"Doggoned idjut!" exclaimed Old Kennebec, tearfully. "Wuth the hull fool
family! If I hedn't 'a' be'n so old, I'd 'a' jumped in myself, for you
can't drownd a Wiley, not without you tie nail-kegs to their head an'
feet an' drop 'em in the falls."
Alcestis, who had neither brains, courage, nor experience, had, better
still, the luck that follows the witless. He was carried swiftly down
the current; but, only fifty feet away, a long, slender, log, wedged
between two low rocks on the shore, jutted out over the water, almost
touching its surface. The boy's clothes were admirably adapted to the
situation, being full of enormous rents. In some way the end of the log
caught in the rags of Alcestis's coat and held him just seconds enough
to enable Stephen to swim to him, to seize him by the nape of the neck,
to lift him on the log, and thence to the shore. It was a particularly
bad place for a landing, and there was nothing to do but to lower ropes
and drag the drenched men to the high ground above.
Alcestis came to his senses in ten or fifteen minutes, and seemed as
bright as usual: with a kind of added swagger at being the central
figure in a dramatic situation.
"I wonder you hedn't stove your brains out, when you landed so turrible
suddent on that rock at the foot of the bank," said Mr. Wiley to him.
"I should, but I took good care to light on my head," responded
Alcestis; a cryptic remark which so puzzled Old Kennebec that he mused
over it for some hours.
HEARTS AND OTHER HEARTS
Stephen had brought a change of clothes, as he had a habit of being
ducked once at least during the day; and since there was a halt in the
proceedings and no need of his services for an hour or two, he found
Rose and walked with her to a secluded spot where they could watch the
logs and not be seen by the people.
"You frightened everybody almost to death, jumping into the river,"
Stephen laughed. "They thought I was a fool to save a fool, I suppose."
"Perhaps not as bad as that, but it did seem reckless."
"I know; and the boy, no doubt, would be better off dead; but so should
I be, if I could have let him die."
Rose regarded this strange point of view for a moment, and then silently
acquiesced in it. She was constantly doing this, and she often felt that
her mental horizon broadened in the act; but she could not be sure that
Stephen grew any dearer to her because of his moral altitudes.
"Besides," Stephen argued, "I happened to be nearest to the river, and
it was my job."
"How do you always happen to be nearest to the people in trouble, and
why is it always your 'job'!"
"If there are any rewards for good conduct being distributed, I'm right
in line with my hand stretched out," Stephen replied, with meaning in
Rose blushed under her flowery hat as he led the way to a bench under a
sycamore tree that overhung the water.Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>