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the spotted bark walls, and the shadow of
Jules's head grew and shrank as the sticks
settled, flared up, burned out, and settled
again on the hearth. And still Jules sat
there. His pipe was out, and the dull black
bowl gleamed fitfully in the spasmodic
light. The fire dimmed and dimmed; at
last but a heap of gleaming coals was left.
Jules lay down slowly, folded the blanket
about him, and slept. The storm had come
outside ; the snow hurled itself against the
little hut and piled around it; the dogs
had crept to the lee side and were warmly
huddled together ; the sledge was a mound
of white ; and the gale screamed and roared
through the pine and spruce.

Daylight came, grew, and brightened
everything. All was silent yet in the bark
shelter: one form, hideous, bloody, ban-

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daged, in the comer ; the other, long, strong,
and graceful in repose, slept in the fur
j;)lanket before the cold hearth. Then it
stirred, and Jules got up slowly and looked
at Lavalle. He was still asleep, and Jules
felt his head.

" Bon ! " he said to himself, and went
outside. The snow was still falling, and
he waded through the drifts that had come
during the night to his wood-heap ; then
with an armful of sticks he went back,
arranged the morning fire, and lighted it.
The wounded man woke, and in his blind-
ness mumbled, " Tritou, eet ees you, hein ? "

Jules started violently, then he answered
in a gruff voice, " Oui."

"Tritou," went on the other in a thick
tone, " Ah tr-y to keel Verbaux yest'da-y ;
ma-is Ah don' know eef Ah do heet when
Ah was woun'. You kno-w, he-in ? "

A long pause, then J ules decided. " Oui,"
he answered again, still more gruffly.

"Ah 'm please'. Le facteur he gee-eve
to me two hundred doUaires, hein ? "

"Oui," Jules answered for the third

The tea was ready, and he went over to
Lavalle and,* using the skin horn again,
poured the warm liquid down his throat.

" C'est b-on ; me-rci ! " and he became
comatose again.

All that day Jules stayed in the camp ;
he fed the dogs and watched them fight
and snarl over their rations ; he gave La-
valle some tea three times, and he cut bits
of meat very fine, softened them in warm
water, and pushed them between the help-
less lips. The throat swallowed, and La-
valle was strengthened. In the evening
Jules unbound the terrible wounds, and
washed them with tepid water in which he
had steeped some pine-bark, and then tied
them up again with fresh strips from his

And thus day after day passed, Lavalle
growing stronger with each twenty-four
hoiu^. His face was still in frightful con-
dition, and the eyes remained puffed and
unopened. Jules rarely spoke, and the
hurt man begged petulantly to be talked
to ; but Verbaux kept silent, or answered in
monosyllables, and then gruffly, rudely. In
the daytime he would take the dogs and
go off through the forests, coming back at
night with his furs, sometimes with many,
sometimes with only a few skins.

Three weeks came and went, and Jules

still fed and cared for Lavalle. One night,
as Jules sat thinking, thinking, before the
fire, the other man spoke. " Ha, Tritou !
Ah can see the flame at las' ! " Verbaux
sprang to his feet, and scattered the blaze
with swift kicks.

"Vat you do dat for? Ah van* see,"
Lavalle said crossly.

" Slip— dormir," answered Verbaux,
hoarsely, and the other said no more.

Before daylight the next morning Jules
deftly wound a bandage securely over
Lavalle's now seeing* eyes.

" Tritou, v'at you do ? " he asked with
fear and anger. Without answering, Jules
tied Lavalle's ankles and wrists, and car-
ried him out to the sledge, lashed him to
it, and harnessed the dogs, while Lavalle
cursed and raved. They started off in the
gray darkness of dawn, and traveled all
that day and all night across the wilder-
ness. The following evening they stopped,
and Jules fed the blindfolded man as
usual ; then wrapped him in a blanket, still
bound hand and foot, curled up himself,
and slept. They were off again at dawn,
and on and on till noon ; then Jules halted
the team, lifted Lavalle, and steadied him
on his feet.

"Ah feex you, Tritou! Dam* fine vay
to breeng me to la poste! Veil, Tritou,
you got ze head hof Verbaux for to geef
le facteur ? " asked he.

"Oui," answered Jules. He cut the
wrist and ankle bindings, and with a quick
turn of his knife severed the bandage over
Lavalle's forehead. It was dim in the
forest, and the other rubbed his eyes gently.

" Trit— " he began ; then his half-opened
eyes cringed, and an awful fear came into
them, as they saw the tall, gaunt figure
on wide snow-shoes.

"Oh! Oh, Dieu! Grdce!" he cried
wildly, and shrieked in his terror ; he tried
to run, but Jules caught his arm in a
powerful grip.

" Leesten to moi, Lavalle ! You try keel
me, Jules Verbaux. Ah sauf you' laife for
sak* du bon Dieu ; tak' you' dog', go to la
poste! Here de vay! An'— rememb' Jules
Verbaux! Allez!" He stood like a statue,
pointing to the westward along the blazed

Slowly and haltingly Lavalle crept to
the sledge, crawled on it, and screamed,
"Mush!" to the dogs; and they raced
away among the trees.

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^LL night those new and

cherished acquisitions,

, your copper-toed boots,

had served patient

sentry-duty beside your

peaceful couch.

The rising-bell sum-
moned you, but you only
protested, blind, and snug-
gled for another snooze.

"Snowing, John! Get
up ! " called father.

Scrape, scrape! came
to your ears the warning
of an early shovel.

Your heart gave a wild
hurrah, open popped your
eyes, to the floor you floun-
dered, to the window you
\ staggered. Sure enough!

' The sill was heaped to the

lower panes, and in the air the flakes were
as thick as swarming bees.

Ecstatically alive, you hustled on your
clothes, bestowed on face and hair a cold
lick and a hasty promise, and in the copper-
toed boots raced noisily down the stairs.

You found the household less exhila-
rated and enthusiastic than you had ex-

" Well, this /> a snow-storm ! " commented
mother in a blank way, pouring the coffee.
" Um-m-m ! You bet ! " you mumbled.


"It 's good for all day, I guess," said
father, solemnly) sipping from his cup as
he gazed out.

" Oh, dear! Do you think so ? " sighed
mother, aghast.

" Oh, gee .'• I hope so ! " sighed you,

" Should n't wonder if we had a foot or
more by night," continued father.

You heard him rapturously. Father
knew ; but it seemed almost too good.

Fourteen buckwheat cakes were all you
could allow yourself that mohiing. The
snow needed you ; and grabbing cap and
scarf and mittens, with a battle-cry of
defiance and joy you rushed, by the back
door, into the whirling vortex. The crack-
ling stove, the cheery carpet, the warm,
balmy, comfortable atmosphere of indoors,
appealed not to you.

First, exultantly you dragged forth for
a preliminary canter your faithful sled,
long since extricated from summer quar-
ters and held in readiness for action. The
snow proved satisfactory.

"Ain't this dandy!" you shouted,
through the driving flakes, across from
chores in your back yard to Hen at chores
in his back yard.

"You bet you!" agreed Hen.

So it was, for boys ; and Madam Nature,
hovering anxiously near, knew that her
efforts were appreciated.

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" Won't the hill be bully, though ! " you

"Great!" reflected Hen. "Got your
runners polished yet ? " he asked. " Mine *s
all rust."

*' So are mine,'* you replied.

Down crowded the snow, — there never
are such snows nowadays, so jolly, so
welcome, so free from disagreeable fea-
tures,— and in school, and as you plowed
back and forth and shoveled your paths, you
and your comrades were riotously happy.

Down tumbled the snow, great, soft
flakes of it like shredded woolpack, until,
when it ceased, as much had fallen as heart
of boy could wish for, which was con-
siderably more than would have satisfied
the majority of other people.

The hill was covered, and "sliding"
was to be " dandy," and that was your sole
thought. Why else had the snow come ?

To-day you remember that hill, don't
you? Middleton's Hill! Of course you
do : the best hill that ever existed— perfect,
for coasting ; ideal, for coasting ; grand, for
coasting ! Therefore an invaluable posses-
sion, although, be it said, of importance
rather underestimated by the public gen-

The hill started off gently; suddenly,
with a dip, increased its slope ; and after
a curve, and a splendid bump over a cul-
vert, merged with the level roadway.
Difficult enough to ascend in muddy
spring, in dusty summet, and even in hard
fall, when, with the winter, it came into its
own and was polished by two hundred
runners, horse and man usually sought
another route. 1 1 was virtually surrendered
to you and yours, as your almost undis-
puted heritage.

To be sure, occasionally some rebellious
citizen attempted to adapt it to his own
selfish ends by sprinkHng ashes in a spas-
modic fashion athwart it ; but a Uttle snow
or water soon nullified the feeble essay.
To be sure, occasionally a stubborn driver,
his discretion less than his valor, tilted at
the glistening, glassy acclivity; and while
his horses, zigzagging and slipping, toiled
upward, you and yours hailed him as a
special gift of Providence and gleefully
hitched on behind.

Yes, it was a paragon of a hill, with a
record of pleasure to which here and there
a broken bone (soon mended) lent but
additional zest.

The hill was ready. The track, at first
traced by the accommodating sleds and
feet of a pioneer few, gradually had been
packed and polished until now it lay
smooth, straightaway, inviting.

The hill was ready ; so were you. Your
round, turban-like cap was pulled firmly
upon your head and over your ears ; your
red tippet (mother knit it) twice encircled
your neck, crossed your breast, and was
tied (by mother) behind in a double knot ;
your red double mittens (mother knit them
and constantly darned them) were on your
hands ; and your legs and feet were in your
stout copper-toed, red-topped boots. And
your cheeks (mother kissed them) were
red, too.

Twitched by its leading-rope, followed
you, like a loyal dog, your sled— a very
fine sled, than which none was finer.

" Say, but she 's slick, ain't she ! " gloried
Hen, as you and he hurriedly drew in
sight of your goal. From all quarters other
boys, and girls as well, were converging,
with gay chatter, upon this Mecca of winter
sport. Far and wide had gone forth the
word that Middleton's Hill was " bully."

"Ain't she!" you repHed enthusiasti-

With swoop and swerve and shrill cheer,
down scudded the sleds and bobs of the
earlier arrivals, and the spectacle spurred
you to the crest.

Panting, you reached it.

" You go first," you said to Hen.

" Naw ; you," said he.

"AH' right. I 'd just as lief," you re-

Breast-high you raised your sled, its rope
securely gathered in your hand.

" Clea-ear the track! " you shrieked.

" Clea-ear the track ! " echoed down the
hill from the mouths of solicitous friends.

You gave a little run, and down you
slammed, sled and all, but you uppermost,
a masterly exposition of "belly-bust."
Over the crest you darted. The slope was
beneath you, and now you were off, willy-

" Clea-ear the track ! " again you
shrieked, with your last gasp.

You had begun to fall like a rocket,
faster, faster, ever faster, through the
black-bordered lane. The wind blinded
your eyes, the wind stopped your breath,
the wind sang in your ears, like an ori-
flamme streamed and strained your tippet-

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ends, and the snow-crystals spun in your
wake. Dexterously applying your toes, you
steered more by intuition than by sight.
You dashed around the curve ; you struck
the culvert, and it flung you into the air
until daylight showed between you and
your steed ; ka-thump / you landed again ;
and presently over the level you glided
with slowly decreasing speed until, the last
glossy inch covered, the uttermost mark
possible— this time — attained, you rose,
with eyes watery and face tingling, and
stood aside to watch Hen, who came apace
in your rear.

*' Aw, that ain*t fair ! You 're shovin' !
That don't count! " you asserted, as Hen,
in order to equal your mark, evinced an
inclination to propel with his hands, alli-
gator fashion.

Hen sheepishly desisted, and scrambled
to his feet.

"Cracky! That 's a reg'lar old belly-
bumper, ain't it ? " he exclaimed joyously.

He referred to the delicious culvert. You
assented. The culvert was a consumma-
tion of bliss to which words even more
expressive than Hen's could not do justice.

Up the slope, in the procession along
its edge, you and he trudged; and down
again, in the procession along its middle,
you flew. Over and over and over you
did it, and the snow filled sleeve and neck
and boot-leg.

Occasionally, with much noise but little

real speed, adown the track came a girl,
or two girls. The majority of them, how-
ever, used a track of their own— a shorter,
slower track, off at one side. Poor things !
Condemned by fate to their own company
and that of the smallest, most timid urchins,
they pretended to have exciting times.

They sat up straight, girls did, the ethics
of society seeming to deny them the privi-
lege of " belly-buster," and on high sleds,
—nothing could be more ignominious than
a "girl's sled,"— scraping and screaming,
showing glimpses of red flannel petticoats
as they prodded with their heels, acting
much like frightened hens scuttling through
a yard, they plowed to their goal.

For a girl to essay the big hill appeared
to be no end of an undertaking. First she
— or probably they, inasmuch as girls
usually adventured in pairs to encourage
each other— first they, then, squatted on
their flimsy sled, girl-fashion (another re-
proach this, "girl-fashion"), and tittered
and shrieked ; and the one on behind urged
by " hitching" with her feet in the peculiar
girl way, and the one on before held back
with her feet, and said :


They waited for bob and sled to precede
them, until with a frantic unanimity of action
they seized upon a favorable calm interim
betwixt coasters, and then with trepidation
were off.

But you overtook them.

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" Look out ! " you yelled as, on your
bounding courser, you ate up the trail.

You tried to retard your speed by drag-
ging your copper toes. Anticipating the
shock of collision, you lifted the forward
part of you, like a worm reconnoitering.


One last agonizing appeal. And now
the pesky girls, glancing behind with sud-
den apprehension, in utmost haste and
terror-stricken con-
fusion, amid wild
cries, by dint of la-
boring feet veered
ditch- ward, stopped
on the brink, and,
as you shot past,
rose flustrated and
gazed after.

Well, they had
spoiled your slide.
You had had a grand
start, and goodness
knows where you
might have gone to.
Darn it! why can't
girls stay on their
own track !

Yes, indeed. Nev-
ertheless, budding
chivalry grafted
upon natural su-
periority prompted
you to take Some-
body down on a
real ride. You would
like this Somebody,
if the other boys
would only let you ; but most of the time
you could not afford to.

A sparkling little figure in white hood,
fur-trimmed jacket, white mittens strung
about her neck, and plaid skirt well wadded
out over long leggings, with her ridicu-
lously high sled (girl-sled), she stood by,
looking on.

" Want to go down once ? I '11 take you,"
you offered bluffly.

From amid the giggling society of her
sex she bravely advanced, and obediently
seated herself on your sled.

"Oh, Lucy! I M be 'shamed! Sliding
with a boy ! Oh, Lucy ! "

Lucy wriggled disdainfully.

"Don't you wish you could!" she re-



"Aw, John! Takin' a girl! Tore I 'd
be seen takin' a girl ! " joined in the gibing
chorus of your mates.

You hurriedly shoved off.
" You got room enough ? " asked your
solicitous passenger.

" Lots," you affirmed huskily ; and,
crouched to steer, you left the derisive
crest behind you.

Down you spun,— you and Lucy, — both
gripping hard the sled,your shoulder press-
ing against her soft
back, and her hair-
ribbon whipping
across your mouth
as you peered \ngil-
antly ahead.

Here was the cul-

"Hold on tight!"
you warned.
Whisk — slam /
With a tiny scream
from Lucy, you had
landed, right side
up, the three of

" Was n't that
bully ? " you queried

But Lucy must
first recover her

This she did when
finally, the sled hav-
ing entirely ceased
motion, you and she
must fain disem-

" My ! " she gasped. " I jus' love to go
fast like that, don't you? "

Her tone conveyed volumes. Suffused
with proud gratification, you picked up
the rope.

"You 're a splendid steerer, are n't
you? " she said admiringly.

" Huh ! " you scoffed. " Steerin' *s easy.
Get on and I '11 haul you up," you prof-

" Won't I be too heavy ? " she objected,

" Naw,"you asserted. " You 're nothin'."
Ignoring jeers and flings, you carried
out your voluntary program to the very

" Thank you ever so much," piped Lucy,
nimbly running to rejoin her own kind.


Digitized by


!.:•:. _ - ^ * r^

r » ?^» '* , T»


Shamefacedly you lifted v ir iOri iZif
with a tremendous belly-bisic w-er-t iwij
again, and when once m'-rc t-:i m. -•fi
the crest your straggle fr = zrL.n z^i
been forgotten.

At last, wet through and ±r:-^'- c -ir-
tenance like a polished Sj: :tzcn': ^'z > "^
had a right to the simile, as the b^irrd n
the cellar would testify, hanis ani f-rc-:
like parboiled lobsters, reiTictant :> w-.-ii-
draw, but monstrously hungry, y:^ am*, e-l
at home to be fed-

''John, don't come in here that way!
Go right into the kitchen and take o5 y ur
boots. Mercy ! " expostulated voir n: ther,
as in you stamped, leaving a slushy trail,
and munching a doughnut as a s-^p to that
clamorous stomach.

Wearily you returned to the kitchen, and
applied your oozy, slippery boots to the
bootjack. Then, having abandoned your
footgear (their once gay tops a soggy
maroon and their copper toes already
showing effects of the friction whereby
they steered you down the hill) to steam
behind the kitchen stove, you obeyed
orders to go up-stairs and change into the
dry clothing that mother had thoughtfully
laid out

Oh, dear, would n't supper ever be ready !

-•:.• .:. IT 2. si: _ti ■»:ri. '^ - '♦ • •**-
i^^ -LIT ^ -t TiJL c :. -r -r c ,-. N 0^

h ■>. ii^ :rr "\< : ^J^:> >^^'' -^^'^

an art . I-r:^cxn y u :^.^ i -• : -i-* - - ^Z

an :n:-nce:\i::e run.Vr o: jv»vx.r^v\v

with a'.wav> r -v n"» t r one r.\v rw

-Gimn^e a rivic! 1 cn^n- i^^c ^^ V

seech tri fricn.:><

- Aw. y u car.'t. Thcrx^ ,rr;: .\-.\ uvm» ^
"There i>. t-n^. I c.^n ^;icl v^n aT. r.i;hi "^
-G'wan: l>or.'l you let Iv.m. |vx)u\'

Don't you let him.' Hen! W c 'le all

squashed now."

This from the jealous Uud ,\lu\uh-

booked. ^

"Shove up. can't you! .\\v, sht>\c up.

What 's the mailer with you! Iheie *s

lots of room."

And the pesiiferous intruder snuce/eil

in. llie bob looked like a gigantic i atoi

pillar upside down, so thick wen* headn

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and shoulders in a series of ridges. The
board creaked. The load also complained,
grunting uneasily as each boy, fitting like
a bootjack into the boy before, his legs
stretched horizontally along each flank,
tried to "shove up closer/' Hen, his feet
braced against the stick nailed across the

scant two inches, and hanging for dear life
to the shoulders of the boy in front of you,
were embarked for your rapturous yet ex-
cruciating flight.

With lurch and leap, with whoop and
cheer, down zipped the bob, every lad
clutching his neighbor as he might, each



points of the guiding sled, was the only
unit of the mass that enjoyed any elbow-
space. But, then, the pilot of a vessel is,
ex officioy the favored personage.

" Darn it ! lift up your feet there ! "

"Then somebody hold 'em. Grab my
feet, somebody ! "

" Whose feet / got, anyway ? "

" Aw, quit your shovin' so ! "

" G'wan an' push off! We don't want
any more."

" Gimme some room ! " you pleaded. " I
only got about an inch."

They hitched along, and ceded you an-
other inch.

" Clea-ear the track ! "

You bent and pushed. The bob started ;
it gathered way. One concluding effort,
and you landed aboard just as it was out-
stripping you, and, kneeling upon your

cemented to each; but you, out in the
cold, clutching most desperately of all.

" I 'm fallin' off ! " you announced wildly.

The two inches are only one and a half.

"Jocko's fallin' off!"

How delightful— for the others! The
news of your lingering predicament is re-
ceived with hoots of wicked glee.

Around the curve, with everybody
leaning, and the rear sled sluing outward
while you balanced on its extreme edge
— going!

Over the culvert, a double jounce, and
now you are all but gone. Going, going!

On the level, nearing the finish, speed
slightly abated ; and now your tired fingers
relaxed, you could n't hang on any longer,
your knees slipped— going, go\xi%—gone!
but gone more gracefully than you had
reason to expect.

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** You did n't gimme any room ! " you Hazardous curve and inspiring " belly-
accused angrily, when you met your squad bumper/' tippet and copper- toed boots,
as, in rollicking mood, they towed the bob clipper and bob, have vanished together,
back toward the crest. leaving only a few demure little boys in

overcoats, and demure little girls in muffs
The old hill is not what it used to be. It and boas, who sit up straight and properly
has been " graded." No more do the sleds descend, at a proper pace, along the out-
flash down as they once did. A new- skirts, and think that they are having fxm.
fangled set of " city ordinances " forbids. Good-by, old hill !



WE see thee on the hills, oh, maiden tall !
Oh, maiden with the sun-resplendent eyes!
For one hushed minute the o'erhanging pall.
Shrouding the peaks of God, up seems to rise,
And thee reveals against the august skies,
Clear-limned and shedding glory like a star.

Oh, thou divinely beautiful and wise.
Be not so cold and high, so hopeless far !
Come down among these lower lands where shadows are !

For we are native to these shaded fields

And valleys dusk, where tangled forests grow,

Backed by the rugged mountain-rafige that shields
Our standing com from upland winds that blow
Swift with the great hill-sweep and sharp with snow.

Come down, come down, and bide a little space
Here in the valley, that if needs we go

Sunward to view the sunshine of thy face,
Thyself may lead us by the hand to that high place 1

The revelation passes, and the mist

Lies on the summit as it lay of old.
A pleasant, lily-scented breeze hath kissed

Our temples ; we know valley rivers hold

Lilies serenely white, with hearts of gold.
We hear the happy shepherd wind his horn

O'er valley meadows where in quiet fold
The flocks are gathered. Tidings glad are borne
From valley fields where glows the wealth of standing com.

We want not lilies, sheep, or com, though long
These pleasured us. We leave the vales ; no more

Shall we in summer hearken to the song
Of sheltered folk content. As men of yore
God in the wildemess would fain adore.

So we, the exalted vision to obey,

Strive up the rocks and grope in cloud-lands frore.

Oh ! is it vain, this climbing toward thy day.
Hill Queen ? At least we break the way, we break the way.

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Author of " Tom Beauling," "Aladdin O'Brien," etc.

ARY ELLEN leaned over the
dividing fence, and called to her
chief friend and enemy, Evelyn

" Does it seem to you that the battle 's
as far off now ? Don't it seem to you as

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Barton) RendleThe Century → online text (page 83 of 120)