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what seemed a delightful coolness after that inferno of heat, and heading again across the lake.
THEY wanted to keep Julie and Louisette, with other refugees from the fire-stricken district, in Haileybury for a few days, till some definite word came through from their father. But Julie's anxiety was too great to agree to this. And so next afternoon the
once, dashed down the path, jumped over some blackened timbers where the little pier had been, waded out to his waist, and then leaped aboard. “Ah! Mes enfants, mes p’tites!” he repeated, gathering his daughters into his arms. “I t 'ink I loose everyt’ing, me, but now hees all right for sure. Now I have de leetle gals an’ de Belle, we start again, by gar. For house, monee, I don’t care, me.”
little Belle, with patches of paint burned off all round her bow and four or five charred places on her deck-house, started out, though guided this time by stronger and older hands, to cross the lake again. In the meantime, the fire, which runs quickly through the soft-wood forests of the north, had spent itself, though the air was still loaded with lingering smoke. Thus it was not until the little steamer was well in to the Lagasse landing that Julie, who had been caring for one of the refugee babies while crossing the lake, saw four or five men standing around a pile of blackened ruins which yesterday had been the old home. Apparently, the boat could not be seen so readily from the shore, but at a blast of the whistle, a figure, which Julie recognized at
And only then did Julie remember. Her father could n’t understand it, nor did any one else at first, when she pulled herself suddenly out of his arms and ran back into the cabin. But he knew, though the rest did n’t, what it meant when she returned in a moment with a rather gaudy tin box—the burden she had brought from the blazing house—and held it out to him. “An' this al-so?” he said, half dazedly, raising the cover, and revealing rolls of bills in the compartments underneath. “Dere is mos' t'ree t'ousan' dere. All de year monee. Ah! my Julie!” And Julie, tin box and all, went back again joyfully into those big, fatherly arms, with the realization that all the effort and strain had been well worth while.
ULL gaily caroled young Sir Harold, “Tirra, lirra, lay!”
“Ahoy!” hailed stout Sir Boofus, appearing at a trot, T-
Sir Boofus sailed the Seesaw on the seething sea, you see;
Ere long the twain espied Sir Doodad's yawning castle gate;
Led them within without delay to see the festive scene.
Although the fun was high, the lights were low; the host had guessed
Three pretty witches wove a spell about the Baron Snitch.
Of course, at midnight every one drew round the fire's glow,
E'en Hallowe'en must end; the moon was sinking in the west
"SUTTON RODE INTO THE PASTURE, SWINGING THE LARIAT WHICH HUNG FROM THE SADDLE-HORN" (SEE PAGE 78)
“I DON'T believe he ever saw a ranch!” declared Lynn Sutton, with a sniff. “I’ll bet he 's just one great big bluff.” “He talked as if he knew a lot about cowboys and things,” objected Frank Richardson, doubtfully. “That 's easy. Anybody can talk.” Sutton laughed. “Besides, he has n’t even done that lately.” This was true enough. When Bob Ramsey first appeared in Farmington a few weeks before, on a visit to an aunt, he had been loguacious enough. Indeed, he fairly bubbled over with enthusiasm for the great West, and particularly for Montana ranch life. He was full of a keen admiration for cow-punchers and their ability to do the things which he considered so supremely well worth doing; and his stories of what he had seen, involving, in a minor degree, events in which he himself had taken a small part, excited the greatest interest among the village boys. Their attitude was not particularly agreeable to Lynn Sutton, who had always been very much the leader of the little coterie. His uncle was a stock-farmer, with connections in Texas, and Lynn early learned to ride the half-trained Texas broncos, hobnobbed familiarly with the various cow-boys who came on to care for and break in the stock, and was generally regarded among his friends
as the supreme authority in all ranch matters. He was perfectly sincere in his belief that the new-comer was exaggerating (though that feeling may have been subconsciously influenced by a natural distaste at seeing his position usurped by a stranger) and did not hesitate to say so. Indeed, he made so much fun of Ramsey and his tales that the boy shut up like a clam, and from that moment nothing availed to drag from him the slightest reference to ranch life or anything pertaining to it. “He 's sore, of course, that we did n’t swallow all that rot,” resumed Sutton, leaning against the door-post. “From the way he acted when he first came, I guess he thought we were a lot of rubes to bite on anything. I wish I knew—” “Anybody 'd be sore when they ’re practically accused of not telling the truth,” put in Otis Gilcrist, suddenly. He was slim and tall, with delicate features and a thoughtful expression. “I don't believe he was stringing us at all. He's just so crazy about everything out there that he could n’t think of anything else. After all, you may know something about Texas, but things are probably very different in-” “Shucks!” interrupted Sutton, in his positive, rather domineering, manner. “Take it from me, this fellow thought we were easy and expected to have us feeding out of his hand in no time. He did n’t count on finding some one who knew the difference between the real thing and a lot of Wild West stuff cribbed out of a book.” “Oh, come off, Lynn!” protested Gilcrist, his delicate face flushing. “You can’t make me believe he never even saw a ranch.” “Why does n’t he prove it, then?” demanded Sutton. “I 've asked him to show us stunts with a lariat, but he won't do it. Then only yesterday I invited him to take a ride, and got turned down hard. The reason is perfectly plain to me. I'll bet a soda he could n't stay on one of those broncs of Uncle Bennie's for two minutes.” A brief silence followed this emphatic statement. Lynn Sutton always had an
authoritative way of speaking, and certainly, .
on the subject of horse-flesh, there was no one there who would dream of disputing him. As a matter of fact, the three or four present who had gone out to the stock-farm with Sutton a few days before to look over a recently arrived car-load of untrained Western horses, found it difficult to picture any one riding the creatures. “How would you ever prove he could n’t?” presently inquired Tommy Dale, curiously. “I’ll tell you.” Sutton's eyes sparkled and his face took on a mischievous expression which made the others prick up their ears expectantly. “You know the hike we 're planning to take to-morrow? You got Ramsey to say he 'd come, did n't you, Gil? I thought so. Well, on the way home we'll go around by the farm. I 'll call up Uncle Bennie to-night and get him to have five or six of the broncs driven into the small pasture, and some saddles and things left where we can get them. It 'll be perfectly natural for us to stop and look them over, and I'll end up by daring Ramsey to ride one of them if I do the same. If he's really what he pretends, he can do it easy, and the joke will be on me. But if he turns me down before the whole bunch, we 'll know it 's because he 's afraid, and has been simply bluffing all along.” The plan, fertile with entertainment no matter which way it turned out, was received with enthusiasm, and an animated discussion arose in which Gilcrist was the only one to take no part. He did n’t like the idea at all, but he knew Sutton well enough to realize that nothing he might say would move him from his purpose. From the beginning, he had been attracted to Bob Ramsey, in spite of the latter's rough
and-ready manner, and a shy liking developed which was strengthened rather than lessened by the new-comer's downfall. At first, Otis had to make all the advances. But at length he began to sense, through Ramsey's reserve and reticence, a touch of gruff friendliness in return. It was too hateful that just at this point Lynn should come along with his scheme for reopening the sore subject, which would probably spoil everything. Gilcrist tried to tell himself that as long as he took no active part in the business, Ramsey might not hold him personally to blame. But this argument failed to give him any real comfort. Unfortunately, in his eagerness to have his new friend become one of the crowd, Gilcrist had used a good deal of persuasion to get him to take part in the forthcoming hike, and it would be only natural for Ramsey to think it all part of a put-up job. When the crowd presently broke up, Gilcrist made his way home, troubled and uneasy. His faith in Ramsey had not wavered, but he knew better than the others how keenly Bob had taken to heart the sceptical sarcasm of Sutton and the others, and how furious he would be at what must seem like a fresh deliberate attempt at insult. Otis wished fervently that he could slip out of the whole beastly affair, but there seemed no possible way of escape. Nothing he could say would induce Sutton to change his mind. To put Ramsey on his guard would be breaking faith with his other friends. He could not even stay away from the hike, for Ramsey had agreed to go only in case he went himself. In short, it presently became apparent to the boy that he was quite helpless to do anything in the matter, and it was with a very uncomfortable sense of foreboding that he stood on the front porch next morning waiting for his friend to appear. Promptly at nine, a door slammed in the neighboring house and a tall, broad-shouldered fellow ran down the steps, crossed the lawn, and vaulted the low fence which divided the two places. “Well, you beat me to it,” he remarked, pausing beside Otis. In spite of his worry, Gilcrist's eyes brightened. It was the first time in days that he had seen his friend's dark, rough-hewn face without a disfiguring cloud of gloom. The lips, usually set in sulky curves, were almost smiling, and his whole expression was one of pleased anticipation. “They got my lunch packed early,” ex