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at the lumber mill. Perhaps I ought not to tell you, but I've already told most of it, anyway. I think it's such a fine chance for you, and just what you've been wanting. You know you used to tell me last winter how you'd like to be manager of the lumber mill, and all the things you could do to make money for the company if you were. Well, it seems that Mr. Ormsby has bought a controlling interest in the mill. He's got some Government contracts, and he's going to run it the year 'round right along. Now it seems that he's taken notice of you working there in the mill the last three winters, and he's been making up his mind you're the man he wants for manager. He says the place will pay a good salary, and the use of that brick cottage near the big mill goes with it. He said he was going to send for you to come and see him last night."
Tom drew a long breath — "Maybe he did. We were all away at the War Issues Meeting at Morton. So that's what he had in mind when he was talking with me at the Town Hall last week. Well, I'm very much obliged to Mr. Ormsby for considering me for that place, and to your father for recommending me. If things were different, it would be exactly what I'd want, but, as it is, I can't take it. I'm going away."
"Oh Tom! Aren't you foolish to do that? Think what a good chance this is for you to get ahead. You won't find another like it right away."
Lily was now seated on the rock beside her once favored lover, and looking earnestly at his bronzed and manly countenance. The thought flashed through her mind that he certaingly was growing better looking.
"I know I won't," said Tom. "If things were different, I'd take it in a minute. It's just the thing that I've been thinking I might get some time, —maybe ten years from now. As it is,"
But Tom's further explanation was interrupted by a loud whinny which came from a clump of birches near
the brook. A young mare emerged from the thicket and came trotting toward them. She was jet black from head to heel, and the perfect proportions of her lithe young body, with her arching neck and flowing mane and tail, made a picture well worth seeing.
"Oh, isn't she a beauty!" exclaimed Lily, as the mare halted a few feet away, "I only wish I had some sugar. That's what she wants, you know. We've made a regular pet of her. Come here, Susie."
Susie advanced slowly, snuffing eagerly for the coveted sugar, and allowed her neck to be encircled by the arm of her young mistress.
"She's just the darlingest horse," went on Lily, "just the prettiest in town! But Oh, Tom! I've got to send her back to you."
"Send her back? What for?"
"Why you know, Tom, — the way things are—it isn't right for me to accept valuable presents. And Father says she's worth two hundred dollars."
"Well, if she is, she wasn't worth half that when I gave her to you a year ago, and then you had a perfect right to accept her. She was only a yearling colt then, but now you've kept her for a year, and your father's had her broken this spring."
"Yes," said Lily with a sigh, "Father said I could drive her myself after a little while. She's such a dear! She never would hurt anything. But just the same, Tom, I don't believe it's the right thing for me to keep her. Do you, now?
"Sure, I do," returned Tom sturdily. "Giving's keepings in my family—always has been."
"Well, I'll talk to Mother about it," said Lily. "But I know well enough she'll say I ought to send her back. She hinted something about it the other day."
"I'll tell you what!" exclaimed Tom, struck by a bright thought, "We'll leave it that she's mine. But I haven't any use for her and couldn't take care of her now. You just keep her and treat her as yours until I send for her."
"Oh, I know what you're planning, Tom Stirling!" cried Lily, "I see just what you mean to do. You'll never call for her at all. That's just your scheme for getting your own way about it. You old stubborn, generous thing!"
Here Susie, finding herself no longer the center of attention, gave up her hopes of sugar and turned and trotted away. The young people resumed their seat on the rock. Old Dapple and her milking time were forgotten.
"Well," said Tom, "it's perfectly true that I wouldn't know what to do with her. I'm going away, and probably for quite a while. That was all the news I had. I just wanted to tell you good-bye."
"Oh, Tom! Are you really? Where are you going?"
"To France, I hope. I'm going to Morton and enlist."
"Oh, what for? There's no need of it, is there,—so soon?"
"The President seems to think so."
"Yes, but think of all the others who might just as well go."
"Perhaps they're thinking of me in the same way."
"Tom Stirling, you give up this idea. You're needed at home, and you've got good chances right here at home."
"So have lots of the others. It would be a poor army that was made up of fellows who were no good at home."
Minutes passed, and they sat in silence. Twice Lily drew a long breath and opened her lips to speak, but conflicting impulse choked back the words. At last she said in a smothered voice—
"I — never thought of your doing anything like that, Tom. What does your mother think?"
"The same as a million other mothers.
"Oh, Tom! That sounds as though you didn't care."
"I do though, but the fact is this war has got to be fought through, and
she hasn't any better right to have her sons kept at home than the others have."
During the next minute or two Tom could distinctly hear the ticking of the watch in his pocket His lips were straightly set, and he gazed steadily at a maple tree in the hollow before him.
When Lily began speaking it was with a little catch in her voice that to a more subtle observer might have told volumes:
"Chet Thayer says he doesn't believe that there's any need of people getting excited and rushing into the army—that the war will be over before any American troops can get into it."
"Maybe he's right, but they don't seem to think so in Washington."
"Say," said Lily softly, "When Chet came over Friday night be brought oh—a beauty of a diamond ring. I'll bet it cost a hundred dollars. And he wanted me to wear it."
The hammers were pounding in Tom's temples again.
"Yes," he answered in a halfchoked voice, "and what did you tell him?"
"I told him 'Not yet'."
After half a minute Lily whispered:
"Tom, are you going away to the war?"
"Yes, Lily, you know I've got to."
More minutes passed in silence. Then suddenly occurred the most amazing thing in all of Tom's twentyfour years of experience. Lily's arms were flung about his neck, and her tear-wet cheek was pressed against his own. He held her close in a wild embrace. The grass and streams of the pasture shimmered in a flood of purple and gold.
"Oh, Tom! Oh, Tom!" she sobbed, "If you go to Morton, I'm going with you. I've—I've used you terribly, but now you'll see. I'll marry you tomorrow, and then — when you're in the war you'll know you've got to come back to me."
Though Tom's response was poor in words its meaning was wholly be
Jumping a Claim
By Frank /A. Vancil
Bold, adventurous men were they,
Seeking in a devious way—
MN the early settlement of the Great Plains of Kansas and Nebraska there were often exciting contests over lands homesteaded by the immigrant. Attractive situations, containing timber and water, were limited, and were often the object of strife and litigation.
There was a kind of Freemasonry among the primeval inhabitants—a sort of brotherly love and interest, and a disposition to assist each other in toil and privation. Alike poor in worldly goods, the greatest hospitality prevailed, and nowhere is the trite saying more in evidence that "a fellow feeling makes one wondrous kind" than on the wild frontier.
Hence, it was but natural that any and all efforts of a new comer to appropriate the labor and home of a previous settler, however humble, were viewed by the neighbors with great disfavor. Owing to the poverty of most homesteaders, and the failure to secure employment near, many were forced to leave their claims for a few months, a privilege which the law allowed.
It often happened that during this enforced absence some avaricious "tenderfoot," spying the inviting location, would summarily take possession of the sod house or "dug out," the few etceteras within, and proceed to make himself at home, upon what he termed an abandoned claim. Of course, upon the return of the original occupant there was trouble and lots of
it, for be it known that those frontiersmen were a fearless lot, and were not out there to do missionary work.
While sojourning in this land of luxuriant zephyrs and periodical blizzards, an aggravated case of claimjumping came under my observation. A horny-handed yeoman from the East had taken up a homestead on a beautiful stream in western Nebraska; built himself a sod house and stable, and with his wife, three children, two ponies, a cow and three dogs, solemnly wagered Uncle Sam the sum of sixteen dollars that he could stay a citizen there for five years, hot winds, blizzards and coyotes to the contrary notwithstanding.
Game was plentiful, and subsisting chiefly on a meat diet, the summer was passed in health and free abandon. But the winters in that treeless country are long and severe, and lucrative employment a negligible quantity. So, to escape its incident hardships and to accumulate a little capital by which to improve his ranch, this tenant by sufference, along "when the frost in on the punkin," locked up the door of his shack, loaded in most of his earthly belongings, and, followed by old Brindle, Blanch, Tray and Sweetheart, hied himself and family back to his wife's relations beyond the Big Muddy, fully intending to return with the bluets in the spring and to pitch a crop.
Along in the early winter, when old Boreas was holding high carnival with the struggling willows and cottonwoods, an adventurous prospector spied the inviting situation and very unceremoniously took possession. He was kindly informed of a previous occupancy, and urged not to infringe upon the rights of another but it was of no avail. He stoutly affirmed that the claim was forfeited by removal, and that, knowing a good thing when he saw it, he was there to stay.
Being alone, the trespasser supported himself by trapping and hunting during the winter; and, being of a suspicious looking character, his acquaintance in the neighborhood was limited. He had all the earmarks of being a bad man, a fugitive from justice, and to dispossess him was calculated to prove a deal of trouble if not tragedy. The absent settler was a veteran soldier and had smelt powder upon more than one occasion, and was not to be intimidated.
About April 1st, when the balmy breath of spring was beginning to clothe the valley in freshened verdure, and daisies had begun to dot the hillsides, the absent settler drove back only to find within his home an incorrigible occupant. The condition was a serious one. Here was a man, intrenched and defiant, clearly in the wrong, but having the nine points of law in his favor, that of possession, desperate and unscrupulous by nature, on the one side, and a battle-scarred soldier at the head of a family on the other, each unyielding in demands.
A parley at the threshold ensued, and strong language and bitter threats were exchanged. The surly dweller asserted that he "was not born in a thicket to be scared by a cricket," and the old veteran retorted that he had faced many a musket, and proposed to regain possession of his home, peacefully if he could, forcibly if he must.
Universal sympathy was with the ousted settler, and it was but a short time until a company of a score or more of bronzed homesteaders had allied themselves with the dispossessed, and expressed a willingness to assist in ridding the neighborhood of such a doubtful character. To avoid a tragedy, it was decided to use strategy if possible. The shack, in which the trespasser was fortified, was not of a
combustible material, hence to bum him out was impossible. To storm the inclosure would doubtless result in fatalities, therefore it was resolved to smoke him out
The sod structure had but two small windows, one on each side, so the building could be safely approached from the gable unseen. The stovepipe extended above the roof near the center of the comb of the building. An old cook stove below was used in preparing meals and in warming the room, which was only some 20 by 30 feet in dimension. Around this stove, the claim-jumper sat with his rifle at his elbow, scarcely attempting to peep outward, for fear of being met by a volley of lead.
On a dark and stormy night, a short time after the return of the homesteader, a full dozen of strenuous and determined men surrounded the rustic abode, armed with a goodly supply of weapons, powder and sulphur. To creep cautiously up to the gable end of the building and to mount the low roof, guarded by a platoon of pointed rifles, was not a heroic task, and was accomplished without difficulty. Neither was it difficult to crawl along the comb of the roof to the stove-pipe and to pour down therein a pound of sulphur upon the smouldering coals
This clandestine act producted a commotion within—a hurrying to and fro and a gasping for fresh air; but which was not a circumstance to the scene following—the dropping of a pound of powder down the same avenue. There was a flash—a terrible explosion, amid a scattering of dirt and ironware. A breathless, coatless, blackened specimen of humanity was met near the door and the ultimatum prepounded to him in vigorous monosyllables. He was at first disposed to argue the question of exit, until seeing a lengthy lariat in the hands of one of the party, he quickly agreed to abdicate the realm instanter, and he did. He was assisted out beyond the limits of the neighborhood, and advised to hit only the high places in his journey west, and he kept on going.