« PreviousContinue »
so that a partial passenger service was Lee was feeding with dry branches a crackmaintained over the line. Time and again ling blaze between the rails a scant quarter the boys made the short trip to the bridge of a mile from the gorge, when he suddenly and intended to keep a sharp look-out all gave a startled “Ki yi!” and straightened up, night.
his black eyes fixing on a shadowy object About nine o'clock they were headed for showing but dimly in the firelight. Wider the high, ghost-like crisscross of steel, when and wider open grew the almond eyes, and they brought up short, as an ominous, rum closer and closer came the slow-moving bling roar sounded above the wind. Two- figure until at last Jerry Kimball painfully threeperhaps a half dozen seconds they lis hobbled to Lee's side, then slumped down in tened to the dull thundering sound. Then
the snow. in a maze of fear and wonder, they heard the A few seconds only he rested before pantterrifying crash of breaking steel and as if ing an explanation. "Gosh! Near broke some immense moving body were piling up my neck!" he gasped, trying to smile. "The in a yawning abyss.
gorge is a terror! Don't b’lieve a cat could Jerry guessed at once that an avalanche get down alive! I made it for about fifty had slid from the mountain-side, far above, feet, then-well—thought the world had and that now the link across the gorge was come to an end. After a bit I figured it was nothing more than a twisted mass of steel, only a sprained ankle, and somehow manintermingled with thousands and thousands aged to work my way up again. Soon as I of tons of snow, packed like ice far down in could, I started here, crawlin' most of the the dark depths. He expressed his fears to way and hobblin' the balance. I can't use Lee, and they were confirmed when, a few skis, so I guess it 's up to you to set the other minutes later, the two lads worked their way signal. You can ski down the mountain, to where the anchor-irons of the bridge circle the gorge, then go up the other side to should be, and found nothing more than the track. I'll keep the fire goin' here, broken and twisted girders hanging over the somehow." chasm.
"Huh! Was-s-s that you say?" Lee's Now, neither boy thought of what had oc voice was almost a wail. “Me go way in curred, but of what might occur if a passen dark! No! No, you make mistake! Me ger-train should come tearing along the no flaid, but-devil-devils all lound. Evely track. Danger-signals must be set, well place! Melican boy no seeum devil-devils. away from the gorge on both sides, and at China boy seeum all time. Him evely once.
Each carried a small huntsman's axe, place and go long with wolves. I know! plenty of matches, and a canteen full of You say same all Melican boy say-help kerosene which would greatly simplify start others. Velly good idea! When daylight ing a fire. A pile of blazing pine-branches come, me go! Huh?" heaped up between the rails could be seen Jerry slowly arose. “No! No, Lee! Not for quite a distance, and no engineer would to-morrow! Right away! Now!” run over them. To set a fiery signal several Lee's yellow face turned about as pale as hundred yards back on the track from where it is possible for one of his race to turn, bethe quick-thinking pair were talking would fore he half choked with excuses. If the be a comparatively easy task. But to cross wolves did n't devour him, the Chinese devilthe ravine and build a fire on the opposite devils would surely lead him into some side was a problem.
deadly pitfall, and anyway the trains had Jerry studied a moment, then came out stopped running. Jerry argued and pleaded, with his plan. "Lee!" he shouted, so as to then made for the other boy's skis. make himself heard, “I'll try and work my "Hey! Where you go?" Lee yelled, lookway across by hanging onto the broken ing dubiously at the limping figure. bridge-stringers. You stay on this side." "To set the signal," Jerry called back.
Right away Lee started putting up a stiff That was enough for Lee, and he sprang objection. "No wanta stay here 'lone! forward. “No! you no go Alifty feet 'fore Devil-devils catchee me, sure! Me hear um
fall down and no get up. Me catchum Meliall time! Go, ‘Moan-n-n-n! Moan-n-n!'” can boy way quick, soon! Me go! You
“That's the wind and creaking branches," stay here!'' Jerry explained. Then he talked for a good There was a very woe-begone droop at the five minutes before the young Chinese con corners of Lee's mouth, and as he mounted sented to the plan.
his skis and started off, his “Good-bly!" came
floating back in a decidedly mournful tone. Then, strange as it may seem, Lee Fat Still, the spirit to do something for others began to talk. In fact to plead, but more was growing fast within him. No one knew for others than for himself—those on a pasbetter than he that danger lay ahead. He senger-train, which, although quite a dismight wander around in the night and storm tance off, was nevertheless bucking its way for many hours, then sink down exhausted. toward Thundering Fork gorge. “Please, Again, he might be caught beneath a fall Mister Wolves, let me go set signal-fire!” he ing pine or crushed to death by a dreaded choked. Then, as his head cleared, his avalanche. And there was always danger of voice became stronger. “Pletty soon, bimeskiing over some high cliff, and then-as he by, quick, come along plassenger-tlain! put it to himself—the wolves!
After I fix signal, you eata me, I no care! Nevertheless he kept on, with but one idea Anyway, now I heap tough! When walk in his mind—to set the signal that would while, be heap tender. Oh please, Mister stop all trains. Time and again he ran head Wolves, you let me go, for I want to be all on against low branches and tree-trunks. same Melican boy!" Time and again he took bad tumbles, and In this strain, young Lee Fat talked on for often was forced to stop and catch his breath. a full two minutes; then, when he felt a big But he kept going downhill, and thanked moist tongue lick his cheeks, he gave a gaspJerry aloud for persuading him to become so ing cry and opened his eyes. Was this to be expert on skis.
the end? He thought so. Still, when he did More than a mile below, the gorge opened not feel the strength of powerful jaws, but out into a deep cañon, where the stream only the pressure of a big tongue seemingly could be forded. It was toward this ford licking his face in a friendly manner, he said that Lee made his way, holding his course to himself, “Ki yi! Me talkum into it!" more by instinct than woodcraft. On he Little by little the slanting eyes opened traveled, rod after rod, and then, as he rider and still wider, and as the snow-covmounted his skis after a hard fall, his heart ered boy scrambled to his feet he gave a loud seemed fairly to jump into his throat. Had n't cry, for the big furry figure that had been he seen a big dark object slip behind a tree standing over him was the old prospector's almost within reach of his hand? Of course dog, Skookum. “Ay! Ki yi! Sklookum!" he had! And once more he thought of the Lee yelled, throwing his arms around the wolves.
animal's shaggy neck. “You my fliend! The Lee Fat of a half-hour before would Me all same man with gun! Wolves him no probably have reckoned only on his own come now! Me no more flaid! No care safety and climbed a tree. The Lee Fat of even for Chinese devil-devils! Come long!" the moment had his mind on others, so he A short breathing-spell and they were off. decided to keep plodding onward. In that The stream was crossed, and even though respect he was like an American boy. Every Lee waded through the icy water waist-deep, few seconds, now, he caught sight of the he did not mind the cold. Now the steep shadowy figure, and his imaginative mind ascent was started, and up, always up, they pictured more than a score of big, gaunt zigzagged, Skookum oftentimes in the lead. beasts, only waiting for him to take another Suddenly, Lee stopped short and pricked tumble.
up his ears. Was that a locomotive whistle Finally he did take a tumble, a nasty one, or the wind moaning through the pinethe result of skiing against a snow-covered branches? He listened and caught the sound stump; then he lay half stunned and partly again, this time clearer. The train might be buried in a deep drift. It seemed to him near or far, he could not tell, for the track only an instant before a cold muzzle touched turned and twisted through the cañon. his cheek, and he closed his eyes, thinking Nevertheless, in those mournful sounds was that in a moment he would feel long, sharp a call for more speed. fangs at his throat. His mind was still mud In a moment the skis were again being dled from the fall, and he thought the roar swung forward and upward in lengthy, regof the wind the howl of angry beasts, fight- ular sweeps. Never before had the lad with ing over their prey. Perhaps he would not yellow ancestors taken a mountain-side at be attacked if on his feet, so he attempted to such a fast clip. And there was sufficient rearise. His cheek again came in contact with son that he should hasten, for a long passengerthe cold muzzle, which made him drop back train with three locomotives was thundering in the snow.
over the snow-covered rails. Not like a fast
express, for the going was hard; still, rolling Still, he was slow in getting on his feet and onward, steadily, surely.
somewhat muddled as he frantically started Panting, sweating, hurrying, Lee kept plod- to wave a stop-signal. ding ahead. A score of times his heart was There was no possibility of stopping the in his throat when he fancied that he could train until part or perhaps all of it rolled by hear a locomotive puffing. His face was the spot where he was standing. But the bleeding from a dozen scratches and his lungs only thing that concerned him was whether seemed afire when he swung around a sharp his signal had been seen. Well, he had done turn and made out a dim, circular light that his best, and he jumped from the track and pierced the falling snow. “Headlight!” he hugged the side of the cut just as the screech gasped. “Now I be too late? Ki yi!" But of a whistle sounded for all the engineers to there would be no giving up until the train . shut off steam and throw on the brakes. had really rumbled by. Upward, faster and Lee Fat had been in time, and the trainstill faster he climbed, until he knew the men found him sitting in the snow, talking to track could not be far off.
Skookum. A few seconds later he was sputThe headlight came nearer and still nearer, tering, coughing, and laughing as he told his and now it seemed to Lee nothing more than story; then, before he had fairly caught his an immense yellow eye that belonged to one breath, he broke out: "Why for you loaf of his Chinese devil-devils.
here? Bling heap plenty lope and light! We Two-three-four more steps, and then closs gorge and see how get along my fliend he felt as if he were falling into a deep trench, Jerry!" directly in front of a puffing monster.
"How you get along plardner?” was his instant he knew that he had pitched head greeting, when, an hour later, he and several foremost into the cut made by the rotary volunteers foundered through the snow to snow-plow. In an instant, too, he knew that Jerry Kimball, feeding the blazing signalhe was in great danger of being run over. fire.
COUNTRIES WE KNOW
Alphabet Song AMERICA begins with A,
Then comes brave Belgium with a B,
Venezuela with a V,
By NELSON ROBINS
FIDDLER'S HILL, the home of the Mallory's, thousands upon thousands of "spats,” as stood upon the brow of a hill overlooking the they are called, which float with the tide and York River at a point where the river attains currents and cling to the first suitable thing a width of nearly eleven miles. Except in they find. Each spat in time will develop very clear weather, when the bluffs on the into an oyster. When the spat floats into opposite side are plainly seen, one might an oyster-bed, where the shells are already imagine that the old house overlooked Chesa waiting, it attaches itself to a shell and starts peake Bay itself. First came the green immediately upon its life work of becoming lawn, which ran down to the cove; across an oyster. When the spat finds an oysterthe cove was a marsh, covered with vivid shell, half of the work of building a home is green sedge and ornamented at intervals already done, and only one shell has to be with tall pines; and then the river, stretching formed. Sometimes they will lodge on an mile upon mile to the James City County old kettle, or a boot, or anything that will shore. On the left of Fiddler's Hill planta- give a hold, and form curious clusters of shell tion, Fiddler's Creek ran under the hill on and kettle, or shell and boot, as the case may which the Mallory home stood. On the be. right, five miles up the river, Cedar Bush An oyster takes three years to grow to the Creek formed another natural boundary to size set by law as marketable, and the planter, the plantation. Inland, the plantation was no matter what his need for cash, must wait bounded by an enormous swamp, which these three years before he harvests. He separated Fiddler's Hill from all neighbors. gathers them with oyster-tongs, which look
The natural boundaries of the plantation very much like two long-handled rakes, were excellent aids to ordinary farming, bolted together like a pair of scissors so that which Colonel Mallory carried on to the the teeth of the rakes come together. The extent usual in his section; but they were "tonger” rakes up the oyster-beds with these serious drawbacks to the business of oyster tongs and deposits his catch upon a “cullingfarming, which Colonel Mallory pursued on board,” which reaches from one side of his a rather large scale, for the reason that boat to the other, culls out those oysters Fiddler's Hill was so far from everywhere, which are not of the required size, and reexcept the river, that it was difficult to get turns them to the bed. police help.
The oyster-pirate however is not bound Every description of planter has his es by any culling law and he does not use tongs. pecial enemies which work to make his crop From the stern of his vessel, usually a small a failure. The orchardist has the San José schooner or sloop, he drops a dredge so made scale; the cotton-planter, the boll-weevil; that it scoops up every oyster in its path; the wheat-grower, the rust; the tobacco and when the dredge is full, he empties everygrower, the hail-storm; and the corn-grower, thing it contains into the hold of his vessel. the chinch-bug. The oyster-planter has When the pirate leaves an oyster-bed, proevils corresponding to these, and, in addition, vided he has not been disturbed, he leaves has the oyster-pirate. Of course, the oyster the bare bed behind him, and not until the pirate is nothing more nor less than a thief, planter begins to tong for oysters does he but upon his success the fortunes of many a discover that he has been robbed. planter have been won or lost.
In the shallow flats in front of Fiddler's The oyster-planter goes about his business Hill, Colonel Mallory had twelve hundred just as if his business were on land. Oysters acres of oyster-beds. Along the outer edge are planted and tended and harvested just of the beds were five little one-room houses like corn or wheat or cotton. A planter set upon piles, and in these lived men, marks off his acreage with stakes, usually armed with rifles who guarded the beds in water from five to fifteen feet deep and during the oyster season, which commences always on either sand or hard clay bottom, with September and ends with April. A and throws overboard enough oyster-shells power “cunner," the stanch little dug-out to put a good covering on the bottom. When found at every wharf in Chesapeake Bay, the season comes, the mother oyster spawns was tied to the piling under each little house.