that I've be'n watchin' for a week. It's a cur'ous one, to begin with;

an' then it has a mark on it that you can reco'nize it by. Did ye ever

hear tell o' George the Third, King of England, Alcestis, or ain't he

known over to the crambry medders? Well, once upon a time men used to go

through the forests over here an' slash a mark on the trunks o' the

biggest trees. That was the royal sign, as you might say, an' meant that

the tree was to be taken over to England to make masts an' yard-arms for

the King's ships. What made me think of it now is that the King's mark

was an arrer, an' it's an arrer that's on that there log I'm showin' ye.

Well, sir, I seen it fust at Milliken's Mills a Monday. It was in

trouble then, an'it's be'n in trouble ever sence. That's allers the way;

there'll be one pesky, crooked, contrary, consarn'ed log that can't go

anywheres without gittin' into difficulties. You can yank it out an' set

it afloat, an' before you hardly git your doggin' iron off of it, it'll

be snarled up agin in some new place. From the time it's chopped down to

the day it gets to Saco, it costs the Comp'ny 'bout ten times its pesky

valler as lumber. Now they've sent over to Benson's for a team of

horses, an' I bate ye they can't git 'em. I wish I was the boss on this

river, Alcestis."

"I wish I was," echoed the boy.

"Well, your head-fillin' ain't the right kind for a boss, Alcestis, an'

you'd better stick to dry land. You set right down here while I go back

a piece an' git the pipe out o' my coat pocket. I guess nothin' ain't

goin' to happen for a few minutes."

The surmise about the horses, unlike most of Old Kennebec's, proved to

be true. Benson's pair had gone to Portland with a load of hay;

accordingly the tackle was brought, the rope was adjusted to a log, and

five of the drivers, standing on the river-bank, attempted to drag it

from its intrenched position. It refused to yield the fraction of an

inch. Rufus and Stephen joined the five men, and the augmented crew of

seven were putting all their strength on the rope when a cry went up

from the watchers on the bridge. The "dog" had loosened suddenly, and

the men were flung violently to the ground. For a second they were

stunned both by the surprise and by the shock of the blow, but in the

same moment the cry of the crowd swelled louder. Alcestis Crambry had

stolen, all unnoticed, to the rope and had attempted to use his feeble

powers for the common good. When then blow came he fell backward, and,

making no effort to control the situation, slid over the bank and into

the water.


The other Crambrys, not realizing the danger, laughed, audibly, but

there was no jeering from the bridge.

Stephen had seen Alcestis slip, and in the fraction of a moment had

taken off his boots and was coasting down the slippery rocks behind him

in a twinkling he was in the water, almost as soon as the boy himself.

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