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The Wedge of Gold
by C. C. Goodwin
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The ship was hauled into the wharf next day, and the loading of what was ready was begun. Sedgwick got on board his wagons and trappings from Sacramento. He ordered also a great quantity of drill steel, picks and shovels, quicksilver, some giant powder and caps, some blankets, mattresses, canned fruits, pickles, boots and brogans, and a whole world of other supplies such as miners use.

In fifteen days the ship was loaded, and the craft put to sea, as was understood and published, with a mixed cargo for Australia.

Sedgwick had insured the cargo; had paid the owner in advance the freight, and McGregor estimated that, if prosperous, he could, running slow to save coal, and stopping a week or ten days in Australia for coal and fresh supplies, make Port Natal in eighty days.

In the meantime Sedgwick and his wife had made the acquaintance of an English gentleman and his wife, named Forbes, who a few days previous had started for England, but who had promised to visit some English friends in Indianapolis, Indiana, until Sedgwick and Grace should overtake them, that they might sail on the same ship from New York.

The day after the "Pallas" sailed, Sedgwick and his bride took the overland train for the East.



CHAPTER XXII.

A LOST TRAIL DISCOVERED.

They reached Indianapolis in due time; stopped at a hotel, and Sedgwick had no difficulty in finding the Forbeses. He was presented to their friends, the Brunswicks, and Mrs. Brunswick insisted that Sedgwick should go straight to the hotel and bring his wife to her house.

He thanked the old lady warmly, but begged to be excused, saying they could visit without that.

"Very well," said the old lady, "but I will certainly have my way in another thing. You must go right off and tell your wife that an old English woman up the street says she must waive ceremony and come right here for dinner."

This was agreed to, and Sedgwick proceeded to do the errand.

The Sedgwicks were shown into the drawing-room of the Brunswicks, and had been for a few minutes conversing when the door opened and a lady entered.

A glance was enough to show that she was exceedingly beautiful. She was perhaps twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, not too tall, rounded into full maturity, with a most strong but winsome face. Her eyes were blue, her hair a golden brown and glossy, and when she spoke, her teeth were revealed, perfect and white.

She was presented to the strangers as Mrs. Hazleton.

Dinner was shortly after announced, and after dinner, when the gentlemen had returned to the drawing-room, Mrs. Brunswick asked Mrs. Hazleton to sing. She did not say "Mrs. Hazleton," but just "Margaret."

Without making any excuses she went to the piano and asked Mrs. Brunswick if she desired any particular piece. She answered:

"No, my dear, sing anything you feel like singing; only have it old-fashioned and sweet, rather than scientific."

Strangely enough, she struck a few wailing chords on the instrument, and then with a pathos and tenderness most touching, sang the old song beginning:

"Could you come back to me, Douglas."

The effect was great on all the company, but to Sedgwick and his bride it was intensely thrilling.

The eyes of Grace filled with tears, and Sedgwick, who was near, unobserved by the rest, took and pressed her hand.

The company separated early, with an agreement for the ensuing day, which was to fill it with rides, luncheon, a matinee for the ladies, and dinner afterward.

So soon as Sedgwick and his bride were by themselves, Grace said: "Love, did you ever hear anything half as sweet as that singing?"

"Yes," said Sedgwick, "I heard that same song once, more sacredly sung."

"O James!" Grace replied, and a celestial glow warmed her face.

"But that lady has a secret grief, certain," said Grace. "There was real sorrow in her tones, and there is a sorrow in her face, despite its superb serenity."

"Well, she is a widow," said Sedgwick.

"Yes, I know," was the answer; "but there is more than sorrow; she gives me the idea that her thought is that something priceless has been lost which she might have saved."

"Now I think, little one, that 'you have struck it,' as the miners say," said Sedgwick.

"How do you mean?" asked Grace.

"Some one who would have made her his wife and worshiped her has gone, and she is miserable," said Sedgwick.

"What makes you say that, dearest?" asked Grace.

"Because," replied Sedgwick, "I know it, and I know where he has gone, and she does not."

"Why, what do you know of her? Did you ever meet her before?" asked Grace.

"No, I have never met her, but I have met some one who has," said Sedgwick.

"O, tell me all about it!" said Grace.

"Why, child," Sedgwick said, "that is the lady who went to Texas and taught school one season, who set the honest heart of Tom Jordan on fire, and burned it half to ashes, made him sell his home because he was so wretched, and finally, with my help, or through my fault, set him to running a tunnel to a mine in Southern Africa, among the Boers and Kaffirs."

"Do you believe that can be true?" asked Grace.

"I know it," said the confident man. "The description an the singing tally, and the name is the same. Tom says her singing would make a lark, out of envy, 'fall outer a tree'."

"Upon my soul!" said Grace, and then lapsed into silence.

"What are you thinking of, sweet?" asked Sedgwick, after a pause.

"I was thinking what accidents our lives hang upon," she said. "O, love, suppose you had not fancied me at all, what would have become of me?"

"And suppose you had, when I did fancy you and you knew my heart was in the dust at your feet, that the touch of the hem of your robe upon me thrilled me like old wine; suppose then I had pleaded for your love, and though you felt it was mine and intended to give it to me, still had refused me; might you not be singing, Could you come back to me, Douglas, in tones to break any one's heart who might hear you?"

Grace thought a moment, and then said: "There's more than all that to this, love; you men do not know much when it comes to the hearts of women. She had some other and good reason when she refused the true-souled man."

"I believe now that you are right, my little sorceress," said Sedgwick, "and I believe that the reason has since been removed, and her great grief now is in thinking of Jordan's sorrow and than she cannot find him."

"I will tell you what," said Grace; "I will get as near her to-morrow as I can, and will try to coax her, hire her—if needs be—to accompany us to England."

"A capital thought, my wise little wife!" said Sedgwick. "Then when you gain her confidence, if you think it best, we will try and help her find the great-hearted man."

"I believe you are an angel," said Grace.

"I know you are," said Sedgwick, and involuntarily they kissed each other.



CHAPTER XXIII.

BACK TO ENGLAND.

Before the Sedgwicks left Indianapolis, Grace found her opportunity and said: "Mrs. Hazleton, soon after we reach England my husband will go away for four or five months. I shall be awfully lonesome. You have never been across the sea. Take pity upon me and be my guest for a few months until you weary of me."

The lady was startled by the proposition, waited a moment, and then said:

"I do not know how to thank you, but I came here to teach music. I have several pupils, and have a contract to sing in the choir of one of the churches. I need the little revenue that I receive, but if I could get released from my obligations I would most gladly go, for I do covet a change exceedingly."

"Then," said Grace, "if I can get that release, and will pay you as much as you receive here, and all your expenses out and back, will you go?"

"Indeed, I will," she answered, "and will be grateful to you all my life."

The arrangement was easily made, and the further arrangement that Sedgwick and his bride should go to Ohio, visit Sedgwick's family for three or four days; then should join the Forbeses and Mrs. Hazleton at a certain hotel in New York, and all would embark on the steamer that would sail on the next week Saturday—ten days from that day.

Then Sedgwick and Grace started for the Miami Valley.

What a welcome was there! The old house had been repaired, modernized, refurnished and repainted. A new house had been built on the other farm. It was in the first days of February. That year there was good sleighing, and the whole town seemed to turn out to celebrate the occasion of Jim Sedgwick's bringing home his bride. Four days passed in a whirl of pleasure. The first morning after their arrival, Sedgwick asked his brother for his trotting team, his new cutter, and the bells, to give Grace her first sleigh-ride. The steppers were of the 2:30 class, the roads good, and the fair English girl-wife was in ecstacies. They drove past the Jasper farm on the hill, and Sedgwick told Grace that it was his dream for years to accumulate $30,000 to release the mortgage from his father's farm and to buy the Jasper farm.

"Then what would I have done?" asked Grace.

"Married some English banker, or may be some 'My Lord Fitzdoodle,' probably," said Sedgwick.

"But, then, suppose a year later I had seen you, what would become of me?" she said.

"We should have been very formal and polite, and then have gone our several ways," said Sedgwick.

"Yes, because you are a man of principle, and I hope my pride of womanhood would have sustained me, but my heart would have broken, for with me it was a mad passion which absorbed my life before I had been in your presence half an hour," said Grace; and then added: "I do not any more wonder at the crimes which come of mismated marriages."

Then Sedgwick told her how, when he left her side the first time, he took that ride and asked cabbie how much they would charge at Newgate to hang him.

And they both laughed, but there were tears in the eyes of Grace even while she smiled. But she rallied in a moment and said:

"Why not buy the place still? Except to leave my mother, I would be on that farm with you as happy a wife as ever lived. I would rather live upon that hill than in our great modern Babel, London."

Just then the cutter went in and out of a "Thank-ee-mom"—a hollow between two snowdrifts—and Sedgwick bent and kissed his wife.

"Thanks," said Grace.

"That was a kiss on principle. That was a pure duty," said Sedgwick. Then he explained how venerable was the custom, and elaborated upon the respect due it because of its age and its usefulness to bashful lovers, because a youth must kiss the girl who goes sleighing with him whenever he comes to a "Thank-ee-mom" among the drifts.

"What a poor old country England is," said Grace.

"Why so?" asked Sedgwick.

"Why, had we but had snowdrifts and 'Thank-ee-moms,' I would have made you kiss me three weeks sooner than you did," said Grace.

"Did you want me to kiss you sooner than I did?" asked Sedgwick.

"O, you blind darling!" said Grace. "When I read of your exploit before the church in Devonshire, I told Jack and Rose that I would like to kiss that man. Then he told me who the man was, and after all I had to wait so long I began to fear he would never give me a chance to carry out my desire."

"Is that true, Gracie?" asked Sedgwick.

"Indeed it is," she replied, and then she quickly continued, "Does it drift badly along here?"

"Pretty badly," answered Sedgwick.

"Then, love," answered Grace, "buy the farm by all means and at all hazards."

"I believe I will," said Sedgwick. "I believe we need it in our business. If when we get back to England it shall be known that we have bought a home in America, and are having a house built, it will take all suspicions about a possible African enterprise away."

And that day he bought the farm, and the next one to it, and told his brother he would send from England plans for a house to be built in the spring.

Next day came the parting from the old home. Sedgwick promised to return before many months and stay longer, and he and his wife started for New York.

They rested over one train at Niagara, and took in its splendor as seen in winter-time, and arrived in New York on Wednesday. Forbes had purchased the tickets, and secured the rooms on the ship for the whole party. Thursday and Friday were devoted to taking in as much as possible of the great city. On Saturday they sailed.

The voyage was generally uneventful, except that one day they were treated to a beautiful spectacle of rescuing a crew from a water-logged craft. The wind was fresh, and there was an uneasy sea on, when a signal of distress was noted off across the water. The steamer was headed for it, and in half an hour came up to it. It was a little old lumber schooner. The sea was washing its deck with every wave. In the meantime, the second officer, with six seamen, had taken their places in a boat. The boat had been swung out over the water. The sailors were standing by, holding the tackle by which a boat is lowered; the commander was on the bridge, and when in hailing distance of the craft he dropped his hand and the engines stopped. He shouted through his trumpet, asking what was wanted. "To come aboard," a voice came back. The commander dropped his hand again, and down ran the boat and pulled away for the wreck. It would mount a wave, and then sink out of sight of those on the ship's high deck; then climb again. It returned in twenty minutes, and it was the commander of the great ship that took the hand of the schooner's rough skipper as the boat was hoisted, and for the remainder of the voyage the shipwrecked skipper had a state-room by himself, and his seat at the table was at the commander's right hand.

They reached Liverpool on the tenth day—Monday—and went up to London the same afternoon.

Reaching the city, Sedgwick sent a message to Mrs. Hamlin to meet them at the house of Jack and Rose, for he would not go to the Hamlin house.

Sedgwick, with his wife and Mrs. Hazleton, went at once to the home of the Brownings.

Rose was wild with delight at their coming. She hugged Grace, kissed her and cried over her; kissed Sedgwick, and welcomed Mrs. Hazleton so cordially that the lady was sure it was sincere.

Then Mrs. Hamlin came, and the whole business had to be done over again, the elder lady reproaching Grace and her husband for not coming to her, and scolding even as she embraced them.

Then matters quieted down enough to talk. Rose explained that she was a deserted wife; that Jack six weeks before had come home one night and told her that he was going to sail for South America next day; that she could not go along, but must be good and not be lonesome for six or eight weeks.

Then she continued: "That is the kind of monsters these men are. They beg and tease and protest until we women take pity on them and marry them, and then when the woman's chances for getting a good man are all spoiled, they rush off on the slightest provocation to America, or India, or Australia, or China, or some other barbarous place, and all a woman can do is to mope and threaten that next time she will know better."

And then she laughed, and then as suddenly cried and said: "Poor dear old Jack! May the seas be merciful, and may the good ship bring him safely back and be quick about it!"

And sure enough, a week later a step was heard outside, someone with a night key opened the door, and Rose flew into Jack's arms and cried so hysterically that it took Jack a long time to calm her.

Browning explained to Sedgwick that he had been earning a commission by going out and reporting on a mine in Venezuela, just over the border from British Guiana. He brought to Rose a world of tropical and marine curiosities. He was in superb health and seemed to be in good spirits.

It was understood that Sedgwick would have to go away again in a month, and it was his wish and that of Grace to find a house and have an establishment of their own.

Jack and Rose insisted that during Sedgwick's absence Grace and Mrs. Hazleton should be their guests, but Sedgwick said with a laugh: "O Mrs. Browning, you and Jack are good, but you both know that no house is big enough for two families." And quietly Jack and Rose and Mrs. Hamlin were enjoined never in Mrs. Hazleton's presence to mention Jordan's name.

However, the difficulty was finally settled. The house Jack lived in was a double house. The other half was occupied by a gentleman, his wife and one child. The lady was delicate, and the doctors, baffled by her case, ordered her—as usual—to try a change of climate. So Sedgwick hired the house as Browning had his; the servants remained, and permission was obtained to cut a doorway in the partition walls that divided the two halls, so that Rose could visit Grace in the morning and Grace could visit Rose in the evening.

Sedgwick and Browning were almost inseparable during the day-time. Sedgwick assured Browning that things were working well, begging him not to disturb either old man Hamlin, or Jenvie, or Stetson, but to "rig some purchase" after he should be gone, to get the remaining shares in 'The Wedge of Gold' from them, and also to be sure to keep the former owner of that mine in the country, even if he had to raise his salary.

He told him also that he expected next time to be absent four or five months.

One morning about thirty-five days after his arrival in London he received a cable from McGregor announcing the arrival of the "Pallas" at Melbourne and saying he would sail again in four days. Then Sedgwick made his final preparations for departure. He sent full plans for a house to his brother, with directions where to build. He obtained a promise from Mrs. Hazleton that she would not desert Grace during his absence, and from Jack that he would not try any prosecutions to obtain his money from the old men until his return, explaining that he had made his arrangements in America, and was then going to see that African mine and work it if it would do.

His wife knew where he was going; the others except Jack, believed he meant to return to the United States. He told them he had a little business in Paris and would this time take a French steamer.

Grace worried more over the second parting than she had over the first. She cried a good deal and was much distressed. But it was over at last, and Sedgwick was gone. He did stop over a few hours in Paris, made an arrangement which he desired to with the Bank of France, then speeded on to Marseilles, caught the Imperial steamer, sailed over the same route as before to Port Said, and there embarked on exactly the same steamer that he and Jordan sailed for Port Natal in seven months before.

He was twenty days from London to Port Natal. Jordan was at D'Umber waiting his coming, and the joy of the meeting was immeasurable. When they became calm, Jordan said: "It war a good while, old friend, but I knowed as how y'd cum."



CHAPTER XXIV.

DEALING IN MINING SHARES.

The presence of Sedgwick in London greatly excited and alarmed Jenvie, Hamlin and Stetson. That mysterious American had returned, and all confidently expected each day to be served with a notice of with a suit or a warrant of arrest. But finally it leaked out that he had bought a home in Ohio and ordered a house built, sending the plans from London, and as day after day passed and no sign was given, they gained courage, and when Sedgwick once more left England, as they supposed for America, they grew jubilant again. The firm was now Jenvie, Hamlin & Stetson. Their business was prospering, and they all realized that the way to make money was to have money to use, and the prestige which the command of large means gives.

About a week after Sedgwick's departure they were seated in their private office one morning congratulating themselves, when the former owner of 'The Wedge of Gold' was announced.

"We cannot afford to snub the origin of our fortune," said Jenvie; "show him in." This man's name was Emanuel. He was a Portugese. On this morning he presented a seedy and dissipated appearance, as though he had been enjoying his fortune too rapidly.

Once ushered in, he did not waste any time, but explained that he had very little money left, and had called to see, in case the gentlemen did not intend to develop 'The Wedge of Gold,' on what terms they would transfer back to him the mine, or any interest they might possess, and give him a chance to go over to Hamburg and try to work the capitalists of that city to buy a mine down among their second cousins in Boerland.

"How much could you afford to give for the property?" asked Hamlin.

"I sell him for L2,000. I would, for one speculation, buy him back if you could sell, and would give L1,000."

"But you always said it was a good mine," said Jenvie.

"Of course," he answered, "an excellent mine, but on ze best of ze mines there vos always one selling and then one buying price."

"If we were to sell to you, would you work the property?" asked Jenvie.

"Most certainly," he replied; "I would work it as I did before—on ze paper."

"We have sold the control," said Hamlin, "and have only left some shares of stock."

"I understand," said the man; "Mr. Browning has the control and is unloading the stock cheap. He three days ago tendered me some stock for one shilling per share. I said, 'No, but give me one bond at three pennies per share for four months, and I will consider ze matter, and try to help you close out some unproductive property.' He would not comply, but he thought it over very much, and asked me to call again. One broker, Mr. Williams, offered to sell me plenty for four pennies, but would not make one bond."

"We do not care to bond ours," said Jenvie, "but would sell for four pennies."

"I will not give it," said Emanuel, rising to go. "I would give you three pennies, but no more," and he started for the door.

The three consulted in private for a moment, and then Jenvie called to Emanuel, who was half out of the door, that he might have the stock at three pennies for cash, but begged him not to mention that he had purchased it. Emanuel paid the money and took the stock, and then said: "You ask me not to mention this business. Are you crazy? Suppose Mr. Browning by and by bonds me ten thousand shares less than half he has got, with this in my pocket who will then have ze control? I want you to promise to say nothing about this sale for six months. In the meantime I propose to become just so intimate with Mr. Browning as possible."

Then he winked and walked out, and the conspirators looked in each other's faces and smiled.

Emanuel went directly to Browning and delivered him the stock, but he lied about the price he had paid for it, telling Browning he had given five pennies per share for it. But while Browning was sure the man had lied, he was satisfied, for he then had all of the stock of "The Wedge of Gold."

Browning had, as he told Sedgwick, gone to South America on a commission. It was known in London that he was a miner who had made a success in America. An Englishman who had a bond on a mine in Venezuela had hired him to go over and make a report on it. He fulfilled the trust, but he heard while there of another mine in a district ten miles away. He went to see it and bought it for L2,000, hired a foreman and ten men; laid out the work for them for six months ahead, and left L1,000 in a local bank to pay them, with instructions to the foreman to send him a report and sample by every steamer.

The first mine was sold on his report, and besides his commission of L300, the happy man who had sold the mine called at his house one day when Browning was out, and left an envelope directed to him. The envelope contained a check for L3,000, and a note saying that the writer thought he was entitled to one-tenth of the proceeds of the sale, and that Browning must accept the money, for the writer intended that day to leave England. Browning turned the money over to Rose as her fee "as an expert."

A month later a steamer from Georgetown (British Guiana) brought news that the Browning mine was developing superbly, and still a month later the foreman estimated that he had five thousand tons of ore in sight which would average as well as the samples sent. Browning had the samples assayed, and they averaged L5 6s. in gold per ton.

He had a friend named Campbell, who was a broker: Campbell dropped in upon him as he was looking over the assays, and he told him all about the mine.

"What will you give me to sell that property for you, Browning?" asked Campbell.

"Not a penny," said Browning, "but I will give you a bond on it for four months for an even L100,000, and you may make as much above that as your conscience will allow; you may, by Jove."

"Will you make me a report and map?" asked Campbell.

"I will write you a report, and make you a rough sketch," said Browning, "but my drawing lessons were neglected when I was young, and I am not a very reliable or finished map-maker."

The conversation closed with an agreement, and the bond and report were in due time finished.



CHAPTER XXV.

A WEDGE OF GOLD INDEED.

Sedgwick and Jordan waited at Port Natal for the coming of the "Pallas." Sedgwick explained what the ship would bring, and told Jordan about Grace being in San Francisco to receive him, and how while the mill was being built, he and his wife had raced around the country.

Jordan was delighted. "I told yo' she war a game girl," he said. "Think of her traveling six thousand mile to jine ther man who hed run away from her at ther meetin' house do'! But I'm mighty glad she did, all the same. It confirms my estermation of ther lady."

Then he explained that he put on eight-hour shifts to run the tunnel, two English miners on each shift to handle the drills and gads, and Boers and Kaffirs to carry back the debris; that the rock was most favorable, and rapid progress was made, averaging a little over ten feet per day; that he offered bribes and bounties to the shift that should make most progress; and that he had tapped the ledge and cross-cut it in four months, "because," he added naively, "we lost all reckonin' o' time, 'nd I'm afeerd we worked of er Sunday sometimes;" that the ore was quite up to the average, or a little better than what was on the dump; that so soon as the vein was struck he had started drifts up and down the ledge and an upraise, and had, when he left, probably 1,000 tons of ore on the dump, and that as the mine was further opened the daily output was steadily increasing. He had, moreover, got the mill site graded, and the wall that the battery was to be set in front of, built, comfortable quarters put up, and the road through the canon made so that it would be good for heavy teams.

When he heard that Sedgwick had sent some heavy wagons, yokes, harness and chains he was glad, saying: "I war afeerd you'd forget it," and at once went about to select the stock and drivers for those wagons.

After they had waited eight days, the "Pallas" made the port.

Captain McGregor reported a prosperous voyage, and the next day the discharging of cargo into lighters began and was rushed with all speed. As soon as the wagons were landed, the work of setting them up began, and the training of the teams was likewise inaugurated.

The first full loads were started for the mine in a week. The heavy machinery was loaded on the imported wagons, native conveyances were secured for the other freight, and in fourteen days everything was in transit.

In the meantime another mail had arrived from England, bringing letters from Grace to Sedgwick. One had news of special interest. It told that the confidence of Mrs. Hazleton had been partly gained; that she had learned much of the lady's life; how she was left an orphan at thirteen in New Jersey; how at seventeen when at school she had run away and married a wild youth; how they left at once for the West; how the wild boy settled down, and with a few hundred dollars which he had when they were married he had made a few thousand and was doing well when he suddenly sickened and died; how then his relatives came forward and made a contest for his property, setting up that she had never been married; that the showing was so fearful against her that the court in Iowa refused her any support from the estate, and in her shame and confusion she went away to Texas and taught school for six months to earn money enough to make her defense; that there she met an unlettered and sensitive man, but at the same time one of the clearest-brained, most generous and noble-hearted men in the world, but in whom, from the fact he was so sensitive and generous, she could not confide, lest she might not be able to vindicate herself; and if she failed, she feared she would not only lose his confidence, but that it would make him believe there was no truth in the world. How with the money she earned, she was able to go to New Jersey, to find in the papers of the old clergyman who had married her (and who had in the meantime died), not only a full record of the marriage, but the marriage certificate with the names of the witnesses attached, which certificate had never been called for. By it, too, she was able to find the witnesses of the marriage, and one of those witnesses had known her all her life. So when the case came on for hearing she was so completely vindicated that her neighbors who had turned on her a cold shoulder came back with every outward demonstration of joy over her triumph. But she hated the place; converted all she had into money; bought a lot in a cemetery outside that State and had her husband's remains moved there, because she thought his sleep would be vexed in a community so mean; and then wrote to her friend in Texas, merely asking if he was well, and if she might explain something to him.

In ten days the letter came back with the endorsement on it by the postmaster that her friend had sold his property at a sacrifice and disappeared, his nearest friends did not know where. Grace's letter added that she was worrying under the fear that perhaps if she had not gone to Texas the true man would never have made the sacrifice.

Grace declared that she was in love with the lady; that she was a fine scholar, a finished elocutionist, a marvelous musician, and the comfort of her life in her husband's absence. The letter closed with an injunction that Sedgwick must bring Jordan safely home with him, and not be too long about it.

How Sedgwick wanted to show that letter to Jordan! But he realized that if Mrs. Hazleton loved him it was for her to tell him so.

He racked his brain to invent a necessity for Jordan's return to London, but a little thought convinced him that all such expedients would be in vain, because Jordan had, as he said, "enlisted fo' the wah," and Sedgwick realized that if on any pretext he sent him away, the suspicion might arise in Jordan's mind that the object was a selfish one, now that the labor and anxiety of making the enterprise a success had well-nigh passed.

So he decided that the thing to do was to hurry the work in hand to culmination. The rainy season was pretty well over, and the material for the mill was pushed forward with reasonable dispatch. It was all on the ground, set up, and in motion in fifty days.

Sedgwick found on reaching the mine that Jordan had built the needed houses, and had the mill as nearly completed as it could be before the machinery was set in place.

The ore crushed easily, and the mill reduced two tons and a half per stamp readily in every twenty-four hours, in thirty days crushing 3,000 tons. It yielded in the mill $35 per ton, and at the end of thirty days there were bars of the value of $100,000 ready for shipment. Then Sedgwick said: "Come, Tom, our work is finished here, at least for the present; let us seek civilization."

"Agreed, old friend," said Jordan. "I'll get my trophies together and be ready ter start in ther morning."

"And what are your trophies?" asked Sedgwick.

"Why, didn't I tell yer?" was the reply. "It got kinder lonesome while yo' war away, so I went on a hunt. I've got ther finest pair o' leopard skins yo' ever seen, some elephant tusks, 'nd I migh'er brought a sarpent skin that war a daisy, but I drew ther line on snakes. But he war twenty-three feet long, and ther look outer his eyes war not reassurin' by a blamed sight. I migh'er got a giraff skin, too, but she hed her baby with her, and I'm not breakin' up no giraffe families."

It was understood that they were to leave in the morning; were to go in the covered spring wagon, and were to carry the gold.

One of the English miners was made superintendent of the mine. The mill-men from San Francisco agreed to look after the mill for a year, and the civil engineer undertook to see to the books, to attend to the finances and send an express to the coast once a week.

So Sedgwick and Jordan, with one Boer, started early in the morning. It was in the last week in May; the weather was cold for that region, for it was the beginning of winter.

They drove out of the narrow valley, through the canon, out upon the open table-land and down to the house or dug-out which they had first found when in search of a way out. They rested there, ate some luncheon, fed their horses, and after an hour and a half started on.

They had brought with them their repeating rifles and revolvers. Before getting into the wagon, Jordan had rolled up and fastened the curtains of the wagon, examined closely the guns, and then gave a long, sweeping look all around the horizon.

"What are you looking for, Jordan?" asked Sedgwick.

"Nuthin' much," he answered. "Only, Jim, have yer gun whar yo' can reach it quick if wanted."

"Why?" asked Sedgwick.

"Nuthin," said Jordan. "Only I never seen this place afore thet thar war not a dozen cut-throat-lookin' scoundrels 'round, and they mighter mean mischief, knowin' as how we have ther treasure aboard."

They had driven on for perhaps a mile, when the road ran down close to the stream. All at once half a dozen shots rang out of the willows, and the Boer sprang from the wagon and ran for the bush.

Sedgwick was driving. Jordan in a second caught his gun, and springing over the seat, said:

"Drive on quick, Jim, and in ther meantime I'll try ter entertain ther varmints."

A Boer stepped out of the willows and raised his gun. He never fired it, but threw up his hands and fell on his face. A shot from Jordan's gun had changed his calculations.

Three or four more shots were fired from the bush, but they did no harm.

Sedgwick had urged the team into a run, and they had just begun to hope the ambuscade had been passed, when three more Boers sprang out of the willows nearly opposite them and fired.

Jordan killed two of them in a moment, but the third one fired again, and the bullet struck Jordan's left arm, disabling it and making a bad wound.

"Can you drive, think?" asked Sedgwick.

Jordan thought he could, and took the reins; Sedgwick picked up his gun.

Three more Boers just then appeared by the willows opposite. Sedgwick could shoot as rapidly and as accurately as Jordan, and he cleared the field in a moment.

The road bent away from the stream soon after, back upon the table-land, and they were safe. They stopped, and Sedgwick bound up Jordan's arm. The bone was not broken, and no great blood-vessel was seriously injured, but he had received a nasty flesh wound through the muscles of his fore-arm.

As they proceeded on their journey, Jordan said: "That black guard as I first got a crack at hed been working for us two months. He war at his work yesterday. He put up this business, but how we sprised him! Ther devil that jumped from the wagon when ther scrimmage begun war his runnin' pard. Wur it not lucky neither hoss war hit?"

They reached Port Natal in six days without further incident; but despite all the care that Sedgwick could give it, Jordan's arm was badly inflamed and very painful when they reached the seashore.

No regular steamer was in port, but the "Pallas" was seen at anchor out in the roadstead.

Sedgwick engaged a boat, and with Jordan pulled out to the steamer.

McGregor was delighted at their coming, took them on board and said: "Now, boys, we will have a night of it."

But Sedgwick said: "First, Captain, I want your surgeon to look at Jordan's arm."

"Why, of course," said McGregor. The doctor was called. He examined the arm, then tested the man's temperature, and finally said:

"The wound is nothing in itself. Under normal conditions it would heal in a fortnight, but Mr. Jordan's system is run down. He has a low fever on him now, and needs immediate treatment and careful nursing."

This was a new situation, and one that troubled Sedgwick exceedingly. He was silent for a few seconds, and then looking up, said:

"Captain McGregor, where do you go next?"

"I was just going to pull out for Calcutta, Hong Kong, Yokohama and San Francisco," he replied.

"And when do you sail?" asked Sedgwick.

"I intended to put to sea to-morrow," was the answer; "everything is ready."

"Can I induce you for love and money to make the run at full speed to Naples or Marseilles?" asked Sedgwick.

"Not for money, but for love, yes," was the reply.

"And can I have a room for Jordan right now?" was the next question.

"You shall have the bridal chamber of my ship," said McGregor.

"Thanks, Captain," said Sedgwick, "and now let us get the dear old boy to bed."

Jordan insisted that he was not ill, but before they could get him undressed he was seized with a chill, and they worked upon him an hour before he rallied, grew warm and fell asleep.

In the meantime the night had come down, so Sedgwick got a little supper and then went back to his friend. The captain, steward, indeed all hands, were all attention, for they knew all about both men.

Next morning Jordan was comfortable, but the fever was having its way. Sedgwick went ashore, got his own and Jordan's baggage and the bullion, and when he returned the ship was at once got under way for her northern voyage.

The attentions of Sedgwick to his sick friend were simply incessant. The ship's surgeon was also assiduous in his care. Captain McGregor was all the time most solicitous. As they approached the equator, they fixed for Jordan a bed on deck where the air, even if it was hot, was better in motion over him than in the stifling state-room.

The ship rounded the great cape in ten days, and reached the Red Sea on the twelfth day. Then the surgeon motioned Sedgwick aside, and said: "The case of your friend makes me very anxious. His wound is not of itself serious. He has a little fever, but it would not be of a dangerous type in an ordinary patient. In this case the sick man acts like one who has lost hope, and under the sorrow of his loss his nerve power has ceased to exert its force, and the man is liable to die simply because he will make no effort to live."

"I know," said Sedgwick, "and I have been dreading such a report as you have made me, for the last seven days. If you can keep his life from going out until we can reach Naples, I believe we can then find a tonic that will save him."

"I will try," was the answer, "but he is growing weaker every day, and I am afraid. However, the temperature is growing cooler and it gives us a better chance."

Sedgwick tried by talking, by reading, and by drawing rosy pictures of what they would do in England and America, to rouse Jordan, but without much success.

He lay patient and still on his couch, and to all inquiries would answer: "I'm perfectly comfortable, dear friend. Do not worry about me; everything is as it should be."

Then Sedgwick tried another experiment. He told the sick man that he must exert himself to be better; that sickness was often influenced by the will of the patient, and added that the real work of trying to undo the wrong perpetrated upon Browning would have to be done when they reached England, and that he should then need the best counsel and help of his friend.

Jordan listened and said: "I'll do the best I ken, Jim, but it will be all right, I'm shor."

So the hours went by, and Captain McGregor told the engineer to crowd on all steam, and to bribe the fireman to give the ship all the speed possible.

At Suez, Sedgwick went ashore and cabled his wife that he was on the "Pallas;" to come at once to Naples; to induce Jack and Rose to come also, and, if she thought best, to bring Mrs. Hazleton, for Jordan was ill, and he feared nothing but the cheer of friendly faces would arouse him and give him the strength to live. He added that she must use her woman's wits as to what she would tell Mrs. H., and that to outsiders it must all seem but as running over to the continent for a few days' outing.

When Grace Sedgwick, very early one morning, received and read that message, she held it for many minutes, lost in thought. She had grown very near to Mrs. Hazleton, but except when she had drawn from her the story of her life, she had never probed in the least to see if in her heart she was nursing a vast regret.

But she had noticed some things that led her to believe that the lady had an anxiety which she was trying to conceal. She was always ready to visit any point of interest that would naturally attract a stranger, or to attend any public assemblage that a stranger might be lured to. Again, she always approached such places with vivacity, and returned from them in silence.

As Mrs. Sedgwick sat with the dispatch doubled up in her closed hand, Mrs. Hazleton came into the room. Touching a chair by her side, Grace said: "Come and sit by me, Margaret. I want to talk with you."

She complied, merely saying: "What do you want to talk about, love?"

"Are you happy?" asked Grace.

"Indeed, yes. Why do you ask?" was the reply. "Have you not been making my life a bed of roses ever since your blessed eyes first rested on me?"

Grace looked at her intently for a moment, then said: "Is there some one whom you wish exceedingly to see?"

A rosy flush swept like a wave over her face, which was followed by a quick pallor. But she recovered herself almost instantly, and said: "Why, Mrs. Sedgwick, do you ask me so strange a question?"

Grace arose, then bending down, took her hand, laid the dispatch upon the palm, closed the fingers gently over it and said:

"My dear, there is a paper for you to read. I am going to Rose for a few minutes. When I return, you may tell me anything you please, or nothing at all, as you please; only let me tell you first that before my husband went to Nevada, he went to another State, lived there with a great-hearted man for a year, and that man was with him when he left me at the church door on my wedding day, and they have been together since, except when my husband left him to go to America to buy machinery and came back this way to join him again." Then she suddenly bent and kissed her friend and was gone.

She went through to Rose's side of the house, found her, and asked where Mr. Browning was.

"He is in the library," said Rose; "he has not yet gone out this morning."

"Then come with me," said Grace. Once in the library, she said: "I have news from my James this morning. He cabled me from Suez. He is coming home, and he wants us to meet him at Naples. Mr. Jordan has been with him—is coming with him, is ill, I fear very ill, and he wants us to meet him, I believe chiefly on that dear man's account. I shall leave this afternoon; can you go with me?"

"I can," said Jack.

"I can," said Rose.

"I am so glad," said Grace. "And say, there must be nothing said to the servants, except that we have run over to the continent on a lark, for a few days. And now good-bye until we are ready."

With that she returned to her own sitting room. Mrs. Hazleton was gone, and it was a full half hour before she returned. When she did, she was very pale. A look of anxiety was on her face, but a radiant new light was in her eyes.

She came straight up to Grace, and in a low voice said: "When do you start?"

"To-day," said Grace; "by the first Dover train."

"O, thanks; pray God we be not too late," was the answer; and then the poor woman sank into a chair, covered her face with her hands, and broke into sobs that were almost hysterical.

Grace stood by her for a few minutes, then knelt down, put one arm around her, drew her toward her, gently drew down the hands and laid her cheek against the tear-dripping cheek of her friend, and said: "Now you must be brave, dear Margaret; it's going to be all well. I feel it in every fibre of my being. My husband is with him. He will supply him with the vitality to live until the vision of your face above his pillow will bring the stimulus that he needs."

The true woman recovered herself at length, and said: "O Mrs. Sedgwick, how did you discover my secret, and the great-hearted man whom I have sought for and prayed for so long?"

"It was not I," said Grace. "It was my husband. He lived with Mr. Jordan a year in Texas. After he had made his little fortune in Nevada, he—thanks be to God—came home with Jack. He met his old friend here, who frankly told him how he loved you, and why he had sold his home and turned wanderer. Just then Jack had been induced by his step-father and mine, and the knave Stetson, to invest part of his fortune in a gold mine in South Africa; and by a deception, nearly all that was left of his fortune was lured away into the same channel. Jack was well-nigh frantic. Rose had been waiting for him for four years and a half, so my husband insisted upon their marriage and determined to go and see if anything could be made out of the wreck, and asked me to wait until his return. I agreed, only stipulating that we, too, should be married before he went. I left him at the church. My husband was a silver miner; Mr. Jordan was a gold miner—I do not know the difference, only the gold miner can test gold ore—and they together went to Africa. They found the mine good, and found a new road to it, over which the machinery could be transported. Then my husband sailed via Australia for San Francisco to buy the machinery; Mr. Jordan remained to open the mine. My husband cabled me from Australia, and the next day I received his letter from South Africa, telling me that he would be two months in San Francisco, and then would come by London on his way back to the South Land. I took the first ship and reached San Francisco before his ship came in from Australia; then when I knew the ship was coming up the bay, I had the apartments dressed in flowers, robed myself in attire such as I had meant should be my wedding garments, and waited his coming."

Then she paused a moment as the memory of that meeting swept over her, while the arms of her friend stole around her.

Continuing, she said: "When ready to start for England, we, as you know, made arrangements to stop a day or two with our friends in Indiana. When you were presented, my husband recognized you instantly by the name and description given of you by his friend. When you sang that first song, he guessed your secret and told me his thought, and helped me to work the stratagem to lure you here. When he reached Port Natal, he tried to invent some plausible reason to induce Mr. Jordan to come here, but he could not; and so has hurried to get the mill working, and now both are on the way, and I must meet them. Jack and Rose are going with me; will you?"

The arms of Margaret Hazleton were clinging to Grace, and the tears were raining down her face. So soon as she could speak, she said:

"And so, while I thought you were my best friend, you have really been my guardian angel. I came with you because I hoped to find the noble man who had self-exiled himself, and all the time when I thought I was disguising my heart, your clear eyes have been reading it. I remember now in Texas the boys were always talking of a famous Jim who had lived with them, but I never dreamed that he was your husband.

"My gratitude to you and your grand husband is bankrupt, but now no matter. The first thing to do is to be on our way—only, do Mr. and Mrs. Browning also know my secret?"

"Not at all," said Grace. "Until just now they did not even know that Mr. Jordan was with my husband, but I will tell Rose all that may be necessary."

All left that day, in due time reached Naples, and engaged ample quarters before the "Pallas" entered the bay.



CHAPTER XXVI.

FEVER VISIONS.

As the "Pallas" passed out of the canal upon the broad-breasted Mediterranean, Jordan noticed the change in the motion of the ship, and said to Sedgwick: "Jim, old friend, we is back agin on ther waters whar men first learned ter be sailors, aren't we?"

"Yes," said Sedgwick, "and in three days more I hope to gladden your eyes with the faces of some dear friends."

"Yo's mighty kind, old friend," said the sick man; "but, Jim, I wanter tell yo', if we should be diserpinted, yo'll find inside my trunk a little trunk, and in thet yo'll find things all fixed ter tell yer what ter do. I 'ranged it when yo' war away, not knowin' what mount be. Remember one thing mo': everything's all right 'nd goin' ter be right. I'll get well 'nd help yo' ef I ken; ef I don't, yo'll make it easy, nuff, without me."

"Indeed I cannot," said Sedgwick. "You must brace up and get well, for I tell you, dear old Tom, that I can see better than you, and I have worked out a plan which is going to be a delight for you."

"Maybe so, Jim," said the sick man, and dozed off into a troubled sleep. The surgeon had been giving the patient some powerful medicine, and told Sedgwick it might make him flighty, but not to permit that to alarm him; that he thought he could promise to hold the life in his friend for a few days more.

Jordan awoke after an hour's sleep, and said: "Jim, I had a mighty quar dream, sho. I seen all ther fleets ez hez ever sailed on these waters, havin' er grand review. It war ther ghosts ev ther ships, I reckon, but they looked mighty real. I seen ther fleets ev Tyre with ther sails like calico mustangs; I seen ther Persian fleets thet ther Greeks done up et Mycale 'nd Salamis; I seen ther fitin' ships uv Rome, 'nd Carthage, 'nd Egypt, 'nd Venice, down ter Nelson's fite on ther Nile. O, but it war a grand persession! Thar war calls in a hundred tongues; thar war responses in a hundred mo'; thar war decks filled with armed men, with helmets, spears 'nd shields; thar war singin' 'nd prayin' 'nd trumpet calls; thar war ther rattle ev arms, ther ring ev steel, 'nd ther harsh blast ev war-horns, 'nd ther sounds changed from age to age, until thar came at last ther roar uv hevy guns in regelar broadsides. All ther echoes uv all ther battles uv all ther centeries war in my ears. It war grand; grander nor Chatternooga. Thar sea gave up its ded fur me, so fur ez this water goes. History held befo' me all its pages, 'nd they wuz all 'luminated. Ez thet picter swept befo' my eyes, 'nd all thar clamors filled my ears, it war more thrillin' then anything yo' ever dreamed of. I ken har ther calls, 'nd ther replies, 'nd ther beatin' uv oars, tho' thar oars war broken, 'nd ther calls growed still two 'nd three thousand year ago. It war beautiful, Jim, even ef it war all 'lusion ter ther eyes 'nd ears. Do yo' remember, yo' read me once 'Ther Midnight Review?' Why, Jim, thet war nuthin'. This uv mine war ther review ev all thar ages, er movin' picter uv ther world since befo' civilerzation begun."

Then the sick man dozed off into sleep again, and Sedgwick bathed his face, and hung over him as a mother watches when the life of her child wavers between this world and the next.

After awhile Jordan awoke again. This time there was an eager, joyous look in his wan face, and he searched the room around with a most expectant gaze.

Sedgwick bent over him, and said softly: "What is it, old friend?"

"Why, Jim, old man," said he, "that war most singler. I hearn her voice a-prayin', hearn it jest ez plain 'nd natral ez ever I hearn it afore, prayin' thet I might git well. O, Jim, it war music, sho' nuff! and ef eny angels war a-listenin', they'd intercede fur me jest outer courtesy."

"She was praying, dear friend," said Sedgwick. "I knew it, and her prayer is going to be answered. Her soul is trying to call to your soul to rouse itself, and you must heed the call."

"I'll try," said the sick man. "But don't worry, old friend; no matter what comes, it'll be all right. And, say, Jim, open my grip and put ther handkerchief you will see with dots upon it here next my heart."

For the twenty-four hours prior to reaching Naples Jordan was delirious most of the time, and did not sleep at all. Finally the surgeon administered a powerful opiate, and when the ship came to anchor in the beautiful bay, the invalid was in a profound sleep.

Browning was on the lookout for the ship, and was soon upon its deck. He and Sedgwick clasped hands, and the first words of Sedgwick were: "Jack, are all well, and who is here?"

"All well," said Jack; "and your wife, my wife, and Mrs. Hazleton are waiting at the hotel for you. And how is your friend?"

"Desperately ill, but I have hopes of him now," said Sedgwick.

The surgeon was appealed to, and he said it would be better to take Jordan ashore while yet he slept.

"I must first send a message that we are coming, and that he is asleep under opiates, or we shall frighten those who are watching for us," said Sedgwick.

Captain McGregor volunteered to deliver the message as he was going ashore for a few minutes to report to the port officials that he brought no cargo to be discharged, except the baggage of two passengers. Sedgwick thanked him, took his arm, led him aside, and said to him: "Captain, when you find my wife, tell her privately that she must keep the other ladies from seeing us as we carry Jordan to the house. It would disturb and perhaps alarm them, for he is not only wan and poor, but the sleep upon him looks like the twin brother of Death."

"I will see to it all," said the captain, and at once went ashore.

Grace saw him and recognized him as he alighted at the hotel, and ran to the parlor to meet him alone. He explained to her the situation, and she undertook to see that the injunction should be carried out.

"How long before they will come?" asked Grace.

"Perhaps thirty minutes," was the answer.

"Then excuse me, captain," said Grace, "but come back later. I want to thank you for all your kindness, and have a visit with you. But now I must see to my two charges, that no mistake be made."

McGregor promised to return, shook hands, called Grace a "trump," and strode away.

So soon as he had gone, Grace rang, and when a servant came she sent for the manager of the hotel. To him she explained that in a few minutes a sick man would be brought to the house; that his illness was not at all contagious; that No. —— of her apartments must be prepared for him, and he must be carried there at once.

He asked if she was sure there was no danger to guests from the sick man, and she answered that he must know that no sick man could be landed without a permit from the port surgeon.

He bowed and promised that her wishes should be carried out.

Then she went to find Mrs. Browning, and told her to propose to Mrs. Hazleton to go for a drive to kill time, and to be sure to drive in the opposite direction from the bay; to hurry up and to be absent for an hour or an hour and a quarter. She had before explained to Rose the real situation.

Rose complied. As the two ladies came from their rooms attired for the ride, Rose said:

"Grace, come and join us; we are going to see Naples a little."

But Grace excused herself for that day, promising to go next morning.

She saw them driven away, and then took up her watch for the expected visitors.

She did not wait long. Four sailors were carrying the sick man; while Jack, the ship's surgeon, and Sedgwick were walking near. The manager met them and directed the way to the room set aside for Jordan. Grace waited in the upper hall for the procession. Sedgwick sprang to her, but she put a finger on her lips, caught his hand, then circled his neck with her arms, swiftly kissed him, and then whispered: "O darling, we must see now to our poor dear sick friend," and tore herself away from him.

Jordan was put in bed still sleeping. Then Sedgwick, the surgeon and sailors came out. Sedgwick feed the sailors generously, though they did not want to accept anything. He then presented Surgeon Craig to his wife.

Grace greeted him and said: "Doctor, when the sick man awakens, will there be any danger to him if some one very dear to him shall be sitting by his couch?"

"None at all," was the answer. "That is the medicine that he needs. If we could find the right friend, I believe it would cure him; if we cannot, I fear the result, for it is a sorrow more than the fever, I believe, that is killing him."

Half an hour later the ladies returned. Grace had Sedgwick take Browning from the sick room; then explained to Mrs. Hazleton that Mr. Jordan was in the house very ill and sleeping, but that if she were strong enough she ought to be at his bedside when he awoke; asked her if she could bear the ordeal, and if she thought she could, whether she would prefer to be alone or to have her with her.

"I am strong enough," was the answer, "and I would rather no one would be near."

Then Grace led her to the door and said: "Margaret, be brave, and keep in thought that you are going to restore your friend to health; and see, this room is next to mine. I shall be waiting there; if you need me, tap softly upon the partition door." Then she opened noiselessly the door, kissed her friend, waited until she passed into the room, closed the door, and then ran to her husband, climbed upon his knees, embraced and kissed him, and cried with joy.

It was two hours before any sign came from the adjoining room. Then the door was softly opened; Mrs. Hazleton came in without speaking, grasped Sedgwick's hand, pointed to the room where Jordan lay, and said in a whisper: "He wants you." And as Sedgwick passed from the apartment, the over-wrought woman fell upon her knees, buried her face in the lap of Grace, and said: "Dear friend, help me to thank God."

Later Sedgwick reported that as he approached the bed, Jordan smiled, and in a feeble voice said: "Jim, old friend, I'ze mighty weak, but don't mind it; I shall pull through easy now. But if I don't, I'll be even; ther world's been thet kind ter me thet I'll keep thankin' God ter all eternity."

Then in his weakness he wept, but controlling himself at last, he continued: "I'ze too powerful weak ter make much noise, but if yo' think a loud invercation is heard sooner nor a weak one, thank God fur me in your loudest key."

Sedgwick took up his watch by Jordan for the night. He slept much of the night, and smiles stole over his face as he slept, but he was awfully prostrated with weakness.

After that, a regular order was prescribed. Sedgwick watched at night, and the others took turns by day.

Three nights after their arrival, the fever left Jordan. The doctor had anticipated it, and had told Sedgwick he would remain with him. The fever left him so utterly prostrated that it was all the doctor and Sedgwick could do to keep life in him for two or three hours. But the faintness finally passed, and the patient dropped into a peaceful sleep; and the doctor, with a sigh of relief, said: "The crisis is passed, Sedgwick. He is going to pull through."

But it was a wearisome rally. It was several days before the anxiety was over. It was a week after the coming of Sedgwick before Sedgwick explained to Browning what he had done; how Jordan was an old gold miner; and that the reason he had not told Browning much of what he was doing was because Jordan was the one to test the ore, and was anxious to go; he, Sedgwick, thought it was a shame to separate Jack and Rose; then he thought also if Jack knew he had gone to Africa he would worry over it. Then he told him of the mill, and finally that he had with him $100,000 in bullion, the result of the first month's run of the mill; had fixed matters so that the mill would be running right along, and that there was ore enough in the stopes to insure steady crushing for at least four or five years to come.

"And what now?" asked Jack.

"Now your work must come in," said Sedgwick. "You and your wife must go to England as soon as Tom is a little better. In your own way, make arrangements to have announced, so that Hamlin, Jenvie and Stetson will see it, that there is a good deal of movement in 'The Wedge of Gold'; have substantially the same report, only differently worded, as that contained in the prospectus which you were caught on; let it be known through what brokers the stock is being handled, and have copies of the reports in their hands, only fix the price at L1 per share. If the old men please to buy, let them have some of the stock. If they do not, we will try to make them sorry that they did not buy when they could. By the way, have you still your hand on Emanuel, and can you depend upon him?"

"I think I can," said Jack.

"Well, then," said Sedgwick, "if no news of the mill has been received in England, and the conspirators think you are merely trying to unload some of your stock on the old report, may be if they can be handled right, they may be induced to sell some of the stock short. If they can, perhaps we can get back some of the money from them."

"I understand," said Jack, "and I believe I can work it."

"Especially if, when I get to England with the bullion, we can call a meeting and declare a dividend," said Sedgwick.

"I see," said Browning. "But, old boy, I wish you had let me help you work this thing out. I do, by Jove."

Just then Grace and Rose came out on the veranda, where the old friends were talking.

Rose bent over and put her arms around Jack's neck, and said: "Dear old Jack, do you know what day this is?"

"Why, little one?" asked Jack.

"O, you stupid!" said Rose.

"What is to-day?" asked Sedgwick.

"Another stupid!" said Rose. "Two beautiful and accomplished ladies go to church and give respectability to two of the wild tribe of the West, by marrying them, and they forget it in a little year."

"It was this day year, on my soul," said Jack. "It was, by Jove."

"Come here, sweet," said Sedgwick to Grace. Then taking her in his arms he kissed her, and said: "My days have been turned into nights of late, else I would not have forgotten. Are you glad you are married, Grace?"

"Very glad," Grace whispered. "Are you glad?"

"Very," said Sedgwick, "even as is the ransomed soul when the symphonies of Summer Land first give their enchantment to the spirit ear."

"I will tell you why I forgot, Rose," said Jack. "My life did not count until you became a part of myself. I am really but a year old, and you do not chide one-year-old kids for being forgetful."

"What glorified prevaricators these men are, Grace, are they not?" said Rose.

"O, Rose!" said Grace. "The mission of woman is to suffer and be devoted in her suffering, and how could we carry out our mission if all men were good, and had good memories, and did not run away to Africa and Venezuela and Australia, and come home with fevers, and—and—." Then she kissed Sedgwick, and jumping up caught Rose by the arm, and said: "Let us punish them by running away from them."

As they walked away Sedgwick watched them, and when they turned a corner of the veranda, said: "Jack, would you give the year's happiness just past for all the gold in Africa?"

"No, indeed," was the reply; "but you had the strength to leave your bride on your marriage day for a chance of gaining a little of that gold."

"O, no, old friend," said Sedgwick. "We had enough money left, but there was a principle at stake. I went to vindicate that principle if I could."

"Pardon me, Jim," said Jack. "But you were stronger than I could have been. I could not have left my bride then. I had waited so long, that to have parted then would have broken her heart and would have destroyed me."

"I realized all that, Jack," said his friend; "so did Grace, and we both sympathized with you both, and decided that the cup of bitterness must be turned from you."

"Of course," said Jack. "What you did was jolly grand; what you have done has been so splendid that I cannot express my thoughts of it yet; I can't, by Jove! And Gracie's part through all has been superb. I think, too, your sick friend has been pure gold through it all."

"Pure diamonds rather," said Sedgwick. "O Jack, you do not half comprehend the grandeur of that sterling man. When his heart was slowly shriveling up in his breast, he forgot himself and his sorrow to cheer me, and when it was necessary to go for the machinery, he insisted that I should go, and he, of his own accord, went back to the depths of that South Land wilderness and worked uncomplainingly for months. No grander man ever lived."



CHAPTER XXVII.

SELLING STOCK SHORT.

After a few days more Jack and Rose returned to England.

Soon after their return, one of the morning papers had an announcement that the banking house of Campbell & Co. (Limited), No. —— street, was promoting the "Wedge of Gold," a mining property in Southern Africa, near the border of the Transvaal, which was believed to be a most promising property.

The same day Emanuel dropped into the house of Jenvie, Hamlin & Stetson. He was seedy-looking, and seemed a good deal run down both in purse and spirits.

"What do you think of the 'Wedge of Gold' announcement?" asked Jenvie.

"What is it?" asked Emanuel. He was shown the paper.

"What do I think?" he said. "I think may be the young man needs a little money. The mails came in from Port Natal yesterday. Is there any news from the mine?"

"None at all that we can find," said Jenvie.

"I have no idea," said the Portuguese, "but if it is more than three shillings per share, it is one good chance for a bear to sell it short and hug himself for his own act."

With this he went out. The three men were silent for a good five minutes. Then Jenvie rang the bell, and when it was answered he said to the messenger: "Go to Campbell & Co.'s; find out the price of 'Wedge of Gold' stock, and ask what data the house has from the property."

The clerk returned in half an hour, and reported that it was held at L1, and he produced a statement of the property.

This was eagerly run over by the three. "Why," said Jenvie, as he completed reading it, "this is but a rehash of the statement of a year ago; the same depth is given, all the details just as they were. Jack must be making a desperate play for money."

"One pound per share!" said Hamlin. "Why, the man must be after some other Nevada miner who has more money than judgment."

"The 'Wedge of Gold' was our good fortune," said Stetson. "Through it we got a real start. We made a good bit out of it, which we have since doubled. Let us try another venture in the stock."

"What! Buy it at L1 per share?" asked Hamlin.

"No, no," said Jenvie. "Let us sell 20,000 shares to be delivered in three months at ten shillings. We can send Emanuel and get it at four or five shillings."

After weighing the matter in every way they decided to increase the amount and sell 30,000 shares.

The offer was taken, the money paid, and the contract to deliver the 30,000 shares in three months was signed by Jenvie, Hamlin & Co. Then each, unknown to the other, sold 10,000 shares more short.

The fact was wired to Sedgwick at once. He showed Grace the dispatch and said: "My enchantress, that will leave your mother's husband and Rose's mother's husband bankrupt if we wish it; what shall we do?"

"How will it do so?" asked Grace.

"In three months that stock will be worth L5 per share," said Sedgwick. "See what it will require to produce 60,000 shares to fulfill their contract."

"What did they obtain from Jack?" asked Grace.

"Almost L90,000," said Sedgwick.

"Well," said Grace, "I know very little of business, but it seems to me if they would make that good with the year's interest, it would be about right, inasmuch as it is a family matter."

"You little bunch of wisdom and justice!" said Sedgwick. "To make them do just that thing was what I started to Africa for."



CHAPTER XXVIII.

CONVALESCENT.

The "Pallas" had been in port twenty days before Jordan began to sit up, a few minutes at a time. He was still very weak, but his face was transfigured by an almost divine light. It was reflected radiance from the eyes of Margaret Hazleton.

The doctor had thrown away his medicine, telling Jordan that all he needed was good nursing and as much food as his stomach could assimilate.

It was a happy little company. Jordan and Mrs. Hazleton, Sedgwick and his wife, the doctor and Captain McGregor—for the ship had been left with the first officer, and the captain had turned nurse to relieve Sedgwick.

A week later Jordan could sit up most of the day, and Captain McGregor had begun to absent himself two or three hours every afternoon. About this time Browning's dispatch was received.

Sedgwick was needed in London. What was best to do?

He prepared a statement of the mine, signed it and got Jordan to sign it, and he shipped the bullion to a well-known Paris banking house.

Nothing held him back except Jordan's illness. He was growing anxious, and his wife, who watched his every mood, quickly discovered it. So soon as she did, she went to him, put an arm around one of his, and said.

"What is it, love? What is it that is troubling you?"

He explained that he ought to be in London, but Jordan was yet too weak to travel, and he could not leave him—not for twenty mines.

Grace thought the matter over for two or three minutes, and then said cheerfully:

"I have it, husband! We will get a nurse for the dear man. I will remain, and Margaret and myself and the nurse can see to him, and will follow you when he can travel."

Sedgwick looked at her fondly for a moment, and then said:

"You are a great little woman, sure enough; but you are such a one that I would rather remain than go without you."

She put her hands upon his lips, and said:

"Duty, love. Hist, we must always be brave and self-forgetful enough to do our duty. I am going now to see Margaret." She walked a few steps, then turned back and said:

"Why would it not be the right thing for Mr. Jordan and Margaret to be married before you leave?"

"I believe it would," said Sedgwick, "only that I have planned that we would give them a great wedding in London."

"So had I," said Grace, "and we will."

Just as they were talking, Captain McGregor came from the direction of the harbor.

"I have news for you," he said. "I have sold the 'Pallas.' She will sail to-morrow, and now I propose to remain with you, and go with you to London when you go."

"You have sold the dear ship?" said Sedgwick. "And what of the doctor and the crew?"

"They will sail in her. The doctor will be up to make his adieus to-night. They wanted to charter the craft for a long voyage. I would not go, but offered to sell, and they bought, and re-engaged the officers, the surgeon and the crew."

"Let us go on board," said Sedgwick. "I want to bid those good men good-bye."

"So do I," said the captain. "I will be grateful if you will go with me."

"Wait a moment until I run down to the bank," said Sedgwick. "While I am gone, Grace, get your hat and wrap; and by the way, captain, how many men and officers are there?"

The captain replied: "Six officers, the surgeon and steward, three waiters, twelve seamen and sixteen men in the firing department."

The company soon set out, and went on board the "Pallas."

All hands were called on deck. Captain McGregor made them a little speech; told them that his chief regret in giving up the ship was in parting with them, and wished them all happiness and prosperity. They gave him three cheers, and all shook hands with him, wishing him long life and asking God's blessing for him.

Then Sedgwick stepped forward, and said:

"My Dear Friends:—That I was able to bring one whom I love better than a brother to where he could find the strength to get well, I owe to you. He is yet too weak to be moved, or he would be here by my side to thank you. I was much absorbed on the voyage, but I saw how you, officers and seamen, worked to take advantage of every puff of wind and every current of the sea. I know how you others were working in the hell of the fire-room, and I shall be grateful to you as long as I live. I wish you all health, happiness and prosperity in the future.

"You, with your grand captain, carried the machinery to Africa, which has made me a good deal of money. You brought home my friend when he was making an unequal fight for life. I want each of you to have a little souvenir of my gratitude."

With that he undid a package which he had been holding in his hand. It contained a bunch of envelopes. He handed one to each of the officers and men.

Those for the mates and engineers each contained bank notes of the value of L200. Those of the men each contained L50. The doctor's contained L1,000.

The men whispered eagerly among themselves for a moment; then the third mate said:

"Mr. Sedgwick, the lads want me to ask you how they can best thank you. They are not much talkers, and this gift of yours has about beached their tongues."

Sedgwick smiled and said: "No thanks are needed, but I want to tell you that this is all due to the dearest woman in the world," putting his arm around Grace. "If you will each come and shake the hand of my wife, all the gratitude you feel will be receipted for."

They joyfully responded, and one old tar, more bold than the rest, said, as he took the fair little hand of Grace in the grasp of his own knotted hand: "Your mon is a mighty poor hand to save money, but he'll be richer nor Rothschild as long as you are spared to him."

They gave their old captain and his friend three cheers as they passed over the ship's side, and McGregor wiped his eyes all the way back to the hotel.

Grace went at once to the sick-room. Jordan was half reclining in an easy-chair. Margaret was sitting where he could see her, and was evidently reading to him, when Grace entered.

Jordan spoke: "Take a cheer, madam. Maggie wur readin' 'nd it's mighty comfortin'. It's like sipping old wine and hearin' music in thar next room same time."

"Don't you mind him, Grace," said Margaret. "He is still very weak, and all that he says is not as deep as it might be." But she smiled fondly at him while she spoke.

"Don't yo' b'leve her, Mrs. Sedgwick," said Jordan. "We all has weak spots in our hearts; she's mine."

Grace put one hand on Jordan's hand, the other on Margaret's cheek, and said:

"Say all the pretty things of her that you please, Mr. Jordan, and do not mind her, for her heart has been starving for those same words from your lips for a long time."

Margaret was silent, but she smiled; and a great flush swept over her face as she smiled.

"Everything war right, after all," said Jordan. "Hed I not lost her, I mighter grown careless o' her like other men do sometimes uv those they luv, but no matter, we has a understandin'."

And again the happy woman smiled and blushed.

Then Grace explained how much her husband was needed in England; that she had determined to remain until Mr. Jordan could travel, and let her husband go; that Captain McGregor had sold the "Pallas," and she thought she would remain with them, and asked Jordan if he thought they, with a nurse, could take care of him.

Before he could answer, Mrs. Hazleton interposed and said:

"All this sickness and sorrow came through me. Henceforth my life is to be devoted to where it can do most good. We do not want any display. Why can we not be married? Then I will be his nurse, and he will need no other. You can go with your husband, and we will come when Tom is stronger. What say you, love?"

"Do not answer, Mr. Jordan," said Grace. "We have fixed it for you to be married where my husband and myself—where Jack and Rose—were married. We will remain until you can travel."

"I'd be mighty glad ter call yo' 'wife' now, Maggie," said Jordan; "but I don't reckon it's squar for a man ter take advantage of his nuss." Then turning to Mrs. Sedgwick, he continued: "Tell Jim I'll be ready ter leave ter-morrer evenin'."

So next day they started by easy stages for London. Sedgwick engaged a special car to be stopped off at any point he might desire. They rested a day in Milan, another in Paris, and there Sedgwick arranged to have the bullion that might come from the 'Wedge of Gold' at all times at his immediate disposal. They reached London in six days; Jordan had gained so much that he walked to the carriage from the Dover depot, and with Sedgwick's and McGregor's support, walked up the steps of Sedgwick's house.

Rose had dinner waiting for them, and at dinner expressed the sentiments of all by saying: "I believe this is just now the happiest house in all England."



CHAPTER XXIX.

SPRINGING A TRAP.

Sedgwick found waiting for him advices from the mine, all of which were favorable and the output for another month, less the expenses of mining and milling, which amounted in the aggregate to something over $90,000, had been forwarded to the Bank of France.

The Wedge of Gold Mining Company was reorganized. Browning was made president; Sedgwick, treasurer; McGregor, secretary; and all three, with Jordan, directors. A regular dividend of two shillings per share, and a special dividend of as much more was declared, aggregating in all L30,000. This was given to the Times for publication, and attached to it was the following note:

"The reporter of the Times was able to obtain the following particulars of this wonderful property from the secretary:

"'A forty-stamp mill has been in operation on the property since June last. The mill yielded in June, above expenses, L17,000 and 15 shillings; in July, L18,000 and 5 shillings. The ore already developed above the tunnel level is sufficient to insure the running of the present works to their full capacity for five years to come. The ore on the tunnel level is equal to any in the mine, and the ore chute has been demonstrated by exploration on the tunnel level to be at least 630 feet in length, with an average width of 16 feet. The tunnel cuts the mine at a depth of 500 feet. The office of the company in London is No. ——, —— Street. The officers are John Browning, president; James Sedgwick, treasurer; Hugh McGregor, secretary; and these, with Thomas Jordan, make up the directory of the company.'"

When, next morning, Jenvie, Hamlin and Stetson read the above in the Times, they were filled with consternation.

"I feared that man Sedgwick from the first," said Jenvie. "Our first account of him, that 'he must be a prize-fighter,' was true. He has knocked us out, and he has made no more noise about it than does a bull-dog when he takes a pig by the ear."

"What are we to do?" asked Hamlin.

"We must take in enough stock to cover our shortage at once," said Jenvie, "even if we have to pay L1 per share for it."

So a messenger was sent to the office of the broker through which the stock had been shorted, to buy at any price up to L1.

He returned with the information that the stock could be had, but the price was L6 per share.

Then the three men realized for the first time the trap which had been set for them, and how fatal had been its spring. The messenger was at once sent out again, this time to the office of the company. He found the secretary, who referred him to the —— Bank, from which the dividends were to be paid. There he found stock for sale, but the price demanded was L6 per share.

He returned home and made his report. The three men gazed at each other with blank looks of despair.

"Thirty thousand shares at L6 will take all we have," said Hamlin.

"And I shorted 10,000 shares besides," said Jenvie.

"So did I," said Hamlin.

"So did I," said Stetson.

"It seems clear enough that we are absolutely ruined," said Hamlin.

"I wonder what has become of that Portuguese, Emanuel," said Hamlin.

At that moment he entered the office. He looked like the picture of despair. He broke out with: "It is awful! I have just heard ze truth. It was that American who did it. When you thought last year that he had gone to America, he, with another American, had gone to Africa.

"They found ze mine. They found a way out from it by going in the opposite direction from which they came. Sedgwick went by Australia to San Francisco, and ordered a forty-stamp mill. The other American remained, and opened the mine by a tunnel. Sedgwick came back this way, and, left here to meet the mill at Port Natal.

"It has been running three months. Two months' proceeds are here, and pay dividends of four shillings, and it is good for two shillings per month for years; with machinery doubled, good for four shillings per month for years to come. The stock has gone to L6; it will go to L10 so soon as it is well understood. And I lost it all, because I had not the sense to find that way out from ze mine. The road by the trail would have cost L75,000 or L100,000, and I believed only impassable mountains were to ze west."

"How did you find all this out?" asked Jenvie.

"From ze Secretary, McGregor. He was master of ze ship that carried the machinery from San Francisco, and he brought ze Americans from Port Natal. One was very sick with the fever, and came near dying. He had, besides, one wound which he received with ze Boers coming out to the coast from the mine. They are two devils. Ten or a dozen Boers attacked them to get the first month's bullion, and they two killed five of them, and drove ze rest away."

"I wish the Boers had killed them both," said Jenvie.

"They are hard men to kill," said Emanuel. "McGregor says, when ashore one day at D'Umber, there was a chicken-shooting match. The chickens were buried in the ground all but their heads, and the people were shooting at ten paces when these men passed. They asked about it, and asked if they might shoot with their own pistols; and when permission was given, they drew their weapons and killed six chickens each in a minute, and were laughing all the time as though it were nothing. They are devils, shure enough."

"Do you think Browning knew all about this from the first?" asked Hamlin.

"Not at all," said Emanuel. "No one in London knew where the Americans had gone, except his wife. Browning thought he had gone back to America. His wife knew. She got a dispatch from Australia, and letters from Port Natal ze same day, saying he was going to San Francisco to order machinery, and would return this way and be with her in four months, and then she left at once and beat him a week into San Francisco.

"And I am ruined. My little stock is all gone. A mine worth L2,000,000 I sold for L2,000." And he went out.

"What can we do?" asked Jenvie. "I expect a notice every moment to call at the broker's and settle."

"Can we not assign our property?" asked Hamlin.

"We could," said Jenvie, "but to-morrow we should all be looking through the bars of a prison."

"And even Grace was in the conspiracy to rob us," said Hamlin, in an injured tone.

"She is a brave, true woman, I think," said Jenvie, "and as it looks to me, she is the only one to whom we can now appeal."

"May be so," said Hamlin. "Her husband worships her, I am told."

"Suppose we go to your house and persuade your wife to go and bring her home where we can see her," said Jenvie.

This was agreed to, and with heavy hearts the three men entered a carriage and were driven to the Hamlin house.

As they went up the steps, Grace Sedgwick herself opened the door. She had been to see her mother, and was just going out.

"Come back, Grace," said her step-father; "we wish to see you particularly."

She returned with them, and her step-father told her how they were involved—in what danger they were, not only of absolute ruin, but of a criminal prosecution, and begged her to see her husband and intercede with him.

"My husband needs no entreaties to do what is right," said Grace. "Suppose the case were reversed, what would you grant my husband?"

They all hung their heads. Grace looked at them and continued: "You robbed dear, confiding Jack of his fortune, which he had honestly acquired. You robbed him for the double purpose of making him a beggar, and of breaking his heart, though one of you was his step-father, another the step-father of the woman he loved better than his own life. It was that which set Jack's nearest friend to be your Nemesis. Our troth had just been plighted. It was like death to part us, but he who is my husband said to me: 'There must be no scandal, if we can help it, but this wrong must be righted. I must go to Africa, and if I can work out the dear boy's deliverance, it must be done.' And I consented to it. He moved secretly, but with the force and energy of his nature. He and the friend who went with him have performed a great work. They have taken what was unloaded upon Jack as worthless, and converted it into something richer than a little kingdom. It seems, too, that in the blindness of your avarice, you dared fate itself to make more money out of that wreck, and now you are in the toils. Suppose my husband had done by you as you have dealt with Jack, and you had him where you now are, what mercy would you show him?"

They were silent. They had not even self-respect to sustain them.

Grace waited a moment, and then went on: "But he is of different material. There is no malice in his nature. He cares nothing for the triumph which comes through revenge.

"He knew when you dared to sell that stock short, told me of it, and asked what would be right. I replied that I thought if you would restore to Jack what he had been robbed of, with interest on the money to date, it would be fair; and his answer was that to compel you to do that very thing was what caused him to leave me and go to Africa.

"In that you can get an idea of him. He had money enough for himself and Jack both; he had no desire for revenge, but he was determined that you should be made to do justice to his friend, whom you had so greatly wronged, and that, if possible, it should be done without any noise."

"Do you think he would settle that way?" asked Jenvie.

"He has no settlement to make," said Grace; "but I think he would recommend Jack to settle that way."

"And where could we meet Jack?" asked Jenvie.

"I do not know," said Grace, "nor is it necessary. I think the broker with whom you dealt in the stocks has authority to settle. That was a little trap set for you. There is not a share of the stock that is not in the company's office at this moment."

"I did not mean to rob Jack," said Hamlin. "I wanted to break his engagement with Rose, hoping he would turn to you."

"We all understood that from the first," said Grace, "but we had made entirely different arrangements—arrangements worth two of that—which suited us all around." And bowing, the young wife left the room.

The three men found, upon visiting the broker, that he had received orders to settle with them on the terms outlined by Grace, and they complied by turning over what money they had and some outside property.

It left them with fair fortunes. But the story got out through Emanuel; their prestige was broken, and they closed up their business within a few days, and disappeared from the business walks of London. Two months later Jenvie died in a moment of apoplexy; the succeeding autumn Hamlin succumbed to typhoid fever, and Stetson sailed away to lose himself in the depths of Australia.



CHAPTER XXX.

GRAND OPERA.

Jordan improved rapidly, and soon began to take long drives to different points of interest. After a month it was one evening proposed that they should all attend the theater. It was agreed to, and it was left to Jordan to decide where to go. Queerly enough, he selected a theater where the opera of "Tannhauser" was to be performed.

"Did you ever attend a grand opera performance, Tom?" asked Sedgwick.

"No," was the response. "Thet's ther reason I wanter go."

He seemed greatly absorbed throughout the performance. The opera was put on with every splendor possible, and the strange man sat almost motionless through the mighty rendition, and was unusually silent all the way home.

Arriving there, Grace said: "Mr. Jordan, give us your idea of the opera."

"I reckon yo' might laugh at me ef I should," said Jordan.

"No, we will not," said Grace; "for when it comes to that, we are none of us quite up to the comprehension of the mystery of a grand opera—at least, none but Margaret."

"Well," said Jordan, "mystery are a good word ter use thar. If yo' jest occerpy yo'r eyes and ears, yo' hear mostly only a ocean roar uv singin', a brayin' uv trumpets, a clashin' uv cymbals, a beatin' uv drums, with ther soft strains uv viols, harps 'nd flutes, and not much music. Ef yo' set yo'r mind workin' ter foller ther myths outer which ther story of the opera war made, then ther tones become voices, 'nd ther music only tells er story. But ef yo' give yo'r soul a chance, then it's different. Ther music assumes forms of its own; it materializes, as Jim would say, and each man as listens understands in his own way its language. It brings ter ther human ear the tones uv ther ocean when it sobs agin ther sands; it steals ther echo of the melodies thet the winds wakes when they touches ther arms uv ther great pines on ther mountain tops and makes 'em ther harps; it steals ther babble from the brooks; it calls back all ther voices of the woods when within 'em ther matin' birds is all singin' in chorus; it borrers ther thunder from ther storm; it sarches ther whole world for melodies, 'nd blends 'em all for our use.

"Still, they all ter-night war, ter me, only compniments. Underneath all wur a symphony which wur thet of a higher soul singin' ter my soul—may be 'twere my mother's singin' ter my soul uv glories thet we hasn't yet reached. It war a call fur men ter look higher ter whar thar is melodies too solemn 'nd sweet fur ther dull ears uv poor mortality ter hear, ter whar ez picters too fair fur our darkened eyes ter see, but which all august is a-waitin' fur us.

"When I war sick, I thot one night I hearn Margery prayin' fur me; some uv thet music ter-night seemed like a rehearsal uv thet prayer."

"Why, Mr. Jordan, that is better than the opera itself," said Grace; and Margaret bent and kissed the brave man's hand, while he blushed like a girl, and said, "Sho'."



CHAPTER XXXI.

MARRIAGE BELLS.

A month more rolled by, and Jordan became himself again. Grace and Rose worked together to make such a wedding for him and Margaret as should be a joy in their memories as long as life should last.

The day before the wedding, so soon as breakfast was over, Sedgwick went out, telling Grace to tell Jack that he wanted to meet him and Tom at the "Wedge of Gold" office at 1 p.m.

Grace went to deliver the message, but learned from Rose that her husband had gone an hour before, leaving word for Sedgwick and Jordan to meet him at the same place at 12:30 p.m.

They all met there at about the appointed time.

A meeting of the directors of the "Wedge of Gold" Company was called to order, and a motion made and carried that another dividend of two shillings per share should be declared.

Then Sedgwick arose and said he had an important matter to lay before the company. He had received an offer of L7 per share for the property, and the proposition had been guaranteed by the Baring Brothers, and asked Browning what he thought it best to do.

Browning thought it best to sell.

"Then," said Sedgwick, "there will be no more work for us except to resign as officers of the company, our resignations to take place with the transfer of the property."

"There is yet another matter," said Browning. "How is the division of the proceeds to be made?"

"That all rests with you, Jack," said Sedgwick; "only I think you should pay me back what I advanced to put the property on its feet, and you should keep in mind that this was made a success by our friend Jordan."

"Not to any great extent," said Jordan. "I war merely a hired man working for my board and clothes, and you forget thet because uv it I made a fortune sich ez no gold could buy. Treat me, please, ez tho' I war already wealthy, exceedingly wealthy!"

"It is all due to you two," said Jack. "When the old men made good their robbery, I was even. All the rest is yours."

And they wrangled over the matter for a full hour.

Then McGregor spoke. "Let me help you out, my friends. You are offered L1,050,000. It is enough for you all. Divide it into three parts, and settle that way."

Then came another wrangle, but it was settled on that basis, except that each agreed that Captain McGregor should receive fair compensation for bringing Jordan home, and they estimated that to be worth L100,000. That, Jordan insisted should be paid out of his share, and it took an hour to talk him out of it.

Then it required another half hour for the three to bulldoze McGregor into accepting it. The convincing argument was made by Jordan, who said: "Supposin' you hedn't a-come, whar would I a-bin now?"

McGregor went out, and then Browning said:

"I have a little matter to speak of. I sold my Venezuela mine yesterday for L100,000," and so saying he took a memorandum from his pocket, opened it, and tossed to Sedgwick and Jordan each a certificate for one-third of the amount, saying: "I feared the way you were behaving you would spend all your money, so I went to work to make you a little stake, as the boys in Nevada say."

Another wrangle then ensued, both Sedgwick and Jordan declaring that they had had nothing in the world to do with making the money; but Jack was obstinate and carried his point.

McGregor returned, and all went to Sedgwick's to dinner. About the time the coffee was brought, a messenger rang at the door and left a package for Mr. Jordan. It was brought in, and then Jordan said:

"Friends, in Africa I found a prospector ez war broke. I give him a little outfit ter go down on the Vaal. He came back after a while and divied with me, 'nd I want ter divy with yo'."

So saying, he opened the package. Exclamations of surprise arose on all sides. Before their eyes was a great heap of diamonds. "I war thinkin'," said Jordan, "thet inasmuch ez thar war seven uv us, ther right thing ter do would be ter make seven heaps of ther stones," and the only change they could make in his plans was that the division should be made by one who knew their value. He had secretly had them cut since coming to London. They were really worth L10,000.

Next day the wedding of Jordan and Mrs. Hazleton was celebrated with all the pomp which Grace and Rose could give it. It was followed by a great feast, and numberless rare presents. Jordan never showed off so well. The marriage exalted and transformed him.

After the wedding, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan left for a month's visit to Scotland.



CHAPTER XXXII.

FRUITION.

The syndicate that bought the "Wedge of Gold" put some of the stock on the market. A few days later another shipment of bullion was received, another dividend was declared, and the stock advanced to L10 per share. The happy owners gave an entertainment in honor of the mine, and called it "The Wedge of Gold Reception." Sedgwick and Browning with their wives and Captain McGregor attended.

As they returned, the dawn was breaking in the East, and mighty London with its five millions of people began to awaken. There were confused murmurs, which swelled in volume every moment; these were interspersed with distinct clamors, as one industry after another took up anew its daily work. Then there was the whistle of trains; the deeper calls and answers of boats on the river; the louder and louder hum of the awaking millions, until with the coming of the full dawn the roar of the swelling hosts became a full diapason.

"What a monster this great handiwork of man is, Sedgwick," said McGregor; "I wonder if there is anything else like it in this whole world."

"I guess not," was Sedgwick's reply; "but, strangely enough, it reminds me of something not at all like it, but which impressed me quite as much as does this. As you say, this is man's handiwork. I saw another dawn once which had little in it save God's handiwork.

"While mining in Virginia City, I determined one summer day to give up work for a week and to make a visit to the high Sierras. One day's ride takes you from the Comstock into the very fastnesses of the mountains. There were five of us in the party. We went to Lake Tahoe, crossed the lake, and kept on to a spring and stream of water beyond, a few miles. We had a camping outfit, and determined to sleep in no house while absent. We spread our beds in a little grassy glen; to the east there was no forest, but on the north and south the trees were immense, and to the west, a mile or two away, the mountains rose abruptly to a height which held the snows in their arms all the summer long.

"The good-night hoot of an owl or some other sound awakened me just as the first streaks of the dawn began to flush the face of the east.

"I sat up, and while my friends were sleeping around me, I watched the transformation scene of that dawn. There were not many birds to awake—our altitude was too high for them—and so the panorama moved on almost in silence. But it was the more impressive because of its stillness. The east grew warmer and warmer, and the solemn night began to spread her black wings, under which she had brooded the world, in preparation for flight. The shadows began to retreat from where they had shrouded the nearest trees. The air grew softer; from it a noiseless breeze just touched the great arms of the pines as though to waken them and gave to them an almost imperceptible motion. The stars and planets began to faint in the heavens. As the waves of light increased in the east, the snow on the high mountains to the west took on the hue of the opal, and when the last shadow fled away and the sun flashed gloriously above the eastern horizon, and another day was born, I knew just how the ancient Fire Worshipers felt when they bowed their heads in reverence before the splendors of the rising sun."

THE END

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