David C. Cook Publishing Co., Elgin, Ill., and
36 Washington St., Chicago.
ft ARRY PURCELL reined in his pony
on the embankment and looked
disappointedly into the ditch. It was as
dry as a powder-horn.
"There can't have been much of a
rise," was his thought. The water
ought to have been here before now."
TIhe buffalo-grass plains were about
him, the sun blazed down on him from a
cloudless sky, and a hot south wind
fanned his cheeks. He could hear the
wind as well as feel it. It soughed sug-
gestively across the gray expanses and
^.r,- aiiii.n- the (l.:.d- at lii l- p:ny's
t,_ e t. It .i ;] i.'i ,l,- ,l.r--.:: : ing
rin %,, nl, .se i.,r.:-ath mIn I It lu 11 to
ti .-- .r.:i.- nii,-.i an a.in .Ji, t flow
o .l ..,l,,.r :i.1l.]1 li.-edily be obtained.
II.inv Pin,.. II- was the "ditch-
r l...r lt..r tli.: I '-leconda Irrigation
and Development Company. This.
company, tapping the upper Arkan-
sas with its main canal, led the water out
upon the high uplands known as the
"flats," where, by a series of smaller
canals, it was distributed to the farmers.
The season was an exceptionally dry
one. It was now near the end of June
and there had been no rain since early in
April. Worse still, the river was so low
that there was not enough water for irri-
gating purposes; and the farmers, whose
crops were withering, alternated between
despair at the ruin they foresaw and anger
against the "ditch" company, at whose
door they laid most of their misfortunes.
Harry Purcell's duties were so onerous
Copyright, 1898 and 1899, by David C. Cook Publishing Company.
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
that he was usually in the saddle from
daylight till dark. His work of "riding
the ditch" required him to inspect the
embankments, dams and water gates
along more than thirty miles of canals
and laterals. In addition, he was ex-
pected to placate the grumblers, distribute
the water justly and impartially, and pre-
vent water-stealing. Certainly this was
enough work, and more than enough
work, for a boy of seventeen.
Harry had ridden to the head of the
ditch the day before, and had been led to
believe, by the appearance of the water in
the river, that the long-hoped-for spring
rise was at hand. This rise, which
usually comes late in May or early in
June, is not brought about by rainfall,
but by the melting of snow in the moun-
tains. As soon as the season is sufficiently
advanced the snows melt in the high
gorges and the water is poured into the
stream from a thousand sources. Burst-
ing through the Grand Cafion, that
mighty cleft in the great eastern barrier
of the Rockies, the Arkansas flows out in
a muddy flood across the thirsty plains of
Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas,
where hundreds of miles of irrigating
canals distribute the bulk of it over cul-
tivated fields, and rob the demon Drouth
of its terrors.
The young ditch-rider looked earnestly
up the ditch, whose brown embankments,
rising like ridges upheaved by gigantic
moles, ran in parallel zigzags toward the
southwest. To the southward and across
the river the grass-covered sand-hills
thrust up their tousled heads. To the
westward and northward and eastward
rose houses and "shacks," with windmills
wheeling on airy towers; and stacks of hay
and grain, kept over from the previous
summer, evidencing the fatness of the
land. Just across the ditch a saucy
prairie dog, upreared on the edge of its
hole, barked impudently, while other
prairie dog mounds were visible farther
The look of disappointment deepened
into one of anxiety. Among those vitally
interested in the coming of the water, the
young ditch-rider numbered his mother
and himself; for Mrs. Purcell had a
" proved-up pre-emption farther up the
ditch, with a number of acres of grain,
alfalfa and sorghum growing on it.
Harry Purcell drew his pony back from
the embankment and rode on across the
unfenced country, unmindful of the hot
south wind and the burning sun. His
earnest face was as brown as a nut; his
wide-brimmed white hat, held in place by
a cord that passed loosely behind his
head, flared and flapped; the huge wooden
stirrups rose and fell; the tail of his short
coat snapped in the breeze. As the buck-
skin pony bounded on in a rocking can-
ter, shying around a badger hole now and
then, the young ditch-rider, sitting with
Western firmness in the deep saddle, cer-
tainly presented an attractive picture.
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
The buckskin was so intelligent an ani-
mal, with such a knowing look in its
eyes, that Harry had often tried to pic-
ture what its life must have been before
it came into his possession.
For one thing it had been owned by an
Indian, as was shown by the brand burned
on its hip. That brand rudely repre-
sented a bow and arrow and a buffalo.
That the bow and arrow were as large as
the buffalo only evidenced the lack of
skill or the peculiar taste of the Indian
It had as evidently escaped from its
Indian owner, for it had been caught
from a wild herd on the banks of the
Canadian, by Kansas horse-hunters, who
had re-subjugated it by means of their
cruel "breaking" chains, whose scars
still showed on its forelegs. From these
horse-hunters Harry had bought it.
A change of the ditch's direction
brought into view a house that was a
cross between a "shack" and a "dug-
out "- a rough, shanty like structure,
half above ground, and half underground
in cellar fashion. This was the home of
Richmond Baily. "Old Baily," nearly
everybody called him; and so Harry
thought of him, though he always took
good care to address the irascible farmer
as "Mr. Baily."
As Baily's came within the field of
vision, there was again a tightening of
the rein, though the pony was not brought
to a full halt; and the teeth of the young
ditch-rider closed with a click of sudden
"It wouldn't surprise me a bit if old
-Baily's got the water turned into his
From the first there had been ill-will
between the Bailys and Purcells; and,
when Harry had secured the position of
ditch-rider, Baily had been prompt to
question his fitness for the place and to
hint suggestively that Mrs. Purcell would
no doubt now raise good crops even if no
one else did.
Coming to the ears of the Purcells this
did not incline them to think more kindly
of Mr. Baily. As for Mrs. Baily, she was
never much taken into account by any-
one, and less so by her husband. She
was a sickly woman, who was almost a
nonentity in her own home and every-
But there was one member of the Baily
family against whom no bitter or cross-
grained word was ever uttered. That
was little Elsie, a bright-haired creature
of eight the angel of the household.
As Harry Purcell again set the pony in
motion and rode toward Baily's, there
came back to him, in all its details, the
recollection of the beginning of the ill-
feeling that had separated the families.
Both Mr. Baily and Mrs. Purcell had
wanted the same pre-emption. A Golden
City land agent and locator had called
Mrs. Purcell's attention to it, and she had
employed him to drive her son and her-
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
self out to the land that they might make
the beginning of the improvements"
demanded by the law, which, in practice,
was usually no more than the shoveling
of a few spadefuls of earth, or the laying
of a so-called "foundation" for a house.
As it chanced, Mr. Baily had been
driven out from Golden City the same
day, by a rival locator, who intended to
place him on that identical pre-emption.
The object of each party becoming known
to the other, the result was a wild race
across the trailless plains, in which Mrs.
The fact that the victor was a widow
did not seem to alter Mr. Baily's feelings
on the subject. The defeat and the loss
of the land made him bitter. He took,
as the next best, the pre-emption adjoin-
ing it on the east; and shortly afterward
moved his family there and went to rais-
ing cattle and farming.
But he was far from being a good
neighbor, the Purcells thought. He did
not closely watch his cattle and they more
than once devoured Mrs. Purcell's crops.
Though warned that young sorghum and
damp green alfalfa were especially hurt-
ful to cattle, Baily paid no heed; and one
morning four of his finest cows were
dead from alfalfa bloat, as the result of
trespassing in the Purcell alfalfa field.
It taught him a lesson, but it increased
his dislike for the Purcells.
Baily was one of the heaviest farmers,
and had contracted for enough water to
irrigate a hundred acres. That allowed
him a water-gate aperture ten inches
high and ten inches wide; or one hundred
inches of water, flowing through the gate
under what is technically known as a
"four-inch pressure." It was Harry
Purcell's duty, when the water was run-
ning, to open each gate to the limit al-
lowed by the farmer's water contract and
to lock it there; but no one else was
privileged to do this.
Harry knew, however, that in some in-
stances duplicate keys had been procured,
and locks broken, and even ditches
boldly cut with the spade, to bring about
an increase in the flow.
Baily's mean enough to steal every
inch of water in the ditch, if he believed
no one would catch him at it!" was his
thought, as the pony galloped on in that
easy, tireless way that takes the true
Western pony so rapidly over the ground
and enables it to accomplish such dis-
Harry did not stop to consider how un-
just to Mr. Baily this reflection might be,
until he rode into the fenceless fields and
up to the ditch in front of the house and
saw that the ditch was as dry at that
point as it was further down.
Baily, who was engaged in splicing a
string of barbed wire on his cattle corral,
using an old wagon wheel as a wire
stretcher, abandoned his task and shuffled
across to where the young ditch-rider had
"1 think it's a shame!" he declared,
his face mantling. "Here I haven't
had a drop of water since I don't know
when, and ain't likely to have, seems
Elsie, who had been playing with a
shepherd puppy, left her rough playmate
and followed her father, coming to a halt
a few feet behind him. As her father
talked, she stared up at Harry with her
wondrous blue eyes, that seemed so like
bits out of the Kansas sky, and threw
back, with a sunburned little hand, the
bright hair that the brisk wind persisted
in tossing into her face.
"You told me there'd be water down
to-day!" Baily said.
I told you I thought there would be,"
Harry corrected. And I'm surprised
that it isn't here before this."
"Don't see why you should be!" Baily
snapped. "Your company expects to git
rich without spending a cent. They
ought to lengthen that dam."
Harry tried to apologize for the com-
The snows are slow to melt this sea-
son. I expected the water to-day. I'll
ride up to the river again and see what's
the matter. There may be some trouble
at the dam."
"And I'll go 'long with you!" said
Baily, stepping toward the sod stable to
bring out his pony.
The tone and manner were nagging in
the extreme, and at any time Harry
would much have preferred Mr. Baily's
room to his company.
Look at that wheat!" Baily grumbled,
as he swung into the saddle and they set
out together. Yellow as a pumpkin
and chinch-bugged till you kin smell it
to town and back. It won't cut five
bushels to the acre; and if this thing
keeps up it won't even pay to run a har-
vester over it. Water on that ground in
March would have made it. And the
river was running bank full then!"
The young ditch-rider did not want an
argument and remained silent. Besides,
there was much truth in the statement.
"'Stead o' conducting' things in a busi-
ness-like way, you fellers was tinkerin'
'long, trying' to make a nickel's worth of
work cover a dollar's worth of need. The
water that might have been had, run on
down to the gulf; and then, when it was
all gone, you sent out notices that the
ditches was ready and that you was in
condition to make contracts."
You farmers can't hold yourselves
entirely blameless, Mr. Baily," Harry de-
clared, no longer able to restrain his
opinions. You held back from making
contracts, hoping for a rainy season,
thinking if it came you could get along
without ditch water; and at the same time
you knew that the Golconda Company
needed the money it could have borrowed
on your water notes, for the purpose of
putting the ditches and dam in order.
It couldn't get the money, and it couldn't
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
do the work in time. Perhaps it didn't
try hard enough. But you should be
willing to share the responsibility."
But the young ditch-rider found, as he
had found before, that an argument with
Mr. Baily was a mere waste of words.
Neither was in good temper when the
Purcell pre-emption was reached. The
old bitterness of feeling rankled anew,
and Harry felt especially hurt by certain
hints thrown out by the old farmer to the
effect that matters would not now be so
bad if the ditch-rider had always done his
Harry dismounted in front of his
humble home, drew the rein over the
pony's head, that it might trail on the
ground and keep the trained pony from
straying, and ran into the house to speak
a word with his mother.
Baily did not dismount, but rode across
the unfenced alfalfa field that lay west
of the house, and on to the bend of the
ditch where Harry had set his mother's
As Harry came out he saw Baily swing
to the ground at the gate and stoop
down as if to examine it. Then Harry
mounted and galloped toward him, going
around the field instead of straight across
He was almost to the ditch before he
discovered what had drawn Baily's atten-
tion. Then he fairly reeled in the sad-
dle, while a dizzying sense of astonish-
ment and uncertainty overwhelmed him.
His mother's water-gate was wide open!
The expected rise had come and the main
canal was half full; but the open water-
gate was draining the entire flow into
the Purcell alfalfa field! What did it
Dashing his heels against the pony's
flanks, Harry sent it on with quick
bounds until it reached the point occu-
pied by Baily. Then he saw that the
water-gate was not only open, but that it
was locked open, and that the usual dam
a board backed with sod and earth -
had been placed across the canal for the
purpose of diverting into the field all
the water the canal might contain. The
full extent of the damaging discovery
rendered him almost speechless.
Harry looked anxiously and puzzledly
at the irate old man, who now faced him
like an accusing angel. Who could have
opened the water-gate in that manner?
This was the question Harry asked him-
self, and which received no reply.
"No more'n I expected!" Baily
snarled. "I've said from the first that
the Purcell crops wouldn't never go beg-
gin' for water! You didn't think I'd
come round by this bend; but you see I
"Stop that, Mr. Baily!" Harry com-
manded, anger quivering up through his
amazement. "I never opened that gate!"
Then he saw that the old farmer was
fairly shaking with rage.
I've no more idea how this thing hap-
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER. 7
opened than you have. I didn't do it; As he paused from his exertions, Baily
and I'm sure mother didn't!" was climbing slowly into the saddle.
Baily stared disbelievingly. Who "I'd like a little o' that water, thank
else would want to do it? Who else ye, and will ride back home to be ready
n w r, t :.t
"Answer me thattp
would have any reason to? Answer me
Harry did not stop to reply. He
leaped down and hastily tore out the ob-
structing dam; then, taking a bunch of
keys from his pocket, he unlocked and
lowered the gate.
fer it when it comes. I reckon you'll go
right on down and set the gates, now?"
"Yes," said Harry, his thoughts all
awhirl. I'll come right on down. But
you mustn't think that I opened this
gate; for, on my honor, I didn't!"
Baily galloped away without relying;
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
and Harry Purcell, leaving his mother's
gate tightly closed, confusedly mounted
the buckskin pony and splashed inquir-
ingly across the alfalfa field, where the
water stood four and five inches deep.
There could be no doubt that the upper
portion of the alfalfa field was secure for
a time against the effects of the drouth
and hot winds. The black soil was a per-
fect muck, into which the pony sunk to
the fetlocks. The gate must have been
open for hours.
Harry looked over the field with deep
concern. The fact that the alfalfa was
safe gave him pain instead of pleasure.
Other fields were withering for lack of the
water that had soaked into this soil, and
it had been made his duty to see that they
got their share. How was he to explain
away this piece of apparently criminal
selfishness? How was he to establish his
innocence in the eyes of his neighbors?
BAILY BECOMES AGGRESSIVE.
BECAME clear to the
mind of Harry Purcell
that the water-gate had
been opened by some one
who desired to injure
him in the eyes of the
ditch patrons. Who that enemy was,
only time and the run of events could de-
cide. His present duty was to ride down
the ditch and make the gates ready to re-
ceive the water.
However, no great haste was required.
The water filled the dry ditch slowly
enough. It would take nearly an hour's
time for it to reach Baily's.
Therefore, he turned homeward,
anxious to talk the matter over with his
mother, and yet shrinking from acquaint-
ing her with his startling discovery.
Mrs. Purcell came out of the door as he
neared the house. She had seen Baily
ride furiously away; and Harry's return,
after he had announced his intention of
going to the river, told her something was
wrong. She saw the look of pain and
annoyance on her son's face, and her own
sympathetic countenance reflected it.
"What's the matter?" she asked.
"We found the gate wide open when
we went up there and a dam in the ditch.
The upper end of the alfalfa is all afloat.
It must have been running since in the
night, by the looks of it."
Mrs. Purcell, who hAd been wiping her
hands on her apron, contracted her fingers
in a sudden spasm within its folds.
"Why, how-who opened it?" she
"I only wish I knew! Mr. Baily's
hopping mad, of course; and I don't
know as I can blame him. He thinks I
did it to steal the water!"
Mrs. Purcell could not at the moment
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
say more did not need to say more -
to express the fullness of her feelings;
but her eyes brimmed with tears, and
Harry noticed that when she smoothed
down the apron her hands shook.
"I told him I didn't, but I could see
he wouldn't believe me; and I reckon
there can't be any doubt he'll repeat it
all around, and be glad of the oppor-
"You must tell him again that you
didn't do it, Harry! Be careful how you
approach him, though! I don't suppose
it could have been the work of one of the
Carmon boys? They don't like you, you
Harry ran his fingers thoughtfully
through the pony's mane.
I don't believe that either Ike or Joe
would do a trick like that. They might
meet me in the middle of the road and
knock me down, but they're not under-
"Well, my son, do not let us be dis-
couraged or unhappy over this, although
it does look very dark. You have the
support of your own conscious integrity;
the undoubting faith of your mother in
your honesty o' purpose and action; and
you pray daily Deliver us from evil.'
Can you not trust the Master to answer
"I will try, mother, but it is very hard
to bear suspicion when one is innocent."
"Far easier, my son, than if you were
guilty, for then you would have not only
the reproach of men, but your own con-
science to add to your misery. Com-
mit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in
him, and he shall bring it to pass.' "
Well, I've shut off all the water, and
now I'm going down to open Baily's gate.
I'll be careful what I say to him," as he
saw her lips opening again in warning.
Then he clattered away across the
dusty trail, and on through the buffalo
grass, which was as dry in that month of
June as if cured for hay.
Bailv had his team out and was plowing
some furrows across his wheat field, to
draw the water and cause it to spread
more rapidly when it came. He did not
come up to the water-gate: and, when it
had been set and locked. Harry rode on
down the ditch toward the other farms,
relieved that he had an excuse for not ap-
proaching the cross-grained old farmer.
There were many places to visit and
many gates to set, weary miles to be trav-
ersed, and many men with many griev-
ances to encounter. Harry did his work
faithfully and well, glad to assure the
settlers that the long-expected rise was at
hand. But to none of them did he find
courage to speak of the opened water-
gate, though he felt sure an uncharitable
account of it would soon be poured into
When he returned home the afternoon
was far spent. The mid-day meal, long
kept warm for him, had grown cold. Be-
fore eating it he rode to the gate which
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
he had so tightly locked, set it to the
proper limit, and turned the water into
the lateral that led to the wheat. All
the farmers on that line of ditch were re-
ceiving their stipulated flow and the ditch
was brimming. He saw no good reason
why the work of an enemy should cause
his mother's crops to be stinted now.
His mother went into the field with
him after dinner, and together they
worked till dark in their efforts to lead
the water over as much ground as pos-
sible. When they were forced to stop by
reason of the darkness, Harry left the
water running into the lateral, as he had
a right to do, and in the morning was
gratified to find that more than two-
thirds of the field had been satisfactorily
Though the work of irrigating was too
hard for a woman, Mrs. Purcell con-
tinued it through that day and the next;
while Harry rode the ditch, helping her
an hour or so at a time as he found oppor-
The farmers were in better spirits. It
seemed that, after all, the crops would
not be a failure. The wheat and oats
would be short, but much might yet be
done with this productive soil; and,
though the hot winds still blew, their
power to harm was stayed.
The second morning, when Harry went
into the alfalfa field, which still needed
water along its lower slopes, he found the
water-gate again locked wide open, as on
that first occasion. IIe looked about,
hoping to find a clew to the perpetrator
of the wrong, but saw only some tracks,
that had probably been made the previous
day by his own wading-boots.
He went back to the house much per-
turbed and told his mother of his dis-
I'm going to watch that field to-
night! I've shut off the water, and
maybe the fellow will come back and try
it again. It's some one who wants to in-
jure me. Who is our greatest enemy,
mother?" He looked her straight in the
face. "I believe it has been in your
thought for some time, just as it's been in
mine, that it may have been the work of
"I'm afraid we do him wrong,
though!" she protested. "You won't
hint it to anybody?"
No; but I'm going to watch the field
A thought of the danger he might in-
cur flashed on her and made her endeavor,
somewhat feebly, to dissuade him from
his purpose; but he was firm in his de-
It was past midnight when he entered
the field. Hie had sat by the west win-
dow a long time watching the field by
the light of the moon. Now the moon
had gone down. But in that dry, thin
atmosphere the stars shone with wondrous
As he walked along the embankment,
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
a prairie dog owl, disturbed from its
position on a mound, flew scolding and
chattering about his head; and a big,
gray jack-rabbit, that had been feeding
in the alfalfa, leaped away for a dozen
yards with jerky bounds, then uplifted
itself on its hind legs on the margin of a
lateral, a ghostly shape in the uncertain
The tired youth cast himself down on
the dry embankment some distance from
the water-gate and began his lonesome
vigil. As he looked up at the stars, that
seemed so like luminous gems or points
of fire, and reflected that the skies of the
Orient were as bright, he could not won-
der that the Chaldeans became astrono-
mers and astrologers; and the story of the
watching Judean shepherds took on new
meaning. Crickets chirped in the grass,
some joyous frogs croaked in a depression
in the field which the ditch water had
bountifully filled, and a few belated in-
sects buzzed about his ears.
He knew that his mother was watching
by the window, where he had left her,
filled with anxiety for his safety, and lift-
ing up her stead last heart in prayer that
the threatened evil might be averted or
made a messenger for good. He did not
intend to molest the wrong-doer, should
that person come again, but thoughts of
what might grow out of such a visit and
discovery were sufficient to keep his mind
abnormally active and drive away all de-
sire for sleep.
But the drowsiness came after awhile,
and his head dropped on the ground. A
sudden outbreak of hideous sound sent a
thrill through him and awoke him to the
fact that he had been fairly asleep. He
sat up on the embankment and rubbed his
eyes. On the ridge, a half mile distant,
some coyotes had broken into pursuit of
a jack-rabbit. Whether there were two or
a half-dozen he could not tell, as that
chorus of yelping and "ki-yi-ing" shrilled
through the night.
The sounds swept on over the ridge and
across the plains, growing fainter and
fainter, and finally ceased. Probably the
coyotes had caught the unfortunate
"jack "; a thing not at all certain, how-
ever, as the jack is blessed with wonder-
ful legs and dodging abilities.
Then something moved between the
watcher and the western sky; and, flatten-
ing himself on the embankment, Harry
saw a man walk down along the ditch and
step into the alfalfa field. He could not
make out the form, and the face was
His heart leaped and his nerves tingled
as he fancied this was the individual who
had opened the water-gate and dammed
He was surprised, though, when the
man, on entering the field, dropped softly
to the earth instead of advancing to the
The man disappeared from sight when
he dropped down. Harry marked the
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
spot and watched it a long time with
breathless earnestness, but could observe
no motion. A little mound seemed to
have grown there, and he fancied this
mound the head and shoulders of the
man; but of even this he could not be
He feared to move on the embankment
lest he should be seen, and, his position
growing cramped, he slowly and carefully-
stretched out one leg and then the other,
to relieve them. The mound in the
alfalfa did not stir. Everything was so
still that Harry fancied he could hear his
own heart beat. He could certainly feel
its thumping, and the arteries in his neck
seemed to swell and grow warm. The
trembling that at first affected him sub-
sided after awhile, though it left him with
a feeling of muscular weakness.
The vigil that followed was tedious and
trying. The stars swung slowly westward
and the night grew chillingly cold.
Finally a silvery gray crept into the
eastern sky, forerunner of the dawn.
Then the mound stirred. It lifted and
resolved itself again into a man. It
walked and approached the water-gate.
It stopped on the embankment and
stooped down to inspect the gate and
ditch. Harry Purcell's heart gave a
greater bound than at first. The man
was Mr. Baily!
Baily did not tarry long beside the
ditch. The brightening in the east
warned him to. be gone, and he set off
down the embankment and was soon lost
to view. Not until he was well out of
sight did the mystified ditch-rider venture
to sit up.
Then the meaning of what he had be-
held grew clear to him. Taking it for
granted that Baily had come to open the
gate, Harry had been sorely puzzled to
account for the fact that not even a finger
had been placed on the lock. Now he
saw that he had misjudged the man.
Baily had not come to open the gate -
his stealthy visit to the field had been in
the hope of catching Harry in the act.
The young ditch -rider blew out his
breath in a whistle of surprise.
If he feels that way about it, it can't
be that he opened it himself!"
He walked back to the house thought-
ful and puzzled. His mother, who had
fallen asleep in her chair by the window,
awoke, cramped and cold, as he stepped
through the doorway.
"Poor little mother!" he said, smooth-
ing her hair affectionately. You should
not have tried to sit up!"
"I declare, if it isn't daylight!" as she
glanced through the window.
Then he told her of what he had seen
and of his conclusions.
She was a perfectly honest little body
and able to deal justly even with Rich-
mond Baily. She recognized in the dis-
covery absolute proof of Baily's innocence
of the thing with which they had charged
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER. 13
W4\VI, he Idiin't 1- Ill, me t !!Paiwr' l'
1 r t1.iii I
* .'. .
Wd' r .'--, "r .
- -" "
The man wvas Mr. Eaily!--See page 12.
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
must feed the stock. I guess it won't
surprise them to hurt if they get their
breakfast a little early."
After again talking the matter over
with his mother, Harry determined to
confide his troubles to Jason Bigelow.
Bigelow lived two or three miles away,
but on the same lateral or branch canal.
He was from Ohio, as were the Purcells,
and State ties count for much when there
are no closer bonds. He was a sensible
man, able to give good advice if nothing
So Harry rode over to Bigelow's and
told his troubles. Bigelow listened with
quiet attention, making no comment
until the boy had finished.
I've heard a little something about
that, though I wasn't prepared to believe.
Harry's face flushed. Mr. Baily told
you, of course?"
"No, Mr. Baily didn't tell me. He
told Lee's folks about it, though, and one
of the Lee boys told me. Baily says he
is sure you opened the gate. Of course
such a report will hurt you, if it is not
contradicted. I'm glad you've spoken to
me and explained the thing, for now I'll
know what to say, whenever it's men-
As he departed from Bigelow's and
went on to ride the ditch Harry expected
to see an accusation in every face. But
there was little, if anything, of the kind.
The farmers were too busy and withal
too glad to get the water, to give much
heed to anything but the work that now
But before nightfall he heard from two
other men that Baily had been circulating
the damaging report. The men volun-
teered the information, begging to assure
him they did not believe it; for all of
which he expressed his gratitude.
"If I was you I'd go to Baily and I'd
say to him flatly that he had to stop it,"
one of the men advised; and with the
words ringing in his ears Harry galloped
He did not sleep much that night; and
the next morning, as soon as he had fin-
ished certain work that claimed his atten-
tion, he set out to make another call on
The big ditch was brimming full of
water that morning, a thing calculated
to make his heart glad.
Before coming to Bigelow's, and when
full a quarter of a mile from the build-
ings, he reined in beside a boy who was
utilizing the overflow of the ditch to
drown out a small colony of prairie dogs.
It was Bigelow's boy, Billy, a lively
urchin of nine or ten, who had his
trousers rolled up and was splashing
about in much excitement.
The embankments were rather low at
that point, and the brimming ditch
spilled some. of its contents into the buf-
falo grass. With a long-handled irrigat-
ing spade Billy Bigelow had excavated a
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
small trench, that led from the little
hollow where the waters were collect-
ing to the nearest dog hole, and he was
now ready to turn the water into the
On the grass near by, tied up snug and
fast, were two hapless dogs, that squirmed
in wild alarm as the pony's feet trampled
near them. They were rolly-poly fellows,
with fat cheeks, round bodies and short
tails, looking something like squirrels but
not at all like dogs.
Billy Bigelow was deep in a big specu-
lation. The stage to Cactus Crossing ran
close by his father's door, and he fre-
quently had opportunity to sell tame
prairie dogs to the passengers, who car-
ried them to their Eastern homes as
curiosities. Heretofore, what prairie
dogs Billy had been able to obtain he had
caught with a steel trap whose jaws were
wound with cloth. But the dogs were
wary and hard to catch with the trap.
Now, with the overflow, Billy believed it
possible to drown out and secure the
whole colony. It was a stupendous en-
terprise, for live prairie dogs had some-
times brought as high as fifty cents
"Now jist watch him come a-bilin'!"
Billy yelled, tearing out with his fingers
the little dam that barred the water from
the hole, and slipping his muddy right
hand into a cast-off leather glove.
For the moment Harry Purcell forgot
the errand which had brought him to
Bigelow's, and watched Billy with boyish
The accumulated water gurgled into
the hole for several seconds at a lively
rate. Then a badly-scared and half-
drowned prairie dog scrambled out ahead
of the water that was rising in the hole
and popped into Billy's gloved hand.
It fought and bit, as a rat might have
done; but Billy quickly slipped over its
feet and neck some ready-made nooses
and had it kicking helplessly on the grass
beside the others.
"Well, I must ride on to the house,
for I want to see your father," Harry de-
Whereupon, Billy leaped up, with a
flushed face, and began to fish for some-
thing in one of his pockets.
"I forgot to tell you about it. Pa
wanted to see you this morning, but he
had to go away, and he told me to come
out here by the ditch and give you this
letter when you went past."
He drew out a folded piece of paper,
which, covered with muddy finger-prints,
he handed up to the young ditch-rider.
Harry hastily pulled it open and read,
with paling cheeks:
Mr. Baily is circulating a petition among
the ditch patrons asking the manager to re-
move you from your position, and he has got
several of them to sign it. He asked me, but I
refused, and told him I thought he was en-
gaged in a mighty small piece of business, and
that I felt sure you hadn't done the things he
charged. I won't get to see you to-day, *.s I
have to go to town; but I write this to put ,ou
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
on your guard. Head him off! That is my
advice. Write to the manager and tell him
everything and refer him to me. You can get
your letter there ahead of Baily's petition, if
you're quick about it. Your friend,
A SERIOUS ACCUSATION.
and when he had
letter, fo make
/ sure he could not
be mistaken in the
character of its
contents, he hast-
ened home, resolved to follow Bigelow's
advice and hurry an explanation to the
manager of the Golconda.
This explanation was not easy to pen;
for, when he sat down to commit the
whole matter to paper, he found the
story a very long one. He did not want
to be tedious, but he did want to set him-
self right in the eyes of the manager
and to make that gentleman understand
how earnestly he was striving to fulfill
the duties of his position.
When he had finished the letter, he
read it aloud to his mother; and, as she
found nothing objectionable in it, he
placed it in a stamped envelope, which he
addressed, and then walked out to the
trail over which the star-route mail car-
rier passed each day about noon on his
way to Golden City.
Harry stood by the side of the trail
with the letter in his hand until the car-
rier drew up and reached out to take it.
The pony and buckboard, as well as the
driver, were splashed with muddy water.
The ditch has been running over at
the first bridge," the carrier reported.
"I had to go around a little, and the
wheels cut the bank some. I got out and
fixed the break as well as I could, but
maybe you'd better look after it."
To this task Harry devoted himself
without delay, and then returned to the
house to get his dinner.
I'm going over to see Mr. Baily," he
announced, when the meal was finished.
"I'll be careful to say nothing at which
he can get offended, but I shall insist
that he's decidedly mistaken in thinking
I opened the water-gate, and that he's
doing me a wrong in telling it."
"You won't get into a quarrel with
him, Harry?" Mrs. Purcell begged. "I
don't know but that you ought to keep
away from him entirely."
She did not urge him to forego the
visit, however. She was quite as anxious
as he that the damaging reports should
cease. She could see how the thing was
telling on him. He was not looking well,
and her mother's keen eyes told her that
the worry and hard work were threatening
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
to break him down. He had long ceased
to enjoy sound sleep.
Baily was running some streams of
water down the rows of Kaffir corn, as
Harry rode into the field. He stopped
the work to look up inquiringly, and
frowned when he saw who the visitor was.
"I want to speak to you about that
water-gate," said Harry, controlling his
feelings as well as he could. "I believe
you'll be willing to treat me fairly, if I
can convince you that you're mistaken
about the matter."
Baily's face grew red and he lifted a
I've seen enough of you, young man,
to know that I don't want to see any more
of you, and the less we have to do with
each other the better! If you say any-
thing it will only be to tell lies. When I
know a thing I know it, and that ends
"But you can be mistaken!" Harry
Baily again waved his hand.
"I don't want to hear anything! Not
Harry sat quite still for a moment,
vexation and anger filling him and threat-
ening to break out in words. Then lihe
mastered his feelings and turned away.
It was quite useless, he saw, to try to rea-
son with Mr. Baily; even worse than use-
There was a choking lump in his throat
and blinding tear-drops in his eyes as he
galloped the pony up along the ditch.
Back of the lump and the tears was the
sting of wounded pride. Baily's manner
had been crushingly cruel.
"It's strange how mean some men can
be! But I'll make him sorry for that yet!
I'll show him that he's mistaken when he
thinks I could stoop to so low a trick!"
How that was to be shown, though, the
young ditch-rider could not have told.
The ditch was nearly empty the next
morning, and, when Harry rode to the
river to ascertain the cause, he found
that some large holes had been washed in
It was a cheap and unsubstantial
structure of sod, that ran diagonally up
the river for nearly a fourth of a mile but
did not cross it. Its purpose was to divert
water from the channel into the Gol-
conda Company's main canal. It an-
swered well enough so long as it held to-
gether. But floods weakened it and fre-
quently carried portions of it away; so
that often when water was most needed
and there was an abundance in the river
the crops were wilting from drouth.
This was of course the fault of the Gol-
conda Company, which, from the start,
had pursued a penny-wise-and-pound-
foolish policy. The company plainly
wanted to make a great deal of money
from a comparatively meager investment,
always a difficult thing to do.
Harry wrote another letter to the man-
ager that day, telling him of the con-
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
edition of the wing dam and asking that he
might be authorized to repair it in a man-
ner to make it practically secure.
He gave this letter also to the mail car-
rier, and then, with some young men
whom he secured to help him, he went to
work to repair the damage as well as he
could in an inexpensive manner. Bags
of sand were sunk in the crevasses until
the bottom of the wall had been replaced;
and on top of this, a barrier of earth and
sod was reared, as had been done origin-
The manager believed that if willows
could be induced to grow on a dam of this
kind it would in time become stronger
than if made of stone or timber. Harry,
therefore, as he had done before, set wil-
low cuttings along its top. The dam
looked well enough when done, but he
feared it would not stand the strain. Nor
did it. A spurt in the river two days
later took it out and made the hole bigger
In the meantime nothing could be
heard from the manager. The crops be-
gan to need another watering. Many of
the farmers had not been able to cover
all their cultivated land, and the fields
that remained untouched were threatened
with utter ruin.
Harry knew that the farmers had just
cause for complaint. He was distressed,
too, by the non-arrival of a letter in reply
to the ones he had sent.
In the midst of it all, and when the
work and worry bore hardest, he again
found the water gate open into his
mother's alfalfa field. There was very
little water in the ditch at the time, but
that little was being forced into the field
as before by a dam across the ditch.
He was bewildered and indignant.
The mystery of these repeated openings
of the water-gate he had not been able to
fathom. He had ceased to accuse Baily
of the deed. Still, he could not doubt
that it was the work of some enemy who
was desperately determined to ruin his
The matter rested so heavily on him
that it almost unfitted him for work. IHe
went to the river again the next day, and
returned home much belated. Taking
the short cut by Dutton's school-house,
he saw lights flashing from the windows,
and the shapes of men and horses moving
between him and them.
He turned aside and approached the
building. He had not heard that there
was to be any "literary" or other meet-
ing there that night. This was strange,
as lie was usually notified of such events-
for they were really events in the lives of
the people whose homes clustered along
the canals and laterals of 'the Golconda
As he moved towards the school-house,
an undefined sense of impending ill came
over him. Riding up to the hitching-
rack that ran along the rear of the house,
he swung half out of the saddle, and sat
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
thus, unconscious of his awkward posi-
tion, while these words came to his
I tell you what, the farmers here
must build and own their own ditch.
They can do it. I'm in favor of forming
an irrigation district and of mortgaging
our farms for every penny they're worth
to put the thing through. Then we'll be
independent of this thieving company,
and of the men who run it!"
The young ditch-rider swung on down
to the ground, removed his foot from the
stirrup, and prepared to tie the pony to
He knew now that an indignation
meeting of the ditch patrons had been
called. Such a thing had been hinted at
more than once, though he had not
thought much about it. Whether the
Golconda Company was giving as good
service as its funds would permit, was an
open question. But that the farmers
could construct and operate a ditch of
their own was not an open question with
him. Hie felt sure they could not. Many
of them were hovering on the verge of
want, and there were few indeed whose
places and stock were not mortgaged for
greater or less sums, obtained to help
them along when they began the new life
on the plains.
Before he had got his lariat fast to the
pole, a man came around the corner of
the school-house. It was Bigelow, who
had stepped out to make sure his pony
was all right. He saw Harry, but did not
recognize him in the darkness until Harry
Bigelow hesitated before replying.
"I ought to have told you about this
meeting, I reckon, for I was informed of
it yesterday; but I didn't see that it would
do you any good, and I thought it might
do harm, for I fancied maybe you'd want
to attend. That's something I'd advise
you not to do. The farmers are mad and
Baily is stirring them up. You're not
authorized to do anything, you see, and
when they jump on you about the way
the ditch business is being run, as they're
sure to do, you won't be able to give any
answers that will please them.
I'll see that you get a fair representa-
tion, Harry. Better go on home and
never speak as if you knew such a meet-
ing had been held. I'll tell you to-mor-
row what's been done. They're more
mad at the manager than at you. He
didn't do just the square thing by them
last spring, they think. And now that
wing dam is about the last straw!"
I'm obliged to you for your kindness,
Mr. Bigelow, and I'll go on home if you
think I'd better. To-morrow, if I get no
letter, I'm going to telegraph the man-
ager, asking authority to spend a hundred
dollars in strengthening the dam. I
don't see why I haven't heard from him."
So he rode on home and Bigelow went
back into the school-house.
Harry Purcell slept less that night than
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
usual. In imagination he heard the
angry words of the farmers and the accus-
ing tones of Richmond Baily.
He learned the next morning that his
worst fears fell short of the reality. In-
formation of just what Baily did say was
brought him by a young friend, Jasper
Stanton, who lived in the second section
He says he's been lying out in your
alfalfa fields of nights, and that one night,
not long ago, he saw you come into the
field and open the water-gate. He says
you opened it and locked it open, and put
the dam in the ditch. He says he saw
you do it as plain as he ever saw any-
thing, and that he knows he wasn't mis-
taken. He held back telling about it, it
seems, until this meeting, when the farm-
ers were all together."
For a moment Harry was too astounded
to speak. Then he stammered:
"What do you think about it? You
didn't believe it?"
I think he's not over-particular about
telling the truth."
What did Mr. Bigelow do?"
He didn't seem to know what to do.
He just sat there, with his mouth open,
as if he was paralyzed. But after awhile
he got up and said that the charge was a
very serious one, which he didn't feel
called on to believe until you had been
heard in your own behalf. He didn't in-
tend to say, he said, that Mr. Baily did
not mean to tell the truth, but there was
still a chance that Mr. Baily was mis-
And no one else said a word?"
Oh, yes, there was a good deal said.
Mr. Baily declared a dozen times that he
knew he was right. And then, when the
meeting was over, he got out his petition
to have you taken off the ditch and asked
nearly every one to sign it."
"I'm glad some one was there who
wasn't willing to believe such a thing of
me right off-hand. There isn't a word of
truth in it. I shall go straight over to
Baily's and demand of him why he told
such a falsehood. He's got to answer me,
A hot rage had been kindled in the
heart of the young ditch-rider. His
whole being rose up in rebellion against
this unjust calumny. A sense of his in-
nocence sustained him. He could and
would resign his position, if that was de-
sired; but he would not leave the place
with a smirched reputation. That must
be cleared. Baily had made positive
statements. They should be explained or
Without saying anything to his mother
on the subject, for he knew how the news
would pain her, Harry brought the buck-
skin pony out of the stable, saddled and
bridled it and rode away.
His indignation did not decrease as hIe
approached the Baily residence. It grew,
instead, until it heated his veins like a
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
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I,.r sunborinn-t, l.il'.wn .a':k fri.'ni her
lh':,.1, wa hIl, l.'yV its. -tting. Her riglht
TIE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
hair, which had been in curls for Mrs.
Baily looked carefully after Elsie's per-
sonal appearance flew in a silky tangle
about her face. The glow of health was
in her cheeks, a smile in her blue eyes,
and gleeful, childish laughter on her
The young ditch-rider drew rein almost
involuntarily and admiringly watched
her. He had never seen a lovelier pic-
ture. She was not afraid of him-in
truth she feared no one and came
straight on along the millet until within
less than a dozen yards.
Then she tried to spring backward, and
fell prone to the earth with a cry of
fright. The puppy gave one sniff, and
then ran by her and barked at something
wriggling in the grass.
Harry Purcell sprung from his saddle.
He knew what had happened. A prairie
rattler, hidden in the millet, had struck
its fangs into the child's flesh.
A half dozen bounds brought him to
the spot. He saw the rattler glide into a
hole in the earth, pursued and snapped at
by the shepherd puppy; then he caught
up the little girl.
"Did it bite you? Where is it?"
Elsie's face was as white as a sheet and
her blue eyes wide open with terror. She
gasped, as she tried to answer, and pointed
to her bare ankle. Two small punctures
showed where the fangs had taken hold
and poured out their poison.
Fortunately Harry had had some ex-
perience in dealing with snake bites. He
knew that prompt action was necessary,
and without another word he pressed his
lips to the wound and sucked out all the
poison he could. Then he picked her up
in his arms and ran with all speed to the
Elsie is snake bit!" he said, striving to
show no signs. of flurry. He spoke to
Mrs. Baily, who got up surprisedly from
her work of sewing on some carpet rags
as he entered.
Elsie made no sound. She was so
utterly silent that she seemed to have
been deprived of the power of speech or
thought. But that she was entirely con-
scious was shown by the intelligent,
though frightened, look in her eyes, and
by the quickness with which she obeyed
his every injunction.
Mrs. Baily, on the other hand, was per-
fectly helpless. The terrible announce-
ment seemed to take from her what little
energy and self-possession she had. She
became a mere bundle of quivering nerves,
running hither and thither, trying vainly
to find the things he desired, and sobbing
out wildly in her alarm.
Baily was not at home, having gone to
a neighbor's to borrow a hay rake.
Harry glanced about the room. There
was nothing with which he could cauter-
ize the wound, and he hesitated to try to
cut it out with his dull pocket-knife. So
he twisted his handkerchief into a cord
and applied it to the limb as a tourniquet.
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
Elsie compressed her lips, but no cry of
pain came from them.
Mrs. Baily was wandering abstractedly
about the room.
"I can't wait longer!" Harry an-
nounced. "A doctor's got to be had,
and the quickest way is to go to him.
Don't worry. She'll come out all right.
These things are not so dangerous when
they're taken in time! Good-by. Have
Mr. Baily come right on to town as soon
as he gets back!"
With this he again picked up the little
girl, who had been lying, or rather half-
reclining, on the floor, with her head
pressed against the wall.
The obedient pony was standing with
rein down, just where he had left it.
Harry reached its side, after a quick run,
and climbed with Elsie into the deep
saddle. Then he set her in front of
him, clasped her firmly in his strong
arms, straightened the sunbonnet on
her head, and touched the pony with
The trail to Golden City lay before him,
straight as an arrow and almost as level as
It's ten miles to town, Ponca!" he
said, as he lifted himself for the work.
But we'll make it in time, or die. Now,
A RIDE FOR LIFE.
HE pony lifted its ears
at that stern word of
command; and, from
the jog trot to
which the cudgeling
heels had urged it,
swung into a canter.
Mrs. Baily ran out of the house screaming
and wringing her hands; and the shep-
herd puppy chased into the dust cloud,
barking and snapping at the pony's
Harry Purcell held Elsie in as easy an
attitude as he could, letting most of her
weight rest on the saddle between his
body and the high pommel, and drove the
pony on across the wet ground by the
stock reservoir, and into the arrowy trail.
"Go, Ponca! Go!" he urged; and
Ponca, stretching out a scraggy, ewe-like
neck, went down the trail like a trained
Fortunately the buckskin pony was
fresh from a night's rest. It was used to
hard riding, too. Day after day it had
been accustomed to gallop from twenty to
fifty miles, up and down the ditches and
across the mossy stretches of buffalo
grass. And it had the large lung-capacity
and the untiring endurance of the true
When the pony was running easily,
Harry dropped the reins on its neck,
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
guided it with his knees when it needed
guiding, and lifted Elsie to a still easier
position in front of him, holding her
closely and lovingly in his arms. As he
did so he looked into her face.
He saw that she was sobbing frighten-
edly, and took it as a good indication.
Tears drenched her cheeks and a little
semicircle of dust showed beneath each
eye. The dust was blowing in clouds
from the upper part of the sorghum field,
where the pulverized soil had received no
water and the sorghum had died to the
The dirty semicircles walling in the
tears were so suggestive of dams holding
hack the irrigating floods from overflow-
ing the fair fields of her face that the
young ditch-rider smiled in spite of his
great anxiety and the gravity of the situa-
SIt was the best thing he could have
done. She was quiveringly alive to every-
thing and the smile impressed her with
the belief that her condition was hopeful.
She tried to smile back.
Oh, you're all right!" he cried, en-
couragingly. "We'll be at Dr. Sarine's
almost before you know it! I think I
got out nearly all the poison. Here's
Hudspeth's claim already!"
Elsie's ankle and leg pained her, but
she did not complain. The compressing
tourniquet seemed fairly to cut into the
flesh; but, knowing it had been applied
for a good reason, she kept her lips
tightly closed. The lips were very white,
as Harry noticed; and they quivered
tremulously. Spots in the cheeks burned
They were going at a good gait. The
pony seemed to understand that some-
thing out of the common was expected of
it. Not often did the ditch-rider drive it
along thus with the reins swinging
A mile was quickly passed over.
Harry lifted Elsie closer to his breast
with his strong right hand, and, bending
slightly forward, patted the willing pony
on the shoulder with his left.
"Good boy!" he encouragingly coaxed.
"We're beyond Hudspeth's windmill!"
he hopefully announced. We'll soon
be at the ditch that crosses Cameron's
wheat field. You're feeling all right,
He listened anxiously for the reply.
And does your leg hurt you much?"
"It's the handkerchief I tied 'round it,
I guess. Here we are, at Cameron's
The little ditch was spanned by a
wooden bridge. He caught the rein and
gently lifted on it. The pony crossed the
bridge at a bound, and galloped on down
the trail, stretching out its ewe-neck and
distending its nostrils. There were as
yet no symptoms of tiring; though, when
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
Harry dropped the rein and slipped his he knew. The
hand beneath the edge of the saddle cloth been wholly ex
he brought it away covered with foam. ning to show it,
He wiped off the foam on the pony's Again he be)
hairy coat, then again changed Elsie's pony's neck.
poison of the bite had not
tracted and it was begin-
s deadly work.
nt forward and patted the
The pony kept up the killing pacc.-See page 26.
position, both for her ease and for his
own. As he did so he started and a
blanching look showed under the deep
tan of his face. The ankle and limb were
for a moment revealed, and he saw they
were swelling alarmingly. A part of this
was due to the tourniquet, but not all, as
"Good boy! Good boy! A little
faster! Just a little faster!"
Two miles had sped, and the third was
reeling out beneath the pony's pounding
hoofs. It increased its pace a trifle, in
response to this appeal, pushed its nose
out a little farther, and threw its ears
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
back as if to catch his lightest com-
Thus went two more miles. They
were cutting into the wind at an angle,
and it whistled by his ears, high-keyed
and shrill. The distance to town was
half covered, now. But a pang of fear
and dismay was tugging at the heart of
Tarry Purcell. The child was becoming
a dead weight in his arms.
The swelling in the ankle and limb had
increased; and, to,his fancy, even her
face seemed to be puffing. She began to
be unconscious and delirious at times,
though his voice would always stir her.
"How do you feel now?" he asked, as
he again shifted her on his arm.
He fancied he could see a dim blue
line reaching up the limb from the punc-
The answer was but a mumble, and it
was clear she had not rightly understood.
A lump rose in his throat and fairly
choked him. The fear that he might
reach town too late came like a stabbing
pain. Though the pony was doing its
best, it seemed but to crawl, so great was
his eagerness and anxiety.
"Good Ponca! Good Ponca!" he
cried, his words an anguished appeal.
"We must make it! Faster! Faster!
The pony was sweating freely, and its
breathing was not as easy as at the be-
ginning of the run; but, under this urg-
ing, it pluckily kept up the killing pace,
and even increased it by spurts. Little
streams of sweat collected on its legs and
ran down to its fetlocks, and around the
edge of the saddle cloth and under the
headstall of the bridle the, lathery per-
spiration ridged itself in soapy foam.
Not once in the long, treeless stretch
had a human being been encountered.
At Nickerson's, one of the boys, who was
plowing in a field, had stopped his horses
and stared at the rider dashing down the
trail in that life-and-death race. He had
wondered about it; perhaps he had even
recognized the buckskin pony. But
rapid, even reckless riding, over those
breezy expanses, was a thing too common
for comment; and when the boy had gazed
at the horseman for a few seconds and had
questioned himself and his team as to
what the horseman carried before him on
the saddle, he lifted his lines and drove
on around the field.
Another mile, and then another, was
added to those passed over. The pony's
breathing could now be heard plainly
above the clatter of its hoofs. But the
town was in full view, and Harry even
fancied he could see the roof of Dr.
But his alarm had grown from fright
almost into a panic. A deathly look was
in the eyes of Elsie Baily. She had sunk
into a semi-stupor. Once, when ques-
tioned, she had complained of a pain in
her side, and he feared that this was an
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
indication that the poison was mounting
to her heart. The bound limb was so
enormously swollen that he was half
tempted to remove the tourniquet.
Just in the edge of town he encoun-
tered a cart with two men in it. They
recognized him and. said something; and,
when he did not reply, they turned the
cart about in the trail and returned to
Then the pony swept into the main
street, with the race fairly won.
Harry struck it sharply with his heels
as it bounded across the bridge at the
street entrance, for it seemed to think it
might now take things leisurely; and
again the ears went up, the nose was
pushed out, and the sharp, unshop hoofs
pounded on almost as energetically as at
"Get up! Get up!" he commanded.
"Don't stop, now!"'
The pony fairly flew down the street,
plucky and heroic to the last.
Near the center of town stood the doc-
tor's residence, which contained his office.
It was surrounded with fruit trees, and
cottonwoods grew along the sidewalk for
shade. Through these the sleepless wind
piped, while the dingy tin sign creaked on
its hinges or was banged to and fro.
As Harry approached the house, a
shower of dust and sand flew around the
corner, and out of this shower walked Dr.
Sarine. He was a stocky man, with a
pleasant face and smiling brown eyes, a
gray beard and rapidly whitening hair.
But in spite of these evidences of increas-
ing years his step was almost as springy
as a boy's.
He stopped, as he saw Harry draw the
pony in with a jerk and leap to the
ground with the child in his arms; and
then he turned back toward the office, for
he knew that his services were needed.
He was at the gate and opened it as
Harry ran up.
Snake bit!" Harry exclaimed, breath-
lessly. Baily's little girl!"
The office door stood open, and he
pushed on in without delay. Dr. Sarine
followed more leisurely, but with a grave
"I was there when it was done, and I
sucked out the poison as well as I could,
and then came right here without a stop!
I rode hard!"
Dr. Sarine did not need to be told that
Harry had ridden hard. The pony stood
where it had been left, with drooping
head, hollow, heaving flanks, and quiver-
Dr. Sarine knew Elsie Baily. He had
brought her out of an attack of fever two
years before, and more than once he had
been consulted by Baily for rheumatism
and by Mrs. Baily for a host of maladies.
In truth, those whom Dr. Sarine did
not know were few in number. His prac-
tice extended over the whole county, and
even reached to the lonely homes of the
cattle-raisers far beyond the influence of
28 THE YOUNG
the fructifying ditch water. In the days
of the great herds, when the cattle kings
ruled the land, he had many times
ridden weary miles to save the life of
some unfortunate cowboy whom one of
the vicious little prairie rattlesnakes had
No man ever had a kinder heart, and
no man was ever more unostentatious.
His skill and his learning were free to all,
whether they were able to pay or not.
He is not painted from fancy, and it is
possible he may read these lines, for he
still lives to bless the little world in
which his lot has been cast. Should such
be the case, he will understand, it is
hoped, something of the appreciation in
which he is held by his neighbors, his
patients and his acquaintances, who are
also all his friends.
Dr. Sarine took hold of the case ener-
getically, without any fuss or formality.
He placed Elsie on the lounge, felt her
pulse and gave her a stimulant. Then he
removed the tourniquet, examined the
wound and applied permanganate of pot-
Harry's heart almost stopped beating as
the doctor worked. He knew that a
crowd was gathering outside, and lhe
heard some of the questions of the people
who were looking in through the window.
Dr. Sarine turned the key in the lock, to
bar out the curious but well-meaning and
sympathetic throng, and worked on; and
soon the story was flying over the town
that Baily's little girl was snake-bitten
and was at the doctor's, dying.
Finally Harry caught the doctor's eye.
"She'll pull through," was Sarine's
hopeful statement, "though the bite is
in a bad place. You saved her life, I am
sure, when you sucked out the poison;
and at the peril of your own, too!"
Harry had not taken into consideration
the fact that he ran a risk in drawing out
the poison from the wound with his lips;
but the danger, if he had thought of
it, would not have deterred him in the
The sense of relief brought by the doc-
tor's words was overwhelming. Elsie
would not die! Until then Harry had
hardly known how great was his fatigue.
Excitement and the determination to
save the child's life had sustained him.
Now, as he got up from the chair into
which he had dropped soon after enter-
ing the office, a giddiness and blindness
came over him so that he would have
fallen had lie not caught at the wall for
"You're pretty well exhausted!" said
Dr. Sarine, giving him a sharp look.
That was a big ride."
Oh, I'm all right!" and Harry tried to
laugh. "Just save her. All I need is
S"Don't worry about her. She'll soon
be out of danger!" Sarine assured. I've
saved many worse cases."
These words would have been precious
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
to the Bailys, at that time, if they could
have heard them.
When Harry Purcell rode away in that
cloud of dust, carrying Elsie, Mrs. Baily
had not known what to do. She watched
him dazedly for a little while. Then she
ran toward the stable; but, when half way
there, stopped hesitatingly, in a state of
Elsie was the jewel of her heart, the
one creature for whom she would will-
ingly have laid down her life. She
clutched at her throat, as she looked again
at the pony receding so swiftly in the dust
cloud, and a half audible prayer went up
from her lips; then a pall of darkness
seemed gathering before her eyes.
In a few seconds she conquered the
feeling and went on toward the stable.
But her limbs shook under her and all
the strength had gone out of them. She
fairly reeled as she passed through the
door, and then she fell unconscious on
the fragrant alfalfa that choked the en-
When she recovered, the whole terrible
truth swept over her again, and she ran
out into the corral, which opened off from
1he stable, and stared across the plains.
Not a hundred yards away, Baily was rid-
ing in on the hay rake, at a leisurely jog.
Mrs. Baily hurried out of the corral
and ran screaming toward him. He
reined in, as she came near, and sought to
So accustomed was he to doing things
without consulting her, that, when he at
length understood, he brought the whip
down with a cut that took him by her
and on to the house at a gallop. Mrs.
Baily ran after him, shouting something
which he did not stop to heed or even
He jumped down from the seat of the
hay rake, ran to the stable, and was lead-
ing out another pony when she came
Bring me the saddle!" he ordered.
" Then take the pony out of the rake and
turn him into the stable. You can git
the harness off, and-"
"I'm going with you, Richmond Baily!
Put the ponies to the spring wagon. Do
you think I could stay here while maybe
Elsie's dying there in town?"
New life seemed to have come to her.
The mother- instinct, that power which
rouses and transforms the most timid of
God's creatures, lifted her, making her
strong and courageous.
Baily, so long unaccustomed to con-
sider her desires and feelings that the
thing had become a mental habit, stared
in amazement. But he began to obey
without a word.
Not many minutes were lost in hitching
up. The harness went on in some
fashion, and Mr. and Mrs. Baily climbed
over the front wheels into the stiff-backed
seat of the spring wagon. Then the
whip was laid across the backs of the
ponies in a way to send them down the
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
trail at a pace almost as rapid as that
taken by the young ditch-rider.
How long's he been gone?" Baily
ventured to ask, squinting up at the
He's half way there!" she answered.
After that they subsided into a silence
that was broken only by the clatter of the
feet of the ponies, the rattle of the wagon,
and the "b-r-r, b-r-r," of drouth-loosened
How long the distance to town seemed!
Never had the trail appeared so endless.
But Baily did not spare the ponies, and
they were almost ready to fall in their
tracks when the main street was gained
and the wagon rolled down it bearing
those anxious hearts.
Mr. Baily climbed stiffly out, for he had
hardly shifted his position since the mo-
ment of leaving home; a sympathetic
store-keeper, who was passing, came for-
ward to assist Mrs. Baily; and some
loungers, who had been lingering about
the house, stepped up to care for the
Baily could not finish the question.
He looked dumbly around at his wife,
who was advancing, aided by the store-
keeper; and then he stumbled blindly
through the gateway and up to the door.
The office door was opened from within
and Dr. Sarine stood before him. Beyond
Sarine, on a lounge, lay a small form,
half hidden from sight.
Baily's face became ashy. His heart
gave a great bound and seemed to stop its
beating. Dr. Sarine smiled and pushed
by him to help Mrs. Baily.
"Your little girl is all right!" he said.
THE DEBT REPAID.
SARRY PURCELL did
lying on the lounge, but the doctor as-
sured him her condition at that time was
chiefly due to the treatment administered.
Harry had not forgotten his pony, and
he looked about for it as he came out and
while he was being plied with questions.
Ponca was standing hitched to a post
some distance away, with head down, but
apparently much rested. The saddle and
bridle were close by under a cottonwood.
Going over to the pony, Harry laid his
face softly against its neck, where the
sweat was drying in salty scales, and
stroked its head and mane, while his tears
flowed. Ponca looked about, thrust a soft
nose against the stroking hand, and whin-
nied as if in sympathy.
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
"We saved her, Ponca!" Harry whis-
pered. "We saved her!"
Feeling that the plucky pony had
earned the best procurable, Harry took it
to a livery stable, gave it some water, a
feed of grain and unlimited hay, and
patiently and lovingly rubbed it down.
Returning toward Sarine's, after an ab-
sence of more than half an hour, he saw
Baily emerge from the office and step into
the street. He had been thinking of
Baily and of Mrs. Baily. He felt sorry
for them and likewise glad, for Elsie still
lived and would get well; but he was not
at all sure he wanted to meet Mr. Baily
or speak to him, for he still felt that
Baily had done him a cruel wrong. He
was beginning to harbor, too, a belittling
sense of self-congratulation, and to feel
that he had effectually heaped coals of fire
on the head of his enemy.
Baily saw him, however, and came
toward him; and Harry could not find it
in his heart to avoid a meeting with this
man, who so evidently wanted to speak to
Baily fumbled a buttonhole with the
fingers of his right hand and thrust the
left deep into a pocket as lie stepped in
front of the young ditch-rider, who some-
what coldly returned his greeting. His
manner was hesitating and he was evi-
dently at a foss for words.
"There ain't no use pretendin' that I
can pay you fer what you've done fer me,"
he began, "fer I can't! The doctor says
you saved the life of my little girl. I
thank you fer that from the bottom of my
heart, and I'm sorry that I ever said any-
thing ag'in you!"
He released the buttonhole and feebly
extended the hand for a reconciliation.
Harry was minded to refuse it, but
checked the impulse, and Baily crushed
the boy's fingers in an emotional grip.
"I'm glad to have served you, Mr.
Baily. But you will see that we can't
very well be friends, so long as you tell
people I opened that gate!" Harry ob-
served. "You wronged me there, and I
think you ought to right it!"
Baily gave him an earnest look and the
I'll never speak of it ag'in, I promise
you, Harry! I can keep my mouth shut
as tight as anybody, I reckon!"
Harry stared. It was plain from the
tone that Baily still believed him guilty
and that this was merely a promise of
silence. The young ditch-rider's sun-
burned cheeks reddened and he drew his
Baily felt the awkwardness of the sit-
uation and fumbled again with the ragged
"I can't pay you fer what you've done.
Sich things can't be paid fer! But I'll be
your friend, if you'll let me, Harry, and
I'll be your well-wisher whether you want
me to er not!"
He hesitated for a moment, when
Harry did not reply; then, seeing that
THE YOUNG DITCH-BIDER.
Harry was about to turn away, he brought
the other hand out of the pocket with a
jerk, and said "good-by."
Good-by!" returned Harry, also walk-
Baily stopped, when a half-dozen yards
"I reckon Elsie'll be glad to see you
over to our house, as soon as she's able to
git 'round ag'in. An' Mis' Baily, too.
Tell your maw that we'd like to have her
come over some day."
"Thank you, I'll tell her," Harry re-
plied; and then the distance widened
again between them.
Harry did not go on to the office, but
he encountered Dr. Sarine on the street
shortly afterward. On being reassured
that Elsie was practically out of danger,
he remounted the pony, tired as both
were, and rode slowly back over the long
He found much to think about during
that ride. He had won the gratitude and
the silence of Richmond Baily. Baily's
attitude was disappointing. It cut him
cruelly to feel that Baily still regarded
him as no better than a common thief.
Though Harry saw only a few people
that afternoon, he found that the story
of his ride to town was already spreading.
To such as questioned him he told the
story briefly; to the others he said noth-
Elsie Baily was kept at the doctor's
residence and under the doctor's care
throughout the remainder of the day and
that night, and the ensuing day she rode
home with her father and mother in the
spring wagon. A few days later Harry
saw her again romping in the yard with
the shepherd puppy.
He did not go near the house, but he
was told that Baily had not rested until
the rattlesnake's burrow was opened and
the snake killed.
In the meantime the dam had been
patched up again and was holding fairly
well. Harry rode the ditch industriously,
striving to satisfy and pacify everybody,
but he studiously avoided approaching
Baily. He crossed a corner of Baily's
millet field nearly every day, but it was
the far upper corner. Once when Baily
was out in the field on his pony, Harry
chased away over the slope, as if in pur-
suit of a jack rabbit, for no other purpose
than to avoid a meeting.
Baily was certainly keeping a still
tongue about the water-gate. Not. a
word came from him, except in praise of
what Harry had done in saving Elsie's
life. These praises were frequently re-
peated to Harry; and he was sure if Baily
had said anything else, that would have
been repeated, too; for the ditch district
had its full share of gossips.
One morning, when more than a week
had elapsed, while crossing the upper cor-
ner of the millet, Harry saw Baily ride
out of the corral and spur toward him.
A meeting was so plainly sought that it
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
could not well be avoided. So, when
Baily was half way up the millet and veer-
ing to intercept him, Harry stopped his
pony and waited his approach.
Baily seemed to grow confused and
hesitate as he drew rein, but he finally
I thought mebbe I ought to tell you
that there's goin' to be another ditch
meeting at Dutton's school-house Friday
night." Having said this, he stopped
and combed nervously at his pony's mane,
then went on, more slowly: But there
won't be nothing' said about that that
matter, so fur's I'm concerned. And as
fer that petition that I was circulation'
ag'in you, I burnt it the night we got
back from Golden City."
You're very kind!" Harry replied,
unconsciously stiffening in the deep sad-
dle. I suppose I'm not wanted at the
meeting or I'd have been invited. Well,
1 shouldn't have gone anyway!"
No, 1 s'pose not," Baily slowly as-
sented. I thought I ought to tell you
about it, though; and I just wanted to
say to you that I burnt that petition and
never expect to put my hand to another."
lie stopped pulling at the tangled
mane and lifted the reins. He evidently
desired to say more and he as evidently
did not know how to say it.
"Well, good-by! We want to be
friends, you know. Elsie was speaking'
of you yesterday. She's real chipper
"I'm glad to know she's doing well,"
Harry replied, with softening voice.
"Tell her so, please. Good-by."
Then Baily turned back into the millet
and Harry rode on up the ditch.
"Why can't he be a man and come
right out and say he told lies on me?"
Harry grumbled, looking back at Baily,
who had dismounted and was examining
the ripening millet heads. That would
be the right way to do, it seems to me.
He keeps still, and lets the people go right
on thinking I opened the water-gate,
when he must know that I didn't."
The next day Baily drove Mrs. Baily
and Elsie over to see Harry's mother;
and Harry, coming in, was surprised to
see the two women sewing and discussing
carpet rags in timid friendship, while
Elsie, who had quite recovered, amused
herself on the floor with some home-made
Harry played with Elsie and talked
with Mrs. Baily. The snake bite was dis-
cussed, with the incidents surrounding it;
but nothing was said of the opened water-
gate or of the stories Baily had circulated
concerning it. Nor was this subject
broached by either of the women in their
After the ditch meeting Harry called
on Bigelow, and learned that Baily did
not attend the meeting and that little of
interest was done. Baily's absence had
evoked some questioning, and the general
opinion that he had stayed away because
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
he did not wish to say anything further
about the petition for Harry's removal.
The fact that, although he seemed to
have dropped his antagonism to the ditch-
rider, he had not retracted or even modi-
fied his statements about the opening of
the water-gate, had not gone unnoticed.
"I reckon his pride won't let him go
back on what he so positively asserted!
Either that, or he still thinks you guilty.
Which it is depends on whether or not
he has been honest in the thing from the
Bigelow said this thoughtfully, as
Harry got ready to go.
But how could he have been honest
in it?" Harry burst out. "He certainly
knows he didn't see me open the gate!"
Bigelow did not reply to a point so
well taken, and Harry rode away filled
with serious thought.
In the week following, as he rode to
and fro, he was made to feel that the
opinions of his enemies had softened
toward him. But the fact that Baily
still made no retraction rested on him
like a cloud. More than once he was on
the point of riding over to Baily's to
question him about it, but each time his
The wheat and millet were harvested
and stacked, when the water in the
ditches began again to fail, and Harry
rode once more to the river and ex-
amined the dams and head-gates. He
saw that if the dam could be pushed far-
their across and the breaks made secure
by a sod wall backed with strong timbers,
enough water might still be obtained.
The feed sorghum was in a fair state to
withstand a siege of drouth. The alfalfa
had yielded two cuttings of good hay,
and the third cutting was pushing
rapidly and hopefully along.
Harry believed more money ought to
be spent on the wing dam, and he rode
back home, determined to wire the man-
ager to that effect. But when he got
there, he found a letter from the man-
ager, which had been brought out by the
mail-carrier. It read:
"Repair the breaks in the dam and do what-
ever else you see is needed. Try not to spend
more than two hundred dollars. If we can
work through the summer economically it will
help us with the owners of the ditch bonds."
That afternoon Harry made arrange-
ments with some of the farmers to com-
mence hauling out the needed timbers
from Golden City, and he got other farm-
ers to put their teams to the big ditcher
for the purpose of cleaning the main ditch
at certain points and of widening tih
laterals where observation had shown this
to be desirable.
He personally supervised the repairing
of the dam, throwing himself into the
work with a will. He knew that much
was being expected of him and that he
was assuming responsibilities undreamed
of when he took the humble position of
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
The weather hail again g,.m.n ex-
trem~-ly hot. tli:hugh no dl-ic-adting southh
wind as I..l, ing. Ti win:d -aue Itr.m
the -outhiiuett anJi the we.-t, witi a ten-
dency to veer about an'1 su.1li.le into
Har rn paill no heed to it. tlih:,u l early
in tihe fio-nrena-n a lue-blaIck !ine c.n the
westein 4:v drewv the att:-uti'-n rof the
woil:.r. Some o:t then tlhi ht itt iinli-
cat, l a -torm in (.'...l.'rado, thi.gli a f,.wv
were ...f thl: opinir..n that a mrirae a.i
shoaiin the di-tant P. ::kie-. But it
was .--1n ailtr -. ee t t e h a -t:irmi.
which grew until it coured:! the Ae
I SmaE6 t
He became panic-stricken.-See page 17.
I I .
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
western sky, and then swept off to the
The farmers went home at noon for
their meals and to look after their stock,
and when they were gone Harry sat down
on the shore end of the wing dam to eat
the dinner he had brought in a tin
bucket. Ponca, at the end of a long
picket rope, nibbled the short grass far-
ther up 1! sl.jip:.
When lie had finished his dinner,
Harry went to the other end of the dam
and inspected some timber which had
been carried out there by the men for im-
mediate use. As he did so he heard a'
faint roar. It sounded but little louder
than the soughing of the wind, but it
quickly increased in volume and forced
him to take note of it.
His first thought was that a storm was'
coming, but when he leaped to the
top of the unfinished dam and looked off
up the river he could see nothing. The
stream made a bend a short distance
above and concealed itself behind a ridgy
shoulder, but no cloud had hoisted itself
in the sky and there was no indication of
a storm. Even the wind, which had
ranted furiously an hour before, had
ceased to blow.
Harry stood quite still on the point of
the wing dam, straining his eyes and ears.
The sound grew louder and louder.
"It's a flood!" he exclaimed, thrilling
a little at the thought, though not with
personal fear. ." There's been a cloud-
burst up the river. Well, we'll have
plenty of water! I wonder if the dam will
He looked at it. A heavy timber was
half in place on its outer edge, and he saw
that if this timber could be slipped two
or three feet the dam would be much
Under the impulse of the moment he
leaped down on the wet sand, and, exert-
ing all his strength, sought to slip the tim-
ber into position. The roar was increas-
ing. The timber moved, and he was
about to heave on it again, when the
thunderous noise that struck his ears
caused him to look round.
The flood had turned the bend, flash-
ing ouit from behind the sandy shoulder,
and was coming on with startling speed.
It filled the channel from bank to bank
and slopped over into the grass and wil-
lows. Its top was a frothing mass that
resembled dirty torn wool.
Harry understood his peril at a glance.
He looked at the shore and knew he
would have a lively race if he succeeded
in reaching it before the flood caught
him. But he was not frightened. l-e
did not have time to be. And hle recol-
lected, afterward, that lie made a men-
tal estimate of how far out into the val-
ley the flood would extend, and decided
that it would not reach the picketed
Then he sprang down; but the leap
was a hurried and awkward one and dis-
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
lodged a piece of timber lying loosely on
top of the dam. He slipped and fell to
the wet sand; and, before he could get up,
the timber rolled down on him, catching
his right leg and pinning it fast.
The limb was not broken and but very
little bruised and the pain was not great.
He tried to draw it out, that he might get
up, and found he could not. The sand
yielded beneath the weight of the timber
and the leg was pressed down into it and
held there as if in a vise.
As soon as he discovered he could not
draw out the leg, he twisted about and
got hold of an end of the timber, and
sought to remove it; but lie might as well
have tugged at a house.
At this he became panic-stricken. The
flood was fairly on him. Its advance
sounded like the dash of a small Niagara
or the heavy roar of surf. He beheld its
advance as the trapped rat looks at the
approach of an enemy, and fairly cried
out in his anguish, for there seemed no
His cry was swallowed up by the lash
of the waters as the flood struck him, and
he gave himself up for lost. But, instead
of being annihilated, he felt himinsel
caught up in a way lie liad not antici-
pated, and whirled down stream, blinded
-and choking in the grasp of the chilling
waters. The timber had been lifted by
the flood as if it were but a feather's
weight. He thought he heard an out-
cry. Then his head struck something
and his choking sensations were succeeded
When he came back to life he was ly-
ing on the grass and looking up into the
anxious face of Richmond Baily.
So you're coming round all right,
eh?" Mr. Baily chirped. I was mightily
afraid you wouldn't, the way you was
acting. But you're worth a dozen dead
boys. Biggest flood that ever went down
this river, I reckon!"
THE MYSTERY SOLVED.
URIOSITY had drawn
Richmond Baily to
the river that day.
lHe wanted to observe
the work of the
ditcher and the pro-
Sgress made on the
dam. Mounted on
his riding pony, he
had gained the rim of the tableland, that
here formed the northern wall of the val-
ley, a short time before he heard the roar
of the flood and beheld its resistless de-
From his elevated position he had
looked down into the almost dry bed of
the stream in advance of the flood and
witnessed the frantic struggles of the
young ditch-rider to escape from the pin-
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
ning weight of the timber. Then he had
struck spurs against the flanks of the
pony and sent it leaping down the in-
The head of the flood had passed and
the waters were subsiding when he
reached the river. Seeing nothing of the
hapless youth, Baily feared he had been
drowned and buried in the sand where he
had fallen; but, as he galloped along the
bank, he caught sight of the boyish form
in a clump of willows, whither the flood
had thrown it.
He was out of the saddle with a haste
that was phenomenal for him; and a few
minutes later he had Harry Purcell in his
arms and was half carrying and half drag-
ging him to the high and dry ground
above, where he began vigorous and suc-
cessful efforts to restore him to conscious-
Baily continued to talk and to work.
"How did that timber happen to ketch
ye? The dam and everything's gone, I
guess! But you're all right, though
you've got an ugly lump on your head."
He rubbed.the chilled shoulders with a
hand that felt so like a nutmeg grater
that Harry winced and tried to sit up;
whereat Mr. Baily's smile became more
pronounced and his comments more pleas-
You needn't worry yourself to talk,
yit, if you don't feel like it. I reckon I
seen about the whole thing. And I'm
powerful glad I happened along jist then,
too, for you wasn't in no good condition,
I can tell you, layin' there in the willers,
about as cold as a chunk of ice!"
Harry pulled himself to a sitting pos-
ture, and with Baily's help tried to
struggle to his feet. But he was not
equal to it. His bruised head thumped
painfully and his ideas were in a muddled
Galloping hoofs on the slope drew his
attention and he saw some men from the
ditcher riding that way. He was lying
on the ground, with Baily's coat for a
pillow, when they rode up. The sun was
blazing hot there on the hillside and he
was beginning to feel warmer, though he
was still as wet as the proverbial drowned
Baily hastily acquainted the men with
what had happened; and when they had
expressed their gratification at Harry's
escape and asked a few questions, they
galloped on to the river to survey the
work of the flood.
Two-thirds of the wing dam had been
torn out; but the river was running bank
full, and the water was going in a torrent
through the head -gate into the main
canal. With the river at that stage no
dam was needed to divert enough water
to fill the Golconda canal.
Harry was on his feet when the horse-
men returned with their report; and,
when Ponca was brought up for him and
he was helped into the saddle, he found
that, in spite of his injured head, he was
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER
strong enough to ride home; which he did, nothing so long
accompanied by Mr. Baily. On that water.
home ride the talk was chiefly of the The effect o
flood, of the ditches and the crops, and of the irrigation
of the rebuilding of the dam as soon as wholesome. T
the water subsided.
Baily stopped his pony at th,:. I"'it
where they were to separate.
Well, I'm glad I was able to bhli\ :.Iu
to-day. It kinder pays back fer wliat y',i.
done fer Elsie, you see! Tell your i,.3w"
to come over to see Mis' Baily. SIl'. e.-
It was plain that Baily de-
sired to win and retain Harry's
good-will; yet he carefully
avoided any expression of a /
willingness to retract his
charges against Harry's hon-
esty, though he must have
known that that would be the
surest way to the boy's heart.
Why was he so persistently
silent on that point?
That was what Harry asked
himself, as, after they had separat-i1. li
was riding slowly home. Why dil1 ITnly
The ditches continued to run to their He caught sight of
full capacity for a number of days.
There had been heavy storms in the wet their field
mountains, in addition to the cloud- reigned supreme
burst on the plains, and these, com- And those fi
bined with the melting snows, gave a giving water, c
good flow. The fact that there was prac- tiful sight. TI
tically no dam in the stream amounted to greenness. Thu
as there was a riverful of
a the general atmosphere
district was cheering and
he farmers were able to
F T..- I1
the boyish form.-See page 38.
Is thoroughly, and hope
elds, touched by the life-
ertainly presented a beau-
ie alfalfa was of emerald
e purplish blue blossoms
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
seemed to mirror back a bluer sky and
loaded the Kansas zephyrs with a per-
fume like that of Araby the Blest.
The young ditch-rider, as he continued
his daily rounds, seemed suddenly to have
been dropped down among another order
of beings. The scowls were absent, the
unkind words gone. No one seemed to
remember that he had ever been charged
*ith an improper act.
While affairs were in this generally
prosperous condition the manager made
his appearance, coming out from Topeka,
Where he had his office and his home. He
knew the farmers were in good spirits,
now, for Harry had told him so by letter;
nlm. he no doubt preferred to come
among them at such a time.
SHe was a shrewd, far-seeing man, of a
speculative turn and energetic dispo-
sition. The Golconda canal had been
constructed and its business was being
run on money furnished by Eastern peo-
ple, who knew next to nothing about irri-
gation, and were only desirous that their
investments should-yield the largest possi-
ble revenue. Between their demands for
low expenditures and big incomes, and
the demands of the farmers for just the
reverse, he had found his pathway not
altogether strewn with roses.
Of course he met and talked with Mr.
Baily. Harry questioned him about this
meeting in much perturbation of spirit.
The manager looked at Harry hesitat-
When I asked him why he had cir-
culated the report that you opened the
water-gate, he said it was because it was
true; but, when I questioned him further,
and wanted to know more about it, he
refused to answer, insisting that he had
dropped the subject."
Except that it revived Harry's bitter
feeling against Mr. Baily the visit of the
manager was productive of good. He
granted concessions to those whose crops
had not received water enough and made
certain agreements whose fulfillment
promised much. In addition, he gave
Harry authority to rebuild the dam in a
When Harry began this work on the
dam, the season was well advanced, and
the crops, except in a few instances, had
made a satisfactory yield. There could
be no denying that the outcome would
have been much better if the ditches and
dam had been kept in good condition
throughout the season, for the soil is
phenomenally rich; but the failure that
had seemed inevitable at one time had
been mercifully averted.
Harry might have been quite happy
now, but for two things: Baily had not
withdrawn his damaging statements, and
a field of young alfalfa was not doing well
because of a lack of water. Often Harry
had stinted his mother's fields to let
other patrons have water, but there was
very little now for any one, and the need
of the alfalfa bore on his mind.
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
One night he awoke with a terrible
shock. He was standing in the edge of
the lateral that ran to his mother's fields,
spade in hand, clothed in his rough irri-
gating suit rubber boots and all and
the water-gate was wide open! He shiv-
ered in bewilderment, as he stared about
and down at his attire.
Then the truth slowly dawned upon
him. He knew that he had just roused
from somnambulistic sleep, and that his
intense anxiety for the safety of the
young alfalfa had caused him to get out
of his bed and come out there to turn
water in on it. And that was what he
had done before. It was indeed he who
had opened the water-gate!
He shrank within himself and looked
dumbly around. What if he should be
seen there, with those clothes on and that
spade in his hand? Then, like a blow,
the thought struck him that he had been
so seen by Mr. Baily, which was the rea-
son Baily had refused to retract his
charges. Baily could not retract the
truth! He had seen the young ditch-
rider opening the water-gate at the dead
hour of midnight; and though, in his de-
sire to repay a great service, he might for-
ever close his lips on the subject, regard
for his own word would not permit him to
say he had not witnessed the act.
Harry Purcell understood it all now.
He was thankful that the night was
dark. He recalled how he had lain out
on the ditch embankment and had seen
Mr. Baily slip into and lie down in the
alfalfa. From that point in the alfalfa,
on some other night, Baily had beheld
the work he had denounced.
A feeling that Baily was again in the
alfalfa so oppressed Harry that he could
not banish it until he had waded through
the grass to the point where he had seen
Satisfied that no eye was on him, Harry
went back to the lateral, closed the gate
and took the damming-board out of the
canal. Then he walked thoughtfully
home, divested himself of his irrigating
suit and crawled into bed. But not to
In the morning he acquainted his
mother with his discovery. She was as
much surprised as he had been, for sihe
had not known of his somnambulistic
habit. They could only infer that his
overwork and his desire to save the crops
had temporarily made him a sleep-
Both were so distressed that they
could talk of nothing else.
I've been thinking, Harry, that
maybe you'd better go over to Mr. Baily's
and tell him just how it was and how
sorry you feel about it! If you'll let me,
I'll go with you in the spring wagon and
make Mis' Baily the visit I've been prom-
isin' so long."
They were at the breakfast table; and
as she timidly made the suggestion, Mrs.
Purcell put a spoon in her empty cup
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
and stirred it under the impression that
she was sugaring her coffee.
"They'll be glad to know just how it
was. And I feel sure, Harry, that God
has heard our prayers and that you will
soon come out from under this terrible
cloud that has been hanging over you for
so long. 'He is faithful that prom-
But Harry was a little hesitant about
going, and doubtfully shook his head.
"There's just this danger," and he
seemed to measure his words as if he had
long considered them Mr. Baily may
think that this is only a yarn of mine.
I'm afraid it's going to be hard to make
him believe that when I opened the gate
I didn't know what I was doing! It has
a queer sound, you see!"
Mrs. Purcell's face showed her dis-
Surely, Harry, he won't think that!
He's done everything to make you forget
that he ever said anything against you."
"Everything but say he thought me
innocent. He may still be in that same
He drummed with his fork for a few
I'd like to do what you say, mother;
but I haven't the courage, and that's the
fact. If I was sure I could make Baily
believe me, it would be different. Give
me time to think it over!"
He got up from the table and went out
to feed the stock.
The discovery of the night pursued
him with a haunting pertinacity through-
out the day. Work was still being done
on the ditch; and, when he visited the
dam, he met a number of the ditch
patrons. But he said nothing to them of
the subject uppermost in his mind,
though he almost fancied they could read
his trouble in his face.
"Going to Dutton's?" one of them
asked, as he turned homeward.
"Why, I don't know. What's going
His thoughts were of a ditch meeting.
Going to be a literary there to-night.
It's strange you didn't hear of it, for it
was given out at the spelling match."
"I wasn't at the spelling match. Per-
haps I'll go; I don't know yet. Thank
you for telling me about it."
His heart was vexed with a tumult of
contending desires and emotions, as he
rode home; but out of the chaos came a
That night Harry Purcell and his
mother attended the "literary" held in
Dutton's school-house. Nearly every one
living within a radius of a half dozen
miles was present. The house was filled.
Harry sat quietly with his mother and
took little part in the joking and conver-
sation that preceded the meeting. Nor
did he have anything to do with the ex-
ercises, which consisted of the usual reci-
tations, declamations and debate.
But when the meeting was about to
THE YOUNG DITCH-RIDER.
adjourn he stood up in his place and
asked of the president of the society the
privilege of saying a few words.
His face was pallid under its tan, and
his voice was tremulous in spite of his
efforts at self-control. As he glanced
over the faces about him his eyes met
those of Richmond Baily. The sight had
a strengthening effect. His form grew
straighter, his tones steadier, and his
hammering heart slowed down.
"You will be surprised, I know, at
what I'm about to tell," he began,
speaking slowly, as if feeling his way.
" Yesterday I wouldn't have believed it
myself. Last summer, as you will re-
member, a certain gentleman, who, I am
happy to say, is now my friend, charged
that I opened the water gate in my
There was a rustling stir in the throng
and a buzzing of whispered comment.
Harry glanced about and observed that
every eye was glued on him; but he did
1 said, at the time, that the story was
not true, and I believed what I said. But
I am ready to confess that I did open the
wnater-gate, and 1 want to explain to you
how 1 came to do it."
Then, in a voice that constantly grew
steadier and fuller, he told his story-
told it in a way to carry conviction to
every person there; for the feeling of in-
nocence and honesty that sustained him
so shone out through his eyes and spoke
in his voice and manner that the veriest
doubter could not remain unconvinced.
At its close, he found his mother weep-
ing softly and saw Mr. Baily crowding
toward him between the benches.
"I want you to forgive me, Harry!"
Baily exclaimed, catching the young
ditch-rider's hand and fervently squeez-
ing it. I see that you've told the
truth; though how could any one think
you opened the gate in that way? Not
me, I'm sure."
"You saw me?" Harry asked, certain
of the reply.
The buzzing talk almost drowned
Baily's answer, for people were getting
up all over the house and pushing across
to take the hand of the young ditch-rider,
whom they now saw they had wronged.
"Yes, I saw you. I hid out in the
alfalfa. You see that was why I couldn't
take back what I'd said. But it's all
right, now! And there won't be anybody
gladder than Mis' Baily and Elsie; or me,
He wrung the hand again, and then
drew back to make way for another farmer
who had signed the petition asking for
There was a stream of men and
women, after that. The "literary"
seemed to have adjourned of its own ac-
cord; and so many women gathered about
Mrs. Purcell, with words of kindness and
sympathy, that she broke down and cried
like a child.
44 THE YOUNG
Whether it was because his anxieties
were less afterward, or whether that mid-
night awakening on the edge of the canal
broke Harry Purcell of the somnambu-
listic habit, would be difficult to deter-
mine; but certain it is that from that time
the water-gate remained undisturbed.
The repaired dam did its work well,
and the next season saw a marked irm-
provement in the management of the
ditch, so that the farmers had not so
much room for complaint.
Harry rode the ditch that year and for
several succeeding years, in a way to give
perfect satisfaction. Time has gone on,
but the relations existing between the
Purcells and the Bailys have been of the
pleasantest since that troubled summer.
THE HOME ON THE PLAINS.
jTI'HERE, that's beginning to look
something like!" exclaimed Clifford
King, straightening up, with hammer in
one hand and nails in the other, and sur-
veying the shack he was building.
"Like what?" questioned his sister,
with a teasing smile. Not a house?"
Yes, a house. It isn't a mansion, but
it will be comfortable, and we'll have the
pleasure of knowing that we built it our-
selves. You held boards sometimes, you
know, while I sawed them and when I
Your own nails, you meann"
And you've done all the cooking,"
continued Clifford, who did not like to be
reminded of the pounded fingers any more
than he liked the looks of the blackened
"I guess it will do," said Miss Katie,
as she looked the shack over with critical
eyes. This door seems a bit wobbly
and the north gable is a little out of
plumb, but for a boy who isn't a car-
penter, and a young woman who isn't
much of anything--it will do. Now,
back in Indiana!"
"Yes, there are degrees of compari-
son," Clifford admitted. "If you should
set this shanty up by the side of Judge
Tilton's house back in Indiana well, I
don't suppose he'd be willing to use it for
a woodshed! But out here, where few of
the houses are any better and the country
is brand splinter new, it isn't such a bad
house after all. There's one thing sure
- the tarred paper won't let it leak!"
Just beyond the half-completed house
of two small rooms, stood a big wall tent,
from which Miss Katie had emerged, and
whence now issued an appetizing odor.
"My, that cooking smells good!" Clif-
ford declared. "I shall soon have to ask
kiv THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
you to do your cooking only when the
wind sets in the opposite direction. This
work is giving me such an appetite I'm
hungry all the time."
Sister and brother markedly resembled
each other in looks and character. Both
had honest blue eyes, fair complexions
and brown hair; both were approachable,
sympathetic and filled with the eager en-
thusiasm characteristic of Americans.
Katie had passed her twenty-first birth-
day; Clifford was only sixteen. She
called him a boy; and he was in many
ways as boyish as a boy of ten, though at
other times he was as manly and sturdy
as a man.
Clifford glanced toward the tent and
then across the stretch of prairie beyond
it, a half mile or so, to a valley-like de-
pression, where two ponies were grazing
at the ends of long lariats secured by iron
picket pins driven into the ground.
I wish you'd just look at those ponies,
Katie," he said. Did you ever see any-
thing so odd? What do they make you
"Hobgoblins!" said Katie. "Don't
they look queer! And see how smoky the
air is out there. It resembles real smoke,
too!" with a startled inflection. "You
don't suppose the prairie can be on fire,
do you, Clif?"
Clifford King's face showed a trace of
uneasiness. "I don't know," he ad-
mitted. "I hadn't thought of that. I'll
run up to the roof and take a look."
It was the work of only a minute to
mount the ladder which rested against
the shack, but he could see very little
more from the roof than he could from
the ground. The atmosphere had a blu-
ish, hazy appearance, which rendered it
impossible to make out objects at any
considerable distance. A shanty, which
had been plainly discernible in the morn-
ing about two miles to the westward,
was now wholly blotted from sight. Close
to the earth there appeared to be a smoky
heat shimmer, though the day was not
"I can't see any fire," he announced,
after an anxious survey.
Turning toward the ponies, he observed
that they seemed much taller. Their legs
had been lengthened as if by the addition
of stilts; their bodies had also been drawn
upwards. They grew taller and taller as
he looked, and in a little while the haze
so enveloped them that he might have
thought them bushes instead of ponies if
he had not known better. When they
moved, the effect was somewhat like that
of "trees walking."
I'll tell you what causes that," said
Katie, who was also watching the strange
"Then I wish you would," Clifford
called from the roof.
"It's the miragy condition of the air.
Mirages are common here, you know."
Clifford King seldom had cause to
doubt the accuracy of his sister's conclu-
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE. 47
sions. Still, he could not help remark- brother had set up a tent and were now
ing: erecting a house. Clifford, being under
"Well, I've heard of mirages and seen age, could not "take up" government
them, but I never
knew they cut up
such capers as
Though K atie
and Clifford King
had been in West-
ern Kansas for
were still to a great
with the phenom- '"T '
ena of the plains,
of which probably
nothing is more in- .
ages. Six months
before, Katie and
Clifford had been
residents of Indi- .
ana, from which -.
State they had .
come, to join the '
great land rush, .
that reached its ,
height in 1885-6.
After spending i
some time in Gar- i
den City, Katie had
A horseman was swimming into view through the haze.--See page 48.
filed on a quarter-
section of government land near the cen- land, but he entered into his sister's plans
ter of one of the adjacent unorganized with an enthusiasm that augured their
counties, On this land she and her success.
48 IN THE LAND C
In addition, Clifford had secured the
position of locator for the Garden City
land firm of Rush & File, and had already
done some work and received his money.
More than one half of the county still
consisted of-government land, though it
was now being settled at a rapid rate.
Rush & File were appointing locators"
m every section of the Garden City land
district, and, being impressed with Clif-
ford's alertness and intelligence, had
offered him the place of "locator" for
the untaken land in his vicinity. Intend-
ing settlers were to be sent to him, and
he was to look the country over with
them and assist them in making a selec-
tion, or "location." For every person
successfully "located" he was to receive
five dollars out of the money charged
the settler by Rush & File for their
"There's somebody coming," Katie
announced, as Clifford descended from
the roof. "' Perhaps he's got another five
dollars for you, Clif!"
Clifford hurried to her side, and, shad-
ing his eyes with his hand, stared off in
the direction she pointed. A horseman
was swimming into view through the
shimmering haze. Both horse and rider
were drawn to spectacular heights, and
seemed to bend and waver like paper
figures blown on by a wind. It was im-
possible to make out the rider's appear-
ance until he was quite near.
It's Mr- Glover," said Clifford, in a
)F THE MIRAGE.
tone of disappointment. "No five dol-
lars there, for I've already located him.
He is the man I located last Wednesday,
on that flat quarter of section twenty,
east of here."
There was a look of anger on the
bearded face of David Glover, as he rode
up to the unfinished house. He was a
man of middle age, short and sturdy, with
dark eyes and hair. He nodded stiffly to
Katie, then turned to Clif.
Mighty poor way you've started in
here, young man, do you know it? If
you expect to stay in this country, you
can't afford to begin by deceiving and
cheating men who are to be your neigh-
Clifford's face reddened in amazement.
"I'm sure I don't know what you
mean, Mr. Glover!" he declared.
Oh, you don't!" said Glover, with a
sneer. "Well, you've put me just six
miles south of where I thought you was
putting me, and now I've made my filing
at the land office and am stuck, for you
know that after the filing is made it's too
late to change. I've got the southeast
quarter of section twenty, just as you
said, but I thought you was putting me
in the twenty in the township north."
"I told you township eighteen," Clif-
ford stoutly insisted.
"But I thought it was six miles fur-
ther north," said Glover, angrily. "I
know you said eighteen, but you took me
to the township north. What makes me
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
sure, is that there is a creek with a fringe
of scrubby timber along it, not a great
distance away. I asked you if I couldn't
get wood from that creek, and you said
you thought I could as long as the land
"Yes, I said that, and 1 say so yet,"
But the creek is seven or eight miles
from the land I'm located on," Glover
declared. "How do you explain that?
If I had got the land which you showed
me, it wouldn't have been more than a
mile or so away."
I didn't tell you the creek was so near
as that, Mr. Glover," Clifford urged. I
said nothing about the distance. I don't
know just how far the creek is, for the
plats I have don't show its location, and I
haven't had time yet to visit it; but I'm
very positive I never said a word to make
you think that it was no more than a mile
or so away."
Katie was pale and much distressed.
She felt that it was possible Clifford had
blundered in locating Mr. Glover, and had
really shown him one quarter-section and
located him on another. The entire
country was bewilderingly alike in its
'general characteristics. There were no
natural landmarks, and as yet only a
shanty here and there at wide intervals.
"Perhaps you had better go with Mr.
Glover and make sure, Clifford," she
urged. "I hope you can show him that
he is wrong. He may have gone the long-
est way to the creek. It's so easy to get
turned around here."
"Nothing of the kind- begging your
pardon, Miss!" said Glover. "I don't
get lost easy. I've just come from the
creek and know about how far it is. No,
Miss; your brother took me for a green-
horn, that's all. He saw I wanted that
other piece of land, which I've since
found out was already taken, and he was
afraid if he couldn't make me think I
was getting it, I'd go away and he'd lose
a fee. So he fooled me, just for the
Clifford grew even paler than his sis-
"I wouldn't do such a thing as that,
Mr. Glover, not for twenty fees!" he as-
serted. "You are simply mistaken. I'm
willing to pay back the money I got for
the work, and I think the firm will give
you back the whole of it, if you're dissat-
He drew his purse from his pocket and
took five dollars from it.
"Five hundred wouldn't make it
square!" Glover fiercely declared. I've
lost my homestead right by filing on a
quarter I didn't want, and now I've got
to keep it. You thought because the land
is so much alike I wouldn't know the dif-
ference; that's all. And now that I do
know it, you'd like to refund and sneak
out of it! Keep your money! I don't
want it! You'll lose fifty times that
amount by what you've done; see if you
IN TRE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
don't! I shall be your neighbor. I've
got to be, now: but I sha'n't be a very
pleasant one to you."
With this threat, David Glover turned
his horse and rode away, leaving Clifford
and Katie hurt, indignant and perturbed
LOCATING A QUARTER-SECTION.
S HORTLY after Mr. Glo-
ver's departure, Clif-
ford King, acting on
his sister's advice,
took one of the ponies
and rode in the direc-
tion of the creek, to ascertain its distance
from Glover's land.
Though this was a matter of doubt,
Clifford was certain he had not blundered
in locating Mr. Glover, notwithstanding
the fact that in that vast sea of grass one
section of land so resembled another that
only an experienced eye could tell them
apart in the absence of distinguishing
marks. What made him so sure was that
he had been guided by mounds, which he
had set up after running carefully-meas-
ured section lines.
That he might keep a straight course
now, he took out his hand-compass from
time to time, set it in position on his palm
or the pommel of his saddle, and sighted
northward by lines of weeds and thistle
Clifford King's earnest face was so
pleasant and honest, so open and frank,
that it ought of itself to have convinced
David Glover that the youth was incapa-
ble of the deception charged against him.
Of course he'll do all he can now to
injure me in the work of locating," Clif-
ford reflected, "and if he's very bitter
and aggressive he can hurt me a good
deal. But I don't see what I can do."
As he rode on, the haze cleared away,
and blue, lake-like illusions began to ap-
pear. They were but another form of the
changing mirage. A blue line, resem-
bling a narrow thread of water, became
visible on his left. It grew wider and
wider as he advanced, and extended north-
ward until the entire horizon in front of
him seemed changed to a sea, from which
extended bodies of water like bays and
This shrank, as he galloped on, and
became a lake, on whose farther shores
trees appeared to stand. The trees even
showed their reflections in the lake. Yet
the lake hardly looked real. As he
studied it and recalled the stories he lihd
read of the mirages of the plains, he mar-
velled that even travellers half insane by
thirst could ever have been fooled by
such things. He knew that the seeming
bodies of water, which constantly changed
in shape and size, were nothing more than
the intensely blue sky reflected in a
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
stratum of air lying just above the dry
soil, the air acting as a mirror. As for
the trees, when he looked at them closely
he saw that they were only weeds or
thistles, exaggerated out of all proportion
by the miragy state of the atmosphere,
just as the ponies had been.
"That creek is farther than I sup-
posed," he thought, as he still rode on.
"The twenty that Mr. Glover declares I
showed him must be near here. Perhaps
that is it over there, where those stakes
are set up. The land is taken, he said,
and they have been put there to show
When he came to the creek, it was not
such as he expected to see. It resembled
a chain of ponds inclosed by high banks.
The trees were nearly all cottonwoods and
grew close to the water. Though they
were scrubby, their tops projected some
distance above the level of the country,
and could be seen a long way in clear
weather. The bright green of the leaves
was in cheering contrast to the monot-
onous gray-green of the plains.
On reaching home after this jaunt,
Clifford found there a farmer from Illi-
nois, talking to Katie.
"Been thinking' I could locate myself,"
said the man, after he had introduced
himself to Clifford as Abner Brown,
from the vicinity of Galesburg, "but I
find I can't. Been lost twice to-day al-
ready. When I saw your place I rode
over, and was mighty glad when your sis-
ter told me you're a locator. Ruther
youngish for that, though, ain't you?
Should think you'd get lost as well as
other people, and make mistakes."
Clifford thought of Mr. Glover's state-
ment concerning the southeast quarter of
section twenty, but he only said:
"You see I use a compass, and I've
put up guiding mounds to assist me. I
shall be glad to try to find some land for
you, Mr. Brown, and will change my pony
and go with you right away, if you say
"Dinner is ready," said Katie. "Per-
haps Mr. Brown would like something to
eat before he starts."
It was an invitation that the tired and
hungry farmer was glad to accept.
That creek is all of seven miles from
Mr. Glover's," Clifford said to his sister,
when they were alone a few moments.
"It's really farther than I thought."
"You're still sure you couldn't have
shown him the wrong section?" Katie
Quite sure," he answered.
I suppose lie e will complain of you to
the firm?" she said.
"I don't doubt it. But perhaps he'll
see, after awhile, that he is mistaken."
"It's hard to be thought dishonest
when one is innocent," said Katie. But
that's better than to be dishonest when
thought innocent. If Mr. Glover is an
honest man himself, as he seems to be,
he will come to know and understand by
IN THE' LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
and by that you couldn't do such a thing.
We'll just do the best we can, and be as
kind to him as if he had never said
a harsh word against you. You'll try,
won't you? It will all come out right in
the end, I am sure."
"Yes, I'll try," Clif promised, with
sober earnestness. "I'll treat him just
as well as he'll let me. I'm afraid,
though, he is going to make me a lot of
"I rather like the looks of that
country off there," said Mr. Brown, when
he and Clifford were seated in the spring
wagon drawn by the ponies, with Mr.
Brown's saddle horse tied behind. It'll
drain better, because it ain't quite so
"If some of the cattlemen are right,
the question of drainage won't cut much
of a figure," observed Clifford. They
say we'll find that it doesn't rain enough."
It's rained a good 'eal since I've been
in the country, anyway," the farmer de-
clared. "I reckon the cattlemen haven't
any too good will toward us grangers, as
they call us, for taking up the land. You
don't talk like any agent I've struck yit.
Most of 'em brag up the country fer all
it's worth, and a little more."
Clifford looked sober, for he thought of
Yes, I suppose so," he answered. I
mean to be honest and fair. I think the
country is all right, and that time will
prove it so."
After a long drive, Mr. Brown found
some land that suited his fancy.
What's the number of this, and how
do the lines run?" he asked. "I reckon
it ain't takedi?"
"That's something I can't tell you
right off," Clifford answered. We'll
have to go to the mound I pointed out to
you, further back. Then we'll run the
lines and measure to this land, and the
plat will tell us the rest."
IHe took out a new plat of the town-
ship, which Rush & File had sent to him
the day before.
This is how it looked:
6 5 3 2 1
7 & 9 0 O II 12
18 I I 16 15 14 13
19 20 21 22 23 24
30 29 2 1 27 26 25
31 -92 33.- 34 35 36
The taken quarter-sections are here
indicated by crosses, but in Clifford's plat
they were inclosed by lines of red ink.
"This shows a block of land six miles
square," Clifford explained, or thirty-
six sections, numbered as you see, each
divided into four quarter-sections of one
IN THE LAND OF TIHE MIRAGE.
-- 4 ;7 .'
Clifford took out a new plat of the township.-See page 52.
hundred and sixty acres. That mound I thirty-six are school lands, not open to
pointed out is at the southeast corner of regular settlement, but reserved for sale
section thirty-six. Sections sixteen and for the benefit of the State school fund.
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
We'll go to that mound. From there
well run north till we're opposite this
land you want, and then west till we
reach it, following the lines and measur-
ing. When we get back here, the dis-
tance traveled will tell me the number of
this section and the quarter. After that
I'll put up a mound at one corner and
mark it, so that I won't have to run the
lines again when I want to find other
lands near here."
So that's the way you do it!" said
the farmer, examining the plat with much
interest. "But how do you git the town-
ship and range? I can't see anything on
this plat, nor on the land, to show; and
the sections all look alike to me."
"I couldn't get the township and
range without a starting point. I know
the township and range of my sister's
land, and originally I started from there.
You know, though, how they are found in
the first place?"
Can't say that I do," Mr. Brown ad-
mitted, looking at the boy with growing
Well, the townships are numbered
southward from a base line, which, in this
State, is the dividing line between Kansas
and Nebraska. Township eighteen, is
eighteen townships south of the Nebraska
line; and as each township is six miles
square, that makes six times eighteen, or
one hundred and eight miles south of
the State near the city of Wichita; and
any range east or west is counted in the
same way. Thus, range forty, west, is
two hundred and forty miles west of
"I see," said the farmer. You're al-
most a surveyor, already. You'll make a
good one, too. Now we'll find out what
the number of this bit of land is, and if
the plat shows it is vacant, I'll feel bet-
When the mound was reached, Clif-
ford placed on it his small hand compass
set on a shingle. In the center of the
shingle he had cut a bed for the compass,
and at each end of the shingle he ha4
fixed pointers, or "sights," the whole
being a rude and cheap imitation of a sur-
veyor's instrument, minus the telescope.
As the magnetic pole is not the true
pole, Clifford found true north by taking
into account the eleven degrees eastern
deviation of the needle in this longitude.
Then, leaving the compass resting on the
mound, he tied a handkerchief to one of
the front wheels of the wagon.
"Now, Mr. Brown," he said, "if you
will ride ahead on your horse about a half
mile as near as you can guess, I'll motion
you into position by waving my hands,
and will then follow you with the
This the farmer did, stopping when he
thought he had gone far enough. Clif-
Nebraska. The ranges are counted from ford, sighting across the compass, mo-
a line running north and south through tioned him to the right, until he was
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
directly north of the mound. After that,
Clifford mounted the wagon seat and
drove toward Mr. Brown, counting the
revolutions of the wagon wheel to which
the handkerchief was tied. He had
found by trial that two hundred and
twenty revolutions of the wheel measured
off a half mile, and when that many were
counted he stopped the team.
A search in the grass disclosed the pits
made by the government surveyors a num-
ber of years before. Two of these were
found at the quarter-section corners and
four at the section corners.
"This isn't accurate enough for regu-
lar surveying, when lines are to be estab-
lished, but it's rapid, and answers my
purpose," said Clifford, with a pleased
smile, when the pits had been found.
From these pits another half mile was
run. The land desired by Mr. Brown
was reached without trouble, for Clifford.
had set up on it a stake and a flag. The
plat showed that quarter-section to be
vacant, too, to the farmer's delight. Then
the proper blank was filled out, giving
the number, township and range, that
there might be no error when the farmer
went to lush & File, who were to per-
form the legal part of the work before the
United States land office.
As Clifford and the farmer rode back
in the spring wagon, they crossed section
twenty, in the upper township, and there
met Mr. Glover.
This is the land you swindled me out
of!" said Glover, riding up to the wagon.
"But you'll not make anything by it.
I'm going in to see your firm about it
"Better let this youngster alone!" he
advised, turning to Brown. He cheated
me, and I don't doubt he'll cheat you if
he gets the chance!"
FIRE FROM THE ENEMY.
S Mr. Glover rode away,
Clifford, with flushed
face, explained to the
farmer the meaning of
"You don't look like you'd do a thing
of that kind," said the farmer, closely
eying the youth.
Indeed, Mr. Brown, I couldn't!" was
Clifford's earnest declaration. "I should-
n't be able to sleep of nights if I had
done such a thing. But Mr. Glover re-
fuses to believe me."
"'Tain't pleasant to have enemies,
that's a fact!" the farmer philosophically
observed, as they jogged on. "I've had
'em, and I know. There's only one way
to do, though. Treat 'em just the same
as if they was friends, so fur as they'll let
you, and keep yourself above the mean-
ness they charge to you."
That the old farmer did not instantly
1N THE LAND OF TIHE MI'1RAGE.
lose faith in him, was a great comfort to
Perhaps others will believe me, too,"
he thought; and by and by they'll know
The next morning Clifford saw AIr.
Glover ride away in the direction of the
town, and it made him uneasy. But
when three or four days passed and no
complaint came from Rush & File, he be-
gan to feel sure that Glover had not been
able to injure him in the eyes of the firm.
Clifford located two other men that
week; and on the following Saturday he
drove into town with his sister. They
needed supplies. They also wanted to
attend church on Sunday, and Clifford
desired to see the firm. It required the
greater part of one day to make the trip
Clifford found opportunity for an in-
terview with Mr. Rush that evening.
"Yes, Glover came to us and told his
story," said Mr. Rush. "I thought it
quite likely you had made a mistake.
Such things have happened. I assured
him, though, that if you had I knew it
was unintentional, and that we stood
ready to do whatever was right in the
matter. But we couldn't come to any
agreement, and he went away angry."
Mr. Rush was a small, alert man, with
jet black hair and eyes. He nervously
drummed the table with a pencil as he
We should have written you, only
we've been too busy. But don't let it
worry you. We're having all the work
we can do, and Mr. Glover can't hurt us
much. The settlers are fairly tumbling
over each other. We're expecting to send
you a whole wagon-load next Wednesday.
A party is coming out from Ohio, that we
shall try to locate up there."
Mr. Rush's black eyes lightened in
anticipation of the harvest he expected
from the stampeding influx of people
who were anxious to obtain government
"There's another thing," said Rush,
"and I'm glad you're here, for I can talk
to you about it better than write it.
We're going to start a town in tie very
center of your county, just five miles from
you. We shall call it Vego Center; and
we intend to boom it and try to make it
the county seat. Columbus Holmes, who
is running in opposition to us, is going to
start a town north of you on Cottonwood"
Creek, to be named Columbus. He tried
to get the section we got, but we were
ahead of him. So he took the other, and
is going to make a point of the fact that
his location is a little more picturesque,
and, as he says, more desirable as a site
for a town. But the fact that we shall
be right in the center of the county gives
us such an advantage that there isn't a
doubt that our town will win."
The idea of a real estate firm starting
a town in this way was something new to
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE. 57
"We begin the surveys Monday, and town there would be to make Glover more
we shall have an agent right there all the bitter in his enmity.
time. You will work under him and re- As Clifford walked up the street, he
port to him. We want you to put in your saw more than a hundred men in line
best work for Vego Center. We shall awaiting their turn to reach the delivery
give you a lot, so that you may feel that window of the post-office. The line cx-
you have an interest
in it aside from the
fees." M". M4
As Clifford went
out into the street,
with the shadows of
night gathering and
the lamps beginning
to shine in the offices
and business houses,
the intoxicating spirit
of the boom, coinmu-
nicated to him by Mr.
Rush, gathered force
by what lie saw and
heard. The streets X
were filled with men ,.
who were talking of ; .
land and locations, I "-
quarter- sections and
to w n lots, and of
towns an (d cointily
seals that existed as
yet only on paper. "Put in your
Cottonwood Creek, where Columbus
Holmes was to start his town, 'was the
creek Clifford had visited. The proposed
site lay just north of that section twenty
where Glover claimed he should have been
filed. The probable effect of starting a
best work for Vego Center," said Mr. Rush.
tended from within the post-office som'"
distance down the street, and he was in-
formed that many of the men had been
standing thus in line for more than an
hour. It was the same way at the land
office, he was told. The real estate firms
IN THE LAND OF THFI MIRAGE.
had men *ho took the location filings for
the day and stationed themselves before
the land office windows as early as one
o'clock in the morning, that they might
be sure to get the filings in among the
first when the office opened for business
at nine o'clock.
Out of the Saturday night rush and
clamor into the peaceful calm of a church
on Sunday morning, was like a transition
to another world. Probably a hundred
people were gathered in the little church.
The windows were open to let in the
balmy, pleasant air, and the shade of a
cottonwood spread a shifting mottled car-
pet on the carpetless aisle near the seat
to which Clifford and Katie had been
shown by the usher.
How quiet and peaceful it all was! Yet
Clifford's thoughts lingered with pro-
jected towns and vacant quarter-sections,
until the minister read the text: "What
shall it profit it a man if he gain the
whole world and lose his own soul?"
The minister was a man past middle
age, with whitening hair and beard. He
had seen much of the world, he said, and
knew well from experience and observa-
tion how unsatisfying are the riches of
this earth alone. In great tenderness
and love he urged his hearers, the
majority of whom were strangers to him
and to each other, to seek first the king-
dom of God and his righteousness."
It strengthened and steadied the heart
of the youth, who was in danger of being
swept away into forgetfulness by the
whirl of this marvellous land rush; and,
when he returned with his sister, the
next day, to the claim and to the work
of building the house and of locating
land-hungry men, he had a sweet inner
calm that was blessed and helpful. He
would put his life and all its interests.
in the keeping of the Loving One. He
would strive to do what was right and
leave all to him.
By the close of the week the sites of
the new towns of Vego Center and
Columbus had been laid off, and strings
of lumber wagons were hauling out ma-
terial, and buildings were being erected.
It was the way of this new country.
Everything was done in a feverish rush.
The starting of these towns sent a
swarm of settlers in that direction, and
for a time Clifford had almost more work
than he could do. His house-building
was entirely suspended, and he was away
from home so much that Katie got a girl
from one of the settlers' families to stay
with her for a time.
While on his way home one afternoon
from a hurried trip to Vego Center, Clif-
ford was surprised to see Glover's horses
grazing in a small valley a long distance
from Glover's claim. They were drag-
ging their picket pins at the ends of the
rope lariats, showing that they had es-
caped by pulling the picket pins out of
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
Recent rains had somewhat softened
the hard soil, so that it was an easy mat-
ter for a lariated horse to drag out its
Another effect of the rains was the dis-
appearance of the mirages. No mirages
showed when the grass and soil were wet.
Only when earth and sky became arid and
desert-like were the mirages to be seen.
The dryer the weather the more beautiful
and strange were their manifestations.
Mr. Glover's horses have pulled their
picket pins and got away, and of course
he don't know where they are," was Clif-
ford's conclusion, as soon as he saw the
horses. "I suppose I ought to drive
them home for him. I should like to
have a neighbor do that for me, if our
ponies should get away."
Clifford was in a hurry, though. To
drive the team home meant trouble and
loss of time, and just then time was
"And he's doing all he can to injure
me," was Clifford's indignant thought.
" I've lost two locations through him this
week. That means ten dollars. My
golden harvesting time will be over just
as soon as the land is all taken, which will
be before long, and ten dollars means a
good deal to us now."
"What shall it profit a man if he gain
the whole world and lose his own soul?"
came back to Clifford from the minister's
As he sat on his pony and looked down
into the little valley where the horses were
grazing, he knew that if he did not drive
them home or tell Mr. Glover where they
were to be found, Glover might search
vainly for them for days.
But I can't afford to 'gain the world'
dishonestly," he muttered, as he turned
in the direction of the straying horses.
The words of Abner Brown, the Illinois
farmer, came to strengthen him: Treat
'em just the same as if they was friends,
so fur as they'll let you."
Clifford rode down into the valley and
turned the horses in the direction of
home. They were not easy to drive,
however, for they enjoyed to the utmost
this newly-found freedom, and several
times tried to break away. The dragging
picket pins impeded them, though, and
made it possible for Clifford to keep them
headed in the general direction of
There was a queer look on Glover's
face when he came out of his tent and
saw the horses being driven in by Clif-
I've been hunting for those runaways
for two days," he said, "and have sent
word in every direction. Where did you
"I'm obliged to you, I'm sure," said
Glover. "I didn't expect it of you."
Clifford flushed. "Neighbors should
be neighborly; it was only doing as I
would wish another to do by me."
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
Oh. yes, I know," said Glover. Then
he added, a little embarrassedly, Have
you heard that I am to be the agent here
for Columbus Holmes? That'll put us
against each other."
And you're thinking that perhaps I
returned your horses to gain your good-
will, so that you won't fight me so hard?"
Clifford questioned, that feeling of hurt
indignation again rankling. "I didn't;
though I do hope we may be able to
treat each other fairly, even if we are to
represent opposing interests!"
He turned his pony to ride away.
"I didn't say you did that; I only-"
But Clifford King was now out of hear-
ing of further explanations.
LOCATING RIVAL TOWNS.
J DAYS and weeks im-
i mediately following
St h i s unsatisfactory
S meeting between Clif-
S ford King and David
Glover, showed that
Glover was a man of
intense activity. Columbus
Holmes could not have found a more
industrious agent or zealous champion.
Glover worked and talked early and late
to induce settlers to take the vacant lands
about Columbus and to invest in its lots.
Clifford, who was working quite as hard
for Rush & File and for Vego Center,
found Glover a competitor worthy of his
Though they often met, they took little
notice of each other. There was one
gratifying thing, though. Clifford began
to hear less and less of attacks made upon
him by Glover. By and by it became evi-
dent that G'lover had almost wholly
ceased to speak of the thing on which he
had so constantly harped at the outset.
Clifford fancied this might be due to
the fact that the story had ceased to be
an available weapon. The lands were
soon all taken; and this was followed by
such an era of excitement that men had
little time and less patience to listen to
the story of a boy's blunder or wrong-
Within two months after the surveys
were made, each of the rival towns was
able to boast of stores, hotels and business
houses; together with a goodly number of
inhabitants, whose chief business seemed
to be to sell lots and lands to each other
and to all comers.
It was impossible for Clifford King
and his sister to escape entirely the con-
tagion that filled the air. Clifford had
made money so rapidly that they felt they
could safely invest three hundred dollars
of it in Vego Center property. They
heard that Glover was putting every cent
he could earn and borrow into Columbus.
We can afford to stake down a little,"
1N THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE. 61
said Clifford. I shouldn't want to risk building the house. He could not afford
all, though, as Mr. Glover is doing." to do that sort of work now. So he hired
After this step had been taken, and a carpenter; and, because money was
Katie had given
herself time to
think, she spoke to
Clifford with ques-
"Clif, dear," she
said, it does seem
mo r e excitement -u
and rivalry over
this work than is
just right, doesn't
some are claiming
more for the future
of this part of the
country than is
j ust warrantable.
But time may
prove them nearer
right than we
The summer had
tIrlled very hot..
k'le grateful rlins We shall beat you!" Glover declared.-See page 62.
had ceased to fall.
The grass was beginning to sere and the coming in rapidly, the house was prac-
mirages had returned. What crops had tically rebuilt and slightly enlarged.
been planted were withering. The farm- I wish I could do something to make
ers grew sober. money," said Katie. "It is too bad that
Clifford did not return to the work of one can be only a woman and a house-
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
keeper in such a time as this! But you
just wait, Clifford, till there's a demand
for a school in this neighborhood, which
won't be long now! Then you'll see me
blossom out into a full-fledged school-
And instruct Mr. Glover's children?"
Yes, and all the others."
Well, Mr. Glover has become quite
friendly lately. Did I tell you that he
actually nodded to me as we passed yes-
terday? I was surprised."
"And glad, I hope?"
"Y-e-s. I'm sure I want to be
David Glover had also erected a little
house on his claim and had installed his
family in it. Houses had multiplied all
about. A stage-coach line had been es-
tablished. Windmills wheeled and
whirred in the brisk breezes. Civilization
seemed to have come to stay.
As yet there were no religious services
nearer than Garden City, but a school-
house and a minister for Vego Center
were talked of.
When the lands had all been taken up,
there was not so much work for Clifford,
and he gave more attention to matters at
home. The rivalry between Vego Center
and Columbus had taken'a new phase,
into which he could not go with spirit,
and in which he could have done little
anyway because of his youth. This was
the struggle now entered upon for the
location of the county seat. Naturally
Clifford and Katie wanted Vego Center to
win. Their interests were there, as well
as most of their new friends and acquaint-
ances. But neither took any active part
in bringing success to Vego Center. They
were not voters.
Glover, however, threw himself into the
contest with intense ardor on the side of
Columbus. For nearly a month before
the election he was hardly at home day
"We shall beat you!" he declared,
with a triumphant smile, as he met Clif-
ford in the road one day.
The old "trails," which took the
shortest cuts across the country, were giv-
ing way to public roads laid out along
"I'm not in this fight," said Clifford,
glad to meet Glover more than half way
in a spirit of reconciliation.
"But you're interested!" said Glover.
"You hope your town will win?"
Yes, of course," Clifford answered.
"That's natural. And I think it will,
Never!" Glover asserted.
On the afternoon of election day Katie
and Clifford drove into Vego Center.
The country districts were almost de-
serted. All day long men and teams had
been seen going toward Columbus and
Vego Center and toward other points
where there were polling places. The
very air seemed charged with a feeling of
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
excitement, which made staying at home
dull work indeed.
They found the dusty streets of Vego
Center crowded with men who talked
"And to think how little while ago
this was but a prairie!" was Clifford's
As there was no room for the ponies
in the over-crowded livery stables, Clif-
ford tied them to the spring wagon in a
vacant lot and gave'them a feed of grain
in the wagon-box, after which he and
Katie went to the house of a friend, where
they knew they would be welcome. There
Katie remained, while Clifford sallied out
to mingle with the excited crowds in the
Soon after nightfall the returns began
to come in, and then word went round
that Vego Center had won. This was
followed by victorious cheering.
The count of the votes cast at Vego
Center had been made, and no one now
remained at the polling place except the
board still in charge of the ballot box and
returns. Clifford strolled past this room
and beheld the members of the poll board
grouped about a table, eating. The night
was warm and the windows were open.
He walked on, intending to start home
soon, for the night promised to be dark,
and Katie was not fond of night traveling
under such conditions. As he turned the
corner, where the shadows fell heavy and
black, he was surprised to see David
Glover move away from the side of the
building and hurriedly lose himself in
The circumstance struck Clifford as
rather singular, and he said to an ac-
quaintance, whom he saw a few moments
afterward, that "Glover seemed to feel
rather lonely in Vego Center."
The throngs in the streets were still
cheering, as Clifford and Katie drove out
of the town.
Even after they had reached home they
could see the rockets still ascending.
I suppose Mr. Glover does not enjoy
seeing them," thought Clifford, as he
watered the ponies and led them into the
little stable. Well, I shall be glad when
the matter is established beyond a doubt,
and life takes up its old ways again."
Morning brought a bewildering sur-
prise. Before the sun had risen, a horse-
man clattered up to the house and
knocked without dismounting.
Clifford hastily dressed and opened the
door. A slip of paper was handed to him
by a deputy sheriff. He glanced at it
and saw that it was a subpoena to appear
at once before some legal functionary in
"What does it mean?" he asked, in
bewilderment and apprehension.
"Just this," said the officer. The
ballot-box and returns are missing from
the poll-room. The officers have been
informed that you can probably give some
information that will tend to show who
IN THE LAND OF THE 3MIRAGE.
took them. Of course it was some enemy
of Vego Center!"
Clifford instantly recalled that hasty
glimpse of David Glover moving away
from the shadow of the poll building.
The possible meaning of it almost made
his heart stand still. He knew he was to
be asked to testify against Glover. But
he said nothing of this to Katie.
IHE officer looked ques-
tioningly at Clifford
King, in whose face
anxiety was plainly
"I I may speak
to my sister?" Clifford asked.
"And eat a bite, too, if you like. I
don't mind waiting a few minutes. It's
quite a jaunt out here, and my horse is a
Clifford turned back into the house, to
meet Katie coming from her room. She
had heard the knock and the talk and had
risen also and dressed.
I've got to go to town at once," Clif-
ford said. Of course that man repeated
what I said to him about seeing Mr.
Glover near the poll building! It
makes me wish we had stayed at home
Both knew that, whatever might be the
result to Mr. Glover, it would rekindle his
animosity against Clifford. Perhaps, too,
Mr. Glover was entirely innocent of any
wrong-doing. He might have had a per-
fectly valid reason for being near the poll-
room and at the same time not wishing to
"It's too bad!" said Katie, with trem-
ulous lip. Right when Mr. Glover is
beginning to think kindly of you! He
is sure to blame you."
"Has any one been arrested for the
theft of the ballot-box?" Clifford stepped
to the door and asked the question of the
No, not so far as I've heard. I don't
know what news they've got, nor what
they're expecting to try to show by you.
I reckon you could tell that? They're
keeping everything quiet."
He eyed Clifford inquiringly as he said
Clifford turned back into the house
"I'm going with you!" Katie declared.
"I'll make some coffee and cook some
eggs, which won't take long. Tell him
we'll be ready to go in a short time."
Then she hurried into the kitchen,
leaving Clifford to talk with the officer,
who had now dismounted and was pre-
paring to lead his horse to the drinking
With the ballot box and returns
ii,,;.- ii, it will be impossible, of course,
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE. 65
for us to show that Vego Center won the was early, the south wind was hot and
election," the officer explained, as Clif- wilting. Now and then an agile sand
ford walked with him toward the well. lizard, delighting in the heat, scampered
"Unless they can
be found, or the
guilty party made
to confess, there
will probably have
to be a new elec-
Clifford did not 4 ,. .
volunteer the story
of which he wased
supposedly in pos- i
session, the officer
re sorted to leading
questions to extract
it. But Cliltord
had learned a les-
son from the result
of his incautious "
statements of the x.
evening before, and ,,
"It might wrong .
an innocent manll, if
I should say what I
think they intend
to ( 11 e s t i o mn leic .. .
about," lie mused. 46I don't wonder he rides away," said Mrs. Glover.-See page 67.
Clifford and Katie drove into town in along in front of one of the wheels as if
the spring wagon, with the officer jogging tempting its fate.
along at their side on his horse. A brisk This sort of weather will be hard on
wind arose and the dust came up the the crops," Clifford observed.
beaten road in clouds. Though the hour "Yes, if it keeps up it will wither
IN THE LAAD OF THE MIRAGE.
a mighty big crop of hopes. It won't
do Vego Center much good to get the
county seat if the county raises noth-
Katie's mind was so burdened that she
could hardly endure the talk about ordin-
ary things. More than once her blue
eyes filled with tears. When he observed
this, Clifford became silent. At last
Katie leaned her elbow upon the end of
the wagon-seat, and, covering her eyes
with her small brown hand, strove to
regain a quiet spirit. Oh, Father,
whatever comes, keep. us close to thee.
We will trust thee." And when her head
was lifted, her brother saw a calm, strong
light in the eyes she turned to him, and
he, too, was strengthened.
When they reached Vego Center her
prayer had received its answer. The miss-
ing ballot box had been found, and the
man who had taken it from the polling
place was under arrest and had confessed
his crime. Glover was innocent, as this
Katie laid her head on her hands as
she sat in the wagon seat, after the officer
had turned away, and sent up a fervent
thank-offering. Clifford sympathetically
placed a hand on her folded ones, and she
took it in her palms.
"Oh, Clifford!" she said, lifting her
head and looking at him through eyes
that sparkled with tears, "I am so glad
that you didn't have to go before any
court and tell that story! How we have
wronged Mr. Glover by even thinking
that he could do such a thing!"
Clifford was silent, his hand still rest-
ing in his sister's.
"I suppose Glover will hear that he
was suspected. Why couldn't I have
kept from drawing attention to his pres-
ence! I shall see him," he said a mo-
ment later, and tell him all there is to
it. It is only fair to him, as doubtless he
will hear the rumor."
Clifford had never seen a more beau-
tiful morning than that on which he set
out to visit Mr. Glover. The boisterous
winds had ceased to blow, the air was
sweet and cool and the sky was an arch
of purest blue. Even the pony seemed to
feel the inspiration of the morning, and
without a word of command broke into a
But Clifford was not able to enjoy all
this as he otherwise would have done.
The dread of the coming interview with
Glover shadowed his spirits. There was
a prayer in his heart, though, as he rode
on, and there was a satisfaction in know-
ing that Katie was praying for him back
in the little house he had left.
He found Glover with horse saddled,
ready to ride to Columbus. Though
Glover knew that Clifford had ap-
proached, he did not look toward him or
indicate that he was aware of the youth's
Clifford's face was pale and his voice
quivered as he spoke. Glover's manner
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
showed that he had already heard what
Clifford had come to tell, and probably
a garbled and incorrect account.
I want to speak to you about my ride
into town with that officer," Clifford
hesitatingly began, "so that you may
know the exact truth."
Glover turned on him with fierce
"Not a word!" he declared. "I don't
want to hear a word from you! You
failed in your attempt against me, and
now you want to try to explain it away."
"I was not responsible for what was
done, Mr. Glover," said Clifford. "I
But Glover would not hear. lie
swung into the saddle, pulled the head of
his horse around with an impatient jerk
and rode away.
"I don't wonder he rides away," cx-
plained Mrs. Glover, who had come to the
door. "He is very much hurt."
I'm sure he has a wrong idea of the
whole matter, which I wanted to correct,"
said Clifford, with pain and regret.
"I will explain it to you, if you'll let
me," le anxiously continued.
She reminiled silent, and Clifford told
her the whole story.
Mr. Glover hadn't a thing to do with
taking that ballot box!" she declared.
" Nobody knows better than me that Mr.
Glover has his faults; but there's one
thing he wouldn't do -steal! Nor he
won't cheat anybody, if he knows it. M\r.
Glover has his faults, but he tries to be
honest. He was passing by Vego Center,
coming from the polling place at Cam-
eron, and he thought he'd just go get the
Vego Center returns, too. He went up to
the poll-room and stood a minute in the
shadow, listening to the talk in the house.
It ain't no more than natural, seems to
me, that he should think you started the
story that he stole the ballot box and
returns, as long as he saw you near just
as he left the place."
Clifford was glad that Mrs. Glover had
been willing to listen to his explanation,
and hoped that through her it would
reach Mr. Glover. Nevertheless, he rode
home with a feeling of depression and
The discovery of the missing ballot box
and returns, and the admissions of the
thief, decided the county seat contest in
favor of Vego Center, though a suit,
somewhat in the nature of an appeal and
protest, which was not likely to change
the result, was entered in the courts by
the people of Columbus.
Whatever talk Mrs. Glover had with
her husband concerning Clifford's state-
ment, it did not change Glover's outward
attitude. He passed Clifford without a
word, whenever they chanced to meet in
the road, and avoided such meetings as
much as he could. Still, Clifford could
not hear that Glover was engaged in any
work of detraction, and for this he was
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
Toward the close of summer the town-
ship in which the Glovers and Kings lived
was organized into a school district, and
a frame building was erected for a school-
house. There were in the district a num-
ber of children of school age, and it was
the intention to have a school later on.
Katie King had looked forward to this
time with much interest, for she hoped
to secure the position of teacher. She
now consulted some of her friends on the
subject, and when Mrs. Kendall, the
county superintendent of public instruc-
tion, came out from Garden City to look
the district over, Katie accompanied her
on her rounds, and spoke of her desire to
many of the people.
She would have interviewed Mr. Glover
at this time, but her courage was not
equal to her wishes. The way he now
ignored Clifford made her timid. How-
ever, she asked Mrs. Kendall to talk with
him on the subject. Glover was in many
ways a man of influence and commanded
a considerable following, and his friend-
ship or opposition might be sufficient to
decide the question of who was to teach
Katie remained at home in a state of
anxiety while Mrs. Kendall was absent
on her mission. When Katie saw the
buggy returning she walked out along the
road to meet it. Disappointment was
written in Mrs. Kendall's face.
"I am sorry to tell you, dear, that he
says he will do everything he can against
you," said the kind-hearted superinten-
dent. "He says he has nothing against
you, but he feels very harshly toward
your brother and bases his opposition
solely on that. I am so sorry! I tried
to talk him out of it, but I couldn't."
THE LITTLE SCHOOLMA'AM WINS.
ATIE KING was sup-
ported by so many
friends in her desire to
become the school
teacher, that she con-
tinued her i1.r I to
obtain the school in
spite of the opposition of David Glover;
and, by the advice of the county superin-
tendent, attended the county normal
school, held in Garden City in Septem-
She successfully passed the required
examinations at the close of the normal,
and was glad to return home. It seemed
good to be again with Clifford in the
little prairie house that had become so
dear to both. Besides, religious services
of more than ordinary interest were being
held in Columbus and she wanted to at-
In all new countries people willingly
go long distances to meetings of any kind,
but in few new countries are long dis-
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
tances traveled so easily as on the prairies.
There the roads are almost as smooth and
firm as asphalt, when once the buffalo
grass is beaten down by passing hoofs and
vehicles. The round trip to Columbus
was to Katie and Clifford only a delight,
on those glorious moonlight nights.
The stars were brighter and more beau-
tiful than any gems. The round moon
shone like a silver disk. The clattering
hoofs of the ponies, the rattle of the
wheels, together with conversation and
snatches of song, gave to the trips a de-
lightful air. The settlers attended the
meetings from far and near, and the gos-
pel songs which they often sang as they
rolled homeward in the glorious moon-
light, sounded through the clear distances
with a strange sweetness.
"I am asking for help to bear as I
should the disappointment of not getting
that school, if the disappointment comes,"
said Katie, as she and Clifford drove
home one night. Sometimes I fear I
am setting my heart on it too much for
With the coming of the cool, crisp
mornings of October, the mirages took on
a new character. Verhaps lie things be-
held were not really the result of mirage,
but simply of a clarified atmosphere,
though there were many things to make
one believe them to be caused by mirage.
The most remarkable of these visions
was witnessed on the morning of the
third of October. Clifford and Katie
had risen early, intending to drive into
Vego Center to transact some business
and purchase supplies. Clifford was the
first to behold it.
"Come out here, Katie!" he called,
and his tone hurried her to the door.
Space seemed to have been well-nigh
annihilated. The new school house,
which was two miles away, had appar-
ently moved up within easy rifle- shot.
Glover's house was as near. His stables
and corrals, his sod hen-house, his un-
sheltered spring wagon, even the big dry-
goods box he had made into a well-frame
- all were distinctly visible. Buildings
and haystacks miles away were brought
surprisingly near; while Vego Center and
Columbus, the one on the west and the
olher on the north, were apparently so
close at hand that less than a half hour's
walk would have -. ,I- .1. to take Clifford
to either of them. Besides all this, the
hills and hollows had been smoothed out
and the whole country looked as level as
a table. To the westward the land rose
slightly, and some squares of plowed
ground and grain fields made it resemble
an uptilted section map. The sight was
I never saw anything like it!" said
Katie, after an interval of awed silence.
"Is it mirage?"
The question was one that Clifford
could not answer. He had never heard
of mirages of this character.
It seems to me I can almost read tlhe
IN THE LAND OF THE Ml1RAGE.
signs on those Columbus stores," he said.
Perhaps it is just the wonderful clear-
ness of the air. It is a long drive over
there, and yet one would think the
distance could be walked in a few min-
Almost every morning for a week or
more this apparent annihilation of space
was witnessed. The newspapers spoke of
it, and reports from various places indi-
cated that it was to some extent at least
the effect of mirage; for reputable men
declared they had beheld buildings so far
away that they must have been made
visible by a mirage, otherwise the curva-
ture of the earth and the intervention of
well-known elevations of land would have
rendered it impossible to see them, no
matter how crystalline the air.
The question of who should teach the
district school, the salary to be paid, and
other matters, came up at a meeting
called for the fifteenth, in the school-
house. The school was to begin the first
There was in Katie's face a heightened
color which made her look very winning
in C'l(ii...l eyes, as they drove together
to the meeting. Katie was always sweet,
womanly and attractive. As for Clifford,
he had wonderfully developed in the few
months he had been on the wide prairies.
The work and responsibility were hurry-
ing him into manhood.
As they approached the wooden hitch-
ing rack that had been set in place near
the school-house, they saw Glover driving
up the road with his family.
When Katie and Clifford entered the
house they found it already well filled.
The question of who should teach their
children was rightly considered an im-
portant one by these settlers, who, what-
ever might be their other differences, held
firmly to that grand rallying cry of the
great State of Kansas: "A school-house
on every hilltop and no saloon in the
David Glover walked quietly into the
room, leading his little boy by the hand.
He was followed by Mrs. Glover, who was
accompanied by her two little daughters.
A buzz of excited talk swept through the
room, and Katie King's face grew un-
comfortably hot, for she was sure that
much of this talk concerned her. Clif-
ford also colored and shifted uneasily in
Promptly at two o'clock the chairman
of the school-board called the meeting to
order, and, to explain its purpose, read
the call. The clerk pushed some papers
about his desk and began his notes of the
Clifford glanced to the right, where sat
Mr. and Mrs. Satterlee. Mr. Satterlee,
who had made himself prominent in his
new home, had promised to champion
Satterlee was a very tall man, and ap-
peared to be taller than ever as he unbent
and stretched himself to his full height
IN THE LAND OF THE .MIRAGE. 71
in the aisle. An expectant hush fol- culation what she had expected. Clifford
lowed. stared in amazement, almost unable to be-
Mr. Chairman," he began, clearing his lieve what he had heard. Even the
throat and clutching the seat with his chairman looked surprised, while a storm
lhand as if the pres-
sure gave him con-
fidence, "I present -
to this meeting ..
the name of Miss '
Katie King for
teacher, and move
you that we in-
struct the board to
employ her to '
leach the first term
himself f on his ,
short legs and
1thiusting one hand ..
deep into his trous-
ers' pocket. The
silence that ensued
was so great that ..t ..
the dropping of the
],) 0 V r 1) IL 1 pill. "iMr. Cha ilrmaln,"' he said, "I sccod the motionn"
fIghl he\' bheen
heard. lel'ore he spoke it, grew absolutely of excited whispers swept through the
Mr. Chairman," he said, clearing his Glover sat down and the chairman rose
throat, which seemed husky, I second and stated the motion. Then Glover got
the motion!" up again, and this is what he said:
The reaction made Katie King tremble Mr. Chairman, a short time since I
and turn pale. This was not by any cal- expected to oppose any motion that
IN THE LAND OF THE MIRAGE.
might be made here to select Miss King
as the teacher of our school. Instead, I
stand here to support it. It is very hard
for a man of my disposition to admit that
he has been in the wrong, but that is
what I want to do. I have discovered
that Miss King's brother did not assist
the officers of Vego Center in trying to
fasten a crime on me, and the mirages we
have had lately have shown me that I was
deceived in thinking he took me to the
southeast quarter of section twenty in
the township north. I thought he did,
because the trees on the creek looked so
near that day; but last week those trees
came closer down to me, far closer, than
they did the day he showed me my claim,
and I knew then that a mirage had fooled
me at the very outset.
"I have publicly opposed the boy and
his sister, and I want to make amends in
a manner fully as public. Out here in
this new country we ought to live hon-
estly, and there is room enough so that
we do not need to jostle one another."
Before Glover closed, Katie King was
in tears and Clifford was visibly affected.
The motion to choose Miss Katie to
conduct the school was carried without a
dissenting vote. She was one of the first
to take Glover by the hand when the
meeting closed, and Clifford followed her
closely in this act.
"You'll not find anybody in the dis-
trict that will stand by you in your work
with more willingness than I shall!"
David Glover kept his promise. The
school was a success. The Kings never
had better friends than the Glovers, nor
friends they valued more. A Sunday-
school was organized in the school-house.
Services were also held there on Sunday
mornings. Old rivalries were lost sight
of, and close friendships formed. To-day
church spires rise heavenward, school
bells ring, white houses gleam where once
the homesteader's "shack" rested, and
one finds it hard to believe that this was
ever the land of the mirage.
10 1 6-1 t4t-V 16, U_ I 1_- I I'M
THE SHACK ON THE PLATEAU.
BY JOHN H. WHITSON.
S' Bicycle was racing
-,'" .-- The bicycle bore a
1-. boy and a small mail-
bag. The boy was
Jepthah Gwin, the youthful carrier of the
star route mail.
"Parmenter is in town, I know, for I
saw him just before I left!"
It was not this thought of Parmenter,
however, but a thought of Parmenter's
little girl, which made the young bicy-
clist's feet pump harder on the pedals.
On the top of that plateau, toward
which both he and the fire were racing,
was Parmenter's home, an unpretentious
prairie "shack," containing Flossie Par-
inenter, whose age was less than twelve.
Jep Gwin had observed the smoke of
the fire soon after leaving Paragon City.
Tt was then in the west. In less than an
hour it had swept across the northern
horizon. Now it was climbing the grassy
She'll be scared to death," was his
reflection. It's a bad fire, too. The
grass is so dry it burns like shavings.
And not a furrow round his house for a
fire-guard! I don't know what Mr. Par-
menter would think to see me on this side
trail, heading toward his house; but I'm
going there, just the same."
Lewis Parmenter and the young mail-
carrier were not on good terms. Not
long before, Jepthah Gwin's father had
tried to get Parmenter's claim by a "con-
test in the United States Land Office at
Paragon City, taking advantage of that
provision of the land law which provides
for a contest when the holder of public
land does not comply with all the legal
requirements. Though Gwin had failed
to get the land, the incident provoked a
bitter hostility against him and his family
on the part of Parmenter.
So violent was this dislike that Par-
menter would not speak to the boy when
they met in the trail; and once, when
Jepthah stopped at the Parmenter well
to get a drink, being very hot and thirsty
from the long run down from Pawnee
Loup, Parmenter had refused him the
water and angrily ordered him away.
The young mail-carrier could not help
thinking of these things, as he sent the
bicycle spinning over the level, lonely
trail. He could think of Parmenter only
as ugly and mean; and it seemed to him
but a part of Parmenter's cross-grained
nature that he should leave Flossie alone
in the shack while he went to town,
THE SHACK ON THE PLATEAU.
a thing Parmenter was known to do
"I'm afraid the fire will beat me," he
gasped, as he saw a tongue of flame leap
upward and climb like a writhing red
serpent to the top of the highest bill.
" It's on the plateau now!"
The hillsides over which the fire had
passed were hot and smoldering; the de-
vastated expanses below them were a
blackened, waste. The fire had rioted
wildly through the heavier grass of the
sand-hills, but now it had only the short
buffalo-grass with which to feed its ener-
It was a plains fire, and not a true
prairie fire. A prairie fire, fed by a
growth of tall "blue-stem," gives a fire
before which animals and men flee for
their very lives; but a plains fire, sus-
tained only by the short buffalo-grass,
may roar and race, and still do little
harm. Often it is possible to ride a
horse through such a fire without more
injury to the animal than a singeing of
its fetlocks and legs.
Yet the fact that there was no guard "
of grassless plowed ground surrounding
and protecting Parmenter's shack made
the situation serious for Flossie Parmca-
ter. The house might be ignited, or
Flossie, in trying to beat the flames back
from the doorway, might fire her dress
and be burned to death.
When Jep had pedaled to the top of
the knoll that now confronted him, he
noticed a dozen tongues of flame shoot-
ing out like red sword points, staying not
a moment for the blockading effect of
the narrow, grassless trail, but hurrying,
as it seemed, straight for Parmenter's
He saw Flossie Parmenter dart out and
in at the door.
I hope she'll not try to run away
from the house," was the thought and the
fear that thrilled him. "If she does,
the fire will get her sure."
He recalled how Jasper Kane's mother
had tried to do that, the year before, and
had been sadly burned. In his alarm he
cried out to Flossie to remain in the
house, that he was coming; but of course
she did not hear him.
To gain time he turned the bicycle
sharply from the trail, thus saving the
long arm of an angle. Though the
buffalo-grass was short and seemingly as
smooth as a velvet sward, it was really
hillocky, and the bicycle jumped and
jarred. Nevertheless, he bent over the
handle-bars and threw the whole strength
of his limbs and the weight of his body
upon the pedals.
Go back! Go back!" he shouted, as
he looked up and saw her again appear
at the door.
He was moving much faster than the
fire, but it was still a question if he
would not be beaten in the race. The
crackle and roar came to him quite plainly
now. Tumble-weeds, big as tubs and
THE SHACK ON TIJE PLATEAU.
round as oranges, ignited and flew on be-
fore the fire, bounding balls of flame,
driven by the brisk wind. Blazing resin
weeds shot high into the air like burning
arrows. Over all hung a cloud of pun-
He swung in front of that threatening
red line and gained rapidly. As he drew
near the house, Flossie saw him and ran
out to meet him. Her eyes were big and
bright, and she was dreadfully fright-
ened. He set her in front of him on the
"Is there water in the troughs?" lhe
asked, glancing toward the motionless
I-I don't know," she faltered.
We'll soon see. I'm going to take you
back to the house. You mustn't be
IThen he raced on, as fast as before.
He reached the house a fourth of a mile
in advance of the fire; and in the short
time that was left to him he dampened
the sod and the boards on the side of the
shack which the fire would first attack.
Then the fire came down with a
threatening roar, and Jepthah retreated
into the flimsy building, with the child,
lhe bicycle and mail-bag, and a pail of
lie heard the angry crackle of the
flames, and saw them, too, through the
small window, as they leaped to the
assault. The air grew'hot and stifling.
"Don't be scared," he said encourag-
ingly to Flossie. "If the house should
catch, I think I can put the fire out with
this water. I don't believe, though, it
will catch. You don't feel much afraid,
with me here, do you?"
"No," she answered bravely, although
there was a tearful note in her voice, and
her face was white. No, really I don't.
I was scared, though, before you cane.
I didn't know you were such a good boy,
Jep Gwin. I'm going to tell papa all
Jep blushed and looked confused. He
was wondering what Parmenter would
say, when Flossie told him that he, Jep,
was a good boy.
say," he exclaimed suddenly, after
they had watched the fire a little longer,
"I wish you'd tell your father that pa
wasn't just trying to be mean when he
contested his claim. We're -we're aw-
fully hard up -and it seemed 's if pa
had to take every chance he could to
make a little. It wasn't just pure mean-
ness, though I know it looks that way.
Ma and I felt bad because it happened,
and I'm glad enough I got here in time
to help you to-day."
"I'll tell father," repeated Flossie.
She did tell him, and the result was
that the neighborhood was spared the
example and influence of a feud which
might have wrought much evil. And
that was what the combination of a kind-
hearted boy and a bicycle accomplished
in less than an hour's time.
AOE O 1NE
v Walt Dixon, coming quickly in
out of the storm with a trailing rope
about his waist, drew in the rope with a
jerk of his mittened hand and closed the
door with a bang.
You're nearly frozen, I know!" de-
clared Miss Minnie, who had been wait-
ing for him. "Hurry to the stove and
I'll help you off with your things. Are
the ponies and cow all right?"
"Yes; and I got down a lot of feed for
'em. It's warm as toast in the stable,
but it's just awful outside!"
He stamped over to the stove, shaking
the snow from his shaggy coat. He drew
off his mittens and warmed his hands,
while his sister untied the rope, took the
disfiguring oil-cloth mask off his face, and
then helped him out of the heavy coat.
A genuine blizzard was screaming
across the Kansas plains. So snow-filled
was the air that one could not see ten
yards in any direction. It was a dry
snow, fine and powdery as flour, but with
almost the cutting sting of powdered
The forenoon iad seemed to hold the
balmy promise of spring. It had been
so pleasant that Minnie Dixon had taken
a long gallop on her pony. Some of the
farmers had even set their plows to going.
Then the blue-black line, scarcely noticed
at first, lifted itself high in the sky, and
__ __1~11~ ___1_ ____
A HEROINE OF THE PLAINS.
the blizzard leaped out of the north with
the whiz of a bolt from a crossbow.
As the storm increased in severity and
the cold grew more intense, Miss Minnie
had become so anxious about the comfort
of the cow and the ponies that she per-
mitted her brother to venture to the
stable, with one end of a long rope tied
about his waist, and the other end to the
latch of the outer door, that on his return
he might not miss his way.
"I'm glad now that the roof doesn't
stick up any higher than it does," she
said, with a nervous laugh, after helping
him out of the coat. It was a man's
coat and a world too big for him. "I
used to feel ashamed of this little dug-
onl, but in such a storm it seems good to
ce in a cellar!"
"A dug-out is good enough for any-
body, on a pre-emption," Walt declared,
glancing round the interior, "and it's a
lot warmer than the frame houses some of
the homesteaders have put up."
Walt was rather proud of the dug-out,
for it was largely the work of his own
hands. lie had excavated the collar-like
lower part, and had put together the
upper p1rt and thie roof, of "lship-lap"
hoards and tarred paper, bracing the
whole securely against the force of the
winds by anchoring the corners to cedar
posts set deeply in the ground. The
inner walls he had plastered, laying the
plastering on the firm dry earth, to which
it readily adhered.
There was a square window in each
gable, and a door facing the east, from
which point comes the least wind. This
door was reached by way of a horizontal
door at the surface and by a short flight
of earthen steps. One who has never seen
a well-kept prairie dug-out will perhaps
not readily believe how cozy such a
house can be made, by means of white
plastering, or wall-paper, pictures, books
Miss Minnie Dixon was a teacher in the
intermediate department of the Webster
City schools. She was an intelligent,
educated young woman, but dependent on
her own resources. There was a great
scramble for government land at the
time, and she had taken this pre-emption
of one hundred and sixty acres, a few
miles out of town, and it became her
home for the period of time required by
the law in such cases.
In pleasant weather she drove in and
out daily. At other times she boarded in
town; but Walt remained at the dug-out,
"1 .i. 1,n~." when his sister was away,
and getting along as well as he could.
However, Minnie had been at home now
several days, during the midwinter vaca-
tion, which was nearing its end.
I wish I'd gone to town this morn-
ing," she said, thoughtfully; but added,
a moment later: "No, I don't, for that
would have left you here in the storm
alone, and I should have been worried
A HEROINE OF THE PLAINS.
"What was that?" asked V.il1, turning
his head. "I thought I heard wheels.
Must have been the wind, though!"
His sister stepped to the little window
in the south gable and sought to look out.
The air was a white blur, which her sight
could not penetrate. Then she, too,
heard a sound which unmistakably was
not made by the storm.
"It's something or somebody!" she de-
Walt, who was toasting his knees by
the stove, put on his cap, hurried to the
door and stumbled up the dark passage.
As he lifted the outer door, he thrust it
against the legs of a man, whom he now
dimly saw through the swirling drift.
Then he heard a horse stamp, and knew
that a team had been driven into the lee
of the house.
"Come right in!" he said cheerily.
"Awful storm, isn't it?"
The man tried to reach the steps, but
stumbled, and was only saved from a fall
by the strong hands of the boy.
"I'm I'm purty well tuckered!" the
man mumbled in a dull way. I thought
I was out o' the road till I I struck
Walt caught the man's arm to support
him; and when they had stumbled down
the passage, the inner door was opened by
Miss Minnie. Not till he was in the
room did Walt know that the man was
Timothy Jcpson, who lived on a claim
two miles south.
Jepson was so chilled and benumbed
he could hardly move, and when they got
his wraps off they discovered that he Was
somewhat frozen. He wanted to get
near the fire, but Miss Minnie insisted
that he must not for a few minutes, and
she had Walt bring snow with which to
rub Mr. Jepson's hands and feet. Mean-
while, Jepson's team was taking the
storm; the force of which was, however,
much cut off by the upper part of the
"I've been trying to make it home,"
said Jepson, in an exhausted voice. "I've
coal and stuff in the wagon, and the chil-
dren hain't a thing in the house. I could
'a' staid at Fairchild's he wanted me
to but the children -"
Are they alone?" Miss Minnie
"All alone," said Jepson. Soon's
I git a bit warm I've got to push on
Tears came into the eyes of the kind-
hearted young woman, and with the tears
came a heroic resolve. The Jepson chil-
dren were motherless. There were three
of them, the oldest not yet ten. In
fancy she saw them, hungry, freezing
and terrified, in the poor, wireless, food-
less "shack" rocking in the blizzard as
if it would go to pieces. She saw that
Jepson could not go on; that it would be
suicidal for him to attempt it. He had
fought the gale until his strength was
gone. She even wondered if his team
A HEROINE OF THE PLAINS.
could make the remainder of the jour-
Ordinarily Miss Minnie was not a
courageous young woman. She had been
known to scream at sight of a mouse, and
to run from a prairie rattlesnake as if it
were a grizzly bear, even though she had
a stick in her hand with which she might
easily have dispatched it. She sometimes
wondered at the daring that had induced
her to take the pre-emption, and could
only account for it by saying that she had
been made temporarily insane by the
" land fever." But now courage of a
quality she had never before known was
rising in her heart. She was not ignorant
of the danger that flew on the blizzard's
snowy wings. Not for forty pre-emptions
would she have ventured out into the
storm, but those poor children drew her.
Mr. Jepson can't go," was her inward
comment, and I won't let Walt risk it,
though he'd go in a minute if I'd suggest
it, God bless him! But he might get lost.
Oh, those poor little children!"
"I'm going to take the load on to Mr.
Jepson's," she said, speaking to Walt.
lie stared at her as if lie could not be-
lieve it, but he saw that she was in
"You'll freeze to death!" he gasped.
"You'll get lost! If it's got to be done,
better let me try it!"
"No, I'm going myself. I'm quite
strong, you know, and I'm older. I'll
put on your coat and I'll wrap up well.
I'll not get lost if I keep close to the
fence. Go out and see how Mr. Jepson's
horses are. I'd rather take them, if
they're all right; they're already hitched
up, and our ponies might not want to go
in that direction, and so might get out of
Walt hurried away to do her bidding,
though he was filled with misgivings.
He found that Jepson's horses were some-
what protected by blankets, but they were
uneasy and evidently very cold.
They'll do, I guess," he muttered.
"It's only a pull of two miles, and they'll
keep to the trail, as she said, better'n our
ponies. But I'm afraid for her, though.
I'm awfully afraid!"
He clawed the snow out of his eyes
and tried to look down the trail that led
toward Jepson's. He could see nothing
but that smothering white blur, could not
even see the board and wire fence of the
Arkansas River Cattle Company that ran
close beside the trail, though he knew
that a half-dozen steps would take him
The horses '11 do," he announced, re-
entering the dug-out, but I hate awfully
to have you try it, Min! I'm afraid
you'll get lost, or freeze. You don't
know how cold it is and how thick the
She was buttoning on some heavy
leggings. Mr. Jepson had been induced
by her to rest on the lounge. He was
moaning from the pain of his aching
A HEROINE OF THE PLAINS.
hands and feet and seemed more stupefied
than when he had come in. If he heard
their talk, he did not heed it.
"You do what you can to make him
comfortable," she said in low tones, with
a nod toward the lounge. Don't let
him leave the house. Tell him I've
gone on, and that his children are all
right. And don't expect me back until
yon see me. I shall not try to get back
until after the blizzard. And you must
stay right here, Walt! You will, won't
you? And don't venture to the stable
without the rope!"
Walt promised, then reluctantly got
down the heavy coat and the blizzard
mask. He also got her some wraps and
her warm mittens.
She looked hardly human when she
was ready for the journey. The black
oil-cloth mask, the big comforter about
her neck and ears, the thick badger-skin
overcoat, and the arctic overshoes, so
transformed and concealed her that her
most intimate friends could not have
Good-by," she said, lifting her mask
and kissing him, as they stood together
in the tunnel between the two doors.
Then Walt lifted the outer door, that
"good-by ringing unpleasantly in his
ears, and they were out in the storm. In
another minute she was in the driver's
seat and Walt was turning the horses.
She called "good-by" as the storm swal-
lowed her, and Walt stumbled back into
the dug-out with a foreboding ache in his
No one could have known better than
Minnie Dixon that she was facing death
in making this attempt to reach and
succor Jepson's children. The fury of a
true Western blizzard is scarcely to be
conceived by people accustomed only to
the so-called "blizzards" of the eastern
and central states; but some may get an
idea of its terror by recalling the widely-
published account of how, a few years
ago, in a Dakota town, men with ropes
tied to them to secure their safety, groped
in the streets to find school children who
had been overtaken by a sudden blizzard
while on their way from school to their
Not even the wraps and the thick
badger-skin coat could wholly protect her
from the icy sting of the blast. The wind
tore at her sometimes as if it would snatch
her from the wagon seat. She could not
see the heads of the horses; could scarcely
see anything. Her breath congealed at
the openings in the mask until she had to
dig the icy flakes away with her mittened
hands. The horses floundered and
stumbled. They were benumbed, and
the snow was beginning to drift badly.
But they seemed to advance with such
confidence that her courage grew strong.
"It's only two miles," she thought.
" Two miles is no distance, on the plains,
and we've the storm at our backs to hurry
A HEROINE OF THE PLAINS. 81
The horses went fairly well for a She climbed stiffly out of the high seat,
time. Though they stumbled, they did got the near horse by the bit, and turned
not fall. Then Minnie
Dixon's heart seemed to '
leap into her throat.
She discovered that the r-
wind, which had been
at her back, was com-
ing over her left shoul-
der. She tried to
fancy at first that this I ic
might be caused by a
bend in the trail, but g
when it continued she .
knew it was not that.
"We must be out of .
the trail!" she gasped.
And if we're out of it
well never find it!"
She pulled on the
lines and the horses
stopped. They were
obedient, though bewil-
dered. The instinct by
which a horse is said to
know the way home '
counts for little in a
blizz'arl d. '
e e w a s her
Ihoughti. It's bound .
to be on the right.
ll Her knock was answered by Jepson's oldest boy.-See page 82.
The wind can't have
changed so suddenly, and if I keep it on the team in the direction she wanted to
my right side I'm sure to strike the fence. go, taking what she believed to be a south-
I hope we haven't gone far from it!" w est course. A due west course gave the
A HEROINE OF THE PLAINS.
blizzard a broadside sweep that was unen-
Minnie Dixon was badly frightened
before she reached the fence. It took her
so long a time that she began to think
that perhaps the wind had changed and
she was lost. What that meant she dared
not picture. No shipwrecked, drowning
mariner ever put hand on buoyant spar
with greater delight than that felt by her
when she stumbled against the fence.
"Oh, God! I thank thee!" she mur-
mured, from her overflowing heart.
She did not remount the seat. She
was afraid to. But with one hand on a
bridle bit and the other in touch with the
top wire, which tore her mittens and now
and then scratched her fingers, she
tramped sturdily southward, in what she
now confidently knew to be the right di-
"If this fence hadn't been here!" she
reflected, and the shudder that shook her
was not caused by a gust of the storm.
The chill began to go out of her blood
a little as she toiled on. She did not try
to keep the team in the trail. She could
not see the trail, because of the snow on
the ground and in the air.
The way seemed dreadfully long. She
was growing very tired, and was wonder-
ing how much farther she would have to
go, when she heard Jepson's dog bark,
and fairly stumbled against the north wall
of Jepson's stable, which was built quite
up to the cattle company's fence.
Feeling her way along the wall, she led
the team into the lee of the stable and up
to the stable door. Then she stumbled
through the drifts to the house, which,
fortunately, was only a few feet away,
and whose direction she knew.
Her knock was answered by Jepson's
oldest boy. He stared at her, wonder-
ingly. He was in stockinged feet, but
otherwise dressed. She saw he had just
crawled out of bed, and looking beyond
him she beheld the heads of the other
children peeping above the bed clothing.
They had crawled into bed because of the
cold and their terror of the storm.
"If I tie a rope round your waist can
you put the team in the stable?" she
asked of the boy as she entered. "The
horses are almost frozen, and I was afraid
you would be!"
The room was fireless and icy cold.
"We'll get the horses in the stable,
and then we'll have some of that coal out
of the wagon and start a fire," she said.
She took off the mask and unwound
the scarf from about her neck and ears.
Not till then did Billy Jepson know who
So severe was the blizzard that Minnie
Dixon was not able to return home for
three days. In fact, before she ventured
to leave Jepson's, Jepson appeared, his
anxiety having been so great that Walt
could not detain him after the storm
showed signs of abating.
"You're the grittiest and best woman
FROM FOREST TO PRIKTI1NG-PRESS. 83
in these parts!" Jepson said to her, in his That was what Jepson said. The Web-
homely yet honest way. "I don't know ster City "IHerald," which a week later
what my little tots would 've done if you made mention of her unselfish bravery,
hadn't risked it. 'Twould 've been awful spoke of her as "A Heroine of the
fer 'em, with nothing' to eat and no fire!" Plains."
FROM FOREST TO PRINTING-PRESS.
BY JOHN H. WHITSON.
ID you ever consider
how full of interest
is the history of
the paper on which
thi ese words are
ST, hThere was a
time, not so very remote, when paper of
this kind was nearly all made of rags;
now it is almost wholly made of wood,
chiefly spruce and poplar.
The history of paper making, from
those old, old days in Egypt when
papyrus leaves were used, down to the
paper-devouring present, would make an
interesting article of itself' Try to think
how it would be if we l(ld no paper, and
then you will gain some idea of the im-
portance of paper to the people of this
age. Without paper, there would be few
books and very little learning. The
leaves of the few books would be made
chiefly, if not altogether, of the prepared
skins of animals. Even the Bible, as was
once the case, would be so expensive that
it would be only in the hands of the rich
or in churches chained to the pulpits.
The world would be filled with ignorance
and superstition, for without books there
cannot be great enlightenment.
The amount of paper used by a nation
is said to be a good guage of its intelli-
gence. You will be glad to know that
our own country, tested in this way,
stands very high. There are more than
a thousand paper mills in the United
Sl.11. -, and these turn out many, many
tons, for as a nation we are great paper-
Fortunately for the paper-making in-
dustry the forests of spruce on this con-
tinent seem almost inexhaustible. The
principal area extends from upper New
England to Hudson Bay. Probably
more spruce comes from Maine than from
any other state, and most of this comes
FRlOM FOREST TO PRINTI1NG-PRESS.
from the region drained by the Penobscot
If you will consult a good map of Maine
you will see that the northern part of the
state is a labyrinth of lakes and water-
ways. These lakes and streams are the
highways down which the spruce logs are
conveyed on their way to the paper mills.
The logs are cut during the cold winter
months, when the musical streams are
still and the snow lies deep in the forests.
The men who cut the logs pay the
owners of the forest at an agreed rate for
the standing trees. The measurement is
made after the logs have been floated
down, by a man who is called a scaler."
He has a rule which he places across the
ends of the logs to ascertain their diam-
eter. He knows that a log of a certain
length and diameter contains a certain
number of feet of lumber; and when he
has made his measurements it is a simple
matter of calculation to tell how many
thousand feet of lumber there are in the
One of the first things the loggers must
do when they go into the woods to cut the
logs, is to erect shelters for themselves
and their teams. They select a dry spot,
near water, and build a house of logs.
The chinks, or crevices between the logs,
they fill with dry moss, to keep out the
wind and cold. Then they build a
stable, called a "hovel," for the horses.
When these shelters have been pre-
pared, a road for the teams and sleds is
cleared to the best timber, and the good
trees are marked, cut down and sawed into
logs, which the teams draw to the edge of
the frozen lake or river. Though the
weather is often very cold, there is not
much wind in the depths of the woods, so
the hardy loggers do not mind it. Noth-
ing but the severest storms stop the
work; and the "logging," as it is called,
continues through the entire winter.
With the opening of spring, arrange-
ments are made for floating the logs to
the sea or to some point on a railway.
This is called driving," and it is at once
the most exciting, perilous and romantic
part of the work. No doubt you have
read of the dangers of taking logs down
rivers in this way, for many true tales are
given us which tell of the heroism of the
"river drivers" of Maine. It requires
strength, endurance and courage to be a
Owing to the length of the water high-
ways and the fact that the work in the
woods has been done by many different
parties of loggers, as a matter of system
and economy the streams down which logs
are to be floated are divided into sections
called "drives." A gang of men has
charge of each drive." The care of the
descending logs in each is undertaken on
contract, and is let out to the lowest bid-
der at an auction sale which is held in
The successful bidder, or contractor,
then files his bond for the faithful per-
FROM FOREST TO PRINTING-PRESS.
formance of the work, gets together his
camp outfit and provisions, and hires his
" drivers," or men. You will get a good
idea of the importance of river driving"'
as a business, when I tell you that last
year nearly two thousand drivers" were
employed on the drives of the Penobscot
and Connecticut rivers alone, and these
were not half of the "river drivers" of
When the snows are melting and the
streams are therefore the highest, the
drivers roll the logs into the water, start
them on their journey, keep them going,
and prevent and break "jams." Oftener
than not the men are wet and cold as a
result of their work, for a great deal of
wading is required and "duckings" by
falls in the slushy, icy water are frequent.
From the camp on shore, food is conveyed
to the men at work, in a boat called by the
Indian name of wangen, which is pro-
nounced warnjen." With the coming
of night the logs are allowed to take care
of themselves and the men sleep at the
camp, with the possible exception of a
few who may be stationed at points where
jams are feared.
A lonelier task than this ofl standing all
nighl oin the shore of some forest, stream,
or knee-deep in the water, watching the
foam-flecked and almost invisible current,
ready with a pole to push off any threat-
ening log, can hardly be imagined. The
wind moans through the tops of the tall
trees, the stream roars by, the moon alter-
nately hides and reveals her face, and
from the heart of the great wilderness
comes perhaps the hooting of an owl or
the cry of lynx and wild-cat.
A log jam is the dread of the river
driver. A spruce log, which comes spin-
ning or floating down the current, will be
brought to a standstill by striking its ends
against the shore or against rocks. It
forms a barrier upon which other logs
quickly pile. In a short time there are
hundreds, perhaps thousands, of logs,
heaped and overlapped in confusion at
this point, filling the stream from bank to
bank; and to this still others are being
To break the jam it is necessary to cut
or release the key log, the one which
has stopped and now holds back the
others. This is often so perilous a thing
to do that the men who attempt it take
their lives in their hands. Hundreds of
men have lost their lives in Maine,
crushed or drowned, while breaking log
The one who volunteers for the work
crosses the dangerous heap of shaking
logs with an axe to cut the key log, or
with dynamite and fuse. There is less
risk in the use of dynamite, and in conse-
quence it is now much employed, though
it is destructive of logs. If the breaker of
the jam is to do it by cutting through the
key log, he makes a wild rush for the
shore as soon as that log begins to bend
and crack under the weight of the logs
FROM FOREST TO PRINTING-PRESS.
pressing down on it from above. Often
the break comes suddenly, for the pres-
sure is enormous. In that event there is
an avalanche of logs and the man is in-
stantly killed. Sometimes, when the logs
start, their movement hurls him from his
feet, or the logs separate and drop him
into the stream.
So great is the danger that one would
think few men could be found to take the
risk, yet there are always plenty of volun-
teers for the work. If dynamite is used,
as soon as the fuse is lighted the jam-
breaker starts on a run for the shore.
The dynamite blows out the key log and
the jam is broken.
The logs are transported across lakes
and similar stretches of water in large
rafts held together by "booms," or logs
bound together. The rafts are warped
along, by fastening ropes to objects
ahead and drawing on the ropes, or, as in
the larger lakes, they are towed by small
steamers. The work is now so system-
atized that steamers are provided for most
of the lakes, many narrow places in the
rivers have been blasted and widened to
prevent the formation of jams, while
" booms," or barriers, have been placed in
crooked places, to divert the logs and keep
them from shooting out into the woods or
going ashore in marshes and at shallow
When the logs reach the sea, the ship
landing or the railway station, they are
loaded on vessels or cars and conveyed to
the paper mills. Often they are bound
into large rafts, which are towed by
steamers to their destinations from the
mouths of the rivers.
On their arrival at the paper mills the
logs are first split and then chipped fine
by machinery. These chips are put into
tanks called digesters," where they are
treated with sulphurous acid, under heat,
which destroys or eats out the cellular,
resinous matter, leaving only the fiber
of the wood.
This reduces the wood to a beautiful
white pulp, which is washed and screened
and variously treated; and which, finally,
after passing through presses and drying
rooms, comes out as you see it, paper.
It is sent to the big printing presses on
large ribbon-like rolls, ready for the appli-
cation of type and ink to make it into the
object you behold, giving you, through
the eyes, noble and good thoughts and
beautiful pictures. Is it not a romantic
and marvelous process, which thus takes
a tree from a far-off forest and makes of
it an engine of civilization?
WHY THE MILLS WERE STARTED.
BY JOHN H. WHITSON.
S T was said that
-I Amasa Stone
had a heart as
flinty as his
', tainly the peo-
.-.. ple of Damaris-
cara had never
witnessed any exhibition of great gener-
osity on his part. Damariscara was a
New England cotton mill town. It was
not a large town, but its two cotton mills,
employing five or six hundred men,
women and children, produced such ex-
cellent muslin that its name was known
more widely than that of many a more
pretentious place. The blue stamp,
" Damariscara Mills," on a piece of mus-
lin, was everywhere accepted as a guar-
antee of the quality of the goods.
But the mills were now shut down, for
how long 1io one could say. The cotton
mill industry of New England was in a
depressed condition. Hence the mills
were idle and the mill bands out of work.
Of course I oughtn't to expect people
to make bricks without straw," Amasa
Stone grumbled, as he took a turn about
his office, that bright June evening. "I
don't expect it, but I've got to protect my-
self. It's a dead loss to run the mills
now-will be for several months, and
the people are hard pressed. But I must
collect my rents. I can't be expected to
keep a horde of folks in my houses free
of charge. That's asking entirely too
much. Those that can't pay will have
to go out and let others come in that will
pay. I don't see any other way to do."
He took another turn about the room.
I-Ie was a tall man, rather stern, and with
deep gray eyes. His hair and beard
were beginning to whiten, but he was still
erect and sturdy. He seemed to be, as
he was, a man of strength and purpose;
a man of sufficient force to become an
instrument of great good or of great evil.
Amasa Stone's self -communing and
the arguments he used showed that his
heart was not entirely flint. One with a.
heart so hard does not seek to justify
After a little he put on his hat and
went out into the street. The lights
were twinkling in the houses, the stars
were shining, the air was sweet and cool.
In the valley below was the tenement
district, where lived the operatives, al-
most within the shadows of the tall
smoke-stacks that towered above the
"If Thorndyke hasn't the money to-
WHY THE MILLS WERE STARTED.
night I sha'n't wait on him any longer,"
was his thought, as he turned in the direc-
tion of the tenements. That family
from Androscoggin will take the house,
and what's more, they'll pay the rent.
Of course, I'm sorry for Thorndyke, but
that's no reason I should support him.
There'll be no call for him to suffer,
even if he does go out of the house."
The selectmen of the town, aided by
charitable people, had opened a soup)
house for such as were in actual need,
and then there was the poor farm for
those who had no shelter. Being one of
the heaviest tax-payers, Stone felt that it
was largely his money that the selectmen
were using and with which the county
paid the expenses of the poor-farm. He
told himself that, though Jack Thorn-
dyke was a good weaver and had always
met his bills when he had work, he was
no more entitled to sympathy than others
who had been forced to accept such
"I don't want to turn him out, but if
I make an exception in his case I'll have
to in others, and where will it end?"
Stone reflected. "I really hope he re-
ceived that money he was expecting from
his sister in the West, though I don't
suppose he has."
He buttoned his coat about him, as he
walked on in that beautiful June evening,
as if he had buttoned further argument
out of his heart.
The Thorndyke cottage was tiny, but
it had a home-like, cozy look. It had
not been built for a tenement, but for a
home, by a poor man, who had been
forced to give it up. Thorndyke's wife
was dead these two years now, but he
still tried to keep the house as she would
like it, and to keep in the yard and the
windows the flowers she had loved.
One of the windows was open, and a
canary Mrs. Thorndyke's canary -
cheered by the lamp, was trilling joy-
ously, as Amasa Stone passed up the nar-
row, flower-bordered walk.
"For a man in Thorndyke's circum-
stances, that's what I call extravagance,"
he thought, further hardening his heart.
" Why does he keep that bird? And the
time he spends fooling with these flowers
might bring him money, if he'd use it in
work in other people's yards or gardens!"
He stopped. A child's voice had
reached him, the voice of Edith Thorn-
dyke. Stone had often seen her and ad-
mired her. She was Jake Thorndyke's
only child, sweet-faced and grave-eyed -
not pretty, but attractive simply because
she seemed such a modest, earnest little
Through the open window he now saw
the child, in white night robe, kneeling
beside her bed. Near her Thorndyke sat
on a chair.
You haven't read any verses to-night,
papa," Stone heard her say, and saw her
lift her head. "I was 'bout to forget
WHY THE MILLS WERE STARTED.
She half arose, and Thorndyke, as if
reproved, shifted uneasily and put out
his hand for the Bible on the stand
Amasa Stone could not have told why
he did it, but he
moved a step nearer
and stood still.
"Let not your
heart be troubled,"
"Ye believe in God,
believe also in me.
In my Father's
house are many man-
sions. If it were
not so, I would have
Though a good
was not a good
reader. He read
poorly and without
inflection, but the
air of the man was Through the opera
"Now kiss me again, -pa
child, lilting her face tow:
Thorndlyke, pulltting down t
heavily I'rom, the chair an
then stood beside her as
prayer "Now I lay
sleep," and ended with
" Dear Jesus, bless papa, bl
It was only a child re]
that had been taught her, without per-
haps fully comprehending all that the
words meant, but it touched Amasa Stone
as nothing had touched him in years.
He had said that prayer, without the final
n window he now saw the child.-See page 88.
pa!'" said tlhe sentence, however, at his mother's knee,
rd hinm: and when he was a little boy.
lhe book, rose Tears were in the eyes of Amasa
d kissed her, Stone, whose heart many men believed
she said her to be as hard as flint.
me down to He did not move until the child was in
the petition, bed, with the covers tucked lovingly
ess everybody, about her by her father's toil worn
eating words Then Amasa Stone felt in his pockets,
THE INDIAN CADMUS.
with fingers that trembled. When they
came out, they held a pencil, a little pad
of paper and a ten dollar bill. He
scribbled a few words on a sheet of the
paper, pinned it to the bill, and, stepping
softly to the window, dropped the bill to
the floor, where it was found in the
morning. On the sheet of paper was
Mr. Amasa Stone's present to Miss Edith
Thorndyke, who prays that Jesus may bless
At a meeting of the stockholders the
next day Mr. Stone astonished the other
members of the association by rising in
his place and saying:
"I have come to the conclusion that we
are making a mistake by not running our
mills, even if the times are hard and no
money to be made at present; and I have
reached this conclusion by being seriously
led to reflect on the condition of the mill
hands. Therefore, I move you, Mr. Presi-
dent, that the mills be started again next
Monday, for the benefit of the town, if
we gain no benefit ourselves. No doubt
there will be loss, but I'm sure none of us
will be made much poorer because of
The motion was promptly seconded by
Judge Hillyer, who had advocated this
policy from the first; and then Amasa
Stone supported his own motion in a
speech which was so convincing that it
carried the day.
"I was influenced by a little child,"
said Stone, speaking of it long afterward;
"a little child that led me to see my true
relations to my fellow-men, and later my
true relations to God."
THE INDIAN CADMUS.
BY JOHN H. WHITSON.
HA T rugged, exclamatory
writer, Thomas Carlyle,
called down "blessings
on the head of Cadmus, the
Phoenicians, or whoever it
was that invented books."
It is well known now that neither Cad-
mus nor the Phoenicians "invented"
books or an alphabet; the alphabet more
particularly that is, our alphabet -
"just growed," like Topsy.
So far as known, only two men ever
actually "invented" an alphabet. One
of these was George Psalmanazer, a noted
impostor of the last century, who claimed
to have discovered a singular race of peo-
THE INDIAN CADMUS. 91
pie on the island of Formosa. To bolster one who thinks he can do little or nothing
his claim, Psalmanazer went to the vast because of limited opportunities.
trouble of inventing a language and an The talking leaf of the white man
alphabet, which he claimed these people
used Thb nthor inventor of an nl-
phaal-t in .:k.. Iii i, uii .'I.
Sequoyah, who has been called the Indian
Cadmus; and the story of his remarkable
achievement under great difficulty ought
to be helpful and encouraging to every
Si' 1a; I a '-nder of
all ,i ,n- .rnt peoples.
IuoaIlly th:,. savage
thI ilk lh,:. pper, or
I, ., I." haz intelli-
r-i. .,ir -t..i The
mnii-llnaryv sent I,.i: tniit. Iananas per-
haps, to a relative or friend by the hand of
a native, accompanying the present with
a note setting forth the fact and the
number of bananas sent. On the way
the native ate one of the bananas, and
THE INDIAN CADMUS.
was astounded to find that the "talking
leaf" told on him. When he was sent
again with bananas and a note he sat on
the note while he ate one of the bananas,
thinking in that way to keep the note
from seeing the theft, and was more than
astounded when the note again told on
The white man's writing was quite as
much of a mystery to that portion of the
Cherokee nation residing in Alabama, in
the early part of this century, with whom
Sequoyah lived. One day some young
Cherokees were discussing the superior
intelligence of the white man, when one
spoke of the white man's ability to put
a "talk on a piece of paper, send it a
long distance and acquaint the receiver
with what was in the sender's mind.
This was not news to Sequoyah. IHe
had observed and deeply pondered the
"I can do the same," he jestingly de-
clared, taking up a flat stone and scratch-
ing various marks on it.
Then he pretended to read the marks;
and the thought flashed on him that here
was the secret the making of a sign for
The subject took such strong hold on
him that he could think of little else.
He began to work on a vast alphabet
which should have a sign for every word
in the Cherokee language. His letters
were pictorial and ideographic, not true
letters, but signs and pictures represent-
ing objects and ideas. They multiplied
until they became unmanageable. He
soon found that there would be so many
that no one could be expected to remem-
ber them. He could not remember them
Though forced to admit a temporary
defeat he did not despair, but gave him-
self even more completely to his task. He
studied the sounds made in speaking and
the cries of birds and animals. He
neglected his farming and his work.
Many of his friends thought he was
crazy, or would soon become so. But
none of these things, not even the old
Cherokee tradition constantly dinned into
his ears, could turn him from his pur-
This tradition concerned the creation.
It stated that in the beginning the Great
Father made the red man and the white
man, the red man first. He gave to the
red man the choicest gift, a book, and to
the white man a bow and arrows. The
red man was not attentive to the book
and the white man stole it away from
him, leaving the bow and arrows in its
place. The red man had thus lost his
birthright, which it was impossible for
him to regain.
At last Sequoyah hit on the idea
which he carried to success. He discov-
ered that words are composed of syllabic
sounds and that a great many words
have sounds in common. After a long
time he reduced the Cherokee tongue to
THE INDIAN CADMUS.
eighty five elementary sounds and in-
vented or adopted a character for each
Thus the Cherokee alphabet has eighty-
five letters, instead of twenty-six, but
Cherokee writing is phonetic, and for that
reason much more readily learned than
ours. It is seriously claimed that a
bright Cherokee boy can learn to read and
write his mother tongue, with Sequoyah's
alphabet, in less time than a week.
Even after he had achieved this suc-
ccss, which he did somewhat as Milton
wrote Paradise Lost," with the help -
sometimes the unwilling help of the
female members of his family, Sequoyah
could not get a hearing from the leaders
of his people, who were chained to their
ignorance by that old legend. There-
upon Sequoyah left Alabama and went to
another portion of the tribe, that dwelt
on White River, in Arkansas. There lhe
had better success. Still, only the in-
ferior rank of Indians gave him heed at
first and sought to acquire his wonderful
Does it not seem strange that all great
movements begin att tlie bollomi and work
iup? We are told lihat when the Scribes
and Pharisees rejected Jesus, "the com-
mon people heard him gladly." All
earnest minds have had Sequoyah's fight
and Sequoyah's faith. Nothing could
daunt them. In spite of opposition and
sneers, in spite of paralyzing persecution,
in spite of everything, they followed the
light and the truth, like Luther sum-
moned before the Diet of Worms, though
every tile on the housetops was an angry
or a sneering devil. The world needs
men and women, boys and girls, who be-
lieve something and are willing to make
sacrifice for their belief.
Sequoyah triumphed in the end, as
every sturdy toiler must do. The Chero-
kee legislature finally voted money for a
printing press and type and the Chero-
kee Advocate was started. It is still
run, printed one-half in Cherokee and
one-half in English.
Sequoyah's invention made the Chero-
kees the most intelligent and the best
educated of the Indian tribes. Nor is he
forgotten by them. In the Cherokee
capitol at Tallequah has been placed his
bust, by Vinnie Ream, to remind the be-
holder of what the Indian Cadmus did
for his people.
9191 t-VI 6- to, le, I I A
BY JOHN H. WHITSON.
i DECLARE! that boy
will make me crazy with
his noise and whistling!"
said Aunt Sue, lifting
the egg-beater out of the
frothy yellow mass in
the bowl and wrinkling
her usually pleasant forehead in a frown.
"I can't tell you how he tries me!"
A healthy boy of twelve or fourteen
had hurried through the hall, giving the
door a bang, and had gone loudly whist-
ling across the porch.
A smile, that had a reminiscent tinge
of sadness in it, came to Grandma Per-
"Do you know, I like to hear him
whistle," she softly said, puckering her
apron with her thin fingers. "You may
be sure, for one thing, that his heart is
light, and a light, care-free heart is
worth having in this world. Besides,
when a boy is whistling, you can know
he's not into any mischief. If a boy is
doing wrong he doesn't go about it so
"I believe you've taken a great fancy
to Jim," observed Aunt Sue, as she re-
commenced whirling the egg-beater.
The tone was almost as gentle as
grandma's. Perhaps that was because
grandma's wistful manner and soft voice
had called up a vision of Jim's mother
just as she was in the long ago, when, as
sisters, she and Aunt Sue had come up to
young womanhood together, with the sun-
light of gladness and the beauty of pure
hearts and good health in their faces.
Jim's mother had gone but a little dis-
tance on the pathway of life before she
wearied and gave up its burden, leaving
to other hands the task of rearing and
training her baby boy.
He makes me think of Johnny
Lathrop," grandma musingly continued.
(Grandma Perkins was everybody's grand-
ma, and always the gentle defender of the
boys and girls wherever she went.) "We
called him Whistling Johnny. Every-
body called him that. And if ever a
name fitted anybody, that fitted him. He
whistled continually, at work and at play.
And he could whistle like a bird. It was
a pleasure to me just to listen to him, for
when he puckered his lips and began to
whistle, real music came out. I remem-
ber when he forgot and began to whistle
in school, one time. Of course the
scholars all laughed, and he received a
reprimand. His mother told that she
once heard him whistling in the night,
and she was sure he did it while he was
dreaming. Ah, me!" sighed grandma,
while the wistful light deepened in her
sweet brown eyes. "That was a long,
long time ago, though it doesn't really
Aunt Sue stopped her egg-beating to
inspect a pie in the oven.
"I didn't ever think, then, how glad
I'd be to hear that whistle, some day,"
grandma continued, after it seemed she
was going to leave the story unfinished
and wander off into a reminiscent day
dream. "No, that I didn't. I'd been
down on the ridge, picking blackberries,
that day. Seems to me I can see and
taste those berries and feel the scratches
of the vines yet. I suppose the reason [
remember everything so distinctly is be-
cause of the accident, and because of the
little green snake lying on the briars,
that I almost put my hand on before I
"Well, that startled me a good deal,
snd I decided that I wouldn't pick any
more berries there, but would go over
to an old house, where there was a
well, and cat my dinner. I had my din-
ner in a little tin pail, that I intended to
fill with berries when I had emptied it of
"So I walked across the field, letting
my sunbonnet swing at the back of my
neck by its strings, for my face and head
were hot and I wanted to get all the good
I could of the breeze. It was about noon,
I thought, by the looks of the sun.
Everything was very still, with the ex-
ception of the locusts that were making a
noise in the tree-tops.
"No one had lived in the house for
some time. The front door was off its
hinges and lying in the weedy yard. I
put my dinner and my berry pail down on
this door and hurried to the well to draw
some water, for I was very thirsty, as
well as warm. I don't know just how it
happened, but when I reached up to take
hold of the pole of the old-fashioned
well sweep, I slipped and fell into the
well." Grandma closed her eyes, as that
old fright came on her again.
"You must have been dreadfully hurt,
or nearly drowned?" questioned Aunt Sue,
lifting the (..,-1- l .it'. r.
No, I wasn't hurt a bit, but you may
be sure I was dreadfully scared. For-
tunately, the well wasn't very deep, and
I went down feet foremost. I fully ex-
pected to drown; but when I scrambled
up, almost scared to death, I found that
the water only rose to a little above my
knees. It was cold, though, almost icy
cold, and I began to chill and my teeth
to chatter at once. I didn't know what
to do but to call for help, and I called till
I could hardly stand. I should have died
there, I suppose, if Whistling Johnny
hadn't come along. He was on his way
to the berry patch, and of course he was
whistling. As soon as I heard him I be-
gan to shout and scream again. The
whistling stopped, so I knew lie heard
me. I kept on calling, and finally,
guided by my voice, he came up to the
well and looked in. He was dreadfully
alarmed when he saw me in there.
"'Do you suppose you could get me
out, Johnny?' I asked. 'I shall die in
here, if you don't, or if you can't bring
me help soon. You couldn't pull me out
with the sweep, could you?'
"Johnny looked at me and at the
sweep, then scratched his head. I tell
you what,' he said, 'I can try.'
"I didn't know, then, the plan that
had popped into his mind, and though I
was so anxious for him to try, I really
doubted his ability, with all the help I
could give him, for you see he was only a
boy, though heavy and strong for his
years. He began to whistle, and the next
minute he sent down the bucket. 'Get
into that,' he called, 'while I shin up the
big pole. And be sure you -hold on good
and tight when she begins to lift, and
don't you wiggle round any.' Then he
ran away, and I felt the jar, as he began
to climb the big pole to the fork in which
the sweep rested. The long arm of the
sweep was pivoted in that fork, you
know, so that its ends would move up and
down like a see-saw. A minute or so
later he called: 'All ready! Are you
all ready?' I was in the bucket and
clinging tremblingly to the little pole
that served as the bucket rope. I told
him I was ready, though I still hardly
understood his plan. Then the little
pole, to which I clung, jarred again. He
was hitching back along the high arm of
the sweep. He was forced to hitch to its.
extreme end before his weight was suf-
ficient to lift me. Then the bucket be-
gan to rise. 'She's coming! I heard him
screech; and then he began to whistle
again, as his end of the long sweep went
down and mine went up. It did not take
me long to reach the top of the well, wet
and chilled, but safe and sound. I
scrambled out of the bucket as quick as I
could, letting Johnny's end of the sweep
go 'chug' to the ground. But as the
drop was only a foot or so, the fall did not
hurt him. Worked it slick as a whistle!'
he said, exultantly. And then, as if that
made him recollect something he'd for-
gotten, he puckered his lips and became
again Whistling Johnny.
"So you see why it is I like to hear
boys whistle," grandma concluded. "Let
them whistle, just as the birds do. The
time comes soon enough, usually, when
they quit it of themselves. But I've
found out by experience that a boy can do
a good piece of work and whistle while