taken too great risks, had been caught on the moving mass, and, leaping
from log to log, his only chance for life had been to find a footing on
Gray Rock, which was nearer than the shore.
Rufus was ill at the time, and Mrs. Waterman so anxious and nervous that
processions of boys had to be sent up to the River Farm, giving the
frightened mother the latest bulletins of her son's welfare. Luckily,
the river was narrow just at the Gray Rock, and it was a quite possible
task, though no easy one, to lash two ladders together and make a narrow
bridge on which the drenched and shivering man could reach the shore.
There were loud cheers when Stephen ran lightly across the slender
pathway that led to safety--ran so fast that the ladders had scarce time
to bend beneath his weight. He had certainly "taken chances," but when
did he not do that? The logger's life is one of "moving accidents by
flood and field," and Stephen welcomed with wildqq exhilaration every
hazard that came in his path. To him there was never a dull hour from
the moment that the first notch was cut in the tree (for he sometimes
joined the boys in the lumber camp just for a frolic) till the later one
when the hewn log reached its final destination. He knew nothing of
"tooling" a four-in-hand through narrow lanes or crowded
thoroughfares,--nothing of guiding a horse over the hedges and through
the pitfalls of a stiff bit of hunting country; his steed was the
rearing, plunging, kicking log, and he rode it like a river god.
[Illustration: HE HAD CERTAINLY "TAKEN CHANCES"]
The crowd loves daring, and so it welcomed Stephen with braves, but it
knew, as he knew, that he was only doing his duty by the Company, only
showing the Saco that man was master, only keeping the old Waterman name
in good repute.
"Ye can't drownd some folks," Old Kennebec had said, as he stood in a
group on the shore; "not without you tie sand-bags to'em an' drop 'em in
the Great Eddy. I'm the same kind; I remember when I was stranded on
jest sech a rock in the Kennebec, only they left me there all night for
dead, an' I had to swim the rapids when it come daylight."
"We're well acquainted with that rock and them rapids," exclaimed one of
the river-drivers, to the delight of the company.
Rose had reason to remember Stephen's adventure, for he had clambered
up the bank, smiling and blushing under the hurrahs of the boys, and,
coming to the wagon where she sat waiting for her grandfather, had
seized a moment to whisper: "Did you care whether I came across safe,
Rose? Say you did!"
Stephen recalled that question, too, on this August morning; perhaps
because this was to be a red-letter day, and sometime, when he had a
free moment,--sometime before supper, when he and Rose were sitting
apart from the others, watching the logs,--he intended again to ask her
to marry him. This thought trembled in him, stirring the deeps of hisDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>