Infomotions, Inc.or, the Old Lumberman's Secret / Carr, Annie Roe



Author: Carr, Annie Roe
Title: or, the Old Lumberman's Secret
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Title:  Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp
Title:  The Old Lumberman's Secret

Author:  Annie Roe Carr

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Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp

or The Old Lumberman's Secret


by Annie Roe Carr




Chapter I
THE YELLOW POSTER

"Oh, look there, Nan!" cried Bess Harley suddenly, as they turned
into High Street from the avenue on which Tillbury's high school
was situated.

"Look where?" queried Nan Sherwood promptly.  "Up in the air,
down on the ground or all around?" and she carried out her
speech in action, finally spinning about on one foot in a manner
to shock the more staid Elizabeth.

"Oh, Nan!"

"Oh, Bess!" mocked her friend.

She was a rosy-cheeked, brown-eyed girl, with fly-away hair, a
blue tam-o'-shanter set jauntily upon it, and a strong, plump
body that she had great difficulty in keeping still enough in
school to satisfy her teachers.

"Do behave, Nan," begged Bess.  "We're on the public street."

"How awful!" proclaimed Nan Sherwood, making big eyes at her
chum.  "Why folks know we're only high-school girls.  so, of
course, we're crazy!  Otherwise we wouldn't BE high-school
girls."

"Nonsense!" cried Bess, interrupting.  Do be reasonable, Nan.
And look yonder!  What do you suppose that crowd is at the big
gate of the Atwater Mills?"

Nan Sherwood's merry face instantly clouded.  She was not at all
a thoughtless girl, although she was of a sanguine, cheerful
temperament.

The startled change in her face amazed Bess.

"Oh dear!" the latter cried.  "What is it? Surely, there's nobody
hurt in the mills?  Your father-----"

"I'm afraid, Bess dear, that it means there are a great many hurt
in the mills."

"Oh, Nan! How horridly you talk," cried Bess.  "That is
impossible."

"Not hurt in the machinery, not mangled by the looms," Nan went
on to say, gravely. "But dreadfully hurt nevertheless, Bess.
Father has been expecting it, I believe.  Let's go and read the
poster."

"Why it is a poster, isn't it?" cried Bess.  "What does it say?"

The two school girls, both neatly dressed and carrying their
bags of text books, pushed into the group before the yellow
quarter-sheet poster pasted on the fence.

The appearance of Nan and Bess was distinctly to their advantage
when compared with that of the women and girls who made up the
most of the crowd interested in the black print upon the poster.

The majority of these whispering, staring people were foreigners.
All bore marks of hard work and poverty.  The hands of even the
girls in the group were red and cracked.  It was sharp winter
weather, but none wore gloves.

If they wore a head-covering at all, it was a shawl gathered at
the throat by the clutch of frost-bitten fingers.  There was snow
on the ground; but few wore overshoes.

They crowded away from the two well-dressed high-school girls,
looking at them askance.  Bess Harley scarcely noticed the mill-
hands' wives and daughters.  She came of a family who considered
these poor people little better than cattle.  Nan Sherwood was so
much interested in the poster that she saw nothing else.  It
read:

NOTICE: Two weeks from date all departments of these mills will
be closed until further notice.  Final payment of wages due will
be made on January 15th.  Over-supply of our market and the
prohibitive price of cotton make this action a necessity.
ATWATER MILLS COMPANY.  December 28th.

"Why, dear me!" murmured Bess.  "I thought it might really be
something terrible.  Come on, Nan.  It's only a notice of a
vacation.  I guess most of them will be glad to rest awhile."

"And who is going to pay for their bread and butter while the
poor creatures are resting?" asked Nan seriously, as the two
girls moved away from the group before the yellow poster.

"Dear me, Nan!" her chum cried.  "You do always think of the most
dreadful things.  It troubles me to know anything about poverty
and poor people.  I can't help them, and I don't want to know
anything about them."

"If I didn't know that you are better than your talk, Bess," said
Nan, still gravely, "I'd think you a most callous person.  You
just don't understand.  These poor people have been fearing this
shut-down for months.  And all the time they have been expecting
it they have been helpless to avert it and unable to prepare for
it."

"They might have saved some of their wages, I suppose," said
Bess.  "I heard father say the other night how much money the
mills paid out in a year to the hands, some perfectly enORmous
sum."

"But just think how many people that has to be divided among,"
urged Nan.  "Lots of the men earn only eight or nine dollars a
week, and have families to support."

"Well, of course, they don't have to be supported as we are,"
objected the easy-minded Bess.  "Anyway my father says frugality
should be taught to the poor just the same as reading and
writing.
They ought to learn how to save."

"When you earn only just enough to supply your needs, and no
more, how can you divide your income so as to hoard up any part
of it?"

"Dear me!  Don't ask questions in political economy out of
school, Nan!" cried Bess, forgetting that she had started the
discussion herself.  "I just HATE that study, and wish we didn't
have to take it!  I can't answer that question, anyway."

"I'll answer it then," declared Nan.  "If you are a mill-hand
your stomach won't let you save money.  There probably won't be a
dozen families affected by this shut-down who have more than ten
dollars saved."

"Goodness!  You don't mean that that's true?  Why, dad gives me
that much to spend on myself each month," Bess cried.  "The poor
things!  Even if they are frowsy and low, I am sorry for them.
But, of course, the shut-down doesn't trouble you, Nan.  Not
personally, I mean.  Your father has had a good position for so
many years-----"

"I'm not at all sure that it won't trouble us," Nan interposed
gravely.  "But of course we are not in danger of starvation."

She felt some delicacy about entirely confiding in Bess on the
subject.  Nan had heard the pros and cons of the expected closing
of the mills discussed at home almost every day for weeks past;
but family secrets should never be mentioned outside the family
circle, as Nan very well knew.

"Well," signed Bess, whose whole universe revolved around a
central sun called Self, as is the case with many girls brought
up by indulgent parents.  "I hope, dear, that this trouble won't
keep you from entering Lakeview with me next fall."

Nan laughed.  "There never was a chance of my going with you,
Bess, and I've told you so often enough-----"

"Now, don't you say that, Nan Sherwood!" cried her chum.  "I've
just made up my mind that you shall go, and that's all there is
to it!  You've just got to go!"

"You mean to kidnap me and bear me off to that ogre's castle,
whether or not?"

"It's the very nicest school that ever was," cried Bess.  "And
such a romantic place."

"Romantic?" repeated Nan curiously.

"Yes, indeed!  A great big stone castle overlooking Lake
Michigan, a regular fortress, they say.  It was built years ago
by Colonel Gilpatrick French, when he came over from Europe with
some adventurous Irishmen who thought all they had to do was to
sail over to Canada and the whole country would be theirs for the
taking."

"Goodness me!  I've read something about that," said Nan,
interested.

"Well, Lakeview Hall, as the school is called, was built by that
rich Colonel French.  And they say there are dungeons under it  "

"Where they keep their jams and preserves, now, I suppose?"
laughed Nan.

"And secret passages down to the shore of the lake.  And the
great hall where the brave Irishmen used to drill is now the
assembly hall of the school."

"Sounds awfully interesting," admitted Nan.

"And Dr. Beulah Prescott, who governs the hall, the preceptress,
you know, is really a very lovely lady, my mother says," went on
the enthusiastic Bess.  "MY mother went to school to her at
Ferncliffe."

"Oh, Bess," Nan said warmly, "It must be a perfectly lovely
place!  But I know I can never go there."

"Don't you say that!  Don't you say that!" cried the other girl.
"I won't listen to you!  You've just got to go!"

"I'm afraid you'll have to kidnap me, then," repeated Nan, with a
rueful smile.  "I'm very sure that my father won't be able to
afford it, especially now that the mills will close."

"Oh, Nan!  I think you're too mean," wailed her friend.  "It's my
pet project.  You know, I've always said we should go to
preparatory school together, and then to college."

Nan's eyes sparkled; but she shook her head.

"We sat together in primary school, and we've always been in the
same grade through grammar and into high," went on Bess, who was
really very faithful in her friendships.  "It would just break my
heart, Nan, if we were to be separated now."

Nan put her arm about her.  They had reached the corner by Bess's
big house where they usually separated after school.

"Don't you cry, honey!" Nan begged her chum.  "You'll find lots
of nice girls at that Lakeview school, I am sure.  I'd dearly
love to go with you, but you might as well understand right now,
dear, that my folks are poor."

"Poor!" gasped Bess.

"Too poor to send me to Lakeview," Nan went on steadily.  "And
with the mills closing as they are, we shall be poorer still.  I
may have to get a certificate as Bertha Pike did, and go to work.
So you mustn't think any more about my going to that beautiful
school with you."

"Stop!  I won't listen to you another moment, Nan Sherwood!"
cried Bess, and sticking her fingers in her ears, she ran angrily
away and up the walk to the front door.

Nan walked briskly away toward Amity Street.  She did not turn
back to wave her hand as usual at the top of the hill.

Chapter II
THE COTTAGE ON AMITY STREET

The little shingled cottage stood back from the street, in a
deeper yard than most of its neighbors.  It was built the year
Nan was born, so the roses, the honeysuckle, and the clematis had
become of stalwart growth and quite shaded the front and side
porches.

The front steps had begun to sag a little; but Mr. Sherwood had
blocked them up.  The front fence had got out of alignment, and
the same able mechanic had righted it and set the necessary new
posts.

The trim of the little cottage on Amity Street had been painted
twice within Nan's remembrance; each time her father had done the
work in his spare time.

Now, with snow on the ground and frozen turf peeping out from
under the half-melted and yellowed drifts, the Sherwood cottage
was not so attractive as in summer.  Yet it was a cozy looking
house with the early lamplight shining through the kitchen window
and across the porch as Nan approached, swinging her schoolbooks.

Papa Sherwood called it, with that funny little quirk in the
corner of his mouth, "a dwelling in amity, more precious than
jewels or fine gold."

And it was just that.  Nan had had experience enough in the
houses of her school friends to know that none of them were homes
like her own.

All was amity, all was harmony, in the little shingled cottage on
this short by-street of Tillbury.

It was no grave and solemn place where the natural outburst of
childish spirits was frowned upon, or one had to sit "stiff and
starched" upon stools of penitence.

No, indeed!  Nan had romped and played in and about the cottage
all her life.  She had been, in fact, of rather a boisterous
temperament until lately.

Her mother's influence was always quieting, and not only with her
little daughter.  Mrs. Sherwood's voice was low, and with a dear
drawl in it, so Nan declared.

She had come from the South to Northern Illinois, from
Tennessee, to be exact, where Mr. Sherwood had met and married
her.  She had grace and gentleness without the languor that often
accompanies those qualities.

Her influence upon both her daughter and her husband was marked.
They deferred to her, made much of her, shielded her in every way
possible from all that was rude or unpleasant.

Yet Mrs. Sherwood was a perfectly capable and practical
housekeeper, and when her health would allow it she did all the
work of the little family herself.  Just now she was having what
she smilingly called "one of her lazy spells," and old Mrs. Joyce
came in to do the washing and cleaning each week.

It was one of Mrs. Sherwood's many virtues that she bore with a
smile recurrent bodily ills that had made her a semi-invalid
since Nan was a very little girl.  But in seeking medical aid for
these ills, much of the earnings of the head of the household had
been spent.

The teakettle was singing when Nan entered the "dwelling in
amity", and her mother's low rocker was drawn close to the side-
table on which the lamp stood beside the basket of mending.

Although Mrs. Sherwood could not at present do her own laundry-
work, she insisted upon darning and patching and mending as only
she could darn and patch and mend.

Mr. Sherwood insisted that a sock always felt more comfortable on
his foot after "Momsey" had darned it than when it was new.  And
surely she was a very excellent needlewoman.

This evening, however, her work had fallen into her lap with an
idle needle sticking in it.  She had been resting her head upon
her hand and her elbow on the table when Nan came in.  But she
spoke in her usual bright way to the girl as the latter first of
all kissed her and then put away her books and outer clothing.

"What is the good word from out of doors, honey?" she asked.

Nan's face was rather serious and she could not coax her usual
smile into being.  Her last words with Bess Harley had savored of
a misunderstanding, and Nan was not of a quarrelsome disposition.

"I'm afraid there isn't any real good word to be brought from
outside tonight, Momsey," she confessed, coming back to stand by
her mother's chair.

"Can that be possible, Daughter!" said Mrs. Sherwood, with her
low, caressing laugh.  "Has the whole world gone wrong?"

"Well, I missed in two recitations and have extras to make up, in
the first place," rejoined Nan ruefully.

"And what else?"

"Well, Bess and I didn't have exactly a falling out; but I
couldn't help offending her in one thing.  That's the second
trouble."

"And is there a 'thirdly,' my dear?" queried little Mrs. Sherwood
tranquilly.

"Oh, dear, yes!  The worst of all!" cried Nan.  "The yellow
poster is up at the mills."

"The yellow poster?" repeated her mother doubtfully, not at first
understanding the significance of her daughter's statement.

"Yes.  You know.  When there's anything bad to announce to the
hands the Atwater Company uses yellow posters, like a small-pox,
or typhoid warning.  The horrid thing!  The mills shut down in
two weeks, Momsey, and no knowing when they will open again."

"Oh, my dear!" was the little woman's involuntary tribute to the
seriousness of the announcement.

In a moment she was again her usual bright self.  She drew Nan
closer to her and her own brown eyes, the full counterpart of
her daughter's, winkled merrily.

"I tell you what let's do, Nan," she said.

"What shall we do, Momsey?" repeated the girl, rather
lugubriously.

"Why, let's not let Papa Sherwood know about it, it will make
him feel so bad."

Nan began to giggle at that.  She knew what her mother meant.  Of
course, Mr. Sherwood, being at the head of one of the mill
departments, would know all about the announcement of the shut-
down; but they would keep up the fiction that they did not know
it by being particularly cheerful when he came home from work.

So Nan giggled and swallowed back her sobs.  Surely, if Momsey
could present a cheerful face to this family calamity, she could!

The girl ran her slim fingers into the thick mane of her mother's
coiled hair, glossy brown hair through which only a few threads
of white were speckled.

"Your head feels hot, Momsey," she said anxiously.  "Does it
ache?"

"A wee bit, honey," confessed Mrs. Sherwood.

"Let me take the pins out and rub your poor head, dear," said
Nan.  "You know, I'm a famous 'massagist.'  Come   do, dear."

"If you like, honey."

Thus it was that, a little later, when Mr. Sherwood came home
with feet that dragged more than usual on this evening, he opened
the door upon a very beautiful picture indeed.

His wife's hair was "a glory of womanhood," for it made a tent
all about her, falling quite to the floor as she sat in her low
chair.  Out of this canopy she looked up at the brawny, serious
man, roguishly.

"Am I not a lazy, luxurious person, Papa Sherwood?" she demanded.
"Nan is becoming a practical maid, and I presume I put upon the
child dreadfully, she is good-natured, like you, Robert."

"Aye, I know our Nan gets all her good qualities from me,
Jessie," said her husband.  "If she favored you she would, of
course, be a very hateful child."

He kissed his wife tenderly.  As Nan said, he always "cleaned up"
at the mills and "came home kissable."

"I ought to be just next door to an angel, if I absorbed the
virtues of both my parents," declared Nan briskly, beginning to
braid the wonderful hair which she had already brushed.  "I often
think of that."

Her father poked her tentatively under the shoulder blades with a
blunt forefinger, making her squirm.

"I don't feel the wings sprouting yet, Nancy," he said, in his
dry way.

"I hope not, yet!" exclaimed the girl.  "I'd have to have a new
winter coat if you did, and I know we can't afford that just
now."

"You never said a truer word, Nan," replied Mr. Sherwood, his
voice dropping to a less cheerful level, as he went away to
change his coat and light the hanging lamp in the dining room
where the supper table was already set.

Mother and daughter looked at each other rather ruefully.

"Oh, dear me!" whispered Nan.  "I never do open my mouth but I
put my foot in it!"

"Goodness!" returned her mother, much amused.  "That is an
acrobatic feat that I never believed you capable of, honey."

"We-ell!  I reminded Papa Sherwood of our hard luck instead of
being bright and cheerful like you."

"We will give him a nice supper, honey, and make him forget his
troubles.  Time enough to call to order the ways and means
committee afterward."  Her husband came back into the kitchen as
Nan finished arranging the hair.  "Come, Papa Sherwood!" cried
the little lady.  "Hot biscuit; the last of the honey; sweet
pickles; sliced cold ham; and a beautiful big plum cake that our
Nan made this morning before school time, her own self.  You MUST
smile at all those dainties."

And the husband and father smiled.  They all made an effort to
help each other.  But they knew that with the loss of his work
would doubtless come the loss of the home.  During the years that
had elapsed, Mr. Sherwood had paid in part for the cottage; but
now the property was deteriorating instead of advancing in value.
He could not increase the mortgage upon it.  Prompt payment of
interest half-yearly was demanded.  And how could he meet these
payments, not counting living expenses, when his income was
entirely cut off?

Mr. Sherwood was forty-five years old, an age at which it is
difficult for a man to take up a new trade, or to obtain new
employment at his old one.

Chapter III
"FISHING"

Nan told of Bess Harley's desire to have her chum accompany her
to Lakeview Hall the following autumn, as a good joke.

"I hope I'll be in some good situation by that time," she said to
her mother, confidentially, "helping, at least, to support myself
instead of being a burden upon father and you."

"It's very unselfish of you to propose that, honey," replied her
mother.  "But, perhaps, such a sacrifice as the curtailment of
your education will not be required of you."

"But, my DEAR!" gasped Nan.  "I couldn't go to Lakeview Hall.  It
would cost, why!  a pile!"

"I don't know how much a pile is, translated into coin of the
realm, honey," responded Mrs. Sherwood with her low, sweet laugh.
"But the only thing we can give our dear daughter, your father
and I, is an education.  That you MUST have to enable you to
support yourself properly when your father can do no more for
you."

"But I s'pose I've already had as much education as most girls in
Tillbury get.  So many of them go into the mills and factories at
my age.  If they can get along, I suppose I can."

"Hush!" begged her mother quickly.  "Don't speak of such a thing.
I couldn't bear to have you obliged to undertake your own support
in any such way.

"Both your father and I, honey, had the benefit of more than the
ordinary common-school education.  I went three years to the
Tennessee Training College; I was prepared to teach when your
father and I met and married.  He obtained an excellent training
for his business in a technical college.  We hoped to give our
children, if we were blessed with them, an even better start in
life than we had.

"Had your little brother lived, honey," added Mrs. Sherwood
tenderly, "we should have tried to put him through college, and
you, as well.  It would have been something worthwhile for your
father to work for.  But I am afraid all these years that his
money has been wasted in attempts to benefit my health."

"Oh, Momsey!  Don't say it, that way," urged Nan.  "What would we
ever do without you?  But I sometimes think how nice it would be
had I been a boy, my own brother, for instance.  A boy can be so
much more help than a girl."

"For shame!" cried her mother, laughing.  "Do you dare admit a
boy is smarter than a girl, Nan?"

"Not smarter.  Only better able to do any kind of work, I guess.
They wouldn't let me work in the file shop, or drive a grocery
wagon."

"Goodness!  Listen to the child!" gasped Mrs. Sherwood.  "I
should hope not!  Why, honey, is your mind running continually on
such dreadful things?  I am afraid your father and I allow you to
hear us talk too frequently about family matters.  You must not
assume the family's burdens at your age."

There was that trend to Nan Sherwood's character, however.  With
all her blithesomeness and high spirits she was inclined to be
serious in thought.

This conversation occurred several days after the evening when,
on their way home from school, Nan and her school chum, Bess
Harley, had read the yellow poster at the gate of the Atwater
Mills.

The district surrounding the mills, in which most of the hands
lived, had put on an aspect of mourning.  Some of the workmen and
their families had already packed up and gone.  Most of the
houses occupied by the hands were owned by the Atwater Company,
and if the poor people remained till January 15th, the wages due
them then would be eaten up by the rent of the tenements.

So they were wise to leave when they could.  Many who remained
would be a burden upon the taxpayers of Tillbury before the
winter was over.

Nan and her folks were not in such a sad situation as the
laborers, of course.  Mr. Sherwood had a small sum in bank.  He
had, too, a certain standing in the community and a line of
credit at the stores that he might have used.

Debt, however, save that upon their house, he had fought to keep
out of all his married life.  That his equity in the Amity Street
cottage was so small was not his fault; but he owed not any man.

"Now we must go fishing," Mrs. Sherwood said, in her sprightly
way, when the little family really discussed the unfortunate
situation after the announcement of the shut-down of the mills
was made public.

"Goodness, Momsey!  What a reckless creature you are," laughed
Mr. Sherwood.  "Waste our precious time in such employment, and
in the dead of winter, too?"

"Now, Papa Sherwood, I don't mean that kind of fishing at all!"
cried the little woman gaily.  "We are going to fish for
employment for you, perhaps for a new home."

"Oh!" gasped Nan.  The thought of deserting the little cottage on
Amity Street was a dreadful shock.

"We must face that possibility," said her mother firmly.  "It may
be.  Tillbury will see very hard times now that the mills are
closed.  Other mills and shops will follow suit."

"Quite true, Momsey," agreed the husband and father.

"I am a very logical person, am I not?" said the smiling little
lady.

"But the fishing?" cried Nan curiously.

"Ah, yes.  I am coming to that," said her mother.  "The fishing,
to be sure! Why, we are going to write letters to just everybody
we know, and some we only know by hearsay, and find out if there
isn't a niche for Papa Sherwood somewhere outside Tillbury."

"So we can!" cried Nan, clapping her hands.

"I am afraid there is general depression in my line of business
everywhere," suggested Mr. Sherwood.  "For some years the
manufacturers have been forcing cotton goods upon a false market.
And the recent attempt to help the cotton growers by boosting the
price of raw cotton will come near to ruining the mills and mill
workers.  It is always so.  In an attempt to benefit one class of
the people another class is injured."

"Now, never mind politics, sir!" cried his little wife.  "We
poor, weak women aren't supposed to understand such things.  Only
when Nan and I get the vote, and all the other millions of women
and girls, we will have no class legislation.  'The greatest good
for the greatest number' will be our motto."

Mr. Sherwood only smiled.  He might have pointed out that in that
very statement was the root of all class legislation.  He knew
his wife's particular ideas were good, however, her general
political panacea was rather doubtful.  He listened thoughtfully
as she went on:

"Yes, we must fish for a new position for papa.  We may have to
go away from here.  Perhaps rent the house.  You know, we have
had good offers for it."

"True," admitted Mr. Sherwood.

"Oh, dear!" sighed Nan, but below her breath so that Momsey and
Papa Sherwood did not hear the sigh.

"I am going to write to Cousin Adair MacKenzie, in Memphis.  He
is quite prominent in business there," pursued Mrs. Sherwood.
"We might find a footing in Memphis."

Mr. Sherwood looked grave, but said nothing.  He knew that the
enervating climate of the Southern river city would never do for
his wife.  Change of climate might benefit her greatly; the
doctors had all said so of late; but not that change.

"Then," continued Nan's mother, "there is your brother, Henry, up
in Michigan."

"Oh! I remember Uncle Henry," cried Nan.  "Such a big, big man!"

"With a heart quite in keeping with the size of his body, honey,"
her mother quickly added.  "And your Aunt Kate is a very nice
woman.  Your uncle has lumber interests.  He might find something
for your father there."

"I'll write to Hen, Jessie," Mr. Sherwood said decisively.  "But
a
lumber camp is no place for you.  Let's see, his mail address is
Hobart Forks, isn't it?  Right in the heart of the woods.  If you
weren't eaten up by black gnats, you would be by ennui," and he
chuckled.

"Goodness!" cried Mrs. Sherwood, making big eyes at him.  "Are
those a new kind of mosquito?  Ennui, indeed!  Am I a baby?  Is
Nan another?"

"But think of Nan's education, my dear," suggested Mr. Sherwood.

"I ought to work and help the family instead of going to school
any longer," Nan declared.

"Not yet, Daughter, not yet," her father said quickly.  "However,
I will write to Hen.  He may be able to suggest something."

"It might be fun living in the woods," Nan said.  "I'm not afraid
of gnats, or mosquitoes, or, or on-wees!"

She chanced to overhear her father and Dr. Christian talking the
next day on the porch, and heard the wise old physician say:

"I'm not sure I could countenance that, Robert.  What Jessie
needs is an invigorating, bracing atmosphere.  A sea voyage would
do her the greatest possible good."

"Perhaps a trip to Buffalo, down the lakes?"

"No, no!  That's merely an old woman's home-made plaster on the
wound.  Something more drastic.  Salt air.  A long, slow voyage,
overseas.  It often wracks the system, but it brings the patient
to better and more stable health.  Jessie may yet be a strong,
well woman if we take the right course with her."

Nevertheless, Mr. Sherwood wrote to his brother.  He had to do
so, it seemed.  There was no other course open to him.

And while he fished in that direction, Momsey threw out her line
toward Memphis and Adair MacKenzie.  Mr. Sherwood pulled in his
line first, without much of a nibble, it must be confessed.

"Dear Bob," the elder Sherwood wrote: "Things are flatter than a
stepped-on pancake with me.  I've got a bunch of trouble with old
Ged Raffer and may have to go into court with him.  Am not
cutting a stick of timber.  But you and Jessie and the little
nipper  "("Consider!" interjected Nan, "calling me 'a little
nipper'!  What does he consider a big 'nipper'?") "come up to
Pine Camp.  Kate and I will be mighty glad to have you here.  Tom
and Rafe are working for a luckier lumberman than I, and there's
plenty of room here for all hands, and a hearty welcome for you
and yours as long as there's a shot in the locker."

"That's just like Hen," Nan's father said.  "He'd divide his last
crust with me.  But I don't want to go where work is scarce.  I
must go where it is plentiful, where a man of even my age will be
welcome."

"Your age, Papa Sherwood!  How you talk," drawled Nan's mother in
her pretty way.  "You are as young as the best of 'em yet."

"Employers don't look at me through your pretty eyes, Momsey," he
returned, laughing.

"Well," said his wife, still cheerfully, "my fishing seems to be
resultless yet.  Perhaps the bait's gone off the hook.  Had I
better haul in the line and bait again?  I was always doing that
when I went fishing with Adair and his brothers, years ago, when
I was a little girl."

Her husband shook his head.  "Have patience, Jessie," he said.

He had few expectations from the Memphis letter; yet there was a
most surprising result from it on the way, something which by no
possibility could the little family in the Amity Street cottage
have suspected.

Chapter IV
SWEEPING CLEAN

"My goodness me!" ejaculated Bess Harley.  "Talk about the
'leaden wings of Time.'  Why!  Time sweeps by us on electrically-
driven, ball-bearing pinions.  Here's another week gone, Nan, and
tomorrow's Saturday."

"Yes," Nan agreed.  "Time flies all too quickly, for me, anyway.
The mills have been closed a week now."

"Oh, dear!  That's all I hear," complained Bess.  "Those tiresome
old mills.  Our Maggie's sister was crying in the kitchen last
night because her Mike couldn't get a job now the mills were
closed, and was drinking up all the money they had saved.  That's
what the mill-hands do; their money goes to the saloon-keepers!"

"The proportion of their income spent by the laboring class for
alcoholic beverages is smaller by considerable than that spent by
the well-to-do for similar poison!" quoted Nan decisively.  "Mike
is desperate, I suppose, poor fellow!"

"My goodness me!" cried Bess again.  "You are most exasperating,
Nan Sherwood.  Mike's case has nothing to do with political
Economy, and I do wish you'd drop that study out of school----"

"I have!" gasped Nan, for just then her books slipped from her
strap; "and history, rhetoric, and philosophical readings along
with it," and she proceeded cheerfully to pick up the several
books mentioned.

"You can't mean," Bess said, still severely, "that you won't go
to Lakeview with me, Nan?"

"I wish you wouldn't keep saying that, Bess," Nan Sherwood cried.
"Is it my fault?  Don't you suppose I'd love to, if I could?  We
have no money.  Father is out of work.  There is no prospect of
other work for him in Tillbury, he says, and," Nan continued
desperately, "how do you suppose I can go to a fancy boarding
school under these circumstances?"

"Why-----"

For once Elizabeth was momentarily silenced.  Suddenly her face
brightened.  "I tell you!" she exclaimed.  "I'll speak to my
father about it.  He can fix it so that you will be able to go to
the Hall with me, I know."

"I'd like to see myself an object of charity!" Nan cried, with
heat.  "I, guess, not!  What I can't earn, or my father can't
give me, I'll go without, Bess.  That's all there is to that!"

Bess stared at her with quivering lips.  "You can't be so mean,
Nan," she faltered.

"I'm not mean!" denied the other.

"I'd like to know what you call it?  Why, father'd never miss
your tuition money in the world.  And I know he'd pay your way if
I asked him and told him how bad I felt about your not going."

"You're a dear, Bess!" declared Nan, impulsively hugging her
friend again. "But you mustn't ask him, honey.  It wouldn't be
right, and I couldn't accept.

"Don't you understand, honey, that I have some pride in the
matter?  So have Papa Sherwood and Momsey.  What they can't do
for me their own selves I wouldn't want anybody to do."

"Why, that sounds awfully silly to me, Nan!" said Bess.  "Why not
take all you can get in this world?  I'm sure I should."

"You don't know what you are saying," Nan returned seriously.
"And, then, you are not poor, so you can afford to say it, and
even do it."

"Poor!  I'm getting to hate that word," cried Bess stormily.  "It
never bothered me before, much.  We're not poor and none of our
friends were poor.  Not until those old mills closed.  And now it
seems all I hear is about folks being POOR.  I hate it!"

"I guess," said Nan ruefully, "you don't hate it half as much as
those of us who have to suffer it."

"I'm just going to find some way of getting you to Lakeview Hall,
my dear," Bess rejoined gloomily.  "Why!  I won't want to go
myself if you don't go, Nan."

Her friend thought she would better not tell Bess just then that
the prospect was that she, with her father and mother, would have
to leave Tillbury long before the autumn.  Mr. Sherwood was
trying to obtain a situation in Chicago, in a machine shop.  He
had no hope of getting another foreman's position.

Nothing had been heard from Mr. Adair MacKenzie, of Memphis.
Mrs. Sherwood wanted to write again; but her husband begged her
not to.  He had a proper pride.  It looked to him as though his
wife's cousin did not care to be troubled by the necessities of
his relations.

"We'll get along!" was Mr. Sherwood's repeated and cheerful
statement.  "Never say die!  Hope is our anchor!  Fate shall not
balk us!  And all the other copy-book maxims."

But it was Mrs. Sherwood and Nan who managed to save and scrimp
and be frugal in many infinitesimal ways, thus making their
savings last marvelously.

Nan gave up her entire Saturdays to household tasks.  She
insisted on that, and urged the curtailment of the weekly expense
by having Mrs. Joyce come in to help but one day.

"I can iron, Momsey, and if I can't do it very well at first, I
can learn," declared the plucky girl.  "And, of course, I can
sweep.  That's good for me.  Our physical instructor says so.
Instead of going to the gym on Saturday, I'll put in calisthenics
and acrobatic stunts with a broom and duster.

She was thorough, too.  She could not have been her father's
daughter without having that virtue.  There was no "lick and a
promise" in Nan Sherwood's housekeeping.  She did not sweep the
dust under the bureau, or behind the door, or forget to wipe the
rounds of the chairs and the baseboard all around the rooms.

Papa Sherwood, coughing in the lower hall as the dust descended
from above, declared she went through the cottage like a
whirlwind.  It was not as bad as that, but her vigorous young
arms wielded the broom with considerable skill.

One Saturday, with every other room swept but the front hall, she
closed the doors into that, and set wide open the outer door.
There was more snow on the ground now; but the porch was cleaned
and the path to the front gate neatly dug and swept.  The tinkle
of sleigh bells and the laughter of a crowd of her school friends
swept by the corner of Amity Street.  Nan ran out upon the porch
and waved her duster at them.

There she stood, smiling out upon her little world for a minute.
She might not see Amity Street, and the old neighbors, many weeks
longer.  A half-promise of work from the Chicago machine shop
boss had reached Mr. Sherwood that morning by post.  It seemed
the only opening, and it meant that they would have to give up
the "dwelling in amity" and go to crowded Chicago to live.  For
Momsey was determined that Papa Sherwood should not go without
her.

Nan came back into the hall and began to wield the broom again.
She could not leave the door open too long, for it was cold
outside and the winter chill would get into the house.  They had
to keep all the rooms at an even temperature on account of
Momsey's health.

But she swept vigorously, moving each piece of furniture, and
throwing the rugs out upon the porch for a special sweeping
there.  The rough mat at the door was a heavy one.  As Nan
stooped to pick it up and toss it after the other small rugs, she
saw the corner of a yellow envelope sticking from under the edge
of the hall carpet.

"Wonder what that is?" murmured Nan.  "Somebody has thrust a
circular, or advertisement, under our door, and it's gone under
the carpet.  Yes!  There's a tack out there."

She seized the corner of the envelope with thumb and finger.  She
drew it out.  Its length surprised her.  It was a long, official
looking envelope, not bulky but most important looking.  In the
upper left-hand corner was printed:

ADAIR MACKENZIE & CO.
STOCKS AND BONDS
MEMPHIS

It was properly stamped and addressed to her mother.  By the
postmark on it Nan knew it must have been tucked under the door
by the postman more than a week before.  Somehow he had failed to
ring their bell when he left the letter.  The missing tack in the
edge of the hall carpet had allowed the document to slide out of
sight, and it might have been hidden for weeks longer had chance
not shown the small corner of straw-colored paper to Nan.

She felt breathless.  Her knees trembled.  Somehow, Nan just KNEW
that the letter from her mother's cousin must be of enormous
importance.  She set her broom in the corner and closed the door.
It was fated that she should do no more sweeping that day.

Chapter V
GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Mr. Sherwood, in overalls and an old cap, had been sifting
cinders out behind the shed.  They had to be careful of fuel as
well as of most other things.  Momsey would not open the long
envelope until he had been called and had come in.  Nan still
wore the bright colored bandana wound about her head, turban-
wise, for a dust cap.  Papa Sherwood beat the ashes from his
hands as he stood before the glowing kitchen range.

"What is it?" he asked calmly.  "A notice of a new tax
assessment?  Or a cure-all advertisement of Somebody's Pills?"

"It's from Cousin Adair," said Momsey, a little breathlessly.
"And it's been lying at our door all the time."

"All what time?" asked Mr. Sherwood curiously.

"All the time we have been so disappointed in our inquiries
elsewhere," said Momsey soberly.

"Oh!" responded her husband doubtfully, and said no more.

"It makes my knees shake," confessed Nan.  "Do open it, Momsey!"

"I, I feel that it is important, too," the little lady said.

"Well, my dear," her husband finally advised, having waited in
patience, "unless it is opened we shall never know whether your
feeling is prophetic or not.  'By the itching of my thumb,' and
so forth!"

Without making any rejoinder to this, and perhaps without hearing
his gentle raillery, Mrs. Sherwood reached up to the coils of her
thick hair to secure woman's never-failing implement, a hairpin.

There were two enclosures.  Both she shook into her lap.  The
sealed, foreign-looking letter she picked up first.  It was
addressed in a clerkly hand to,

"MISTRESS JESSIE ADAIR BLAKE,
"KINDNESS OF MESSRS. ADAIR MACKENZIE & CO.
"MEMPHIS, TENN., U.S.A."

"From England.  No!  From Scotland," murmured Nan, looking over
her mother's shoulder in her eagerness.  She read the neatly
printed card in the corner of the foreign envelope:

KELLAM & BLAKE
HADBORNE CHAMBERS
EDINBURGH

Mrs. Sherwood was whispering her maiden name over to herself.
She looked up suddenly at her husband with roguish eyes.

"I'd almost forgotten there ever was such a girl as Jessie Adair
Blake," she said.

"Oh, Momsey!" squealed Nan, with clasped hands and immense
impatience.  "Don't, DON'T be so slow!  Open it!"

"No-o," her mother said, with pursed lips.  "No, honey.  The
other comes first, I reckon."

It was a letter typewritten upon her cousin's letter-head; but it
was not dictated by Mr. Adair MacKenzie.  Instead, it was from
Mr. MacKenzie's secretary, who stated that her employer had gone
to Mexico on business that might detain him for several weeks.

"A letter addressed by you to Mr. MacKenzie arrived after his
departure and is being held for him with other personal
communications until his return; but being assured that you are
the Jessie Adair Blake, now Sherwood -- to whom the enclosed
letter from Scotland is addressed, I take the liberty of
forwarding the same.  The Scotch letter reached us after Mr.
MacKenzie's departure, likewise.  Will you please acknowledge the
receipt of the enclosure and oblige?"

This much of the contents of the secretary's letter was of
particular interest to the Sherwoods.  Momsey's voice shook a
little as she finished reading it.  Plainly she was disappointed.

"Cousin Adair, I am sure, would have suggested something helpful
had he been at home," she said sadly.  "It, it is a great
disappointment, Robert."

"Well, well!" replied Mr. Sherwood, perhaps not without some
secret relief.  "It will all come out right.  At least, your
cousin hasn't refused his assistance.  We shall be established
somewhere before he returns from his Mexican trip."

"I, I did depend so much upon Adair's good will and advice,"
signed Momsey.

"But, dear me suz!" gasped Nan impatiently.  "What are you folks
bothering over that for?  It isn't Cousin Adair that I want to
know about.  It's this letter, Momsey," and she seized the thin
yet important envelope from Scotland and shook it before her
mother's eyes.

"Better look into it, Momsey," advised Mr. Sherwood easily,
preparing to return to the cinder sifting.  "Maybe it's from some
of your relatives in the Old Country.  I see 'Blake' printed in
the corner.  Didn't your father have an uncle or somebody, who
was steward on the estate of a Scotch Laird of some renown?"

"Heck, mon!" cried Momsey, with her usual gaiety, and throwing
off the cloud of gloom that had momentarily subdued her spirit.
"Ye air a wise cheil.  Ma faither talked muckle o' Uncle Hughie
Blake, remimberin' him fra' a wee laddie when his ain faither
took him tae Scotland, and tae Castle Emberon, on a veesit."

Nan and Papa Sherwood laughed at her when she assumed the Scotch
burr of her forebears.  With precision she cut the flap of this
smaller envelope.  She felt no excitement now.  She had regained
control of herself after the keen disappointment arising from the
first letter.

She calmly opened the crackly sheet of legal looking paper in her
lap.  It was not a long letter, and it was written in a stiff,
legal hand, instead of being typewritten, each character as
precise as the legal mind that dictated it:

"Mistress Jessie Adair Blake, (Known to be a married woman, but
wedded name unknown to writer.)

"Dear Madam: It is my duty to inform you that your father (the
late Randolph Hugh Blake) was made sole beneficiary of his late
uncle, Mr. Hugh Blake, the Laird of Emberon's steward, by a
certain testament, or will, made many years ago.  Mr. Hugh Blake
has recently died a bachelor, and before his demise he added a
codicil to the above testament, or will, naming you, his great
niece, his sole heir and beneficiary.

"There are other relatives who may make some attempt to oppose
your claim; but none of near blood.  Your title to the said
estate is clear; but it is quite necessary that you should appear
before our Courts with proofs of identity, and so forth.  On
receipt from you of acknowledgment of this letter, with copies of
identification papers (your grandfather's naturalization papers,
your father's discharge from army, your own birth certificate and
marriage lines, and so forth) I will give myself the pleasure of
forwarding any further particulars you may wish, and likewise
place at your command my own services in obtaining possession for
you of your great uncle's estate.

"The said estate of Mr. Hugh Blake, deceased, amounts, in real
and personal property, including moneys in the bank, to about the
sum, roughly estimated, of 10,000 pounds.

"Respectfully, your servant,
"Andrew Blake, Solicitor and Att'y."

Nan had leaned over her mother's shoulder, big-eyed, scarce
believing the plainly written words she read.  It was
preposterous, ridiculous, fanciful, a dream from which she
must awake in a moment to the full realization of their dreadful
need of just such a godsend as this.

It was her father's voice that roused the girl.  He had not seen
the letter and Momsey had read it silently to herself.

"Look out, Nancy!  What is the matter with your mother?"

With a cry the girl caught the frail little lady in her arms as
the letter slipped unheeded from her lap to the floor.  Mrs.
Sherwood's eyes were closed.  She had fainted.

Chapter VI
A SPRAT FOR A HERRING

"I don't need the doctor this time, honey; joy never killed yet."

So said Mrs. Sherwood, opening her eyes to see the scared face of
Nan close above her.  Then she saw her husband at her feet,
quietly chafing her hands in his own hard, warm palms.  She
pulled hers gently from his clasp and rested them upon his head.
Mr. Sherwood's hair was iron-gray, thick, and inclined to curl.
She ran her little fingers into it and clung tightly.

"Let, let me get my breath!" she gasped.  Then, after a moment
she smiled brilliantly into the wind-bitten face of the kneeling
man.  "It's all over, Robert," she said.

"My dear!" he cried thickly; while Nan could not wholly stifle
the cry of fear that rose to her lips.

"It's all over," repeated the little woman.  "All the worry, all
the poverty, all the uncertainty, all the hard times."

Mr. Sherwood looked startled indeed.  He had no idea what the
letter from Scotland contained, and he feared that his wife, who
had already suffered so much, was for the moment quite out of her
head.

"My poor Jessie," he began, but her low, sweet laugh stopped him.

"Not poor!  Never poor again, Robert!" she cried.  "God is very
good to us.  At the very darkest hour He has shown us the dawn.
Robert, we are rich!"

"Great goodness, Jessie!  What do you mean? Exclaimed Mr.
Sherwood, stumbling to his feet at last.

"It's true!  It's true, Papa Sherwood!" Nan cried, clapping her
hands.  "Don't you call ten thousand dollars riches?"

"Ten, thousand, dollars?" murmured her father.  He put his hand
to his head and looked confusedly about for a seat, into which he
weakly dropped.  Nan had picked up the letter and now she
dramatically thrust it into his hand.

"Read that, Papa Sherwood!" she said commandingly.

He read the communication from the Scotch attorney, first with
immense surprise, then with profound doubt.  Who but a young
imaginative girl, like Nan, or a woman with unbounded faith in
the miracles of God, like her mother, could accept such a
perfectly wonderful thing as being real?

"A hoax," thought the man who had worked so hard all his life
without the least expectation of ever seeing a penny that he did
not earn himself.  "Can it be that any of those heedless
relatives of my wife's in Memphis have attempted a practical joke
at this time?"

He motioned for Nan to bring him the envelope, too.  This he
examined closely, and then read the communication again.  It
looked all regular.  The stationery, the postmark, the date
upon it, all seemed perfectly in accord.

Mrs. Sherwood's gay little laugh shattered the train of her
husband's thought.  "I know what the matter is with you, Papa
Sherwood," she said. "You think it must be a practical joke."

"Oh!" gasped Nan, feeling a positive pain at her heart.  This
awful possibility had never entered her mind before.

"But it isn't," went on her mother blithely.  "It is real.  Mr.
Hugh Blake, of Emberon, must have been very old; and he was
probably as saving and canny as any Scotchman who ever wore
kilts.  It is not surprising that he should have left an estate
of considerable size-----"

"Ten thousand dollars!" breathed Nan again.  She loved to repeat
it.  There was white magic in the very sound of such a sum of
money.  But her father threw a conversational bomb into their
midst the next instant.

"Ten thousand dollars, you goosey!" he said vigorously.  "That's
the main doubt in the whole business.  It isn't ten thousand
dollars.  It's fifty thousand dollars!  A pound, either English
or Scotch, is almost five of our dollars.  Ten thousand dollars
would certainly be a fortune for us; fifty thousand is beyond the
dreams of avarice."

"Oh, dear me!" said Nan weakly.

But Mrs. Sherwood merely laughed again.  "The more the better,"
she said.  "Why shouldn't we be able to put fifty thousand
dollars to good use?"

"Oh, we can, Momsey," said Nan eagerly.  "But, will we be let?"

Mr. Sherwood laughed grimly at that; but his wife continued
confidently:

"I am sure nobody needs it more than we do."

"Why!" her daughter said, just as excitedly, "we'll be as rich as
Bess Harley's folks.  Oh, Momsey!  Oh, Papa Sherwood!  Can I go
to Lakewood Hall?"

The earnestness of her cry showed the depths to which that desire
had plumbed during these last weeks of privation and uncertainty.
It was Nan's first practical thought in relation to the
possibility of their changed circumstances.

The father and mother looked at each other with shocked
understanding.  The surprise attending the letter had caused both
parents to forget, for the moment, the effect of this wonderful
promise of fortune, whether true or false, on imaginative,
high-spirited Nan.

"Let us be happy at first, Nan, just in the knowledge that some
money is coming to us," Mrs. Sherwood said more quietly.  "Never
mind how much, or how little.  Time will tell all that."

"Now you talk like father," cried Nan, pouting.

"And let father talk a little, too," Mr. Sherwood said, smiling,
"and to you both."  His right forefinger struck the letter
emphatically in his other hand.  "This is a very wonderful, a
blessed, thing, if true.  But it has to be proven.  We must
build our hopes on no false foundation."

"Oh, Papa Sherwood!  How can we, when the man says there-----"

"Hush!" whispered Momsey, squeezing her excited little daughter's
hand.

"In the first place," continued Mr. Sherwood quietly and gravely,
"there may be some mistake in the identification of your mother,
child, as the niece mentioned in this old man's will."

"Oh!"  Nan could not help that gasp.

"Again, there may be stronger opposition to her claim than this
lawyer at present sees.  Fifty thousand dollars is a whole lot of
money, and other people by the name of Blake will be tempted by
it."

"How mean of them!" whispered Nan.

"And, above all," pursued Mr. Sherwood, "this may be merely a
scheme by unprincipled people to filch small sums of money from
gullible people.  The 'foreign legacy swindle' is worked in many
different ways.  There may be calls for money, by this man who
names himself Andrew Blake, for preliminary work on the case.  We
haven't much; but if he is baiting for hundreds of Blakes in
America he may secure, in the aggregate, a very tidy sum indeed."

"Oh, Father!" cried Nan.  "That's perfectly horrid!"

"But perfectly possible.  Let us not swallow this bait, hook,
line and sinker.  You see, he sends no copy of the will in
question, or that codicil relating to your mother's legacy; nor
does he offer identification or surety as to his own standing.
Don't let the possibilities of this wonderful thing carry you off
your feet, my dear."

Nan's lip was quivering and she could scarcely crowd back the
tears.  To have one's hopes rise so high only to be dashed-----.

"Don't completely crush us, Papa Sherwood, with your perfectly
unanswerable logic," said his wife lightly.  "We'll remember all
these strictures, and more.  We can at least put the matter to
the test."

"Quite so," agreed her husband.  " We will prepare the papers
requested by this Scotch attorney.  I will even inquire of a good
lawyer here something regarding the Scotch laws in such a matter
as this, if it will be necessary to make a personal appearance
before the local courts over there.  And perhaps we can find out
the true standing of Mr. Andrew Blake, of Kellam & Blake,
Edinburgh.  It will cost us a little money, and we can ill spare
it now; but to satisfy ourselves-----"

"We will throw a sprat to catch a herring," quoted Momsey
cheerfully.

"Quite so," repeated Mr. Sherwood.

"But, dear, DEAR!" moaned Nan.  "Is that all it is going to
amount to?  Don't you really believe it's all true, Papa
Sherwood?"

"I can't say that I do, my dear," returned her father gravely.
"Such romantic things as this do not often happen outside of
story books."

"Then, I declare!" cried Nan desperately, "I wish we lived in a
story book!"

"Your father will make inquiries at once, honey," said Momsey
easily, seemingly very little disturbed herself by her husband's
doubts and fears.  To her mind this wonderful turn of fortune's
wheel was in direct answer to prayer.  Nothing could shake her
faith in the final result of her husband's inquiries.  Yet, she
was proud of his caution and good sense.

"I do think it is dreadful," murmured Nan, "to believe one's self
rich for only a minute!"

"Have patience, honey," said her mother.

"Meanwhile," added Mr. Sherwood, rising, "I will go back to
sifting cinders."

But Nan did no more sweeping that day.

Chapter VII
A VISTA OF NEW FORTUNES

Nan said nothing to Bess Harley, her particular chum and
confidant, about the wonderful letter that had come from
Scotland.  Although Momsey and Nan talked the legacy over
intimately that Saturday afternoon, and planned what they would
really do with some of the money "when their ship came in," the
young girl knew that the matter was not to be discussed outside
of the family circle.

Not even the hope Nan now cherished of accompanying her chum to
Lakeview Hall when the next school year opened was divulged when
the two girls were together on Sunday, or on the days that
immediately followed.

Nan Sherwood went about her household and school tasks in a sort
of waking dream.  Imagination was continually weaving pictures in
her mind of what might happen if the vista of new fortunes that
had opened before the little family in the Amity Street cottage
really came true.

Papa Sherwood's first reports on the matter of the Scotch legacy
were not inspiring.

"Mr. Bludsoe says we'd better go slow," he said seriously.  Mr.
Bludsoe was a lawyer of high repute in Tillbury. "This letter may
be written by an attorney in Edinburgh; but there are rascally
lawyers there as well as elsewhere.  Bludsoe had correspondents
in London.  They may be able to inform him regarding the firm of
solicitors, Kellam & Blake, if the firm really is entered at the
Scotch bar."

"Oh!  But won't that mean delay?" murmured Nan.

"Meanwhile," said her father, smiling at her impatience, "we will
prepare the papers identifying your dear mother so that, if this
wonderful new fortune should be a reality, we can put in a proper
claim for it.  Just the same," he added to his wife, when Nan had
left the room, "I have written to that machine shop boss in
Chicago that I am ready to come to work any day he may send for
me."

"Oh, Robert!" gasped the little lady.  "Won't you believe?"

"Like the darkey who was asked if he believed the world was
round, and said, 'Ah believes it, but Ah ain't dead sho' of it.'
I presume this great fortune is possible, Jessie, but I haven't
perfect and abiding faith in its existence, FOR us," said her
husband.

But Momsey had just that quality of faith.  She went singing
about her household tasks and her usual smile beamed quite
beatific.  So said Dr. Christian, who stepped in to see her, as
was his custom every few days.

"What's this?  What's this?" the old medical practitioner
demanded of Mr. Sherwood, on the porch, where he usually made his
report, and to which Nan often stole to listen openly to them
discuss her mother's case.  "I find her in a state of happy
excitement, and that is quite right, Robert, quite right, if the
hopes that are the wellspring of it are not quenched.  What does
it mean?  Have you arranged the sea voyage I advised?"

Papa Sherwood's face changed suddenly.  He looked oddly, Nan
thought, at the doctor. "I don't know but that is it, Doc," he
said.  "That sea voyage may be in the offing."

"Best thing that could happen to her, best thing that could
happen to her!" declared the old physician with emphasis, as he
stumped away.

Nan wondered what that could mean.  A sea voyage for Momsey?  Of
course, for all of them.  She could not imagine Momsey going
anywhere without her and Papa Sherwood.

She knew she was not to say anything about what she heard pass
between her father and the doctor on the porch.  Indeed, Nan was
no bearer of tales in any event.  But she was very curious.  The
steam from the cauldron of Mystery seldom arose in the little
"dwelling in amity" save about Christmas time or just previous to
Nan's birthday.  But Papa Sherwood certainly was enigmatical and
Momsey was mysteriously happy, as Dr. Christian had said.

"And we'll put steam heat in the little house.  You know, Robert,
we've always wanted to," Nan's mother suddenly said one evening
as they all sat around the reading lamp, and quite apropos of
nothing at all.  Then she laughed, flushing prettily.  "There!
You see what my mind runs on.  I really can't help it."

It was only a day or two later that the second letter came from
Memphis.  Mr. Adair MacKenzie had returned from Mexico and
evidently one of the first duties he performed was to write his
Cousin Jessie his congratulations.

"A letter on quite another matter," this epistle read, "from our
distant kinsman, Andrew Blake, of Kellam & Blake, apprised me
that the ancient Hugh Blake, steward to the Lairds of Emberon for
so many years, was dead and that his property was willed to your
father, whose appearance as a lad at Emberon pleased the old man
greatly.

"You are to be congratulated.  The estate is considerable, I
understand.  Your husband's troubles which are mentioned in your
letter that I found awaiting my return will now be over.  For,
although Andrew Blake intimates that there may be considerable
opposition in the courts there, over the money going to an
American heir, you will be able in the end to establish your
rights.

"Believe me, my dear Jessie, I know of nobody in our family to
whom I would rather see fortune come than to yourself and your
dear ones.  If I can be of any assistance, financially, or
otherwise, in helping you obtain your rights in this event,
believe me, I stand ready to give such aid.  Do not hesitate to
call upon me.  My regards to your husband and little girl whom I
have never seen; Alice and John join me in expressing our good
wishes for your happy future.  I remain, with the old love I
always had for you, Your cousin, Adair MacKenzie."

"Now, Robert, what have you to say?" cried Momsey triumphantly,
while Nan danced a fandango about the room.

"This much," replied her husband, smiling. "Our minds are
relieved on one point, at least.  Kellam & Blake are respectable
attorneys.  We will send our communication to Mr. Blake at once,
without waiting for Mr. Bludsoe's enquiries to bear fruit.  Your
Cousin Adair knows the Scotch firm, and of course vouches for
their trustworthiness."

"Dear me, Papa Sherwood, you are so practical!" sighed Nan.  She
meant "vexing;" they were interchangeable terms to her mind at
this exciting point.  "Can't you work up any enthusiasm over
Momsey's wonderful fortune?"

"Its existence is established, it would seem, beyond
peradventure," said Mr. Sherwood drily.  "But our attempt to
obtain the fortune is not yet begun."

"Why, ee!" squealed Nan.  "You don't really suppose anybody will
try to keep Momsey from getting it?"

"Exactly that," said her father.  "The Blakes are a widely
scattered clan.  There are probably a number of people as close
in blood-tie to the old man who has just died as your mother, my
dear.  These people may all bob up, one after another, to dispute
Momsey's claim."

"But, dear me!" gasped Nan.  "The money was willed to Momsey."

"Nevertheless, these other relatives, if there be such--can
keep Momsey out of the enjoyment of her rights for a long time.
Court processes are slow, and especially so, I should judge,
among the canny and careful Scotch.  I think we would better
leave it to the lawyers to settle.  We cannot hasten the courts
by worrying over the fortune.

"I think," pursued Papa Sherwood judiciously, "that instead of
spending our time discussing and dreaming of the fortune in
Scotland, we would better go right on with our tasks here as
though there were really no fortune at all."

"Oh, my!" whispered Nan, her eyes clouding.  "That's because of
my last fortnightly report.  I know I fell behind in history and
rhetoric."

"Don't be too hard on us, Papa Sherwood," said Momsey brightly.
"Anticipation is more than half of every pleasure.  I lie awake
every night and spend this great fortune of ours to the very last
penny.

"Of course," the little lady added, with more gravity, "I
wouldn't really spend fifty thousand dollars so recklessly as I
do in my mind.  But I can found schools, and hospitals, and
educate Nan, and give you, Papa Sherwood, a great big business,
and buy two automobiles, and-----"

"Enough!  Enough!" cried Mr. Sherwood, in mock seriousness.  "You
are a born spendthrift, Momsey.  That you have had no chance to
really be one thus far will only make your case more serious when
you have this legacy in your possession.  Two automobiles, no
less!

"But I want you both, my dears, to bear one very important fact
in mind.  Roughly estimated the fortune is ten thousand pounds.
To be exact, it may be a good deal less at the start.  Then,
after the lawyers and the courts get through with the will and
all, the remainder that dribbles into your pocket, Momsey, may be
a very small part of ten thousand pounds."

"Oh, how horrid, Papa Sherwood!" cried Nan.  "We won't listen to
him, will we, Momsey?"

"Oh, yes we will," her mother said quietly, but smiling.  "But we
will still believe that the world is good and that God has given
us great good fortune.  Papa talks very sensibly; but I know that
there is nothing to fear.  We are going to be very well off for
the rest of our lives, and I cannot be thankful enough for it."

At that Mr. Sherwood literally threw up his hands.
"Nevertheless," he said, "I expect to go to Chicago next Monday,
to begin work in the machine shop.  The boss writes me that I can
come at that time."

"I will get your clothes ready for you, Robert," said Momsey
calmly.  "Perhaps you will feel better in your mind if you keep
busy during this time of waiting."

Chapter VIII
TWO IMPORTANT HAPPENINGS

It happened, however, that Mr. Sherwood did not go to Chicago to
work in the machine shop.  Something happened before the week was
out, that quite put his intention aside.

Indeed, Nan declared that two important happenings just then
changed the current of affairs at the little cottage on Amity
Street and that she had a principal part in the action of the
first of these unexpected happenings.

It was lovely skating on Norway Pond, and both Nan and her chum,
Bess Harley, were devoted to the sport.  Nan had been unable to
be on the ice Saturdays, because of her home tasks; but when her
lessons were learned, she was allowed to go after supper.

It happened to be just at the dark of the moon this week; that
kept many off the ice, although the weather was settled and the
ice was perfectly safe.  Sometimes the boys built a bonfire on
Woody Point, with refuse from the planing mill, and that lit up a
good bit of the ice.

But once out on the pond, away from the shadows cast by the high
banks, the girls could see well enough.  They were both good
skaters, and with arms crossed and hands clasped, they swung up
the middle of the pond in fine style.

"I just love to skate with you, Nan," sighed Bess ecstatically.
"You move just like my other self.  We're Siamese twins.  We
strike out together perfectly.  Oh, my dear!  I don't see
whatever I am to do if you refuse to go to Lakeview with me."

Nan could scarcely keep from telling Bess of the wonderful new
fortune that seemed about to come to her; but she was faithful to
her home training, and only said:

"Don't fret about it, honey.  Maybe something will turn up to let
me go."

"If you'd let my father pay your way-----?" insinuated Bess.

"Don't talk of that.  It's impossible," said Nan decisively.
"It's a long time yet to fall.  Maybe conditions will be
different at home.  A dozen things may happen before school opens
in September."

"Yes!  But they may not be the right things," sighed Bess.

She could not be too melancholy on such a night as this, however.
It was perfectly quiet, and the arch of the sky was like black
velvet pricked out with gold and silver stars.  Their soft
radiance shed some light upon the pond, enough, at least, to
show the girl chums the way before them as they skimmed on toward
Powerton Landing.

They had left a noisy crowd of boys behind them, near the stamp
Factory, mostly mill boys, and the like.  Bess had been taught
at home to shrink from association with the mill people and that
is why she had urged Nan to take this long skate up the pond.
Around the Tillbury end of it they were always falling in with
little groups of mill boys and girls whom Bess did not care to
meet.

There was another reason this evening for keeping away from the
stamp factory, too.  The manager of that big shop had hired a
gang of ice cutters a few days before, and had filled his own
private icehouse.  The men had cut out a roughly outlined square
of the thick ice, sawed it into cakes, and poled it to shore and
so to the sleds and the manager's icehouse.

It was not a large opening in the ice; but even if the frost
continued, it would be several days before the new ice would form
thickly enough to bear again over that spot.

Elsewhere, however, the ice was strong, for all the cutting for
the big icehouses had been done long before near the Landing.
The lights of Powerton Landing were twinkling ahead of them as
the two friends swept on up the long lake.  The wind was in their
faces, such wind as there was, and the air was keen and nippy.

The action of skating, however, kept Nan and Bess warm.  Bess in
her furs and Nan in her warm tam-o'-shanter and the muffler
Momsey had knitted with her own hands, did not mind the cold.

The evening train shrieked out of the gap and across the long
trestle just beyond the landing, where it halted for a few
seconds for passengers to embark or to leave the cars.  This
train was from Chicago, and on Monday Papa Sherwood expected to
go to that big city to work.

The thought gave Nan a feeling of depression.  The little family
in the Amity street cottage had never been separated for more
than a day since she could remember.  It was going to be hard on
Momsey, with Papa Sherwood away and Nan in school all day.  How
were they going to get along without Papa Sherwood coming home to
supper, and doing the hard chores?

Bess awoke her chum from these dreams.  "Dear me, Nan!  Have you
lost your tongue all of a sudden?  Do say something, or do
something."

"Let's race the train down the pond to Tillbury," proposed Nan
instantly.

The lights of the long coaches were just moving out of the
station at the Landing.  The two girls came about in a graceful
curve and struck out for home at a pace that even the train could
not equal.  The rails followed the shore of the pond on the
narrow strip of lowland at the foot of the bluffs.  They could
see the lights shining through the car windows all the way.

The fireman threw open the door of his firebox to feed the
furnace and a great glare of light, and a shower of sparks,
spouted from the smokestack.  The rumble of the wheels from
across the ice seemed louder than usual.

"Come on, Bess!" gasped Nan, quite excited.  "We can do better
than this!  Why, that old train will beat us!"

For they were falling behind.  The train hooted its defiance as
it swept down toward Woody Point.  The girls shot in toward the
shore, where the shadow of the high bluff lay heavily upon the
ice.

They heard the boys' voices somewhere below them, but Bess and
Nan could not see them yet.  They knew that the boys had divided
into sides and were playing old-fashioned hockey, "shinny-on-
your-own-side" as it was locally called.  Above the rumbling of
the train they heard the crack of the shinny-stick against the
wooden block, and the "z-z-z-zip!" of the missile as it scaled
over the ice.

"Those boys will get into the ice-hole if they don't look out,"
Nan had just said to her chum, when suddenly a wild yell arose
from the hockey players.

The train was slowing down at the signal tower, and finally
stopped there.  A freight had got in on the main track which had
to be cleared before the passenger train could go into Tillbury
station.  The coaches stood right along the edge of the frozen
pond.

But it was nothing in connection with the evening train that
caused such a commotion among the skaters near the stamp factory.
There was a crash of breaking ice and a scrambling of skaters
away from the spot.  The boys' yells communicated panic to other
people ashore.

"He's in!  He's in!" Nan and Bess heard the boys yelling.  Then a
man's voice took up the cry: "He'll be drowned!  Help!  Help!"

"That's old Peter Newkirk," gasped Nan, squeezing Bess' gloved
hands tightly.  "He's night watchman at the stamp works, and he
has only one arm.  He can't help that boy."

The youngsters who had been playing hockey so recklessly near the
thin ice, were not as old as Nan and Bess, and the accident had
thrown them into utter confusion.  Some skated for the shore,
screaming for ropes and fence-rails; others only tried to get
away from the danger spot themselves.  None did the first thing
to help their comrade who had broken through the ice.

"Where are you going, Nan?" gasped Bess, pulling back.  "You'll
have us both in the water, too."

"We can save him! Quick!" returned her chum eagerly.

She let go of Bess and unwound the long muffler from about her
own neck.  "If we could only see him!" the girl said, over and
over.

And then a brilliant idea struck Nan Sherwood, and she turned to
shout to old Peter Newkirk on the shore.  "Peter!  Peter! Turn on
the electric light sign!  Turn it on so we can see where he's
gone in!"

The watchman had all his wits about him.  There was a huge
electric sign on the stamp works roof, advertising the company's
output.  The glare of it could be seen for miles, and it lit up
brilliantly the surroundings of the mill.

Peter Newkirk bounded away to the main door of the works.  The
switch that controlled the huge sign was just inside that door.
Before Nan and Bess had reached the edge of the broken ice, the
electricity was suddenly shot into the sign and the whole
neighborhood was alight.

"I see him! There he is!" gasped Nan to her chum.  "Hold me tight
by the skirt, Bess!  We'll get him!"

She flung herself to her knees and stopped sliding just at the
edge of the old, thick ice.  With a sweep of her strong young arm
she shot the end of the long muffler right into the clutching
hands of the drowning boy.

Involuntarily he seized it.  He had been down once, and
submersion in the ice water had nearly deprived him of both
consciousness and power to help save himself.  But Nan drew him
quickly through the shattered ice-cakes to the edge of the firm
crystal where she knelt.

"We have him!  We have him!" she cried, in triumph.  "Give me
your hand, boy!  I won't let you go down again."

But to lift him entirely out of the water would have been too
much for her strength.  However, several men came running now
from the stalled passenger train.  The lighting of the electric
sign had revealed to them what was going on upon the pond.

The man who lifted the half-drowned boy out of the water was not
one of the train crew, but a passenger.  He was a huge man in a
bearskin coat and felt boots.  He was wrapped up so heavily, and
his fur cap was pulled down so far over his ears and face, that
Nan could not see what he really looked like.  In a great, gruff
voice he said:

"Well, now!  Give me a girl like you ev'ry time!  I never saw the
beat of it.  Here, mister!" as he put the rescued boy into the
arms of a man who had just run from a nearby house.  "Get him
between blankets and he'll be all right.  But he's got this smart
little girl to thank that he's alive at all."

He swung around to look at Nan again.  Bess was crying frankly,
with her gloved hands before her face.  "Oh, Nan!  Nan!" she
sobbed.  "I didn't do a thing, not a thing.  I didn't even hang
to the tail of your skirt as you told me.  I, I'm an awful
coward."

The big man patted Nan's shoulder lightly.  "There's a little
girl that I'm going to see here in Tillbury," he said gruffly.
"I hope she turns out to be half as smart as you are, sissy."
Then he tramped back to the train that was just then starting.

Nan began to laugh.  "Did you hear that funny man?" she asked
Bess.  "Do stop your crying, Bess!  You have no reason to cry.
You are not hurt."

"But, but you might have been, been drowned, too," sobbed her
chum.  "I didn't help you a mite."

"Bother!" exclaimed Nan Sherwood.  "Don't let's talk about it.
We'll go home.  I guess we've both had enough skating for
tonight."

Bess wiped away her tears and clung to Nan's hand all the way to
their usual corner for separating.  Nan ran home from there
quickly and burst into the kitchen to find Momsey and Papa
Sherwood in the midst of a very serious conference.

"What is the matter?" cried Nan, startled by the gravity of her
father and the exaltation upon her mother's face.  "What's
happened?"

"A very great thing, Nan, honey," said Momsey, drawing her
daughter to her side.  "Tell her, Papa Sherwood."

He sighed deeply and put away the letter they had been reading.
"It's from Mr. Blake, of Edinburgh," he said.  "I can no longer
doubt the existence of the fortune, my dears.  But I fear we
shall have to strive for it in the Scotch courts."

"Oh!" cried Nan, under her breath.

"Mr. Blake tells us here that it is absolutely necessary for us
to come to Scotland, and for your mother to appear in person
before the court there.  The sum of money and other property
willed to Momsey by her great uncle is so large that the greatest
care will be exercised by the Scotch judges to see that it goes
to the right person.

"As your mother once said, we must throw a sprat to catch a
herring.  In this case we shall be throwing a sprat to catch a
whale!  For the amount of money we may have to spend to secure
the fifty thousand dollars left by Mr. Hugh Blake, of Emberon, is
small, in comparison to the fortune itself.

"We must go to Scotland," finished Mr. Sherwood firmly.  "And we
must start as soon as possible."

Chapter IX
ON THE WAY TO THE WILDERNESS

It seemed to Nan Sherwood that night as though she never could
get to sleep.  Her mind and imagination worked furiously.

Momsey and Papa Sherwood had sent her to bed early.  There had
been no time to tell them about the accident on the ice and her
part in it.  Her parents had much to discuss, much to decide
upon.  The Scotch lawyer urged their presence before the court
having jurisdiction in the matter of the late Mr. Hugh Blake's
will, and that as soon as they could cross the ocean.

Transportation from the little Illinois town, across the
intervening states to the seaport, and thence, over the winter
ocean to Glasgow, and so on by rail to Edinburgh, was a journey
the contemplation of which, to such a quiet family as the
Sherwoods, was nothing less than appalling.

And there were many things to take into consideration that Nan
did not wholly understand.  Mrs. Sherwood would require her
husband's undivided attention while she made the long and arduous
journey.  The sea voyage was right in line with the physician's
opinion of what was needed to restore her health; but it was a
venture at best.

Had the family possessed plenty of money it is doubtful if Mr.
Sherwood would have risked more than a coasting voyage.
Conditions rising out of the legacy from the great uncle in
Scotland spelled necessity in this case.  Of the little sum left
in bank, most of it would be required to pay the fares of Mr. and
Mrs. Sherwood to Edinburgh, and their modest living there for a
few weeks.  There was not enough money in hand to pay a third
passage and the expenses of a third person in Scotland, until the
court business should be settled.

Mr. Sherwood had already taken Mr. Bludsoe, the lawyer, into his
confidence.  He could make arrangements through him to mortgage
the cottage if it became absolutely necessary.  He shrank from
accepting financial help from Mrs. Sherwood's relatives in
Memphis.

Besides, decision must be made immediately.  Plans must be made
almost overnight.  They must start within forty-eight hours to
catch a certain steamer bound for the Scotch port of Glasgow, as
Mr. Sherwood had already found out.  And all their questions
resolved finally into this very important one:

"WHAT SHALL WE DO ABOUT NAN?"

Nan, in her little white bed, had no idea that she was the
greatest difficulty her parents found in this present event.  It
never entered her busy mind that Papa Sherwood and Momsey would
dream of going to Scotland without her.

"What shall we do with Nan?" Momsey said over and over again.
She realized as well as did Mr. Sherwood that to take the child
was an utter impossibility.  Their financial circumstances, as
well as other considerations would not allow it.

Yet, what should they do with her, with whom to trust her during
their uncertain absence on the other side?  No answer that came
to their minds seemed the right one.  They rose that wintry
morning without having this most important of all questions
decided.

This was Sunday and Mrs. Joyce always came over for breakfast;
for she lived alone and never had any too much to eat, Nan was
sure.  As for the old woman's eating with the family, that was a
fiction she kept up for appearance's sake, perhaps, or to salve
her own claims to former gentility.  She always set a place for
herself at the family table in the dining room and then was too
busy to eat with them, taking her own meal in the kitchen.

Therefore it was she only who heard the commanding rap at the
kitchen door in the midst of the leisurely meal, and answered it.

Just then Nan had dropped her knife and fork and was staring from
Momsey's pitying face to Papa Sherwood's grave one, as she cried,
in a whisper:

"Not me?  Oh, my dears!  You're never going without me, all that
long journey?  What, whatever shall I do without you both?"

"Don't, honey!  Don't say it that way!" begged Momsey, putting
her handkerchief to her eyes.

"If it was not quite impossible, do you think for a moment,
daughter, that we would contemplate leaving you at home?" queried
Mr. Sherwood, his own voice trembling.

"It, it seems impossible!" gasped Nan, "just as though it
couldn't be.  I won't know what to do without you, my dears.  And
what will you do without me?"

That seemed to be unanswerable, and it quite broke Momsey down.
She sobbed openly into her handkerchief.

"Who's going to be her little maid?" demanded Nan, of her father.
"Who's going to 'do' her beautiful hair?  Who's going to wait on
her when she has her dreadful headaches?  And who's going to play
'massagist' like me?  I want to know who can do all those things
for Momsey if you take her away from me, Papa Sherwood?" and she
ended quite stormily.

"My dear child!" Mr. Sherwood said urgently.  "I want you to
listen to me.  Our situation is such that we cannot possibly take
you with us.  That is final.  It is useless for us to discuss the
point, for there is nothing to be gained by discussing it from
now till Doomsday."

Nan gulped down a sob and looked at him with dry eyes.  Papa
Sherwood had never seemed so stern before, and yet his own eyes
were moist.  She began to see that this decision was very hard
upon her parents, too.

"Now do you understand," he asked gently, "that we cannot take
our little daughter with us, but that we are much worried by the
fact, and we do not know what to do with her while we are gone?"

"You, you might as well put me in an orphan asylum," choked Nan.
"I'll be an orphan till you get back."

"Oh, honey!" cried her mother.

"There now!" said Nan, jumping up quickly and going around the
table to her mother's side.  "You poor dear!  I won't say
anything more to hurt and trouble you.  I'm a selfish thing,
that's what I am."

Momsey wound her arms about her.  Papa Sherwood still looked
grave.  " We get no nearer to the proper solution of the
difficulty," he said.  "Of course, Nancy, the orphan asylum is
out of the question."

"I'll stay here, of course," Nan said, with some difficulty
keeping her voice from quavering.

"Not alone in the house, honey," Momsey said quickly.

"With Mrs. Joyce?" suggested Nan tentatively.

"No," Mr. Sherwood said.  "She is not the person to be trusted
with you."

"There's Mrs. Grimes' boarding house around the corner?"
suggested Nan.

Momsey shuddered.  "Never!  Never!  My little girl in a boarding
house.  Oh, Papa Sherwood!  We must find somebody to care for her
while we are away, who loves Nan."

And it was just here that a surprisingly gruff voice took up the
matter and decided it in a moment.

"That's me," said the voice, with conviction.  "She's just the
sort of little girl I cotton to, sister Jessie.  And Kate'll be
fairly crazy about her.  If you're going anywhere for a long
spell, just let me take her up to Pine Camp.  We have no little
girls up there, never had any.  But I bet we know how to treat
'em."

"Hen!" shouted Mr. Sherwood, stumbling up from the table, and
putting out both hands to the big man whom Mrs. Joyce had ushered
in from the kitchen so unexpectedly.

"Henry Sherwood!" gasped Momsey, half rising herself in her
surprise and delight.

"Why!" cried Nan, "it's the bear-man!" for Mr. Henry Sherwood
wore the great fur coat and cap that he had worn the evening
before when he had come to Nan's aid in rescuing the boy from
Norway Pond.

Afterward Nan confessed, naively, that she ought to have known he
was her Uncle Henry.  Nobody, she was quite sure, could be so big
and brawny as the lumberman from Michigan.

"She's the girl for me," proclaimed Uncle Henry admiringly.
"Smart as a whip and as bold as a catamount.  Hasn't she told you
what she did last night?  Sho!  Of course not.  She don't go
'round blowing about her deeds of valor, I bet!" and the big man
went off into a gale of laughter that seemed to shake the little
cottage.

Papa Sherwood and Momsey had to learn all the particulars then,
and both glowed with pride over their little daughter's action.
Gradually, after numerous personal questions were asked and
answered on both sides, the conversation came around to the
difficulty the little family was in, and the cause of it.

Henry Sherwood listened to the story of the Scotch legacy with
wide-open eyes, marveling greatly.  The possibility of his
brother's wife becoming wealthy amazed and delighted his simple
mind.  The fact that they had to take the long journey to
Scotland to obtain the money troubled him but little.  Although
he had never traveled far himself, save to Chicago from the
Michigan woods, Mr. Henry Sherwood had lived in the open so much
that distances did not appall him.

"Sure you'll go," he proclaimed, reaching down into a very deep
pocket and dragging to light a long leather pouch, with a draw-
string of home-cured deer skin.  "And if you are short, Bob,
we'll go down into this poke and see what there is left.

"I came down to Chicago to see about a piece of timber that's
owned by some sharps on Jackson Street.  I didn't know but I
might get to cut that timber.  I've run it careless-like, and I
know pretty near what there is in it.  So I said to Kate:

"'I'll see Bob and his wife, and the little nipper-----"

"Goodness!" ejaculated Nan, under her breath.

Uncle Henry's eyes twinkled and the many wrinkles about them
screwed up into hard knots.  "Beg pardon!" he exclaimed, for his
ears were very sharp.  "This young lady, I should have said.
Anyhow, I told Kate I'd see you all and find out what you were
doing.

"Depending on mills and such for employment isn't any very safe
way to live, I think.  Out in the woods you are as free as air,
and there aren't so many bosses, and you don't have to think much
about 'the market' and 'supply and demand,' and all that."

"Just the same," said Mr. Robert Sherwood, his own eyes
twinkling, "you are in some trouble right now, I believe, Hen?"

"Sho!  You've got me there," boomed his brother with a great
laugh.  "But there aren't many reptiles like old Ged Raffer.  And
we can thank a merciful Creator for that.  I expect there are
just a few miserly old hunks like Ged as horrible examples to the
rest of us."

"What is the nature of your trouble with this old fellow?" asked
Mr. Robert Sherwood.

"We've got hold on adjoining options.  I had my lines run by one
of the best surveyors in the Peninsula of Michigan.  But he up
and died.  Ged claims I ran over on his tract about a mile.  He
got to court first, got an injunction, and tied me all up in a
hard legal knot until the state surveyors can go over both pieces
of timber.  The land knows when that'll be!  Those state
surveyors take a week of frog Sundays to do a job.

"I can't cut a stick on my whole piece 'cause Ged claims he'll
have a right to replevin an equal number of sticks cut, if the
surveyors back up his contention.  Nasty mess.  The original line
was run years and years ago, and they're not many alive today in
the Big woods that know the rights of it.

"I expect," added Uncle Henry, shaking his bushy head, "that old
Toby Vanderwiller knows the rights of that line business; but he
won't tell.

Gedney Raffer's got a strangle hold on Toby and his little swamp
farm, and Toby doesn't dare say his soul's his own.

"Well!" continued the lumberman, with another of his big laughs.
"This has nothing to do with your stew, Bob.  I didn't want to
come to the house last night and surprise you; so I stayed at the
hotel.  And all the time I was thinking of this little nip, Beg
pardon!  This young lady, and how smart and plucky she was.

"And lo and behold," pursued Uncle Henry, "she turns out to be my
own niece.  I'm going to take her back with me to Pine Camp.
Kate's got to see and know her.  The boys will be tickled out of
their boots to have a girl like her around.  That's our one lack
at Pine Camp.  There never was a girl in the family.

"Seems that this was just foreordained.  You and Jessie have got
to go 'way off, over the water; can't leave this plucky girl
alone.  Her old uncle and aunt are the proper folks to take care
of her.  What do you say yourself, young lady?"

Nan had liked the big man from the very beginning.  She was a
sensible child, too.  She saw that she must settle this matter
herself, for it was too hard a question for either Momsey or Papa
Sherwood to decide.  She gained control of herself now; but
nobody will ever know how much courage it took for her to say,
promptly:

"Of course I will go home with you, Uncle Henry.  It will be fun,
I think, to go into the woods in the winter.  And, and I can
come right back as soon as Momsey and Papa Sherwood return from
Scotland."

So it was settled, just like that.  The rush in which both
parties got under way on Monday made Nan's head whirl.  Momsey
was to buy a few necessary things in New York before she boarded
the steamer.  Nan had a plentiful supply of warm winter clothing,
and she took a trunkful.

Mrs. Joyce was left to take a peep at the little, locked cottage
on Amity Street, now and then.  Nan could say "Goodbye" only very
hastily to Bess Harley and her other school friends.  Her school
had to be broken off at a bad time in the year, but there was the
prospect of a change in Nan's method of education the next fall.

Momsey and Papa Sherwood took the train east an hour before Nan
and Uncle Henry boarded that for Chicago.  All went with a rush
and clatter, and Nan found herself at last rumbling out of
Tillbury, on her way to the northern wilderness, while a thin
drive of fine snowflakes tapped on the car windows.

Chapter X
GEDNEY RAFFER

It was fortunate for Nan Sherwood that on the day of parting with
her parents she had so much to do, and that there was so much to
see, and so many new things of which to think.

She had never traveled to Chicago before, nor far from Tillbury
at all.  Even the chair car was new to the girl's experience and
she found it vastly entertaining to sit at a broad window with
her uncle in the opposite chair, gazing out upon the snowy
landscape as the train hurried over the prairie.

She had a certain feeling that her Uncle Henry was an anomaly in
the chair car.  His huge bearskin coat and the rough clothing
under it; his felt boots, with rubber soles and feet; the fact
that he wore no linen and only a string tie under the collar of
his flannel shirt; his great bronzed hands and blunted fingers
with their broken nails, all these things set him apart from the
other men who rode in the car.

Papa Sherwood paid much attention to the niceties of dress,
despite the fact that his work at the Atwater Mills had called
for overalls and, frequently, oily hands.  Uncle Henry evidently
knew little about stiff collars and laundered cuffs, or cravats,
smart boots, bosomed shirts, or other dainty wear for men.  He
was quite innocent of giving any offence to the eye, however.
Lying back in the comfortable chair with his coat off and his
great lumberman's boots crossed, he laughed at anything Nan said
that chanced to be the least bit amusing, until the gas-globes
rang again.

It seemed to Nan as though there never was such a huge man
before.  She doubted if Goliath could have looked so big to young
David, when the shepherd boy went out with his sling to meet the
giant.  Uncle Henry was six feet, four inches in height and broad
in proportion.  The chair creaked under his weight when he moved.
Other people in the car gazed on the quite unconscious giant as
wonderingly as did Nan herself.

"Uncle Henry," she asked him once, "are all the men in the Big
Woods as tall as you are?"

"Goodness me! No, child," he chuckled.  "But the woods don't
breed many runts, that's a fact.  There's some bigger than I.
Long Sam Dorgan is near seven feet   he isn't quite sure, for
he's so ticklish that you can't ever measure him," and Uncle
Henry's chuckle burst into a full-fledged laugh.  "He's just as
graceful as a length of shingle lathing, too.  And freckles and
liver spots on his hands and face, well, he certain sure is a
handsome creature.

"He went to town once and stayed over night.  Wasn't any bed long
enough at the hotel, and Sam had got considerably under the
weather, anyhow, from fooling with hard cider.  So he wasn't
particular about where he bedded down, and they put him to sleep
in the horse trough."

"The horse trough!" gasped Nan.

"Yes.  It was pretty dry when Sam went to bed; but right early in
the morning a sleepy hostler stumbled out to the trough and began
to pump water into it for the cattle.  Maybe Long Sam needed a
bath, but not just that way.  He rose up with a yell like a
Choctaw Indian.  Said he was just dreaming of going through the
Sault Ste. Marie in a barrel, and he reckoned the barrel burst
open."

Nan was much amused by this story, as she was by others that the
old lumberman related.  He was full of dry sayings and his speech
had many queer twists to it.  His bluff, honest way delighted the
girl, although he was so different from Papa Sherwood.  As Momsey
had said, Uncle Henry's body had to be big to contain his heart.
One can excuse much that is rough in a character so lovable as
that of Uncle Henry's.

The snow increased as the train sped on and the darkness
gradually thickened.  Uncle Henry took his niece into the dining
car where they had supper, with a black man with shiny eyes and
very white teeth, who seemed always on the broad grin, to wait
upon them.  Nan made a mental note to write Bess Harley all about
the meal and the service, for Bess was always interested in
anything that seemed "aristocratic," and to the unsophisticated
girl from Tillbury the style of the dining car seemed really
luxurious.

When the train rolled into the Chicago station it was not yet
late; but it seemed to Nan as though they had ridden miles and
miles, through lighted streets hedged on either side with brick
houses.  The snow was still falling, but it looked sooty and gray
here in the city.  Nan began to feel some depression, and to
remember more keenly that Momsey and Papa Sherwood were flying
easterly just as fast as an express train could take them.

It was cold, too.  A keen, penetrating wind seemed to search
through the streets.  Uncle Henry said it came from the lake.  He
beckoned to a taxicab driver, and Nan's trunk was found and
strapped upon the roof.  Then off they went to the hotel where
Uncle Henry always stopped when he came to Chicago, and where his
own bag was checked.

Looking through the cab windows, the girl began to take an
immediate interest in life again.  So many people, despite the
storm! So many vehicles tangled up at the corners and waiting for
the big policemen to let them by in front of the clanging cars!
Bustle, hurry, noise, confusion!

"Some different from your Tillbury," drawled Uncle Henry.  "And
just as different from Pine Camp as chalk is from cheese."

"But so interesting!" breathed Nan, with a sigh.  "Doesn't it
ever get to be bedtime for children in the city?"

"Not for those kids," grumbled Uncle Henry.  "Poor creatures.
They sell papers, or flowers, or matches, or what-not, all
evening long.  And stores keep open, and hotel bars, and drug
shops, besides theatres and the like.  There's a big motion
picture place!  I went there once.  It beats any show that ever
came to Hobart Forks, now I tell you."

"Oh, we have motion picture shows at Tillbury.  We have had them
in the school hall, too," said Nan complacently.  "But, of
course, I'd like to see all the people and the lights, and so
forth.  It looks very interesting in the city.  But the snow is
dirty, Uncle Henry."

"Yes.  And most everything else is dirty when you get into these
brick and mortar tunnels.  That's what I call the streets.  The
air even isn't clean," went on the lumberman.  "Give me the
woods, with a fresh wind blowing, and the world looks good to
me," then his voice and face fell, as he added, "excepting that
snake-in-the-grass, Ged Raffer."

"That man must make you a lot of trouble, Uncle Henry," said Nan
sympathetically.

"He does," growled the lumberman.  "He's a miserable, fox-faced
scoundrel, and I've no more use for him than I have for an egg-
sucking dog.  That's the way I feel about it."

They reached the hotel just then, and Uncle Henry's flare of
passion was quenched.  The hostelry he patronized was not a new
hotel; but it was a very good one, and Nan's heart beat high as
she followed the porter inside, with Uncle Henry directing the
taxicab driver and a second porter how to dispose of the trunk
for the night.

Nan had her bag in which were her night clothes, toilet articles,
and other necessities.  The porter carried this for her and
seated her on a comfortable lounge at one side while Uncle Henry
arranged about the rooms.

To do honor to his pretty niece the lumberman engaged much better
quarters than he would have chosen for himself.  When they went
up to the rooms Nan found a pretty little bath opening out of
hers, and the maid came and asked her if she could be of any
help.  The girl began to feel quite "grown up."  It was all very
wonderful, and she loved Uncle Henry for making things so
pleasant for her.

She had to run to his door and tell him this before she
undressed.  He had pulled off his boots and was tramping up and
down the carpeted floor in his thick woolen socks, humming to
himself.

"Taking a constitutional, Nan," he declared.  "Haven't had any
exercise for this big body of mine all day.  Sitting in that car
has made me as cramped as a bear just crawling out of his den in
the spring."

He did not tell her that had he been alone he would have gone out
and tramped the snowy streets for half the night.  But he would
not leave her alone in the hotel.  "No, sir," said Uncle Henry.
"Robert would never forgive me if anything happened to his honey-
bird.  And fire, or something, might break out here while I was
gone."

He said nothing like this to Nan, however, but kissed her good
night and told her she should always bid him good night in just
that way as long as she was at Pine Camp.

"For Kate and I have never had a little girl," said the big
lumberman, "and boys get over the kissing stage mighty early, I
find.  Kate and I always did hanker for a girl."

"If you owned a really, truly daughter of your own, Uncle Henry,
I believe you'd spoil her to death!" cried Nan, the next morning,
when she came out of the fur shop to which he had taken her.

He had insisted that she was not dressed warmly enough for the
woods.  We see forty and forty-five below up there, sometimes,"
he said.  "You think this raw wind is cold; it is nothing to a
black frost in the Big Woods.  Trees burst as if there were
dynamite in 'em.  You've never seen the like.

"Of course the back of winter's about broken now.  But we may
have some cold snaps yet.  Anyhow, you look warmer than you did."

And that was true, for Nan was dressed like a little Esquimau.
Her coat had a pointed hood to it; she wore high fur boots, the
fur outside.  Her mittens of seal were buttoned to the sleeves of
her coat, and she could thrust her hands, with ordinary gloves on
them, right into these warm receptacles.

Nan thought they were wonderfully served at the hotel where they
stopped, and she liked the maid on her corridor very much, and
the boy who brought the icewater, too.  There really was so much
to tell Bess that she began to keep a diary in a little blank-
book she bought for that purpose.

Then the most wonderful thing of all was the message from Papa
Sherwood which arrived just before she and Uncle Henry left the
hotel for the train.  It was a "night letter" sent from Buffalo
and told her that Momsey was all right and that they both sent
love and would telegraph once more before their steamship left
the dock at New York.

Nan and Uncle Henry drove through the snowy streets to another
station and took the evening train north.  They traveled at first
by the Milwaukee Division of the Chicago and Northwestern
Railroad; and now another new experience came Nan's way.  Uncle
Henry had secured a section in the sleeping car and each had a
berth.

It was just like being put to sleep on a shelf, Nan declared,
when the porter made up the beds at nine o'clock.  She climbed
into the upper berth a little later, sure that she would not
sleep, and intending to look out of the narrow window to watch
the snowy landscape fly by all night.

And much to her surprise (only the surprise came in the morning)
she fell fast asleep almost immediately, lulled by the rocking of
the huge car on its springs, and did not arouse until seven
o'clock and the car stood on the siding in the big Wisconsin
city.

They hurried to get a northern bound train and were soon off on
what Uncle Henry called the "longest lap" of their journey.  The
train swept them up the line of Lake Michigan, sometimes within
sight of the shore, often along the edge of estuaries,
particularly following the contour of Green By, and then into the
Wilderness of upper Wisconsin and the Michigan Peninsula.

On the Peninsula Division of the C. & N. W. they did not travel
as fast as they had been running, and before Hobart Forks was
announced on the last local train they traveled in, Nan Sherwood
certainly was tired of riding by rail.  The station was in
Marquette County, near the Schoolcraft line.  Pine Camp was
twenty miles deeper in the Wilderness.  It seemed to Nan that she
had been traveling through forests, or the barren stumpage where
forests had been, for weeks.

"Here's where we get off, little girl," Uncle Henry said, as he
seized his big bag and her little one and made for the door of
the car.  Nan ran after him in her fur clothing.  She had found
before this that he was right about the cold.  It was an entirely
different atmosphere up here in the Big Woods from Tillbury, or
even Chicago.

The train creaked to a stop.  They leaped down upon the snowy
platform.  Only a plain station, big freight house, and a company
of roughly dressed men to meet them.  Behind the station a number
of sleighs and sledges stood, their impatient horses shaking the
innumerable bells they wore.

Nan, stumbling off the car step behind her uncle, came near to
colliding with a small man in patched coat and cowhide boots, and
with a rope tied about his waist as some teamsters affect.  He
mumbled something in anger and Nan turned to look at him.

He wore sparse, sandy whiskers, now fast turning gray.  The
outthrust of the lower part of his face was as sharp as that of a
fox, and he really looked like a fox.  She was sure of his
identity before uncle Henry wheeled and, seeing the man, said:

"What's that you are saying, Ged Raffer?  This is my niece, and
if you lay your tongue to her name, I'll give you something to go
to law about in a hurry.  Come, Nan.  Don't let that man touch so
much as your coat sleeve.  He's like pitch.  You can't be near
him without some of his meanness sticking to you."

Chapter XI
PINE CAMP AT LAST

It was the first shade upon Uncle Henry's character that
displeased Nan.  He was evidently a passionate man, prone to give
way to elemental feelings, literally, "a man of wrath."

Gedney Raffer, weazened, snakelike, sly, and treacherous, had
doubtless wronged Uncle Henry deeply., But this fact could not
excuse the huge lumberman's language on the platform of the
Hobart Forks station.

Nan wanted to stop her ears with her fingers and run from the
spot.  The tough fellows standing around enjoyed the war of words
hugely.  Mr. Sherwood was too big to strike Gedney Raffer, and of
course the latter dared not use his puny fists on the giant.

The blunt club of the lumberman's speech was scarcely a match for
the sharp rapier of Raffer's tongue.  As the crowd laughed it was
evident that the fox-faced man was getting the verbal best of the
controversy.

Nan's ears burned and tears stood in her eyes.  Uncle Henry
descended to personal threats and the smaller man called out:

"You jest put your hand on me, you big, overgrown sawney!  That's
all I'm a-waitin' for.  You 'tack me and I'll have you in the
caboose, sure's my name's Gedney Raffer.  Try it!"

The quarrel was most distressing.  Nan pulled at her uncle's coat
sleeve.  The rough men eyed her curiously.  She had never felt so
ashamed in her life.

"Do come, Uncle Henry," she whispered.  "I'm cold."

That statement started the fuming giant at once.  Nan's
sensitiveness to a rude quarrel did not impress the man; but her
sensitiveness to the weather shocked him immediately.

"My goodness, girl! We'll go right up to the hotel," he said,
kindly.  "Any of you fellows seen Rafe or Tom in town this
morning with the sled and roans?"

"Hey, Hen!" cried the station master, waving a yellow paper.
"Here's a telegraph despatch for you."

It was really for Nan, and from Papa Sherwood filed just before
the Afton Castle sailed from New York:

"Momsey and papa send love and kisses.  Be cheerful and good.
Write often.  We think of you always.  Kind wishes for Henry,
Kate and boys.  We look forward to fair voyage and safe landing.
Will cable from other side.  Expect happy meeting in spring.  R.
and J. Sherwood."

"They got a good start," commented Uncle Henry, putting all
thought of his quarrel with Ged Raffer behind him at once.
"We'll hope they have a safe voyage.  Now!  Where are those boys
of mine?"

The town of Hobart Forks was by no means a lumber town.  Millions
of feet of timber was boomed on the river within the limits of
the town every season, and there were great mills along the banks
of the stream, too.  But there were other industries, as well as
churches, amusement places and many pleasant dwellings.  It was
no settlement of "slab shanties" with a few saloons and a general
store.  Nan had yet to see this latter kind of settlement.

But what she saw about the central market place of Hobart Forks
opened her eyes considerably to an appreciation of the rough
country she had come to, and the rough people to be met therein.

The storekeepers she saw through the frosted windows were dressed
like storekeepers in Tillbury; and there were well dressed women
on the streets, a few, at least.

But most of the men striding through the snow were as roughly
dressed as her uncle, and not many were as good looking as Mr.
Sherwood.  Some who came out of the swinging doors of saloons
staggered, and were very noisy in their speech and rude in their
actions.  Of course nobody spoke to Nan, or troubled her; Henry
Sherwood was undoubtedly a man of standing in the settlement and
highly respected.

Not far from the market place they came upon a sprawling old
tavern, with a fenced yard at one side.  As they approached, a
sled drawn by a wild looking pair of rough, red-roan ponies,
dashed out of the yard and stopped at the broad front portico of
the hotel.

"Hey, Tom!  What's the matter with you?" called Uncle Henry.
"Here we are!"

The driver turned a broad, good-humored face to look over his
burly shoulder.  Nan saw that Tom Sherwood strongly resembled his
father.

"That you, Dad?" he drawled. "I'd about given you up.  I didn't
want to drive down to the depot with these crazy creatures.  And
if I'd left 'em standing they'd have kicked Phil's shed to
pieces, I do believe.  The train's been in half an hour and
more."

"I know," said his father. "I had a mess of words with Ged
Raffer.  That delayed me."

"You ought to give him the back of your hand, and say no more
about it," declared Tom, in a tone that showed he warmed in his
bosom the family grudge against the fox-faced man.

"Here's your Cousin Nan, Tom," said his father, without making
rejoinder to the young man's observation.  "She must go into
Phil's and get warm and have a cup of hot coffee.  I'll take some
in a new-fangled bottle I bought down in Chicago, so we can all
have a hot drink on the way home."

"'Twon't keep warm twenty miles," said Tom.

"Yes 'twill.  It'll keep HOT for twenty miles and more.  They
call it a thermos bottle.  It'll keep coffee hot, or cold, for a
day, just as you please."

"Jehosaphat, Dad!  What kind of a swindle's that?  How does the
bottle know whether you want your drink hot or cold?  Huh!  Those
city folks couldn't make me believe any such thing," objected the
son.

Nan had to giggle at that, and Uncle Henry demanded: "Did you
ever see such a gump?  Go on down to the station and tell Abe to
fling that trunk and the bags into the back of the sled.  We'll
have our coffee, and get the thermos bottle filled, too, by the
time you come back."

Nan liked tom Sherwood.  He was about nineteen and almost as big
as his father.  He was gentle with her, and showed himself to be
an expert driver of the roan colts.  Otherwise Nan might have
been much afraid during the first mile of the journey to Pine
Camp, for certainly she had never seen horses behave so before.

"Haven't been out of the stable for a week," explained Tom cooly
as the roans plunged and danced, and "cut up didos" generally, as
Uncle Henry remarked.

"We had a big fall of snow," Tom went on to say.  "Bunged us all
up in the woods; so Rafe and I came in.  Marm's all right.  So's
everybody else around the Camp, except Old Man Llewellen.  He's
down with rheumatism, or tic-douloureux, or something.  He's
always complaining."

"I know," said Uncle Henry, and then went on to relate for his
son's benefit the wonderful thing that had happened to his
brother and his brother's wife, and why Nan had come up into
Michigan without her parents.

"We'll be mighty proud to have her," said Tom simply.  He was
only a great boy, after all, and he blushed every time he caught
Nan looking at him.  The girl began to feel very much grown up.

They were glad of the hot coffee, and Tom was shown how and why
the mysterious bottle kept the drink hot.  They only made that
single halt (and only for a few minutes for the horses to drink)
before reaching Pine Camp.  They traveled through the snow-
covered woods most of the way.  There were few farms and no
settlements at all until they reached Pine Camp.

The road was not well beaten and they could not have got through
some of the drifts with less spirited ponies than the roans.
When they crossed the long bridge over the river and swept into
the village street, Nan was amazed.

Likewise, her heart sank a little.  There was not a building in
the place more than a story and a half in height.  Most of them
were slab cottages.  Few yards were fenced.  There were two
stores, facing each other on the single street of the town, with
false-fronts running up as tall as the second story would have
been had there been a second story.

The roans dashed through the better beaten path of the street,
with everybody along the way hailing Henry Sherwood vociferously.
The giant waved his hand and shouted in reply.  Nan cowered
between him and Tom, on the seat, shielding her face from the
flying snow from the ponies' hoofs, though the tears in her eyes
were not brought there only by the sting of the pelting she
received.

Chapter XII
"HOME WAS NEVER LIKE THIS"

The roan ponies dashed through the slab settlement, past the
blacksmith and wheelwright shop and the ugly red building Tom
told Nan was the school, and reached a large, sprawling,
unpainted dwelling on the outskirts of the village.

There were barns back of the Sherwood house; there was no fence
between the yard and the road, the windows of the house stared
out upon the passerby, blindless, and many of them without
shades.  There was such a painful newness about the building that
it seemed to Nan the carpenters must have just packed their tools
and gone, while the painters had not yet arrived.

"Well!  Here we are," announced Mr. Henry Sherwood, as Tom held
in the still eager ponies.  He stepped out and offered Nan his
hand.  "Home again, little girl.  I reckon Kate will be mighty
glad to see you, that she will."

Nan leaped out and began to stamp her feet on the hard snow,
while Uncle Henry lifted out the trunk and bags.  Just as the
ponies sprang away again, a door in the ugly house opened and a
tall, angular woman looked forth.

"Bring her in, Hen!" she cried, in a high-pitched voice.  "I want
to see her."

Nan went rather timidly up the path.  Her aunt was almost as tall
as her husband.  She was very bony and was flat-chested and
unlovely in every way.  That is, so it seemed, when the homesick
girl raised her eyes to Aunt Kate's face.

That face was as brown as sole-leather, and the texture of the
skin seemed leathery as well.  There was a hawklike nose
dominating the unfeminine face.  The shallows below the
cheekbones were deep, as though she had suffered the loss of her
back molars.  The eyebrows were straggly; the eyes themselves of
a pale, watery blue; the mouth a thin line when her colorless
lips were closed; and her chin was as square and determined as
Uncle Henry's own.

As Nan approached she saw something else about this unlovely
woman.  On her neck was a great, livid scar, of a hand's breadth,
and which looked like a scald, or burn.  No attempt was made to
conceal this unsightly blemish.

Indeed, there was nothing about Aunt Kate Sherwood suggesting a
softening of her hard lines.  Her plain, ugly print dress was cut
low at the throat, and had no collar or ruff to hide the scar.
Nan's gaze was fastened on that blemish before she was half way
to the door, and she could see nothing else at first.

The girl fought down a physical shudder when Aunt Kate's clawlike
hands seized her by both shoulders, and she stooped to kiss the
visitor.

"Welcome, dear Nannie," her sharp voice said, and Nan thought
that, with ease, one might have heard her in the middle of the
village.

But when Aunt Kate's lips touched the girl's forehead they were
Warm, and soft as velvet.  Her breath was sweet.  There was a
wholesome cleanliness about her person that pleased Nan.  The
ugly dress was spotless and beautifully laundered.  She had a
glimpse of the unplastered kitchen and saw a row of copper pots
on the shelf over the dresser that were scoured to dazzling
brightness.  The boards of the floor were white as milk,.  The
big, patent range glistened with polish, and its nickel-work was
rubbed till it reflected like a mirror.

"Welcome, my dear!" said Aunt Kate again.  "I hope you will be
happy while you stay with us."

Happy! With Momsey and Papa Sherwood on the ocean, and the
"little dwelling in amity" closed and deserted?  Nan feared she
would break down and cry.

Her Aunt Kate left her to herself a minute just then that she
might overcome this weakness.  Uncle Henry came up the path with
the bags, smiling broadly.

"Well, old woman!" he said heartily.

"Well, old man!" she returned.

And then suddenly, Nan Sherwood had a new vision.  She was used
to seeing her pretty mother and her handsome father display their
mutual affection; it had not seemed possible that rough, burly
Uncle Henry and ugly Aunt Kate could feel the same degree of
affection for each other.

Uncle Henry dropped the bags.  Aunt Kate seemed to be drawn
toward him when he put out his hands.  Nan saw their lips meet,
and then the giant gently, almost reverently, kissed the horrid
scar on Aunt Kate's neck.

"Here's Nan!" cried the big lumberman jovially.  "The pluckiest
and smartest little girl in seven states!  Take her in out of the
cold, Kate.  She's not used to our kind of weather, and I have
been watching for the frost flowers to bloom on her pretty face
all the way from the forks."

The woman drew Nan into the warm kitchen.  Uncle Henry followed
in a minute with the trunk.

"Where'll I put this box, Kate?" he asked.  "I reckon you've
fixed up some cozy place for her?"

"The east room, Hen," Aunt Kate replied.  "The sun lies in there
mornings.  I took the new spring rocker out of the parlor, and
with the white enameled bedstead you bought in Chicago, and the
maple bureau we got of that furniture pedlar, and the best
drugget to lay over the carpet I reckon Nannie has a pretty
bedroom."

Meanwhile Nan stared openly around the strange kitchen.  The
joists and rafters were uncovered by laths or plaster.  Muslin,
that had once been white, was tacked to the beams overhead for a
ceiling.  The smoke from the cookstove had stained it to a deep
brown color above the stove and to a lighter, meerschaum shade in
the corners.

The furniture was of the rudest plainest kind   much of it
evidently home-made.  Uncle Henry was not unhandy with tools.
She learned, later, that he and the boys had practically built
the house by themselves.  They were finishing it inside, as they
had time.  In some of the rooms the inside window and door frames
were not yet in place.

There was an appetizing smell from the pots upon the stove, and
the long table was set for dinner.  They would not let Nan change
from her traveling dress before sitting down to the table.  Tom
and Rafe came in and all three men washed at the long, wooden
sink.

Rafe was of slighter build than his brother, and a year or more
younger.  He was not so shy as Tom, either; and his eyes sparkled
with mischief.  Nan found that she could not act "grown up" with
her Cousin Rafe.

The principal dish for dinner was venison stew, served with
vegetables and salt-rising bread.  There was cake, too, very
heavy and indigestible, and speckled with huckleberries that had
been dried the fall previous.  Aunt Kate was no fancy cook; but
appetite is the best sauce, after all, and Nan had her share of
that condiment.

During the meal there was not much conversation save about the
wonderful fortune that had fallen to Nan's mother and the voyage
she and her husband were taking to Scotland to secure it.  Nan
learned, too, that Uncle Henry had telegraphed from Tillbury of
Nan's coming to Pine Camp, and consequently Aunt Kate was able to
prepare for her.

And that the good woman had done her best to make a nest for her
little niece in the ugly house, Nan was assured.  After dinner
she insisted upon the girl's going to the east room to change her
dress and lie down.  The comparison between this great chamber
and Nan's pretty room at home was appalling.

The room had been plastered, but the plaster was of a gray color
and unfinished.  The woodwork was painted a dusty, brick red with
mineral paint.  The odd and ugly pieces of furniture horrified
Nan.  The drugget on the floor only served to hide a part of the
still more atrociously patterned carpet.  The rocking chair
complained if one touched it.  The top of the huge maple dresser
was as bald as one's palm.

Nan sat down on the unopened trunk when her aunt had left her.
She dabbed her eyes with her handkerchief.  Home certainly was
never like this!  She did not see how she was ever going to be
able to stand it.

Chapter XIII
MARGARET LLEWELLEN

"If Momsey or Papa Sherwood knew about this they'd be awfully
sorry for me," thought Nan, still sitting on the trunk.  "Such a
looking place!  Nothing to see but snow and trees," for the
village of Pine Camp was quite surrounded by the forest and all
the visitor could see from the windows of her first-floor bedroom
were stumps and trees, with deep snow everywhere.

There was a glowing wood stove in the room and a big, chintz-
covered box beside it, full of "chunks."  It was warm in the
room, the atmosphere being permeated with the sweet tang of wood
smoke.

Nan dried her eyes.  There really was not any use in crying.
Momsey and Papa Sherwood could not know how bad she felt, and
she really was not selfish enough to wish them to know.

"Now, Nanny Sherwood!" she scolded herself, "there's not a
particle of use of your sniveling.  It won't 'get you anywhere,'
as Mrs. Joyce says.  You'll only make your eyes red, and the
folks will see that you're not happy here, and they will be hurt.

"Mustn't make other folks feel bad just because I feel bad
myself," Nan decided.  "Come on!  Pluck up your courage!

"I know what I'll do," she added, literally shaking herself as
she jumped off the trunk.  "I'll unpack.  I'll cover up
everything ugly that I can with something pretty from Tillbury."

Hurried as she had been her departure from the cottage on Amity
Street, Nan had packed in her trunk many of those little
possessions, dear to her childish heart, that had graced her
bedroom.  These appeared from the trunk even before she hung away
her clothes in the unplastered closet where the cold wind
searched through the cracks from out-of-doors.  Into that closet,
away back in the corner, went a long pasteboard box, tied
carefully with strong cord.  Nan patted it gently with her hand
before she left the box, whispering:

"You dear!  I wouldn't have left you behind for anything!  I
won't let them know you are here; but sometimes, when I'm sure
nobody will interrupt, you shall come out."

She spread a fringed towel over the barren top of the dresser.
It would not cover it all, of course; but it made an island in a
sea of emptiness.

And on the island she quickly set forth the plain little toilet-
set her mother had given her on her last birthday, the manicure
set that was a present from Papa Sherwood, and the several other
knickknacks that would help to make the big dresser look as
though "there was somebody at home," as she whispered to herself.

She draped a scarf here, hung up a pretty silk bag there, placed
Momsey's and Papa Sherwood's portraits in their little silver
filigree easels on the mantelpiece, flanking the clock that would
not run and which was held by the ugly china shepherdess with
only one foot and a broken crook, the latter ornament evidently
having been at one time prized by the babies of her aunt's
family, for the ring at the top was dented by little teeth.

Nothing, however, could take the curse of ugliness off the
staring gray walls of the room, or from the horrible turkey-red
and white canton-flannel quilt that bedecked the bed.  Nan longed
to spill the contents of her ink bottle over that hideous
coverlet, but did not dare.

The effort to make the big east room look less like a barn made
Nan feel better in her mind.  It was still dreary, it must be
confessed.  There were a dozen things she wished she could do to
improve it.  There were nothing but paper shades at the windows.
Even a simple scrim curtain-----

And, in thinking of this, Nan raised her eyes to one window to
see a face pressed close against the glass, and two rolling,
crablike eyes glaring in at her.

"Mercy!" ejaculated Nan Sherwood.  "What is the matter with that
child's eyes?  They'll drop out of her head!"

She ran to the window, evidently startling the peeper quite as
much as she had been startled herself.  The girl, who was about
Nan's own age, fell back from the pane, stumbled in the big,
men's boots she wore, and ungracefully sprawled in the snow upon
her back.  She could not get away before Nan had the window open.

The sash was held up by a notched stick.  Nan put her head and
shoulders out into the frosty air and stared down at the
prostrate girl, who stared up at her in return.

"What do you want?" Nan asked.

"Nothin'," replied the stranger.

"What were you peeping in for?"

"To see you," was the more frank reply.

"What for?" asked Nan.

"Ain't you the new gal?"

"I've newly come here, yes," admitted Nan.

"Well!"

"But I'm not such a sight, am I?" laughed the girl from Tillbury.
"But you are, lying there in the snow.  You'll get your death of
cold.  Get up"

The other did so.  Beside the men's boots, which were patched and
old, she wore a woollen skirt, a blouse, and a shawl over her
head and shoulders.  She shook the snow from her garments much as
a dog frees himself from water after coming out of a pond.

"It's too cold to talk with this window open.  You're a neighbor,
aren't you?"

The girl nodded.

"Then come in," urged Nan.  "I'm sure my aunt will let you."

The girl shook her head in a decided negative to this proposal.
"Don't want Marm Sherwood to see me," she said.

"Why not?"

"She told me not to come over after you come 'ithout I put on my
new dress and washed my hands and face."

"Well!" exclaimed Nan, looking at her more closely.  "You seem to
have a clean face, at least."

"Yes.  But that dress she 'gin me, my brother Bob took and put on
Old Beagle for to dress him up funny.  And Beagle heard a noise
he thought was a fox barking and he started for the tamarack
swamp, lickety-split.  I expect there ain't enough of that
gingham left to tie around a sore thumb."

Nan listened to this in both amusement and surprise.  The girl
was a new specimen to her.

"Come in, anyway," she urged.  "I can't keep the window open."

"I'll climb in, then," declared the other suddenly, and, suiting
the action to the word, she swarmed over the sill; but she left
one huge boot in the snow, and Nan, laughing delightedly, ran for
the poker to fish for it, and drew it in and shut down the
window.

The strange girl was warming her hands at the fire.  Nan pushed a
chair toward her and took one herself, but not the complaining
spring rocking chair.

"Now tell me all about yourself," the girl demanded.

"I'm Nan Sherwood, and I've come here to Pine Camp to stay while
my father and mother have gone to Scotland."

"I've heard about Scotland," declared the girl with the very
prominent eyes.

"Have you?"

"Yes.  Gran'ther Llewellen sings that song.  You know:

"'Scotland's burning!  Scotland's burning!
Where, where?  Where, where?
Fire!  Fire!  Fire!  Fire!
Pour on water!  Pour on water!
Fire's out!  Fire's out!'"

Nan laughed.  "I've heard that, too," she said.  "But it was
another Scotland."  Then: "So your name is Llewellen?"

"Marg'ret Llewellen."

"I've heard your grandfather is sick," said Nan, remembering
Tom's report of the health of the community when he had met her
and her uncle at Hobart Forks.

"Yes.  He's got the tic-del-rew," declared Margaret, rather
unfeelingly.  "Aunt Matildy says he's allus creakin' round like a
rusty gate-hinge."

"Why!  That doesn't sound very nice," objected Nan.  Don't you
love your grandfather?"

"Not much," said this perfectly frank young savage.  "He's so
awfully wizzled."

"'Wizzled'?" repeated Nan, puzzled.

"Yes.  His face is all wizzled up like a dried apple."

"But you love your aunt Matilda?" gasped Nan.

"Well, she's wizzled some," confessed Margaret.  Then she said:
"I don't like faces like hern and Marm Sherwood's.  I like your
face.  It's smooth."

Nan had noticed that this half-wild girl was of beautifully fair
complexion herself, and aside from her pop eyes was quite petty.
But she was a queer little thing.

"You've been to Chicago, ain't you?" asked Margaret suddenly.

"We came through Chicago on our way up here from my home.  We
stayed one night there," Nan replied.

"It's bigger'n Pine Camp, ain't it?"

"My goodness, yes!"

"Bigger'n the Forks?" queried Margaret doubtfully.

"Why, it is much, much bigger," said Nan, hopeless of making one
so densely ignorant understand anything of the proportions of the
metropolis of the lakes.

That's what I told Bob," Margaret said.  "He don't believe it.
Bob's my brother, but there never was such a dunce since Adam."

Nan had to laugh.  The strange girl amused her.  But Margaret
said something, too, that deeply interested the visitor at Pine
Camp before she ended her call, making her exit as she had her
entrance, by the window.

"I reckon you never seen this house of your uncle's before, did
you?" queried Margaret at one point in the conversation.

"Oh, no.  I never visited them before."

"Didn't you uster visit 'em when they lived at Pale Lick?"

"No.  I don't remember that they ever lived anywhere else beside
here."

"Yes, they did.  I heard Gran'ther tell about it.  But mebbe
'twas before you an' me was born.  It was Pale Lick., I'm sure.
That's where they lost their two other boys."

"What two other boys?" asked Nan, amazed.

"Didn't you ever hear tell you had two other cousins?"

"No," said Nan.

"Well, you did," said Margaret importantly.  "And when Pale Lick
burned up, them boys was burned up, too."

"Oh!" gasped Nan, horrified.

"Lots of folks was burned.  Injun Pete come near being burned up.
He ain't been right, I reckon, since.  And I reckon that's where
Marm Sherwood got that scar on the side of her neck."

Nan wondered.

Chapter XIV
AT THE LUMBER CAMP

Nan said nothing just then about her queer little visitor.  Aunt
Kate asked her when she came out of the east room and crossed the
chill desert of the parlor to the general sitting room:

"Did you have a nice sleep, Nannie?"

"Goodness, Auntie!" laughed Nan.  "I got over taking a nap in the
daytime a good while ago, I guess.  But you come and see what I
have done.  I haven't been idle."

Aunt Kate went and peeped into the east chamber.  "Good mercy,
child!  It doesn't look like the same room, with all the pretty
didos," she said.  "And that's your pretty mamma in the picture
on the mantel?  My!  Your papa looks peaked, doesn't he?  Maybe
that sea voyage they are taking will do 'em both good."

Nan had to admit that beside her uncle and cousins her father did
look "peaked."  Robust health and brawn seemed to be the two
essentials in the opinion of the people of Pine Camp.  Nan was
plump and rosy herself and so escaped criticism.

Her uncle and aunt, and the two big boys as well, were as kind to
her as they knew how to be.  Nan could not escape some of the
depression of homesickness during the first day or two of her
visit to the woods settlement; but the family did everything
possible to help her occupy her mind.

The long evenings were rather amusing, although the family knew
little about any game save checkers, "fox and geese," and
"hickory, dickory, dock."  Nan played draughts with her uncle and
fox and geese and the other kindergarten game with her big
cousins.  To see Tom, with his eyes screwed up tight and the
pencil poised in his blunt, frost-cracked fingers over the slate,
while he recited in a base sing-song:

"Hick'ry, dick'ry, dock
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck one,
An' down he come
Hick'ry, dick'ry, dock,"

was side-splitting.  Nan laughed till she cried.  Poor, simple
Tom did know just what amused his little cousin so.

Rafe was by no means so slow, or so simple.  Nan caught him
cheating more than once at fox and geese.  Rafe was a little sly,
and he was continually making fun of his slow brother, and
baiting him.  Uncle Henry warned him:

"Now, Rafe, you're too big for your Marm or me to shingle your
pants; but Tom's likely to lick you some day for your cutting up
  and I sha'n't blame him.  Just because he's slow to wrath,
don't you get it in your head that he's afraid, or that he can't
settle your hash in five minutes."

Nan was greatly disturbed to hear so many references to fistic
encounters and fighting of all sorts.  These men of the woods
seemed to be possessed of wild and unruly passions.  What she
heard the boys say caused her to believe that most of the spare
time of the men in the lumber camps was spent in personal
encounters.

"No, no, deary.  They aren't so bad as they sound," Aunt Kate
told her, comfortably.  "Lots of nice men work in the camps all
their lives and never fight.  Look at your Uncle Henry."

But Nan remembered the "mess of words" (as he called it) that
Uncle Henry had had with Gedney Raffer on the railroad station
platform at the Forks, and she was afraid that even her aunt did
not look with the same horror on a quarrel that Nan herself did.

The girl from Tillbury had a chance to see just what a lumber
camp was like, and what the crew were like, on the fourth day
after her arrival at her Uncle Henry's house.  The weather was
then pronounced settled, and word came for the two young men, Tom
and Rafe, to report at Blackton's camp the next morning, prepared
to go to work.  Tom drove a team which was then at the lumber
camp, being cared for by the cook and foreman; Rafe was a
chopper, for he had that sleight with an ax which, more than mere
muscle, makes the mighty woodsman.

"Their dad'll drive 'em over to Blackton's early, and you can go,
too," said Aunt Kate.  "That is, if you don't mind getting up
right promptly in the morning?"

"Oh, I don't mind that," Nan declared.  "I'm used to getting up
early."

But she thought differently when Uncle Henry's heavy hand rapped
on the door of the east chamber so early the next morning that it
seemed to Nan Sherwood that she had only been in bed long enough
to close her eyes.

"Goodness, Uncle!" she muttered, when she found out what it
meant.  "What time is it?"

"Three o'clock.  Time enough for you to dress and eat a snack
before we start," replied her uncle.

"Well!" said Nan to herself.  "I thought the house was afire."

Uncle Henry heard her through the door and whispered, shrilly:
"Sh!  Don't let your aunt hear you say anything like that,
child."

"Like what?" queried Nan, in wonder.

"About fire. Remember!" added Uncle Henry, rather sternly, Nan
thought, as he went back to the kitchen.

Then Nan remembered what the strange little girl, Margaret
Llewellen, had said about the fire at Pale Lick that had burned
her uncle's former home.  Nan had not felt like asking her uncle
or aunt, or the boys, either, about it.  The latter had probably
been too young to remember much about the tragedy.

Although Nan had seen Margaret on several fleeting occasions
since her first interview with the woods girl, there had been no
opportunity of talking privately with her.  And Margaret would
only come to the window.  She was afraid to tell "Marm Sherwood"
how she had lost the new dress that had been given to her.

It was now as black outside Nan's window as it could be.  She lit
her oil lamp and dressed swiftly, running at last through the
cold parlor and sitting room into the kitchen, where the fire in
the range was burning briskly and the coffee pot was on.  Tom and
Rafe were there comfortably getting into thick woolen socks and
big lumbermen's boots.

There was a heaping pan of Aunt Kate's doughnuts on the table,
flanked with the thick china coffee cups and deep saucers.  Her
uncle and the boys always poured their coffee into the saucers
and blew on it to take the first heat off, then gulped it in
great draughts.

Nan followed suit this morning, as far as cooling the coffee in
the saucer went.  There was haste.  Uncle Henry had been up some
time, and now he came stamping into the house, saying that the
ponies were hitched in and were standing in readiness upon the
barn floor, attached to the pung.

"We've twenty-five miles to ride, you see, Nannie," he said.
"The boys have to be at Blackton's so's to get to work at seven."

They filled the thermos bottle that had so puzzled Tom, and then
sallied forth.  The ponies were just as eager as they had been
the day Nan had come over from the Forks.  She was really half
afraid of them.

It was so dark that she could scarcely see the half-cleared road
before them as the ponies dashed away from Pine Camp.  The sky
was completely overcast, but Uncle Henry declared it would break
at sunrise.

Where the track had been well packed by former sleighs, the
ponies' hoofs rang as though on iron.  The bits of snow that were
flung off by their hoofs were like pieces of ice.  The bells on
the harness jingled a very pretty tune, Nan thought.  She did not
mind the biting cold, indeed, only her face was exposed.  Uncle
Henry had suggested a veil; but she wanted to see what she could.

For the first few miles it remained very dark, however.  Had it
not been for the snow they could not have seen objects beside the
road at all.  There was a lantern in the back of the pung and
that flung a stream of yellow light behind them; but Uncle Henry
would not have the radiance of it shot forward.

"A light just blinds you," he said.  "I'd rather trust to the
roans' sense."

The ponies galloped for a long way, it seemed to Nan; then they
came to a hill so steep that they were glad to drop to a walk.
Their bodies steamed in a great cloud as they tugged the sleigh
up the slope.  Dark woods shut the road in on either hand.  Nan's
eyes had got used to the faint light so that she could see this
at least.

Suddenly she heard a mournful, long-drawn howl, seemingly at a
great distance.

"Must be a farm somewhere near," she said to Rafe, who sat beside
her on the back seat.

"Nope.  No farms around here, Nan," he returned.

"But I hear a dog howl," she told him.

Rafe listened, too.  Then he turned to her with a grin on his
sharp face that she did not see.  "Oh, no, you don't," he
chuckled.  "That's no dog."

Again the howl was repeated, and it sounded much nearer.  Nan
realized, too, that it was a more savage sound than she had ever
heard emitted by a dog.

"What is it?" she asked, speaking in a low voice to Rafe.

"Wolves!" responded her cousin maliciously.  "But you mustn't
mind a little thing like that.  You don't have wolves down round
where you live, I s'pose?"

Nan knew that he was attempting to plague her, so she said: "Not
for pets, at least, Rafe.  These sound awfully savage."

"They are," returned her cousin calmly.

The wolf cry came nearer and nearer.  The ponies had started on a
trot again at the top of the hill, and her uncle and Tom did not
seem to notice the ugly cry.  Nan looked back, and was sure that
some great animal scrambled out of the woods and gave chase to
them.

"Isn't there some danger?" she asked Rafe again.

"Not for us," he said.  "Of course, if the whole pack gathers and
catches us, then we have to do something."

"What do you do?" demanded Nan quickly.

"Why, the last time we were chased by wolves, we happened to have
a ham and a side of bacon along.  So we chucked out first the
one, and then the other, and so pacified the brutes till we got
near town."

"Oh!" cried Nan, half believing, half in doubt.

She looked back again.  There, into the flickering light of the
lantern, a gaunt, huge creature leaped.  Nan could see his head
and shoulders now and then as he plunged on after the sleigh,
and a wickeder looking beast, she hoped never to see.

"Oh!" she gasped again, and grabbed at Rafe's arm.

"Don't you be afraid," drawled that young rascal.  "I reckon he
hasn't many of his jolly companions with him.  If he had, of
course, we'd have to throw you out to pacify him.  That's the
rule
  youngest and prettiest goes first-----"

"Like the ham, I s'pose?" sniffed Nan, in some anger, and just
then Tom reached over the back of the front seat and seized his
brother by the shoulder with a grip that made Rafe shriek with
pain.

Nan was almost as startled as was Rafe.  In the half-darkness
Tom's dull face blazed with anger, and he held his writhing
brother as though he were a child.

"You ornery scamp!" he said, almost under his breath.  "You try
to scare that little girl, and I'll break you in two!"

Nan was horrified.  She begged Tom to let his brother alone.  "I
was only fooling her," snarled Rafe, rubbing his injured
shoulder, for Tom had the grip of a pipe wrench.

Uncle Henry never turned around at all; but he said: "If I had a
gun I'd be tempted to shoot that old wolf hound of Toby
Vanderwiller's.  He's always running after sleds and yelling his
head off."

Nan was glad the creature following them was not really a wolf;
but she knew she should be just as much afraid of him if she met
him alone, as though he really were a wolf.  However, mostly, she
was troubled by the passionate nature of her two cousins.  She
had never seen Tom show any anger before; but it was evident that
he had plenty of spirit if it were called up.  And she was,
secretly, proud that the slow-witted young giant should have
displayed his interest in her welfare so plainly.  Rafe sat and
nursed his shoulder in silence for several miles.

The cold was intense.  As the sky lightened along the eastern
horizon it seemed to Nan as though the frost increased each
moment.  The bricks at their feet were getting cool; and they had
already had recourse to the thermos bottle, which was now empty
of the gratefully hot drink it had contained.

As the light gradually increased Nan saw Rafe watching her with
sudden attention.  After his recent trick she was a little afraid
of Rafe.  Still it did not seem possible that the reckless fellow
would attempt any second piece of fooling so soon after his
brother's threat.

But suddenly Rafe yelled to his father to pull down the roans,
and as the ponies stopped, he reached from the sled into a drift
and secured a big handful of snow.  Seizing Nan quickly around
the shoulders he began to rub her cheek vigorously with the snow.
Nan gasped and almost lost her breath; but she realized
immediately what Rafe was about.

The frost had nipped her cheek, and her cousin had seen the white
spot appear.  "The rubbing stung awfully, and the girl could not
keep back the tears; but she managed to repress the sobs.

"There!" exclaimed Rafe.  "You are a plucky girl.  I'm sorry I
got some of that snow down your neck, Nan.  Couldn't help it.
But it's the only thing to do when the thermometer is thirty-two
degrees below zero.  Why!  A fellow went outside with his ears
uncovered at Droomacher's camp one day last winter and after
awhile he began to rub his ears and one of 'em dropped off just
like a cake of ice."

"Stop your lying, boy!" commanded his father.  "It isn't as bad
as that, Nan.  But you want to watch out for frost bite here in
the woods, just the same as we had to watch out for the
automobiles in crossing those main streets in Chicago."

With a red sun rising over the low ridge of wooded ground to the
east, the camp in the hollow was revealed, the smoke rising in a
pillar of blue from the sheet-iron chimney of the cookhouse;
smoke rising, too, from a dozen big horses being curried before
the stables.

Most of the men had arrived the night before.  They were tumbling
out of the long, low bunkhouse now and making good use of the
bright tin washbasins on the long bench on the covered porch.
Ice had been broken to get the water that was poured into the
basins, but the men laved their faces and their hairy arms and
chests in it as though it were summer weather.

They quickly ran in for their outer shirts and coats, however,
and then trooped in to the end of the cook shed where the meals
were served.  Tom turned away to look over his horses and see
that they were all ready for the day's work.  Rafe put up the
roan ponies in a couple of empty stalls and gave them a feed of
oats.

Uncle Henry took Nan by the hand, and, really she felt as though
she needed some support, she was so stiff from the cold, and led
her into the warm room where the men were gathering for the
hearty meal the cook and his helper had prepared.

The men were boisterous in their greeting of Uncle Henry, until
they saw Nan.  Than, some bashfully, some because of natural
refinement, lowered their voices and were more careful how they
spoke before the girl.

But she heard something that troubled her greatly.  An old,
grizzled man in a corner of the fireplace where the brisk flames
leaped high among the logs, and who seemed to have already eaten
his breakfast and was busily stoning an axe blade, looked up as
Nan and her uncle approached, saying:

"Seen Ged Raffer lately, Hen?"

"I saw him at the Forks the other day, Toby," Mr. Sherwood
replied.

"Yaas.  I heard about that," said the old man drawlingly.  "But
since then?"

"No."

"Wal, he was tellin' me that he'd got you on the hip this time,
Hen.  If you as much as put your hoof over on that track he's
fighting you about, he'll plop you in jail, that's what he'll
do!  He's got a warrant all made out by Jedge Perkins.  I seen
it."

Uncle Henry walked closer to the old man and looked down at him
from his great height.  "Tobe," he said, "you know the rights of
that business well enough.  You know whether I'm right in the
contention, or whether Ged's right.  You know where the old line
runs.  Why don't you tell?"

"Oh, mercy me!" croaked the old man, and in much haste.  "I ain't
goin' to git into no land squabble, no, sir!  You kin count me
out right now!" And he picked up his axe, restored the whetstone
to its sheath on the wall, and at once went out of the shack.

Chapter XV
A CAT AND HER KITTENS

That was a breakfast long to be remembered by Nan Sherwood, not
particularly because of its quality, but for the quantity served.
She had never seen men like these lumbermen eat before, save for
the few days she had been at Uncle Henry's house.

Great platters of baked beans were placed on the table, flanked
by the lumps of pork that had seasoned them.  Fried pork, too,
was a "main-stay" on the bill-of-fare.  The deal table was graced
by no cloth or napery of any kind.  There were heaps of potatoes
and onions fried together, and golden cornbread with bowls of
white gravy to ladle over it.

After riding twenty-five miles through such a frosty air, Nan
would have had to possess a delicate appetite indeed not to enjoy
these viands.  She felt bashful because of the presence of so
many rough men; but they left her alone for the most part, and
she could listen and watch.

"Old Toby Vanderwiller tell you what Ged's been blowin' about,
Henry?" asked one of the men at the table, busy ladling beans
into his mouth with a knife, a feat that Nan thought must be
rather precarious, to say the least.

"Says he's going to jail me if I go on to the Perkins Tract,"
growled Uncle Henry, with whom the matter was doubtless a sore
subject.

"Yaas.  But he says more'n that," said this tale bearer.

"Oh, Ged says a whole lot besides his prayers," responded Uncle
Henry, good-naturedly.  Perhaps he saw they were trying to bait
him.

"Wal, 'tain't nothin' prayerful he's sayin'," drawled the first
speaker, after a gulp of coffee from his thick china cup.  "Some
of the boys at Beckett's, you know, they're a tough crowd, was
riggin' him about what you said to him down to the Forks, and Ged
spit out that he'd give a lump of money to see you on your back."

"Huh!" grunted Uncle Henry.

"And some of 'em took him up, got the old man right down to
cases."

"That so?" asked Mr. Sherwood curiously.  "What's Ged going to
do?  Challenge me to a game of cat's cradle?  Or does he want to
settle the business at draughts, three best out o' five?"

"Now you know dern well, Hen," said the other, as some of the
listeners laughed loudly at Mr. Sherwood's sally, "that old Ged
Raffer will never lock horns with you 'ceptin' it's in court,
where he'll have the full pertection of the law, and a grain the
best of it into the bargain."

"Well, I s'pose that's so," admitted Nan's uncle, rather
gloomily, she thought.

"So, if Beckett's crowd are int'rested in bumping you a whole
lot, you may be sure Ged's promised 'em real money for it."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Uncle Henry.  "You're fooling now.  He hasn't
hired any half-baked chip-eaters and Canucks to try and beat me
up?"

"I ain't foolin'."

"Pshaw!"

"You kin 'pshaw' till the cows come home," cried the other
heatedly.  "I got it straight."

"Who from?"

"Sim Barkis, him what's cookin' for Beckett's crew."

"Good man, Sim.  Never caught him in a lie yet.  You are
beginning to sound reasonable, Josh," and Mr. Sherwood put down
his knife and fork and looked shrewdly at his informant.  "Now
tell me," he said, "how much is Sim going to get for helping to
pay Ged Raffer's debts?"

"Har!" ejaculated the other man.  "You know Sim ain't that kind."

"All right, then.  How much does he say the gang's going to split
between 'em after they've done me up brown according to
contract?" scoffed Uncle Henry, and Nan realized that her giant
relative had not the least fear of not being able to meet any
number of enemies in the open.

"Sim come away before they got that far.  Of course Ged didn't
say right out in open meetin' that he'd give so many dollars for
your scalp.  But he got 'em all int'rested, and it wouldn't
surprise him, so Sim said, if on the quiet some of those plug-
uglies had agreed to do the job."

Nan shuddered, and had long since stopped eating.  But nobody
paid any attention to her at the moment.

Uncle Henry drawled: "They're going to do the hardest day's job
for the smallest pay that they ever did on this Michigan
Peninsula.  I'm much obliged to you, Josh, for telling me.  I
never go after trouble, as you fellows all know; but I sha'n't
try to dodge it, either."

He picked up his knife and fork and went quietly on with his
breakfast.  But Nan could not eat any more at all.

It seemed to the gently nurtured girl from Tillbury as though she
had fallen in with people from another globe.  Even the mill-
hands, whom Bess Harley so scorned, were not like these great,
rough fellows whose minds seemed continually to be fixed upon
battle.  At least, she had never seen or heard such talk as had
just now come to her ears.

The men began, one by one, to push back the benches and go out.
There was a great bustle of getting under way as the teams
started for the woods, and the choppers, too, went away.  Tom
hurried to start his big pair of dapple grays, and Nan was glad
to bundle up again and run out to watch the exodus.

They were a mighty crew.  As Uncle Henry had said, the Big Woods
did not breed runts.

Remembering the stunted, quick-moving, chattering French
Canadians, and the scattering of American-born employees among
them, who worked in the Tillbury mills, Nan was the more amazed
by the average size of these workmen.  The woodsmen were a race
of giants beside the narrow-shouldered, flat-chested pygmies who
toiled in the mills.

Tom strode by with his timber sled.  Rafe leaped on to ride and
Tom playfully snapped his whiplash at him.  Nan was glad to see
that the two brothers smiled again at each other.  Their recent
tiff seemed to be forgotten.

Some of the choppers had already gone on ahead to the part of the
tract where the marked trees were being felled.  Now the pluck,
pluck, pluck of the axe blows laid against the forest monarchs,
reached the girl's ears.  She thought the flat stuttering sound
of the axes said "pluck" very plainly, and that that was just the
word they should say.

"For it does take lots of pluck to do work of this kind," Nan
confided to her uncle, who walked up and down on the porch
smoking an after-breakfast pipe.

"Yes.  No softies allowed on the job," said he, cheerfully.
"Some of the boys may be rough and hard nuts to crack; but it is
necessary to have just such boys or we couldn't get out the
timber."

"But they want to fight so much!" gasped Nan.

"Sho!" said her uncle, slowly.  "It's mostly talk.  They feel the
itch for hard work and hard play, that's all.  You take lively,
full-muscled animals, and they are always bucking and quarreling
  trying to see which one is the best.  Take two young, fat
steers   they'll lock horns at the drop of a hat.  It's animal
spirits, Nan.  They feel that they've got to let off steam.
Where muscle and pluck count for what they do in the lumber
camps, there's bound to be more or less ructions."

Perhaps this might be; but Nan was dreadfully sorry,
nevertheless, that Uncle Henry had this trouble with Mr. Gedney
Raffer.  The girl feared that there had been something besides
"letting off steam" in the challenge her uncle had thrown down to
his enemy, or to the men that enemy could hire to attack him.

The timber sledges soon began to drift back, for some of the logs
had been cut before the big storm, and had only to be broken out
of the drifts and rolled upon the sleds with the aid of the men's
canthooks.  It was a mystery at first to Nan how they could get
three huge logs, some of them three feet in diameter at the butt,
on to the sled; two at the bottom and one rolled upon them, all
being fastened securely with the timber-chain and hook.

How the horses strained in their collars to start the mighty
load!  But once started, the runners slipped along easily enough,
even through the deep snow, packing the compressible stuff in one
passage as hard as ice.  Nan followed in this narrow track to the
very bank of the river where the logs were heaped in long
windrows, ready to be launched into the stream when the waters
should rise at the time of the spring freshet.

Tom managed his team alone, and unloaded alone, too.  It was
marvelous (so Nan thought) that her cousin could start the top
log with the great canthook, and guide it as it rolled off the
sled so that it should lie true with timbers that had been piled
before.  The strain of his work made him perspire as though it
were midsummer.  He thrust the calks on his bootsoles into the
log and the shreds of bark and small chips flew as he stamped to
get a secure footing for his work.  Then he heaved like a giant,
his shoulders humping under the blue jersey he wore, and finally
the log turned.  Once started, it was soon rolled into place.

Nan ran into the cook shed often to get warm.  Her uncle was busy
with the boss of the camp, so she had nobody but the cook and his
helper to speak to for a time.  Therefore it was loneliness that
made her start over the half-beaten trail for the spot where the
men were at work, without saying a word to anybody.

None of the teams had come by for some time; but she could hear
faintly the sound of the axes and the calling of the workmen to
each other and their sharp commands to the horses.

She went away from the camp a few hundred yards and then found
that the trail forked.  One path went down a little hill, and as
that seemed easy to descend, Nan followed it into a little
hollow.  It seemed only one sled had come this way and none of
the men were here.  The voices and axes sounded from higher up
the ridge.

Suddenly she heard something entirely different from the noise of
the woodsmen.  It was the snarling voice of a huge cat   and
almost instantly Nan sighted the creature which stood upon a
snow-covered rock beside the path.  It had tasseled ears, a wide,
wicked "smile," bristling whiskers, and fangs that really made
Nan tremble, although she was some yards from the bobcat.

As she believed, from what her cousins had told her, bobcats are
not usually dangerous.  They never seek trouble with man, save
under certain conditions; and that is when a mother cat has
kittens to defend.

This was a big female cat, and, although the season was early,
she had littered and her kittens, three of them, were bedded in a
heap of leaves blown by the wind into a hollow tree trunk.

The timberman driving through the hollow had not seen the bobcat
and her three blind babies; but he had roused the mother cat and
she was now all ready to spring at intruders.

That Nan was not the person guilty of disturbing her repose made
no difference to the big cat.  She saw the girl standing,
affrighted and trembling, in the path and with a ferocious yowl
and leap she crossed the intervening space and landed in the snow
within almost arm's reach of the fear-paralyzed girl.

Chapter XVI
"INJUN PETE"

Nan Sherwood could not cry out, though she tried.  She opened her
lips only to find her throat so constricted by fear that she
could not utter a sound.  Perhaps her sudden and utter paralysis
was of benefit at the moment, after all; for she could not
possibly have escaped the infuriated lynx by running.

The creature's own movements were hampered by the deep drift in
which she had landed.  The soft snow impeded the cat and,
snarling still, she whirled around and around like a pinwheel to
beat a firmer foundation from which to make her final spring at
her victim.

Nan, crouching, put her mittened hands before her face.  She saw
no chance for escape and could not bear to see the vicious beast
leap at her again.  "Momsey!  Papa Sherwood!" she thought, rather
than breathed aloud.

Then, down the hill toward her, plunged a swift body.  She rather
felt the new presence than saw it.  The cat yowled again, and
spit.  There was the impact of a clubbed gun upon the creature's
head.

"Sacre bleu!  Take zat!  And zat!" cried a sharp voice, between
the blows that fell so swiftly.  The animal's cries changed
instantly from rage to pain.  Nan opened her eyes in time to see
the maddened cat flee swiftly.  She bounded to the big tree and
scrambled up the trunk and out upon the first limb.  There she
crouched, over the place where her kittens were hidden, yowling
and licking her wounds.  There was blood upon her head and she
licked again and again a broken forefoot between her yowls of
rage and pain.

But Nan was more interested just then in the person who had flown
to her rescue so opportunely.  He was not one of the men from the
camp, or anybody whom she had ever seen before.

He was not a big man, but was evidently very strong and active.
His dress was of the most nondescript character, consisting
mainly of a tattered fur cap, with a woolen muffler tied over his
ears; a patched and parti-colored coat belted at the waist with a
frayed rope.  His legs disappeared into the wide tops of a pair
of boots evidently too big for him, with the feet bundled in
bagging so that he could walk on top of the snow, this in lieu
of regular snowshoes.

His back was toward Nan and he did not turn to face her as he
said:

"Be not afeared, leetle Man'zelle.  Le bad chat is gone.  We
shall now do famous-lee, eh?  No be afeared more."

"No, no, sir," gasped Nan, trying to be brave.  "Won't, won't
it come back?"

"Nev-air!" cried the man, with a flourish of the gun   which was
a rusty-barreled old weapon, perhaps more dangerous at the butt
end than at its muzzle.  "Ze chat only fear for her babies.  She
have zem in dat tree.  We will go past   leeving zem streectly
alone, eh?"

"No!" cried Nan hastily.  "I'm going back to the camp.  I didn't
know there were such dangerous things as that in these woods."

"Ah!  You are de strange leetle Mam'zelle den?" responded the
man.  "You do not know ze Beeg Woods?"

"I guess I don't know anything about this wilderness," confessed
Nan.  "My uncle brought me to the camp up yonder this morning,
and I hope he'll go right home again.  It's awful!"

"Eet seem terrifying to ze leetle Mam'zelle because she is unused
  eh?  Me!  I be terrified at ze beeg city where she come from,
p'r'aps.  Zey tell Pete 'bout waggings run wizout horses, like
stea'mill.  Ugh!  No wanter see dem.  Debbil in 'em," and he
laughed, not unpleasantly, making a small joke of the suggestion.

Indeed his voice, now that the sharpness of excitement had gone
out of it, was a very pleasant voice.  The broken words he used
assured Nan that his mother tongue must be French.  He was
probably one of the "Canucks" she had heard her cousins speak of.
French Canadians were not at all strange to Nan Sherwood, for in
Tillbury many of the mill hands were of that race.

But she thought it odd that this man kept his face studiously
turned from her.  Was he watching the bobcat all the time?  Was
the danger much more serious than he would own?

"Why don't you look at me?" cried the girl, at length.  "I'm
awfully much obliged to you for coming to help me as you did.
And my uncle will want to thank you I am sure.  Won't you tell me
your name?"

The man was silent for a moment.  Then, when he spoke, his voice
was lower and there was an indescribably sad note in it.

"Call me 'Injun Pete', zat me.  Everybody in de beeg Woods know
Injun Pete.  No odder name now.  Once ze good Brodders at Aramac
goin' make scholar of Pete, make heem priest, too, p'r'aps.  He
go teach among he's mudder's people.  Mudder Micmac, fadder wild
Frinchman come to dees lakeshore.  But nev-air can Pete be
Teacher, be priest.  Non, non!  Jes' Injun Pete."

Nan suddenly remembered what little Margaret Llewellen had said
about the fire at Pale Lick, and "Injun Pete."  The fact that
this man kept his face turned from her all this time aroused her
suspicion.  She was deeply, deeply grateful to him for what he
had just done for her, and, naturally, she enlarged in her mind
the peril in which she had been placed.

Margaret had suggested this unfortunate half-breed was "not right
in his head" because of the fire which had disfigured him.  But
he spoke very sensibly now, it seemed to Nan; very pitifully,
too, about his blasted hopes of a clerical career.  She said,
quietly:

"I expect you know my uncle and his family, Pete.  He is Mr.
Sherwood of Pine Camp."

"Ah!  Mis-tair Hen Sherwood!  I know heem well," admitted the
man.  "He nice-a man   ver' kind to Injun Pete."

"I'd like to have you look at me, please," said Nan, still
softly.  "You see, I want to know you again if we meet.  I am
very grateful."

Pete waved her thanks aside with a royal gesture.  "Me!  I be
glad to be of use, oh, oui!  Leetle Man'zelle mus' not make
mooch of nottin', eh?"

He laughed again, but he did not turn to look at her.  Nan
reached out a tentative hand and touched his sleeve.  "Please,
Mr. Pete," she said.  "I, I want to see you.  I, I have heard
something about your having been hurt in a fire.  I am sure you
must think yourself a more hateful sight than you really are."

A sob seemed to rise in the man's throat, and his shoulders
shook.  He turned slowly and looked at her for a moment over his
shoulder.  Then he went swiftly away across the snow (for the
bobcat had disappeared into her lair) and Nan stumbled back up
the trail toward the camp, the tears blinding her own eyes.

The disfigured face of the half-breed HAD been a shock to her.
She could never speak of it afterward.  Indeed, she could not
tell Uncle Henry about her meeting with the lynx, and her rescue
  she shrank so from recalling Injun Pete's disfigured face.

Chapter XVII
SPRING IN THE BIG WOODS

That visit to the lumber camp was memorable for Nan Sherwood in
more ways than one.  Her adventure with the lynx she kept secret
from her relatives, because of the reason given in the previous
chapter.  But there was another incident that marked the occasion
to the girl's mind, and that was the threat of Gedney Raffer,
reported to her Uncle Henry.

Nan thought that such a bad man as Raffer appeared to be would
undoubtedly carry out his threat.  He had offered money to have
Mr. Sherwood beaten up, and the ruffians he had bribed would
doubtless be only too eager to earn the reward.

To tell the truth, for weeks thereafter, Nan never saw a rough-
looking man approach the house on the outskirts of Pine Camp,
without fearing that here was coming a ruffian bent on her
uncle's injury.

That Uncle Henry seemed quite to have forgotten the threat only
made Nan more keenly alive to his danger.  She dared not discuss
the matter with Aunt Kate, for Nan feared to worry that good
woman unnecessarily.  Besides, having been used to hiding from
her own mother all unpleasant things, the girl naturally
displayed the same thoughtfulness for Aunt Kate.

For, despite Mrs. Henry Sherwood's bruskness and masculine
appearance, Nan learned that there were certain matters over
which her aunt showed extreme nervousness.

For instance, she was very careful of the lamps used in the house
  she insisted upon cleaning and caring for them herself; she
would not allow a candle to be used, because it might be
overturned; and she saw to it herself that every fire, even the
one in Nan's bedroom, was properly banked before the family
retired at night.

Nan had always in mind what Uncle Henry said about mentioning
fire to Aunt Kate; so the curious young girl kept her lips closed
upon the subject.  But she certainly was desirous of knowing
about that fire, so long ago, at Pale Lick, how it came about;
if Aunt Kate had really got her great scar there; and if it was
really true that two members of her uncle's family had met their
death in the conflagration.

She tried not to think at all of Injun Pete.  That was too
terrible!

With all her heart, Nan wished she might do something that would
really help Uncle Henry solve his problem regarding the timber
rights on the Perkins Tract.  The very judge who had granted the
injunction forbidding Mr. Sherwood to cut timber on the tract was
related to the present owners of the piece of timberland; and the
tract had been the basis of a feud in the Perkins family for two
generations.

Many people were more or less interested in the case and they
came to the Sherwood home and talked excitedly about it in the
big kitchen.  Some advised an utter disregard of the law.  Others
were evidently minded to increase the trouble between Raffer and
Uncle Henry by malicious tale-bearing.

Often Nan thought of what Uncle Henry had said to old Toby
Vanderwiller.  She learned that Toby was one of the oldest
settlers in this part of the Michigan Peninsula, and in his youth
had been a timber runner, that is, a man who by following the
surveyors' lines on a piece of timber, and weaving back and forth
across it, can judge its market value so nearly right that his
employer, the prospective timber merchant, is able to bid
intelligently for the so-called "stumpage" on the tract.

Toby was still a vigorous man save when that bane of the
woodsman, rheumatism, laid him by the heels.  He had a bit of a
farm in the tamarack swamp.  Once, being laid up by his arch
enemy, with his joints stiffened and muscles throbbing with pain,
Toby had seen the gaunt wolf of starvation, more terrible than
any timber wolf, waiting at his doorstone.  His old wife and a
crippled grandson were dependent on Toby, too.

Thus in desperate straits Toby Vanderwiller had accepted help
from Gedney Raffer.  It was a pitifully small sum Raffer would
advance upon the little farm; but it was sufficient to put Toby
in the usurer's power.  This was the story Nan learned regarding
Toby.  And Uncle Henry believed that Toby, with his old-time
knowledge of land-boundaries, could tell, if he would, which was
right in the present contention between Mr. Sherwood and Gedney
Raffer.

These, and many other subjects of thought, kept the mind of Nan
Sherwood occupied during the first few weeks of her sojourn at
Pine Camp.  She had, too, to keep up her diary that she had begun
for Bess Harley's particular benefit.  Every week she sent off to
Tillbury a bulky section of this report of her life in the Big
woods.  It was quite wonderful how much there proved to be to
write about.  Bess wrote back, enviously, that never did anything
interesting, by any possibility, happen, now that Nan was away
from Tillbury.  The town was "as dull as ditch water."  She,
Bess, lived only in hopes of meeting her chum at Lakeview Hall
the next September.

This hope Nan shared.  But it all lay with the result of Momsey's
and Papa Sherwood's visit to Scotland and Emberon Castle.  And,
Nan thought, it seemed as though her parents never would even
reach that far distant goal.

They had taken a slow ship for Momsey's benefit and the expected
re-telegraphed cablegram was looked for at the Forks for a week
before it possibly could come.

It was a gala day marked on Nan's calendar when Uncle Henry,
coming home from the railroad station behind the roan ponies,
called to her to come out and get the message.  Momsey and Papa
Sherwood had sent it from Glasgow, and were on their way to
Edinburgh before Nan received the word.  Momsey had been very ill
a part of the way across the ocean, but went ashore in improved
health.

Nan was indeed happy at this juncture.  Her parents were safely
over their voyage on the wintry ocean, so a part of her worry of
mind was lifted.

Meanwhile spring was stealing upon Pine Camp without Nan's being
really aware of the fact.  Uncle Henry had said, back in Chicago,
that "the back of winter was broken"; but the extreme cold
weather and the deep snow she had found in the Big Woods made Nan
forget that March was passing and timid April was treading on his
heels.

A rain lasting two days and a night washed the roads of snow and
turned the fast disappearing drifts to a dirty yellow hue.  In
sheltered fence corners and nooks in the wood, the grass lifted
new, green blades, and queer little Margaret Llewellen showed Nan
where the first anemones and violets hid under last year's
drifted leaves.

The river ice went out with a rush after it had rained a few
hours; after that the "drives" of logs were soon started.  Nan
went down to the long, high bridge which spanned the river and
watched the flood carry the logs through.

At first they came scatteringly, riding the foaming waves end-on,
and sometimes colliding with the stone piers of the bridge with
sufficient force to split the unhewn timbers from end to end,
some being laid open as neatly as though done with axe and wedge.

When the main body of the drive arrived, however, the logs were
like herded cattle, milling in the eddies, stampeded by a cross-
current, bunching under the bridge arches like frightened steers
in a chute.  And the drivers herded the logs with all the skill
of cowboys on the range.

Each drive was attended by its own crew, who guarded the logs on
either bank, launching those that shoaled on the numerous
sandbars or in the shallows, keeping them from piling up in coves
and in the mouths of estuaries, or creeks, some going ahead at
the bends to fend off and break up any formation of the drifting
timbers that promised to become a jam.

Behind the drive floated the square bowed and square sterned
chuck-boat, which carried cook and provisions for the men.  A
"boom", logs chained together, end to end, was thrown out from
one shore of the wide stream at night, and anchored at its outer
end.  Behind this the logs were gathered in an orderly, compact
mass and the men could generally get their sleep, save for the
watchman; unless there came a sudden rise of water in the night.

It was a sight long to be remembered, Nan thought, when the boom
was broken in the morning.  Sometimes an increasing current piled
the logs up a good bit.  It was a fear-compelling view the girl
had of the river on one day when she went with Uncle Henry to see
the first drive from Blackton's camp.  Tom was coming home with
his team and was not engaged in the drive.  But reckless Rafe was
considered, for his age, a very smart hand on a log drive.

The river had risen two feet at the Pine Camp bridge overnight.
It was a boiling brown flood, covered with drifting foam and
debris.  The roar of the freshet awoke Nan in her bed before
daybreak.  So she was not surprised to see the river in such a
turmoil when, afer a hasty breakfast, she and Uncle Henry walked
beside the flood.

"They started their drive last night," Uncle Henry said, "and
boomed her just below the campsite.  We'll go up to Dead Man's
Bend and watch her come down.  There is no other drive betwixt us
and Blackton's."

"Why is it called by such a horrid name, Uncle?" asked Nan.

"What, honey?" he responded.

"That bend in the river."

"Why, I don't know rightly, honey-bird.  She's just called that.
Many a man's lost his life there since I came into this part of
the country, that's a fact.  It's a dangerous place," and Nan
knew by the look on her uncle's face that he was worried.

Chapter XVIII
AT DEAD MAN'S BEND

Nan and her uncle came out on the bluff that overlooked the sharp
bend which hid the upper reaches of the river from Pine Camp.
Across the stream, almost from bank to bank, a string of gravel
flats made a barrier that all the rivermen feared.

Blackton was no careless manager, and he had a good foreman in
Tim Turner.  The big boss had ridden down to the bend in a mud-
splashed buggy, and was even prepared to take a personal hand in
the work, if need be.  The foreman was coming down the river bank
on the Pine Camp side of the stream, watching the leading logs of
the drive, and directing the foreguard.  Among the latter Nan
spied Rafe.

"There he is, Uncle!" she cried.  "Oh!  He's jumped out on that
log, see?"

"He's all right, girl, he's all right," said Uncle Henry
comfortingly.  "Rafe's got good calks on his boots."

The boy sprang from log to log, the calks making the chips fly,
and with a canthook pushed off a log that had caught and swung
upon a small bank.  He did it very cleverly, and was back again,
across the bucking logs, in half a minute.

Below, the foreman himself was making for a grounded log, one of
the first of the drive.  It had caught upon some snag, and was
swinging broadside out, into the stream.  Let two or three more
timbers catch with it and there would be the nucleus of a jam
that might result in much trouble for everybody.

Tim Turner leaped spaces of eight and ten feet between the logs,
landing secure and safe upon the stranded log at last.  With the
heavy canthook he tried to start it.

"That's a good man, Tim Turner," said Mr. "Sherwood, heartily.
"He's worked for me, isn't afraid of anything, Ha!  But that's
wrong!" he suddenly exclaimed.

Turner had failed to start the stranded log.  Other logs were
hurtling down the foam-streaked river, aimed directly for the
stranded one.  They would begin to pile up in a heap in a minute.
The foreman leaped to another log, turning as he did so to face
the shore.  That was when Uncle Henry declared him wrong.

Turner was swinging his free arm, and above the roar of the river
and the thunder of the grinding and smashing logs they could hear
him shouting for somebody to bring him an axe.  One of his men
leaped to obey.  Nan and Mr. Sherwood did not notice just then
who this second man was who put himself in jeopardy, for both had
their gaze on the foreman and that which menaced him.

Shooting across on a slant was a huge log, all of three feet
through at the butt, and it was aimed for the timber on which
Turner stood.  He did not see it.  Smaller logs were already
piling against the timber he had left, and had he leaped back to
the stranded one he would have been comparatively safe.

Mr. Sherwood was quick to act in such an emergency as this; but
he was too far from the spot to give practical aid in saving
Turner from the result of his own heedlessness.  He made a horn
of his two hands and shouted to the foreguard at the foot of the
bluff:

"He's going into the water!  Launch Fred Durgin's boat below the
bend!  Get her! Quick, there!"

Old riverman that he was, Uncle Henry was pretty sure of what was
about to happen.  The huge log came tearing on, butt first, a
wave of troubled water split by its on-rush.  Turner was watching
the person bringing him the axe, and never once threw a glance
over his shoulder.

Suddenly Nan cried out and seized Uncle Henry's arm.  "Look!  Oh,
Uncle!  It's Rafe!" she gasped, pointing.

"Aye, I know it," said her uncle, wonderfully cool, Nan thought,
and casting a single glance at the figure flying over the bucking
logs toward the endangered foreman.  "He'll do what he can."

Nan could not take her eyes from her cousin after that.  It
seemed to be a race between Rafe and the charging log, to see
which should first reach the foreman.  Rafe, reckless and
harebrained as he was, flew over the logs as sure-footed as a
goat.  Nan felt faint.  Her cousin's peril seemed far greater to
her than that of the foreman.

A step might plunge Rafe into the foaming stream!  When a log
rolled under him she cried out under her breath and clamped her
teeth down on to her lower lip until the blood almost came.

"He'll be killed!  He'll be killed!" she kept repeating in her
own mind.  But Uncle Henry stood like a rock and seemingly gave
no more attention to his son than he did to Turner, or to the men
running down the bank to seize upon and launch the heavy boat.

Rafe was suddenly balked and had to stop.  Too great a stretch of
water separated him from the next floating log.  Turner beckoned
him on.  It was difficult to make the foreman hear above the
noise of the water and the continual grinding of the logs, but
Rafe yelled some warning and pointed toward the timber now almost
upon Turner's foothold.

The man shot a glance behind him.  The butt of the driving log
rose suddenly into the air as though it would crush him.

Turner leaped to the far end of the log on which he stood.  But
too great a distance separated him from the log on which Rafe had
secured a foothold.

Crash!

Nan heard, on top of the bluff, the impact of the great timber as
it was flung by the current across the smaller log.  Turner shot
into the air as though he were flung from a catapult.  But he was
not flung in Rafe's direction, and the boy could not help him.

He plunged into the racing stream and disappeared.  The huge
timber rode over the smaller log and buried it from sight.  But
its tail swung around and the great log was headed straight down
the river again.

As its smaller end swung near, Rafe leaped for it and secured a
footing on the rolling, plunging log.  How he kept his feet under
him Nan could not imagine.  A bareback rider in a circus never
had such work as this.  Rafe rode his wooden horse in masterly
style.

There, ahead of him in the boiling flood, an arm and head
appeared.  Turner came to the surface with his senses unimpaired
and he strove to clutch the nearest log.  But the stick slipped
away from him.

Rafe ran forward on the plunging timber he now rode   the huge
stick that had made all the trouble, and tried to reach the man
in the water.  No use!

Of course, there was no way for Rafe to guide his log toward the
drowning man.  Nor did he have anything to reach out for Turner
to grasp.  The axe handle was not long enough, and the foreman's
canthook had disappeared.

Below, the men were struggling to get the big boat out from under
the bank into the stream.  Two of them stood up with their
canthooks to fend off the drifting logs; the others plied the
heavy oars.

But the boat was too far from the man in the river.  He was
menaced on all sides by plunging logs.  He barely escaped one to
be grazed on the shoulder by another.  A third pressed him under
the surface again; but as he went down this second time, Rafe
Sherwood threw away his axe and leaped into the flood!

Chapter XIX
OLD TOBY VANDERWILLER

Nan was sure her Cousin Rafe would be drowned, as well as his
foreman.  She covered her eyes for a moment, and could not look.

Then a great cheer arose from the men in the boat and those still
remaining on the bank of the river.  Her uncle, beside her,
muttered:

"Plucky boy!  Plucky boy!"

Her eyes flew open and she looked again.  In the midst of the
scattering foam she saw a small log over which her cousin had
flung his left arm; his other arm was around the foreman, and
Rafe was bearing his head above water.  Turner had been struck
and rendered senseless by the blow.

The small log slipped through a race between two shallows, ahead
of the greater timber.  The latter indeed grounded for a moment
and that gave the victim of the accident and his rescuer a chance
for life.

They shot ahead with the log to which Rafe clung.  The men in the
boat shouted encouragement, and rowed harder.  In a minute the
boat came alongside the log and two of the rivermen grabbed the
boy and the unconscious foreman.  They had them safely in the
boat, and the boat was at the shore again in three minutes.

By that time the big boss himself, Mr. Blackton, was tearing out
over the logs from the other shore, axe in hand, to cut the key
log of the jam, the formation of which Turner had tried to
prevent.  A hundred logs had piled up against the stoppage by
this time and there promised to be a bad time at the bend if
every one did not work quickly.

Before Nan and her uncle could reach the foot of the bluff,
Turner had regained consciousness and was sitting on a stranded
log, holding his head.  Rafe, just as he had come out of the
river, was out on the logs again lending a hand at the work so
necessary to the success of the drive.

"Oh, dear me!" cried Nan, referring to her cousin, "he ought to
go home and change his clothes.  He'll get his death of cold."

"He'll work hard enough for the next hour to overcome the shock
of the cold water.  It's lucky if he isn't in again before they
get that trouble over," responded Uncle Henry.  Then he added,
proudly: "That's the kind of boys we raise in the Big Woods,
Nannie.  Maybe they are rough-spoken and aren't really parlor-
broke, but you can depend on 'em to do something when there's
anything to do!"

"Oh, Uncle!" cried the girl.  "I think Rafe is just the bravest
boy I ever saw.  But I should think Aunt Kate would be scared
every hour he is away from home, he is so reckless."

She was very proud herself of Rafe and wrote Bess a lot about
him.  Slow Tom did not figure much in Nan Sherwood's letters, or
in her thoughts, about this time.  Thoughts and letters were
filled with handsome Rafe.

It was while the Blackton drive was near Pine Camp that Nan
became personally acquainted with old Toby Vanderwiller.  It was
after dinner that day that she met Margaret and Bob Llewellen and
the three went down to the river bank, below the bridge, to watch
the last of the Blackton drive.

The chuck-boat had pushed off into the rough current and was
bobbing about in the wake of the logs; but all the men had not
departed.

"That's old Toby," said Bob, a black-haired boy, full of
mischief.  "He don't see us.  Le's creep up and scare him."

"No," said Nan, decidedly; "don't you dare!"

"Aw, shucks!  Girls ain't no fun," the boy growled.  "Mag's bad
enough, but you air wuss'n she, Nan Sherwood.  What's old Toby to
you?  He's allus as cross as two sticks, anyway."

"We won't make him any crosser," said Nan, laughing.  "What's the
good?"

Nan saw that the old man had his coat off, and had slipped down
the right sleeve of his woolen shirt to bare his shoulder and
upper right arm.  He was clumsily trying to bandage the arm.

"He's got hurt," Nan cried to Margaret.  "I wonder how?"

"Dunno," returned the smaller girl, carelessly.  Although she was
not mischievous like her brother, Margaret seldom showed traits
of tenderness or affection.  Nan was in some doubt as to whether
the strange girl liked her.  Margaret often patted Nan's cheeks
and admired her smooth skin; but she never expressed any real
affection.  She was positively the oddest little piece of
humanity Nan had ever met.

Once Nan asked her if she had a doll.  "Doll?" snarled Margaret
with surprising energy.  "A'nt Matildy give me one once't an' I
throwed it as far as I could inter the river, so I did!  Nasty
thing!  Its face was all painted and rough."

Nan could only gasp.  Drown a doll-baby!  Big girl as she
considered herself, she had a very tender spot in her heart for
doll-babies.

Margaret Llewellen only liked people with fair faces and smooth
complexions; she could not possibly be interested in old Toby
Vanderwiller, who seemed always to need a shave, and whose face,
like that of Margaret's grandfather, was "wizzled."

Nan ran down to him and asked:  "Can't I help you, Mr.
Vanderwiller?  Did you get badly hurt?"

"Hullo!" grunted Toby.  "Ain't you Hen Sherwood's gal?"

"I'm his niece," she told him.  "Can I help?"

"Well, I dunno.  "I got a wallop from one o' them logs when we
was breakin' that jam, and it's scraped the skin off me arm----"

"Let me see," cried Nan, earnestly.  "Oh!  Mr. Vanderwiller!
That must be painful.  Haven't you anything to put on it?"

"Nothin' but this rag," grunted Toby, drily.  "An' ye needn't
call me 'Mister,' Sissy.  I ain't useter bein' addressed that
way."

Nan laughed; but she quickly washed the scraped patch on the old
man's arm with clean water and then bound her own handkerchief
over the abrasion under the rather doubtful rag that Toby himself
supplied.

"You're sure handy, Sissy," he said, rising and allowing her to
help him into the shirt again and on with his coat.  "Now I'll
hafter toddle along or Tim will give me a call-down.  Much
obleeged.  If ye get inter the tam'rack swamp, come dry-foot
weather, stop and see me an' my old woman."

"Oh!  I'd love to, Mr. Vanderwiller," Nan cried.  "The swamp must
be full of just lovely flowers now."

The old man's face wrinkled into a smile, the first she had seen
upon it.  Really!  He was not a bad looking man, after all.

"You fond of posies, sissy?" he asked.

"Indeed I am!" she cried.

"There's a-plenty in the swamp," he told her.  "And no end of
ferns and sich.  You come see us and my old woman'll show ye.
She's a master hand at huntin' up all kind o' weeds  I tell her."

"I'll surely come, when the weather gets warmer," Nan called
after Toby as the old man dogtrotted down the bank of the river.
But he did not answer and was quickly out of sight.

Chapter XX
NAN'S SECRET

But Margaret Llewellen declared she would not go with her!

"It's nasty in the Tam'rack swamp; and there's frogs and, and
snakes.  Ketch me!  And as fur goin' ter see Tobe and his old
woman, huh!  They're both as ugly as sin."

"Why, Margaret!" exclaimed Nan, in horror.  "How you talk!"

"Wal, it's so.  I don't like old, wizzled-up folks, I don't, now
I tell ye!"

"That sounds awfully cruel," said Nan, soberly.

"Huh!" snorted Margaret, no other word would just express her
manner of showing disgust.  "There ain't no reason why I should
go 'round makin' believe likin' them as I don't like.  Dad useter
take the hide off'n me and Bob for lyin'; an' then he'd stand an'
palaver folks that he jest couldn't scurce abide, fur I heard
him say so.  That's lyin', too   ain't it?"

"I, I don't believe it is right to criticize our parents,"
returned Nan, dodging the sharp girl's question.

"Mebbe yourn don't need criticizin', responded Margaret, bluntly.
"My dad ain't no angel, you kin bet."

And it was a fact that the Llewellen family was a peculiar one,
from "Gran'ther" down to Baby Bill, whom Margaret did not mind
taking care of when he was not "all broke out with the rash on
his face."  The girl's dislike for any countenance that was not
of the smoothest, or skin of the softest texture, seemed strange
indeed.

Margaret's mother was dead.  She had five brothers and sisters of
assorted ages, up to 'Lonzo, who was sixteen and worked in the
woods like Nan's cousins.

Aunt Matilda kept house for the motherless brood, and for
Gran'ther and Mr. Fen Llewellen.  They lived in a most haphazard
fashion, for, although they were not really poor, the children
never seemed to have any decent clothing to wear; and if, by
chance, they got a new garment, something always happened to it
as, for instance, the taking of Margaret's new gingham by Bob as
a dress for old Beagle.

As the Llewellens were close neighbors of the Sherwoods, Nan saw
much of Margaret.  The local school closed soon after the visitor
had come to Pine Camp, and Nan had little opportunity of getting
acquainted with other girls, save at the church service, which
was held in the schoolhouse only every other Sunday.  There was
no Sunday School at Pine Camp, even for the very youngest of the
children.

Nan talked to Aunt Kate about that.  Aunt Kate was the very
kindest-hearted woman that ever lived; but she had little
initiative herself about anything outside her own house.
"Goodness knows, I'd like to see the kiddies gathered together on
Sunday afternoon and taught good things," she signed; "but lawsy,
Nan!  I'm not the one to do it.  I'm not good enough myself."

"Didn't you teach Tom and Rafe, and   and  " Nan stopped.  She
had almost mentioned the two older boys of her aunt's, whom she
had heard were destroyed in the Pale Lick fire.  Aunt Kate did
not notice, for she went on to say:

"Why -  yes; I taught Tom and Rafe to say their prayers, and I
hope they say 'em now, big as they are.  And we often read the
Bible.  It's a great comfort, the main part of it.  I never did
take to the 'begats,' though."

"But couldn't we," suggested Nan, "interest other people and
gather the children together on Sundays?  Perhaps the old
gentleman who comes here to preach every fortnight might help."

"Elder Posey's not here but three hours or so, any time.  Just
long enough to give us the word and grab a bite at somebody's
house.  Poor old man!  He attends three meetings each Sunday,
all different, and lives on a farm at Wingate weekdays where he
has to work and support his family.

"He doesn't get but fifty dollars a year from each church, it's
not making him a millionaire very fast," pursued Aunt Kate, with
a soft little laugh.  "Poor old man!  I wish we could pay him
more; but Pine Camp's not rich."

"You all seem to have enough and to spare, Auntie," said Nan, who
was an observant girl for her age.  "Nobody here is really poor."

"Not unless he's right down lazy," said her aunt, vigorously.

"Then I should think they'd build a proper church and give a
minister some more money, so that he could afford to have a
Sunday School as well."

"Lawsy me, Nan!" exclaimed her aunt.  "The men here in Pine Camp
haven't been woke up to such things.  They hate to spend that
fifty dollars for Elder Posey, they'd get a cheaper man if there
were such.  There's never been much out of the common happen here
at Pine Camp.  It takes trouble and destruction to wake folks up
to their Christian duty in these woods.  Now, at Pale Lick
they've got a church-----"

She stopped suddenly, and her face paled, while the ugly scar on
her neck seemed to glow; but that may have been only in contrast.
Aunt Kate turned away her head, and finally arose and went into
her own room and closed the door.  Nan dared not continue the
subject when the good woman came out again, and the talk of a
Sunday School for Pine Camp, for the time being, was ended.

There were hours when the girl from Tillbury was very lonely
indeed.  Writing to Bess and other girl friends in her old home
town and penning long letters on thin paper to Momsey and Papa
Sherwood in Scotland, did not fill all of these hours when Nan
shut herself into that east room.

Sometimes she pulled down the paper shades and opened the clothes
closet door, bringing out the long box she had hidden away there
on the first day she had come to Pine Camp.  In that box, wrapped
in soft tissue paper, and dressed in the loveliest gown made by
Momsey's own skillful fingers, was the great doll that had been
given to Nan on her tenth birthday.

When girls went to high school, of course they were supposed to
put away dolls, together with other childish things.  But Nan
Sherwood never could neglect her doll-babies and had often spent
whole rainy days playing with them in secret in the attic of the
little house on Amity Street.

Her other dolls had been left, carefully wrapped and shielded
from the mice, at Tillbury; but Nan had been unable to leave
Beautiful Beulah behind.  She packed her in the bottom of her
trunk, unknown even to Momsey in the hurry of departure.  She had
not told a soul here at Pine Camp that she possessed a doll; she
knew the boys would make fun of her for sure.

But she often sat behind the drawn shades nursing the big doll
and crooning softly to it as she swung back and forth in the
spring rocking-chair.  Tom had oiled the springs for her so that
it no longer creaked.

She did not confide even in Aunt Kate about the big doll.  They
were all very kind to her; but Nan had a feeling that she ought
to be grown up here among her backwoods relatives.  How could she
ever face roguish Rafe if he knew she liked to "play dolls?"

Fearing that even Margaret would tell, Nan had never shown the
woods girl Beautiful Beulah.  Once she was afraid Margaret had
come to the window to peep in when Nan had the doll out of her
hiding place; but she was not sure, and Nan hoped her secret was
still inviolate.  At least, Margaret never said a word about it.

Margaret's sisters had dolls made of corncobs, and rag babies
with painted faces like the one Margaret had thrown into the
river and drowned; but Margaret turned up her nose at them all.
She never seemed to want to "play house" as do most girls of her
age.  She preferred to run wild, like a colt, with Bob in the
woods and swamp.

Margaret did not wish to go into the swamp with Nan, however, on
her first visit to Toby Vanderwiller's little farm.  This was
some weeks after the log drives, and lumbering was over for the
season.  Uncle Henry and the boys, rather than be idle, were
working every acre they owned, and Nan was more alone than she
had ever been since coming to Pine Camp.

She had learned the way to Toby's place, the main trail through
the swamp going right by the hummock on which the old man's farm
was situated.  She knew there was a corduroy road most of the way
  that is, a road built of logs laid side by side directly over
the miry ground.  Save in very wet weather this road was passable
for most vehicles.

The distance was but three miles, however, and Nan liked walking.
Besides, nobody who has not seen a tamarack swamp in late spring
or early summer, can ever imagine how beautiful it is.  Nan never
missed human companionship when she was on the long walks she so
often took in the woods.

She had learned now that, despite her adventure with the lynx in
the snow-drifted hollow, there was scarcely any animal to fear
about Pine Camp.  Bears had not been seen for years; bobcats were
very infrequently met with and usually ran like scared rabbits;
foxes were of course shy, and the nearest approach to a wolf in
all that section was Toby Vanderwiller's wolfhound that had once
frightened Nan so greatly.

Hares, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and many, many birds,
peopled the forest and swamp.  In sunken places where the green
water stood and steamed in the sun, turtles and frogs were
plentiful; and occasionally a snake, as harmless as it was
wicked looking, slid off a water-soaked log at Nan's approach
and slipped under the oily surface of the pool.

On the day Nan walked to Toby's place the first time, she saw
many wonders of plant life along the way, exotics clinging to
rotten logs and stumps; fronds of delicate vines that she had
never before heard of; ferns of exquisite beauty.  And flashing
over them, and sucking honey from every cuplike flower, were
shimmering humming-birds and marvelously marked butterflies.

The birds screamed or sang or chattered over the girl's head as
she tripped along.  Squirrels peeped at her, barked, and then
whisked their tails in rapid flight.  Through the cool, dark
depths where the forest monarchs had been untouched by the
woodsmen, great moths winged their lazy flight.  Nan knew not
half of the creatures or the wonderful plants she saw.

There were sounds in the deeps of the swamplands that she did not
recognize, either.  Some she supposed must be the voices of huge
frogs; other notes were bird-calls that she had never heard
before.  But suddenly, as she approached a turn in the corduroy
road, her ear was smitten by a sound that she knew very well
indeed.

It was a man's voice, and it was not a pleasant one.  It caused
Nan to halt and look about for some place to hide until the owner
of the voice went by.  She feared him because of his harsh tones,
though she did not, at the moment, suspect who it was.

Then suddenly she heard plainly a single phrase: "I'd give money,
I tell ye, to see Hen Sherwood git his!"

Chapter XXI
IN THE TAMARACK SWAMP

The harsh tone of the unseen man terrified Nan Sherwood; but the
words he spoke about her Uncle Henry inspired her to creep nearer
that she might see who it was, and hear more.  The fact that she
was eavesdropping did not deter the girl.

She believed her uncle's life to be in peril!

The dampness between the logs of the roadway oozed up in little
pools and steamed in the hot blaze of the afternoon sun.  Insects
buzzed and hummed, so innumerable that the chorus of their voices
was like the rumble of a great church-organ.

Nan stepped from the road and pushed aside the thick underbrush
to find a dry spot to place her foot.  The gnats danced before
her and buzzed in her ears.  She brushed them aside and so pushed
on until she could see the road again.  A lean, yellow horse,
tackled to the shafts of a broken top-buggy with bits of rope as
well as worn straps, stood in the roadway.  The man on the seat,
talking to another on the ground, was Mr. Gedney Raffer, the
timberman who was contending at law with Uncle Henry.

It was he who had said: "I'd give money, I tell ye, to see Hen
Sherwood git his."

There had fallen a silence, but just as Nan recognized the mean
looking old man on the carriage seat, she heard the second man
speak from the other side of the buggy.

"I tell you like I done Hen himself, Ged; I don't wanter be mixed
up in no land squabble.  I ain't for neither side."

It was Toby.  Nan knew his voice, and she remembered how he had
answered Uncle Henry at the lumber camp, the first day she had
seen the old lumberman.  Nan could not doubt that the two men
were discussing the argument over the boundary of the Perkins
Tract.

Gedney Raffer snarled out an imprecation when old Toby had
replied as above.  "Ef you know which side of your bread the
butter's on, you'll side with me," he said.

"We don't often have butter on our bread, an' I ain't goin' ter
side with nobody," grumbled Toby Vanderwiller.

"S-s!" hissed Raffer.  "Come here!"

Toby stepped closer to the rattletrap carriage.  "You see your
way to goin' inter court an' talkin' right, and you won't lose
nothin' by it, Tobe."

"Huh?  Only my self-respect, I s'pose," grunted the old
lumberman, and Nan approved very much of him just then.

"Bah!" exclaimed Raffer.

"Bah, yourself!" Toby Vanderwiller returned with some heat.  "I
got some decency left, I hope.  I ain't goin' to lie for you, nor
no other man, Ged Raffer!"

"Say!  Would it be lyin' ef you witnessed on my side?" demanded
the eager Raffer.

"That's my secret," snapped the old lumberman.  "If I don't
witness for you, be glad I don't harm you."

"You dare!" cried Raffer, shaking his fist at the other as he
leaned from the buggy seat.

"You hearn me say I wouldn't go inter court one way or 'tother,"
repeated Toby, gloomily.

"Wal," snarled Raffer, "see't ye don't   see't ye don't.
'Specially for any man but me.  Ye 'member what I told ye, Tobe.
Money's tight and I oughter call in that loan."

Toby was silent for half a minute.  Then Nan heard him sigh.

"Well, Ged," he observed, "it's up to you.  If you take the place
it'll be the poorhouse for that unforchunit boy of mine and mebbe
for the ol' woman, 'specially if I can't strike a job for next
winter.  These here lumber bosses begin to think I'm too stiff in
the j'ints."

"Wal, wal!" snarled Raffer. "I can't help it.  How d'ye expec' I
kin help you ef you won't help me?"

He clucked to the old horse, which awoke out of its drowse with a
start, and moved on sluggishly.  Toby stood in the road and
watched him depart.  Nan thought the old lumberman's to be the
most sorrowful figure she had ever seen.

Her young heart beat hotly against the meanness and injustice of
Gedney Raffer.  He had practically threatened Toby with
foreclosure on his little farm if the old lumberman would not
help him in his contention with Mr. Sherwood.  On the other hand,
Uncle Henry desired his help; but Uncle Henry, Nan knew, would
not try to bribe the old lumberman.  Under these distressing
circumstances, which antagonist's interests was Toby Vanderwiller
likely to serve?

This query vastly disturbed Nan Sherwood.  All along she had
desired much to help Uncle Henry solve his big problem.  The
courts would not allow him to cut a stick of timber on the
Perkins Tract until a resurvey of the line was made by
government-appointed surveyors, and that would be, when?

Uncle Henry's money was tied up in the stumpage lease, or first
payment to the owners of the land.  It was a big contract and he
had expected to pay his help and further royalties on the lease,
from the sale of the timber he cut on the tract.  Besides, many
valuable trees had been felled before the injunction was served,
and lay rotting on the ground.  Every month they lay there
decreased their value.

And now, it appeared, Gedney Raffer was doing all in his power to
influence old Toby to serve as a witness in his, Raffer's,
interests.

Had toby been willing to go into court and swear that the line of
the Perkins Tract was as Mr. Sherwood claimed, the court would
have to vacate the injunction and Uncle Henry could risk going
ahead and cutting and hauling timber from the tract.  Uncle Henry
believed Toby knew exactly where the line lay, for he had been a
landloper, or timber-runner in this vicinity when the original
survey was made, forty-odd years before.

It was plain to Nan, hiding in the bushes and watching the old
man's face, that he was dreadfully tempted.  Working as hard as
he might, summer and winter alike, Toby Vanderwiller had scarcely
been able to support his wife and grandson.  His occasional
attacks of rheumatism so frequently put him back.  If Raffer took
away the farm and the shelter they had, what would become of
them?

Uncle Henry was so short of ready money himself that he could not
assume the mortgage if Raffer undertook to foreclose.

"Oh, dear me!  If Momsey would only write to me that she is
really rich," thought Nan, "I'd beg her for the money.  I'll tell
her all about poor Toby in my very next letter and maybe, if she
gets all that money from the courts in Scotland, she will let me
give Toby enough to pay off the mortgage."

She never for a moment doubted that Uncle Henry's contention
about the timber tract line was right.  He must be correct, and
old Toby must know it!  That is the way Nan Sherwood looked at
the matter.

But now, seeing Toby turning back along the corduroy road, and
slowly shuffling toward home, she stepped out of the hovering
bushes and walked hastily after him.  She overtook him not many
yards beyond the spot where he had stood talking with Raffer.  He
looked startled when she spoke his name.

"Well!  You air a sight for sore eyes, Sissy," he said; but
added, nervously, "How in Joe Tunket did you git in the swamp?
Along the road?"

"Yes, sir," said Nan.

"Come right erlong this way?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did ye meet anybody?" demanded old Toby, eyeing her sharply.

"Mr. Raffer, driving his old buckskin horse.  That's all."

"Didn't say nothin' to ye, did he?" asked Toby, curiously.

"Not a word," replied Nan, honestly.  "I'm afraid of him and I
hid in the bushes till he had gone by."

"Huh!" sighed Toby, as though relieved.  "Jest as well.  Though
Ged wouldn't ha' dared touch ye, Sissy."

"Never mind.  I'm here now," said Nan, brightly.  "And I want you
to show me your house and introduce me to Mrs. Vanderwiller."

"Sure.  My ol' woman will be glad to see ye," said the man,
briskly.  "'Tain't more'n a mile furder on."

But first they came to a deserted place, a strip more than half
a mile wide, where the trees had been cut in a broad belt
through the swamp.  All Nan could see was sawdust and the stumps
of felled trees sticking out of it.  The sawdust, Toby said, was
anywhere from two to twenty feet deep, and there were acres of
it.

"They had their mill here, ye kin see the brick work yonder.
They hauled out the lumber by teams past my place.  The stea'mill
was here more'n two years.  They hauled the sawdust out of the
way and dumped it in ev'ry holler, jest as it come handy."

"What a lot there is of it!" murmured Nan, sniffing doubtfully at
the rather unpleasant odor of the sawdust.

"I wish't 'twas somewhere else," grunted Toby.

"Why-so?"

"Fire git in it and it'd burn till doomsday.  Fire in sawdust is
a mighty bad thing.  Ye see, even the road here is made of
sawdust, four foot or more deep and packed as solid as a brick
walk.  That's the way Pale Lick went, sawdust afire.  Ha'f the
town was built on sawdust foundation an' she smouldered for weeks
before they knowed of it.  Then come erlong a big wind and
started the blaze to the surface."

"Oh!" murmured Nan, much interested.  "Didn't my Uncle Henry live
there then?"

"I sh'd say he did," returned Toby, emphatically.  "Didn't he
never tell ye about it?"

"No, sir.  They never speak of Pale Lick."

"Well, I won't, nuther," grunted old Toby.  "'Taint pretty for a
young gal like you to hear about.  Whush!  Thar goes a loon!"

A big bird had suddenly come into sight, evidently from some
nearby water-hole.  It did not fly high and seemed very clumsy,
like a duck or goose.

"Oh!  Are they good to eat, Mr. Vanderwiller?" cried Nan. "Rafe
brought in a brace of summer ducks the other day, and they were
awfully good, the way Aunt Kate cooked them."

"Well!" drawled Toby, slyly, "I've hearn tell ye c'd eat a loon,
ef 'twas cooked right.  But I never tried it."

"How do you cook a loon, Mr. Vanderwiller?" asked Nan, interested
in all culinary pursuits.

"Well, they tell me thet it's some slow process," said the old
man, his eyes twinkling.  "Ye git yer loon, pluck an' draw it,
let it soak overnight in vinegar an' water, vitriol vinegar they
say is the best.  Then ye put it in the pot an' let it simmer all
day."

"Yes?" queried the perfectly innocent Nan.

"Then ye throw off that water," Toby said, soberly, "and ye put
on fresh water an' let it cook all the next day."

"Oh!"

"An' then ye throw in a piece of grin'stone with the loon, and
set it to bilin' again.  When ye kin stick a fork in the
grin'stone, the loon's done!"

Nan joined in Toby's loud laugh at this old joke, and pretty soon
thereafter they came to the hummock on which the Vanderwillers
lived.

Chapter XXII
ON THE ISLAND

In the winter it was probably dreary enough; but now the beauty
of the swelling knoll where the little whitewashed house stood,
with the tiny fields that surrounded it, actually made Nan's
heart swell and the tears come into her eyes.

It seemed to her as though she had never seen the grass so green
as here, and the thick wood that encircled the little farm was
just a hedge of blossoming shrubs with the tall trees shooting
skyward in unbroken ranks.  A silver spring broke ground at the
corner of the paddock fence.  A pool had been scooped out for the
cattle to drink at; but it was not muddied, and the stream
tinkled down over the polished pebbles to the wider, more
sluggish stream that meandered away from the farm into the depths
of the swamp.

Toby told her, before they reached the hummock, that this stream
rose in the winter and flooded all about the farm, so that the
latter really was an island.  Unless the ice remained firm they
sometimes could not drive out with either wagon or sled for days
at a time.

"Then you live on an island," cried Nan.

"Huh!  Ye might say so," complained Toby.  "And sometimes we feel
like as though we was cast away on one, too."

But the girl thought it must really be great fun to live on an
island.

They went up to the house along the bank of the clear stream.  On
the side porch, vine-covered to the eaves, sat an old woman
rocking in a low chair and another figure in what seemed at a
distance, to be a child's wagon of wickerwork, but with no tongue
and a high back to it.

"Here's Gran'pop!" cried a shrill voice and the little wagon
moved swiftly to the edge of the steps.  Nan almost screamed in
fear as it pitched downward.  But the wheels did not bump over
the four steps leading to the ground, for a wide plank had been
laid slantingly at that side, and over this the wheels ran
smoothly, if rapidly.

"You have a care there, Corson!" shrilled the old lady after the
cripple.  "Some day you'll break your blessed neck."

Nan thought he was a little boy, until they met.  Then she was
surprised to see a young man's head set upon a shriveled child's
body!  Corson Vanderwiller had a broad brow, a head of beautiful,
brown, wavy hair, and a fine mustache.  He was probably all of
twenty-five years old.

But Nan soon learned that the poor cripple was not grown in mind,
more than in body, to that age.  His voice was childish, and his
speech and manner, too.  He was bashful with Nan at first; then
chattered like a six-year-old child to her when she had once
gained his confidence.

He wheeled himself about in the little express wagon very well
indeed, old Toby having rigged brakes with which he moved the
wagon and steered it.  His arms and hands were quite strong, and
when he wished to get back on to the piazza, he seized a rope his
grandfather had hung there, and dragged himself, wagon and all,
up the inclined plane, or gangplank, as it might be called.

He showed Nan all his treasures, and they included some very
childish toys, a number of them showing the mechanical skill of
his grandfather's blunt fingers.  But among them, too, were
treasures from the swamp and woods that were both very wonderful
and very beautiful.

Old Toby had made Corson a neatly fitted cabinet in which were
specimens of preserved butterflies and moths, most of them of
the gay and common varieties; but some, Nan was almost sure, were
rare and valuable.  There was one moth in particular, with spread
wings, on the upper side of the thorax of which was traced in
white the semblance of a human skull.  Nan was almost sure that
this must be the famous death's-head moth she had read about in
school; but she was not confident enough to say anything to old
Toby Vanderwiller.  A few specimens of this rare insect have been
found in the swamps of America, although it was originally
supposed to be an Old World moth.

Nan did say, however, to Toby that perhaps some of these
specimens might be bought by collectors.  The pressed flowers
were pretty but not particularly valuable.  In the museum at the
Tillbury High School there was a much finer collection from the
Indiana swamps.

"Sho!" said Toby, slowly; "I wouldn't wanter sell the boy's
pretties.  I brung most on 'em home to him; but he mounted 'em
himself."

Nan suspected that old Mrs. Vanderwiller had much to do with the
neat appearance of the cabinet.  She was a quiet, almost a
speechless, old lady.  But she was very kind and she set out her
best for Nan's luncheon before the girl from Tillbury returned
home.

"We ain't got much here on the island," the old lady said; "but
we do love to have visitors.  Don't we, Corson?"

"Nice ones," admitted the cripple, munching cake.

He had heard something of what Nan suggested to Toby about the
moths and other specimens.  So when the old lady was absent from
the porch he whispered:

"Say, girl!"

"Well?" she asked, smiling at him.

"Is what's in that cabinet wuth as much as a dollar?"

"Oh!  I expect so," said Nan.  "More."

"Will you give me a dollar for 'em?" he asked, eagerly.

"Oh, I couldn't!  But perhaps I can write to somebody who would
be interested in buying some of your things, and for much more
than a dollar."

Corson looked disappointed.  Nan asked, curiously: "Why do you
want the dollar?"

"To git Gran'mom a silk dress," he said promptly.  "She's admired
to have one all her life, and ain't never got to git it yet."

"I'm sure that's nice of you," declared Nan, warmly.  "I'll try
to sell some of your collection."

"Well!" he jerked out.  "It's got to be pretty soon, or she won't
git to wear it much.  I heard her tell Gran'pop so."

This impressed Nan Sherwood as being very pitiful, for she was of
a sympathetic nature.  And it showed that Corson Vanderwiller,
even if he was simple-minded, possessed one of the great human
virtues, gratitude.

Chapter XXIII
A MYSTERY

On this, her first visit to the island in the swamp, Nan said
nothing to old Toby Vanderwiller about the line dispute between
her uncle and Gedney Raffer, which the old lumberman was supposed
to be able to settle if he would.

Mrs. Vanderwiller insisted upon Toby's hitching up an old,
broken-kneed pony he owned, and taking her over the corduroy road
to Pine Camp, where she arrived before dark.  To tell the truth,
little Margaret Llewellen was not the only person who thought it
odd that Nan should want to go to see the Vanderwillers in the
heart of the tamarack swamp.  Nan's uncle and aunt and cousins
considered their guest a little odd; but they made no open
comment when the girl arrived at home after her visit.

Nan was full of the wonders she had seen, commonplace enough to
her relatives who had lived all their lives in touch with the
beautiful and queer things of Nature as displayed in the Michigan
Peninsula.  Perhaps none but Tom appreciated her ecstasy over
crippled Corson Vanderwiller's collection.

Rafe was inclined to poke good-natured fun at his young cousin
for her enthusiasm; but Tom showed an understanding that quite
surprised Nan.  Despite his simplicity regarding some of the
commonest things of the great outside world, he showed that he
was very observant of the things about him.

"Oh, Tom was always like that," scoffed Rafe, with ready laughter
at his slow brother.  "He'd rather pick up a bug any day and put
it through a cross-examination, than smash it under the sole of
his boot."

"I don't think bugs were made to smash," Tom said stoutly.

"Whew!  What in thunder were they made for?" demanded the mocking
Rafe.

"I don't think God Almighty made things alive just for us to make
'em dead," said Tom, clumsily, and blushing a deep red.

Rafe laughed again.  Rafe had read much more in a desultory
fashion than Tom.

"Tom ought to be one of those Brahmas," he said, chuckling.
"They carry a whisk broom to brush off any seat they may sit on
before they sit down, so's they sha'n't crush an ant, or any
other crawling thing.  They're vegetarians, too, and won't take
life in any form."

"Now, Rafe!" exclaimed his mother, who was never quite sure when
her younger son was playing the fool.  "You know that Brahmas are
hens.  I've got some in my flock   those big white and black,
lazy fowls, with feathers on their legs."

Nan had to laugh at that as well as Rafe.  "Brahma fowl, I guess,
came from Brahma, or maybe Brahmaputra, all right.  But Rafe
means Brahmans.  They're a religious people of India," the girl
from Tillbury said.

"And maybe they've got it right," Tom said stubbornly.  "Why
should we kill unnecessarily?"

Nan could have hugged him.  At any rate, a new feeling for him
was born at that moment, and she applauded.  Aunt Kate said:

"Tom always was soft-hearted," and her big son became silent.
She might as well have called him "soft-headed"; but Nan began
better to appreciate Tom's worth from that time on.

Rafe remained in her eyes still the reckless, heroic figure he
had seemed when running over the logs the day of the timber
drive.  But she began to confide in Tom after this evening of her
return from the tamarack swamp.

However, this is somewhat in advance of the story.  The pleasant
evening passed as usual until bedtime came for Nan.  She retired
to her east chamber, for the windows of which Tom had made
screens to keep out the night-flying insects.  No matter how
tired she was at night there was one thing Nan Sherwood seldom
forgot.

Possibly it was silly in a girl who was almost through her
freshman year at high school, but Nan brought out Beautiful
Beulah and rocked her, and hugged her, and crooned over her
before she went to bed.  She was such a comfort!

So Nan, on this evening, went first of all to the closet and
reached down to draw out the box in which she had kept the doll
hidden ever since coming to Pine Camp.

It was not there!

At first Nan Sherwood could not believe this possible.  She
dropped on her knees and scrambled over the floor of her closet,
reaching under the hanging skirts and frocks, her fear rising,
second by second.

The box was not in its place.  She arose and looked about her
room wildly.  Of course, she had not left it anywhere else, that
was out of the question.

She could scarcely believe that any member of the family had been
in her room, much less would disturb anything that was hers.
Not even Aunt Kate came to the east chamber often.  Nan had
insisted upon taking care of the room, and she swept and dusted
and cleaned like the smart little housewife she was.  Aunt Kate
had been content to let her have her way in this.

Of course Nan never locked her door.  But who would touch a thing
belonging to her?  And her doll!  Why, she was sure the family
did not even know she had such a possession.

Almost wildly the girl ran out of her chamber and into the
sitting room, where the family was still gathered around the
evening lamp, Rafe cleaning his shot-gun, Tom reading slowly the
local paper, published at the Forks, Aunt Kate mending, and Uncle
Henry sitting at the open window with his pipe.

"Oh, it's gone!" gasped Nan, as she burst into the room.

"What's gone?" asked Aunt Kate, and Uncle Henry added: "What's
happened to you, honey-bird?"

"My Beulah!" cried Nan, almost sobbing.  "My Beulah, she's been
taken!"

"My mercy, child!" cried Aunt Kate, jumping up.  "Are you crazy?"

"Who's Beulah?" demanded Rafe, looking up from his gun and, Nan
thought, showing less surprise than the others.

"My Beulah doll," said Nan, too troubled now to care whether the
family laughed at her or not.  "My Beautiful Beulah.  Somebody's
played a trick  "

"A doll!" shouted Rafe, and burst into a chatter of laughter.

"Mercy me, child!" repeated Aunt Kate.  "I didn't know you had a
doll."

"Got a baby rattle, too, Sissy?" chuckled Rafe.  "And a ring to
cut your teeth on?  My, my!"

"Stop that, Rafe!"commanded his father, sternly, while Tom
flushed and glared angrily at his brother.

"I didn't know you had a doll, Nannie," said Mrs. Sherwood,
rather weakly.  "Where'd you have it?"

"In my closet," choked Nan.  "She's a great, big, beautiful
thing!  I know somebody must be playing a joke on me  "

"Nobody here, Nannie," said Uncle Henry, with decision.  "You may
be sure of that."  But he looked at Rafe sternly.  That young man
thought it the better part of wisdom to say no more.

In broken sentences the girl told her innocent secret, and why
she had kept the doll hidden.  Aunt Kate, after, all, seemed to
understand.

"My poor dear!" she crooned, patting Nan's hand between her hard
palms.  "We'll all look for the dolly.  Surely it can't have been
taken out of the house."

"And who'd even take it out of her closet?" demanded Tom, almost
as stern as his father.

"It surely didn't walk away of itself," said Aunt Kate.

She took a small hand lamp and went with Nan to the east chamber.
They searched diligently, but to no good end, save to assure Nan
that Beulah had utterly disappeared.

As far as could be seen the screens at the windows of the bedroom
had not been disturbed.  But who would come in from outside to
steal Nan's doll?  Indeed, who would take it out of the closet,
anyway?  The girl was almost sure that nobody had known she had
it.  It was strange, very strange indeed.

Big girl that she was, Nan cried herself to sleep that night over
the mystery.  The loss of Beulah seemed to snap the last bond
that held her to the little cottage in Amity street, where she
had spent all her happy childhood.

Chapter XXIV
THE SMOKING TREE

Nan awoke to a new day with the feeling that the loss of her
treasured doll must have been a bad dream.  But it was not.
Another search of her room and the closet assured her that it was
a horrid reality.

She might have lost many of her personal possessions without a
pang; but not Beautiful Beulah.  Nan could not tell her aunt or
the rest of the family just how she felt about it.  She was sure
they would not understand.

The doll had reminded her continually of her home life.  Although
the stay of her parents in Scotland was much more extended than
they or Nan had expected, the doll was a link binding the girl to
her old home life which she missed so much.

Her uncle and aunt had tried to make her happy here at Pine Camp.
As far as they could do so they had supplied the love and care of
Momsey and Papa Sherwood.  But Nan was actually ill for her old
home and her old home associations.

On this morning, by herself in her bedroom, she cried bitterly
before she appeared before the family.

"I have no right to make them feel miserable just because my,
heart, is, breaking," she sobbed aloud.  "I won't let them see
how bad I feel.  But if I don't find Beulah, I just know I shall
die!"

Could she have run to Momsey for comfort it would have helped,
Oh, how much!

"I am a silly," Nan told herself at last, warmly.  "But I cannot
help it.  Oh, dear!  Where can Beulah have gone?"

She bathed her eyes well in the cold spring water brought by Tom
that she always found in the jug outside her door in the morning,
and removed such traces of tears as she could; and nobody noticed
when she went out to breakfast that her eyelids were puffy and
her nose a bit red.

The moment Rafe caught sight of her he began to squall,
supposedly like an infant, crying:

"Ma-ma!  Ma-ma!  Tum an' take Too-tums.  Waw!  Waw!  Waw!"

After all her hurt pride and sorrow, Nan would have called up a
laugh at this.  But Tom, who was drinking at the water bucket,
wheeled with the full dipper and threw the contents into Rafe's
face.  That broke off the teasing cousin's voice for a moment;
but Rafe came up, sputtering and mad.

"Say!  You big oaf!" he shouted.  "What you trying to do?"

"Trying to be funny," said Tom, sharply.  "And you set me the
example."

"Now, boys!" begged Aunt Kate.  "Don't quarrel."

"And, dear me, boys," gasped Nan, "please don't squabble about
me."

"That big lummox!" continued Rafe, still angry.  "Because dad
backs him up and says he ought to lick me, he does this.  I'm
going to defend myself.  If he does a thing like that again, I'll
fix him."

Tom laughed in his slow way and lumbered out.  Uncle Henry did
not hear this, and Nan was worried.  She thought Aunt Kate was
inclined to side with her youngest boy.  Rafe would always be
"the baby" to Aunt Kate.

At any rate Nan was very sorry the quarrel had arisen over her.
And she was careful to say nothing to fan further the flame of
anger between her cousins.  Nor did she say anything more about
the lost doll.  So the family had no idea how heartsore and
troubled the girl really was over the mystery.

It hurt her the more because she could talk to nobody about
Beulah.  There was not a soul in whom she could confide.  Had
Bess Harley been here at Pine Camp Nan felt that she could not
really expect sympathy from her chum at this time; for Bess
considered herself quite grown up and her own dolls were
relegated to the younger members of her family.

Nan could write to her chum, however, and did.  She could write
to Momsey, and did that, too; not forgetting to tell her absent
parents about old Toby Vanderwiller, and his wife and his
grandson, and of their dilemma.  If only Momsey's great fortune
came true, Nan was sure that Gedney Raffer would be paid off and
Toby would no longer have the threat of dispossession held over
him.

Nan Sherwood wrote, too, to Mr. Mangel, the principal of the
Tillbury High School, and told him about the collection the
crippled grandson of the old lumberman had made, mentioning those
specimens which had impressed her most.  She had some hope that
the strange moth might be very valuable.

Nan was so busy writing letters, and helping Aunt Kate preserve
some early summer fruit, that she did not go far from the house
during the next few days, and so did not see even Margaret
Llewellen.  The other girl friends she had made at Pine Camp
lived too far away for her to visit them often or have them come
to call on her.

A long letter from Papa Sherwood about this time served to take
Nan's mind off the mystery, in part, at least.  It was a nice
letter and most joyfully received by the girl; but to her despair
it gave promise of no very quick return of her parents from
Scotland:

"Those relatives of your mother's whom we have met here, Mr.
Andrew Blake's family, for instance, have treated us most
kindly.  They are, themselves, all well-to-do, and gentlefolk as
well.  The disposal by Old Hughie Blake, as he was known
hereabout, of his estate makes no difference to the other Blakes
living near Emberon," wrote Mr. Sherwood.

"It is some kin at a distance, children of a half sister of Old
Hughie, who have made a claim against the estate.  Mr. Andrew
Blake, who is well versed in the Scotch law, assures us these
distant relatives have not the shadow of a chance of winning
their suit.  He is so sure of this that he has kindly offered to
advance certain sums to your mother to tide us over until the
case is settled.

"I am sending some money to your Uncle Henry for your use, if any
emergency should arise.  You must not look for our return, my
dear Nancy, too soon.  Momsey's health is so much improved by the
sea voyage and the wonderfully invigorating air here, that I
should be loath to bring her home at once, even if the matter of
the legacy were settled.  By the way, the sum she will finally
receive from Mr. Hugh Blake's estate will be quite as much as the
first letter from the lawyer led us to expect.  Some of your
dearest wishes, my dear, may be realized in time."

"Oh!  I can go to Lakeview Hall with Bess, after all!" cried Nan,
aloud, at this point.

Indeed, that possibility quite filled the girl's mind for a
while.  Nothing else in Papa Sherwood's letter, aside from the
good news of Momsey's improved health, so pleased her as this
thought. She hastened to write a long letter to Bess Harley, with
Lakeview Hall as the text.

Summer seemed to stride out of the forest now, full panoplied.
After the frost and snow of her early days at Pine Camp, Nan had
not expected such heat.  The pools beside the road steamed.  The
forest was atune from daybreak to midnight with winged denizens,
for insect and bird life seemed unquenchable in the Big Woods.

Especially was this true of the tamarack swamp.  It was
dreadfully hot at noontide on the corduroy road which passed Toby
Vanderwiller's little farm; but often Nan Sherwood went that way
in the afternoon.  Mr. Mangel, the school principal, had written
Nan and encouraged her to send a full description of some of
Corson Vanderwiller's collection, especially of the wonderful
death's-head moth, to a wealthy collector in Chicago.  Nan did
this at once.

So, one day, a letter came from the man and in it was a check for
twenty-five dollars.

"This is a retainer," the gentleman wrote.  "I am much interested
in your account of the lame boy's specimens.  I want the
strangely marked moth in any case, and the check pays for an
option on it until I can come and see his specimens personally."

Nan went that very afternoon to the tamarack swamp to tell the
Vanderwillers this news and give Toby the check.  She knew poor
Corson would be delighted, for now he could purchase the longed-
for silk dress for his grandmother.

The day was so hot and the way so long that Nan was glad to sit
down when she reached the edge of the sawdust strip, to rest and
cool off before attempting this unshaded desert.  A cardinal bird
  one of the sauciest and most brilliant of his saucy and
brilliant race, flitted about her as she sat upon a log.

"You pretty thing!" crooned Nan.  "If it were not wicked I'd wish
to have you at home in a cage.  I wish"

She stopped, for in following the flight of the cardinal her gaze
fastened upon a most surprising thing off at some distance from
the sawdust road.  A single dead tree, some forty feet in height
and almost limbless, stood in solemn grandeur in the midst of the
sawdust waste.  It had been of no use to the woodcutters and they
had allowed the shell of the old forest monarch to stand.  Now,
from its broken top, Nan espied a thin, faint column of blue haze
rising.

It was the queerest thing!  It was not mist, of course and she
did not see how it could be smoke.  There was no fire at the foot
of the tree, for she could see the base of the bole plainly.  She
even got up and ran a little way out into the open in order to
see the other side of the dead tree.

The sky was very blue, and the air was perfectly still.  Almost
Nan was tempted to believe that her eyes played her false.  The
column was almost the color of the sky itself, and it was thin as
a veil.

How could there be a fire in the top of that tall tree?

"There just isn't!  I don't believe I see straight!" declared Nan
to herself, moving on along the roadway.  "But I'll speak to Toby
about it."

Chapter XXV
THE TEMPEST

Nan, however, did not mention to Toby the haze rising from the
dead tree.  In the first place, when she reached the little farm
on the island in the tamarack swamp, old Toby Vanderwiller was
not at home.  His wife greeted the girl warmly, and Corson was
glad to see her.  When Nan spread the check before him and told
him what it was for, and what he could do with so much money, the
crippled boy was delighted.

It was a secret between them that the grandmother was to have the
black silk dress that she had longed for all her married life;
only Nan and Corson knew that Nan was commissioned to get the
check cashed and buy the dress pattern at the Forks; or send to a
catalogue house for it if she could not find a suitable piece of
goods at any of the local stores.

Nan lingered, hoping that Toby would come home.  It finally grew
so late that she dared not wait longer.  She had been warned by
Aunt Kate not to remain after dusk in the swamp, nor had she any
desire to do so.

Moreover there was a black cloud rolling up from the west.  That
was enough to make the girl hurry, for when it rained in the
swamp, sometimes the corduroy road was knee deep in water.

The cloud had increased to such proportions when Nan was half way
across the sawdust desert that she began to run.  She had
forgotten all about the smoking tree.

Not a breath of air was stirring as yet; but there was the
promise of wind in that cloud.  The still leaves on the bushes,
the absence of bird life overhead, the lazy drone of insects,
portended a swift change soon.  Nan was weather-wise enough to
know that.

She panted on, stumbling through the loose sawdust, but stumbling
equally in the ruts; for the way was very rough.  This road was
lonely enough at best; but it seemed more deserted than ever now.

A red fox, his tail depressed, shot past her, and not many yards
away.  It startled Nan, for it seemed as though something
dreadful was about to happen and the fox knew it and was running
away from it.

She could not run as fast as the fox; but Nan wished that she
could.  And she likewise wished with all her heart that she would
meet somebody.

That somebody she hoped would be Tom.  Tom was drawing logs from
some point near, she knew.  A man down the river had bought some
timber and they had been cut a few weeks before.  Tom was drawing
them out of the swamp for the man; and he had mentioned only that
morning at breakfast that he was working within sight of the
sawdust tract and the corduroy road.

Nan felt that she would be safe with big, slow Tom.  Even the
thought of thunder and lightning would lose some of its terrors
if she could only get to Tom.

Suddenly she heard a voice shouting, then the rattle of chain
harness.  The voice boomed out a stave of an old hymn:

"On Jordan's stormy bank I stand,
And cast a wishful eye."

"It's Tom!" gasped Nan, and ran harder.

She was almost across the open space now.  The cooler depths of
the forest were just ahead.  Beyond, a road crossed the mainly-
traveled swamp track at right angles to it, and this was the path
Tom followed.

He was now coming from the river, going deeper into the swamp for
another log.  Nan continued to run, calling to him at the top of
her voice.

She came in sight of the young timberman and his outfit.  His
wagon rattled so that he could not easily hear his cousin calling
to him.  He sat on the tongue of the wagon, and his big, slow-
moving horses jogged along, rattling their chains in a jingle
more noisy than harmonious.

The timber cart was a huge, lumbering affair with ordinary
cartwheels in front but a huge pair behind with an extended reach
between them; and to the axle of the rear pair of wheels the
timber to be transported was swung off the ground and fastened
with chains.  Nan ran after the rumbling cart and finally Tom saw
her.

"My mercy me!" gasped the boy, using one of his mother's favorite
expressions.  "What you doing here, Nan?"

"Chasing you, Tom," laughed the girl.  "Is it going to rain?"

"I reckon.  You'll get wet if it does."

"I don't care so much for that," confessed Nan.  "But I am so
afraid of thunder!  Oh, there it comes."

The tempest muttered in the distance.  Tom, who had pulled in his
horses and stopped, looked worried.  "I wish you weren't here,
Nan," he said.

"How gallant you are, I declare, Tommy Sherwood," cried Nan,
laughing again, and then shuddering as the growl of the thunder
was repeated.

"Swamp's no place for a girl in a storm," muttered the boy.

"Well, I am here, Tommy; what are you going to do with me?" she
asked him, saucily.

"If you're so scared by thunder you'd better begin by stopping
your ears," he drawled.

Nan laughed.  Slow Tom was not often good at repartee.  "I'm
going to stick by you till it's over, Tom," she said, hopping up
behind him on the wagon-tongue.

"Cracky, Nan!  You'll get soaked.  It's going to just smoke in a
few minutes," declared the anxious young fellow.

And that reminded Nan again of the smoking tree.

"Oh, Tom!  Do you know I believe there is a tree afire over
yonder," she cried, pointing.

"A tree afire?"

"Yes.  I saw it smoking."

"My mercy me!" exclaimed Tom again.  "What do you mean?"

Nan told him about the mystery.  The fact that a column of smoke
arose out of the top of the dead tree seemed to worry Tom.  Nan
became alarmed.

"Oh, dear, Tom!  Do you really think it was afire?"

"I, don't know.  If it was afire, it is afire now," he said.
"Show me, Nan."

He turned the horses out of the beaten track through the brush
and brambles, to the edge of the open place which had been heaped
with sawdust from the steam-mill.

Just as they broke cover a vivid flash of lightning cleaved the
black cloud that had almost reached the zenith by now, and the
deep rumble of thunder changed to a sharp chatter; then followed
a second flash and a deafening crash.

"Oh, Tom!" gasped Nan, as she clung to him.

"The flash you see'll never hit you, Nan," drawled Tom, trying to
be comforting.  "Remember that."

"It isn't so much the lightning I fear as it is the thunder,"
murmured Nan, in the intermission.  "It just so-o-ounds as though
the whole house was coming down."

"Ho!" cried Tom.  "No house here, Nan."

"But-----"

The thunder roared again.  A light patter on the leaves and
ground announced the first drops of the storm.

"Which tree was it you saw smoking?" asked the young fellow.

Nan looked around to find the tall, broken-topped tree.  A murmur
that had been rising in the distance suddenly grew to a sweeping
roar.  The trees bent before the blast.  Particles of sawdust
stung their faces.  The horses snorted and sprang ahead.  Tom had
difficulty in quieting them.

Then the tempest swooped upon them in earnest.

Chapter XXVI
BUFFETED BY THE ELEMENTS

Nan knew she had never seen it rain so hard before. The falling
water was like a drop-curtain, swept across the stage of the open
tract of sawdust.  In a few minutes they were saturated to the
skin.  Nan could not have been any wetter if she had gone in
swimming.

"Oh!" she gasped into Tom's ear.  "It is the deluge!"

"Never was, but one rain  't didn't clear up yet," he returned,
with difficulty, for his big body was sheltering Nan in part, and
he was facing the blast.

"I know.  That's this one," she agreed.  "But, it's awful."

"Say!  Can you point out that tree that smoked?" asked Tom.

"Goodness!  It can't be smoking now," gasped Nan, stifled with
rain and laughter.  "This storm would put out Vesuvius."

"Don't know him," retorted her cousin.  "But it'd put most
anybody out, I allow.  Still, fire isn't so easy to quench.
Where's the tree?"

"I can't see it, Tom," declared Nan, with her eyes tightly
closed.  She really thought he was too stubborn.  Of course, if
there had been any fire in that tree-top, this rain would put it
out in about ten seconds.  So Nan believed.

"Look again, Nan," urged her cousin.  "This is no funning.  If
there's fire in this swamp  "

"Goodness, gracious!" snapped Nan.  "What a fuss-budget you are
to be sure, Tom.  If there was a fire, this rain would smother
it.  Oh!  Did it ever pelt one so before?"

Fortunately the rain was warm, and she was not much discomforted
by being wet.  Tom still clung to the idea that she had started
in his slow mind.

"Fire's no funning, I tell you," he growled.  "Sometimes it
smoulders for days and days, and weeks and weeks; then it bursts
out like a hurricane."

"But the rain"

This sawdust is mighty hard-packed, and feet deep," interrupted
Tom.  "The fire might be deep down  "

"Why, Tom!  How ridiculously you talk!" cried the girl.  "Didn't
I tell you I saw the smoke coming out of the top of a tree?  Fire
couldn't be deep down in the sawdust and the smoke come out of
the tree top."

"Couldn't, heh?" returned Tom.  "Dead tree, wasn't it?"

"Oh, yes."

"Hollow, too, of course?"

"I don't know."

"Might be hollow clear through its length," Tom explained
seriously.  "The butt might be all rotted out.  Just a tough
shell of a tree standing there, and 'twould be a fine chimney if
the fire was smouldering down at its old roots."

"Oh, Tom! I never thought of such a thing," gasped Nan.

"And you don't see the tree now?"

"Let me look!  Let me look!" cried Nan, conscience-stricken.

In spite of the beating rain and wind she got to her knees, still
clinging to her big cousin, and then stood upon the broad tongue
of the wagon.  The horses stood still with their heads down,
bearing the buffeting of the storm with the usual patience of
dumb beasts.

A sheer wall of water seemed to separate them from every object
out upon the open land.  Behind them the bulk of the forest
loomed as another barrier.  Nan had really never believed that
rain could fall so hard.  It almost took her breath.

Moreover, what Tom said about the smoking tree began to trouble
the girl.  She thought of the fire at Pale Lick, of which she had
received hints from several people.  That awful conflagration, in
which she believed two children belonging to her uncle and aunt
had lost their lives, had started in the sawdust.

Suddenly she cried aloud and seized Tom more tightly.

"Cracky!  Don't choke a fellow!" he coughed.

"Oh, Tom!"

"Well"

"I think I see it."

"The tree that smoked?" asked her cousin.

"Yes.  There!"

For the moment it seemed as though the downpour lightened.
Veiled by the still falling water a straight stick rose high in
the air ahead of them.  Tom chirruped to the horses and made
them, though unwilling, go forward.

They dragged the heavy cart unevenly.  Through the heavy downpour
the trail was hard to follow, and once in a while a rear wheel
bumped over a stump, and Nan was glad to drop down upon the
tongue again, and cling more tightly than ever to her cousin's
collar.

"Sure that's it?" queried Tom, craning his neck to look up into
the tall, straight tree.

"I, I'm almost sure," stammered Nan.

"I, don't, see, any, smoke," drawled Tom, with his head still
raised.

The rain had almost ceased, an intermission which would not be
of long duration.  Nan saw that her cousin's prophecy had been
true; the ground actually smoked after the downpour.  The sun-
heated sawdust steamed furiously.  They seemed to be crossing a
heated cauldron.  Clouds of steam rose all about the timber cart.

"Why, Tommy!" Nan choked.  "It does seem as though there must be
fire under this sawdust now."

Tom brought his own gaze down from the empty tree-top with a
jerk.  "Hoo!" he shouted, and leaned forward suddenly to flick
his off horse with the whiplash.  Just then the rear wheel on
that side slumped down into what seemed a veritable volcano.

Flame and smoke spurted out around the broad wheel.  Nan
screamed.  The wind suddenly swooped down upon them, and a ball
of fire, flaming sawdust was shot into the air and was
tossed twenty feet by a puff of wind.

"We're over an oven!" gasped Tom, and laid the whip solidly
across the backs of the frightened horses.

They plunged.  Another geyser of fire and smoke spurted from the
hole into which the rear wheel had slumped.  Again and again the
big horses flung themselves into the collars in an endeavor to
get the wheel out.

"Oh, Tommy!" cried Nan.  "We'll be burned up!"

"No you won't," declared her cousin, leaping down.  "Get off and
run, Nan."

"But you,"

"Do as I say!" commanded Tom.  "Run!"

"Where, where'll I run to?" gasped the girl, leaping off the
tongue, too, and away from the horses' heels.

"To the road.  Get toward home!" cried Tom, running around to the
rear of the timber cart.

"And leave you here?" cried Nan.  "I guess not, Mr. Tom!" she
murmured.

But he did not hear that.  He had seized his axe and was striding
toward the edge of the forest.  For a moment Nan feared that Tom
was running away as he advised her to do.  But that would not be
like Tom Sherwood!

At the edge of the forest he laid the axe to the root of a
sapling about four inches through at the butt.  Three strokes,
and the tree was down.  In a minute he had lopped off the
branches for twenty feet, then removed the top with a single
blow.

As he turned, dragging the pole with him, up sprang the fire
again from the hollow into which the wheel of the wagon had sunk.
It was a smoking furnace down there, and soon the felloe and
spokes would be injured by the flames and heat.  Sparks flew on
the wings of the wind from out of the mouth of the hole.  Some of
them scattered about the horses and they plunged again,
squealing.

It seemed to Nan impossible after the recent cloudburst that the
fire could find anything to feed upon.  But underneath the packed
surface of the sawdust, the heat of summer had been drying out
the moisture for weeks.  And the fire had been smouldering for a
long time.  Perhaps for yards and yards around, the interior of
the sawdust heap was a glowing furnace.

Nan would not run away and Tom did not see her.  As he came
plunging back to the stalled wagon, suddenly his foot slumped
into the yielding sawdust and he fell upon his face.  He cried
out with surprise or pain.  Nan, horrified, saw the flames and
smoke shooting out of the hole into which her cousin had stepped.
For the moment the girl felt as if her heart had stopped beating.

"Oh, Tom!  Oh, Tom!" she shrieked, and sprang toward him.

Tom was struggling to get up.  His right leg had gone into the
yielding mass up to his hip, and despite his struggles he could
not get it out.  A long yellow flame shot out of the hole and
almost licked his face.  It, indeed, scorched his hair on one
side of his head.

But Nan did not scream again.  She needed her breath, all that
she could get, for a more practical purpose.  Her cousin waved
her back feebly, and tried to tell her to avoid the fire.

Nan rushed in, got behind him, and seized her cousin under the
arms.  To lift him seemed a giant's task; but nevertheless she
tried.

Chapter XXVII
OLD TOBY IN TROUBLE

The squealing and plunging of the horses, the rattling of their
chains, the shrieking of the wind, the reverberating cracks of
thunder made a deafening chorus in Nan's ears.  She could
scarcely hear what the imperiled Tom shouted to her.  Finally she
got it:

"Not that way!  Pull sideways!"

He beat his hands impotently upon the crust of sawdust to the
left.  Nan tugged that way.  Tom pulled, too, heaving his great
body upward, and scratching and scrambling along the sawdust with
fingers spread like claws.  His right leg came out of the hole,
and just then the rain descended torrentially again.

The flames from this opening in the roof of the furnace were
beaten down.  Tom got to his feet, shaking and panting.  He
hobbled painfully when he walked.

But in a moment he seized upon the pole he had dropped and made
for the smoking timber cart.  The terrified horses tried again
and again to break away; but the chain harnesses were too strong;
nor did the mired wheel budge.

"Oh, Tom!  Oh, Tom!" begged Nan.  "Let us make the poor horses
free, and run ourselves."

"And lose my wagon?" returned her cousin, grimly.  "Not much!"

The rain, which continued to descend with tropical violence,
almost beat Nan to the ground; but Tom Sherwood worked furiously.

He placed the butt of the lever he had cut under the hub of the
great wheel.  There was a sound stump at hand to use as a
fulcrum.  Tom threw himself upon the end of the lever.  Nan ran
to add her small weight to the endeavor.  The wheel creaked and
began to rise slowly.

The sawdust was not clinging, it was not like real mire.  There
was no suction to hold the wheel down.  Merely the crust had
broken in and the wheel had encountered an impediment of a sound
tree root in front of it so that, when the horses tugged, the
tire had come against the root and dragged back the team.

Out poured the flames and smoke again, the flames hissing as they
were quenched by the falling water.  Higher, higher rose the cart
wheel.  Nan, who was behind her cousin, saw his neck and ears
turn almost purple from the strain he put in the effort to
dislodge the wheel.  Up, up it came, and then-----

"Gid-ap!  'Ap, boys!  Yah! Gid-ap!"

The horses strained.  The yoke chains rattled.  Tom gasped to
Nan:

"Take my whip!  Quick!  Let 'em have it!"

The girl had always thought the drover's whip Tom used a very
cruel implement, and she wished he did not use it.  But she knew
now that it was necessary.  She leaped for the whip which Tom had
thrown down and showed that she knew its use.

The lash hissed and cracked over the horses' backs.  Tom voiced
one last, ringing shout.  The cart wheel rose up, the horses
leaped forward, and the big timber cart was out of its plight.

Flames and smoke poured out of the hole again.  The rain dashing
upon and into the aperture could not entirely quell the stronger
element.  But the wagon was safe, and so, too, were the two
cousins.

Tom was rather painfully burned and Nan began to cry about it.
"Oh!  Oh! You poor, poor dear!" she sobbed.  "It must smart you
dreadfully, Tommy."

"Don't worry about me," he answered.  "Get aboard.  Let's get out
of this."

"Are you going home?"

"Bet you!" declared Tom.  "Why, after this rain stops, this whole
blamed place may be in flames.  Must warn folks and get out the
fire guard."

"But the rain will put out the fire, Tom," said Nan, who could
not understand even now the fierce power of a conflagration of
this kind.

"Look there!" yelled Tom, suddenly glancing back over her head as
she sat behind him on the wagon tongue.

With a roar like an exploding boiler, the flames leaped up the
heart of the hollow tree.  The bursted crust of the sawdust heap
had given free ingress to the wind, and a draught being started,
it sucked the flames directly up the tall chimney the tree made.

The fire burst from the broken top.  The flames met the falling
rain as though they were unquenchable.  Indeed the clouds were
scattering, and second by second the downfall was decreasing.
The tempest of rain was almost over; but the wind remained to fan
the flames that had now broken cover in several spots, as well as
through the tall and hollow tree.

Tom hastened his team toward the main road that passed through
the tamarack swamp.  At one end of it was Pine Camp; in the other
direction, after passing the knoll on which the Vanderwillers
lived, the roadway came out upon a more traveled road to the
forks and the railroad.

Pine Camp was the nearest place where help could be secured to
beat down the fire, if, indeed, this were at all possible.
There was a telephone line there which, in a roundabout way,
could be made to carry the news of the forest fire to all the
settlements in the Big Woods and along the railroad line.

But Nan seized Tom's arm and shook it to call his attention as
the horses neared the road.

"Tom!  For goodness' sake!" she gasped.

"What's the matter now?" her cousin demanded, rather sharply, for
his burns were painful.

"Toby, the Vanderwillers!  What will become of them?"

"What d'you mean?" asked Tom, aghast.

"That poor cripple!  They can't get away, he and his
grandmother.  Perhaps Toby hasn't come home yet  "

"And the wind's that way," Tom interrupted.

It was indeed.  The storm had come up from the west and the wind
was still blowing almost directly into the east.  A sheet of
flame flew from the top of the old dead tree even as the boy
spoke, and was carried toward the thick forest.  It did not reach
it, and as the blazing brand fell it was quenched on the wet
surface of the sawdust.

Nevertheless, the fire was spreading under the crust and soon the
few other dead trees left standing on the tract would burst into
flame.  As they looked, the fire burst out at the foot of the
tree and began to send long tongues of flame licking up the
shredded bark.

The effect of the drenching rain would soon be gone and the fire
would secure great headway.

"Those poor folks are right in the track of the fire, I allow,"
admitted Tom.  "I wonder if he's got a good wide fire strip
ploughed?"

"Oh!  I know what you mean," Nan cried.  "You mean all around the
edge of his farm where it meets the woods?"

"Yes.  A ploughed strip may save his buildings.  Fire can't
easily cross ploughed ground.  Only, if these woods get really
ablaze, the fire will jump half a mile!"

"Oh no, Tom!  You don't mean that?"

"Yes, I do," said her cousin, gloomily.  "Tobe's in a bad place.
You don't know what a forest fire means, nor the damage it does,
Nannie.  I'm right troubled by old Tobe's case."

"But there's no danger for Pine Camp, is there?" asked the girl,
eagerly.

"Plenty of folks there to make a fire-guard.  Besides, the wind's
not that way, exactly opposite.  And she's not likely to switch
around so soon, neither.  I, don't, know"

"The folks at home ought to know about it," Nan interrupted.

"They'll know it, come dark," Tom said briefly.  "They'll be
looking for you and they'll see the blaze.  Why!  After dark that
old dead tree will look like a lighthouse for miles 'n' miles!"

"I suppose it will," agreed Nan.  "But I do want to get home,
Tom."

"Maybe the storm's not over," said her cousin, cocking an eye
towards the clouded heavens.  "If it sets in for a long rain (and
one's due about this time according to the Farmer's Almanac) it
would keep the fire down, put it out entirely, maybe.  But we
can't tell."

Nan sighed and patted his shoulder.  "I know it's our duty to go
to the island, Tommy.  You're a conscientious old thing.  Drive
on."

Tom clucked to the horses.  He steered them into the roadway, but
headed away from home.  Another boy with the pain he was bearing
would not have thought of the old lumberman and his family.  They
were the only people likely to be in immediate danger from the
fire if it spread.  The cousins might easily reach the
Vanderwiller's island, warn them of the fire, and return to town
before it got very late, or before the fire crossed the wood-
road.

They rumbled along, soon striking the corduroy road, having the
thick forest on either hand again.  The ditches were running bank
full.  Over a quagmire the logs, held down by cross timbers
spiked to the sleepers, shook under the wheels, and the water
spurted up through the interstices as the horses put down their
heavy feet.

"An awful lot of water fell," Tom said soberly.

"Goodness!  The swamp is full," agreed Nan.

"We may have some trouble in reaching Toby's place," the boy
added.  "But maybe,"

He halted in his speech, and the next instant pulled the horses
down to a willing stop.  "Hark-a-that!" whispered Tom.

"Can it be anybody crying?  Maybe it's a wildcat," said Nan, with
a vivid remembrance of her adventure in the snow that she had
never yet told to any member of the family.

"It's somebody shouting, all right," observed Tom.  "Up ahead a
way.  Gid-ap!"

He hurried the horses on, and they slopped through the water
which, in places, flowed over the road, while in others it
actually lifted the logs from their foundation and threatened to
spoil the roadway entirely.

Again and again they heard the faint cry, a man's voice.  Tom
stood up and sent a loud cry across the swamp in answer:

"We're coming!  Hold on!

"Don't know what's the matter with him," he remarked, dropping
down beside Nan again, and stirring the horses to a faster pace.
"S'pose he's got into a mud-hold, team and all, maybe."

"Oh, Tom!  Maybe he'll be sucked right down into this awful mud."

"Not likely.  There aren't many quicksands, or the like,
hereabout.  Never heard tell of 'em, if there are.  Old Tobe lost
a cow once in some slough  "

They came to a small opening in the forest just then.  Here a
great tree had been uprooted by the wind and leaned precariously
over a quagmire beside the roadway.  Fortunately only some of the
lower branches touched the road line and Tom could get his team
around them.

Then the person in trouble came into sight.  Nan and her cousin
saw him immediately.  He was in the middle of the shaking morass
waist deep in the mire, and clinging to one of the small hanging
limbs of the uprooted tree.

"Hickory splits!" ejaculated Tom, stopping the team.  "It's old
Tobe himself!  Did you ever see the like!"

Chapter XXVIII
THE GIRL IN THE HOLLOW TREE

Just why old Toby Vanderwiller was clinging to that branch and
did not try to wade ashore, neither Nan nor Tom could understand.
But one thing was plain: the old lumberman thought himself in
danger, and every once in a while he gave out a shout for help.
But his voice was growing weak.

"Hey, Tobe!" yelled Tom.  "Why don't you wade ashore?"

"There ye be, at last, hey?" snarled the old man, who was
evidently just as angry as he could be.  "Thought  ye'd never
come. Hearn them horses rattling their chains, must ha' been for
an hour."

"That's stretching it some," laughed Tom.  "That tree hasn't been
toppled over an hour."

"Huh!  Ye can't tell me nothin' 'beout that!" declared Toby.  "I
was right here when it happened."

"Goodness1" gasped Nan.

"Yep.  And lemme tell ye, I only jest 'scaped being knocked down
when she fell."

"My!" murmured Nan again.

"That's how I got inter this muck hole," growled the old
lumberman.  "I jumped ter dodge the tree, and landed here."

"Why don't you wade ashore?" demanded Tom again, preparing in a
leisurely manner to cast the old man the end of a line he had
coiled on the timber cart.

"Yah!" snarled Toby.  "Why don't Miz' Smith keep pigs?  Don't ax
fool questions, Tommy, but gimme holt on that rope.  I'm afraid
ter let go the branch, for I'll sink, and if I try ter pull
myself up by it, the whole blamed tree'll come down onter me.  Ye
see how it's toppling?"

It was true that the fallen tree was in a very precarious
position.  When Toby stirred at all, the small weight he rested
on the branch made the head of the tree dip perilously.  And if
it did fall the old man would be thrust into the quagmire by the
weight of the branches which overhung his body.

"Let go of it, Toby!" called Tom, accelerating his motions.
"Catch this!"

He flung the coil with skill and Toby seized it.  The rocking
tree groaned and slipped forward a little.  Toby gave a yell that
could have been heard much farther than his previous cries.

But Tom sank back on the taut rope and fairly jerked the old man
out of the miry hole.  Scrambling on hands and knees, Toby
reached firmer ground, and then the road itself.

Nan uttered a startled exclamation and cowered behind the cart.
The huge tree, groaning and its roots splintering, sagged down
and, in an instant, the spot there the old lumberman had been,
was completely covered by the interlacing branches of the
uprooted tree.

"Close squeal, that," remarked Tom, helping the old man to his
feet.

Toby stared at them both, wiping the mire from his face as he did
so.  He was certainly a scarecrow figure after his submersion in
the mud; gut Nan did not feel like laughing at him.  The escape
had been too narrow.

"Guess the Almighty sent you just in time, Tom, my boy," said
Toby Vanderwiller.  "He must have suthin' more for the old man to
do yet, before he cashes in.  And little Sissy, too.  Har!  Henry
Sherwood's son and Henry Sherwood's niece. Reckon I owe him a
good turn," he muttered.

Nan heard this, though Tom did not, and her heart leaped.  She
hoped that Toby would feel sufficient gratitude to help Uncle
Henry win his case against Gedney Raffer.  But, of course, this
was not the time to speak of it.

When the old lumberman heard about the fire in the sawdust he was
quite as excited as the young folk had been.  It was fast growing
dark now, but it was impossible from the narrow road to see even
the glow of the fire against the clouded sky.

"I believe it's goin' to open up and rain ag'in," Toby said.
"But if you want to go on and plow me a fire-strip, Tommy, I'll
be a thousand times obleeged to you."

"That's what I came this way for," said the young fellow briefly.
"Hop on and we'll go to the island as quickly as possible."

They found Mrs. Vanderwiller and the crippled boy anxiously
watching the flames in the tree top from the porch of the little
house on the island.  Nan ran to them to relate their adventures,
while Toby got out the plow and Tom hitched his big horses to it.

The farm was not fenced, for the road and forest bounded it
completely.  Tom put the plow in at the edge of the wood and
turned his furrows toward it, urging the horses into a trot.  It
was not that the fire was near; but the hour was growing late and
Tom knew that his mother and father would be vastly anxious about
Nan.

The young fellow made twelve laps, turning twelve broad furrows
that surely would guard the farm against any ordinary fire.  But
by the time he was done it did not look as though the fire in the
sawdust would spread far.  The clouds were closing up once more
and it was again raining, gently but with an insistence that
promised a night of downpour, at least.

Old Mrs. Vanderwiller had made supper, and insisted upon their
eating before starting for Pine Camp.  And Tom, at least, did his
share with knife and fork, while his horses ate their measure of
corn in the paddock.  It was dark as pitch when they started for
home, but Tom was cheerful and sure of his way, so Nan was
ashamed to admit that she was frightened.

"Tell yer dad I'll be over ter Pine Camp ter see him 'fore many
days," Old Toby jerked out, as they were starting.  "I got
suthin' to say to him, I have!"

Tom did not pay much attention to this; but Nan did.  Her heart
leaped for joy.  She believed that Toby Vanderwiller's words
promised help for Uncle Henry.

But she said nothing to Tom about it.  She only clung to his
shoulder as the heavy timber cart rattled away from the island.

A misty glow hung over the sawdust strip as they advanced; but
now that the wind had died down the fire could not spread.
Beside the road the glow worms did their feeble best to light the
way; and now and then an old stump in the swamp displayed a
ghostly gleam of phosphorus.

Nan had never been in the swamp before at night.  The rain had
driven most of the frogs and other croaking creatures to cover.
But now and then a sudden rumble  "Better-go-roun'!" or "Knee-
deep!  Knee-deep!"   proclaimed the presence of the green-
jacketed gentlemen with the yellow vests.

"Goodness me!  I'd be scared to death to travel this road by
myself," Nan said, as they rode on.  "The frogs make such awful
noises."

"But frogs won't hurt you," drawled Tom.

"I know all that," sighed Nan.  "But they sound as if they would.
There!  That one says, just as plain as plain can be, 'Throw 'im
in!  Throw 'im in!"

"Good!" chuckled Tom.  "And there's a drunken old rascal calling:
'Jug-er-rum!  Jug-er-rum!'!"

A nighthawk, wheeling overhead through the rain, sent down her
discordant cry.  Deep in a thicket a whip-poor-will complained.
It was indeed a ghostly chorus that attended their slow progress
through the swamp at Pine Camp.

When they crossed the sawdust tract there was little sign of the
fire.  The dead tree had fallen and was just a glowing pile of
coals, fast being quenched by the gently falling rain.  For the
time, at least, the danger of a great conflagration was past.

"Oh!  I am so glad," announced Nan, impetuously.  "I was afraid
it was going to be like that Pale Lick fire."

"What Pale Lick fire?" demanded Tom, quickly.  "What do you know
about that?"

"Not much, I guess," admitted his cousin, slowly. "But you used
to live there, didn't you?"

"Rafe and I don't remember anything about it," said Tom, in his
quiet way.  "Rafe was a baby and I wasn't much better.  Marm
saved us both, so we've been told.  She and dad never speak
about it."

"Oh! And Indian Pete?" whispered Nan.

"He saved the whole of us -  dad and all.  He knew a way out
through a slough and across a lake.  He had a dug-out.  He got
badly burned dragging dad to the boat when he was almost
suffocated with smoke," Tom said soberly.

"'Tisn't anything we talk about much, Nan.  "Who told you?"

"Oh, it's been hinted to me by various people," said Nan, slowly.
"But I saw Injun Pete, Tom."

"When?  He hasn't been to Pine Camp since you came."

Nan told her cousin of her adventure in the hollow near
Blackton's lumber camp.  Tom was much excited by that.

"Gracious me, Nan!  But you are a plucky girl.  Wait till Rafe
hears about it.  And marm and dad will praise you for being so
level-headed today.  Aren't many girls like you, Nan, I bet!"

"Nor boys like you, Tom," returned the girl, shyly.  "How brave
you were, staying to pull that old wagon-wheel out of the fire."

"Ugh1" growled Tom.  "A fat time I'd have had there if it hadn't
been for you helping me out of the oven.  Cracky!  I thought I
was going to have my leg burned to a cinder.

"That would have been terrible!" shuddered Nan.  "What would poor
Aunt Kate have said?"

"We can't tell her anything about it," Tom hastened to say.  "You
see, my two older brothers, Jimmy and Alfred, were asleep in the
garret of our house at Pale Lick, and marm thought they'd got
out.  It wasn't until afterward that she learned they'd been
burned up with the house.  She's never got over it."

"I shouldn't think she would," sighed Nan.

"And you see she's awfully afraid of fire, even now," said Tom.

They rattled on over the logs of the road; here and there they
came to bad places, where the water had not gone down; and the
horses were very careful in putting their hoofs down upon the
shaking logs.  However, it was not much over an hour after
leaving the island that they spied the lights of Pine Camp from
the top of the easy rise leading out of the tamarack swamp.

They met Rafe with a lantern half way down the hill.  Uncle Henry
was away and Aunt Kate had sent Rafe out to look for Nan,
although she supposed that the girl had remained at the
Vanderwillers' until the rain was over, and that Toby would bring
her home.

There was but one other incident of note before the three of them
reached the rambling house Uncle Henry had built on the outskirts
of Pine Camp.  As they turned off the swamp road through the lane
that ran past the Llewellen cottage, Rafe suddenly threw the ray
of his lantern into a hollow tree beside the roadway.  A small
figure was there, and it darted back out of sight.

"There!" shouted Rafe.  "I knew you were there, you little
nuisance.  What did you run out of the house and follow me for,
Mar'gret Llewellen?"

He jumped in and seized the child, dragging her forth from the
hollow of the big tree.  He held her, while she squirmed and
screamed.

"You lemme alone, Rafe Sherwood!  Lemme alone!" she commanded.
"I ain't doin' nothin' to you."

"Well, I bet you are up to some monkey-shines, out this time of
night," said Rafe, giving her a little shake.  "You come on back
home, Mag."

"I won't!" declared the girl.

"Yes, do, Margaret," begged Nan.  "It's going to rain harder.
Don't hurt her, Rafe."

"Yah!  You couldn't hurt her," said Rafe.  "She's as tough as a
little pine-knot, and don't you forget it!  Aren't you, Mag?"

"Lemme go!" repeated Margaret, angrily.

"What did you chase down here after me for?" asked Rafe, the
curious.

"I, I thought mebbe you was comin' to hunt for something,"
stammered the girl.

"So I was.  For Nancy here," laughed Rafe.

"Thought 'twas somethin' of mine," said the girl.  "Lemme go
now!"

She jerked away her hand and scuttled into the house that they
were then just passing.

"Wonder what the little imp came out to watch me for?" queried
Rafe.

After they had arrived at home and the excitement o the return
was over; after she and Tom had told as much of their adventures
as they thought wise, and Nan had retired to the east chamber,
she thought again about Margaret and her queer actions by the
roadside.

"Why, that tree is where Margaret hides her most precious
possessions," said Nan, suddenly, sitting up in bed.  "Why, what
could it be she was afraid Rafe would find there?  Why   can that
child have hidden something there that she doesn't want any of us
to see?"

Late as it was, and dark as it was, and stormy as the night was,
she felt that she must know immediately what Margaret Llewellen
had hidden in the hollow tree.

Chapter XXIX
GREAT NEWS FROM SCOTLAND

Nan put two and two together, and the answer came right.

She got out of bed, lit her lamp again and began to dress.  She
turned her light down to a dim glimmer, however, for she did not
want her aunt to look out of the window of her bedroom on the
other side of the parlor and catch a glimpse of her light.

In the half darkness Nan made a quick toilet; and then, with her
raincoat on and hood over her head, she hesitated with her hand
upon the knob of the door.

"If I go through the parlor and out the side door, Aunt Kate will
hear me," thought Nan.  "That won't do at all."

She looked at the further window.  Outside the rain was pattering
and there was absolutely no light.  In the pocket of her raincoat
Nan had slipped the electric torch she had brought from home,
something of which Aunt Kate cordially approved, and was always
begging Uncle Henry to buy one like it.

The pocket lamp showed her the fastenings of the screen.  Tom had
made it to slide up out of the way when she wanted to open or
close the sash.  And, as far as she could see, any one could open
it from the outside as easily as from the room itself.

"And that's just what she did," decided Nan.  "How foolish of me
not to think of it before."

With this enigmatical observation Nan prepared to leave the room
by this very means.  She was agile, and the sill of the window
was only three feet from the ground.  It was through this opening
that she had helped Margaret Llewellen into her room on the first
occasion that odd child had visited her.

Nan jumped out, let the screen down softly, and hurried across
the unfenced yard to the road.  She knew well enough when she
reached the public track, despite the darkness for the mirey clay
stuck to her shoes and made the walking difficult.

She flashed her lamp once, to get her bearings, and then set off
down the lane toward the swamp road.  There was not a light in
any house she passed, not even in Mr. Fen Llewellen's cottage.
"I guess Margaret's fast asleep," murmured Nan, as she passed
swiftly on.

The rain beat down upon the girl steadily, and Nan found it
shivery out here in the dark and storm.  However, her reason for
coming, Nan conceived, was a very serious one.  This was no
foolish escapade.

By showing her light now and then she managed to follow the dark
lane without stepping off into any of the deep puddles which lay
beside the path.  She came, finally, to the spot where Rafe had
met her and Tom with his lantern that evening.  Here stood the
great tree with a big hollow in it, Margaret Llewellen's
favorite playhouse.

For a moment Nan hesitated.  The place looked so dark   and there
might be something alive in the hollow.

But she plucked up courage and flashed her lamp into it.  The
white ray played about the floor of the hollow.  The other
Llewellen children dared not come here, for Margaret punished
them if they disturbed anything belonging to her.

What Nan was looking for was not in sight.  She stepped inside,
and raised the torch.  The rotting wood had been neatly scooped
out, and where the aperture grew smaller at the top a wide shelf
had been made by the ingenious Margaret.  Nan had never been in
this hide-out before.

"It must be here!  It must be here!" she kept telling herself,
and stood on her tiptoes to feel along the shelf, which was above
her head.

Nan discovered nothing at first.  She felt along the entire
length of the shelf again.  Nothing!

"I know better!" she almost sobbed.  "My dear, beautiful  "

She jumped up, feeling back on the shelf with her right hand.
Her fingers touched something, and it was not the rotting wood
of the tree!

"It's there!" breathed the excited girl.  She flashed her lamp
around, searching for something to stand upon.  There in the
corner was a roughly made footstool.

In a moment Nan had the footstool set in position, and had
stepped upon it.  Her hand darted to the back of the shelf.
There was a long box, a pasteboard box.

Nan dropped her lamp with a little scream of ecstasy, and of
course the light went out.  But she had the long box clasped in
her arms.  She could not wait to get home with it, but tumbled
off the stool and sat down upon it, picked up the torch, held it
so the round spot-light gave her illumination, and untied the
string.

Off came the cover.  She peeped within.  The pink and white
loveliness of Beulah's wax features peered up at her.

In fifteen minutes Nan was back in her room, without being
discovered by anybody, and with the doll safely clasped in her
arms.  Indeed, she went to bed a second time that night with her
beloved playmate lying on the pillow beside her, just as she had
done when a little girl.

"I suppose I'm foolish," she confessed to Aunt Kate the next
morning when she told her about it.  "But I loved Beulah so much
when I was little that I can't forget her now.  If I go to
Lakeview Hall I'm going to take her with me.  I don't care what
the other girls say!"

"You are faithful in your likes, child," said Aunt Kate nodding.
"'Tis a good trait.  But I'd like to lay that Marg'ret Llewellen
across my knee, for her capers."

"And I didn't think she cared for dolls," murmured Nan.

But it was young Bob who betrayed the mysterious reason for his
sister's act.

"Huh!" he said, with a boy's disgust for such things.  "Mag's
crazy about pretty faces, if they're smooth, an' pink.  She
peeked into that Sherwood gal's room and seed her playin' doll;
then she had ter have it for herself 'cause it was so pretty and
had a smooth face, not like the kids' dolls that Aunt Matildy
buyed."

Poor little Margaret was greatly chagrined at the discovery of
her secret.  She ran away into the woods whenever she saw Nan
coming, for a long time thereafter.  It took weeks for the girl
from Tillbury to regain the half-wild girl's confidence again.

Nan was just as busy and happy as she could be, considering the
uncertain news from Scotland and Uncle Henry's unfortunate affair
with Gedney Raffer.  She helped Aunt Kate with the housework
early every morning so that they might both hurry into the woods
to pick berries.

Pine Camp was in the midst of a vast huckleberry country, and at
the Forks a cannery had been established.  Beside, the Forks was
a big shipping centre for the fresh berries.

Uncle Henry bought crates and berry "cups," and sometimes the
whole family picked all day long in the berry pasture, taking
with them a cold luncheon, and eating it picnic fashion.

It was great fun, Nan thought, despite the fact that she often
came home so wearied that her only desire was to drop into bed.
But the best part of it, the saving grace of all this toil, was
the fact that she was earning money for herself!  Account was
faithfully kept of every cup of berries she picked, and, when
Uncle Henry received his check from the produce merchant to whom
he shipped the berries, Nan was paid her share.

These welcome earnings she saved for a particular purpose, and
for no selfish one, you may be sure.  Little Margaret Llewellen
still ran from her and Nan wished to win the child back; so she
schemed to do this.

After all, there was something rather pitiful in the nature of
the child who so disliked any face that was "wizzled," but loved
those faces that were fair and smooth.

Margaret only possessed a feeling that is quite common to
humanity; she being such a little savage, she openly expressed an
emotion that many of us have, but try to hide.

The Llewellen children picked berries, of course, as did most of
the other neighbors.  Pine Camp was almost a "deserted village"
during the season when the sweet, blue fruit hung heavy on the
bushes.

Sometimes the Sherwood party, and the Llewellens, would cross
each others' paths in the woods, or pastures; but little Margaret
always shrank into the background.  If Nan tried to surprise her,
the half wild little thing would slip away into the deeper woods
like one of its own denizens.

Near the river one day Margaret had an experience that should
have taught her a lesson, however, regarding wandering alone in
the forest.  And the adventure should, too, have taught the child
not to shrink so from an ugly face.

Nan had something very important to tell Margaret.  Her savings
had amounted to quite a goodly sum and in the catalog of a mail-
order house she had found something of which she wished to secure
Margaret's opinion.  The child, as usual, ran away when they met,
and even Bob could not bring her back.

"She's as obstinate as dad's old mu-el," grunted the disgusted
boy.  "Can't do a thing with her, Nan Sherwood."

"I'll just get her myself!" declared Nan, laughing, and she
started into the thicker woods to circumvent Margaret.  She did
not follow the river as the smaller girl had, but struck into the
bush, intending to circle around and head Margaret off.

She had not pushed her way through the clinging vines and brush
for ten minutes before she heard somebody else in the jungle.
She thought it was the little girl, at first; then she caught
sight of a man's hat and knew that Margaret did not wear a hat at
all.

"Goodness!  Who can that be?" thought Nan.  She was a little
nervous about approaching strange people in the wood; although at
this season there was nothing to apprehend from stragglers, there
were so many berry pickers within call.

Nan did not seek to overtake the man, however, and would have
kept on in her original direction, had she not heard a cry and a
splitting crash toward the river bank.  Some accident had
happened, and when Nan heard the scream repeated, she was sure
that the voice was that of Margaret.

So she set off directly, on a run, tearing her dress and
scratching her hands and face, but paying no attention to either
misfortune.  She only wanted to get to the scene of the accident
and lend her aid, if it was needed.

And it would have been needed if it had not been for the man
whose hat she had seen a few moments before.  He made his passage
through the bush much quicker than could Nan, and when the latter
reached an opening where she could see the river, the stranger
was just leaping into the deep pool under the high bank.

It was plain to be seen what had happened.  A sycamore overhung
the river and somebody had climbed out upon a small branch to
reach a few half-ripened grapes growing on a vine that ran up the
tree.

The branch had split, drooping downward, and the adventurous
grape-gatherer had been cast into the water.

"Oh, Margaret!" screamed Nan, confident that it was the reckless
child that was in peril.

She hurried to the brink of the low bluff, from which the rescuer
had plunged.  He had already seized the child (there was an eddy
here under the bank) and was striking out for the shore.  Nan saw
his wet face, with the bedraggled hair clinging about it.

It was the awfully scarred face of Injun Pete; but to the excited
Nan, at that moment, it seemed one of the most beautiful faces
she had ever seen!

The Indian reached the bank, clung to a tough root, and lifted up
the gasping Margaret for Nan to reach.  The girl took the child
and scrambled up the bank again; by the time she was at the top,
Injun Pete was beside her.

"She not hurt, Little missy," said the man, in his soft voice,
and turning his face so that Nan should not see it.  "She just
scared."

Margaret would not even cry.  She was too plucky for that.  When
she got her breath she croaked:

"Put me down, Nan Sherwood.  I ain't no baby."

"But you're a very wet child," said Nan, laughing, yet on the
verge of tears herself.  "You might have been drowned, you WOULD
have been had it not been for Mr. Indian Pete."

"Ugh!" whispered Margaret.  "I seen him when I come up out o'
that nasty water.  I wanted to go down again."

"Hush, Margaret!" cried Nan, sternly.  "You must thank him."

The man was just then moving away.  He shook himself like a dog
coming out of the stream, and paid no further attention to his
own wet condition.

"Wait, please!" Nan called after him.

"She all right now," said the Indian.

"But Margaret wants to thank you, don't you, Margaret?"

"Much obleeged," said the little girl, bashfully.  "You air all
right, you air."

"That all right, that all right," said the man, hurriedly.  "No
need to thank me."

"Yes, there is," said Nan, insistently.  "Come here, please.
Margaret wants to kiss you for saving her life."

"Oh!"  The word came out of Margaret's lips like an explosion.
Nan stared very sternly at her.  "If you don't," she said in a
low tone, "I'll tell your father all about how you came to fall
into the river."

Under this threat Margaret became amenable.  She puckered up her
lips and stretched her arms out toward Indian Pete.  The man
stumbled back and fell on his knees beside the two girls.  Nan
heard the hoarse sob in his throat as he took little Margaret in
his arms.

"Bless you!  Bless you!" he murmured, receiving the kiss right
upon his scarred cheek.  But Nan saw that Margaret's eyes were
tightly closed as she delivered the caress, per order!

The next moment the man with the scarred face had slipped away
and disappeared in the forest.  They saw him no more.

However, just as soon as the catalog house could send it,
Margaret received a beautiful, pink-cheeked, and flaxen-haired
Doll, not as fine as Beulah, but beautiful enough to delight any
reasonable child.

Nan had won back Margaret's confidence and affection.

Meanwhile the hot summer was fast passing.  Nan heard from her
chum, Bess Harley, with commendable regularity; and no time did
Bess write without many references to Lakeview Hall.

Nan, advised by her former teacher in Tillbury, had brought her
books to Pine Camp, and had studied faithfully along the lines of
the high school work.  She was sure she could pass quite as good
an entrance examination for Lakeview Hall as Bess could.

And at last good news came from Scotland:

"I am not quite ready to bring Momsey home," Papa Sherwood wrote.
"But the matter of her fortune is at least partially settled.
The claims of the other relatives have been disallowed.  Mr.
Andrew Blake is prepared to turn over to your Momsey a part of
her wonderful fortune.  The rest will come later.  She will tell
you all about it herself.

"What I wish to say to you particularly in this letter," pursued
Mr. Sherwood, "is, that arrangements have been made for you to
attend Lakeview Hall this coming semester.  You will meet your
friend, Elizabeth Harley, in Chicago, and will go with her to the
school.  I am writing by this mail to the principal of the Hall.
Mr. Harley has made all other necessary arrangements for you."

"Oh!" cried Nan, clasping her hands.  "It"s too good to be true!
It can't be possible!  I just know I'll wake up in a minute and
find all this an exciting dream, and that's all!"

But Nan was wrong on that point, as the reader will see if her
further adventures are followed in the next volume of the series,
entitled, "Nan Sherwood at Lakeview Hall, or, The Mystery of the
Haunted Boathouse."

While Nan was still intensely excited over this letter from
Scotland, Toby Vanderwiller drove up to the Sherwood house behind
his broken-kneed pony.  This was the first time any of the
Sherwoods had seen him since the day of the big storm and the
fire in the sawdust.

Chapter XXX
OFF FOR LAKEVIEW HALL

Nan ran out immediately to speak to the old lumberman; but Toby
was calling for Uncle Henry:

"Hey, Hen!  Hen Sherwood!  Come out yere," he cried.

Uncle Henry halloaed from the stables, and came striding at the
call.  Nan reached the old rattletrap wagon first.

"Oh, Mr. Vanderwiller!" she said.  "I am glad to see you!  And
how is your wife and Corson?"

He looked down at her reflectively, and for a moment did not say
a word.  Then he swallowed something and said, jerkily:

"An' you're the one that done it all, Sissy!  The ol' woman an'
the boy air as chipper as bluejays.  An' they air a honin' for a
sight on you."

"Yes.  I haven't been over lately.  But that man from Chicago
came, didn't he?"

"I sh'd say 'yes'!  He come," said Toby, in awe.  "An' what d'ye
s'pose?  He done buyed a heap of Corson's spec'mens an' paid him
more'n a hundred dollars for 'em.  And that ain't countin' that
there dead-head butterfly ye made sech a time about.

"I reckoned," pursued Toby, "that you was right crazy about that
there bug.  One bug's as bad as another to my way of thinkin'.
But it seems that Chicago feller thinked dif'rent."

"It really was one of the very rare death's-head moths?" cried
Nan, delighted.

"So he said.  And he was willin' ter back up his belief with cold
cash," declared Toby, smiting his leg for emphasis.  "He paid us
harnsome for it; and he said he'd take a lot more spec'mens if

"Har!  Here ye be, Hen," he added, breaking off to greet Nan's
uncle.  "I got suthin' to say to you.  I kin say it now, for I
ain't beholden ter nobody.  With what me and the ol' woman had
scrimped and saved, an' what this feller from Chicago give
Corson, I done paid off my debt to ol' Ged Raffer, an' the little
farm's free and clear."

"I'm glad to hear it, Tobe," Uncle Henry declared, shaking hands
with the old lumberman again.  "I certain sure am glad to hear
it!  I'm pleased that you shouldn't have that worry on your mind
any longer."

"And it has been a worry," said Old Toby, shaking his head.
"More'n you think for.  Ye see, it snarled me all up so's I
warn't my own master."

"I see."

"Ye see, Ged was allus after me to go inter court an' back up his
claim ag'in you on that Perkins Tract."

"I see," said Henry Sherwood again, nodding.

"On the other hand, you wanted me, if I knowed which was right,
to witness, too.  If I'd witnessed for Ged, ev'rybody wuld ha'
thought I done it because he had a mortgage on the farm."

"I s'pose so," admitted Uncle Henry.

"Or, if I helped you, they'd ha' thought you'd bribed me  - mebbe
helped me git square with Ged."

"I couldn't.  Too poor just now," said Uncle Henry, grimly.  "But
I'd the mind for it, Toby."

"Well, there ye be.  Whichever way the cat jumped, I'd lost the
respect of the community," said the old lumberman.  "But now I am
independent, I don't give a dern!"

Mr. Sherwood looked at him expectantly.  Toby's "wizzled" face
shone.

"I got a debt owin' to that leetle gal you got here, and
somethin' to pay off to Tommy, too.  But money won't do it, ef I
had money.  I am goin' to tell what I know about that boundary,
though, Hen, and it will do YOU good!  I can find another old
feller, livin' down Pale Lick way, that can corroborate my
evidence.

"You can git that injunction vacated at once, Hen, if you want,
and put your axe-men right back into the Perkins Tract to work.
That's what I come 'round to tell ye."

Aunt Kate was moved to tears, an unusual expression of emotion
on her part.  Being of pioneer stock, and having suffered much in
the past, Nan's aunt was not easily moved.  Uncle Henry was
delighted.  It was a great day for the Sherwoods.

It was another great day when, a week later, the roan ponies were
brought to the door and Nan's trunk was strapped upon the back of
the buckboard.  Uncle Henry was to drive her to the train; but
she would travel alone to Chicago to meet her chum, Bess Harley.

"And go to Lakeview Hall!  I never did really expect I'd get
there," Nan sighed, as she clung to Aunt Kate's neck.  "It almost
makes me forget that Momsey and Papa Sherwood are not at home
yet.

"But, my dear!" she added, "if such a thing could be, you and
Uncle Henry have taken the place of my own dear parents all these
months I have been at Pine Camp.  I've had a dee-lightful time.
I'll never forget you all.  I love you, love you, love you."

The roan ponies started on the jump.  The boys cheered her from
the corner of the house, having bashfully remained in the
background.  Even Margaret Llewellen and her impish brother, Bob,
appeared and shrilly bade her goodbye.

Nan was off for school, and wonderful adventures lay before her!





The End of
Project Gutenberg's Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp, by Annie Roe Carr
Project Gutenberg's The Old Lumberman's Secret, by Annie Roe Carr


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