Imatges de pÓgina

there's a man down at the forge to see him; and I want your brace and bit to take down to Riker's."

"Don't know where it is, and yeh can't get it," stated Granny, concisely.

"Yes you do, too, and he can," called a voice through the open door; and the luxurious Richard appeared, slipping his suspenders up over his shoulders as he came. "Who's the man?"

"Donald Edson."

"Old Donald?" queried Granny, with sudden interest. "No; the other."

"What's he travelin' the road up this gorge for?" she demanded, peevishly. "Three times I've heard tell of him at the forge now; what's it for?"

"Horse-shoeing, and such," answered her grandson; "then he's got some right to this side of the hill, likely. They say the old man give him the papers for it.”

An indistinct murmur from the old lady's lips suggested the consignment of said papers to a space under the earth where all papers or other combustible matter are supposed to be converted rapidly into smoke.

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"Stop cussin'," advised the barefooted Adonis, as Dinah had dubbed him. "Where's my other boots?"

"Yeh don't need them other boots," was the retort. "What you want—" And then she interrupted herself with a chuckling laugh. "May be there's more visitors down the gorge?" she hazarded, with one eye blinking at the man in a knowing way that was diabolical. "A tony lady, may be, now-one o' the big-bugs, who would rayther look at a mountain boy that stands straight on his legs than all the pampered-"

"Shut up!" suggested her grandson, who had found the other boots, evidently the newest ones. "You talk too much, Granny."

"Is she down there?" persisted the dame to the older man, who stood waiting for the brace and bit.

"Who do you mean?"

"Ah, but yer innocent!" She nodded sagaciously. "In my young days no pretty woman would ride the mountain without every mountaineer knowin' who she rode to see; but you never did notice women, old or young-more fool you! An' this one's the slip that rides with young Edson, an' asked fer the picture of Dick; an' if ye knew the least o' women, ye'd know what that means. Is she down there now?"

"Granny, you know too much," remarked Dick, though not looking ill-pleased at this particular statement of knowledge, since it was in a way laudatory of his own attractions. "No woman is down there. Am I to get that bit?"

"You are, you know. Granny, go and get it for him, wherever you have it stuck away;" and the lord of the manor flung back under the bed the "other" boots, and drew on instead the every-day ones, that were not quite so lengthy or picturesque.

The old lady moved meekly away in search of the required article, muttering as she went her disappointment that the girl wasn't there too.

"Jest so I could tell her," she added, in explanation. "It 'ud ta'nt her some, I reckon, though she is powerful independent sence she come across from Verginny this time; but that 'ud likely ta'nt her some."

"Where is she?" asked their visitor; and at the same moment another voice arose, asking for someone—a shrill, plaintive voice from the house, toward which the old lady turned with an expressive expletive.


"There it is again!" she announced, sourly. "Jest squall, squall this blessed day. When I had young ones, didn't shove them on other people's hands to keer for; I—"

"No matter what ye did with yourn," decided Dick, briefly; "she can't trapse over the mountain after cattle an' pack that squaller at the same time. Go in an' 'tend to her."

She dutifully hobbled in; evidently she never had a thought of disobeying any command of her grandson, though at the door she did turn around with a vindictive sort of admiration in her face.

"You're slick, Dick Le Fevre, you are,” she leered; “yer slicker than yer granny, far and away! Who was it cussed her fer all that was out, an' sent her after them strays, hey? An' now yeh ups an' chips in takin' her part jest 'case Bud's here. Lord! Bud knows yeh!"

Bud had pushed past her and lifted from the bed the wailing little creature whose life had measured but a little time in the world of the mountain. Its wails ceased as it felt itself lifted and petted in a silent fashion; and its venerable ancestress seated herself again on the door-step, well content so long as she did not need to trouble herself about it.

"This baby's hungry," said Bud, coming to the door. "How long has she been gone?

"Hour or so," answered the father. "Give it to Granny, an' come on; she'll be back before long."

"If so be she finds them cattle," added the old lady; "you told her not to show her face till she did."

"Oh, I tell her a heap when the days are long," he answered, easily; "an' jest now I'm tellin' you to feed that young one an' keep it quiet-do you hear?"

And then, care free and omnipotent in his own domicile, Mr. Le Fevre lounged out across the yard toward the thicket. The man with the child in his arms stood silent, watching the old woman as she set a tin of milk on a few coals and began preparations that showed him she was

about to carry out the instructions received, and then he laid the baby on her lap.

"She'll be sick if she's let cry any more," he said, threateningly; "she's ailing some now, an' she ought to have her."

"Go along with ye! Yeh talk all the time like yeh was a granny yerself, Bud Lennard. I'll swear yeh ought to be a daddy, anyhow, fer the way yeh handle young ones."

He picked up the brace and bit, with no reply to this opinion, or the cackling laughter that followed him, and with quick strides he walked out and along the path the way he had come. A little way out he reached Le Fevre.

"Did you and him come together?" he asked, slightly interested, but not turning his head, as the other came up behind him.


"Thought I heard you say you didn't know him, jest the other day?"

No answer was returned to this, and the silence was broken after a little by Mr. Le Fevre adding:

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'Say, have you noticed what a good man he is like to be? He looks soft an' pale, but he's got a grip, now; an' he's springy as a cat, an' good wind to back it. I saw him handling some hell-pets of horses up at 'The Notch,' an' he's got muscle, he has, yeh know!"

"So have I," said the voice back of him; and something in the sound of it made him turn quickly.


"Why, Bud-"

"I won't try gettin' at this question through your brain," said Bud, steadily, breaking in on Le Fevre's half-formed question, "because you haven't dragged yourself up yet to where justice an' reason mean anything to you; and I won't try gettin' at it through your feelin's, for you've drowned the best o' them in that new whisky o' yours, else you'd be

touched by that little baby that's ailin' back there. But you can still feel if a man hits you, I reckon; an' I'm tellin' you I'll break your neck if I hear again of you sendin' her away from the baby like that. You know I don't lie."

"I know yer meddlin' a heap!" retorted the other; "a body 'ud think yeh were close kin the way yeh go on. She's satisfied, I reckon, or she wouldn't a come back from over the line; jest let us alone, will yeh ?"

"She come back on account o' the baby an' some idees she has o' duty-some idees you wouldn't understand-because she's a good girl," said the other, with scant respect for Mr. Le Fevre's worth; "an' you'll be sorry some day, Dick, if you treat her bad. You're only a boy, after all, an' a boy that don't take kind to teachin'; but you've got to do what's right by that girl, or I'll do as I said.”

"What's it your business, anyway?" demanded Le Fevre, sullenly. "I can't keep a wife up like a lady, if that's what you want."

"Your wife is a lady-she's a good girl; she don't know half the wickedness she lives among. I wouldn't see a man abuse a horse, an' I won't see one abuse a woman or child, an' that's what it amounts to if you don't do yer duty by them; you're abusing the laws o' duty an' justice to the life you've brought into the world, an' the life ye promised to care for. Boy! boy! you don't know what you're throwing away!"

The "boy" looked a little embarrassed under the feeling in the man's voice; it stripped him of his aggressiveness and left him rather defenseless.

"But what's your call to—”

"Never mind what it is," was the quiet reply. "I don't intend to give it up. I'm going on down this trail to Riker's-don't feel like meetin' strangers again to-day, but you'll find him there at the forge; and, Dick, jest keep in yer mind what I told you-keep it in yer mind!"

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