Treasure Valley
by Marian Keith
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To-night the club was to assemble for a special purpose. Uncle Hughie had promised the minister that they would all accompany him down the ravine to give a welcome and a kind word to the poor tramp who had come to live in Sandy McQuarry's old shanty by the Drowned Lands. So the philosopher was waiting for his friends, and as he sang he gazed expectantly up the village street.

From across the ravine, growing purple in the evening shadows, came the sound of children's voices at play, and the joyous bark of a dog. Down in the river pasture hoarse shouts, mingled with a dull thud, thud, told that the young men were playing football. Women could be seen gossiping across from their home gates, for while the men might gather in groups at the store or the post-office, Elmbrook was not sufficiently advanced to have yet felt the woman's club movement. The soft, plashy sound of the little waterfall, pouring down under the bridge, made a charming accompaniment to the mingled harmony.

"Oh, there's many a man o' the Cameron Clan,"

sang Uncle Hughie.

There was a ring of triumph in his voice, for he had finished the whole line with one start, a most unusual achievement. He generally started on a high key, and as the tune climbed up the word "Cameron" was far beyond the range of human voice. He would make a shrieking attempt at it, collapse, and start again, quite cheerfully. But by some strange misunderstanding between his ear and his vocal cords, no matter how deep he might lay the foundations of his song, he would raise upon it such a lofty structure that the pinnacle was sure to be unattainable. He always saw the heights ahead, and made a gasping effort to gain them, his voice strained to its utmost, his face wearing a look of agony. He failed many a time, but invariably succeeded in the end, and with a broad smile of triumph would sweep into the refrain:

"I hear the pibroch sounding, sounding, Deep o'er the mountain and glen."

Old Uncle Hughie's whole pain-racked life had been like that song. He was always striving for the heights, often slipping back, frequently failing just as the top was reached, but ever starting off again with renewed hope and faith, and in the end always attaining.

There was a wild patter of feet down the lane, and a harum-scarum girl, half woman, half child, came scrambling recklessly over the fence, and tumbled upon the ground at his feet. She sprang up and tossed her hair back from her handsome, mischievous face.

"He's coming!" she announced tragically. "Where'll I hide? I saw him paddlin' across the creek like a silly old gosling!"

Uncle Hughie's golden-brown eyes danced with laughter.

"Hoots, toots! Och, hoch, but it is the foolish lass you will be! Poor Davy, ech, poor lad! When I would be going sparkin' the lassies, it wasn't running away they would be."

"Oh, but then you must have been so handsome and so fine, Uncle Hughie," said the girl diplomatically. "If I go up into the village will you tell mother you said I might?"

Uncle Hughie was not impervious to flattery, but he looked doubtful. Running up into the village in the evening was strictly forbidden to the younger members of the Cameron household.

"I'll jump into the pond if he comes," she declared. "Go on, Uncle Hughie. Aw, haven't you got some errand for me?"

"Well, well," said the old man indulgently, "let me see. Oh, yes, now. You might jist be stepping up to Sandy McQuarry's and tell him not to be forgetting that this is the night to go and see poor John McIntyre."

"Goody! You're a duck, Uncle Hughie. John McIntyre—isn't that the tramp you found in the hollow?"

"Yes; but indeed I will be thinking that it's no ordinary tramp he will be, whatever. Poor man, eh, eh, poor buddy. If ever the Lord would be laying His hand heavier on a man than He did on Job, that man's John McIntyre, or I will be mistaken. Ay, and it would be a fine Hielan' name, too—McIntyre."

The girl danced away up the street, dodging skilfully from tree to tree, and keeping a sharp eye on the figure climbing leisurely up the bank of the ravine.

"Don't be forgetting, Jeannie, child," the old man called after her, "not to let Sandy know the minister will be coming."

The girl nodded over her shoulder, and Uncle Hughie continued his talk to the milkstand.

"Ay, yes, oh, yes indeed. The peety of it, the peety of it. Well, well. Hoots! The Almighty will be knowing all about you, John McIntyre. Oh, yes, indeed, never fear. I will be thinking He will be meaning you some good yet. Oh, yes, yes, never you fear——

"'Oh, there's many a man o' the Ca——'"

His voice broke on the high note, and he did not start again, for a figure was coming down the street toward the bridge. It was Silas Long, storekeeper, postmaster and astronomer, with his telescope under his arm. He paused on the bridge, where he was joined by several others. They came straying down the street in aimless fashion, hands in pockets, shoulders drooping. It was the custom to assemble in the most casual manner, for it would never do to confess, even to oneself, that one had started deliberately to spend an evening in idleness.

The group straggled slowly forward, Silas Long, William Winters, the blacksmith, Jake Sawyer, and a new member of the club, a very small person, whose red, curly hair shone like a halo in the light of the evening sun. Holding this little figure by the hand, Jake Sawyer walked along with a tremendous swagger, the proudest man in the county of Simcoe.

Another man was strolling toward them across the golden-lighted pasture field. It was John Cross, Jake Sawyer's partner, called Spectacle John, to distinguish him from a half dozen other John Crosses who didn't wear spectacles. At sight of him Uncle Hughie sniffed, and ejaculated "Huts!" Spectacle John was an Irishman, of a rather frivolous turn of mind, and the philosopher disapproved of him, and discouraged his attendance. Moreover, he and Silas Long were always at variance, and when the two met the milkstand lost its dignity and became a center of futile argument.

One by one they arrived, and dropped upon the steps of the milkstand or the pile of stones by the gate, with a casual remark about the weather. In Elmbrook one did not say "Good-morning" or "Good-evening," in greeting; but "Fine day," "Cold night," as the case might be. So as each man sank into his place, with a sigh for the long day's toil, he remarked "Fine night," looking far off at the horizon, and Uncle Hughie also examined that boundary, and remarked "Fine." As Jake Sawyer seated himself, and raised the youngest orphan to his knee, he added proudly, "An' a fine boy, too, eh, folks?"

"Oh, yes, indeed! And indeed, yes!" cried Uncle Hughie, patting the little, curly head, and resorting to the Gaelic for terms sufficiently endearing.

"And how many are there in your family now, Jake?" inquired Spectacle John facetiously. "Got another carload shipped since I seen ye last?"

The company laughed heartily. The women of the village regarded the Sawyers' large family as a serious problem, but the men treated it as a huge joke.

"Aw, I bet my head any one o' yous would be glad to own a family half as smart," remarked Jake proudly. "Golly, Miss Weir says that oldest boy kin go through the 'rithmetic like a runaway team; an' as for the girls, well, sirs"—Jake slapped his knee—"there jist ain't anythin' they can't' do 'round the house, an' Hannah'll tell you the same."

"There don't seem to be much they can't do 'round the mill," grunted Spectacle John, whose days were made weary routing his partner's family from his place of business. "You won't raise that oldest boy if he shows his face to me 'round the mill again, I promise you that."

"Speakin' o' mills," said William Winters, "when I was at Neeag'ra Falls I seen a mill that you could put this whole village into an' never notice it, an' it run by electricity, too."

The population of the milkstand settled more firmly into its place. When the blacksmith got started on his favorite topic there was no knowing when he might stop. He had visited the Toronto Exhibition and Niagara Falls one autumn, and ever since had lived in the afterglow of that achievement. Not the most astounding phenomena that the milkstand could produce, either in song or story, but he could far surpass from the wonderful experiences of that visit. The Niagara Falls mill was only half finished when a new arrival interrupted.

"Fine night," said a voice with a deep Scottish burr.

"Fine," acquiesced the milkstand.

"Oh, and it will be you, Sandy?" said Uncle Hughie, making room for the newcomer beside him. "Come away, man, come away."

Sandy McQuarry was a thick-set man, with a face like a Skye terrier. He stood looking down at the contented, round-shouldered assembly, with little columns of smoke curling up from pipes of peace, and his disapproving brows bristled as though he were about to burst into loud barking.

"Jeannie said ye wanted me," he remarked, by way of explaining his presence. Sandy McQuarry was a busy man, and a great money-maker, and did not want any one to think he could afford to spend his evenings in idle gossip on a milkstand, as some folks did.

"Oh, yes, indeed, it would be very kind of you to be troubling. You must jist be coming with us to see that poor McIntyre body now, down in your shanty. And what would you be thinking of him?"

"He's a dour body. Ah couldna git a ceevil word oot o' him."

"He would mebby be a good workman, for all?" said Uncle Hughie insinuatingly.

"Ah dinna ken. He's got a bad e'e in his heid, yon man."

"Hoots! It's not wicked the man would be!" cried Uncle Hughie indignantly. "It's a broken heart that ails him, or I'll be mistaken."

"That's jist what I say," agreed Jake Sawyer. "I jist got one squint at him yisterday, when I was down at the Drowned Lands, huntin' our oldest"—Jake tried in vain to keep the quiver of pride from his voice—"an' he looked to me like a dog that was meant to be good-natured, but had jist been kicked straight ahead till it turned surly."

"I'm thinkin' ye could surely give him some light job, Sandy," continued old Hughie. "Night watchman, now—it's the only job he could be doin', he's that sick, poor body."

Sandy McQuarry looked obstinate. "I was thinkin' o' settin' our Peter at that job this summer."

"Eh? But you could be helping the Lord to give the poor man better days, Sandy, and that would be grand work, whatever. Eh, indeed, indeed, we can never tell, when we do a kind act, how far it will reach." Uncle Hughie began to grow philosophical. "Here would be Jake, now, taking all these lambs into his home, and the Lord only can tell how much good it will do to other people he will be knowing nothing about. Oh, indeed, when we would be giving the Lord a helping hand, it would jist be starting all the machinery in the world, and mebby beyond it."

"That there's true, 'Ughie, that's true!" cried Silas Long, laying down his telescope. "Wen you're doin' the right thing by your neighbor you're jist 'elpin' along the turnin' o' the earth."

There was an impatient movement from Spectacle John. Silas had touched their chief point of dispute. The shape and motions of the planet they inhabited had long served as a fierce battle-ground between these two. The astronomer held the generally accepted opinion on these matters, and could prove Columbus' theory beyond gainsaying. But, whether from honest disbelief, or a stubborn resolve to disagree with his adversary upon all subjects, Spectacle John scouted his arguments as moonshine.

"The turnin' o' the earth!" he repeated scornfully. "You'll never catch me takin' a hand at anny such fool chore as that!"

Uncle Hughie gazed indignantly over the golden mill-pond and hummed "The March o' the Cameron Men."

"Well, sir, that McIntyre man has a hard row to hoe," said Jake Sawyer, wisely steering away from the dangerous topic. "It's a caution now, ain't it, how some folks seems to have everything they want in this world, an' others gets all the things nobody wants?"

"Man, did you ever think what a queer, botched-up world we live in, anyhow?" inquired William Winters, who, whenever he found himself beyond the influence of his well-managed home, was always in a rebellious state. "The minister, now, 'ud like to make ye believe everything's ordered for our good, but it don't look that way to me. Gosh! Sometimes, when I'm patchin' up somethin' at the shop, I think I could take my hammer an' bang things up into better shape myself than the Almighty's done."

"Lord love ye, William!" cried Silas Long in alarm. "Take care wot ye're sayin'!"

"Well, when I was at Neeag'ra Falls," persisted the blacksmith, "there was a man preachin' there on the streets that said he didn't believe there was any God at all——"

'"Ere, William," interrupted the astronomer, shoving his telescope into Winters' hand, as one would give a new toy to a complaining child, "you take a squint through this 'ere spyglass, an' if you ain't convinced in five minutes that there is a God, well, sir, you can smash it, that's all."

Sandy McQuarry regarded the blacksmith sternly. For sufficient reasons of his own, he never entered the Elmbrook church, but for all that he was as strict in religious matters as he was at gaining a penny in a bargain.

"Ye've no right to creeticize the Almighty yon way, Weeliam," he admonished. "If He wishes to make one vessel to honor, and another, such as this MacIntyre, to dishonor, it is the Lord's wull, an' we maun jist abide by it."

The blacksmith, one eye inside the telescope, paid no attention.

"That's so," agreed Spectacle John, with suspicious cordiality, "especially as He's made an occasional vessel jist to hold money."

"That's better than bein' a bag to hold wund, like some folks you admire, John," said Sandy McQuarry with deep meaning.

"Lookee 'ere, Sandy," said Silas Long solemnly, "criticizin' the minister is next thing to criticizin' the Almighty. You'd better take a warnin'." His voice dropped to a whisper. "It ain't safe, Sandy, now, that's wot it ain't."

Sandy McQuarry grunted scornfully. "Ony man," he announced darkly, "that's so licht in his heid that he doesna ken ony better than to liken the land o' Burns to a few miles o' barren stones, is no a fit person to expound the Word o' God."

The milkstand began to look uncomfortable. There had been a day when Sandy McQuarry was an elder in the church, and as stanch a friend as the minister possessed. But just the summer before he had been grievously offended. Mr. Scott had gone on the annual excursion of the Sons of Scotland to Muskoka. Here the endless chain of jeweled lakes, the fairy islands floating on the dark waters, the rugged, barren rocks set in masses of soft greenery, and above all the wild spirit of freedom that pervaded this new beauty land, had enchanted the minister's tired soul. So, upon his return, he had declared in a tea-meeting speech at the church that Muskoka reminded him of Scotland. The next Sabbath Sandy McQuarry drove past the Elmbrook church and worshiped, fifteen miles away, with the Glenoro congregation, and there he had worshiped ever since.

"Och, well, indeed," remarked Uncle Hughie, wisely reverting to an earlier subject, "it will be a question that puzzles the greatest men in the world, why some people must suffer. But, indeed, it is our own selves that will be responsible. And as long as there will be one man sinning in this world the race must suffer. Oh, yes, we will not be beginning to learn that lesson yet, but will be fighting against each other! Och, hoch! it will be a peety, indeed. But it will all come out right in the end, never you fear. He came to show us how it's done, oh, yes. The Almighty will be knowing what He is about, indeed."

"It's my opinion that the Almighty lets things go pretty much as they please," grumbled the blacksmith. "When I was at Neeag'ra Falls——"

"Hoots!" cried the philosopher impatiently, "that would be jist child's talk, William. There will be an unerring law governing everything man does, jist as there's a law governing——" He hesitated for a comparison.

"The movements o' this 'ere ball that we're standin' on," finished Silas Long, with marked emphasis, and a meaning glance at his unbelieving enemy.

"Standin' on a ball!" repeated Spectacle John wearily. "We'd better all go an' join a circus, an' be done with it!"

"Well," said Jake Sawyer reasonably, "most o' the eddicated folks'll tell you that's what the world is. Miss Weir, now, was tellin' that to our twins jist to-day."

Spectacle John sniffed. "Huh! That young Graham, that teached here before her, was loony on the same notion. He's sit up half the night argifyin' with me that the earth was spinnin' 'round like a dog after its tail. I uster ask him how it was we didn't tumble off when we was danglin', head downward, in the dark, an' that uster to give him the blind staggers every time. He was a terror for argifyin', though, that chap; an' one night he got me to give in that it was mebby round like a cheese and us livin' on the flat top. It was in Sawed-Off Wilmott's cheese factory he was shootin' off that time. Well, I went that far, but further than that there's no livin' man'll get me to go."

A tall figure had crossed the bridge and was nearing the group. There was a perceptible stir, and all conversation ceased. "'Ere's the minister," said Silas Long. "We'd better get started."

"Mr. Scott's been tryin' all day to get a light job for that McIntyre," said Jake Sawyer innocently, "but he don't seem to've got anything easy enough yet."

Uncle Hughie darted a warning glance at the indiscreet miller, but it was too late.

"He'll be well looked after, then, I'm thinkin'," said Sandy, promptly rising. "There'll be no need o' me goin' with ye the night, Hughie. Maister Scott'll likely give him a job in"—he paused to let the heavy weight of his sarcasm fall resoundingly—"in Muskoky!"

He tramped away, and, climbing the fence, strode across the fields in the direction of his mill.

"Ain't 'e a caution, now?" asked Silas Long in a tone of fear. "You mark my words, now—jist mark my words—that man's goin' to meet a judgment some day. It ain't safe to act like that to the minister, that's wot it ain't."

"Fine night," the assembly remarked unanimously. Mr. Scott was a good-looking man of middle age, tall and straight, with a massive head, covered with thick iron-gray hair. He had deep blue eyes, with little lines at their corners showing they were prone to kindly laughter.

"What's the question to-night?" he asked, the lines around his eyes deepening. "Have you found a new star, Silas?"

"Eh, eh, mebby, mebby," answered Uncle Hughie. "If it is, it seems to be a fallen one, whatever. We would jist be talkin' about yon poor body we're goin' to see. Come away, now."

The milkstand arose leisurely. Silas Long shouldered his telescope, Jake Sawyer slung his orphan over his back, and the group turned up Cameron's lane, crossed the orchard, and went down the winding pathway into the ravine.

The little stream danced along at their side, touched here and there with the gold of the sunset, the vesper sparrows had gathered for their twilight chorus, and the valley was vibrating with music.

No matter at what hour of the day, or season of the year, it might be viewed, the ravine where the mill-stream ran was a treasure-house to any one who had the seeing eye. Long before, when Elmbrook was merely a "Corners," with one or two houses, there came to the place a queer Englishman, who wandered all day about the fields, and painted pictures and read strange, dry books by a man named Ruskin. He first entered the valley on an October morning, when it was all gold and crimson, and lay shrouded in a soft violet mist. The man had sat for hours gazing down the winding stream, and afterward he had said it was the Golden River, and that the place should be called Treasure Valley. But Sandy McQuarry's father, who was living then, said that onybody with a head on him could see that it was clean ridic'l'us to give a place such a daft name. McQuarry's Corners it had been called for years, and McQuarry's Corners it would stay. The queer Englishman left, and was never heard of again, and old Sandy died, and when the post-office came old lady Cameron named the place Elmbrook; but Treasure Valley still remained with the little Golden River flowing through it, showing new beauties with every recurring season.

About a mile below the village the walls of the ravine disappeared, and the brook was lost in a deep swamp, a maze of tangled foliage and deep pools and idly wandering streams. As the water advanced the forest became submerged, and formed a desolate stretch known as the Drowned Lands. Its slimy, green surface was dotted with rotten stumps and fantastic tree-trunks, pitched together in wild confusion, and above it rose a drear, dead forest of tall pine stems, bleached and scarred, and stripped of every limb. Around this silent, ghostly place the swamp formed a ring through which it was dangerous to pass, for near the edge of the Drowned Lands it was honeycombed with mud holes, into which it was sure death to slip. Terrible tales were related of lives lost in this swamp. Folks said that a banshee or a will-o'-the-wisp, or some such fearsome creature, wandered to and fro at nights over the surface of the desolate waters, waving her pale lantern and calling for help, or in other ways enticing unwary travelers to their death. Some had been lured into the depths by her voice and had never returned.

It was in this drear, lonely place that the tramp had taken up his abode. Just where a corduroy road, now abandoned and grass-grown, passed out of the ravine and along the edge of the swamp, stood Sandy McQuarry's old lumber shanty, and here Uncle Hughie Cameron and the doctor had taken John McIntyre. Before it lay the swamp, and through occasional gaps gleamed the still waters of the Drowned Lands.

As the visitors emerged from the valley there was a loud hallo from the hill-top, and a small, limping figure came hurrying down the slope. The little fellow perched upon Jake Sawyer's shoulder gave a squeal of welcome, and Jake's face lit up.

"Hello, you, Tim!" called the big man cordially, as the youngster came limping toward him, "what you been up to now?"

The boy glanced around the group and placed himself as far as possible from Spectacle John. "Jist been fishin'," he remarked vaguely; "and I'm goin' with you," he added, with that mixture of defiance and appeal which the orphans had already learned was sure to move their foster-parents.

"Ye'd better watch out! The banshee'll git ye," threatened Spectacle John.

"Speakin' o' a banshee," put in the blacksmith, "when I was at Neeag'ra Falls——" By the time the story was finished the company had come in view of the old shanty.

The sick man was seated in the doorway. His figure had a despairing droop, his eyes were fixed on the forest of dead tree-trunks. There was something of a corresponding dreariness in his whole attitude, as though the waters of tribulation had gone over his life and left it a veritable Drowned Land, its hopes engulfed, its greenness dead.

The company fell silent as they passed through the bars that served as a gateway and went up the slope to the shanty door. So absorbed was the man in his reflections that he did not notice any one approaching until the minister's foot struck a stone. He turned sharply and arose.

Mr. Scott had visited him twice as he lay in bed, and the man recognized him with a brief word. But there was no cordiality in the way he put out his hand to meet the minister's proffered one, and he took no notice whatever of the others.

"Good-evening," said Mr. Scott pleasantly. "Some of the neighbors thought they would like to drop in and give you a word of welcome to the village. I'm glad to see you are looking much better."

"I am quite better." The man's answer was curt and dry.

He did not offer his visitors a seat, nor ask them to enter, but stood there, bent, shabby and forlorn, and looked at the minister with haggard eyes that besought him to go. But the look only made him more anxious to stay.

"Do you mind if we sit a moment?" he asked, glancing at an old log near the doorway.

The man hesitated. "It is a poor thing to refuse a welcome to any man," he said at last, with a quiet dignity, "and in the years that I had a fit roof to my head none was turned away; but"—he paused, as though he disliked to say the words—"but I have spent my life alone these last few years, and I find it better. So I am afraid I cannot offer you a seat, sir."

The minister was as much surprised by the stately manner in which the words were delivered as by the astonishing declaration itself. Yet he could not feel angry at his dismissal; the man's eyes awakened only compassion.

"But it is not good for us to shut ourselves away from our fellow-men," he said gently. "We miss much happiness and kindness."

"And cruelty," added John McIntyre, with sharp bitterness. "And as to its being good for me, or otherwise, that matters nothing to any one."

"Ah, but that is where you are mistaken," said the minister eagerly. "It matters very much to our Father. We are very precious in His sight. The Almighty——"

He was interrupted by a harsh laugh.

"Hoh!" cried John McIntyre derisively, "what is the use telling that to a man who knows the world? That's a tale for children and old women! What do you know about the Almighty's care?" His eyes ran fiercely over his visitor. "You! Because you are well fed and well clothed, and prosperous, you think that all the world is the same, and that your God is a miracle of kindness. He may be to you. But there is another side. Your God causes the wicked to prosper, and sees the innocent trampled upon, and never puts forth a hand to help. And you call Him the Almighty! If there is an Almighty, then He takes pleasure in the pain of His creatures. He gives them the good things of this life only that He may take them away and enjoy their suffering. And because your turn hasn't come yet you would make me believe that every one is as well off as yourself. Hoh! Lies! Old women's lies!"

The minister stepped back in shocked amazement. He had lived his life among a prosperous, God-fearing people, where such blasphemous words, if ever uttered, were never allowed to reach his ears. Nothing aroused his righteous indignation like a slighting reference to the Master whom he served, and in his quick resentment he forgot the suffering written on John McIntyre's face.

"How dare you speak so of your Master?" he demanded hotly.

The man laughed again, and the minister broke forth in stern rebuke.

People said that when Mr. Scott denounced sin there was something of the fearless candor of the ancient prophets about him. But in this instance he forgot that the greatest Prophet was always gentle and tender in the presence of pain. He denounced John McIntyre roundly for his irreverence, showed him plainly the appalling evil of his ways, and quoted Scripture to prove that he was hastening to everlasting perdition.

At the mention of his inevitable destiny John McIntyre interrupted.

"Hell!" he shouted. "I've been there for months already!" As he spoke he turned swiftly and caught up an old spade lying by the doorstep. "Get out of my sight!" he hissed fiercely, holding the weapon aloft. "Leave me, or I'll send you where I'm going! Go!" His voice was almost beseeching. "Go, before I do you harm!"

The Rev. James Scott was afraid of no living man, but there was a terrible gleam in John McIntyre's eyes that hinted of insanity. He looked at him a moment and then, with a motion as though washing his hands of him, he turned away. The rest of the company had fallen back from the doorway, and now followed the minister in speechless concern. They tramped along the old grassy road, followed by the call of the whip-poor-will from the darkening hillside above, and the lonely cry of the loon floating across the Drowned Lands. Uncle Hughie was the first to break the dismayed silence.

"Well! well! well! well! Ech! hech! Hoots! toots!" he ejaculated incoherently, quite unable to express his feelings.

"Man, ain't he a caution?" whispered Jake Sawyer fearfully.

"Gosh! now there's some truth in what he says," remarked the melancholy blacksmith in an undertone.

"D'ye think he would be right in his mind, poor body?" asked Uncle Hughie, searching for some palliation of John McIntyre's outrageous conduct.

"Mebby he's had notions about the earth spinnin' 'round like a top, an' they've drove him loony," suggested Spectacle John. "That often happens, they say."

But Silas Long was too deeply concerned over the tramp's wickedness to pay any heed to this frivolous remark.

The minister was walking ahead, in gloomy silence. His heart was still full of hot indignation, but it was mingled with regret and deep disappointment. He had wanted to do this lonely, sad man good, and in his haste, he feared, he had done him only harm.

But there was one pair of eyes that had regarded John McIntyre's action with perfect approval. Those eyes were now looking up at Jake Sawyer, alight with unholy joy. "Say," whispered the eldest orphan, jerking his foster-father's coat, "I like that man. He's awful bad, an' I think he's just bully."

The next day the tale of the tramp's outrageous treatment of the minister flew through Elmbrook like the news of a fire in the mill. Sandy McQuarry had been away in Lakeview all day, and did not hear it until he was seated with his family and the mill-hands at the supper table.

Miss Euphemia, his sister, who had been his housekeeper since Sandy's wife, as folks said, worked herself to death, was the first who dared to broach the subject, any reference to Mr. Scott being rather hazardous.

"Yon's a fearfu' buddy ye've got in yer shanty doon yonder, Sandy," she began solemnly. "Ah'd no let him sleep there anither nicht."

Her brother was busy distributing the fried pork around the table, a performance at which he was an adept. In spite of a keen desire for money-making, Sandy was a generous man at his own table, and he had a way of serving his family that was the admiration of the whole mill staff. If a man but held up his plate as a slight indication that he was ready for more, the host could flip him a slice of beef or pork with the dexterity of a sleight-of-hand magician. At his signals, "Here, Bob, mon!" "Hi, Peter, lad!" "Look oot, Sam!" away flew each man's portion, hitting his plate with unerring precision. He had never been known to miss anybody in his life, not even Miss Euphemia, away at the other end of the table.

He paused now, his fork suspended, and looked at his sister from under his bristling brows. "What's he been doin'?" he demanded.

Now that the ice was broken, every one was ready with a different version of the tale. John McIntyre was an infidel and an outcast, and had spoken blasphemy and driven the minister and old Hughie Cameron and a half dozen others away from his door, threatening them with violence.

The company waited, expecting to hear an order summarily evicting the tramp from his refuge by the Drowned Lands. But the mill-owner made no comment. "Huh!" he remarked, an enigmatic ejaculation that left all in doubt as to his feelings. But the next night the village knew how deep was the elder's resentment against the minister, for early in the evening Sandy repaired to the Cameron milkstand, and, to the philosopher's joyful amazement, announced that he had decided, after all, to hire John McIntyre as night watchman.



But dere's wan man got hees han' full t'roo ev'ry kin' of wedder, An' he's never sure of not'ing but work an' work alway— Dat's de man dey call de doctor, when you ketch heem on de contree, An' he's only man I know—me, don't get no holiday. —WILLIAM HENRY DRUMMOND.

When the new doctor's horse arrived, and he began to drive about the country, even the outrageous conduct of Sandy McQuarry's new watchman, and the antics of the orphans, became matters of secondary interest to the village. When he drove away of a morning, every one ran across to every one else's house to debate the question as to whether he had gone to see a patient or only to exercise his horse. Of course, when some one came for him the problem was solved; but sometimes he went off on an independent excursion, and that was always puzzling. Miss Weir had once known a doctor who used to drive like mad all over the country, with his satchel set up on the seat, where every one could see it, and never go to see one solitary patient for weeks at a time. Ella Anne Long was sure the new doctor wasn't that kind; and anyway, Davy Munn had told Jean Cameron that the doctor often told him, when he drove away, that he was just going to give his horse some exercise.

Of course, it was no use asking Mrs. Munn. As usual, she "didn't know." Even when some one called for the doctor, in his absence, and had every legitimate right to be apprised of his whereabouts, it was with the greatest difficulty that any hint of it could be extracted from his housekeeper. She always spoke in broad generalities. Yes, he was gone away. To see a patient? Well, likely. Mrs. Munn couldn't tell. Where? Oh, out in the country. It might be up Glenoro way, or down by Lake Simcoe. She was not sure, now, but that she had seen him drive out east, or was it west? She hadn't remembered right. When would he be back? How could she tell? She didn't know how fast he was going to drive, that is, if he was driving at all. Mebby he was walking. People knew Mrs. Munn of old, and did not waste much time on her. They passed the office door and went on to the stable, where information, though often highly colored, and tinged with the product of David's imagination, was at least easily procured.

Granny Long was the one reliable source of supply. As soon as the doctor drove out of the gate the telescope was turned upon him, and bulletins as to his movements issued at various intervals. He was sighted turning the corner at Cameron's Crossing, and was likely going down to see old Mrs. McKitterick; or he had turned around at Long John McLeod's old clearing, and would be back in fifteen minutes, maybe less, at the rate he was going; so it was only a drive. And one morning, when he started off early and drove so swiftly down the Lake Simcoe road that every one was sure some one must be dying, public opinion was much relieved when Granny Long sent Ella Anne out with the news that it wasn't a patient, after all, but that the doctor had just been down to Lake Simcoe, and was coming back. And she could not be quite sure yet, but his hair looked damp and shiny, and she suspected he had been in swimming; she could tell for certain in a few minutes.

And while the village discussed him, Dr. Allen drove up and down the Oro hills to exercise his horse, and wished with all his heart that he had more to do. One evening, when time was hanging more heavily than usual on his hands, he went for a stroll down the village street. As he passed out to the gate Davy Munn was mowing the lawn. His groom's assiduous attention to this one branch of industry, to the exclusion of all other labor, still remained a mystery. "He's got a dark-blue necktie on this time," was the whispered remark made in Granny Long's bedroom, "and it looks as if he was growing a mustache. He's comin' this direction."

"Sakes alive! I wonder if he's comin' here!" cried Ella Anne's mother, all in a flutter.

Ella Anne flew down the stairs. She softly opened the front door, and seating herself at the organ, pulled out all the stops. Miss Long was organist in the church, and had the loudest voice in the township of Oro. She had a favorite solo, which she had sung at three tea-meetings the winter before.

"Oh, meet me! Oh, meet me! When you hear the first whip-poor-will's song!"

Here was a splendid chance to let the new doctor hear her sing. As the musical invitation came pouring through the Longs' parlor door, the innocent cause of it stopped for an instant on the unsteady sidewalk, overcome by the deluge of song. Then, full of alarm, he turned off the street, and made his escape up the willow-bordered path that ran along the edge of the mill-pond, where the sound of the waterfall, as it poured in a silvery cascade beneath the bridge, alone broke the silence. Looking back past the bridge, Gilbert caught a glimpse of the valley, with its fairy windings, where he had met his first patient and the princess in the milkmaid costume. The pond lay like a colored mirror in its frame of feathery willows. As he advanced the trees disappeared, and his footfall was muffled in the soft sawdust. The sweet, clean scent of the newly sawn lumber mingled with the cool breath of the water.

The big mill, so noisy and busy in the daytime, was silent and deserted, except for the watchman. He was seated in the wide doorway of the engine-room. Behind him, in the warm darkness, shone a red line from beneath the furnace door. Gilbert had not seen him since his illness, and was struck with the man's expression of utter dejection.

"Good-evening," said the young doctor cordially, stopping in his walk.

The man looked up with a curt response.

"I was just strolling about, viewing things," continued Gilbert. "You are night watchman here now, I believe?"


"I hope you are feeling better?"

The man looked up into the speaker's face, and seemed to recognize him. "You are the doctor?" he said, half inquiringly.

"Yes. I came to Elmbrook lately, like yourself. My name is Allen—Gilbert Allen."

"Allen!" repeated the dark man. He arose, and gave the other a searching look. "Are you the Gilbert Allen who saved the life of a man once in Nelson Mills?"

"Yes," answered Gilbert, surprised; "that is, I helped to, somewhat. Do you know——"

The man interrupted with a harsh laugh, such as had startled the minister. It was as unmirthful as a cry of pain. "Yes, I know more than you think. I know you, Gilbert Allen!" His voice was harsh with scorn. "Many, many a time I've heard your name—spoken with the highest praise—oh, the very highest. But you are like all the rest of the world. You would let your best friend starve. Selfishness and dishonesty!" he cried, clenching his hands, "selfishness and dishonesty! Those are the commonest things in this world—the only things!"

He picked up his lantern, and turning his back on his astonished visitor, disappeared into the dark recess of the engine-room.

The young doctor stood staring after him, undecided whether to follow or not. Was the man mad? There was a wild gleam in his eye, but Gilbert's professional knowledge told him it was rather a gleam of anguish than insanity. He took a step forward, then turned and walked away, wondering, and hotly indignant. He was filled with rage that any man should dare to speak to him so, and wished with all his heart that John McIntyre's hair had not been so white, nor his shoulders so stooped and thin.

But with his amazement and indignation there was struggling a new feeling. The May night was cool, but he felt suffocatingly hot. He shrugged his shoulders. Nonsense! The man certainly was mad. How could any sane person accuse him of leaving his best friend to starve? And yet—

A figure in white was coming down the village street. It was the princess of the ravine. She was dressed as suited her now, in a long, white, filmy gown, which she held up daintily. She wore no hat, and the bronze hair crowning her shapely head caught the sunset light and shone like gold.

She spoke to him, with a stately sweetness that recognized their previous acquaintance, but invited no further advance. The deep, searching look in her eyes, the same as in her old uncle's, made Gilbert feel uncomfortable. It seemed as if she knew, and every one knew, that he had been guilty of "selfishness and dishonesty."

He did not worry long over the strange man and his stranger accusation, for his fortune took a sudden happy turn.

Down on the Lake Simcoe road, about a couple of miles below the village, lived old Mrs. McKitterick, the mother of Conductor Lauchie. For years she had been an invalid, and a great sufferer, and poor Lauchie had spent half his earnings on doctors' bills; but still she lay in her bed weary month after weary month. They called in the new doctor, and he tried a new form of treatment, a simple operation, and before a month was gone the old lady walked to the barnyard gate and waved her shawl at Lauchie's train as it came puffing out of the swamp. And the conductor blew her such a joyous salute that folks thought there must be an accident, and Jake Sawyer stopped his mill and ran up the track to see if any of the orphans had been run over.

The real cause of the uproar was soon proclaimed from Long's upstairs, and with it went ringing over the countryside the fame of the new doctor.

Gilbert awoke one morning to find himself the most important man in the township of Oro, and the busiest. Patients came from all directions, and Speed, his trim little mare, went flying over the hills and dales as though she, too, were heartily glad that work had begun. Lauchie McKitterick advertised him at every station along the line, and when the doctor wanted to go anywhere on the train Davy Munn needed only to brandish his mother's sunbonnet from the window of the stable loft, and the Lakeview and Simcoe express stopped just below his back gate. He was soon so busy that Granny Long had to give up her afternoon nap to keep track of his swift movements. There was always something doing in the village, too. There was often an accident in the mill, and there was always an accident at Jake Sawyer's. The eldest orphan fell into the mill-pond, and was nearly drowned; the twins took a dose of Paris green just to see if it really would turn their hair into grass; and Joey ate all the early green apples off a Duchess tree. Then there was Granny Long's neuralgia and Uncle Hughie Cameron's rheumatism; and Mrs. Winters declared she believed folks got sick on purpose, for the sake of calling the doctor in.

There was some shadow of truth in this, for as the young man came and went among the people's homes their admiration for his skill was soon mingled with a warmer feeling. He had such a "takin' way" with him, old Granny Long declared, that a body just couldn't help being glad to see him; and old Mrs. McKitterick said the sight of his face was like a dose of medicine, a compliment the young doctor accepted gratefully in its true meaning. Even Mrs. Winters, and all the other famous nurses of the district, who, over an afternoon cup of tea, would give him full instructions upon how to treat this case and that, agreed that the doctor was generally right. And then, though he always had his own way in the end, he took their advice with such good humor, and never scoffed, the way old Dr. Williams did. He would walk into the house and order things in a way that commanded the admiration of even the Duke of Wellington. He scolded the mothers roundly whenever he was called to see a sick baby. He denounced pork and pickles as a child's diet, and made such a fuss about air-tight bedrooms that Jake Sawyer, who, in company with his wife, lived in terror lest a draught of night air should blow on the orphans' precious heads, was forced into the patient complaint that though the doctor was a fine young man, and their eldest was just crazy over him, still he believed, if he had his way, he'd turn folks out of house and home, to live in the road, like tinkers.

The busier Gilbert became the happier he grew. Elmbrook stood, in the center of a rich agricultural district, his patients were mostly wealthy farmers, and he began to feel that he was not so far from his ambition, after all. He would be well enough off at the end of two years to set up a city practice and make a home for Rosalie.

Among the doctor's first social appearances was tea at the manse, where he met again the beautiful Miss Cameron. She came with her brother Malcolm, who was Gilbert's assistant since he had returned from college. When he was not too busy in the fields, or in dancing attendance on Marjorie Scott, the young man rendered the doctor considerable help.

It was a warm evening, and when tea was finished the company sat out on the veranda. The manse and the church were in full view of the village, half a mile distant, and a fine target for the telescope, as the minister's wife well knew. But here they were screened from observation by the vines.

"You have never heard Miss Cameron sing, have you, Dr. Allen?" asked the minister's wife. "Then there's a treat in store for you. Run in and give us a song, Elsie, dear."

Gilbert murmured something polite. He was quite sure Miss Cameron's singing would be very sweet and pretty, like herself; but he still had tingling recollections of the whip-poor-will song, and his anxiety to hear more Elmbrook talent was only mild.

The girl arose from the steps and returned to the twilight of the parlor. "Give us 'Abide with me,' Elsie," called the minister, leaning back in his worn armchair with a contented sigh.

"That's the one father always asks for," said his wife, with a smile. "He says he'd rather hear your Elsie sing that, Malcolm, than listen to the best minister in Canada preach."

Young Malcolm turned reluctantly. He was seated on the bottom step, engaged in an absorbing conversation with the minister's eldest daughter, and did not like to be interrupted; but he knew better than to neglect Marjorie's mother.

"Yes, Elsie whoops it up not so badly, sometimes," he remarked with brotherly candor not unmixed with pride. "I like to hear her, all right, when she's singing an out-and-out song that's got a head and tail to it. But when she gets on to those hee-ha, hee-ha Italian fireworks things, away up in G, I generally cut for the barn."

"Hush!" said the minister gently. The first notes of the prelude came floating out of the dusk, and then, soft and sweet, and uttered with a perfect enunciation, the words:

"Abide with me! fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens: Lord, with me abide! When other helpers fail, and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me!"

The voice was pure and full, and as clear as a bird's; but there was something deeper in it than mere beauty, some subtle, compelling quality that made the tears rise unbidden, and that forced the heart to join in the prayer it uttered.

No one moved until the last line rang out triumphantly.

"In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!"

When she had finished, Gilbert spoke no word of admiration. It had been so much better than he had dreamed that words seemed inadequate.

She sang again and again; now the song was gay, now grave, and she ended with an ecstatic spring song that had in it the sparkle of the stream, the song of the robin, and all the glorious delight of earth's resurrection.

When she came out to them again and her audience expressed their pleasure, Gilbert looked at her with a sharp feeling of pity. They had enjoyed her singing, no doubt, but they had no idea how wonderful it was. And to be able to sing like that, and not be appreciated, was tragic.

"I suppose you are going back to Toronto to study, next autumn?" he said, when she was seated again on the veranda steps.

"No, I think not," she said, with what seemed to him shocking indifference. "Not for some years at least, if ever."

"Why—you—you are surely not going to give up studying music!" he cried bluntly. "You, with a voice like that!"

His tone was unconsciously flattering. The girl smiled gratefully. She looked at him very gravely, as though about to speak, when she caught her brother's eye upon her, and paused with an embarrassed air.

"That's just what we're all saying to her, doctor," he said. "She ought to go, but she won't."

"Oh, I may, some time," she said lightly, "but I have had enough lessons for a while. Now, Marjorie, aren't you going to play for us?"

Gilbert went home, wondering over this strange young woman, and feeling toward her a strong impatience. Either she did not know the magnitude of the talent she possessed, or she was wofully lacking in ambition. With that voice, and a little spirit, there was nothing she might not accomplish; while here she was, content to feed chickens, and carry eggs to the corner store, with the placid assurance that she "had had enough lessons for a while." If she had not been so stately, he felt he would like to shake her.

He did not meet her again for some time; for even when he found leisure to attend a social gathering, she was seldom present. But he was on the lookout for her. He determined that the next time he met her he would give her some much-needed advice. She ought to be stirred up. These country folk had no ambition.

Her brother seemed to have no lack of it, he discovered. He took young Malcolm with him to see a patient occasionally, and on one long drive the boy confided in him something of the struggle it had been to give them all an education. It was a lucky thing that Elsie didn't want to go on with her music, he said, for the expense of her training would be so great that both he and Jean would have to stay home for some years, and Jean was dying to go to the high school in the fall. Both Uncle Hughie and mother had declared that Elsie must have first chance, but Elsie didn't want to go, and it certainly was lucky, though they were all sorry, of course, that she wasn't going on.

Gilbert wondered a little over the lad's remarks, but forgot them until the next occasion when he met Miss Cameron.

He had been up to see a patient among the Glenoro hills, and was driving homeward. The road was a narrow, lonely one, winding here and there through the dense wood. On either side the trees and underbrush made a towering green wall. Through it the eye could catch occasional glimpses of the flower-spangled earth, or a vista of splendid trunks with the sunlight making golden splashes on their spreading boughs. Gilbert pulled up Speed and drove slowly. Her hoofs made but a smothered pad, pad in the soft leaf-mold. The air was cool, and laden with the delicious scents of moss and bracken and leaf-strewn earth. Far away in the green depths a whitethroat was sending forth his long, clear, silvery call, in endless praise of "Canada! Canada! Canada!" As Gilbert turned a curve in the road a figure appeared ahead, a figure that seemed to add the finishing touch to the almost perfect scene—a girl, her arms full of marigolds, walking along the flower-bordered pathway.

She wore a pale-green gown, her bronze hair was shaded by a big straw hat, and she seemed a harmonious part of the gold-and-green picture of the summer woods.

The young doctor drew up at her side. She was a little pale and weary-looking from her long, hot walk, and she gladly accepted his invitation to ride. Jim had needed another man for the haying, she said, and she was the only one who could be spared to go and seek one; she was very fortunate to get a ride home.

As Gilbert helped her into his buggy he looked at her wonderingly. Was she really content with her homely tasks, or could it be possible that she was making this sacrifice voluntarily?

"Can you be quite content to settle down here in Elmbrook, when you might be making fame for yourself in a big city?" he asked. "I don't believe you realize that you might some day move throngs with your voice."

She smiled, with a tinge of sadness. "Well, you see, I am quite sure of my work here," she said half playfully, "and one could never be certain of a steady supply of 'moved throngs.'"

"You could," he cried earnestly. "You are wasting your talents."

She shook her head. "It is better to waste one's talents than something better."

"What, for instance?"

"One's life."

"How could it be better employed, in your case, than by giving the world your voice? You need to be more ambitious," he added bluntly.

She turned upon him that steady, scrutinizing glance that, from the first, had made him conscious of inner unworthiness. Her eyes were bright, and had lost the tired look; the cool breeze had brought back the rose-leaf tints to her face, and had blown one bronze curl across her forehead.

"You ought to hear Uncle Hughie on that subject," she said, with apparent irrelevance. "He is always 'rastlin'' out some problem for other people. One cannot live with him and be in doubt of one's duty."

"And he has taught you that it is your duty to remain at home?"

"Perhaps," she said, looking away into the mass of greenery by the roadside. It was evident that she did not care to pursue the subject.

"Duty is generally the thing a fellow doesn't want to do," he remarked, by way of making the conversation less personal.

"It's Uncle Hughie's pet hobby. He lost the chance of a college education, and many other privileges, through adhering to it, and says he has never regretted his action for a moment."

Gilbert was silent. The unbelievable thing must be true, then. This girl was sacrificing her own chance of advancement for the sake of her brother and sister. He looked at her with a feeling of reverence. To give up so much was commendable, but to give it up quietly, without a murmur, without even the chance of commendation—that was splendid.

"'You are in line with the universe,'" he quoted.

She glanced at him as if in alarm, and quickly changed the subject. Gilbert understood; he was tacitly informed that her sacrifice was to remain a secret.

He stifled a sigh. He could not help remembering, just then, that he had acted quite a different part when duty had called to one path, and ambition and pleasure to another. He had merely postponed the duty, of course; that was not really shirking it, for he intended to perform it to the last jot. Nevertheless, he wished that it had been done years ago; and then he recalled the words of the dark watchman, and felt himself grow hot again.

They turned another curve, and came out of the cool, green silence into the hard, white, sunlit road that ran straight up to Elmbrook.

"I wonder if the telescope's on us!" cried the doctor, with a boyish desire to get away from his uncomfortable reflections. He checked himself, abashed, and glanced at his companion. Her stately gravity made him half afraid of her. He thought of Rosalie's irresistible gaiety, and longed for her radiant companionship. To his surprise, Miss Cameron's eyes twinkled. Apparently, she had a sense of humor, after all.

"That shows how thoroughly un-Elmbrooked you still remain. It's been resting in the northeast window ever since you drove away, and Granny Long has been wheeled in there to watch for your return." Gilbert felt vastly more at his ease.

"You make me feel as if I were a new constellation."

"Or a rising star—I hope you are."

"Thank you. When you get to be the second Albani——"

"And you the greatest consulting physician in Canada——"

"Of course I shall remember that you encouraged me."

"It isn't really a joke, you know," she said with sweet seriousness. "I don't think—I know you don't realize how important you are in the eyes of the people about you. It is an"—her eyes were very grave—"an exacting position, Dr. Allen."

They had reached her gate, and Gilbert was assisting her to alight. He understood. She was paying him a delicate compliment, and with it was the hint that he must line up to the Elmbrook ideal.

"I feel overcome with humiliation at the thought," he said, standing before her, hat in hand, "when I consider my shortcomings."

She shook her head. "You ought to be glad. One can scarcely help attaining to an ideal that is set before one so persistently every day."

Gilbert drove away humbled. This girl, with her splendid talent, had quietly laid aside her chance of a great career because the road to fame deviated from the path of duty. And she had done it without a word or hint of martyrdom. And he—what had he done? How much thought had he spent in the past ten years on the man who had given him his chance in life? Suppose he had been to him all that he should have been? Then he would have lost Rosalie and the two years abroad that had brought him nearer her social level. Gilbert saw that there had never been a moment when he had met the issue squarely. He had merely put it aside, saying "Next year, next year." Well, what did it matter, anyway? Martin was not in want. If he had needed the money it would have been quite different; and when the time came he was going to do something splendid for him. And he was doing so well now that the time was not far off. But Gilbert was honest with himself. He knew well that when the two years' work which he had laid out for himself in this little backward place were ended it was not the neglected duty he would consider, but a city practice, and a fine home worthy of Rosalie. For the first time in his life the prospect brought him no pleasure.



Off on de fiel' you foller de plough, Den w'en you're tire' you scare de cow, Sickin' de dog till dey jomp de wall, So de milk ain't good for not'ing at all— An you're only five an' a half dis fall, Little Bateese! —WILLIAM HENRY DRUMMOND.

In Elmbrook, parental discipline was simple and direct, and consisted of but one method of procedure: when the rising generation departed from the ways of its mothers it was promptly spanked back into the path of rectitude, and no more about it.

But when the Sawyers found themselves possessed of a large and lively family, all methods of discipline, whether sanctioned by long custom or invented on the spur of the moment, through the extreme urgency of the case, alike failed.

The orphans presented an entirely unique problem in the rearing of children. In the first place, the community was completely taken aback by their unexpected character. Not one of them at all conformed to the picture of a forsaken child, as conceived by the village. The Elmbrook ideal was the sort that languished on the front page of the Sunday-school library books. It was quiet and pensive and hungry, and gave all its meager earnings to a small invalid brother or drunken father. But the Sawyer orphans were neither pensive nor appealing. There was a defiant belligerency about them that stifled the avenues of pity and put one on the defensive. They were wild and gay, and uproarious, too, and with the exception of Tim, the eldest, they were strong and robust. He certainly looked as though he had been starved, body and soul; but his other unorphan-like qualities were so obtrusive that he was looked upon as the biggest counterfeit of the crowd.

During school hours the three eldest were kept in some sort of conformity to law and order by the strong hand of the Duke of Wellington; but at home and abroad they were a law unto themselves, and kept the whole community in a state of apprehension, like people living near the crater of an active volcano.

Their life had been largely spent in the slum district of a crowded city, and the change to the freedom of the Oro fields and woods was almost too much for the orphans. After school hours they all, with one consent, went mad, and ranged far and wide over hill and dale, until Granny Long's old hands grew weary readjusting the telescope. Then when she did catch sight of them it was only to be grossly insulted; for whenever the small scalawags guessed they were within range of the spyglass they would stand in line, and go through frightful contortions of the face and body, expressive of contempt for the instrument and everything behind it.

Wherever the orphans went, depredations of all sorts followed. They chased the neighbors' cows from the fields out to the road, and the pigs from the road into the fields. They climbed trees and stole birds' nests. They dammed the creek and flooded Cameron's pasture. They teased Sandy McQuarry's old ram until it was mad with rage, and butted the ex-elder all over the barnyard. They smashed windows, and broke down fences, and, in fact, were a caution, and no mistake.

But in spite of all, their foster-parents lived in happy unconsciousness of their imperfections. For they were so wonderfully clever that Jake and Hannah were lost in admiration.

Certainly they worked a reform in the slow-moving Sawyer household. They started with the garden, and even Mrs. Winters had to admit they made an improvement there. Jake and Hannah had long felt the humiliation of their scratched and scarred front yard, in such ugly contrast to its trim surroundings, but they had never been able to better matters. Hannah had received a present, some years before, of twelve new fowls, which, as was their pious custom, she and Jake presented with Bible names, calling them for the twelve sons of Israel. And now each, like its namesake, had many descendants that had multiplied upon the face of the garden, and turned that promising land into a desert. Every year Jake faithfully dug flower-beds, and Hannah as faithfully planted seeds; but, just as regularly, they were scratched up by the Twelve Tribes.

But when the orphans arrived the marauders were taught their true place. Though it was late in the season, the twins planted a half bushel of flower seeds, and dug and raked enough for a plantation. Then, the first time the Twelve Tribes emigrated from the back yard they were promptly shooed across the street and over into the doctor's garden. Davy Munn, indignant at this unsolicited presentation, as promptly shooed them back again, and war was declared. Tim had hitherto looked upon the gardening enterprise with contempt, but now he entered heartily into it, and the battle raged tumultuously. Each side was bombarded with sticks and stones and clods of dirt and hysterical hens, until Granny Long sent word to the doctor that if he didn't want to be buried alive he'd better do something to the orphans, and that right speedily. So the young man marched into the field, routed both sides, and chased the Twelve Tribes back to their own country. For a long time the eldest orphan felt the terrifying strength of the arm that had lifted him from the ground and shaken him till his teeth chattered. Thereafter he had such a profound admiration for the doctor that his viceroy, Davy Munn, was allowed to rule his own yard in peace.

But the hens had still to be conquered, so the orphans set to work and built around the back yard a lofty fence of wire and laths, borrowed from the sawmill when Sandy McQuarry was away. Inside this the Twelve Tribes were shut up in Egyptian bondage until the garden was in bloom. Even Isaac and Rebekah were permitted to promenade in the barnyard only, among the dogs, cats and rabbits with which that interesting place swarmed.

Within the house, too, the children accomplished a revolution. The girls did nearly all the work, Hannah declared, and did it so swiftly they left her in a state of dazed admiration. Of course, they were liable to drop an unfinished task and take a sudden excursion to field or wood, but, on the whole, even Mrs. Winters was forced to confess that they were a caution, and no mistake, and might be smart housekeepers some day, if Hannah would only make them behave.

Sometimes a doubt of their absolute perfection would darken, for a moment, their foster-mother's placid sky, but even then her blame was tempered with praise.

"Well! well! well!" she remarked one evening, "yous youngsters is awful smart, that's a fact; but I'm 'most scared you're too smart."

This confession was wrung from her by the black-haired twin's dexterity in catching a plate that the fair-haired one had let fall, and at the same instant administering a sharp slap to the delinquent's ear.

Hannah was preparing the evening meal, with spasmodic assistance from the family. She stood over the stove, frying pancakes, while the orphans darted about her like swallows. Tim, always the swiftest, in spite of his lameness, was rushing about in his usual capacity of superintendent, cramming more wood into the already red-hot stove, tasting the pancakes to see if they were just right, and rapping Joey over the head with the dripping batter-spoon when he attempted to follow his example. At brief intervals he would dart into the dining-room to settle a dispute between the belligerent twins.

The latter were setting the table with the best china teaset, a precious relic handed down from Jake's grandmother, and used only when there was distinguished company. No visitors were expected to-night, but the twins loved variety, and had arrayed the table in its best as a pleasant surprise for daddy. Joey was busiest of all. He had wailed loudly for a task, and Hannah had given him permission to fill the woodbox and the water-bucket. He was diligently carrying out her instructions, with one slight variation that showed him to be a true orphan. He filled the bucket with sticks, and then went paddling to and from the water-barrel, leaving a wet and muddy trail behind him, and gleefully deposited dipperfuls of water into the woodbox. He was finally discovered by his brother, promptly cuffed, and set to reverse the order of his going.

The arrival of Jake from the mill was the signal for a shrieking exodus in his direction, and soon afterward they were all seated around the table. The twins were placed opposite each other, to prevent hair-pulling—making faces did not cause much disturbance—and Jake and Hannah sat at either end, gazing at the array with much the same air as that with which a pair of good-tempered, puzzled hens might regard a swarm of agile ducklings.

After Jake had rapturously praised the fine appearance of the table, the orphans were, with some difficulty, prevailed upon to sit still while the blessing was being asked; and then the pancakes and the hot biscuits and the maple syrup began to disappear in an amazing manner.

"Well, an' how's daddy's little woodpecker?" asked Jake, passing his big hand fondly over Joey's red curls. "Been a good boy to-day?"

"Yep," answered the baby in muffled tones. He looked up at his foster-father cunningly. "You won't t'rash me w'en I been a good boy, will yeh?"

"Bless the baby's heart! Who'd talk o' thrashin' you?" roared the big man. "If any fellow lifts a finger to you, you let daddy know—an'—an'—he'll bash their heads in for them!" he added explosively.

The elder boy glanced up at the man with an admiring flash in his old, weary eyes. "Ole Mis' Cummins uster lambaste him when she came home at night," he said in a hard voice. "That's what's made them marks on his legs."

Jake Sawyer set his teeth and Hannah sighed and shook her head. Any mention of the old drunken woman with whom the children had lived, before the Home rescued them, the orphans well knew always stirred their foster-parents' tender hearts.

"Tim uster throw stones at her, an' stick pins into her when she was drunk!" cried the black-haired twin, in shrill triumph. "An' she uster pull my hair, too, an' Lennie's, an' we stole her scissors an' cut it off awful short. But it didn't do no good, 'cause she uster whack us over the heads with her walkin'-stick."

"Well, there ain't nobody goin' to whack any o' yous any more," said big Jake Sawyer grimly. "'Ceptin' it's me, when you're bad," he added warningly.

This awful threat was received with loud laughter, and Joey hammered the table with his spoon and shouted joyfully, knowing there must be a grand joke somewhere.

Hannah looked across the table and nodded to her husband; it was a good time to disclose an important secret.

"Now we want yous to be awful good kids to-night," said Jake, pushing back his plate, and taking Joey on his knee, "because the minister's comin' to see you."

"The minister! Why, he's been here already!" cried the black-haired twin indignantly. "What's he comin' again for?"

"That was jist a call," said Hannah. "This is different. It's a pastoral visitation this time," she added solemnly. The orphans looked at each other apprehensively.

"What's that?" demanded Tim.

"It's when he comes to hear you say your verses an' your catechism," explained Jake soothingly; "and you'll all show him how much you know; an' then he prays, and you must be awful good and quiet. Eh, little woodpecker?"

The black-haired twin looked across the table at the fair-haired twin, and each read aright the other's rebellious thought; one sharp glance from Tim, and the matter was settled. The minister might make his pastoral visitation, if he wanted to, but if he thought they were going to stay home to say verses, and be quiet, he was mistaken.

The Sawyer parents were dreading signs of rebellion, and Hannah now added enticingly: "We're goin' to pass 'round the gingerbread and the ras'berry vinegar, and Susan Winters said yous girls could dress up in your new plaid dresses."

The twins looked doubtful. Gingerbread and their new frocks! This gave the pastoral visitation a festive aspect. They slipped away from the table, and followed their elder brother out to the back yard.

"Whatter ye goin' to do, Tim?" asked the black-haired twin, divided between dread of what the pastoral visitation might bring forth and a natural curiosity to sound its unknown depths.

"Mammy says we can wear our Sunday dresses," said the fair-haired one weakly.

Tim was drifting slowly, but surely, toward a hole in the back fence.

"Yous can stay, if ye wanter, but you bet I don't!" He wagged his head ominously.

"Why, what'll he do?" The black-haired twin balanced herself miraculously on the edge of the water-barrel and stared.

"He'll ast ye"—Tim's voice was sepulchral—"he'll ast ye if ye're saved."

"If ye're what?" cried the twins, in alarm.

"If ye're saved. Preachers always does that. It means if ye're goin' to the bad place."

"Well, I ain't," said the black-headed twin stoutly.

"Me neither," promptly echoed her sister.

Their brother regarded them darkly. "You can't never tell," he answered ominously. "You'd better look out, when the minister's 'round. He ast Billy Winters if he'd got his soul saved."

"His sole?" The fair-haired twin looked down at the flapping and worn foundation of the shoes so lately purchased, and then at the family oracle.

"Aw, it ain't your boot-sole," he said disdainfully; "it's somethin' in your insides; an' if ye don't get it fixed up, an' saved, the minister'll send ye to the bad place, sure. He'll ast ye about it," he added threateningly.

This was too much for the courage of the twins. Even the charms of the gingerbread and their new plaid dresses could scarcely compensate for the terrors of that occult something concerning whose mysteries the minister would be sure to inquire.

Their brother was backing through the hole in the fence. "He'll tell ye ye've gotter to be awful good, too," he added, more explicitly.

That settled it. This was something one could understand, and was not to be tolerated for a moment. The twins made a dive after him, and the three did not stop running until they began to roll down the bank of the ravine. When they were safely hidden in the green depths Tim delivered his ultimatum. "Yous two kids ain't goin' to tag after me, mind ye that," and swaggered away.

The black-haired twin stood for a moment glaring after him, in dark rebellion. She opened her mouth to scream imprecations, but thought better of it. Tim had a long memory, and an uncomfortable way of exacting penalties for any such indignity. She soothed her outraged feelings somewhat by throwing a stone after the little, limping figure, her erratic aim saving her from discovery.

"Le's go an' play lady," said the fair-haired twin comfortingly. "I bar be Elsie Cameron."

"No, you don't!" cried her stronger-minded sister. "I'm goin' to be Elsie. You can be old Arabella Winters, an' you can have Rebekah for your parrot," she said derisively.

But the fair-haired twin, though of a yielding disposition, was subject to stubborn fits. "I won't play, then," she said, sitting down heavily upon a stone.

Her sister understood the sign, and compromised.

"Well, we'll say 'Eevery ivery,' an' see who's to be her," she suggested.

"All right." The answer was delivered in a weary tone and with a total lack of interest.

The black-haired one mounted a stone, and pointing her finger alternately at herself and at her sister, went through the incantation:

"Eevery, ivery, ickery Ann, Fillacy, fallacy, Nicholas Dan; Queevery, quavery, English navy, Come striddle, come straddle, come out!"

The last word was uttered as she pointed at her sister, and the fair-haired twin sprang up in triumph. "It's me!" she chanted, "it's me! I'm to be Elsie Cameron!"

Her sister succumbed to the inevitable as good-naturedly as possible. No one ever dreamed of calling into question the final decision of the mystic rhyme. They flew down the bank to a green bower which had been their playhouse ever since their arrival, and soon were amicably engaged in a charming drama, in which Lenora was Miss Cameron, and Lorena Dr. Allen, who, mounted upon a barrel-hoop, dashed gallantly up to the door to take the young lady for a drive.

Meantime, Tim was still hurrying up the ravine, fired with a new purpose. Ever since the day he had seen the strange, dark man of the Drowned Lands defy the minister, the eldest orphan had regarded the offender with worshiping interest. Among the other peculiarities of the child's queer, twisted nature, was a feeling of comradeship with the wicked and outcast. He had belonged to that class all his life, and as public opinion grew in strength against John McIntyre, in like proportion grew Tim's admiration.

To-night he was resolved to visit him. It was a fine opportunity, for he could let the man see that he, too, was frightfully wicked, and despised ministers—in fact, had left home that night because one was coming.

As he scrambled along beneath the bridge he heard footsteps and voices above him. He crouched down among the bracken. Billy Winters and the other fellows might be there, and he did not want them when he went to visit a man like John McIntyre. The voices passed, and he peeped out. It was only Dr. Allen and that Cameron girl who sang. Tim decided not to throw a stone, after all. The girl had come over and sung Joey to sleep when he was sick, and the doctor was an uncomfortable sort of person to hit with a rock.

He limped along the bank of the pond, dodging behind the willows, until his feet sank in the soft sawdust. Then he paused behind a heap of logs to reconnoiter.

Yes, there was the man sitting in the doorway of the engine-room, and looking as dark and wicked as he had done that night when he had thrilled Tim's heart by his shocking conduct. The boy drew slowly near, half fearful of his own daring. What if the dark man should not at first recognize him as a kindred spirit, and should leap at him with a hand-spike? John McIntyre looked up.

"What do you want?" he asked harshly. "You'd better go home."

This was not a propitious beginning, and the visitor squirmed around in embarrassment. His pride was rather hurt at the man's failure to recognize him, and he could scarcely announce, just at the outset, that he had run away from the minister and had come to him as a companion in iniquity. Suddenly he thought of a remark that had hitherto never failed to arouse the liveliest interest in a new acquaintance.

"I'm one o' the Sawyer orphants," he announced proudly.

The dark man looked no whit impressed. He made no reply, and Tim gained courage to sidle up closer, and finally seated himself, in an insinuating manner, on the extreme end of a piece of timber that lay before the door. He turned cautiously and peered with absorbed interest into the engine-room. The great black monster lay there, dimly outlined in the warm darkness, giving forth a hissing sound, like a giant breathing heavily in his sleep. The man arose and opened the furnace door. That was like the giant's mouth, and he was eating his supper of porridge, Tim thought, as the watchman shoveled in the sawdust. The red glow lit up the dark man's face and arms, and the boy's small, pinched countenance, and sent a red splash out on the surface of the pond. The door slammed, and again only one bright line beneath the damper showed against the darkness. The man came back, and in silence resumed his seat. Tim was vastly interested in all machinery, and Spectacle John, knowing the eldest orphan's peculiar propensity toward accidents, had ordered him, on pain of sudden death, not to show his face in the flour mill. Now, here was a chance to examine a far bigger engine than Spectacle John's. There was another charm besides his wickedness in this strange man. Tim became very ingratiating.

"Who made that engine?" he asked in a friendly tone.

There was no reply. The man seemed unaware of his presence.

"Must have been somebody awful smart," added the visitor insinuatingly.

Still no answer.

"Mebby God made it," he ventured, just to see what effect this pious remark would have on such a wicked unbeliever.

The man turned and looked at him. "You know better than that," he said sharply.

Tim felt ashamed. John McIntyre would think him young and innocent, like Billy Winters and Johnny McQuarry, who believed everything their Sunday-school teacher said.

"Huh! I bet God ain't smart enough to make an engine like that," he said profanely. He waited for the effect of this, but there was apparently none; so he proceeded to give forth some more of the unorthodox views that never failed to shock pretty Miss Marjorie Scott, his Sunday-school teacher. "I don't believe half folks tell about God, 'cause I'm a—I'm a——" He hesitated, rummaging through his memory for that terribly wicked name that Silas Long had given the new watchman. It came to light at last. "I'm a infiddle!" he burst forth proudly.

He waited, but even this tremendous disclosure called forth no remark. Probably the man had consorted with infidels and such like all his life, and thought nothing of them. Tim drew a deep breath. It gave one a feeling of ecstatic fear to be able to utter such statements unrebuked. He tried another.

"Miss Scott says—she's my Sunday-school teacher, only I don't go to Sunday-school much, you bet—she says God made everybody, but I told her if He made Spectacle John Cross He'd orter be ashamed. An' I bet the devil made ole Mis' Cummins. She was the woman that brought us up, an' I say, she was a corker!"

The man slowly turned his weary eyes and fixed them on the child's face. The reflected light from the glimmering pond lit up the small, wizened countenance, and for the first time he noted the signs it bore of cruel suffering and ill usage.

"Another," he said, half aloud.

"What?" asked Tim, glad to have elicited even one word.

The man did not repeat it. "Where do you live?" he asked.

"Up at Jake Sawyer's. I'm one o' the Sawyer orphants, I told you."

It was impossible for even John McIntyre, living a life apart, though he did, not to have heard something of the Sawyer orphans' fame. He nodded.

"Are they good to you?"

Tim hesitated. He would have liked to tell a tale of woe and terrible tortures, but his genuine regard for his foster-parents forbade. "Yes, course," he answered shortly. "Only they tried to make me stay home to-night 'cause the preacher was comin'. But I cut out, you bet; I can't stand preachers."

The man made no comment. His sudden interest seemed to have as suddenly vanished. He arose and took up his lantern.

"You must go home now," he said. "I have work to do."

He spoke in a voice that the child understood must be obeyed. Tim arose and moved away, slowly and reluctantly.

"I'm comin' another night," he called back, in a voice half appealing, half threatening. The man took no notice, and accepting this as permission, the boy limped away, whistling gaily.

Meanwhile, at home, dire events were pending for the orphans. When the minister arrived, and Jake and Hannah could produce only Joey as the sole representative of their large family, they were covered with humiliation. Never before, except in cases of severe illness, had it been known throughout the whole Elmbrook congregation that the family had failed to appear in full force at an official visit from the minister. The visitor himself did not treat the matter lightly. He hinted that Jake and Hannah had better keep a firm hand on their children, if they intended to do their duty by them, and that obedience must be exacted, at all costs. When he was gone the husband and wife sat despondently in the empty parlor, while Joey ate the remains of the gingerbread and drank all the raspberry vinegar, unnoticed. This was a serious problem. The orphans had really disgraced themselves this time, and something must be done.

"Let's go and ask Susan Winters; she'll know," suggested Hannah. "Mebby hers might 'a' run away once when the minister called."

Jake shook his head mournfully. He was quite sure such a thing could never have happened in the Winters' well-managed family. Nevertheless, he shouldered Joey, and they went down the street to consult the village oracle. The Duke of Wellington had dropped in for a chat, and the two vigorously took up the case of the absconded orphans. Mrs. Winters, backed up by the schoolmistress, declared that the family's only salvation lay in a thorough, all-around thrashing; and after much scolding, and dire prophecies of the gallows as the termini of the orphans' careers, Jake and Hannah, like two frightened children, were driven to make the desperate promise that as soon as the culprits returned they would administer to each a severe castigation.

When the stern parents returned home, and sat on the front step to consider what was before them, they were filled with dismay.

"If the little woodpecker'd been into it I wouldn't 'a' promised—no, not even for Susan Winters," announced Jake gloomily, as he watched Joey tumbling about the grass with Joshua, the dog. "Spankin' kids ain't a man's work, anyhow," he added, glancing meaningly at his wife.

"Oh, Jake!" she cried tremulously, "you wouldn't think o' makin' me do it? I—jist couldn't!"

"Well, somebody's got to," said Jake, setting his teeth, "'cordin' to Susan an' the Dook. What does an old maid like her know about bringin' up kids, anyhow?" he added rebelliously.

A scrambling noise, and the sound of smothered giggles, floated from the back yard.

"That's them!" cried Jake in a terrified voice. "You go and order them to come 'round here, Hannah," he added, with the air of one who is putting off the day of execution, "an' I'll get the gad."

Hannah arose and slowly passed out to the back door. The three truants were trying to make themselves invisible behind the pump.

"Come on 'round to the front, children!" called their foster-mother, in a voice that trembled. "You've been awful bad children, so you have!"

With this bold statement Hannah's courage vanished. She turned and fled indoors to find refuge with Jake. But, alas for the poor wife! In the most trying ordeal of her life her husband had basely deserted her. Neither Jake nor Joey was to be seen. The instrument of execution, a small, twig-like branch from the lilac bush, was lying upon the doorstep. Mrs. Sawyer took it up with a Spartan air. If Jake could so meanly fly from his duty then she must so much the more face hers.

"Yous youngsters has been awful bad," she reiterated, returning to the back door, and shaking the innocent-looking branch menacingly, "an' you've jist got to be—to be—whipped," she ended up faintly.

The orphans stared at her for a moment in open-mouthed amazement; then, with shrieks of hysterical laughter, the twins bounded off the veranda and scrambled up to the safe sanctuary of the woodpile.

Tim alone stood his ground. He surveyed the meager weapon in the woman's hand, contempt in his wise old eyes. "Ye kin lick me, if ye like, for the hull o' them," he said, with weary indifference. "I don't care. I'm used to it."

At this pathetic confession, Mrs. Sawyer threw down the disciplining rod and sank upon the doorstep. She buried her face in her apron and burst into sobs. At the sight of her grief, so inexplicable, so terrifying, the twins pitched themselves off the woodpile and flung themselves upon her. They wound their arms chokingly about her neck; they petted and caressed, and besought her not to cry; they bewailed their own shortcomings, and made unconditional promises of perfection in the future. And even Tim sidled up, and volunteered a vague hint concerning contemplated reformation.

So Hannah dried her tears, and lighting a lamp, fetched more gingerbread and raspberry vinegar from the cellar, and they all repaired to the parlor to celebrate the family reunion. They were in the midst of the feast when there came a stealthy movement at the back door, and Jake crept sheepishly in, leading Joey by the hand. He looked at his wife with an expression of mingled contrition and frightened inquiry. Hannah beamed back perfect forgiveness and assurance, and in his overwhelming relief Jake caught up the twins and swung them over his head. The whole family immediately gave itself up to riot, and when the Duke of Wellington and Mrs. Winters came over to see if the orphans had been properly subdued they found the undisciplined household, Hannah included, engaged in a glorious game of blind man's buff. Even while the two officers of the law were peeping through the kitchen window, Jake upset the water-pail, and the twins broke a glass pitcher, all unheeded.

Mrs. Winters and the Duke turned, and marched indignantly homeward.

"Well!" exclaimed the exasperated village manager, as she stumbled through the Sawyers' lumpy garden, "what we've got to do 'fore we can raise them orphants, is to raise them two old fools they've got for a father and mother, and I guess it's about fifty years too late!"

Not till the still unchastened orphans were in bed and asleep did Jake again broach the subject of corporal punishment. For some time he walked up and down the kitchen, scratching his head, as he always did when worrying out a mental problem.

At length he gave a sigh of satisfaction, and paused before the table where Hannah sat mending Tim's riven trousers.

"We ain't a-goin' to try that Winters dodge no more, Hannah," he announced firmly, "an' that's all about it."

Hannah looked up joyfully. "Oh, Jake, I'm awful glad! I couldn't do it—I jist couldn't!"

"Of course you couldn't," he cried sympathetically, "An', what's more, you don't have to try any more. We'll do our best by them kids other ways, an' the good Lord'll see they don't turn out bad. But there's one thing dead sure, an' you can tell Susan Winters, and the Dook, too—I ain't a-goin' to raise my hand to no motherless child; no, not if they burn down the mill; and may the Lord help me so to do!"



O wind of death, that darkly blows Each separate ship of human woes Far out on a mysterious sea, I turn, I turn my face to thee. —ETHELWYN WETHERALD.

In spite of the excitement attendant upon the orphans' waywardness and the doctor's growing practice, Elmbrook did not lose sight of the new watchman in the mill.

Since the minister's rebuff, the village generally had ceased all advances; but they watched John McIntyre from a distance, with deep interest, not unmixed with fear. There was something in his whole conduct to arouse apprehension. Every evening at dusk he came stealing up the valley from the Drowned Lands, and every morning, in the gray dawn, he stole away again. Silent and morose, avoiding all contact with his fellow-men, he came and went with the darkness, until he seemed a creature of night and shadows. One or two of the more kindly souls of the village still made vain attempts to be friendly. Old Hughie Cameron visited the mill several evenings, and Silas Long carried his telescope down to the engine-room door, and strove to introduce the strange man to the joys of star-gazing. Even the minister, grieved at his former harshness, paid him a second visit. But all alike were repulsed. John McIntyre would accept kindness from no man, and one by one they were forced to leave him to himself. Some of the women, too, tried to pierce his reserve, with as little effect. The Longs lived near the mill-pond, and Mrs. Long had been in the habit of sending Jerry Coombs, the former watchman, a nightly lunch. So one evening she borrowed Davy Munn, and sent him down to the mill with a strawberry pie and a plate of cookies that would have tempted any living man. They were returned with dignified thanks, and Silas and his wife sat and exclaimed over the strange man's obstinacy, while Davy Munn and the eldest orphan despatched the despised viands. Mrs. Long told her story the next afternoon at Miss McQuarry's, where the village mothers had met to make a quilt for the Sawyer twins' bed. Every one agreed that John McIntyre certainly was a caution, and the hostess declared, with a sigh, that she was jist terrible feared he would bring retribution upon Sandy for his treatment of the minister.

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