HotFreeBooks.com
Ralph Granger's Fortunes
by William Perry Brown
1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

E-text prepared by Al Haines



RALPH GRANGER'S FORTUNES

by

WILLIAM PERRY BROWN

Illustrated By W. H. Fry



[Frontispiece: "Grandpa!" cried Ralph. "You shall not shoot, I say!"]



Akron, Ohio The Saalfield Publishing Co. New York —— 1902 —— Chicago Copyright, 1902, by The Saalfield Publishing Company



TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. Ending the Feud II. Ralph and his Grandfather III. Ralph Continues his Journey IV. The Moonshiners and the Railroad V. Ralph's First Railroad Ride VI. Ralph in Columbia VII. An Enraged Photographer VIII. Captain Shard's Proposal IX. Ralph Arrives at Savannah X. The Captain Talks with Ralph XI. Aboard the Curlew XII. The Curlew Puts to Sea XIII. A Taste of Ship's Discipline XIV. Bad Weather XV. Boarded by a Cruiser XVI. Nearing the Gold Coast XVII. Up the River XVIII. A Brush in the Wilderness XIX. Left Behind XX. Ralph Stumbles on a Discovery XXI. At Close Quarters XXII. Trouble of Another Kind XXIII. Adrift XXIV. Ralph's Sufferings XXV. The Second Mate's Story XXVI. Hard Times XXVII. Uncle Gideon



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"Grandpa!" cried Ralph. "You shall not shoot, I say!" . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece

"Mr. Duff," said Gary in his most grating tones, "who gave you the authority to interfere with my designs regarding this insolent youngster?"

Ralph's Winchester cracked and the raised arm fell shattered and useless.

"Quick, Ralph, pull me through by the arms."



Ralph Granger's Fortunes.

CHAPTER I.

Ending the Feud.

"Must I do it, grandpa?"

"Of course you must! I'm afraid you ain't a true Granger, Ralph, or you wouldn't ask no such question."

"But why should I do it, grandpa?"

"Listen at the boy."

The sharp-eyed, grizzled old man rose from his seat before the fire, and took down an ancient looking, muzzle loading rifle from over the cabin door.

"I'll tell you why."

He patted the gun, now lying across his knees.

"This here was your father's gun. He carried it for many years. I had it when the feud betwixt the Grangers and the Vaughns first began. He had it with him when he was shot down at the Laurel Branch by John Vaughn, just six years ago today."

"Today is my birthday," commented Ralph, a sturdy-limbed, ruddy-faced lad.

"And you are fifteen. Think of that; 'most a man. I said I'd wait till you was fifteen, and as it happens, his son's a goin' to mill today."

"What of that?"

"You just wait and you'll see. All you've got to do is to obey orders."

The old man got up, took down a leather shot pouch, and proceeded to load the rifle carefully. After which he slung the pouch and a powder horn round Ralph's neck, then went out and looked at the sun.

He returned, placed the rifle in the lad's hands, and bade him follow. Taking their hats they went out of the house.

Steep mountain ridges cut off any extended view. An old field or two lay about them, partially in the narrow creek bottom and partially climbing the last rugged slopes.

There was a foot log across the little brawling brook, beyond which the public road wound deviously down the glen towards the far distant lowlands.

Ralph eyed the unusually stern expression of his grandfather's face dubiously as they trudged along the road.

Bras Granger was all of sixty-five years old, dried and toughened by toil, exposure, and vindictive broodings, until he resembled a cross-grained bit of time-hardened oak. His gait, though shambling, was rapid for one of his age.

"You said you'd tell me why," suggested Ralph, as they wound their way along the crooked road.

"Didn't I say that the son of the man as killed your father was comin' by the Laurel Branch this mornin'? Haven't the Vaughns and the Grangers been at outs for more than twenty year? What more d'ye want?"

The boy frowned, but it was in perplexity rather than wrath.

They came at last to a wooded hollow, through which another creek ran, thickly shaded by thick overhanging shrubbery. The old man led the way to a half decayed log of immense size, that lay behind a thick fringe of bushes, at an angle just beyond where the road crossed the creek.

It was a deadly spot for an ambuscade.

"Lay down behind that log," said old Granger. "Now, can you draw a good bead on him when he comes in sight?"

Young Granger squinted along the rifle barrel, now resting across the log. Though apparently concealed himself, he had a fair view of the road for sixty yards in both directions. Where it entered the brook it was barely thirty feet away.

"Take him right forninst the left shoulder, 'bout the time his mule crosses the creek; then your poor father'll rest easy in his grave."

"Why ain't you killed him afore?" demanded Ralph.

"My hand hasn't been steady these nine year; not since them Vaughns burned our house down the night your grandmother died. It was cold and snowin', and bein' out in it was more'n she could stand."

"I remember," said the boy gloomily. "But that was a long time ago. I can't stay mad nine year."

"I'm madder now than I was then!" almost shouted the infuriated mountaineer. "After they got your pap, I 'lowed I'd wait 'twel you was fifteen. Then you'd be big enough to know how sweet revenge is. Heap sweeter than sugar, ain't it?"

"Hark?" interjected Ralph, without replying. "Some one is comin' up the road."

A trample of hoofs became audible, and presently a man mounted on a mule, with a sack of corn under him, was to be seen approaching the ambuscade.

Seated before him was a child of perhaps four or five, who laughed and prattled to the man's evident delight. Old Granger's eyes shown with a ferocious joy.

"That's him!" he exclaimed in tremulously eager tones. "He's got his brat along. I wish ye could get 'em both, then there'd be an end of the miserable brood for one while. Wait, boy—wait 'twel he gets to the creek afore ye shoot. Think of your poor pap, when ye draw bead."

But Ralph's face did not betoken any kindred enthusiasm. He was tired to death of hearing about the everlasting feud between the families.

If the Vaughns had fought the Grangers, it was equally certain that the Grangers had been no whit behind in sanguinary reprisals. He remembered seeing this same Jase Vaughn, now riding unsuspectingly toward the loaded rifle, at a corn shucking once. Ralph then thought him a very jolly, amusing fellow.

"Now lad—now lad!" whispered the old man. "Get down and take your sight. I've seen ye shoot the heads offn squirrels. Just imagine that feller's head is a squirrel's. As for the child——"

"Grandpa, I will not shoot. It would be murder. I'll meet him fair and square, though, and if he's sorry for what his father done, I'll let it pass. He couldn't help it anyhow, if he wanted to, I reckon."

To the old man's intense disgust, Ralph leaped lightly over the log and advanced into the road, rifle in hand. His grandfather followed him, raving in his futile rage.

"Hello!" exclaimed Jase Vaughn, thrusting his hand behind him quickly. "Here's old Granger and his son's kid. I wish you was at home, Clelly."

This last to his boy who, not at all alarmed, was smiling at Ralph in a very friendly manner.

When the lad saw Jase throw back his hand, he dropped his rifle into the hollow of his left arm and brought the trigger to a half cock, advancing at the same time squarely into the middle of the road.

"Grandpa tells me that you are the son of the man who shot my father, here, just six years ago," began the boy. "I knew it myself, but I didn't 'low you was to blame, 'less you uphilt him in it."

"Suppose I do; what then?" Jase eyed the two Grangers steadily, though not in anger as far as Ralph could see.

"Then we'll settle it right here," said the latter firmly. "I could have shot you from the bushes, as your father did mine, but I wouldn't."

"The more fool you!" hissed the vindictive old man. "I ought to have kept the gun myself."

"Suppose I don't uphold the deed?" added Vaughn, still totally undisturbed.

"Then you can go, for all of me. I'm sick of the feud."

"Shake my boy!" Jase held out a large brown paw. "So am I. If I could 'a' had my way your pap never would a been killed."

Ralph hesitated an instant, when suddenly little Clelly reached forth his small, chubby fingers, and the boy surrendered. He suffered Vaughn to shake his hand, then frankly took the child's and pressed it warmly.

"I like 'oo," cried the little fellow, whereat Jase gave a great horse laugh of undisguised satisfaction.

"These young uns has got more sense than all of us older fools," exclaimed the gratified father. "Ain't that so, old man?" he added, looking at the elder Granger.

But the face of Ralph's grandfather became convulsed with a sudden fury. He rushed upon Ralph with a celerity unlocked for in one so old, and wrenched the rifle from the boy's hands.

Then he turned upon Jase Vaughn who had witnessed this action in astonishment.

"Now," shouted old Granger, "reckon I'll get even for the loss of my son. Here's at ye!"

"Grandpa!" cried Ralph, springing between the old man and his intended victim. "You shall not shoot, I say!"

"Out of my way, you renegade," retorted the other leveling his gun.

As the cap snapped, Ralph struck up the barrel, and was rewarded by a furious imprecation from the aged but relentless relative.



CHAPTER II

Ralph and His Grandfather.

Meanwhile Jase Vaughn sat on his mule looking quietly on, as if he were entirely unconcerned in the result of the struggle between Ralph and his grandfather.

Old Granger, finding himself baffled, flung down the rifle upon the ground and strode off up the road, muttering wildly to himself like one demented.

"Hold on, grandpa!" shouted Ralph, picking up the gun. "I'll be with you in a minute."

But the old man heeded not, and soon disappeared round a bend of the road in the direction of his home.

"He's too old to change," said Jase. "But I really don't see any reason why you and me should keep up this foolishness. If my father shot yourn, thar was a cousin of your father's fought a duel with my dad 'way down in Georgy. Both on 'em were hurt so bad they never walked again."

"We heard of it," returned Ralph, "and I couldn't help thinking at the time what fools our families were to keep up a feud started, I reckon, by our great grandfathers."

"Right, you are, young feller. Hit all come of doggin' hogs outn a sweet tater patch; so I've heard."

"Then there was a row, I reckon."

"Yes. One word brought on another, till at last some one got hurt, then the shootin' begun. I never did take much to the business myself, but somehow I didn't have the energy to set the thing straight. I'm powerful glad ye done what ye have done today, and I passes you my word that Jase Vaughn has done with the feud as well as you."

This time it was Ralph's turn to offer his hand. After another hearty shake little Clell threw himself upon the lad's neck with childish abandon.

"I like 'oo!" he cried again.

"Well, I swow!" exclaimed Jase. "He's takin' a plum likin' to you. But we must be gettin' on. If ever I can do anything for you, don't 'low my bein' a Vaughn keep you from lettin' me know."

Then Jase clucked to his mule and rode away, with little Clell craning his neck to catch a last glimpse of Ralph, who, shouldering his rifle, began to retrace his steps towards home.

As he proceeded his face grew grave. How would his incensed relative receive him?

Since the grandmother's and his father's death Ralph and the old man had lived principally by themselves. The boy's own mother had died when he was a baby. Now and then some woman would be hired to do some house-work, usually the wife or daughter of some tenant to whom Bras Granger rented a portion of his land. But they seldom remained long, and Ralph had, perforce, to take their place from time to time.

He grew as expert at cooking and other simple household duties as he was at shooting, trapping, and similar mountain accomplishments. Thus the two had lived on together, with little outside society, relying mainly on themselves for diversion as well as support.

The maintenance of the feud was the old man's greatest wish. It was as meat and drink to his soul.

When Ralph showed the indifference he often felt on that subject, his grandfather always flew into a rage.

"To think that my only living descendant should go back on the family, is too much to bear," he said. "There's only nephews and cousins 'sides you, Ralph. They are scattered here and yonder; they ain't a carin' much about the family honor. Hit all depends on you, boy. I wonder your pap's ghost ain't a haantin' you for bein' so careless."

Then Ralph would vaguely promise to do better, and the subject would be dropped, only to crop up again whenever the old man felt more savagely inclined than usual. Today, however, was the first time that the two had come to an open and violent rupture.

When the boy came in sight of the cabin he beheld his grandparent seated in the doorway absorbed, apparently in deep reflection.

Ralph crossed the foot log, opened the gate and walked up to the door.

"I am sorry I displeased you today," he began, "but I just couldn't do what you wanted me to do——"

"Shet your mouth!" interrupted Granger harshly. "You are a disgrace to your kin. I never would a believed it if my eyes hadn't a seen and my ears a heard. You are no longer a grandson of mine. D'ye hear?"

Ralph's perplexed and distressed look seemed to again infuriate the old man.

"Pack up your traps and get outn here!" he raged, brandishing his walking stick. "My house is no longer a home for such as you."

"Wh—where shall I go?" asked Ralph, still dazed over this astounding outcome of the Vaughn incident.

"Mebbe you'd better go over to Jase Vaughn's," sneered old Granger. "His father killed yourn, but you don't care for such a little thing as that."

"Grandpa," cried Ralph, stung to indignation at last, "it is cruel of you to treat me so, simply because I wouldn't commit murder. Yes—murder. I say it would have been murder! I'm no coward; and it is cowardly to shoot down a man and him not knowing."

"You reprobate!" gasped the obdurate old mountaineer. "I've a notion to thrash you—right here."

He again shook his cane and glared his hatred of Ralph's conduct. But the boy only said:

"I'd rather you beat me than do what I always would be miserable over. Let's drop it, grandpa."

He passed into the cabin and observed a small pile of clothing on the floor.

"There's your duds, boy," said Bras Granger grimly. "Pick 'em up and pull your freight outn here."

Ralph surveyed the old man curiously; but as he noted the latter's stern, unyielding aspect he said no more until he had rolled up a clean shirt and a pair of socks. A tear or two fell as he tied the bundle in a large handkerchief.

"Am I to take the gun?" asked he, gulping down his emotion as best he could.

"No!" almost shouted the old man. "What business you got with a gun? Come now; are you ready?"

Ralph nodded; his heart was too full to speak.

The old man stood aside and pointed to the door. Ralph held out his hand.

"Good by," he managed to falter forth. "May God forgive you for turnin' me out this day."

He passed through the yard, feeling for the gate, for his eyes were dim with moisture. Crossing the foot log, he walked on until he came to a rise of ground just where the road made a sudden turn.

Then he wheeled, dashed the tears away, and took a last look at the place where he was born and had always lived.

Shut in by wild and rugged mountains, far from the world's great life, humble and homely, it was still the only place on earth where the orphaned lad had felt that he had any natural right to be. And now, even this slender thread had been rudely severed by his nearest living relative.

"Good-by, old home," said he audibly, as he waved his hand in a farewell gesture. "I hate to leave you when it comes to the pinch, but if I live I'll make my way somewhere's else. There's other places beside these mountains where a boy can get on, I know."

He resumed his way, forcing back the tears, and soon found his emotions subside.

A conviction that he had acted right throughout the altercation with old Bras, helped him to bear more cheerfully the hard fact that he was not only homeless but almost moneyless. This last misfortune did not press on him heavily, as in that secluded region people were universally hospitable. Ralph had never paid for a meal or a night's lodging in his life.

As he happened to take an easterly course he kept it merely because it would lead him to the lowlands and the towns as quickly as any other route.

He had at once resolved to leave his native mountains. Inexperienced as he was, he instinctively felt that there were better things in store for an energetic lad in other parts of the country than he would be apt to find anywhere near his home.

He struck a lively pace and had walked nearly a mile, with his bundle under his arm, when he met Jase Vaughn returning from the mill.

"Hello, youngster!" quoth that worthy man as cordially as if Ralph and himself had been warm friends all along. "Where you carryin' yourself to? Old man got in good humor yet?"

"He has turned me out, lock, stock, and barrel," replied the boy, swallowing his pride in this humiliating confession.

"W-h-a-a-t?" ejaculated Jase thoroughly amazed, while Clell smiled at Ralph in a most amiable manner.

"Grandpa was so provoked because I declined to obey him," said Ralph, "that he told me to pack up and get out."

"For good and all?"

"Yes, for good. At least I sh'an't go back any more—unless—he was to send for me."

"Bully for you! I wouldn't either. Give you the shake 'cause you wouldn't let him put a bullet hole through me! Well, I swow!"

Jase stared at Ralph in mingled admiration and compassion.

"The dadburned old fool!" he continued. "'Scuse me, Ralph, no reflections on your fambly, but hit kind o' teches my feelin's to see you fired in this shape, long o' your actin' the gentleman with me. Where be you goin'?"

"Somewhere's down below; I don't know exactly where."

"Got any money?"

"A little. I'm going to hunt work; then I'll soon make more. I sha'n't stay in the mountains."

Jase drew forth a greasy leather wallet and extracted a five dollar bill, which he eyed reflectively as if forcing himself to make up his mind, then suddenly handed it to Ralph, who thanked him but shook his head.

"Dang it! Let me loan it to you then. Didn't you as good as save my life? Look, Clell wants you to take it, don't you, Clell?"

The little fellow laughed, seized the bill from his father's hand, and tossed it towards Ralph, saying:

"Take it; take it. I like 'oo, Walph."

Ralph felt another rising in his throat as he stooped to pick up the note; but he could not bring himself to the point of accepting so great a favor from one of the Vaughns.

"I—I really don't need it," said he. "Hold on! Jase! Do hold up a minute."

"Can't, old feller," called back Jase, who had suddenly spurred his mule into a trot when he saw the note in Ralph's hand. "Pay me when you get back, if you'd rather."

"But I say! I can't keep this money——"

"Good by," came floating back on the breeze. "I don't know nothin' 'bout no money. Take good care of yourself."

Then Jase, boy, and mule, whipped round a crook of the road and were seen no more.

Ralph's first impulse was to throw the bill away. But sober second thoughts prevailed, and somewhat reluctantly he placed it with the rest of his slender stock of cash.

"Jase means well," thought he, resuming his tramp. "I don't know that either of us are to blame 'cause our families have been at outs for so long. When I get to making something I'll send it back."

All that day Ralph trudged manfully on. At times grief would be uppermost in his heart when he thought of the way in which his grandfather had treated him.

Once, as he passed a cabin where a boy of about his own age stood washing his hands on the porch, and he caught a glimpse of a cheerful interior, with dinner smoking on the table, he felt very homesick. He wished he was back, preparing his grandpa's noonday meal.

As he did not feel hungry he did not stop anywhere until about sunset, when he walked up to a double penned house that looked roomy and hospitable. Several dogs ran out barking.

"Here, you Boss! Git out'n thar, Louder! Pick up a stick and frail the nation outn 'em, boy."

A tall, shock headed, awkward man had come onto the porch and was making these remarks with great vigor but entire good nature. The dogs subsided, and Ralph ran lightly up the steps.

"Come in. Take a chair by the fire. What mought your name be these hard times?"

"I'm Ralph Granger, from over about Hiawassee Gap."

"Son of old Bras?"

Ralph assented, when the shock headed man called to his wife, who was sifting meal for the supper:

"Tildy this must be one of your kin folks." Then, turning to Ralph, "My wife was a Granger; one of the Gregory branch. Well, tell us all about yourself. Don't mind the children, they always are in the way, anyhow."

Ralph, finding that he was among friends, related briefly the events of the day and wound up by again expressing his detestation of the feud. Mr. Dopples, for that was the shock headed man's name, nodded approval.

"We mountain folks live too much outn the world," said he. "What you goin' to do?"

"Anything honest, to make a living. I'm not going to stay in these parts though."

"If you've any notion of goin' down about Columbia, I can direct you to a friend of mine as lives there. Comes up here every summer to fish and hunt. Got lots of coin, and is always wantin' me to go down there and take a regular town spree with him. Oh he's a sight!"

"What is his name? I don't suppose he would care anything about me. He never heard of me, anyhow."

"Name is Captain Shard; he keeps a big livery stable. You just tell him you're a friend of mine, and I'll bet my steers agin a coon skin you're at home straight."

Soon after supper Ralph was shown to his bed in a shed room at the rear of the house. In the mountains the people go to bed and rise early from habit.

Before eight o'clock a sound of heavy breathing could be heard from every room. Under the floor the very dogs were steeped in dreams of coon and 'possum hunting.

Suddenly Ralph awoke, feeling a pressure on his chest. The room was not so dark but that he could detect a shadowy figure at the bedside.

A prickly chill ran through his veins, but before he could speak, a voice whispered:

"Give me your hand," and as the boy dazely obeyed, the pressure on his chest was removed as another hand was lifted from there, that firmly grasped his own.

"I can feel your pulse jump; you're skeered, Ralph."

"Wh—who are—you?" faltered Ralph, unable to make out as yet whether it was a "haant" or a living person that had awakened him thus.

"Don't know me?" There was a titter of nearly noiseless laughter. "Felt me pressin' your chist, didn't you?"

"Yes. At first I thought I must be stiflin', but——"

"If you want to wake a person 'thout speakin', you press on their chist. Hit always fetches 'em. Don't you know me yet?"

Ralph murmured a low negative.

"Well, then, I'll tell you I'm——"

A sound of feet striking the floor heavily was heard from one of the other rooms, and was followed by the voice of Mr. Dopples, calling out:

"Tildy! Oh, Tildy! Where be ye, Tildy?"



CHAPTER III.

Ralph Continues His Journey.

The form at Ralph's bedside grasped his hand again in a warning pressure.

"Keep quiet," it said. "I'm your Aunt Tildy. I have something to say to you by and by."

The figure vanished, and presently the lad heard his aunt say:

"What are you fussin' about, Mr. Dopples? Can't a body stir 'thout you havin' a fit?"

"I only wanted to know where ye were," was the shock headed man's reply. "What are ye progin' round this time o' night for?"

"Cause I want to. Now shet up and go to sleep."

While Ralph was wondering what on earth his aunt, whom he had never seen before, could want to say to him at such an hour, the talking in the other room died away, and was succeeded soon by a resonant snoring, that denoted Mr. Dopples' prompt obedience to his wife's last command.

Shortly thereafter she swept softly into the boy's room, wrapped in a shawl and seated herself at his side.

"Are you awake?" she said in a whisper.

Ralph said, "Yes;" and propped himself in a listening attitude.

"You think strange, I reckon, at my comin' to you in this way," she began. "You've never seen and hardly ever heard of us before. But when I learned the way your grandpap have treated you, I felt sorry, and I want to help you what little I can."

"I'm mightily obliged, aunt," replied Ralph, still puzzled how to connect this friendly wish with the object of such a visit as she was making tonight.

"Hit was a brother of mine as fought that fight with John Vaughn. I used to believe in the feud, but I don't now. It's a wicked thing to seek people's lives. Both sides have suffered enough, Ralph, and I say let there be peace."

"Amen," muttered the lad heartily.

"But what I wanted to let you know was about this Captain Shard, as Dopples wants you to go and see. My man never quarrels with nobody—bless his old soul! Therefore, he never 'spicious that any of his friends would want to, either. There's where he is wrong."

"Yes; but I don't see how that can apply to Captain Shard, whom I never heard of before."

"I know you don't, but I do. Captain Shard's mother was a Vaughn. Now, do you see?"

"Good gracious! But it seems to me as if that don't amount to much. Why should this man want to hurt me?"

"Hold on. This man Shard's mother was sister to the Vaughn who killed your father, and whom my brother had fought on account of it. Don't you see? When Shard learns who you are, his Vaughn blood is more than apt to prompt him to do you some harm."

"They don't shoot people in the town the way we do in the mountains, aunt. I've read that the law is too strong for that."

"There's other ways of hurtin' a poor boy 'sides takin' a gun to him. If he chose, he might harm you in other ways. I've heard it said that folks with plenty of money can do 'most anything in the city."

"Well, aunt, I'm much obliged to you for letting me know. If I strike Columbia, and meet up with Captain Shard, I shall certainly remember what you say."

"Good night, then. Don't tell Dopples what I've said. He's a thinkin' the world of Shard. I like him, too; but then he don't know I'm a Granger, I reckon."

After Mrs. Dopples retired, Ralph soon fell asleep. When he wakened again daylight was at hand, and Mr. Dopples was kindling a fire.

Breakfast came early, then Ralph bade his kindly friends farewell, and resumed his journey as the sun was peeping over the easterly summits of the Blue Ridge.

"Don't forget to see Shard," called the shock headed man, as the boy reached the public road. "He'll help you out."

"I may see Shard," thought Ralph; "but I'll be careful how he sees me. I'm going to get out of the range of this feud if I have to travel clear to the seacoast."

As he had a lunch along—given him by Mrs. Dopples—he did not stop anywhere for dinner, but trudged resolutely on at a three mile an hour gait.

His young limbs, hardened by constant mountain climbing, did not tire readily, while his experience of traveling enabled him to keep the general course he wished to go, notwithstanding the branch trails and the many windings caused by the ruggedness of the country.

The latter portion of the afternoon was occupied in climbing a long mountain range that overtopped most of the others in sight. The sun was nearly setting as he reached the summit; then he uttered an exclamation of astonishment.

Behind him was a confused jumble of peaks and ridges as far as the eye could reach. It was the region he had left—his own native wilds.

Before him stretched an undulating panorama of plain, valley, and gentle hills. There were patches of woodland, great plantations with here and there variegated spots that Ralph supposed to be villages.

It was his first view of the level country beyond the Blue Ridge, and he surveyed it with intense interest.

"They say it stretches that way clear to the seacoast," he said to himself as he began to descend the mountain. "I don't see how they can see any distance with no big ridges to look off from."

This idea—otherwise laughable—was perfectly natural to a lad who had never seen anything but wild and rugged mountains in his life.

He quickened his pace, wishing to get down into the region of farms and houses before darkness should come. A rising cloud in the southeast also occasioned him some concern.

"Looks mighty like there might be rain in that cloud," he thought. "I've got matches, but I'd hate to have to spend a wet night out in these woods."

The gun went down and the black south-easterly haze came up, with semi-tropical celerity. Ralph was still in the lonely region of forest and crag, when a whirl of wind struck him in the face and a few drops spattered on the leaves of the chestnuts around.

The brief southern twilight was blotted out almost at once by the overspreading clouds, and young Granger became conscious that he had somehow missed the trail.

"That is odd," he muttered. "It was just here a minute ago."

Something like a yellow gleam caught his eye, and he plunged along in its course in a reckless manner, for he was nervous with anxiety.

Being in a strange region, with a storm on the point of breaking, was not pleasant even to older nerves, when added to the natural terrors of a night in the woods, without any other company than one's brooding thoughts.

"Hello! What's this?" he exclaimed as he almost ran against an obstruction that looked not unlike a steep house roof.

The odor of tar and resin pervaded the air. Ralph groped his way around it, feeling here and there with his hands.

"It's a tar kiln, sure as preaching!" ejaculated he, at length. "There ought to be some kind of a shack about, looks like."

He was still searching, when the wind, which had been increasing, brought with it a sudden downpour of rain. Ralph was about to rush for a tree to shelter himself, when a flash of lightning lighted up the kiln and surrounding objects with a pale, brief glare.

"Ha—there she is!" exclaimed Ralph, discovering the object of his search. "I almost knew the man as put up this kiln must have had a shelter of some kind."

He made his way to a low, brush covered frame near by, arriving there just in time. The darkness was intense, except when cloven by the lightning, while the fall of rain was drenching and furious.

The shack leaked some, but it was an immense improvement over a tree for shelter.

"Let's see where we are, anyhow," said Ralph, producing some matches, one of which he struck. "Hello! There are some pine knots. Here's luck at last."

In a few minutes he had a small fire blazing brightly, and felt more like contemplating his surroundings with cheerful equanimity.

But as the rain increased, the leaks grew in number, threatening to put out the fire, and converting the earth floor into a mushy mud puddle.

"I can't do any sleeping here," thought he. "Might just as well make up my mind for a night of it round this fire."

By dint of careful watching he kept his fire from going entirely out, and managed to keep himself dry by picking out the spots where the leaks were fewest in which to stand.

But it was a dreary, lonesome time. The wind whistled dolefully through the pines, and the rain splashed unmercifully upon the bark and boughs of the shack.

After each flash of lightning, sharp peals of thunder added their harsh echoes, until Ralph's ears ached, used as he was to mountain storms. The rain began to slacken in an hour, while the wind gradually dwindled to a light breeze.

Still there was no chance to lie down, and the boy was growing sleepy.

He had drooped his head between his knees as he sat on a pine block, and was dropping into a doze when he heard something stirring at the back of the shanty. He looked around in a drowsy way, but seeing nothing, he again fell into an uneasy slumber.

How long his nap lasted he did not know, but all at once he nodded violently and awoke. The fire was low. Then a muffled rattling noise at his feet sent the blood in a furious leap to his pulses.

He threw on a rich knot, and as it blazed up his eye fell on an object that caused him to spring up as if he had been stung.

"Great Caesar!" he exclaimed, and as the rattle sounded once more, he made a long leap for the doorway. "That was a narrow escape. S'pose I hadn't a woke up?"

Then he shuddered, but recovering, hunted up a cudgel and cautiously returned within the hut.

There, within a few inches of where the lad's feet had rested as he slept, was a large rattlesnake still in its coil and giving forth its ominous rattle. A dexterous blow or two finished the reptile, but the odor given forth by the creature in its anger filled the hut.

"Pah!" ejaculated Ralph. "I must get out of here. The place would sicken a dog."

He returned to the open air, now freshened by the vanished rain, and round to his delight, that a moon several days old was visible in the west. The clouds had disappeared, and there seemed every prospect of a clear and quiet night.

"It is light enough to see to travel if I can only find the road again," he reflected. "Anything is better than staying here."

Taking the direction in which it seemed to him that the trail ought to be, he sought eagerly for the narrow strip of white that would indicate the wished for goal. Presently he heard a distant sound.

"It may be the deer a whistling," thought he, listening intently. "But, no; that ain't made by no deer. I believe—it's—somebody a coming along."

Some distance to his left Ralph could now detect a connected sound as if a tune were being whistled. In his eager desire for human companionship, he cast prudence completely aside and ran forward shouting:

"Hold on! I'm coming. Hold on till I get there!"



CHAPTER IV.

The Moonshiners and the Railroad.

The whistling stopped suddenly. Ralph kept on, however, in the direction where he had last heard the sounds, and presently distinguished two dim forms standing in an open space amid the trees, through which ran the white thread that indicated the lost trail.

"I say," began the lad, "are you fellows going down the mountain? If you are, I'd like to go with you. Fact is, I believe I'm lost."

"Halt, there, young feller!" was the reply, given in sharp, stern tones. "One step further and you'll find half an ounce of lead under your skin, mebbe."

Ralph obeyed, somewhat puzzled and decidedly alarmed. The men—there were two of them—drew something over their faces, then ordered the boy to advance.

He did so, and on drawing near saw that they now wore masks, and had long sacks swung over their shoulders, with a load of some kind in either end. When he saw the masks and the bags Ralph understood at once what their business was.

"Who are you?" demanded one of the men, and the lad could see that he held a pistol in one hand. "No lyin', now!"

"My name is Granger, and I'm from over on Hiawassee River way. Want to get down into the low country. Got lost; stayed in a shack while it rained, and—here I am."

"Be you a son of old Bras Granger?"

"No; grandson."

The two whispered together a moment, then one of them said:

"I reckon you're all right, boy. 'Taint wuth while to ast our names, 'cause d'ye see—we wouldn't tell."

"You'd be fools if you did," returned Ralph, his self confidence now fully restored. "I ain't a wanting to know who you are. I know already what you are."

"How's that?" came sharply back, and an ominous click was heard, which, however, did not seem to alarm Ralph.

"Moonshiners," said the boy briefly. "Haven't I been raised among 'em? I've got kin folks as stills regular, I'm sorry to say."

"Sorry! Ain't it a good trade?"

"Not when it lands you inside of some dirty jail. Besides, I don't like the stuff, anyhow."

"No use to offer you a dram then?"

"Not a bit. But I say, if you'll let me go on with you till we get down where there's some houses, I'll think more of that than if you gave me a barrel of whisky."

"We're on our way back. We're goin' up the mountain. But you foller this trail for about a mile, then take the first right hand turn. Follow that 'twel you come to an old field. T'other side of that you'll find the mud pike as runs to Hendersonville. After that you'll find houses thick enough. But where are you bound for after you get down there?"

"Oh, anywhere most. I'm after work."

Ralph concluded that he had better not be more explicit with strangers.

The moonshiners soon grew quite friendly and seemed a little hurt over Ralph's persistence in declining a drink.

"I'm going out among strangers," he said, "and I've got to keep my head. The best way to do that is to let the stuff entirely alone. Well, so long, men. I'm mighty glad I met up with you."

He struck out down the trail whistling merrily. Now that he was on the right road again, and with a clear night before him, he felt far more cheerful than before.

He found the old field without difficulty, and not far beyond he struck the Hendersonville pike as the moonshiner had intimated.

Here the country was more open. Large fields, interspersed with patches of woodland, were on either hand. Now and then he would pass a cabin, his approach being heralded by the barking of dogs.

Once or twice large buildings came into view. These were the residences of the more wealthy class of planters. Even in the dim starlight, Ralph saw that they were larger than the log dwellings he was accustomed to.

Finally the moon went down. He would have stopped at some house and asked for shelter, but the hour was so late that he shrank from disturbing strangers. The night was not uncomfortably cool and he was getting further on.

Roosters began to crow. A few clouds glided athwart some of the brightest stars and he found difficulty in traveling.

Just beyond some buildings he stumbled over something hard and immovable. As he picked himself up, his hand came in contact with cold steel.

Peering closely he saw two long lines running parallel as far as he could distinguish on either hand. He found that they were of iron or steel and rested on wooden supporters, half buried in the earth.

"Dinged if this ain't queer!" he thought. "Let me see. I wonder if this ain't one of them railroads I've heard folks tell about. They say it'll carry you as far in one hour as a man'll walk all day."

Pondering over this, to him, puzzling celerity of motion, he groped his way along the track to where it broadened out into a switch.

"Reckon this one must run somewhere else," thought Ralph, when he suddenly detected a large dark object ahead. "What's that, I wonder. Guess I'll look into that. Seeing I'm getting into a strange country it won't do to be too careless."

Going slowly forward, he walked completely round the unknown affair, which he ascertained was on wheels that rested on the iron tracks.

"This must be one of their wagons they ride so fast in," said the boy to himself. "Hello! The door is open."

It was an ordinary box car on a siding, the sliding door of which was partially open. As Ralph strove to peer within, he detected the sound of measured breathing.

"Some one is in there," he decided, and drew back cautiously.

The darkness had increased greatly and there seemed to be signs of another rain coming up. No other place of shelter was in the immediate neighborhood that he could discern.

He thrust his head into the car and felt with his hands. Nothing could he see, nor did he feel aught but the flooring of the car. While he debated as to what he should do, the rain began again.

"Gracious!" he exclaimed, "I don't like to go into another man's ranch like this, but blamed if I am going to get wet, with a shelter within two feet of me."

He clambered inside and sat with his back against the wall, intending to get out again after the shower should pass.

But the shower did not pass on. Instead it settled into a steady drizzle. When the rain began to beat inside he drew the door nearly shut.

The measured breathing came from one end of the car. There seemed to be but one occupant besides Ralph.

As the time passed, the lad grew drowsy. Inured though he was to an active life, the walking he had done had fatigued him greatly. Now, as he sat resting, waiting for the rain to cease, a natural drowsiness asserted itself with a potency that would not be denied.

As he nodded he awakened himself several times by a violent jerk of the head, but at last slumber prevailed entirely, and Ralph was sleeping as soundly as the other unknown occupant of the car.

The unusual events of the last two days had kept his fancies at an abnormal stretch. It was natural, therefore, for him to begin dreaming.

It seemed as if he were going back instead of leaving his home. Every one he met looked at him compassionately. Finally he saw Jase Vaughn, and remembered that he owed Jase five dollars. He put his hand in his pocket and drew out—a rattlesnake.

Even this did not waken him, though he thought he was back at the shack by the tar kiln. The ground seemed to be covered with snakes. He ran ever so far, then all at once he was with Jase just as if he had been with him all the time.

"I haven't got no money," he said sorrowfully.

"Never mind," replied Vaughn. "You run home. Poor fellow; I'm sorry for you."

Much perplexed, he kept on until he stood before his grandfather's cabin. He thought his Aunt Dopples was there, with her eyes red with weeping.

"Go in; go in," she urged, pushing him through the doorway. "He's been waiting for you till he's about give out."

Ralph dreamed that the first thing he saw was his grandfather propped up in bed, with a ghastly pallor on his face. When he beheld his truant grandson, the scowl upon his brow deepened, and he shook a warning finger.

"Wretched boy!" hissed the old man, while Ralph cowered like one in the presence of a ghost, "you are no Granger. There never was a Granger that acted the coward. You are a Vaughn—a Vaughn—a Vaughn!"

The old man's tone towards the last rose into such a wild, weird shriek, that Ralph's blood ran cold. He attempted to speak with a tongue so tied by fear that words would not come.

Under the agony of effort he screamed aloud, then suddenly awoke.

"Here! Here! Wake up, I say!"

These words, uttered shrilly in his ear, staggered his senses as he opened his eyes and looked up.



CHAPTER V.

Ralph's First Railroad Ride.

A slender, thin faced, alert looking man was stooping over the boy, and shaking him vigorously. Day had dawned.

"Wake up, young fellow!" continued the stranger, as Ralph gazed at him in a dazed sort of way. "How came you in here?"

"I—I got in out of the rain," said Ralph, staggering to his feet, only to be thrown down again by the jolting of the car, which was in rapid motion.

The sliding door was now open. Ralph glancing out, saw the landscape slipping by at a furious rate of speed.

The sight so astonished him, that he sank back again. To his unaccustomed senses it was as if the earth were turning upside down.

"What's the matter with you? Drunk?"

"No!" almost shouted the boy, suddenly indignant. "I never took a drink in my life. Neither was I ever on such a—a wagon as this before. Lordy! How fast we're going!"

The man roared with laughter.

"Well, you are a curiosity. Where did you come from? Out of the woods?"

"I'm from the mountains. Never was out of them before. Isn't there no danger in going so fast? My! How my head swims when I look out!"

"Not a bit of danger, unless in case of a collision, or when something gives way. But come! Give me an account of yourself. When I find an uninvited stranger aboard my private car, I ought to know something about him, I reckon."

While Ralph gave a brief account of himself and his affairs—omitting the feud, however—his eyes rested first on one strange object, then another.

There was a large pile of canvas at one end of the car, neatly folded. Several tent poles lay along the floor. A large and a small camera, resting on tripods, especially puzzled the boy. There were also several chests and a trunk or two.

At the other end of the car there was a cot bedstead with mattress and bedding, a chair or two, a small table, an oil cooking stove, together with other household paraphernalia.

The whole outfit was simple, yet complete, and did not take up much room.

"Well," said the man, as Ralph concluded his statement, "you seem to be an honest and a plucky lad, though an almighty green one, I guess. Never been anywhere, you say?"

"I've hunted for miles in the mountains, and I've been to a store or two, and to meeting, and to the 'lections. Yes, and I've been to school three months a year ever since I was so high," Ralph indicated the height with his hand. "But grandpa would never let me go off any very great distance from home."

"So you finally took matters into your own hands and gave him leg bail. Well, that ain't bad. But you mustn't go about breaking into people's houses and cars as you did last night. It isn't safe."

"I was lost, and it began to rain. I didn't mean no harm. I can pay my way."

He drew forth some money, under a dim idea that he had heard some one say once, that below the mountains, folks made people pay for about everything they got.

"Keep your cash, my boy," said the man evidently having a better idea of Ralph than at first. "Hold to all you've got. People are not as free with their grub and beds down here as they are up in your country. By the way, what's your name?"

"Ralph Granger. What might be yours?"

"Mine? Oh, my name is Quigg—Lemuel Quigg. I am a traveling photographer."

"What is that?"

"Did I ever see such ignorance! Ralph, you are a curiosity. I take pictures for a living. Usually I go by wagon. But I am bound for the seacoast, so I hired this car to take me right through."

"There was a fellow up in our parts once as took pictures for two bits apiece."

"Like these?" Mr. Quigg threw open one lid of a trunk, disclosing a velvet lined show case filled with photographs of different sizes.

They would now be considered antiquated affairs, but to Ralph the life-like attitudes and looks of the sitters seemed wonderful.

"Gracious, no!" he exclaimed. "That fellow only took little tintypes, as we folks call them. These beat anything I ever saw."

"Well, suppose we get breakfast," said Quigg, turning to his oil stove. "We'll be in Hendersonville in an hour. Can you cook?"

Ralph staggered to the stove, and took a puzzled look.

"I've cooked on a fireplace all my life, more or less. But I don't think much of that thing."

"Don't, eh? Well, well! You'll do for a dime museum, you will. Go and sit down, and watch me."

Ralph took a seat near the door, and divided his time between Mr. Quigg's culinary operations and the swiftly moving panorama outside.

The dizzy, yet smooth, motion of the car, the—to him—miraculous speed, the whirl and shimmer of the landscape—all this fascinated him after his first nervousness wore off.

The artist, however, recalled him from this sort of day dreaming, by saying:

"Ever make biscuit?"

"We eat corn pones mostly at home."

"Well, you can fry some bacon and eggs, I guess."

He gave the boy a small frying pan, showed him where to place it, then lighted his lamp.

"That beats pine knots, don't it?" he asked, while Ralph noted with a new wonder the ease and rapidity with which Mr. Quigg managed everything.

While the meat and eggs were frying, the artist made coffee, thrust some potatoes into the oven beside the biscuit, then completed his morning toilet over a tin basin and a hand mirror.

"Better take a wash and a brush," said he to Ralph. "I'll dish up the breakfast."

So, while Mr. Quigg set the table, the lad washed his face, brushed his hair, and despite his homely looking jeans and rough brogans, presented a very sightly appearance as he sat down opposite the little photographer.

At least so the latter thought, and remained in apparent deep reflection while eating.

Ralph saw the white granulated sugar for the first time, and, mistaking it for salt, was about to sprinkle some on his egg.

"That's a queer way to eat sugar," said Quigg, happening to notice the move.

"Goes pretty good that way, though," returned Ralph, determined to martyr his palate rather than own up to any further ignorance.

He was already beginning to divine the primitive nature of his native manner of life, but the consciousness of this fact only strengthened his desire to familiarize himself with these strange usages.

Quigg laughed, then resumed his reverie.

After the meal was over, Ralph washed the dishes, while the artist made up his bed and otherwise tidied up the car.

Two window sash of unusual size attracted the lad's attention.

"Those are my skylights," said Quigg. "You might polish them up a bit after we leave Hendersonville. That is, if you are going on further."

Ralph had no definite idea as to where he wanted to go, except that he thought of Captain Shard. Regardless of Mrs. Dopples' warning, he now said that he had a notion of going on to Columbia.

"All right," responded Quigg, who liked Ralph's appearance the more he saw of him. "Go on with me. You can help me for your keep until something better offers. I shall stay in Columbia a week, then strike for the coast. What say?"

Ralph assented gladly, and thought himself lucky in being afforded so easy a chance to get forward. Presently he was rubbing away upon the skylights, while Mr. Quigg produced a cornet from somewhere among his belongings, and played sundry doleful airs with indifferent skill, until the train arrived at Hendersonville.

"What do you call that brass horn?" asked Ralph.

"A brass horn! Come! That's good." Quigg laughed loudly. "That is a cornet, and a good one, too! But here we are."

Hendersonville, though but a moderate sized town, seemed to the mountain boy to contain all the world's wonders. Both car doors were thrown wide open, and as they had to remain on a siding until an express went by, Ralph indulged his curiosity fully.

The two and three story buildings, nicely painted and standing so close together, the teams, the stores, the shouting negroes and hurrying whites, were all a startling novelty to him.

"Looks like everybody is a rushin' as if he'd forgot something," he thought. "What a sight of niggers! Good Lord! What's that?"

This last he uttered aloud as the express whizzed by them at a moderate rate of speed.

"That's the train we were waiting for. Now we'll get on, I guess. You see, our train is a freight, and we have to make way for pretty much everything."

Presently their car began to move. As they passed the depot an engine close by blew a whistle, at which the boy started.

The hissing, steaming locomotive was to him the most wonderful thing of all. Truly, the mountain people lived as in another world.

"I am glad I left home," said he to himself. "Grandpa would never have let me know anything. Down here there is a chance to do something and be somebody."

Soon they were again whirling through a semi-level country on their way to the South Carolina line. The corn and cotton fields increased in size, the plantation houses grew larger and began to have stately lawns and groves of woodland about them. The log houses seemed to be mostly inhabited by negroes. Ralph finished his skylights, then assisted Mr. Quigg in getting dinner. The afternoon wore slowly away; then they ate a cold supper, washed down by some warm coffee. The train moved haltingly, having to wait at sidings for other trains that had the right of way. Night came, and Ralph took a blanket and lay down for a nap, having not yet "caught up with his sleep," as he said to the artist.

Mr. Quigg lighted a lamp and sat down over a novel. Ralph slumbered on with his bundle for a pillow.

Once, when he wakened for a moment, he saw as in a dream, the strange inside of the car with the photographer quietly reading; then he dropped off again.

The next thing he was conscious of was being pulled into a sitting position, and hearing a voice in his ear calling:

"Hello there! Wake up! Chickens are crowing for day!"



CHAPTER VI.

Ralph in Columbia.

"All right, grandpa," said Ralph, mechanically sitting up, though his ideas were still mixed with his dreams.

"I am not your respected grandparent," said Mr. Quigg from the stove, where he was lighting the fire, "but I'll dare say he would call you just as early."

The lad laughed at himself as he sprang up and, after washing and brushing, hastened to help Mr. Quigg with his morning tasks.

He happened to glance out and noticed that their car was on a siding and that numerous other tracks contained many coaches and freight cars of different kinds. A small engine was puffing up and down among them, while on every side beyond were tall buildings and vacant lots.

"Where are we?" he asked.

"Where you said you wanted to go—Columbia."

"Looks like a dirty place," commented Ralph, having had the raw edge of his curiosity sufficiently dulled at Hendersonville to make him a little critical already.

"Wait till we get out where you can see something. It's a fine town. I made a hundred dollars in a week here once."

This sounded like a fortune to Ralph.

"You see, one of the home artists was sick and the other one on a whiz down at Charleston, and the Legislature was in session. So I just took pictures and raked in the shekels. Here comes my dray. Shove all the dishes into that chest, Ralph. We've lots to do today."

A truck driven by a negro and drawn by two mules, hitched up tandem fashion, now backed up to the open door of the car.

"Hello Sam!" called out, Mr. Quigg. "Got my telegram, did you?"

"Yaas, suh. Marse Thompson, he read um."

"Now, give us a hand, Ralph," continued the artist. "We'll put the tent on first."

The lad, having bestowed the dishes, lent willing aid in loading the dray, while Mr. Quigg superintended operations.

"I guess you will have to go along with Sam," said he to Ralph. "He'll want some help at unloading. Then you must stay there and watch the things until we come with the next load."

So it was that Ralph found himself presently perched high up on the dray and rattling through the streets, while Sam sat in front, guiding his team by a single rein, and a deal of vociferation.

They came finally to a vacant corner lot where they began to unload.

"Do you know of a man here called Captain Shard?" asked the boy, at length remembering the individual he desired to find.

"Reckon I does. Bless grashus! Ain't I a wukin' fer dat same man de bigger heft er de time?"

"What kind of a man is he?"

"Fust rate; fust rate. Dat is if he don't hab nuttin' begainst yo'. When he do, den—look out."

This rather supported the tenor of Mrs. Dopples' cautions, and Ralph paused a moment before he asked:

"Where can I find him?"

"Yo' membah dat big liv'ry stable on de Main Street as we come erlong?"

"Where there were so many wagons and carriages around?"

"Yaas, suh. Dat's him. De cap'n he own um all. Disher team 'longs ter de cap'n too. Dey some says—Hi yo! If he ain' a comin' right now! Oh, cap'n! Say yo' wanter see him, suh?"

Ralph would have declined such a sudden meeting, but before he could think of any excuse, a portly, fine looking man, with flowing chin beard and dark, piercing eyes, stopped as he was sauntering by.

"What is it, Sam?" he demanded, at the same time scanning Ralph casually.

"Dish yer white boy, he astin' where 'bout he kin find yo', suh. I up an' tol' him, when—bless de land!—yere yo' is."

Sam gathered up his reins, cracked his whip, and tore away down the street without another word.

Ralph, from the divided nature of his thoughts, could think of nothing to say until the captain spoke again.

"Well, what is it you want of me—a—what is your name?"

"Ralph Granger," blurted forth the boy, then was sorry he had committed himself.

Captain Shard glanced sharply at Ralph's coarsely clad figure, and noticed the home made texture of his clothes.

"Granger—Granger," he muttered as if to himself. "From the mountains, ain't you?" he added quickly.

Ralph was so unaccustomed to lying that he said "Yes," notwithstanding the prickings occasioned by what Aunt Dopples had said.

"Who sent you to me?"

"A man by the name of Dopples, who married one of my kin folks."

"Tildy Dopples a relative of yours?" The captain appeared surprised.

Ralph, feeling that he was in for it, boldly told who and what he was, omitting any allusion to the feud, however. As he continued, the captain, who had been pondering as he listened, suddenly scowled.

"Was your father's name Ralph, too?" asked he, and when the boy nodded affirmatively, added: "And was his father's name Bras Granger?"

"Yes," replied Ralph. "I lived with him after—after——" he hesitated, conscious of speaking too frankly.

"After a Vaughn killed him!" interposed the captain with emphasis, then added: "Did you know my mother was a Vaughn, boy? And that a brother of hers was killed in a duel by a cousin of your father's?"

"So—I have—heard," faltered Ralph, feeling that he was by no means beyond the reach of that wretched feud yet.

"Finally, did you know that this brother of my mother was the man who shot your father?"

"I—never knew until Aunt Dopples told me. I call her aunt."

"Yet, knowing this, they sent you to me. I like Dopples; would do nearly anything for him I could. His wife was always rather distant. If she is a Granger that accounts for it."

"She told me you might not like me if you knew who I was, but I—I am so sick of that useless old feud, that I thought you might not remember it against me. Down here it seems as if you have too much else to think of to be always wanting to shoot somebody."

"Right you are, my boy." Captain Shard now shook Ralph's hand cordially, though his eye held a rather sinister gleam. "What is the use of forever brooding over old scores? Come round and see me. Perhaps I can put you in the way of earning a living."

The captain patted Ralph on the shoulder, started off, but called back: "If my uncle and your great uncle made fools of themselves by carving each other up, that is no reason you and I should keep up the folly. We are not in the mountains now—thank goodness!"

Though much relieved at Shard's apparently amicable way of taking things, Ralph was not altogether comfortable.

"It was a close pull," he thought. "Suppose he had got mad when he pumped out of me who I was? If Mr. Quigg goes on to the coast, I'll stick by him. I'm going to get away from that old feud, if I have to go to Jericho."

As he arrived at this vague geographical decision, he beheld Sam approaching with a second load. While they were unloading, Mr. Quigg came up on foot. He soon paid the darky off, then took a survey of their surroundings.

"This is not a bad stand for a day or two," said he to Ralph. "We'll put up the tent first; then, while I fix up things inside, you can go about and stick up some posters. I'll put a few ads. in the newspapers and, there you are—see?"

Ralph did not see except dimly, yet he assented readily and began to feel quite an interest in his new occupation already.

The tent was soon stretched and the large skylight adjusted. Some of the idlers who are always present at any outdoor proceedings in town, lent a hand now and then, being rewarded with a few nickels by the artist.

"Now, Ralph," said Mr. Quigg, after the trunks and other movables had been taken inside, "do you know what a poster is?"

Without waiting for a reply, he lifted from a chest a pile of gaily colored placards describing in florid style and with gorgeous illustrations, the unrivaled perfections of Lemuel Quigg as an artist, the cheapness of his prices, &c., &c.

"What do you think of these?" asked Quigg holding up one of the largest. "Won't they take the town?"

"It says you are one of the best artists in the world," said Ralph, scanning the poster gravely. "Are you?"

"Why of course I am!" Here Mr. Quigg stared at Ralph a moment, then smiled and winked knowingly. "You have to say those things, or people will not think anything of you—see?"

"Whether it is so or not?"

"To be sure. You must blow your own horn, my boy, if you want to get on. Humbug 'em right and left, if you look to see the scads come in fast."

"I wouldn't lie just to make a little money," said Ralph so earnestly that the artist broke into a laugh.

"You're in training for an angel, you are. Look out you don't starve though, before your wings sprout. But—let's get to work."

The artist selected a number of posters which he hung over a short stick, to each end of which was attached a leather strap. This he slung around Ralph's shoulder, after the manner of a professional bill sticker.

Then placing in his hand a bucket of paste, which he had prepared that morning in the car, together with a brush, he inquired:

"Think you can find your way round town without getting lost?"

Ralph was not certain, but said he would try.

"If you get lost, just inquire your way to Main and Third Streets. That's here. Now come on, and I will show you how to stick bills. Don't take long to learn this trade."

Ralph followed Mr. Quigg to a vacant wall near by, where he took a large poster, held it flat against the wall with one hand, gave a dexterous swipe or two with the brush, reversed it, then with a few more flourishes drew back and surveyed his work triumphantly.

"Try a small one over yonder," he said to the boy.

Ralph obeyed instructions in an awkward, though passable manner, whereat the artist looked his approval.

"You'll do, I guess. Be careful about the corners. If a corner doubles on you, you're in trouble. I'll fasten up, and run round to the newspapers with a few ads. then finish fixing up. Look sharp; don't get lost, and be back as soon as you can."

Ralph took his way down Main Street, feeling, as he expressed it, a good deal like a duck out of water.

Presently he stopped at a high board fence and stuck a couple of bills without much trouble. Quigg had not instructed him where and where not to place the posters, and he was pasting a large one against the front of a closed warehouse, when some one at a near by corner called out:

"Hey, there! Yo' white boy, there! What are yo' up to?"



CHAPTER VII.

An Enraged Photographer.

Ralph continued his work, thinking some one else was referred to, when he was seized by the shoulder and jerked rudely around.

His mountain blood was aflame in an instant, and seeing only that his assailant was a negro boy but little larger than himself, he let drive with his fist and sent the other staggering against the wall.

"Gret king!" exclaimed the darky, rubbing his ear, which had received the blow, "What yo' do dat for, anyhow?"

"To teach folks to mind their own business," replied Ralph, turning to his half stuck poster again.

"P'lice have you, when yo' stick dat up dar. Disher's private proputty."

"Can't I stick these wherever I want to?" asked Ralph, in surprise.

"Cou'se not. Better tear dat one down."

Ralph hesitated, then deeming that in his ignorance of city life, he had better be prudent, he removed the offending poster, then turned to the negro, who still stood angrily looking on.

"I'm sorry I hit you," said Ralph. "You see, you took hold of me pretty rough and I—ain't used to it exactly."

At this apology the colored lad grinned, then explained in his own terse way that only certain places were set aside for bill sticking. even these were rented out to regular bill posters who paid the city for the privilege of using them.

Ralph listened in astonishment.

"Then I ain't really got a right to stick my bills anywhere, have I?"

The darkey was not certain, but inclined to the belief that such was the case, unless Ralph had arranged matters with those who rented these privileges.

"Well, I'm much obliged for telling me," returned Ralph, picking up his bucket of paste.

"You are a good fellow, and I say again I'm sorry I hit you."

He walked slowly away, hardly knowing what to do. Soon a feeling of indignation took possession of him as he considered the peril to which Quigg had exposed him.

"He's used to towns and he must know it all. However, I'll ask this man in blue. I reckon he must be one of them police that darky spoke about."

The big officer halted as Ralph began to question him concerning the rights of bill stickers generally and his own in particular.

"Have ye any license?" demanded the policeman gruffly. "How many bills have you put up?"

"I don't know what you mean by a license," said Ralph, whose only idea regarding licenses was that they were something "to get married with."

"Ye don't! Who's your boss?"

Ralph explained as best he could Mr. Quigg's occupation and whereabouts, and also intimated that he had posted probably half a dozen bills.

"Come with me, then," said the officer. "We'll look into this."

He took Ralph by the arm and marched him back to the corner of Third and Main Streets, followed by an increasing retinue of street Arabs, both white and black.

When Mr. Quigg saw the officer he shook his fist at Ralph.

"Couldn't you keep yourself out of trouble?" he demanded.

"Why didn't you tell me that the walls were not free?" retorted Ralph. "I was told I had no right to post bills anywhere, and this man says I ought to have a license."

The artist assumed an air of injured innocence.

"Didn't I tell you to go straight to the city hall and procure my license?"

"No; you didn't," said the boy, angered at this barefaced attempt to place him in a false position.

"You told me to go out and paste up these bills, and you didn't say a word about license or anything else."

"That's what I get for picking up a lad I know nothing about," remarked Quigg, turning to the officer, with a shrug and uplifted eyebrows. "He crept into my car night before last when I was asleep, and being sorry for him I gave him some work. And now he gets me into this scrape."

"That's betwixt you and him," replied the officer indifferently. "I'm here to look out for the city. If you are going to take pictures, get out your license at wanst. And you'd better be after seeing Bud McShane the regular bill sticker, about the rint of what space ye want, or he'll be in your hair, the nixt."

With this the policeman walked leisurely away, swinging his club.

Quigg surveyed Ralph with disgust.

"Put down that bucket and brush," said he, "and unsling those posters. You're too precious green for my business, by half."

"Green I may be," returned the boy, disburdening himself at once, "but I am no liar, and I can't say as I want to work for a liar either."

"You impudent rascal!" cried Quigg, thoroughly enraged, "I'll teach you to call names!"

Quigg was small for a man, and Ralph large for a boy of his age. When the former advanced threateningly, the mountain lad stood firm and eyed his employer steadily.

"You can talk as you please, Mr. Quigg; but—keep your hands off."

The little artist stormed and threatened, but came no nearer.

"If you had been sharp," said he "you would have posted those bills in a hurry and dodged the police. I could have taken pictures for a few days, then boarded the train before the authorities got onto the scheme."

"That wouldn't be honest, would it?"

"Honest! Get out of here. What you've eaten is good pay for the little you've done. As it is, I shall have a fine bill to settle with the city on account of your folly."

"You did not care whether I got into trouble or not, so you saved a little by swindling the city. That's about what it amounts to, as far as I can make out."

"Get out, I say. Tramp! Scat with you!"

Mr. Quigg fairly danced with futile anger, while Ralph, seeing the uselessness of further words, walked rapidly off.

The small crowd disappointed in beholding a fight, slowly dispersed. The last Ralph saw of his former "boss," the latter was trying to secure another assistant from the idle boys looking on.

"Well," thought the mountain lad, as he walked aimlessly up one of the principal streets, "I am no worse off than I was before I met that fellow. I'm further on my way, wherever I fetch up at, and I haven't had to spend any money yet."

The sights and sounds of city life so interested him for the next hour or two, that he partially forgot the exigencies of his situation in contemplating the strange scenes by which he was surrounded.

The street cars, the drays, the carriages, and the other intermingling vehicles puzzled his senses and deafened his ears.

"What a racket they keep up," thought he. "It's a wonder they don't run into each other! And the women! I never saw such dressin' before, nor so many pretty girls. Our mountain folks on meeting day ain't nowhere. The houses are so high I don't see how they ever climb to the top. I'd just as soon crawl up old Peaky Top back of our cabin on Hiawassee."

Down at the railroad station he narrowly escaped being run over by a swiftly moving engine. Its shrill whistle and the objurgations of the fireman as it passed, startled him not a little.

For some time he watched the movements of trains and the shifting of cars, and finally found his way into the general waiting room for passengers. A red shirted bootblack accosted him in a bantering tone.

"Hey, country! Have your mud splashers shined? Only a nickel."

"I'll shine your nose with my fist, if you don't let me alone," said Ralph, with so fierce a scowl that the boy edged away.

The mountain lad, though but half comprehending the bootblack's meaning, was aware that he was being made game of. He paused before a full length mirror in the toilet room, and for the first time in his life obtained a good view of his entire person.

"I declare! That looking glass is a sight. I'm a sight, too. I don't wonder folks call me country."

He was sharp enough to realize the difference in appearance, between himself in his home made outfit and the generally smart youth of the city. Yet he could hardly define wherein the contrast consisted.

"I know I ain't no fool," was his reflection, "yet I know I must look like one to these sassy town fellows."

The sight of an Italian fruit and cake stand reminded him that he was hungry, so he invested a nickel in a frugal supply of gingerbread, which he munched as he stood on the curb.

"Take banana. T'ree fo' five centa," urged the black eyed girl, with large ear rings, who had supplied his wants.

Ralph eyed the pendulous fruit dubiously. He had never seen anything like it before.

"Looks some like skinned sweet taters," he said to himself. "Are they good?" he queried aloud.

"Verra goot; go nice wiz shinger braad."

"All right. Give me three," and he parted with another five cents, then bit into the fruit without more ado.

The girl tried in vain to smother her laughter.

"Zat nota ze way. You peel um—so." She accompanied her words by stripping the skin from one. "Now; be ready fo' eat."

Ralph turned away with his relish for new delicacies embittered by another reminder of his worldly deficiencies.

"I never know'd before how ignorant we mountain folks are. Even that foreign girl as can hardly talk at all, laughed at my way of doing." He dropped the bananas into the paper bag holding the gingerbread, and frowned heavily. Then he set his lips firmly together. "I will not let 'em down me this way. I'll learn their ways or die a trying."

After enunciating this resolve, he felt better. Presently he sat down on a door step at the entrance to an alley and ate his lunch with a better appetite.

"These—what was it she called 'em?—these bernanas ain't so bad after all," he said to himself. "Taste a little like apples, seems like."

While he sat there some bells began ringing furiously and a steam fire engine rushed by. The smoke, flame, roar and speed, stirred his blood, while the singular, not to say splendid, appearance of the outfit, with its bright brass work and powerful horses, was at once fascinating and terrible.

Having finished his lunch he followed the crowd that was surging along the street and presently came in sight of the burning building, which was a large cotton warehouse. He soon was in the midst of a pushing, noisy mass of people, with eyes only for the fire, the rolling smoke, and the puffing engines.

Suddenly he felt a touch upon his person, which, though light as thistle down, almost thrilled him with an indefinite sense of alarm. Reaching quickly downward he grasped a wrist that was not his own.



CHAPTER VIII.

Captain Shard's Proposal.

The arm Ralph seized was violently jerked and twisted, but the mountain boy was strong for his age, and held on tight.

Turning at the same instant he found himself facing the same negro boy, who had probably saved him from arrest that morning by warning him regarding the bill posting.

"What did you want in my pocket?" demanded Ralph, feeling with his free hand to assure himself that his money was safe.

"Hush!" half whispered the darky. "I didn't see hit was yo'. Deed I didn't, suh."

Ralph regarded the negro steadily, as it dawned upon his crude conceptions that the other was a thief. Then he thought of the service the fellow had unwittingly done him, and at once released his grip.

"Go," said he contemptuously. "Don't let me see you round here any more."

The negro disappeared in the crowd, one of whom said to the mountain boy:

"Why didn't you hand him over to yonder policeman?"

"Well—because I sort of felt sorry for the fool," was the explanation Ralph would vouchsafe as he, too, turned away and extricated himself from the throng.

After that he wandered about the city, finding something to excite his wonder or admiration at every turn, until the lowness of the western sun admonished him that he had better begin to look out for supper and bed.

First he stepped into an area way, and placed his money in an inside pocket.

"Best to be on the safe side," thought he, as he returned to the street. "Looks like in these towns they'd steal a man's britches if they could pull 'em off without his knowing it. Hullo! That must be the captain's livery stable."

Directly across the street was a large wooden building, on the front of which, in enormous letters, were these words:

SHARD'S LIVERY STABLE.

While Ralph was debating whether he should again make himself known, the captain drove forth from the stable in a buggy. His quick eye lighted upon Ralph at once.

"Come here," he called, beckoning also with his finger. "I see you are still about," he added as Ralph crossed over.

"Yes, but I ain't posting bills any more."

"Then your job didn't last long?"

Ralph frankly related the cause and manner of his discharge by Mr. Quigg, whereat the captain laughed heartily.

"Well," said he, "I don't think you missed much, if that is the sort of a man he is. I'm city auditor, and I will see that Quigg, or whatever his name is, don't cheat the city. What are you going to do?"

Shard bent his eyes sharply on Ralph, and once more the boy felt uncomfortable. He replied, however, that he would find something before long.

"You stay with my foreman tonight," the captain said briskly. "Emmons!" to some one inside. "This lad will eat and sleep with you. I want you to take good care of him."

Emmons, without appearing, grunted a distant assent. Ralph ventured a protest.

"I can find a lodging, captain," he began.

"Hut tut! You're too green yet to be left alone all night in this town. Not a word. You stay with Emmons. In the morning I will let you know of a plan I am considering. It may be good for you."

Captain Shard gathered up his reins, nodded carelessly, and went off down the street in a small cloud of dust.

Ralph went into the stable, not seeing clearly how to refuse, though hardly at ease in his mind. As he stood in the doorway, looking along a double line of vehicles of all sorts backed against the wall, a hoarse voice bade him come into the office.

"Rather a small hole, but large enough for two," remarked Emmons from a high stool as Ralph entered a box of a place, about eight by ten, with a desk, a chair, stool, and a few lap robes in a corner as the furnishings thereof.

Emmons was a squat, thick set personage, with most of his face hidden behind a tremendous beard. He cast a careless glance at the boy, then shutting a ledger said:

"Let's go to supper."

He seized an old palmetto hat, and leaving the stables, dived down a side street, and into a cheap restaurant near by.

Ralph followed. They seated themselves at one of a row of pine tables, covered with oilcloth, and well sprinkled with crumbs and flies.

"Better take beef stew," remarked Emmons, seizing some bread and eating ravenously. "Get more if you're hungry."

Two beef stews were therefore ordered, and brought with a great clatter of table ware. Emmons fell to as if he had not broken his fast that day.

Ralph did not like the chicory coffee, though he did justice to the stew. The crowd of rapid eaters, the noisy rush and yells of the waiters, the steam fly fans, and the hard faced cashier, all excited his curiosity.

Two checks were thrown down. Emmons pounced upon both, though Ralph did not understand what they meant, until he saw the stable man lay them, accompanied by two dimes, upon the desk at the door.

"Why did you not let me pay mine?" he asked.

"All right. Boss's orders."

The evening passed quietly, the foreman talking but little, though he entertained Ralph for a time by playing on a French harp, or mouth organ.

When bedtime came he ushered the boy into a sort of cubby hole behind the office that was barely large enough to afford space for undressing beside the bed. In five minutes Emmons was snoring lustily, though Ralph lay long awake, thinking over the various phases of his situation and prospects.

He was routed out early in the morning to help the foreman feed the horses and mules in the stables underneath, and kept busy for an hour, after which they took breakfast at the restaurant where they had procured their supper.

About nine o'clock Captain Shard arrived in his buggy from his home in the suburbs.

"Come in here, Ralph," said he, as Emmons took the horse. "I want to have a talk with you."

He led the way into the office, closed the door, and fixed his eyes intently on Ralph, who followed. Then he frowned, appeared to ponder for a moment, and finally cleared his brow as he looked up again.

"How would you like to follow the sea for a living?" he at length demanded.

"Follow the sea?" repeated Ralph as if he hardly comprehended. "Do you mean how would I like to be a sailor?"

"Something of the kind. You would begin as cabin boy, probably. If you are smart and willing you would soon climb up higher. By the time you are eighteen, you should be an A 1 seaman, earning at least twenty dollars a month and your keep."

Among the few books the boy had somehow got hold of in the mountains, one of the most treasured was a copy of Marryat's "Midshipman Easy." He felt a thrill now, as he pictured himself in a position to emulate, in a measure, some of the adventures therein so graphically depicted. The distant ocean held up to his anticipation the stirring pleasures of a life on the wave, while veiling from his boyish ignorance its overmastering hardships.

The captain saw his face light up, and proceeded to explain further.

"I have a cousin who runs a schooner in the West Indies trade. He is now at the Marshall House, Savannah. His vessel is somewhere near there. Now I can get you a good berth with him, I know. I have done him a few favors, and he is not ungrateful.

"Emmons, here, is going to start today with a gang of mules for Augusta. You can help him on that far, and in payment he will buy you a ticket to Savannah. I will give you a letter to my cousin, and also write him by mail that you are on the way. Now, what do you think of that?"

"Sounds mighty nice—almost too nice," thought Ralph, who was shrewd enough to wonder why Shard—whom he had been warned against—should put himself out to serve a Granger.

"Perhaps he is sick of the feud, like me. I'm sure I would do him a favor, if he is half a Vaughn. By granny! I believe I will take him up. Aunt Dopples don't know everything."

"Think over it well," added the captain, noticing the boy's reflective manner. "A sailor's life is by no means easy, yet a bright, active lad can rise. Many a captain began before the mast."

Shard was smiling seductively, though his gaze seemed hard and penetrating. He hung over the lad not unlike some bird of prey, waiting for a favorable chance to pounce.

"All right," said Ralph at last. "I will go and feel thankful for the chance, if you will answer me one question. Why should you be so—so willing to do a favor to me. In the mountains folks would think you were crazy."

"Ha! That miserable old feud again. My boy, I have outgrown it; have been too much in the world. I see in you a bright lad, who only needs to be started in order to make his own way. Why should I not start you as well as any one else, especially when it costs me nothing but the stroke of a pen? Besides your going to Augusta saves me the expense of hiring an extra hand."

All this seemed so reasonable that Ralph's weakening scruples entirely vanished. He assented without further parley to Captain Shard's offer, and was straightway placed under the supervision of the foreman, who was in a rear stable yard haltering a small drove of mules together in squads.

Ralph lent active assistance, and in half an hour they were ready to start. One mule in each bunch was saddled. Extra clothing was rolled in blankets, and strapped behind the saddles.

Emmons disappeared in the direction of the office. When he returned the captain came with him, bearing in his hand a letter.

"Here is your introduction to Captain Gary, the gentleman whom you will find at the Marshall House in Savannah. Suppose you read it to see that all is square and above board."

"Oh, it's all right, I reckon," replied Ralph carelessly.

"Yes, it is all right, but I would rather you looked for yourself before leaving. Should anything go wrong—which I do not anticipate at all—I wish to feel exonerated in your mind, my boy."

The captain's teeth gleamed almost fiercely as he smiled in a friendly manner, though his eyes never relented in their hard, unfeeling stare.

Ralph drew forth the note from the envelope and read:—

MY DEAR COUSIN:

This will make you acquainted with a youth in whose welfare I already feel a deep interest. He has made up his mind to learn to be a sailor, and I shall take it very kindly if you will take charge of him, and see what he can do. Give him as easy a berth as you can, and let me know from time to time what progress he is making. His name is Ralph Granger, and he is as plucky as he looks.

Your cousin and friend, THEODORE SHARD.

To CAPTAIN MARK GARY, Marshall House, Savannah.

This seemed flattering enough. As Ralph expressed his thanks, he repressed a fleeting idea that the tone of the letter was most too much that way.

Shard shook him by the hand, and was about to retire when he appeared to recollect something.

"Need any money, for clothes, and so on?"

"I have enough to do me," said Ralph. "You have done enough already, and I——"

"Never mind that. Emmons will settle board bills, and get your ticket in Augusta. Good by. Let me hear a good account of you when Gary writes."

With a final nod and smile that was almost fatherly, the captain disappeared.

Emmons had already mounted. Ralph quickly did likewise, and the two, with their four footed charges, rode out of the yard through a gate that was closed behind them by a negro hostler.

At first the five mules Ralph was leading, besides the one he rode, did not travel well together. His arm was wrenched almost unbearably in the effort to keep them up to the pace Emmons was setting.

The latter, looking back, called out:

"Make your halter fast to your saddle bow. Then lay the whip on."

The boy did so, and they were presently clattering down the street at a pace that made a stray policeman wave his club warningly. Soon they were in the suburbs, and thence the open country came into view, where truck farms and fruit orchards gave way to green fields of cotton and corn.

The negroes seemed to be everywhere. At a bridge a couple of black fishermen bobbed up from behind an abutment, scaring the rear squad of mules.

The five lead ones pressed heavily upon the one Ralph was riding.

"Look out!" cried one of the darkies. "Yo'se gwine over de bank! Watch out, I say!"



CHAPTER IX.

Ralph Arrives at Savannah.

The warning was too late to be effectual. It might not have done any good, anyhow, as under the pressure of five frightened mules, the one Ralph bestrode was pushed to the very verge of the high embankment leading up to the bridge.

The boy saw the inevitable catastrophe that was coming. He released his feet from the stirrups, unwound the halter from the saddle bow and threw himself on the back of the next mule just as the one he had been riding toppled over the embankment, down which it rolled clumsily to the bottom.

Ralph spurred the other on vigorously towards the bridge, while the two negroes, who were responsible for the disaster, seized the rope that held the animals and between the three further mischief was averted.

But it was a very close shave. Had the whole bunch gone, Ralph's life might have been sacrificed, to say nothing of damage to the mules.

Emmons now came cantering back with his charges just as the fallen mule regained its feet with the saddle between its legs.

"What d'ye mean?" he scolded. "Hain't you learned to ride yet?"

Ralph, rather provoked and much out of breath, was silent, but the darkies gave loud and voluble explanations, tending mostly to exculpate themselves. Then they brought up the fallen mule, fixed the saddle and looked as if they would not have objected to a small reward.

"Hurry, Ralph!" exclaimed Emmons, tossing them a dime. "We got no time to lose. Glad there's no bones broken, but you must look sharp."

Ralph remounted and they were soon on the way again. For the next two or three days they passed through a mostly level country, where great cotton plantations, with stretches of swamp between, alternated with broad pine barrens.

In these last the wind sighed mournfully, and the soil looked so poor that the mountain boy felt that there was a section worse off than his own steep and gravelly native land.

They arrived in Augusta by way of a ferry across the dirty, narrow river that flows near the city. The mules were duly delivered to the proper parties and the two at last felt at leisure to do as they pleased.

Emmons took Ralph to a soda fountain.

"What will you have?" he asked.

"I don't know; whatever you like," said the boy, once more at sea as to what he might expect.

When the effervescent liquid foamed and fizzed, Ralph stared in amazement.

"Must I drink it?" he faltered, noticing the ease with which Emmons swallowed his.

"Of course, you must. Did you think it was to wash with?"

Ralph afterward averred that it tasted better than it sounded, but again pondered over the—to him—increasing mysteries of civilization. They had a late dinner, then made their way to the railroad depot, where Emmons bought and gave to Ralph his ticket for Savannah by the train which was to leave in an hour.

"I'll be goin' back to see about the money for them mules," said Emmons at length. "Well, good by. Swing tight to your cash, and write to us when ye get to Savanny."

As the foreman took his big beard out of sight somebody out where the cars were shouted:

"All aboard! All aboard!"

Ralph saw people rushing out and jumping on the train that was on the point of starting. He suddenly was seized by an idea that he was about to be left. So he ran out with the crowd and was about to climb into a drawing room coach, when a trim colored man dressed in blue, who was standing at the steps, stopped him.

"Let's see your ticket please."

Ralph drew it forth and was about to hurry on in, when the porter handed it back.

"Dis ain't your train, boy," said he with a somewhat contemptuous accent. "Dis yere's a parlor coach fo' Atlanty."

"Wh—where is my train then?" asked Ralph, not knowing what to do next.

"Ain't made up yet," called the porter as the cars moved away, leaving the lad looking about him rather foolishly.

"Made a jack of myself again," said he, as he remembered that the agent had told Emmons when they bought their tickets, that the Savannah train would not leave for an hour.

He returned to the waiting room and sat there very quietly until the time was nearly up, then went out and found the proper car without further difficulty.

1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse