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rang out a voice weighted with the bullying quality of brief authority. "I've got you, Le Fevre, in the name of the law!"
"The deuce you have!" retorted the figure in the door, halting not at all; and Krin, startled by the call, raised her head in time to see the flash of red light that cut the darkness, and then, without a cry or sound, Don sunk in a lifeless-looking heap. There was a shatter of glass as a sash was wrenched from the window-casing by Bud Lennard, and then with quick strides he reached the limp form and raised it in his arms as if it was a child's, checking the rush of the legal agents who materialized from the darkness.
"I'll kill the first man that fires another shot in that house," he said, slowly; "two women an' a sick child is in there, an' there ain't anyone else. You've shot Mr. Edson, gentlemen, a man as come here to help the sick. An' Mr. Le Fevre ain't here jest now; he's gone."
THE CLOUD ON THE MOUNTAIN.
And gone he was; over the hills and far away. Days went by, and he was still gone; and Don, whose form had been mistaken by the sheriff for that of the mountaineer, had a grim sort of satisfaction in knowing that the young renegade had eluded them.
"That bullet with which the sheriff grazed my skull has enlisted my sympathy with the law-breakers," he acknowledged; "and then it gives me the comforting thought that I am of practical use on my estate."
"Stopping bullets for other men; practical enough,
indeed!" agreed Dinah. "The only redeeming feature of your foolhardiness is that it saved me my model."
"But if he is not to be found?"
"He must be; the Vulcan is not finished."
"Stupendous reason; of course more important to the man than his freedom-may be life, if that other man should die."
"You are talking too much," decided Miss Lottie, who I was in her element with someone to nurse. "You know coolness and quiet are the things ordered for you."
"But I am not sick," he protested. "My head aches still, when the sun gets hottest, but it is only a scratch." "Your uncle thinks it serious enough to hasten your return," smiled the little lady.
"Has he repented the order of banishment? acknowledged his faults and asked to be forgiven?" asked Dinah, eagerly. "Tell us all he says."
"I-I can't very well do that," protested Miss Lottie. "He might prefer expressing himself to Don personally." "Um!" and Dinah looked wondrous wise. "My own opinion, Donald, is that there are hidden things in those letters that are growing more and more frequent between your uncle and my aunt; they mean mischief somehow."
"I can't imagine her letters meaning mischief to anyone," and Don's glance at Miss Lottie was lover-like; "in fact, it would be a jolly good thing for him to always have letters from such a source. Why, when you used to write to me, I could pilot him out of the worst of tempers by reading one of your letters to him. Yes, indeed, whatever politics may say, Uncle Donald never changes his opinion as to the first lady in the land."
"You are extravagant," she answered, with a blush like a girl; "but he was always very faithful to old friends. Why, when your fathers were both boys, and we lived not
far apart, it was really hard to tell which of the houses we children belonged in. Yes, we were always great friends."
"And Papa and he are getting all the good out of that friendship just now, you may depend on it," said Dinah. "How lucky Papa did not leave before your adventure; he can give the senior the affair in detail. Wish I had gone along; I could have furnished the embellishments." "Without a doubt," agreed Mr. Edson; "and to my complete discomfiture."
"Don't you believe it, Don;" and Miss Lottie smiled on them both knowingly. "Dinah says all her ugly things to you, but of you-no-I never hear them any more."
Dinah's face flushed as though caught in some misdemeanor.
"Well, considering that he is not to be disturbed by speech or sun or thought, it seems to me, Auntie, that you yourself are breaking your own rules. Let him rest and mourn silently for that haven of the moonshiners over there. I fancy that is what he must be doing, by those longing looks to the east. No use, Don; you may gaze and gaze, but you can't ride through the sun this week."
To his own surprise, he had found how much of a deprivation it was to be fenced out from the timber by that bullet; and to the surprise of the others, they found how many people from the "wooden" country tramped over the mountain to see him, and sat around on the veranda for hours asking questions, telling him the news from the timber, and leaving behind them a fine aroma of snuff and tobacco.
Riker was the most regular attendant. Even Becky Ann was over to see him, carrying under cool, green leaves some scarlet service-berries, the gift of Bud. But the Pagan himself had not returned after the one night when he had helped get Don home, and carried him, still insen
sible, up the stairs and to his bed, vanishing again when the dawn came, and when, with returned consciousness, the doctor decided there was nothing dangerous in his hurt-only exacting some care from noon-day suns for awhile.
But day after day something of fruit, or sun-flecked trout, or some offering of the forest, reached him from Bud, telling him how he was remembered on the mountain.
"But he's some busy these days," explained Mr. Riker. "Over at the Ledge they look to him for some things sence Dick's gone. He's nigher to them than other folks. They're all mighty upset about Dick. He ain't on the mountain, naw, sir; there's men skulkin' round an' watchin' for him, but he hain't been seen."
How odd the name
"And she-Mrs. Le Fevre?" sounded in his own ears!-Daphne's name.
"Krin? Oh, she's right miserable, I hear tell--'count o' the baby more than her ownself. My woman, she's been up some; says Granny's took a notion to you all at once; says if you keep on poorly she's comin' to dose you."
"Never felt better in my life," avowed Mr. Edson, hastily; "and if you happen up that way just mention it.”
"I'll do it. Bud, he saw me as I was comin'; sent word along that if you needed anything he can do to jest let us know. Bud's a good hand with sick folks."
"I wish," said Don, suddenly, "you would tell me something of that man. Who is he? Where did he come from? And how does it happen he has such queer ideas of religion in the midst of a community of believers?"
"Well, now you're askin' questions," said Mr. Riker, settling himself willingly enough to answer them. off-he's jest Bud Lennard; that's all he or anybody else knows. His daddy an' him come here strangers, at a time when strangers was scarce in the wooden country; that
was about war-times. Bud was only a baby. His daddy was queer-kind o' foreign chap, folks reckoned; had books enough to stock a Sunday-school. No one knowed whether they was the right sort, though. Anyways, he burned 'em all up when he took his death-sickness. Old Gran Le Fevre, she could tell you; she was there, an' heard him say there was a curse in book-larning sometimes. They say he certainly did know a heap-lots about mineral an' sich, an' all about the stars, till he could most tell things was goin' to happen by them. Folks 'lowed 'twas witchcraft. Anyways, he turned agin it at the last; said he wanted his boy Anton-Bud, we call him to grow up a farmer, or a woodman, as he said, jest to plow, an' sow, and reap, an' sleep healthy o' nights without dreamin'. So that's how come Bud was lef' to old Granny Keesy. She's dead now; lived paralyzed ten years afore she died, an' Bud, he took care of her jest same as if she was a mother, an' she wa'n't none too derned good to him, neither. But then, you see, he didn't know much about how mothers ought to be-never even knowed a mite about his own mother-not even her name. So that's how Bud Lennard growed up; an' he took care o' the Keesys more than they did o' him. Pap Keesy eats there yet, mostly. Hadn't never any schoolin' hardly, Bud hadn't; lived too far out o' the way; most sixteen when he first did start, an' then didn't go more'n a month. The master, he 'lowed Bud was crazy, he had such queer notions, an' so Bud didn't get no more schoolin'; but he's picked up a heap some way, all by himself like. Some of it's queer stuff; but he's a square man, fer all his crazy notions."
Don lay back, with half-closed eyes, listening to this lifesketch of the man who had impressed him so strongly. Following the slow, gossipy narrative, he could understand with more clearness the man's conviction of a curse that