The Blazed Trail
Stewart Edward White
Part 7 out of 7
The two on the veranda smoked. To the right, at the end of the
sawdust street, the mill sang its varying and lulling keys. The
odor of fresh-sawed pine perfumed the air. Not a hundred yards away
the river slipped silently to the distant blue Superior, escaping
between the slanting stone-filled cribs which held back the logs.
Down the south and west the huge thunderheads gathered and flashed
and grumbled, as they had done every afternoon for days previous.
"Queer thing," commented Hamilton finally, "these cold streaks in
the air. They are just as distinct as though they had partitions
"Queer climate anyway," agreed Carpenter.
Excepting always for the mill, the little settlement appeared asleep.
The main booms were quite deserted. Not a single figure, armed with
its picturesque pike-pole, loomed athwart the distance. After awhile
Hamilton noticed something.
"Look here, Carpenter," said he, "what's happening out there? Have
some of your confounded logs SUNK, or what? There don't seem to be
near so many of them somehow."
"No, it isn't that," proffered Carpenter after a moment's scrutiny,
"there are just as many logs, but they are getting separated a
little so you can see the open water between them."
"Guess you're right. Say, look here, I believe that the river is
"Nonsense, we haven't had any rain."
"She's rising just the same. I'll tell you how I know; you see
that spile over there near the left-hand crib? Well, I sat on the
boom this morning watching the crew, and I whittled the spile with
my knife--you can see the marks from here. I cut the thing about
two feet above the water. Look at it now."
"She's pretty near the water line, that's right," admitted
"I should think that might make the boys hot," commented Hamilton.
"If they'd known this was coming, they needn't have hustled so to
get the drive down.
"That's so," Wallace agreed.
About an hour later the younger man in his turn made a discovery.
"She's been rising right along," he submitted. "Your marks are
nearer the water, and, do you know, I believe the logs are beginning
to feel it. See, they've closed up the little openings between them,
and they are beginning to crowd down to the lower end of the pond."
"I don't know anything about this business," hazarded the journalist,
"but by the mere look of the thing I should think there was a good
deal of pressure on that same lower end. By Jove, look there! See
those logs up-end? I believe you're going to have a jam right here
in your own booms!"
"I don't know," hesitated Wallace, "I never heard of its happening."
"You'd better let someone know."
"I hate to bother Harry or any of the rivermen. I'll just step down
to the mill. Mason--he's our mill foreman--he'll know."
Mason came to the edge of the high trestle and took one look.
"Jumping fish-hooks!" he cried. "Why, the river's up six inches
and still a comin'! Here you, Tom!" he called to one of the yard
hands, "you tell Solly to get steam on that tug double quick, and
have Dave hustle together his driver crew."
"What you going to do?" asked Wallace.
"I got to strengthen the booms," explained the mill foreman. "We'll
drive some piles across between the cribs."
"Is there any danger?"
"Oh, no, the river would have to rise a good deal higher than she
is now to make current enough to hurt. They've had a hard rain up
above. This will go down in a few hours."
After a time the tug puffed up to the booms, escorting the pile
driver. The latter towed a little raft of long sharpened piles,
which it at once began to drive in such positions as would most
effectually strengthen the booms. In the meantime the thunder-
heads had slyly climbed the heavens, so that a sudden deluge of
rain surprised the workmen. For an hour it poured down in torrents;
then settled to a steady gray beat. Immediately the aspect had
changed. The distant rise of land was veiled; the brown expanse
of logs became slippery and glistening; the river below the booms
was picked into staccato points by the drops; distant Superior
turned lead color and seemed to tumble strangely athwart the horizon.
Solly, the tug captain, looked at his mooring hawsers and then at
the nearest crib.
"She's riz two inches in th' las' two hours," he announced, "and
she's runnin' like a mill race." Solly was a typical north-country
tug captain, short and broad, with a brown, clear face, and the
steadiest and calmest of steel-blue eyes. "When she begins to feel
th' pressure behind," he went on, "there's goin' to be trouble."
Towards dusk she began to feel that pressure. Through the rainy
twilight the logs could be seen raising their ghostly arms of
protest. Slowly, without tumult, the jam formed. In the van the
logs crossed silently; in the rear they pressed in, were sucked
under in the swift water, and came to rest at the bottom of the
river. The current of the river began to protest, pressing its
hydraulics through the narrowing crevices. The situation demanded
A breeze began to pull off shore in the body of rain. Little by
little it increased, sending the water by in gusts, ruffling the
already hurrying river into greater haste, raising far from the
shore dimly perceived white-caps. Between the roaring of the wind,
the dash of rain, and the rush of the stream, men had to shout to
make themselves heard.
"Guess you'd better rout out the boss," screamed Solly to Wallace
Carpenter; "this damn water's comin' up an inch an hour right
along. When she backs up once, she'll push this jam out sure."
Wallace ran to the boarding house and roused his partner from a
heavy sleep. The latter understood the situation at a word. While
dressing, he explained to the younger man wherein lay the danger.
"If the jam breaks once," said he, "nothing top of earth can prevent
it from going out into the Lake, and there it'll scatter, Heaven
knows where. Once scattered, it is practically a total loss. The
salvage wouldn't pay the price of the lumber."
They felt blindly through the rain in the direction of the lights
on the tug and pile-driver. Shearer, the water dripping from his
flaxen mustache, joined them like a shadow.
"I heard you come in," he explained to Carpenter. At the river he
announced his opinion. "We can hold her all right," he assured
them. "It'll take a few more piles, but by morning the storm'll
be over, and she'll begin to go down again."
The three picked their way over the creaking, swaying timber. But
when they reached the pile-driver, they found trouble afoot. The
crew had mutinied, and refused longer to drive piles under the face
of the jam.
"If she breaks loose, she's going to bury us," said they.
"She won't break," snapped Shearer, "get to work."
"It's dangerous," they objected sullenly.
"By God, you get off this driver," shouted Solly. "Go over and lie
down in a ten-acre lot, and see if you feel safe there!"
He drove them ashore with a storm of profanity and a multitude of
kicks, his steel-blue eyes blazing.
"There's nothing for it but to get the boys out again," said Tim;
"I kinder hate to do it."
But when the Fighting Forty, half asleep but dauntless, took charge
of the driver, a catastrophe made itself known. One of the ejected
men had tripped the lifting chain of the hammer after another had
knocked away the heavy preventing block, and so the hammer had fallen
into the river and was lost. None other was to be had. The pile
driver was useless.
A dozen men were at once despatched for cables, chains, and wire
ropes from the supply at the warehouse.
"I'd like to have those whelps here," cried Shearer, "I'd throw
them under the jam."
"It's part of the same trick," said Thorpe grimly; "those fellows
have their men everywhere among us. I don't know whom to trust."
"You think it's Morrison & Daly?" queried Carpenter astonished.
"Think? I know it. They know as well as you or I that if we save
these logs, we'll win out in the stock exchange; and they're not
such fools as to let us save them if it can be helped. I have a
score to settle with those fellows; and when I get through with
this thing I'll settle it all right."
"What are you going to do now?"
"The only thing there is to be done. We'll string heavy booms,
chained together, between the cribs, and then trust to heaven
they'll hold. I think we can hold the jam. The water will begin
to flow over the bank before long, so there won't be much increase
of pressure over what we have now; and as there won't be any shock
to withstand, I think our heavy booms will do the business."
He turned to direct the boring of some long boom logs in preparation
for the chains. Suddenly he whirled again to Wallace with so strange
an expression in his face that the young man almost cried out. The
uncertain light of the lanterns showed dimly the streaks of rain
across his countenance, and, his eye flared with a look almost of
"I never thought of it!" he said in a low voice. "Fool that I
am! I don't see how I missed it. Wallace, don't you see what those
devils will do next?"
"No, what do you mean?" gasped the younger man.
"There are twelve million feet of logs up river in Sadler & Smith's
drive. Don't you see what they'll do?"
"No, I don't believe---"
"Just as soon as they find out that the river is booming, and that
we are going to have a hard time to hold our jam, they'll let loose
those twelve million on us. They'll break the jam, or dynamite it,
or something. And let me tell you, that a very few logs hitting the
tail of our jam will start the whole shooting match so that no power
on earth can stop it."
"I don't imagine they'd think of doing that---" began Wallace by way
"Think of it! You don't know them. They've thought of everything.
You don't know that man Daly. Ask Tim, he'll tell you."
"I've got to send a man up there right away. Perhaps we can get
there in time to head them off. They have to send their man over--
By the way," he queried, struck with a new idea, "how long have you
been driving piles?"
"Since about three o'clock."
"Six hours," computed Thorpe. "I wish you'd come for me sooner."
He cast his eye rapidly over the men.
"I don't know just who to send. There isn't a good enough woodsman
in the lot to make Siscoe Falls through the woods a night like this.
The river trail is too long; and a cut through the woods is blind.
Andrews is the only man I know of who could do it, but I think Billy
Mason said Andrews had gone up on the Gunther track to run lines.
Come on; we'll see."
With infinite difficulty and caution, they reached the shore.
Across the gleaming logs shone dimly the lanterns at the scene
of work, ghostly through the rain. Beyond, on either side, lay
impenetrable drenched darkness, racked by the wind.
"I wouldn't want to tackle it," panted Thorpe. "If it wasn't for
that cursed tote road between Sadler's and Daly's, I wouldn't
worry. It's just too EASY for them."
Behind them the jam cracked and shrieked and groaned. Occasionally
was heard, beneath the sharper noises, a dull BOOM, as one of the
heavy timbers forced by the pressure from its resting place, shot
into the air, and fell back on the bristling surface.
Andrews had left that morning.
"Tim Shearer might do it," suggested Thorpe, "but I hate to spare
He picked his rifle from its rack and thrust the magazine full of
"Come on, Wallace," said he, "we'll hunt him up."
They stepped again into the shriek and roar of the storm, bending
their heads to its power, but indifferent in the already drenched
condition of their clothing, to the rain. The saw-dust street was
saturated like a sponge. They could feel the quick water rise about
the pressure at their feet. From the invisible houses they heard
a steady monotone of flowing from the roofs. Far ahead, dim in the
mist, sprayed the light of lanterns.
Suddenly Thorpe felt a touch on his arm. Faintly he perceived at
his elbow the high lights of a face from which the water streamed.
"Injin Charley!" he cried, "the very man!"
Rapidly Thorpe explained what was to be done, and thrust his rifle
into the Indian's hands. The latter listened in silence and
stolidity, then turned, and without a word departed swiftly in the
darkness. The two white men stood a minute attentive. Nothing was
to be heard but the steady beat of rain and the roaring of the wind.
Near the bank of the river they encountered a man, visible only as
an uncertain black outline against the glow of the lanterns beyond.
Thorpe, stopping him, found Big Junko.
"This is no time to quit," said Thorpe, sharply.
"I ain't quittin'," replied Big Junko.
"Where are you going, then?"
Junko was partially and stammeringly unresponsive.
"Looks bad," commented Thorpe. "You'd better get back to your
"Yes," agreed Junko helplessly. In the momentary slack tide of
work, the giant had conceived the idea of searching out the driver
crew for purposes of pugilistic vengeance. Thorpe's suspicions
stung him, but his simple mind could see no direct way to
All night long in the chill of a spring rain and windstorm the
Fighting Forty and certain of the mill crew gave themselves to the
labor of connecting the slanting stone cribs so strongly, by means
of heavy timbers chained end to end, that the pressure of a break
in the jam might not sweep aside the defenses. Wallace Carpenter,
Shorty, the chore-boy, and Anderson, the barn-boss, picked a
dangerous passage back and forth carrying pails of red-hot coffee
which Mrs. Hathaway constantly prepared. The cold water numbed
the men's hands. With difficulty could they manipulate the heavy
chains through the auger holes; with pain they twisted knots, bored
holes. They did not complain. Behind them the jam quivered,
perilously near the bursting point. From it shrieked aloud the
demons of pressure. Steadily the river rose, an inch an hour.
The key might snap at any given moment,they could not tell,--and
with the rush they knew very well that themselves, the tug, and the
disabled piledriver would be swept from existence. The worst of it
was that the blackness shrouded their experience into uselessness;
they were utterly unable to tell by the ordinary visual symptoms
how near the jam might be to collapse.
However, they persisted, as the old-time riverman always does, so
that when dawn appeared the barrier was continuous and assured.
Although the pressure of the river had already forced the logs
against the defenses, the latter held the strain well.
The storm had settled into its gait. Overhead the sky was filled
with gray, beneath which darker scuds flew across the zenith before
a howling southwest wind. Out in the clear river one could hardly
stand upright against the gusts. In the fan of many directions
furious squalls swept over the open water below the booms, and an
eager boiling current rushed to the lake.
Thorpe now gave orders that the tug and driver should take shelter.
A few moments later he expressed himself as satisfied. The dripping
crew, their harsh faces gray in the half-light, picked their way to
In the darkness of that long night's work no man knew his neighbor.
Men from the river, men from the mill, men from the yard all worked
side by side. Thus no one noticed especially a tall, slender, but
well-knit individual dressed in a faded mackinaw and a limp slouch
hat which he wore pulled over his eyes. This young fellow occupied
himself with the chains. Against the racing current the crew held
the ends of the heavy booms, while he fastened them together. He
worked well, but seemed slow. Three times Shearer hustled him on
after the others had finished, examining closely the work that had
been done. On the third occasion he shrugged his shoulder somewhat
The men straggled to shore, the young fellow just described
bringing up the rear. He walked as though tired out, hanging his
head and dragging his feet. When, however, the boarding-house door
had closed on the last of those who preceded him, and the town lay
deserted in the dawn, he suddenly became transformed. Casting a
keen glance right and left to be sure of his opportunity, he turned
and hurried recklessly back over the logs to the center booms.
There he knelt and busied himself with the chains.
In his zigzag progression over the jam he so blended with the
morning shadows as to seem one of them, and he would have escaped
quite unnoticed had not a sudden shifting of the logs under his
feet compelled him to rise for a moment to his full height. So
Wallace Carpenter, passing from his bedroom, along the porch, to
the dining room, became aware of the man on the logs.
His first thought was that something demanding instant attention
had happened to the boom. He therefore ran at once to the man's
assistance, ready to help him personally or to call other aid as
the exigency demanded. Owing to the precarious nature of the
passage, he could not see beyond his feet until very close to the
workman. Then he looked up to find the man, squatted on the boom,
contemplating him sardonically.
"Dyer!" he exclaimed
"Right, my son," said the other coolly.
"What are you doing?"
"If you want to know, I am filing this chain."
Wallace made one step forward and so became aware that at last
firearms were taking a part in this desperate game.
"You stand still," commanded Dyer from behind the revolver. "It's
unfortunate for you that you happened along, because now you'll have
to come with me till this little row is over. You won't have to stay
long; your logs'll go out in an hour. I'll just trouble you to go
into the brush with me for a while."
The scaler picked his file from beside the weakened link.
"What have you against us, anyway, Dyer?" asked Wallace. His quick
mind had conceived a plan. At the moment, he was standing near the
outermost edge of the jam, but now as he spoke he stepped quietly to
the boom log.
Dyer's black eyes gleamed at him suspiciously, but the movement
appeared wholly natural in view of the return to shore.
"Nothing," he replied. "I didn't like your gang particularly, but
"Why do you take such nervy chances to injure us?" queried Carpenter.
"Because there's something in it," snapped the scaler. "Now about
Like a flash Wallace wheeled and dropped into the river, swimming
as fast as possible below water before his breath should give out.
The swift current hurried him away. When at last he rose for air,
the spit of Dyer's pistol caused him no uneasiness. A moment later
he struck out boldly for shore.
What Dyer's ultimate plan might be, he could not guess. He had
stated confidently that the jam would break "in an hour." He might
intend to start it with dynamite. Wallace dragged himself from the
water and commenced breathlessly to run toward the boarding-house.
Dyer had already reached the shore. Wallace raised what was left
of his voice in a despairing shout. The scaler mockingly waved
his hat, then turned and ran swiftly and easily toward the shelter
of the woods. At their border he paused again to bow in derision.
Carpenter's cry brought men to the boarding-house door. From the
shadows of the forest two vivid flashes cut the dusk. Dyer
staggered, turned completely about, seemed partially to recover,
and disappeared. An instant later, across the open space where the
scaler had stood, with rifle a-trail, the Indian leaped in pursuit.
"What is it?" "What's the matter?" "What's happened?" burst on
Wallace in a volley.
"It's Dyer," gasped the young man. "I found him on the boom! He
held me up with a gun while he filed the boom chains between the
center piers. They're just ready to go. I got away by diving.
Hurry and put in a new chain; you haven't much time!"
"He's a gone-er now," interjected Solly grimly.--"Charley is on his
trail--and he is hit."
Thorpe's intelligence leaped promptly to the practical question.
"Injin Charley, where'd he come from? I sent him up Sadler &
Smith's. It's twenty miles, even through the woods."
As though by way of colossal answer the whole surface of the jam
moved inward and upward, thrusting the logs bristling against the
"She's going to break!" shouted Thorpe, starting on a run towards
the river. "A chain, quick!"
The men followed, strung high with excitement. Hamilton, the
journalist, paused long enough to glance up-stream. Then he, too,
ran after them, screaming that the river above was full of logs. By
that they all knew that Injin Charley's mission had failed, and that
something under ten million feet of logs were racing down the river
like so many battering rams.
At the boom the great jam was already a-tremble with eagerness to
spring. Indeed a miracle alone seemed to hold the timbers in their
"It's death, certain death, to go out on that boom," muttered
Tim Shearer stepped forward coolly, ready as always to assume the
perilous duty. He was thrust back by Thorpe, who seized the chain,
cold-shut and hammer which Scotty Parsons brought, and ran lightly
out over the booms, shouting,
"Back! back! Don't follow me, on your lives! Keep 'em back, Tim!"
The swift water boiled from under the booms. BANG! SMASH! BANG!
crashed the logs, a mile upstream, but plainly audible above the
waters and the wind. Thorpe knelt, dropped the cold-shut through on
either side of the weakened link, and prepared to close it with his
hammer. He intended further to strengthen the connection with the
"Lem' me hold her for you. You can't close her alone," said an
unexpected voice next his elbow.
Thorpe looked up in surprise and anger. Over him leaned Big Junko.
The men had been unable to prevent his following. Animated by the
blind devotion of the animal for its master, and further stung to
action by that master's doubt of his fidelity, the giant had
followed to assist as he might.
"You damned fool," cried Thorpe exasperated, then held the hammer
to him, "strike while I keep the chain underneath," he commanded.
Big Junko leaned forward to obey, kicking strongly his caulks into
the barked surface of the boom log. The spikes, worn blunt by the
river work already accomplished, failed to grip. Big Junko slipped,
caught himself by an effort, overbalanced in the other direction,
and fell into the stream. The current at once swept him away, but
fortunately in such a direction that he was enabled to catch the
slanting end of a "dead head" log whose lower end was jammed in the
crib. The dead head was slippery, the current strong; Big Junko had
no crevice by which to assure his hold. In another moment he would
be torn away.
"Let go and swim!" shouted Thorpe.
"I can't swim," replied Junko in so low a voice as to be scarcely
For a moment Thorpe stared at him.
"Tell Carrie," said Big Junko.
Then there beneath the swirling gray sky, under the frowning jam,
in the midst of flood waters, Thorpe had his second great Moment of
Decision. He did not pause to weigh reasons or chances, to discuss
with himself expediency, or the moralities of failure. His actions
were foreordained, mechanical. All at once the great forces which
the winter had been bringing to power, crystallized into something
bigger than himself or his ideas. The trail lay before him; there
was no choice.
Now clearly, with no shadow of doubt, he took the other view: There
could be nothing better than Love. Men, their works, their deeds
were little things. Success was a little thing; the opinion of men
a little thing. Instantly he felt the truth of it.
And here was Love in danger. That it held its moment's habitation
in clay of the coarser mould had nothing to do with the great
elemental truth of it. For the first time in his life Thorpe
felt the full crushing power of an abstraction. Without thought,
instinctively, he threw before the necessity of the moment all that
was lesser. It was the triumph of what was real in the man over
that which environment, alienation, difficulties had raised up
At Big Junko's words, Thorpe raised his hammer and with one mighty
blow severed the chains which bound the ends of the booms across
the opening. The free end of one of the poles immediately swung
down with the current in the direction of Big Junko. Thorpe like
a cat ran to the end of the boom, seized the giant by the collar,
and dragged him through the water to safety.
"Run!" he shouted. "Run for your life!"
The two started desperately back, skirting the edge of the logs
which now the very seconds alone seemed to hold back. They were
drenched and blinded with spray, deafened with the crash of timbers
settling to the leap. The men on shore could no longer see them for
the smother. The great crush of logs had actually begun its first
majestic sliding motion when at last they emerged to safety.
At first a few of the loose timbers found the opening, slipping
quietly through with the current; then more; finally the front of
the jam dove forward; and an instant later the smooth, swift motion
had gained its impetus and was sweeping the entire drive down
through the gap.
Rank after rank, like soldiers charging, they ran. The great
fierce wind caught them up ahead of the current. In a moment the
open river was full of logs jostling eagerly onward. Then suddenly,
far out above the uneven tossing skyline of Superior, the strange
northern "loom," or mirage, threw the specters of thousands of
restless timbers rising and falling on the bosom of the lake.
They stood and watched them go.
"Oh, the great man! Oh, the great man! murmured the writer,
The grandeur of the sacrifice had struck them dumb. They did not
understand the motives beneath it all; but the fact was patent.
Big Junko broke down and sobbed.
After a time the stream of logs through the gap slackened. In a
moment more, save for the inevitably stranded few, the booms were
empty. A deep sigh went up from the attentive multitude.
"She's GONE!" said one man, with the emphasis of a novel discovery;
Then the awe broke from about their minds, and they spoke many
opinions and speculations. Thorpe had disappeared. They respected
his emotion and did not follow him.
"It was just plain damn foolishness;--but it was great!" said
Shearer. "That no-account jackass of a Big Junko ain't worth as
much per thousand feet as good white pine."
Then they noticed a group of men gathering about the office steps,
and on it someone talking. Collins, the bookkeeper, was making a
Collins was a little hatchet-faced man, with straight, lank hair,
nearsighted eyes, a timid, order-loving disposition, and a great
suitability for his profession. He was accurate, unemotional, and
valuable. All his actions were as dry as the saw-dust in the burner.
No one had ever seen him excited. But he was human; and now his
knowledge of the Company's affairs showed him the dramatic contrast.
HE KNEW! He knew that the property of the firm had been mortgaged
to the last dollar in order to assist expansion, so that not another
cent could be borrowed to tide over present difficulty. He knew that
the notes for sixty thousand dollars covering the loan to Wallace
Carpenter came due in three months; he knew from the long table of
statistics which he was eternally preparing and comparing that the
season's cut should have netted a profit of two hundred thousand
dollars--enough to pay the interest on the mortgages, to take up the
notes, and to furnish a working capital for the ensuing year. These
things he knew in the strange concrete arithmetical manner of the
routine bookkeeper. Other men saw a desperate phase of firm rivalry;
he saw a struggle to the uttermost. Other men cheered a rescue: he
thrilled over the magnificent gesture of the Gambler scattering his
stake in largesse to Death.
It was the simple turning of the hand from full breathed prosperity
to lifeless failure.
His view was the inverse of his master's. To Thorpe it had suddenly
become a very little thing in contrast to the great, sweet elemental
truth that the dream girl had enunciated. To Collins the affair was
miles vaster than the widest scope of his own narrow life.
The firm could not take up its notes when they came due; it could
not pay the interest on the mortgages, which would now be foreclosed;
it could not even pay in full the men who had worked for it--that
would come under a court's adjudication.
He had therefore watched Thorpe's desperate sally to mend the
weakened chain, in all the suspense of a man whose entire universe
is in the keeping of the chance moment. It must be remembered that
at bottom, below the outer consciousness, Thorpe's final decision had
already grown to maturity. On the other hand, no other thought than
that of accomplishment had even entered the little bookkeeper's head.
The rescue and all that it had meant had hit him like a stroke of
apoplexy, and his thin emotions had curdled to hysteria. Full of
the idea he appeared before the men.
With rapid, almost incoherent speech he poured it out to them.
Professional caution and secrecy were forgotten. Wallace Carpenter
attempted to push through the ring for the purpose of stopping him.
A gigantic riverman kindly but firmly held him back.
"I guess it's just as well we hears this," said the latter.
It all came out--the loan to Carpenter, with a hint at the motive:
the machinations of the rival firm on the Board of Trade; the
notes, the mortgages, the necessity of a big season's cut; the
reasons the rival firm had for wishing to prevent that cut from
arriving at the market; the desperate and varied means they had
employed. The men listened silent. Hamilton, his eyes glowing
like coals, drank in every word. Here was the master motive he
had sought; here was the story great to his hand!
"That's what we ought to get," cried Collins, almost weeping, "and
now we've gone and bust, just because that infernal river-hog had
to fall off a boom. By God, it's a shame! Those scalawags have
done us after all!"
Out from the shadows of the woods stole Injin Charley. The whole
bearing and aspect of the man had changed. His eye gleamed with a
distant farseeing fire of its own, which took no account of anything
but some remote vision. He stole along almost furtively, but with
a proud upright carriage of his neck, a backward tilt of his fine
head, a distention of his nostrils that lent to his appearance a
panther-like pride and stealthiness. No one saw him. Suddenly he
broke through the group and mounted the steps beside Collins.
"The enemy of my brother is gone," said he simply in his native
tongue, and with a sudden gesture held out before them--a scalp.
The medieval barbarity of the thing appalled them for a moment. The
days of scalping were long since past, had been closed away between
the pages of forgotten histories, and yet here again before them
was the thing in all its living horror. Then a growl arose. The
human animal had tasted blood.
All at once like wine their wrongs mounted to their heads. They
remembered their dead comrades. They remembered the heart-breaking
days and nights of toil they had endured on account of this man and
his associates. They remembered the words of Collins, the little
bookkeeper. They hated. They shook their fists across the skies.
They turned and with one accord struck back for the railroad right-
of-way which led to Shingleville, the town controlled by Morrison
The railroad lay for a mile straight through a thick tamarack swamp,
then over a nearly treeless cranberry plain. The tamarack was a
screen between the two towns. When half-way through the swamp,
Red Jacket stopped, removed his coat, ripped the lining from it,
and began to fashion a rude mask.
"Just as well they don't recognize us," said he.
"Somebody in town will give us away," suggested Shorty, the chore-boy.
"No, they won't; they're all here," assured Kerlie.
It was true. Except for the women and children, who were not yet
about, the entire village had assembled. Even old Vanderhoof, the
fire-watcher of the yard, hobbled along breathlessly on his rheumatic
legs. In a moment the masks were fitted. In a moment more the
little band had emerged from the shelter of the swamp, and so came
into full view of its objective point.
Shingleville consisted of a big mill; the yards, now nearly empty
of lumber; the large frame boarding-house; the office; the stable;
a store; two saloons; and a dozen dwellings. The party at once
fixed its eyes on this collection of buildings, and trudged on down
the right-of-way with unhastening grimness.
Their approach was not unobserved. Daly saw them; and Baker, his
foreman, saw them. The two at once went forth to organize opposition.
When the attacking party reached the mill-yard, it found the boss
and the foreman standing alone on the saw-dust, revolvers drawn.
Daly traced a line with his toe.
"The first man that crosses that line gets it," said he.
They knew he meant what he said. An instant's pause ensued, while
the big man and the little faced a mob. Daly's rivermen were still
on drive. He knew the mill men too well to depend on them. Truth
to tell, the possibility of such a raid as this had not occurred to
him; for the simple reason that he did not anticipate the discovery
of his complicity with the forces of nature. Skillfully carried out,
the plan was a good one. No one need know of the weakened link, and
it was the most natural thing in the world that Sadler & Smith's
drive should go out with the increase of water.
The men grouped swiftly and silently on the other side of the
sawdust line. The pause did not mean that Daly's defense was good.
I have known of a crew of striking mill men being so bluffed down,
but not such men as these.
"Do you know what's going to happen to you?" said a voice from the
group. The speaker was Radway, but the contractor kept himself well
in the background. "We're going to burn your mill; we're going to
burn your yards; we're going to burn your whole shooting match, you
"Yes, and we're going to string you to your own trestle!" growled
another voice harshly.
"Dyer!" said Injin Charley, simply, shaking the wet scalp arm's
length towards the lumbermen.
At this grim interruption a silence fell. The owner paled slightly;
his foreman chewed a nonchalant straw. Down the still and deserted
street crossed and recrossed the subtle occult influences of a half-
hundred concealed watchers. Daly and his subordinate were very much
alone, and very much in danger. Their last hour had come; and they
With the recognition of the fact, they immediately raised their
weapons in the resolve to do as much damage as possible before
Then suddenly, full in the back, a heavy stream of water knocked
them completely off their feet, rolled them over and over on the
wet sawdust, and finally jammed them both against the trestle,
where it held them, kicking and gasping for breath, in a choking
cataract of water. The pistols flew harmlessly into the air. For
an instant the Fighting Forty stared in paralyzed astonishment.
Then a tremendous roar of laughter saluted this easy vanquishment
of a formidable enemy.
Daly and Baker were pounced upon and captured. There was no
resistance. They were too nearly strangled for that. Little
Solly and old Vanderhoof turned off the water in the fire hydrant
and disconnected the hose they had so effectively employed.
"There, damn you!" said Rollway Charley, jerking the millman to
his feet. "How do YOU like too much water? hey?"
The unexpected comedy changed the party's mood.
It was no longer a question of killing. A number broke into the
store, and shortly emerged, bearing pails of kerosene with which
they deluged the slabs on the windward side of the mill. The flames
caught the structure instantly. A thousand sparks, borne by the
off-shore breeze, fastened like so many stinging insects on the
lumber in the yard.
It burned as dried balsam thrown on a camp fire. The heat of it
drove the onlookers far back in the village, where in silence they
watched the destruction. From behind locked doors the inhabitants
watched with them.
The billow of white smoke filled the northern sky. A whirl of gray
wood ashes, light as air, floated on and ever on over Superior. The
site of the mill, the squares where the piles of lumber had stood,
glowed incandescence over which already a white film was forming.
Daly and his man were slapped and cuffed hither and thither at the
men's will. Their faces bled, their bodies ached as one bruise.
"That squares us," said the men. "If we can't cut this year,
neither kin you. It's up to you now!"
Then, like a destroying horde of locusts, they gutted the office
and the store, smashing what they could not carry to the fire. The
dwellings and saloons they did not disturb. Finally, about noon,
they kicked their two prisoners into the river, and took their way
stragglingly back along the right-of-way.
"I surmise we took that town apart SOME!" remarked Shorty with
"I should rise to remark," replied Kerlie. Big Junko said nothing,
but his cavernous little animal eyes glowed with satisfaction. He
had been the first to lay hands on Daly; he had helped to carry the
petroleum; he had struck the first match; he had even administered
the final kick.
At the boarding-house they found Wallace Carpenter and Hamilton
seated on the veranda. It was now afternoon. The wind had abated
somewhat, and the sun was struggling with the still flying scuds.
"Hello, boys," said Wallace, "been for a little walk in the woods?"
"Yes, sir," replied Jack Hyland, "we---"
"I'd rather not hear," interrupted Wallace. "There's quite a fire
over east. I suppose you haven't noticed it."
Hyland looked gravely eastward.
"Sure 'nough!" said he.
"Better get some grub," suggested Wallace.
After the men had gone in, he turned to the journalist.
"Hamilton," he began, "write all you know about the drive, and
the break, and the rescue, but as to the burning of the mill---"
The other held out his hand.
"Good," said Wallace offering his own.
And that was as far as the famous Shingleville raid ever got. Daly
did his best to collect even circumstantial evidence against the
participants, but in vain. He could not even get anyone to say that
a single member of the village of Carpenter had absented himself
from town that morning. This might have been from loyalty, or it
might have been from fear of the vengeance the Fighting Forty would
surely visit on a traitor. Probably it was a combination of both.
The fact remains, however, that Daly never knew surely of but one
man implicated in the destruction of his plant. That man was Injin
Charley, but Injin Charley promptly disappeared.
After an interval, Tim Shearer, Radway and Kerlie came out again.
"Where's the boss?" asked Shearer.
"I don't know, Tim," replied Wallace seriously.
"I've looked everywhere. He's gone. He must have been all cut up.
I think he went out in the woods to get over it. I am not worrying.
Harry has lots of sense. He'll come in about dark."
"Sure!" said Tim.
"How about the boy's stakes?" queried Radway. "I hear this is a
bad smash for the firm."
"We'll see that the men get their wages all right," replied
Carpenter, a little disappointed that such a question should be
asked at such a time.
"All right," rejoined the contractor. "We're all going to need
our money this summer."
Thorpe walked through the silent group of men without seeing
them. He had no thought for what he had done, but for the
triumphant discovery he had made in spite of himself. This he
saw at once as something to glory in and as a duty to be fulfilled.
It was then about six o'clock in the morning. Thorpe passed the
boarding-house, the store, and the office, to take himself as far
as the little open shed that served the primitive town as a railway
station. There he set the semaphore to flag the east-bound train
from Duluth. At six thirty-two, the train happening on time, he
climbed aboard. He dropped heavily into a seat and stared straight
in front of him until the conductor had spoken to him twice.
"Where to, Mr. Thorpe?" he asked.
The latter gazed at him uncomprehendingly.
"Oh! Mackinaw City," he replied at last.
"How're things going up your way?" inquired the conductor by way of
conversation while he made out the pay-slip.
"Good!" responded Thorpe mechanically.
The act of paying for his fare brought to his consciousness that he
had but a little over ten dollars with him. He thrust the change
back into his pocket, and took up his contemplation of nothing. The
river water dripped slowly from his "cork" boots to form a pool on
the car floor. The heavy wool of his short driving trousers steamed
in the car's warmth. His shoulders dried in a little cloud of vapor.
He noticed none of these things, but stared ahead, his gaze vacant,
the bronze of his face set in the lines of a brown study, his strong
capable hands hanging purposeless between his knees. The ride to
Mackinaw City was six hours long, and the train in addition lost some
ninety minutes; but in all this distance Thorpe never altered his
pose nor his fixed attitude of attention to some inner voice.
The car-ferry finally landed them on the southern peninsula. Thorpe
descended at Mackinaw City to find that the noon train had gone. He
ate lunch at the hotel,--borrowed a hundred dollars from the agent
of Louis Sands, a lumberman of his acquaintance; and seated himself
rigidly in the little waiting room, there to remain until the nine-
twenty that night. When the cars were backed down from the siding,
he boarded the sleeper. In the doorway stood a disapproving colored
"Yo'll fin' the smokin' cab up fo'wu'd, suh," said the latter, firmly
barring the way.
"It's generally forward," answered Thorpe.
"This yeah's th' sleepah," protested the functionary. "You pays
"I am aware of it," replied Thorpe curtly. "Give me a lower."
"Yessah!" acquiesced the darkey, giving way, but still in doubt. He
followed Thorpe curiously, peering into the smoking room on him from
time to time. A little after twelve his patience gave out. The
stolid gloomy man of lower six seemed to intend sitting up all night.
Yo' berth is ready, sah," he delicately suggested.
Thorpe arose obediently, walked to lower six, and, without undressing,
threw himself on the bed. Afterwards the porter, in conscientious
discharge of his duty, looked diligently beneath the seat for boots
to polish. Happening to glance up, after fruitless search he
discovered the boots still adorning the feet of their owner.
"Well, for th' LANDS sake!" ejaculated the scandalized negro, beating
a hasty retreat.
He was still more scandalized when, the following noon, his strange
fare brushed by him without bestowing the expected tip.
Thorpe descended at Twelfth Street in Chicago without any very clear
notion of where he was going. For a moment he faced the long park-
like expanse of the lake front, then turned sharp to his left and
picked his way south up the interminable reaches of Michigan Avenue.
He did this without any conscious motive--mainly because the reaches
seemed interminable, and he proved the need of walking. Block after
block he clicked along, the caulks of his boots striking fire from
the pavement. Some people stared at him a little curiously. Others
merely glanced in his direction, attracted more by the expression of
his face than the peculiarity of his dress. At that time rivermen
were not an uncommon sight along the water front.
After an interval he seemed to have left the smoke and dirt behind.
The street became quieter. Boarding-houses and tailors' shops
ceased. Here and there appeared a bit of lawn, shrubbery, flowers.
The residences established an uptown crescendo of magnificence.
Policemen seemed trimmer, better-gloved. Occasionally he might have
noticed in front of one of the sandstone piles, a besilvered pair
champing before a stylish vehicle. By and by he came to himself
to find that he was staring at the deep-carved lettering in a stone
horse-block before a large dwelling.
His mind took the letters in one after the other, perceiving them
plainly before it accorded them recognition. Finally he had
completed the word "Farrad." He whirled sharp on his heel, mounted
the broad white stone steps, and rang the bell.
It was answered almost immediately by a cleanshaven, portly and
dignified man with the most impassive countenance in the world.
This man looked upon Thorpe with lofty disapproval.
"Is Miss Hilda Farrand at home?" he asked.
"I cannot say," replied the man. "If you will step to the back door,
I will ascertain."
"The flowers will do. Now see that the south room is ready, Annie,"
floated a voice from within.
Without a word, but with a deadly earnestness, Thorpe reached
forward, seized the astonished servant by the collar, yanked him
bodily outside the door, stepped inside, and strode across the hall
toward a closed portiere whence had come the voice. The riverman's
long spikes cut little triangular pieces from the hardwood floor.
Thorpe did not notice that. He thrust aside the portiere.
Before him he saw a young and beautiful girl. She was seated, and
her lap was filled with flowers. At his sudden apparition, her
hands flew to her heart, and her lips slightly parted. For a second
the two stood looking at each other, just as nearly a year before
their eyes had crossed over the old pole trail.
To Thorpe the girl seemed more beautiful than ever. She exceeded
even his retrospective dreams of her, for the dream had persistently
retained something of the quality of idealism which made the vision
unreal, while the woman before him had become human flesh and blood,
adorable, to be desired. The red of this violent unexpected encounter
rushed to her face, her bosom rose and fell in a fluttering catch
for breath; but her eyes were steady and inquiring.
Then the butter pounced on Thorpe from behind with the intent to do
great bodily harm.
"Morris!" commanded Hilda sharply, "what are you doing?"
The man cut short his heroism in confusion.
"You may go," concluded Hilda.
Thorpe stood straight and unwinking by the straight portiere. After
a moment he spoke.
"I have come to tell you that you were right and I was wrong,"
said he steadily. "You told me there could be nothing better than
love. In the pride of my strength I told you this was not so. I
He stood for another instant, looking directly at her, then turned
sharply, and head erect walked from the room.
Before he had reached the outer door the girl was at his side.
"Why are you going?" she asked.
"I have nothing more to say."
"Nothing at all."
She laughed happily to herself.
"But I have--much. Come back."
They returned to the little morning room, Thorpe's caulked boots
gouging out the little triangular furrows in the hardwood floor.
Neither noticed that. Morris, the butler, emerged from his hiding
and held up the hands of horror.
"What are you going to do now?" she catechised, facing him in the
middle of the room. A long tendril of her beautiful corn-silk
hair fell across her eyes; her red lips parted in a faint wistful
smile; beneath the draperies of her loose gown the pure slender
lines of her figure leaned toward him.
"I am going back," he replied patiently.
"I knew you would come," said she. "I have been expecting you."
She raised one hand to brush back the tendril of hair, but it was
a mechanical gesture, one that did not stir even the surface
consciousness of the strange half-smiling, half-wistful, starry
gaze with which she watched his face.
"Oh, Harry," she breathed, with a sudden flash of insight, "you
are a man born to be much misunderstood."
He held himself rigid, but in his veins was creeping a molten fire,
and the fire was beginning to glow dully in his eye. Her whole being
called him. His heart leaped, his breath came fast, his eyes swam.
With almost hypnotic fascination the idea obsessed him--to kiss her
lips, to press the soft body of the young girl, to tumble her hair
down about her flower face. He had not come for this. He tried to
steady himself, and by an effort that left him weak he succeeded.
Then a new flood of passion overcame him. In the later desire was
nothing of the old humble adoration. It was elemental, real, almost
a little savage. He wanted to seize her so fiercely as to hurt her.
Something caught his throat, filled his lungs, weakened his knees.
For a moment it seemed to him that he was going to faint.
And still she stood there before him, saying nothing, leaning
slightly towards him, her red lips half parted, her eyes fixed
almost wistfully on his face.
"Go away!" he whispered hoarsely at last. The voice was not his
own. "Go away! Go away!"
Suddenly she swayed to him.
"Oh, Harry, Harry," she whispered, "must I TELL you? Don't you SEE?"
The flood broke through him. He seized her hungrily. He crushed her
to him until she gasped; he pressed his lips against hers until she
all but cried out with the pain of it, he ran his great brown hands
blindly through her hair until it came down about them both in a
cloud of spun light.
"Tell me!" he whispered. "Tell me!"
"Oh! Oh!" she cried. "Please! What is it?"
"I do not believe it," he murmured savagely.
She drew herself from him with gentle dignity.
"I am not worthy to say it," she said soberly, "but I love you with
all my heart and soul!"
Then for the first and only time in his life Thorpe fell to weeping,
while she, understanding, stood by and comforted him.
The few moments of Thorpe's tears eased the emotional strain under
which, perhaps unconsciously, he had been laboring for nearly a year
past. The tenseness of his nerves relaxed. He was able to look
on the things about him from a broader standpoint than that of the
specialist, to front life with saving humor. The deep breath after
striving could at last be taken.
In this new attitude there was nothing strenuous, nothing demanding
haste; only a deep glow of content and happiness. He savored
deliberately the joy of a luxurious couch, rich hangings, polished
floor, subdued light, warmed atmosphere. He watched with soul-deep
gratitude the soft girlish curves of Hilda's body, the poise of her
flower head, the piquant, half-wistful, half-childish set of her red
lips, the clear starlike glimmer of her dusky eyes. It was all near
to him; his.
"Kiss me, dear," he said.
She swayed to him again, deliciously graceful, deliciously
unselfconscious, trusting, adorable. Already in the little
nothingnesses of manner, the trifles of mental and bodily attitude,
she had assumed that faint trace of the maternal which to the
observant tells so plainly that a woman has given herself to a man.
She leaned her cheek against her hand, and her hand against his
"I have been reading a story lately," said she, "that has interested
me very much. It was about a man who renounced all he held most dear
to shield a friend."
"Yes," said Thorpe.
"Then he renounced all his most valuable possessions because a poor
common man needed the sacrifice."
"Sounds like a medieval story," said he with unconscious humor.
"It happened recently," rejoined Hilda. "I read it in the papers."
"Well, he blazed a good trail," was Thorpe's sighing comment.
"Probably he had his chance. We don't all of us get that. Things
go crooked and get tangled up, so we have to do the best we can. I
don't believe I'd have done it."
"Oh, you are delicious!" she cried.
After a time she said very humbly: "I want to beg your pardon for
misunderstanding you and causing you so much suffering. I was very
stupid, and didn't see why you could not do as I wanted you to."
"That is nothing to forgive. I acted like a fool."
"I have known about you," she went on. "It has all come out in
the Telegram. It has been very exciting. Poor boy, you look tired."
He straightened himself suddenly. "I have forgotten,--actually
forgotten," he cried a little bitterly. "Why, I am a pauper, a
"Harry," she interrupted gently, but very firmly, "you must not
say what you were going to say. I cannot allow it. Money came
between us before. It must not do so again. Am I not right, dear?"
She smiled at him with the lips of a child and the eyes of a woman.
"Yes," he agreed after a struggle, "you are right. But now I must
begin all over again. It will be a long time before I shall be able
to claim you. I have my way to make."
"Yes," said she diplomatically.
"But you!" he cried suddenly. "The papers remind me. How about
"What about him?" asked the girl, astonished. "He is very happily
Thorpe's face slowly filled with blood.
"You'll break the engagement at once," he commanded a little harshly.
"Why should I break the engagement?" demanded Hilda, eying him with
"I should think it was obvious enough."
"But it isn't," she insisted. "Why?"
Thorpe was silent--as he always had been in emergencies, and as he
was destined always to be. His was not a nature of expression, but
of action. A crisis always brought him, like a bull-dog, silently
to the grip.
Hilda watched him puzzled, with bright eyes, like a squirrel. Her
quick brain glanced here and there among the possibilities, seeking
the explanation. Already she knew better than to demand it of him.
"You actually don't think he's engaged to ME!" she burst out finally.
"Isn't he?" asked Thorpe.
"Why no, stupid! He's engaged to Elizabeth Carpenter, Wallace's
sister. Now WHERE did you get that silly idea?"
"I saw it in the paper."
"And you believe all you see! Why didn't you ask Wallace--but of
course you wouldn't! Harry, you are the most incoherent dumb old
brute I ever saw! I could shake you! Why don't you say something
occasionally when it's needed, instead of sitting dumb as a sphinx
and getting into all sorts of trouble? But you never will. I know
you. You dear old bear! You NEED a wife to interpret things for
you. You speak a different language from most people." She said
this between laughing and crying; between a sense of the ridiculous
uselessness of withholding a single timely word, and a tender
pathetic intuition of the suffering such a nature must endure. In
the prospect of the future she saw her use. It gladdened her and
filled her with a serene happiness possible only to those who feel
themselves a necessary and integral part in the lives of the ones
they love. Dimly she perceived this truth. Dimly beyond it she
glimpsed that other great truth of nature, that the human being is
rarely completely efficient alone, that in obedience to his greater
use he must take to himself a mate before he can succeed.
Suddenly she jumped to her feet with an exclamation.
"Oh, Harry! I'd forgotten utterly!" she cried in laughing
consternation. "I have a luncheon here at half-past one! It's
almost that now. I must run and dress. Just look at me; just
LOOK! YOU did that!"
"I'll wait here until the confounded thing is over," said Thorpe.
"Oh, no, you won't," replied Hilda decidedly. "You are going down
town right now and get something to put on. Then you are coming
back here to stay."
Thorpe glanced in surprise at his driver's clothes, and his spiked
"Heavens and earth!" he exclaimed, "I should think so! How am I to
get out without ruining the floor?"
Hilda laughed and drew aside the portiere.
"Don't you think you have done that pretty well already?" she asked.
"There, don't look so solemn. We're not going to be sorry for a
single thing we've done today, are we?" She stood close to him
holding the lapels of his jacket in either hand, searching his face
wistfully with her fathomless dusky eyes.
"No, sweetheart, we are not," replied Thorpe soberly.
Surely it is useless to follow the sequel in detail, to tell how
Hilda persuaded Thorpe to take her money. She aroused skillfully
his fighting blood, induced him to use one fortune to rescue another.
To a woman such as she this was not a very difficult task in the
long run. A few scruples of pride; that was all.
"Do not consider its being mine," she answered to his objections.
"Remember the lesson we learned so bitterly. Nothing can be greater
than love, not even our poor ideals. You have my love; do not
disappoint me by refusing so little a thing as my money."
"I hate to do it," he replied; "it doesn't look right."
"You must," she insisted. "I will not take the position of rich
wife to a poor man; it is humiliating to both. I will not marry
you until you have made your success."
"That is right," said Thorpe heartily.
"Well, then, are you going to be so selfish as to keep me waiting
while you make an entirely new start, when a little help on my part
will bring your plans to completion?"
She saw the shadow of assent in his eyes.
"How much do you need?" she asked swiftly.
"I must take up the notes," he explained. "I must pay the men. I
may need something on the stock market. If I go in on this thing,
I'm going in for keeps. I'll get after those fellows who have been
swindling Wallace. Say a hundred thousand dollars."
"Why, it's nothing," she cried.
"I'm glad you think so," he replied grimly.
She ran to her dainty escritoire, where she scribbled eagerly for a
"There," she cried, her eyes shining, "there is my check book all
signed in blank. I'll see that the money is there."
Thorpe took the book, staring at it with sightless eyes. Hilda,
perched on the arm of his chair, watched his face closely, as later
became her habit of interpretation.
"What is it?" she asked.
Thorpe looked up with a pitiful little smile that seemed to beg
indulgence for what he was about to say.
"I was just thinking, dear. I used to imagine I was a strong man,
yet see how little my best efforts amount to. I have put myself
into seven years of the hardest labor, working like ten men in
order to succeed. I have foreseen all that mortal could foresee.
I have always thought, and think now, that a man is no man unless
he works out the sort of success for which he is fitted. I have
done fairly well until the crises came. Then I have been absolutely
powerless, and if left to myself, I would have failed. At the times
when a really strong man would have used effectively the strength he
had been training, I have fallen back miserably on outer aid. Three
times my affairs have become critical. In the crises I have been
saved, first by a mere boy; then by an old illiterate man; now by
a weak woman!"
She heard him through in silence.
"Harry," she said soberly when he had quite finished, "I agree
with you that God meant the strong man to succeed; that without
success the man hasn't fulfilled his reason for being. But, Harry,
ARE YOU QUITE SURE GOD MEANT HIM TO SUCCEED ALONE?"
The dusk fell through the little room. Out in the hallway a tall
clock ticked solemnly. A noiseless servant appeared in the doorway
to light the lamps, but was silently motioned away.
"I had not thought of that," said Thorpe at last.
"You men are so selfish," went on Hilda. "You would take everything
from us. Why can't you leave us the poor little privilege of the
occasional deciding touch, the privilege of succor. It is all that
weakness can do for strength."
"And why," she went on after a moment, "why is not that, too, a
part of a man's success--the gathering about him of people who can
and will supplement his efforts. Who was it inspired Wallace
Carpenter with confidence in an unknown man? You. What did it?
Those very qualities by which you were building your success. Why
did John Radway join forces with you? How does it happen that your
men are of so high a standard of efficiency? Why am I willing to
give you everything, EVERYTHING, to my heart and soul? Because it
is you who ask it. Because you, Harry Thorpe, have woven us into
your fortune, so that we have no choice. Depend upon us in the
crises of your work! Why, so are you dependent on your ten fingers,
your eyes, the fiber of your brain! Do you think the less of your
fulfillment for that?"
So it was that Hilda Farrand gave her lover confidence, brought him
out from his fanaticism, launched him afresh into the current of
events. He remained in Chicago all that summer, giving orders that
all work at the village of Carpenter should cease. With his affairs
that summer we have little to do. His common-sense treatment of the
stock market, by which a policy of quiescence following an outright
buying of the stock which he had previously held on margins, retrieved
the losses already sustained, and finally put both partners on a
firm financial footing. That is another story. So too is his
reconciliation with and understanding of his sister. It came
about through Hilda, of course. Perhaps in the inscrutable way of
Providence the estrangement was of benefit,--even necessary,for it
had thrown him entirely within himself during his militant years.
Let us rather look to the end of the summer. It now became a
question of re-opening the camps. Thorpe wrote to Shearer and
Radway, whom he had retained, that he would arrive on Saturday
noon, and suggested that the two begin to look about for men.
Friday, himself, Wallace Carpenter, Elizabeth Carpenter, Morton,
Helen Thorpe, and Hilda Farrand boarded the north-bound train.
The train of the South Shore Railroad shot its way across the
broad reaches of the northern peninsula. On either side of the
right-of-way lay mystery in the shape of thickets so dense and
overgrown that the eye could penetrate them but a few feet at
most. Beyond them stood the forests. Thus Nature screened her
intimacies from the impertinent eye of a new order of things.
Thorpe welcomed the smell of the northland. He became almost eager,
explaining, indicating to the girl at his side.
"There is the Canada balsam," he cried. "Do you remember how I
showed it to you first? And yonder the spruce. How stuck up your
teeth were when you tried to chew the gum before it had been heated.
Do you remember? Look! Look there! It's a white pine! Isn't it
a grand tree? It's the finest tree in the forest, by my way of
thinking, so tall, so straight, so feathery, and so dignified. See,
Hilda, look quick! There's an old logging road all filled with
raspberry vines. We'd find lots of partridges there, and perhaps
a bear. Wouldn't you just like to walk down it about sunset?"
"I wonder what we're stopping for. Seems to me they are stopping
at every squirrel's trail. Oh, this must be Seney. Yes, it is.
Queer little place, isn't it? but sort of attractive. Good deal
like our town. You have never seen Carpenter, have you? Location's
fine, anyway; and to me it's sort of picturesque. You'll like Mrs.
Hathaway. She's a buxom, motherly woman who runs the boarding-house
for eighty men, and still finds time to mend my clothes for me. And
you'll like Solly. Solly's the tug captain, a mighty good fellow,
true as a gun barrel. We'll have him take us out, some still day.
We'll be there in a few minutes now. See the cranberry marshes.
Sometimes there's a good deal of pine on little islands scattered
over it, but it's very hard to log, unless you get a good winter.
We had just such a proposition when I worked for Radway. Oh, you'll
like Radway, he's as good as gold. Helen!"
"Yes," replied his sister.
"I want you to know Radway. He's the man who gave me my start."
"All right, Harry," laughed Helen. "I'll meet anybody or anything
from bears to Indians."
"I know an Indian too--Geezigut, an Ojibwa--we called him Injin
Charley. He was my first friend in the north woods. He helped me
get my timber. This spring he killed a man--a good job, too--and
is hiding now. I wish I knew where he is. But we'll see him some
day. He'll come back when the thing blows over. See! See!"
"What?" they all asked, breathless.
"It's gone. Over beyond the hills there I caught a glimpse of
"You are ridiculous, Harry," protested Helen Thorpe laughingly. "I
never saw you so. You are a regular boy!"
"Do you like boys?" he asked gravely of Hilda.
"Adore them!" she cried.
"All right, I don't care," he answered his sister in triumph.
The air brakes began to make themselves felt, and shortly the train
came to a grinding stop.
"What station is this?" Thorpe asked the colored porter.
"Shingleville, sah," the latter replied.
"I thought so. Wallace, when did their mill burn, anyway? I haven't
heard about it."
"Last spring, about the time you went down."
"Is THAT so? How did it happen?"
"They claim incendiarism," parried Wallace cautiously.
Thorpe pondered a moment, then laughed. "I am in the mixed attitude
of the small boy," he observed, "who isn't mean enough to wish
anybody's property destroyed, but who wishes that if there is a
fire, to be where he can see it. I am sorry those fellows had to
lose their mill, but it was a good thing for us. The man who set
that fire did us a good turn. If it hadn't been for the burning of
their mill, they would have made a stronger fight against us in
the stock market."
Wallace and Hilda exchanged glances. The girl was long since aware
of the inside history of those days.
"You'll have to tell them that," she whispered over the back of
her seat. "It will please them."
"Our station is next!" cried Thorpe, "and it's only a little ways.
Come, get ready!"
They all crowded into the narrow passage-way near the door, for the
train barely paused.
"All right, sah," said the porter, swinging down his little step.
Thorpe ran down to help the ladies. He was nearly taken from
his feet by a wild-cat yell, and a moment later that result was
actually accomplished by a rush of men that tossed him bodily onto
its shoulders. At the same moment, the mill and tug whistles began
to screech, miscellaneous fire-arms exploded. Even the locomotive
engineer, in the spirit of the occasion, leaned down heartily on
his whistle rope. The saw-dust street was filled with screaming,
jostling men. The homes of the town were brilliantly draped with
cheesecloth, flags and bunting.
For a moment Thorpe could not make out what had happened. This
turmoil was so different from the dead quiet of desertion he had
expected, that he was unable to gather his faculties. All about him
were familiar faces upturned to his own. He distinguished the broad,
square shoulders of Scotty Parsons, Jack Hyland, Kerlie, Bryan
Moloney; Ellis grinned at him from the press; Billy Camp, the fat
and shiny drive cook; Mason, the foreman of the mill; over beyond
howled Solly, the tug captain, Rollway Charley, Shorty, the
chore-boy; everywhere were features that he knew. As his dimming
eyes travelled here and there, one by one the Fighting Forty,
the best crew of men ever gathered in the northland, impressed
themselves on his consciousness. Saginaw birlers, Flat River
drivers, woodsmen from the forests of Lower Canada, bully boys
out of the Muskegon waters, peavey men from Au Sable, white-water
dare-devils from the rapids of the Menominee--all were there to
do him honor, him in whom they had learned to see the supreme
qualities of their calling. On the outskirts sauntered the tall
form of Tim Shearer, a straw peeping from beneath his flax-white
mustache, his eyes glimmering under his flax-white eyebrows. He did
not evidence as much excitement as the others, but the very bearing
of the man expressed the deepest satisfaction. Perhaps he remembered
that zero morning so many years before when he had watched the
thinly-clad, shivering chore-boy set his face for the first time
towards the dark forest.
Big Junko and Anderson deposited their burden on the raised platform
of the office steps. Thorpe turned and fronted the crowd.
At once pandemonium broke loose, as though the previous performance
had been nothing but a low-voiced rehearsal.
The men looked upon their leader and gave voice to the enthusiasm
that was in them. He stood alone there, straight and tall, the
muscles of his brown face set to hide his emotion, his head thrust
back proudly, the lines of his strong figure tense with power,--the
glorification in finer matter of the hardy, reliant men who did him
"Oh, aren't you PROUD of him?" gasped Hilda, squeezing Helen's arm
with a little sob.
In a moment Wallace Carpenter, his countenance glowing with pride
and pleasure, mounted the platform and stood beside his friend,
while Morton and the two young ladies stopped half way up the steps.
At once the racket ceased. Everyone stood at attention.
"Mr. Thorpe," Wallace began, "at the request of your friends here,
I have a most pleasant duty to fulfill. They have asked me to tell
you how glad they are to see you; that is surely unnecessary. They
have also asked me to congratulate you on having won the fight with
"You done 'em good." "Can't down the Old Fellow," muttered joyous
"But," said Wallace, "I think that I first have a story to tell on
my own account.
"At the time the jam broke this spring, we owed the men here for a
year's work. At that time I considered their demand for wages
ill-timed and grasping. I wish to apologize. After the money was
paid them, instead of scattering, they set to work under Jack
Radway and Tim Shearer to salvage your logs. They have worked long
hours all summer. They have invested every cent of their year's
earnings in supplies and tools, and now they are prepared to show
you in the Company's booms, three million feet of logs, rescued by
their grit and hard labor from total loss."
At this point the speaker was interrupted. "Saw off," "Shut up,"
"Give us a rest," growled the audience. "Three million feet ain't
worth talkin' about," "You make me tired," "Say your little say
the way you oughter," "Found purty nigh two millions pocketed
on Mare's Island, or we wouldn't a had that much," "Damn-fool
"Men," cried Thorpe, "I have been very fortunate. From failure
success has come. But never have I been more fortunate than in my
friends. The firm is now on its feet. It could afford to lose
three times the logs it lost this year---"
He paused and scanned their faces.
"But," he continued suddenly, "it cannot now, nor ever can afford
to lose what those three million feet represent,--the friends it
has made. I can pay you back the money you have spent and the time
you have put in---" Again he looked them over, and then for the
first time since they have known him his face lighted up with a
rare and tender smile of affection. "But, comrades, I shall not
offer to do it: the gift is accepted in the spirit with which it
He got no further. The air was rent with sound. Even the members of
his own party cheered. From every direction the crowd surged inward.
The women and Morton were forced up the platform to Thorpe. The
latter motioned for silence.
"Now, boys, we have done it," said he, "and so will go back to work.
From now on you are my comrades in the fight."
His eyes were dim; his breast heaved; his voice shook. Hilda was
weeping from excitement. Through the tears she saw them all looking
at their leader, and in the worn, hard faces glowed the affection
and admiration of a dog for its master. Something there was
especially touching in this, for strong men rarely show it.
She felt a great wave of excitement sweep over her. Instantly
she was standing by Thorpe, her eyes streaming, her breast
trobbing with emotion.
"Oh!" she cried, stretching her arms out to them passionately, "Oh!
I love you; I love you all!"
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