through which all the
occupants came and went.
The boys halted at a safe distance, and even Tom paused a few minutes
to make a reconnoissance before going nearer.
"You fellows stay here, and don't any of you throw stones or yell!" he
said, in a guarded undertone; "for if them hornets find out what is up,
they'll come swarming out by the million and sting us all to death."
The promise was readily made, and Tom went forward like a hero, the
eyes of all of his playmates fixed upon him. It was noticed be carried
a large silken handkerchief in his hand—one that he had secured at
home for this special purpose.
He advanced stealthily until within some ten feet, when he halted
again. With his gaze centered on the gray, oblong object, he saw one
of the dark insects suddenly crawl to view through the opening.
"I wonder if he suspects anything," thought Tom, half disposed to turn
about and run; "no—he's all right," he added, as the hornet spread his
wings, and shot off like a bullet through the air.
Still intently watching the orifice, the boy moved softly forward until
directly under the nest. Then, with the deliberation of a veteran, he
deftly enfolded it with the large silk handkerchief, easily wrenched it
loose from its support, tied the covering over the top so securely that
not an inhabitant of the nest could possibly escape, and rejoined in
triumph his companions.
"Now you'll see fun!" he exclaimed, as he led the whole party trooping
in the direction of the schoolhouse; "keep mum, and don't tell any of
the girls what's up."
It was a grand scheme and it looked as if there could be no hitch in
it. What compunctions the other boys might have felt against the
attempt to cause pain to their teacher were forgotten in the excitement
of the coming sport.
The residents of the oblong home must have been surprised, to put it
mildly, when they found the house swinging along, in the grasp of some
great giant, themselves enveloped in gloom, and the only avenue of
escape sealed up. They hummed, and buzzed and raised a tempest within,
but it was in vain: they were prisoners and must remain such until the
ogre chose to release them.
Everything seemed to join to help the young rebel. The girls were
playing so far from the school building, that they gave no heed to the
procession which passed into the structure. One glance told Tom that
it was without an occupant, and he strode hastily to the desk, the
others pausing near the door, ready to dash out in the event of
The desk was unlocked and Tom raised the lid. The nest was laid on its
side, in the middle, but it was so big that he had to displace several
books to make room for it. Then the knots were untied, the
handkerchief flirted free, the lid lowered, and the deed was done.
Tom joined his companions with a radiant face. "Not a word," he
cautioned, "be extra good this afternoon; even I'll try to behave
myself for once, but we won't have to wait long."
"S'posin' them hornets lift the lid of the desk and come out before the
teacher gets here?" suggested Will Horton.
"What are you talking about?" was the scornful question of Dick Culver;
"how can a hornet raise the lid of a desk?"
"I don't mean that one will do it, but, if they all join together and
put their shoulders to it, they'll lift more than you think."
But this contingency was too vague to be feared. A quarter of an hour
later, Mr. Lathrop entered the building with his brisk step, bidding
such children as he met a pleasant good afternoon, and hanging his hat
on the peg in the wall behind his desk, rang the bell for the children
to assemble, and took his seat in his chair on the platform.
The observant instructor quickly saw that something unusual was in the
wind. There was a score of signs that he detected in the course of a
few minutes, but he could have no idea what it all meant. He was on
the alert, however, and did not remain long in suspense.
The first hint was the sound of loud and angry buzzing within his desk.
While wondering what it meant, and in doubt whether to investigate, he
observed a hornet emerging through the key-hole. Before it could shake
itself free, he shoved him back with his key, which was inserted and
turned about, so effectually blocking the opening, that the insects
were held secure.
The teacher read the whole story, and it needed only a brief study of
Tom Britt's actions to make sure that he was the guilty one.
Much to the disappointment of the boys, Mr. Lathrop seemed to find no
occasion for opening his desk. It remained closed through the whole
afternoon and, when the moment for dismissal arrived, the only one to
remain was Tom Britt, who, while conducting himself fairly well, had
made a bad failure with every recitation. His mind seemed to be too
pre-occupied with some other matter to absorb book knowledge.
The boys loitered around the playground, waiting to see the end of it
all. Tom sat with his hands supporting his head, and his elbow on the
desk, morose, sullen and disappointed.
"I wonder if he suspects anything," he muttered; "I don't see how he
can, for nobody told him. It's queer he has never opened his desk all
the afternoon. I never knew him to do anything like that
Just then Tom felt as if some one had jabbed a burning needle into his
neck. Almost at the same instant came a similar dagger thrust on the
top of his head, where he always wore his hair short. Uttering a gasp
of affright, he leaped from his seat, with a score of fierce hornets
buzzing about his ears. The terrified glance around the room showed
that the teacher had slipped noiselessly out of the door, but, before
doing so, he had raised the lid of his desk to its fullest extent.
The next moment Tom bounded through the door, striking at the insects
that were doing painful execution about the exposed parts of his body.
It was not until after a long run that he was entirely freed of them
and was able to take an inventory of his wounds.
It was a lesson the lad never forgot. In the final contest between him
and his teacher, he was conquered and he admitted it. Mr. Lathrop made
a study of his character, and having proven himself physically his
master, set out to acquire the moral conquest that was needed to
complete the work. It need hardly be added that he succeeded, for he
was a thoughtful, conscientious instructor of youth, who loved his
work, and who toiled as one who knows that he must render an account of
his stewardship to Him who is not only loving and merciful, but just.
A YOUNG HERO.
Reuben Johnson leaned on his hoe, and, looking up at the sun, wondered
whether, as in the Biblical story, it had not been stationary for
several hours. He was sure it was never so long in descending to the
"Wake up, Rube," sharply called his Uncle Peter, smartly hoeing another
row a few paces behind him, "doan be idlin' your time; de sun am foah
hours high yit."
The nephew started and raised his implement, but stopped. He was
staring at the corner of the fence just ahead, where sat the jug of
cold water, with the Revolutionary musket leaning against the rails.
The crows were so annoying that the double-loaded weapon was kept ready
to be used against the pests when they ventured too near.
"See dar, uncle!" said Rube in a scared voice. The old man also ceased
work, adjusted his iron-rimmed spectacles, and looked toward the fence.
Within a few feet of where the flint lock musket inclined against the
rails, a yellow dog was trying to push his way through. Watching his
efforts for a few minutes, the elder said:
"Rube, I wish we had de gun; dat dog ain't peaceable."
"He am mad; dis ain't de place fur us."
"Slip down to de fence and got de gun; dat's a good boy!"
"Gracious!" gasped the youth; "it am right dar by de dog."
"He won't notice you; run behind him and be quick 'bout it, or he'll
chaw us bofe to def."
"He'll chaw me suah if I goes near him," was the reply of Rube, who
felt little ardor for the task his relative urged upon him.
"Ain't it better dat one ob us should go dead, dan bofe should be
obstinguished?" asked the uncle reproachfully.
"Dat 'pends which am de one to go dead; if it am me, it am better for
you, but I don't see whar I'm to come in; 'spose you see wheder you
can got de gun—"
"Dar he comes!" whispered Uncle Pete.
Sure enough the cur, having twisted his body between the rails, began
trotting toward the couple that were watching him with such interest.
There was good reason for fear, since the canine was afflicted with the
rabies in the worst form. He showed no froth at the jaws, for animals
thus affected do not, but his eyes were fiery, his mouth dry, the
consuming fever burning up all moisture. He moaned as if in pain, his
torture causing him to snap at everything in reach. He had bitten
shrubbery, branches, wood and other objects, and now made for the
persons with the purpose of using his teeth on them.
"Rube," said his uncle, "stand right whar you am! No use ob runnin',
for he'll cotch you; when he gets nigh 'nough bang him wid your hoe; if
dat don't fotch him, I'll gib him anoder whack and dat'll finish him
Fate seemed to have ordered that the younger person should hold the van
in the peril, though he was tempted to take his place by his relative,
so that the attack of the dog should be met by both at the same
instant. This promised to be effective, but the time was too brief to
permit any plan of campaign.
The brute was already within a hundred yards of Rube, who, with his hoe
drawn back, as though it were a club, tried to calm his nerves for the
struggle. He would have fled, had he not known that that would draw
pursuit to himself. He was inclined to urge his uncle to join him in a
break for freedom, the two taking diverging routes. Since the canine
could not chase both at the same time, such a course was certain to
save one, but, inasmuch as the youth was at the front, he knew he must
be the victim, and the prospect of a mad dog nipping at his heels, with
fangs surcharged with one of the most fearful venoms known, was too
terrifying to be borne. He, therefore, braced himself, and, with a
certain dignity and courage, held his ground.
A dog suffering from the rabies often shows odd impulses. This one was
within fifty feet of Rube, when he turned at right angles and trotted
toward the other side of the cornfield.
"Now's your time, chile!" called Uncle Pete; "got de gun quick, and
if he comes back we'll be ready for him."
It was the first suggestion that struck the nephew favorably, and he
acted upon it at once. The dog might change his mind again and return
to the attack, in which event no weapon could equal a loaded gun.
As Rube ran with his broad-brimmed hat flapping in his eyes, he kept
glancing over his shoulder, to make sure the brute was not following
him, while his uncle held his position, with his hoe grasped and his
eye fixed on the animal, trotting between the hills of corn. He
managed also to note the action of his nephew, who was making good
time, and whose progress caused the hearts of the two to heat high with
Had the fence ahead of the dog been open, doubtless he would have soon
passed out of sight; but, as if recalling his trouble in entering the
field, and possibly seeing his error in leaving two victims, he stopped
only an instant in front of the rails, when he turned and came at a
swifter gait than before, straight for Uncle Pete.
The latter stared a second or two and then shouted:
"Quick, Rube! he means me dis time!" And he dashed off, not to join
his nephew, but to reach the side of the field opposite the nose of the
By this time the youth had his hands on the smoothbore musket and his
courage came back. He saw his uncle crashing over the hills, the
picture of dismay, while the dog rapidly gained on him.
"Hey dar! hey dar!" shouted Rube, breaking into a run and trying to
draw attention to himself. But the brute only sped the faster. He was
near the middle of the procession, but gaining on the fugitive, who had
thrown aside his hoe, flung his hat to the ground, and was making
better progress than when he used to run races with the boys in his
The fence was near and he strained every nerve. It looked as if man
and dog would reach it at the same moment, but the former put forth an
extra spurt and arrived a pace or two ahead, with the cur at his heels.
Rube, however, was not far to the rear. Seeing the crisis had come, he
stopped short, brought the musket to his shoulder, and, taking the best
aim he could, let fly with the whole load that clogged several inches
of the barrel.
He did not observe at the moment of pressing the trigger that his uncle
and the dog were in line, but it could have made no difference, since
the shot had to be made at that instant or not at all.
Just as the weapon was fired, Uncle Pete with a great bound cleared the
fence, landing on his hands and knees; and, rolling over on his back,
kicked the air with such vigor that his shoes flew off, one after the
other, as if keeping time with his frenzied outcries.
The yellow cur was scared, as a shark is sometimes driven off by the
loud splashing of a swimmer, and, though he leaped the fence, he
wheeled again, and, without harming the man, ran down the highway
toward the Woodvale school.
For a moment after firing, Rube Johnson believed he was killed. The
flint shot a spark among the powder grains, there was a flash, a hiss,
and then, as the fire worked its way to the charge inside, the
explosion came and he toppled over, half stunned, with the gun flying a
dozen feet away.
But his fear for his relative brought him to his feet, and he hurried
to the old gentleman, who was climbing uncertainly to an upright
"What's de matter?" asked Rube; "you ain't bit."
"I know dat; I warn't yellin' on dat 'count."
"What fur den?"
"You black rascal, you shot me instid ob de yaller dog."
"Lemme see," said Rube, turning his uncle round and scanning him from
head to foot.
"I done pepper you purty well, uncle, but dare ain't any ob de slugs
dat hit yer—only de fine bird shot."
"How many ob dem?" was the rueful question.
"I don't tink dar's more dan five or six hundred; Aunt Jemimer can gib
her spar time de next six weeks pickin' 'em out; she'll enj'y it, but
dat shot ob mine scared off de mad dog, and yer oughter be tankful to
me, uncle, all yer life."
It was recess at the Woodvale school, and the forty-odd boys and girls
were having a merry time on the playgrounds, which included the broad
highway. Within the building, Mr. Hobbs, the young teacher was busy
"setting copies," his only companion just then being Tod Clymer, a
pale-faced cripple, who, unable to take part in the sports of the other
boys, preferred to stay within doors and con his lessons, in which he
was always far in advance of the rest.
A strange confusion outside caused him to raise his head and look
through the window near him.
"Oh, Mr. Hobbs," he said, "there's a mad dog!"
The teacher started up, and saw the yellow cur running about the
grounds, snapping at the children, while a couple of boys had already
raised the fearful cry, and there was a scattering in all directions.
Although without any weapon, the instructor was on the point of
hurrying out to the help of the children, when he observed the canine
coming toward the outer door. He tried to close it in his face, but
the brute was too quick and was inside before he could be stopped. He
made for the second door, leading into the session-room, but, in this
instance, the teacher slammed it shut just in time.
Instead of going out the dog slunk into the entry and crawled under a
bench, so nearly behind the outer door that he was invisible to any one
"Mr. Hobbs," said Tod Clymer a moment later, "will you please help me
out of the window?"
"I think you are safer here," replied the teacher, "for he cannot reach
you, but you will not be able to get away from him outside."
"I want to leave, please, very much."
It was a strange request, and the teacher waited some minutes before
complying, but the heart of the lame boy was so set upon it, that he
finally assisted him to the window furthest from where the dog was
crouching, gently lifted him down to the ground, and then passed his
crutches to him.
"Now, Tod," said he kindly, "don't tarry a moment, for there's no
saying how soon he will be outside again. The other children are away,
but you cannot run like them."
"Thank you," replied Tod, who never forgot to be courteous, as he
carefully adjusted the collars of his crutches under his shoulders.
Mr. Hobbs motioned from the window for several of the boys to keep off.
With a natural curiosity, they were stealing closer to the building, in
the hope of finding out what the rabid dog was doing.
The teacher, seeing his gestures were understood, turned back, when to
his surprise, he noticed the top of Tom Clymer's straw hat, as it
slowly rose and sank, moving along the front of the building toward the
Instead of hurrying off, as he should have done, the lad was making his
way toward the very spot where the dreadful animal was crouching.
"Why, Tod, what are you doing?" called Mr. Hobbs through the open
window; "you will surely be bitten."
Instead of replying or heeding the words, the lad turned his pale face
toward his friend and shook his head, as a warning for him to make no
noise. Then he resumed his advance to the open outer door, doing so
with great care and stealth, as if afraid of being heard by the brute.
The entrance to the old Woodvale school building was reached by two
steps, consisting of the same number of broad high stones worn smooth
by the feet of the hundreds of children that had trod them times
without number. To make his way into the entry where the pupils hung
their hats and bonnets on the double rows of pegs, Tod had to move
slowly and carefully use his crutches. Being tipped with iron he could
not set them down on the smooth stones without causing noise.
But he acted without hesitation. The teacher read his purpose and knew
it was useless to try to check him. He leaned his head out of the
window and held his breath, while he watched him.
Tod never faltered, though none could have understood the danger he ran
better than he. He had a brother and sister among the children that
had scattered in such haste before the snapping cur, and who were
gathering again around the building despite the warning gesture of the
He could not know whether they had all escaped or not, but he was sure
that if the dog came forth again, more than one of them must suffer,
and in those days there was no Pasteur with his wonderful cure to whom
the afflicted ones could be taken.
Tod did not tremble, though it seemed to him the brute must hear the
tumultuous throbbing of his heart and rush forth. Puny as was his
strength, he meant that, if he did so, he would steady himself on his
one support, and grasping the other with both hands, strike the dog
with might and main. It is doubtful whether the blow would have
stunned the dog, for the little fellow's confidence in himself was
greater than his bodily powers warranted.
At the moment he rested the end of the crutch on the smooth surface of
the second stone, it slipped, and only by a strong wrench did he save
himself from falling. The noise was heard by the animal, who was not
six feet distant, and he emitted another moan, which can never be
forgotten by those that have heard it.
Certain that the cur was about to rush forth, Tod steadied himself on
the single crutch, and, reversing the other, held it firmly in his weak
hands. He knew the shuffling sound was caused by the animal moving:
uneasily about the entry, and it was strange he did not burst through
the open door. But he did not do so, and, like a flash, the cripple
shifted his weapon in place under his shoulder. Then, with the same
coolness he had shown from the first, he reached his hand forward and
grasped the latch.
The smart pull he gave, however, did not stir it. It resisted the
effort, as though it was fastened in position. If such were the fact,
his scheme was futile.
Setting down both crutches, Tod now leaned against the jamb to prevent
himself from falling, seized the handle with both hands, and drew back
suddenly and with all his might. This time the door yielded and was
As it did so, the rabid animal flung himself against it with a violence
that threatened to carry it off its hinges, but it remained firm and he
was a prisoner.
"You are a hero!" called the teacher in a voice tremulous with
"I guess we've got him fast, but look out, Mr. Hobbs, that he doesn't
"I think there is little danger of that," said the other, looking
anxiously at the inner door, "but we must get help to dispose of him
before he can do further injury."
By this time, so many of the children had come back to the playgrounds
that several of those living near were sent home for assistance. It
quickly arrived; for Reuben Johnson and his uncle lost no time in
spreading the news, and three young men, each with a loaded gun,
appeared on the scene, eager to dispose of the dangerous animal. The
latter was at such disadvantage that this was done without trouble or
Providentially none of the children had been bitten, though more than
one underwent a narrow escape. Such animals as had felt the fangs of
the rabid cur were slain, and thus no harm resulted from the brief run
of the brute.
Bushrod, or "Bush" Wyckoff was only twelve years old when he went to
work for Zeph Ashton, who was not only a crusty farmer, but one of the
meanest men in the country, and his wife was well fitted to be the life
partner of such a parsimonious person.
They had no children of their own, and had felt the need for years of a
willing, nimble-footed youngster to do the odd chores about the house,
such as milking cows, cutting and bringing in wood, running of errands,
and the scores of odd little jobs which are easy enough for boys, but
sorely try the stiff and rheumatic limbs of a man in the decline of
Bush was a healthy little fellow—not very strong for his years, but
quick of movement, bright-witted, willing, and naturally a general
favorite. The misfortunes which suddenly overtook his home roused the
keenest sympathy of his neighbors. His father was a merchant in New
York, who went to and from the metropolis each week day morning and
evening, to his pleasant little home in New Jersey. One day his
lifeless body was brought thither, and woe and desolation came to the
happy home. He was killed in a railway accident.
The blow was a terrible one, and for weeks it seemed as if his stricken
widow would follow him across the dark river; but her Christian
fortitude and her great love for their only child sustained her in her
awful grief, and she was even able to thank her Heavenly Father that
her dear boy was spared to her.
But how true it is that misfortunes rarely come singly. Her husband
had amassed a competency sufficient to provide comfortably for those
left behind; but his confidence in his fellow-men was wofully betrayed.
He was one of the bondsmen of a public official who made a hasty
departure to Canada, one evening, leaving his business in such a shape
that his securities were compelled to pay fifty thousand dollars. Two
others were associated with Mr. Wyckoff, and with the aid of their
tricky lawyers they managed matters so that four-fifths of the loss
fell upon the estate of the deceased merchant.
The result swept it away as utterly as were the dwellings in the
Johnstown Valley by the great flood. The widow and her boy left their
home and moved into a little cottage, with barely enough left to keep
the wolf of starvation from the door.
It was then that Bush showed the stuff of which he was made. He
returned one afternoon and told his mother, in his off-hand way, that
he had engaged to work through the summer months for Mr. Ashton, who
not only agreed to pay him six dollars a month, but would allow him to
remain at home over night, provided, of course, that he was there early
each morning and stayed late enough each day to attend to all the
The tears filled the eyes of the mother as she pressed her little boy
to her heart, and comprehended his self-sacrificing nature.
"You are too young, my dear child, to do this; we have enough left to
keep us awhile, and I would prefer that you wait until you are older
"Why, mother, I am old enough and strong enough now to do all that Mr.
Ashton wants me to do. He explained everything to me, and it won't be
work at all, but just fun."
"Well, I hope you will find it so, but if he does not treat you kindly,
you must not stay one day."
Bush never complained to his mother, but he did find precious little
fun and plenty of the hardest kind of work. The miserly farmer bore
down heavily on his young shoulders. He and his wife seemed to be
continually finding extra labor for the lad. The little fellow was on
hand each morning, in stormy as well as in clear weather, at daybreak,
ready and willing to perform to the best of his ability whatever he was
directed to do. Several times he became so weak and faint from the
severe labor, that the frugal breakfast he had eaten at home proved
insufficient, and he was compelled to ask for a few mouthfuls of food
before the regular dinner hour arrived. Although he always remained
late, he was never invited to stay to supper, Mr. Ashton's
understanding being that the mid-day meal was the only one to which the
lad was entitled.
But for his love for his mother, Bush would have given up more than
once. His tasks were so severe and continuous that many a time he was
hardly able to drag himself homeward. Every bone in his body seemed to
ache, and neither his employer nor his wife ever uttered a pleasant or
But no word of murmuring fell from his lips. He resolutely held back
all complaints, and crept away early to his couch under the plea that
it was necessary in order to be up betimes. The mother's heart was
distressed beyond expression, but she comforted herself with the fact
that his term of service was drawing to a close, and he would soon have
all the rest and play he wanted.
Bush allowed his wages to stand until the first of September, when his
three months expired. He had counted on the pride and happiness that
would be his when he walked into the house and tossed the whole
eighteen dollars in his mother's lap. How her eyes would sparkle, and
how proud he would be!
"Lemme see," said the skinflint, when settling day arrived; "I was to
give you four dollars a month, warn't I?"
"It was six," replied Bush, respectfully.
"That warn't my understanding, but we'll let it go at that; I've allers
been too gin'rous, and my heart's too big for my pocket. Lemme see."
He uttered the last words thoughtfully, as he took his small
account-book from his pocket, and began figuring with the stub of a
pencil. "Three months at six dollars will be eighteen dollars."
"Yes, sir; that's right."
"Don't interrupt me, young man," sternly remarked the farmer, frowning
at him over his spectacles. "The full amount is eighteen
dollars—Kerrect—L—em—m—e see; you have et seven breakfasts here;
at fifty cents apiece that is three dollars and a half. Then,
l—em—m—e see; you was late eleven times, and I've docked you
twenty-five cents for each time; that makes two dollars and
Inasmuch as Bush's wages amounted hardly to twenty-five cents a day, it
must be admitted that this was drawing it rather strong.
"L—em—m—e see," continued Mr. Ashton, wetting the pencil stub
between his lips, and resuming his figuring; "your board amounts to
three dollars and a half; your loss of time to two seventy-five; that
makes six and a quarter, which bein' took from eighteen dollars, leaves
'leven seventy-five. There you are!"
As he spoke, he extended his hand, picked up a small canvas bag from
the top of his old-fashioned writing-desk, and tossed it to the
dumfounded boy. The latter heard the coins inside jingle, as it fell
in his lap, and, as soon as he could command his voice, he swallowed
the lump in his throat, and faintly asked:
"Is that—is that right, Mr. Ashton?"
"Count it and see for yourself," was the curt response.
This was not exactly what Bush meant, but he mechanically unfastened
the cord around the throat of the little bag, tumbled the coins out in
his hat and slowly counted them. They footed up exactly eleven dollars
and seventy-five cents, proving that Mr. Ashton's figuring was
altogether unnecessary, and that he had arranged the business
While Bush was examining the coins, his heart gave a sudden quick
throb. He repressed all signs of the excitement he felt, however.
"How do you find it?" asked the man, who had never removed his eyes
from him, "Them coins have been in the house more'n fifty year—that
is, some of 'em have, but they're as good as if they's just from the
mint, and bein' all coin, you can never lose anything by the bank
"It is correct," said Bush.
"Ar' you satisfied?"
"Then sign this receipt, and we're square."
The lad sat down at the desk and attached his name in a neat round hand
to the declaration that he had received payment in full for his
services from Mr. Zephaniah Ashton, up to the first of September of the
"This is all mine, Mr. Ashton?"
"Of course—what do you mean by axin' that?"
"Good-day," grunted the miser, turning his back, as a hint for him to
leave—a hint which Bush did not need, for he was in a tumult of
"That is the queerest thing that ever happened," he said to himself
when he reached the public highway, and began hurrying along the road
in the direction of Newark. "If he had paid me my full wages I would
have told him, but all these are mine, and I shall sell them; won't
Professor Hartranft be delighted, but not half as much as mother and I
That evening Mr. Ashton and his wife had just finished their supper
when Professor Hartranft, a pleasant, refined-looking gentleman,
knocked at their door.
"I wish to inquire," said he, after courteously saluting the couple,
"whether you have any old coins in the house."
"No," was the surly response of the farmer, "we don't keep 'em."
"But you had quite a collection."
"I had 'leven dollars and seventy-five cents' worth, but I paid 'em out
"To a boy named Bushrod Wyckoff?"
"They were given to him unreservedly?—that is, you renounce all claim
"What the blazes ar' you drivin' at?" demanded the angry farmer. "I
owed him 'leven dollars and seventy-five cents for wages, and I paid
him purcisely that amount, and have his receipt in full. I'd like to
know what business it is of yours anyway."
Now came the professor's triumph.
"Young Wyckoff called at my office this afternoon, and I bought a
number of the coins from him."
"What!" exclaimed the amazed farmer, "you didn't pay him nothin' extra
for that rusty old money, did you? You must be crazy."
"I did, and shall make a handsome thing of it. For instance, among the
coins which you gave him was a copper penny, with a liberty cap, of
1793; I paid Bush three dollars for that; I gave him twenty-five
dollars for a half dime coined in 1802; twenty dollars for a quarter
dollar of 1827; the same sum for a half dollar, fillet head, of 1796;
and, what caps all, five hundred dollars for a silver dollar of 1804.
There are only five or six of the latter in existence, and I shall sell
this specimen for at least eight hundred dollars. Mr. Ashton,
sometimes a mean man overreaches himself, and it looks as though you
had made a mistake. I bid you good-day, sir."
The numismatist spoke the truth; and when the miserly old farmer
realized how completely he had turned the tables on himself, it is
enough to say that his feelings may be "better imagined than described."
A BATTLE IN THE AIR.
One of the most interesting towns I ever visited is New Braunfels,
Texas. It was founded by a colony of Germans, and experienced the most
distressing trials during its early days; but it is now a picture of
thrift and industry. The cowboy who attempts to ride through New
Braunfels, with his revolvers displayed, is promptly pulled off his
mustang and compelled to pay a round fine for violating a city
ordinance. If he undertakes to "kick," it won't help him a bit, and
probably will increase the penalty imposed. Our German cousins propose
to run that town to suit themselves, and they succeed quite well.
The rivers of Texas are subjected to violent rises, often as great as
twenty feet in an hour or less. Such sudden floods play havoc with the
bridges along the bank, but I noticed in riding into New Braunfels an
ingenious arrangement of the wooden structure by which, no matter how
high the stream may rise, the bridge accommodates itself, and floats on
the surface, while securely held from being carried away by the current.
But I set out to tell you a true incident of what happened a few years
since, to a bright, lively youngster, sixteen years old, who lives in
New Braunfels, and is brimful of pluck. His name is Lee Hemingway; he
is an orphan, and if his life is spared, he is certain to be heard from
when he reaches man's estate.
Prof. McInery, the well-known naturalist, spent several weeks last
spring in the neighborhood of New Braunfels, hunting ornithological
specimens for his collection, and he offered fifty dollars to any one
who would bring him an eagle's nest, with living eaglets or with eggs
When Lee Hemingway learned of the offer, he determined to earn it. It
was rather early in the season for our emblematical birds to hatch
their young, but, by carefully watching a pair, he succeeded in finding
where their nest was made. It was on the summit of an almost
insurmountable bowlder, rising nearly a hundred and twenty-five feet in
the valley of the Guadaloupe.
The bravest man might well shrink from attempting to scale the
perpendicular sides of this mass of rock, but as young Hemingway gazed
longingly up the side to the nest, he noticed that the stone had become
coated, in the course of time, with earth, which was covered with
tangled vines and stunted vegetation.
"I believe I can climb that," thought the sturdy lad, after
scrutinizing the herculean task, and watching one of the eagles soaring
far above the summit. "I think there is enough foothold, and I can use
the vines to help pull me up; but, if the eagles should catch me at it,
they would make music."
It was the birds that caused him more dread than the forty odd yards of
rock. We knew their fierce nature, and, if they discovered his designs
against their home, as they were almost certain to do, they would
assail him with a fury that must be resistless in his cramped position.
The professor advised him not to make the attempt, but the daring youth
had to earn his own living, and the prize of fifty dollars was too
tempting to be resisted.
"I'll do it!" he exclaimed, after considering the question, "if you
will keep watch with your gun for the eagles."
"Of course I'll do that," replied the professor, delighted with the
prospect of securing that which he had sought so long in vain.
The preparations for the work were simple. With a basket, furnished
with a lid, slung to his back, in which to secure the eggs or eaglets,
young Hemingway began his laborious and dangerous ascent, while the
professor, gun in hand, watched him from the ground below.
The boy quickly proved the possession of unusual skill as a climber.
With the help of the vines he went steadily upward, hunting secure
places for his feet and testing every support before trusting his
weight to it. Once or twice, the professor thought the lad had made a
mistake and was on the point of paying the penalty, but he never
faltered nor slipped. Higher and higher he ascended until at last the
feat was accomplished, and the very summit reached.
His heart throbbed with pleasure when he discovered two young eagles in
the nest. They were no more than a couple of days old, and he had no
trouble in placing them and a portion of the nest in the basket, which
was again strapped to his back, and, after a brief rest, he started to
Nothing was seen of the parent eagles, and he was congratulating
himself on his good fortune, when bang went the professor's gun. At
the same moment a shadow flitted over his head, and looking up he saw
that instead of one, both of the eagles had arrived.
The lad had not descended half-way and the professor's shot did not
harm either of them. They landed on the summit of the rocks, and, if a
bird can feel astonishment, they must have felt it when they looked
around and discovered nothing of their home.
But the great American bird is not the one to submit tamely to such an
outrage. They began an immediate investigation, and, when they caught
sight of a boy scrambling down the side of the rocks with a basket
strapped to his back, from which came a number of familiar squeak-like
chirpings, they had no trouble in understanding matters.
The style in which they went for that same boy was a sight to behold.
There was no hesitation or maneuvering; but, with outstretched wings
and hoarse screeches, they dashed toward him like a couple of cyclones.
The youth saw that he was caught in a desperate fix, for he had no
weapons, and had to cling to the vines with one hand to save himself
from being dashed to the ground below.
He ducked his head to ward off their beaks and talons from his eyes,
and tried hard to beat them back with his free hand.
This was impossible. Their beaks struck him repeatedly in the head,
bringing blood, which flowed over his face and almost blinded him,
while they savagely buffeted him with their great wings, until he was
in danger of being knocked from his position.
Meanwhile, the alarmed professor could do nothing for his young friend.
The eagles kept so close to him, that, if he tried, he was as likely to
hit one as the other. He walked back and forth, on the alert for such
a chance, and fortunately had not long to wait. One of the furious
birds, circled off a few feet, as if to gather impetus for a decisive
charge, when, taking a quick aim, the gentleman fired.
The shot was unerring and killed the female. She fluttered into a
large sapling that sprouted from a large crevice in the rocks, about
eight feet above the boy's head, and lay motionless. Although nearly
blinded by blood, young Hemingway now attempted a feat which he was
convinced offered the only means of saving his life.
He drew himself up to the foot of the tree, and once there, braced
himself firmly with his feet, and tied his handkerchief around his
forehead, to keep the blood out of his eyes. Seizing the dead bird by
the feet, he swung it around with might and main and struck the male,
which had continued beating him incessantly.
It was a strange weapon—a dead eagle against a live one, and the boy's
constrained position prevented his using it with much effect. So
lacking, indeed, were the blows in force, that the male flew directly
at his face. The sorely beset lad dropped the dead bird and fastened
both hands around the throat of his assailant. The latter fought
desperately, but the young hero never released his grip, until it
ceased its struggles. Then he flung it from him, and it tumbled
downward to the professor's feet.
This gentleman had done his best to help his young friend, but was
unable to do so. The lad, after resting awhile, picked his way down to
the ground, where his feet had hardly touched when he fainted in the
professor's arms. He soon rallied, however, though his wounds were so
severe that he was obliged to keep his bed for several weeks.
The two eaglets were found uninjured, and were safely carried to the
professor's home, as were the bodies of the dead birds. They were
mounted by Professor McInery, who, in consideration of the danger
undergone by the boy, and the two extra birds, presented Lee with $100,
and no one will deny that the money was well earned.
WHO SHALL EXPLAIN IT?
Let me begin by saying that I was never a believer in signs, omens, or
the general superstitions which, it must be admitted, influence most
people to a greater or less degree. I have been the thirteenth guest
at more than one table, without my appetite being affected; I have
tipped over my salt-cellar without a twinge of fear; I have never
turned aside to avoid passing under a leaning ladder, and I do not care
a jot whether the first glimpse of the new moon is over my right or
I had a little boy Bob, who was fourteen years old on the last
anniversary of American independence. Being our only son, his mother
and myself held him close to our hearts. In fact, I am sure no little
fellow was ever regarded with more affectionate love than our Bob. The
painful story which, with much hesitation, I have set out to tell is
one, therefore, that no member of our little family can ever forget.
We always tried to act the part of sensible parents toward our little
boy. He never stepped inside of a school-house until he was seven
years old, and, when he did so, it was to stay only a brief while. It
was six months before he became acquainted with every letter of the
alphabet, and no youngster of his years ever ruined more clothing than
he. The destruction of shoes, hats, and trousers was enough to
bankrupt many a father, and it often provoked a protest from his
mother. I have seen him, within a half hour after having his face
scrubbed until it shone like an apple, present himself in such ragged
attire and with so soiled a countenance, that it took a second glance
to identify him.
And yet, as I sit here writing by the evening lamp, I am glad to recall
that I never scolded Bob. I would have been sadly neglectful of my
duty had I failed to reprove and advise him, and I am sure he honestly
strove to obey my wishes; but the sum and substance of it all was, he
couldn't do it. He was a vigorous little fellow, overrunning with
animal spirits, high health, and mischief; and it was a pleasure to me
to see him laying the firm foundation of a lusty constitution, which,
in later years, could laugh at disease.
And then when he did take a start in his studies, he advanced with a
speed that astonished his teacher. At the age of twelve there was not
a girl or boy in school (and some of them were several years older than
he) who could hold his own with him. I took some credit to myself for
all this, for I believed it was largely due to the common-sense I used
in his early youth. The foundation was strong and secure, and the
building erected upon it was upon solid rock.
During the last two or three years I suffered from a great fear.
Between the school-house and our home was a mill-pond, which in many
places was fully a dozen feet deep. I knew what a temptation this was
to the boys during the long, sultry summer weather, and there was not a
day when a dozen youngsters, more or less, were not frolicking and
splashing in it.
One afternoon, when I sauntered thither, I found fully a score of them
in the height of enjoyment, and the wildest and most reckless fellow
was my Bob. When he observed me standing on the shore he was so
anxious to astonish me that he ventured into the water up to his chin,
I shouted to him to come to shore, for he was in fearful peril, and it
needed only a few inches further advance for him to drown before help
could reach him.
"Bob," said I, in a voice and manner that could not be mistaken, "if
you ever do that again I'll whip you within an inch of your life."
"I won't, pop," he replied, in such meek tones that, parent-like, my
heart reproached me at once.
"Now," I added more gently, "every boy ought to learn to swim, and
until he is able to do so, he should keep out of deep water. If you
will promise me that you will never venture into a depth above your
waist until a good swimmer, you may bathe here; otherwise you shall
never come near it."
He gave me his promise, and, telling him that he had been in the water
long enough for that afternoon, I asked him to dress himself and come
home with me.
I felt that I had been weak. I ought to have forbidden him ever to
enter the mill-pond unless in my company, and thus that which followed
never could have occurred. I did not tell his mother what had taken
place, for I knew she would insist on a strict prohibition of his
aimless swimming efforts.
To tell the truth, there were two reasons why I did not forbid Bob to
enter the mill-pond. I knew it would be the most cruel kind of
punishment, and, I may as well confess it, I didn't believe the boy
would obey me if he gave the pledge. The temptation was too strong to
be resisted. Alas! how often our affection closes our eyes to the
And now I have reached a point which prompts me to ask the question at
the head of this sketch, "Who Shall Explain It?" I have my own theory,
which I shall submit, with no little diffidence, later on.
It was on Saturday afternoon, the ninth of last August, that I became a
victim to a greater depression of spirits than I had known for years.
I felt nothing of it during the forenoon, but it began shortly after
the midday meal and became more oppressive with each passing minute. I
sat down at my desk and wrote for a short time. I continually sighed
and drew deep inspirations, which gave me no relief. It was as if a
great and increasing weight were resting on my chest. Had I been
superstitious, I would have declared that I was on the eve of some
Writing became so difficult and distasteful that I threw down my pen,
sprang from my chair, and began rapidly pacing up and down the room.
My wife had gone to the city that morning to visit her relatives, and
was not to return until the following day; so I was alone, with only
two servants in the house.
I couldn't keep the thoughts of Bob out of my mind. Saturday being a
holiday, I had allowed him to go off to spend the afternoon as he
chose; and, as it was unusually warm, there was little doubt where and
how he was spending it. He would strike a bee-line for that shady
mill-pond, and they would spend hours plashing in its cool and
I looked at the clock; it was a few minutes past five, and Bob ought to
have been home long ago. What made him so late?
My fear was growing more intense every minute. The boy was in my mind
continually to the exclusion of everything else. Despite all my
philosophy and rigid common-sense, the conviction was fastening on me
that something dreadful had befallen him.
And what was that something? He had been drowned in the mill-pond. I
glanced out of the window, half expecting to see a party bearing the
lifeless body homeward. Thank Heaven, I was spared that woful sight,
but I discerned something else that sent a misgiving pang through me.
It was Mrs. Clarkson, our nearest neighbor, rapidly approaching, as if
the bearer of momentous tidings.
"She has come to tell me that Bob is drowned," I gasped, as my heart
almost ceased its beating.
I met her on the threshold, with a calmness of manner which belied the
tumult within. Greeting her courteously, I invited her inside, stating
that my wife was absent.
"I thank you," she said, "but it is not worth while. I thought I ought
to come over and tell you."
"Tell me what?" I inquired, swallowing the lump in my throat.
"Why, about the awful dream I had last night."
I was able to smile faintly, and was partly prepared for what was
"I am ready to hear it, Mrs. Clarkson."
"Why, you know it was Friday night, and I never had a dream on a Friday
night that didn't come true—never! Where's Bob?" she abruptly asked,
peering around me, as if to learn whether he was in the hall.
"He's off somewhere at play."
"Oh, Mr. Havens, you'll never see him alive again!"
Although startled in spite of myself, I was indignant.
"Have you any positive knowledge, Mrs. Clarkson, on the matter?"
"Certainly I have; didn't I just tell you about my dream?"
"A fudge for your dream!" I exclaimed, impatiently; "I don't believe in
any such nonsense."
"I pity you," she said, though why I should be pitied on that account
is hard to understand.
"But what was your dream?"
"I saw your Bob brought home drowned. Oh, I can see him now," she
added, speaking rapidly, and making a movement as if to wring her
hands; "his white face—his dripping hair and clothes—his half-closed
eyes—it was dreadful; it will break his mother's heart—"
"Mrs. Clarkson, did you come here to tell me that?"
"Why, of course I did; I felt it was my duty to prepare you—"
"Good day," I answered, sharply, closing the door and hastily entering
She had given me a terrible shock. My feelings were in a tumult
difficult to describe. My philosophy, my self-command, my hard sense
and scepticism were scattered to the winds, I had fought against the
awful fear, and was still fighting when my neighbor called; but her
visit had knocked every prop from beneath me.
She had hardly disappeared when I was hurrying through the woods by the
shortest route to the mill-pond. I knew Bob had been there, and all
that I expected to find was his white, ghastly body in the cold, cruel
"Oh, my boy!" I wailed, "I am to blame for your death! I never should
have permitted you to run into such danger. I should have gone with
you and taught you to swim—I can never forgive myself for this—never,
never, never. It will break your mother's heart—mine is already
"Pop, just watch me!"
Surely that was the voice of my boy! I turned my head like a flash,
and there he was, with his hands together over his head, and in the act
of diving into the mill-pond. Down he went with a splash, his head
quickly reappearing, as he flirted the hair and water out of his eyes,
and struck out for the middle of the pond.
"What are you doing, Bob?"
"You just wait and see, pop."
And what did that young rascal do but swim straight across that pond
and then turn about and swim back again, without pausing for breath?
Not only that, but, when in the very deepest portion, he dove, floated
on his back, trod water, and kicked up his heels like a frisky colt.
"How's that, pop? You didn't know I could swim, did you?" he asked, as
he came smilingly up the bank.
"I had no idea of such a thing," I replied, my whole being fluttering
with gratitude and delight; "I think I'll have to reward you for that."
And when he had donned his clothes, and we started homeward, I slipped
a twisted bank-bill into his hands. I am really ashamed to tell its
denomination, and Bob and I never hinted anything about it to his
And now as to the question, Who shall explain it? I think I can. I
have a weakness for boiled beef and cabbage. The meat is healthful
enough, but, as every one knows, or ought to know, cabbage, although
one of the most digestible kinds of food when raw, is just the opposite
in a boiled state. I knew the consequences of eating it, but in the
absence of my good wife that day I disposed of so much that I deserved
the oppressive indigestion that followed.
That fact, I am convinced, fully explains the dreadful "presentiment"
which made me so miserable all the afternoon.
On our way home we passed the house of Mrs. Clarkson. I could not
forbear stopping and ringing her bell. She answered it in person.
"Mrs. Clarkson, Bob is on his way home from swimming, and I thought I
would let him hear about that wonderful dream—"
But the door was slammed in my face.
I said at the opening of this sketch that I "had" a boy named Bob. God
be thanked, I have him yet, and no lustier, brighter, or more manly
youth ever lived, and my prayer is that he may be spared to soothe the
declining years of his father and mother, whose love for him is beyond
the power of words to tell.
A FOOL OR A GENIUS.
Josiah Hunter sat on his porch one summer afternoon, smoking his pipe,
feeling dissatisfied, morose and sour on account of his only son Tim,
who, he was obliged to confess to himself, gave every indication of
proving a disappointment to him.
Mr. Hunter was owner of the famous Brereton Quarry & Stone Works,
located about a mile above the thriving village of Brereton, on the
eastern bank of the Castaran river, and at a somewhat greater distance
below the town of Denville. The quarry was a valuable one and the
owner was in comfortable circumstances, with the prospect of acquiring
considerable more of a fortune out of the yield of excellent building
stone. The quarry had been worked for something like ten years, and
the discovery that he had such a fine deposit on his small farm was in
the minds of his neighbors equivalent to the finding of a gold mine,
for as the excavation proceeded, the quality of the material improved
and Mr. Hunter refused an offer from a company which, but for the
stone, would have been a very liberal price for the whole farm.
Mr. Hunter had been a widower ever since his boy was three years old,
and the youth was now fourteen. His sister Maggie was two years his
senior, and they were deeply attached to each other. Maggie was a
daughter after her father's own heart,—one of those rare, sensible
girls who cannot be spoiled by indulgence, who was equally fond of her
parent and who stood unflinchingly by her brother in the little
differences between father and son, which, sad to say, were becoming
more frequent and serious with the passing weeks and months. It is
probable that the affection of the parent for the daughter prevented
him from ever thinking of marrying again, for she was a model
housekeeper, and he could not bear the thought of seeing anyone come
into the family and usurp, even in a small degree, her functions and
Mr. Hunter was getting on in years, and nothing was more natural than
that he should wish and plan that Tim should become his successor in
the development of the valuable quarry that was not likely to give out
for many a year to come. But the boy showed no liking for the
business. He was among the best scholars in the village school, fond
of play and so well advanced in his studies that his parent determined
to begin his practical business training in earnest. He looked upon a
college education as a waste of so many years, taken from the most
precious part of a young man's life, and it must be said that Tim
himself showed no wish to attend any higher educational institution.
Tim had assisted about the quarry, more or less for several years. Of
course he was too young to do much in the way of manual labor, but
there were many errands that he ran, beside helping to keep his
father's accounts. He wrote an excellent hand, was quick in figures
and had such a command of language that all his parent had to do was to
tell him the substance of the letter he wished written, to have the boy
put it in courteous but pointed and clear form. The elder had never
detected an error in the computations of the younger, who had no
trouble at all when the operations included difficult fractions.
All this was good in its way, but it could not be denied that Tim had
no liking for the business itself. His father had told him repeatedly
that he must prepare himself for the active management of the stone
works, and that to do so required something more than quickness in
figures and skill in letter writing. But it was in vain. Tim was
never at the works unless by direct command of his parent, and seized
the first opportunity to get away.
"No person can succeed in a business which he dislikes," remarked Mr.
Hunter to Maggie who on this summer afternoon sat on the front porch,
plying her deft needle, while the waning twilight lasted, with Bridget
inside preparing the evening meal.
"I think that is true, father," was her gentle reply.
"And that boy hates the stone business and I can't understand why he
"Isn't it also true, father, that one cannot control his likes and
dislikes? Tim has told me he can't bear the thought of spending his
life in getting out great blocks of stone and trimming them into shape
for building. He said he wished he could feel as you do, but there's
no use of his trying."
"Fudge!" was the impatient exclamation; "what business has a boy of his
years to talk or think about what sort of business he prefers? It is
my place to select his future avocation and his to accept it without a
"He will do that, father."
"Of course he will," replied the parent with a compression of his thin
lips and a flash of his eyes; "when I yield to a boy fourteen years
old, it will be time to shift me off to the lunatic asylum."
"Why, then, are you displeased, since he will do what you wish and do
it without complaint?
"I am displeased because he is dissatisfied and has no heart in his
work. He shows no interest in anything relating to the quarries and it
is becoming worse every day with him."
"Didn't he help this forenoon?"
"Yes, because I told him he must be on hand as soon as he was through
breakfast and not leave until he went to dinner."
"Did you say nothing about his working this afternoon?"
"No; I left that out on purpose to test him."
"What was the result?"
"I haven't seen hide or hair of him since; I suppose he is off in the
woods or up in his room, reading or figuring on some invention. Do you
know where he is?"
"He has been in his room almost all the afternoon and is there now."
"I guess you have answered that question," replied Maggie laying aside
her sewing because of the increasing shadows, and looking across at her
father with a smile.
"That's what makes me lose all patience. What earthly good is it for
him to sit in his room drawing figures of machines he dreams of making,
or scribbling over sheets of paper? If this keeps up much longer, he
will take to writing poetry, and the next thing will be smoking
cigarettes and then his ruin will be complete."
Maggie's clear laughter rang out on the summer air. She was always
overflowing with spirits and the picture drawn by her parent and the
look of profound disgust on his face as he uttered his scornful words
stirred her mirth beyond repression.
"What are you laughing at?" he demanded, turning toward her, though
without any anger in his tones, for he could never feel any emotion of
that nature toward such a daughter.
"It was the idea of Tim writing poetry or rhyme and smoking cigarettes.
I'll guarantee that he will never do either."
"Nor anything else, you may as well add."
"I'll guarantee that if he lives he will do a good many things that
will be better than getting out and trimming stone."
This was not the first time that Maggie had intimated the same faith,
without going into particulars or giving any idea upon what she based
that faith. The parent looked sharply at her and asked:
"What do you mean? Explain yourself."
But the daughter was not yet ready to do so. She had her thoughts or
dreams or whatever they might be, but was not prepared as yet to share
them with her parent. He was not in the mood, and for her to tell all
that was in her mind would be to provoke an outburst that would be
painful to the last degree. She chose for the present to parry.
"How can I know, father, what ambition Tim has? He is still young
enough to change that ambition, whatever it may be."
"And he's got to change it, as sure as he lives! I am tired of his
fooling; he is fourteen years old, big, strong, and healthy; if he
would take hold of the work and show some interest in it, he would be
able in a couple of years to take charge of the whole business and give
me a rest, but he is frittering away valuable time until I've made up
my mind to permit it no longer."
The parent knocked the bowl of his pipe against the column of the porch
and shook his head in a way that showed he meant every word he said.
Maggie was troubled, for she had feared an outbreak between him and
Tim, and it seemed to be impending. She dreaded it more than death,
for any violence by her beloved parent toward her equally beloved
brother would break her heart. That parent, naturally placid and
good-natured, had a frightful temper when it was aroused. She could
never forget that day when in a quarrel with one of his employes, he
came within a hair of killing the man and for the time was a raging
There was one appeal that Maggie knew had never failed her, though she
feared the day would come when even that would lose its power. She
reserved it as the last recourse. When she saw her father rise to his
feet, and in the gathering gloom noted the grim resolute expression on
his face, she knew the crisis had come.
"Tell him to come down-stairs; we may as well have this matter settled
here and now."
"Father," she said in a low voice of the sweetest tenderness, "you will
not forget what he did two years ago?"
The parent stood motionless, silent for a minute, and then gently
resumed his seat, adding a moment later,
"No; I can never forget that; never mind calling him just now."
And what it was that Tim Hunter did "two years ago" I must now tell you.
Bear in mind that Tim Hunter was twelve years old at the time, being
the junior by two years of his sister Maggie.
On the day which I have in mind, he had spent the forenoon fishing, and
brought home a mess of trout for which he had whipped one of the
mountain brooks, and which furnished the family with the choicest sort
of a meal. The father complimented him on his skill, for that was
before the parent's patience had been so sorely tried by the
indifference of the lad toward the vocation to which the elder meant he
should devote his life. He left the lad at liberty to spend the rest
of the day as he chose, and, early in the afternoon, he proposed to his
sister that they should engage in that old game of "jackstones" with
which I am sure you are familiar.
Years ago the country lads and lassies generally used little bits of
stones, instead of scraggly, jagged pieces of iron, with which they
amuse themselves in these days. Tim had seen some of the improved
jackstones; and, borrowing one from a playmate, he made a clay mould
from it, into which he poured melted lead, repeating the operation
until he had five as pretty and symmetrically formed specimens as one
could wish. It was with these in his hands, that he led the way to the
barn for a game between himself and sister.
The big, spacious structure was a favorite place for spending their
leisure hours. The hard, seedy floor, with the arching rafters
overhead could not be improved for their purpose. The shingles were so
far aloft that the shade within was cool on sultry summer days, and it
was the pleasantest kind of music to hear the rain drops patter on the
roof and the wind whistle around the eaves and corners. The mow where
the hay was stored was to the left, as you entered the door, and under
that were the stalls where the horses munched their dinner and looked
solemnly through the opening over the mangers at the two children
engaged at play. Between where they sat and the rafters, the space was
Maggie took her seat in the middle of the floor, and her brother placed
himself opposite. Before doing so, he stepped to the nearest stall and
picked up a block of wood six inches in diameter and two feet in
length. This he laid on the floor and seated himself upon it, tossing
the jackstones to his sister to begin the game.
She was his superior, for her pretty taper fingers were more nimble
than his sturdy ones, and, unless she handicapped herself by certain
conditions, she invariably won in the contest of skill. She tossed
them one after the other, then two or three or more at a time,
snatching up the others from the floor and going through the varied
performance with an easy perfection that was the wonder of Tim. Once
or twice, she purposely missed some feat, but the alert lad was sure to
detect it, and declared he would not play unless she did her best, and,
under his watchful eye, she could not escape doing so. As I have said,
the only way to equalize matters was for her to handicap herself, and
even then I am compelled to say she was more often winner than loser.
Sitting on the block of wood tipped up on one end, Tim kept his eyes on
the bits of metal, popping up in the air and softly dropping into the
extended palm, and wondered again why it was so hard for him to do that
which was so easy for her. Finally she made a slip, which looked
honest, and resigned the stones to him.
Now, you know that in playing this game, you ought to sit on the floor
or ground; for if your perch is higher, you are compelled to stoop
further to snatch up the pieces and your position is so awkward that it
seriously interferes with your success.
The very first scramble Tim made at the stones on the floor was not
only a failure, but resulted in a splinter catching under the nail of
one of his fingers. Maggie laughed.
"Why do you sit way up there?" she asked; "you can't do half as well as
when you are lower down like me."
"I guess you're right," he replied, as he pushed the block away and
imitated her. "I 'spose I'll catch the splinters just the same."
"There's no need of it; you mustn't claw the stones, but move your hand
gently, just as I do. Now, watch me."
"It's a pity that no one else in the world is half as smart as you,"
replied the brother with fine irony, but without ill nature. "Ah,
wasn't that splendid?"
Which remark was caused by the plainest kind of fluke on the part of
Maggie, who in her effort to instruct her brother, forgot one or two
nice points, which oversight was fatal.
"Well," said she, "I didn't fill my fingers with splinters."
"Nor with jackstones either; if I can't do any better than you I'm sure
I can't do any worse."
"Well, Smarty, what are you waiting for?"
"For you to pay attention."
"I'm doing that."
With cool, careful steadiness, Tim set to work, and lo! he finished the
game without a break, performing the more difficult exploits with a
skill that compelled the admiration of his sister.
"I'm glad to see that you're not such a big dunce as you look; I've
been discouraged in trying to teach you, but you seem to be learning at
"Wouldn't you like me to give you a few lessons?"
"No; for, if you did, I should never win another game," was the pert
reply; "I wonder whether you will ever be able to beat me again."
"Didn't you know that I have been fooling with you all the time, just
as I fool a trout till I get him to take the hook?"
Maggie stared at him with open mouth for a moment and then asked in an
"No; I didn't know that: did you?"
"Never mind; the best thing you can do is to tend to bus'ness, for I'm
not going to show you a bit of mercy."
During this friendly chaffing, both noticed that the wind was rising.
It moaned around the barn, and enough of it entered the window far
above their heads for them to feel it fan their cheeks. An eddy even
lifted one of the curls from the temple of the girl. This, however,
was of no special concern to them, and they continued their playing.
Each went through the next series without a break. Tim was certainly
doing himself honor, and his sister was at a loss to understand it.
But you know that on some days the player of any game does much better
than on others. This was one of Tim's best days and one of Maggie's
worst, for he again surpassed her, though there could be no doubt that
she did her very best, and she could not repress her chagrin. But she
was too fond of her bright brother to feel anything in the nature of
resentment for his success.
"There's one thing certain," she said, shaking her curly head with
determination; "you can't beat me again."
"I wouldn't be so rash, sister; remember that I mean bus'ness to-day."
"Just as if you haven't always done your best; it's you that are
bragging, not I."
Tim had taken the stones in his right hand with the purpose of giving
them the necessary toss in the air, when a blast of wind struck the
barn with a force that made it tremble. They distinctly felt the
tremor of the floor beneath them. He paused and looked into the
startled face of his sister with the question:
"Hadn't we better run to the house?"
"No," she replied, her heart so set on beating him that she felt less
fear than she would have felt had it been otherwise; "it's as safe here
as in the house; one is as strong as the other; if you want to get out
of finishing the game, why, I'll let you off."
"You know it isn't that, Maggie; but the barn isn't as strong as the
"It has stood a good many harder blows than this; don't you see it has
stopped? Go on."
"All right; just as you say," and up went the pronged pieces and were
caught with the same skill as before. Then he essayed a more difficult
feat and failed. Maggie clapped her hands with delight, and leaned
forward to catch up the bits and try her hand.
At that instant something like a tornado or incipient cyclone struck
the barn. They felt the structure swaying, heard the ripping of
shingles, and casting his eyes aloft, Tim saw the shingles and
framework coming down upon their heads.
It was an appalling moment. If they remained where they were, both
would be crushed to death. The door was too far away for both to reach
it; though it was barely possible that by a quick leap and dash he
might get to the open air in the nick of time, but he would die a
hundred times over before abandoning his sister. The open window was
too high to be reached from the floor without climbing, and there was
no time for that.
The action of a cyclone is always peculiar. Resistless as is its
power, it is often confined to a very narrow space. The one to which I
am now referring whipped off a corner of the roof, so loosening the
supports that the whole mass of shingles and rafters covering the
larger portion came down as if flung from the air above, while the
remainder of the building was left unharmed, the terrified horses not
receiving so much as a scratch.
There was one awful second when brother and sister believed that the
next would be their last. Then Tim threw his arm around the neck of
Maggie and in a flash drew her forward so that she lay flat on her face
and he alongside of her; but the twinkling of an eye before that he had
seized the block of wood, rejected some time before as a chair, and
stood it on end beside his shoulder, keeping his right arm curved round
it so as to hold it upright in position, while the other arm prevented
Maggie from rising.
"Don't move?" he shouted amid the crashing of timbers and the roaring
of the gale; "lie still and you won't be hurt."
She could not have disobeyed him had she tried, for the words were in
his mouth when the fearful mass of timber descended upon them.
Do you understand what Tim Hunter did? Had the mass of timber
descending upon him and his sister been unchecked, they would not have
lived an instant. Had it been shattered into small fragments by the
cyclone, the ingenious precaution which a wonderful presence of mind
enabled hint to make, would have been of no avail.
Take a block of seasoned oak, six inches through, and two feet in
height, and interpose it squarely against an approaching body and it is
almost as powerful in the way of resistance as so much metal. It would
take an ironclad to crush it to pulp, by acting longitudinally or along
its line of length. This block stood upright, and received a portion
of the rafters, covered by the shingles and held them aloft as easily
as you can hold your hat with your outstretched arm. From this point
of highest support, the debris sloped away until it rested on the
floor, but the open space, in which the brother and sister lay, was as
safe as was their situation, before the gale loosened the structure.
Tim called to his sister and found that not so much as a hair of her
head had been harmed, and it was the same with himself. All was
darkness in their confined quarters, but the wrenched framework gave
them plenty of air to breathe.
Who can picture the feelings of the father, when he saw the collapse of
the roof of the barn and knew that his two children were beneath? He
rushed thither like a madman, only to be cheered to the highest
thankfulness the next moment at hearing their muffled assurances that
both were all right. A brief vigorous application of his axe and the
two were helped out into the open air, neither the worse for their
The parent could hardly believe what had been done by his boy, when
Maggie told him, until an examination for himself showed that it was
true. He declared that neither he nor anyone would have thought of the
means and applied it with such lightning quickness. It certainly was
an extraordinary exhibition of presence of mind and deserved all the
praise given to it. The Brereton Intelligencer devoted half a column
to a description of the exploit and prophesied that that "young man"
would be heard from again. For weeks and months there was nothing at
the disposal of Mr. Hunter which was too good for his boy and it is
probable that the indulgence of that period had something to do with
making Tim dissatisfied with the prospect of spending all his life as a
"hewer of stone."
Gradually as the effects of the remarkable rescue wore off, the
impatience of the parent grew until we have seen him on the point of
calling to account the boy who had really been the means of saving two
lives, for his own was as much imperilled as the sister's. Once more
she appealed to that last recourse, and once more it did not fail her.
When he recalled that dreadful scene, he could not help feeling an
admiring gratitude for his boy. Although silent and reserved some time
later, when the three gathered round the table for their evening meal,
nothing unpleasant was said by the parent, though the sharp-witted Tim
felt a strong suspicion of the cause of his father's reserve.
Later in the evening, the latter sat down by the table in the sitting
room and took up his copy of the Brereton Intelligencer, which had
arrived that afternoon. He always spent his Thursday evenings in this
manner, unless something unusual interfered, the local news and
selected miscellany affording enough intellectual food to last him
until retiring time.
While he was thus occupied, Tim and Maggie played checkers, there being
little difference in their respective skill. They were quiet, and when
necessary to speak, did so in low tones, so as not to disturb the
An hour had passed, when he suddenly turned, with his spectacles on his
nose, and looked at the children. The slight resentment he still felt
toward Tim caused him to address himself directly to his sister:
"Maggie, do you know who has been writing these articles in the paper
for the last few weeks?"
She held a king suspended as she was on the point of jumping a couple
of Tim's and asked in turn:
"They are signed 'Mit' and each paper for the last two or three months
has had one of them."
"No, sir; I do not know who wrote them."
"Well, whoever he is he's a mighty smart fellow."
"Maybe it's a 'she,'" suggested Maggie, as she proceeded to sweep off
the board the two kings of Tim that had got in the path of her single
"Fudge! no woman can write such good sense as that. Besides, some of
them have been on the tariff, the duties of voters, the Monroe Doctrine
and politics: what does any woman know about such themes as those?"
"Don't some women write about them?"
"I haven't denied that, but that doesn't prove that they know anything
of the subjects themselves."
The miss could make no suitable response to this brilliant remark and
did not attempt to do so, while Tim said nothing at all, as if the
subject had no attraction to him.
By and by the parent uttered a contemptuous sniff. He was reading
"Mit's" contribution, and for the first time came upon something with
which he did not agree.
"He's 'way off there," remarked the elder, as if speaking to himself.
"What is it, father?" asked Maggie, ceasing her playing for the moment,
for her affection always led her to show an interest in whatever
"The article is the best I have read until I get toward the end.
Listen: 'No greater mistake can be made than for a parent to force a
child into some calling or profession for which he has no liking. The
boy will be sure to fail.' Now, what do you think of that?"
"The latter part sounds very much like what you said to me this
"It isn't that, which is true enough, but the idea that a boy knows
better than his father what is the right profession for him to follow.
That doctrine is too much like Young America who thinks he knows it
"Read on, father; let me hear the rest."
The father was silent a minute or two, while he skimmed through the
"It isn't worth reading," he remarked impatiently, thereby proving that
he had been hit by the arguments which he found difficult to refute.
Maggie made no comment, but smiled significantly at Tim across the
board, as they resumed their game.
In truth, Mr. Hunter had come upon some sentiments that set him to
thinking, such, for instance, as these: "It may be said with truth in
many cases, that the father is the best judge of what the future of his
son should be. In fact no one can question this, but the father does
not always use that superior knowledge as he should. Perhaps he has
yielded to the dearest wish of the mother that their son should become
a minister. The mother's love does not allow her to see that her boy
has no gifts as a speaker and no love for a clergyman's life. He longs
to be a lawyer or doctor. Will any one deny that to drive the young
man into the pulpit is the greatest mistake that can be made?
"Sometimes a father, with an only son, perhaps, intends that he shall
be trained to follow in his footsteps. The boy has a dislike for that
calling or profession,—a dislike that was born with him and which
nothing can remove. His taste runs in a wholly different channel;
whatever talent he has lies there. While it may be convenient for him
to step into his parent's shoes, yet he should never be forced to do
so, but be allowed to select that for which he has an ability and
toward which he is drawn. Parents make such sad mistakes as these, and
often do not awake to the fact until it is too late to undo the
mischief that has been done. Let them give the subject their most
thoughtful attention and good is sure to follow."
It was these words, following on the talk he had had with Maggie a
short time before that set Mr. Hunter to thinking more deeply than he
had ever done over the problem in which his son was so intimately
concerned. After his children had retired and he was left alone, he
turned over the paper and read the article again. It stuck to him and
he could not drive it away. Laying the journal aside, he lit his pipe
and leaned back in his chair.
"It is not pleasant," he mused, "to give up the idea of Tim becoming my
successor, for he is the only one I have ever thought of as such. But
there is force in what 'Mit' says about driving a boy into a calling or
profession that he hates; he will make a failure of it, whereas he
might become very successful if left to follow his own preferences. I
wonder who 'Mit' is; his articles are the best I have ever read in the
Intelligencer; I must ask the editor, so I can have him out here and
talk over this question which is the biggest bother I ever had."
Before Maggie and Tim separated to go to their rooms, and while at the
top of the stairs they whispered together for a few minutes. The
parent had got thus far in his musings, when he heard the voice of
Maggie calling from above:
"Father, do you think 'Mit' is a smart fellow?"
"Of course, even though I may not agree with all his views," replied
the parent, wondering why his child was so interested.
"Would you like to know who he is?"
"Of course, but you told me you didn't know."
"I didn't at that time, but I have learned since. If you will spell
the name backwards and put it before your surname, you will have that
of the youth who wrote the articles you admire so much."
The parent did as suggested, and behold! the name thus spelled out was
that of his only son, whose writings he had praised before the young
When the chuckling Tim told his sister the secret as he paused to kiss
her good-night at the head of the stairs, he did not dream that she
would reveal it to their father; but, before he could exact a promise,
she emitted the truth, despite his attempts to place his hand over her
mouth. Then she darted off, and, humiliated and chagrined, he went to
his own room.
But the parent was given more to think about. He was pleasant to both
the next morning at breakfast and made no reference to the matter that
was in the minds of all. Just as the meal was finished, he remarked:
"Tim, the load of stone is ready and we will take it over to Montvale
to-day; wouldn't you like to go with us?"
"Thank you, father; I shall be glad to go."
"All right; as soon as you and Maggie are through with your nonsense,
come out to the wharf and join us."
The method of transporting stone from the Brereton quarries to
Montvale, on the other side of the river, was simple. The canal ran
directly in front of the quarries, and there the boat was loaded with
the heavy freight. It was then drawn by horse through the canal
Denville, several miles to the north, where the waterway touched the
level of the Castaran river. Passing through a lock, the boat was
pulled across the stream by means of a rope, and wheel arrangement (a
heavy dam furnishing comparatively deep and smooth water), when another
lock admitted it to the canal on the opposite side.
The boat, which lay against the bank of the canal near the quarries,
was loaded so heavily that it was brought as low in the water as was
safe. Then a horse was hitched fast, and with Tim driving, and with
Warren and his father and two men on board, the craft began slowly
moving against the sluggish current.
The start was made in the morning, and before the forenoon was half
gone they were at the lower end of Denville, where preparations were
quickly made for crossing the river. The horse was taken on board, the
boat securely fastened by a strong rope at the bow and stern, so as to
hold her broadside against the current, and then the contrivance began
dragging her slowly toward the opposite shore.
During the spring months and the period of high water, a great many
rafts of lumber descend the Castaran, though the number is not so great
of late years as formerly. They are sold at various points along the
river, and occasionally two or three rafts float down stream during the
summer months. A long sweeping paddle (sometimes a couple) at either
end of the raft enable the men to clear the abutments of the bridges
and to shoot the rapids at different points.
The canal boat, with its cargo of stone had no more than fairly left
the eastern side, when a large raft was observed emerging from between
two abutments of the bridge above. The men at the oars began toiling
with them with a view of working the structure toward the rapids,
through which the only safe passage can be secured.
Those on the boat having nothing to do had seated themselves here and
there, and were watching their surroundings, as they moved at right
angles to the current. The raft was heading toward a point just ahead
of the boat, and was so near that Tim, who was sitting beside his
father on the cabin, started to his feet and said:
"I believe they are going to strike us."
"Sit down; there is no danger; these people know their business; we
shall be well out of their way before they can reach us."
Nevertheless a collision seemed so imminent a moment later, that Mr.
Hunter rose to his feet and motioned to those working the rope to give
the boat greater speed. At the same time he shouted to the raftsmen:
"Keep off; don't you see we are in danger?"
"Get out of the way, then!" was the reply; "we must go through there."
Such manifestly was their right, and the gentleman again waved his
hands to those on both shores. But they saw the danger, and applying
all the power at their command, the boat began moving so much faster
that Mr. Hunter resumed his seat.
"It's all right now," he remarked; "but it looked mighty squally a
The canal boat was now crossing the rapid current, where a passage-way
had been left on purpose for rafts. It had not quite reached the
middle, toward which the structure was aiming, but its speed was
sufficient to take it well out of the way, provided no accident
And this is just what did occur. The unusual strain on the gearing
caused something to give way, and the forward motion of the craft
ceased at the very moment it reached the middle of the strong current.
Those on the bank who were managing the apparatus saw the trouble at
once, and strove desperately to extricate the boat from its perilous
situation, but they were powerless.
"For Heaven's sake, keep off!" shouted Mr. Hunter to the raftsmen; "if
you don't we shall be ruined!"
As he spoke he caught up a long pole, and pressing one end against the
bed of the river exerted himself with might and main to impel the boat
forward. He called to the two men to do the same, and under their
united propulsion the boat advanced, but at a snail's pace.
The lumbermen, seeing the alarming state of affairs, put forth all
their strength to swing the raft over so that it would pass between the
boat and the eastern shore. There was scant room for this, but they
were hardly less anxious than the imperilled boatmen, to whom the
consequences were certain to be more serious than to themselves.
Had the distance been greater they might have succeeded, but under the
circumstances it was impossible. Dipping the broad blades of the long
oars, balanced at the ends of the raft, the men almost lay on their
faces as they held their breath and pushed with every ounce of strength
at their command. Then, when they reached the edge of the raft, they
bore down so as to lift the blade from the water, ran back to the other
side, dipped the oar again and shoved as before.
Meanwhile Mr. Hunter and his assistants were panting and red in the
face, as they desperately strove to force the boat from the path of the
approaching raft, which came plunging down upon them with increasing
"No use!" he suddenly exclaimed, flinging the wet pole in the center of
the boat on top of the stone; "we shall be shivered to atoms! Be ready
to jump on the raft as it crushes through us! Leave the horse to take
care of himself! Tim, you know how to swim, but jump on the raft with
us—Heavens! what have you done, my son?"
A few seconds before the boy had caught up the sharp hatchet lying near
the cabin, and intended for use of splitting fuel for the stove. With
two quick blows he severed the rope which held the stern. The latter
yielded to the strong current dashing against it, and began swinging
around, so that it quickly lay parallel with the river, with the bow
pointing up stream, and held securely by the rope fastened at that end.
This was no more than fairly done when the enormous raft swept past, so
close that the nearest log was heard scraping the entire length of the
boat. The impact drove it clear, and before any one beside the boy
realized how it was done the entire structure had gone by, no damage
was done and all were safe.
"Jim," said Mr. Hunter, a minute after, when the flurry was over, "what
a set of fools we were that we didn't think of that."
"I don't agree with you," replied the other, "because no one would have
thought of it except that youngster."
"Tim," added the father, placing his hand affectionately on his head,
"I am proud of you."
And the little fellow blushed and replied:
"I'm glad I happened to think of it in time, but it was rather close,
"It couldn't have been more so, and but for you boat and cargo would
have been a dead loss, and more than likely some of us would have lost
That night at the supper table, Mr. Hunter remarked with a meaning
"Maggie, the Hunter family contains a fool and a genius, I'm not the
genius and 'Mit' isn't the fool."
"Father, you are not just to yourself," the boy hastened to say; "I
have done wrong in not appreciating your kindness or indulgence, and I
have resolved to do my best to please you. I think I have some talent
for composition and invention, but I can use it just as well, without
neglecting the quarries and stone works, and if you will permit, I
shall give you all the help I can in the business with the hope that
some day, which I pray may be far distant, I shall become your
Tears filled the eyes of all, as the parent, rising from his chair,
placed his hand on the head of Tim and said, in a tremulous voice:
"God bless you, my son!"