force, so't every log in it shivered. There was a crack,--the
crack o' doom, sure enough, for Pretty Quick,--an' one o' the
logs le'p' right out an' struck him jest where he stood, with his
axe in the air, blasphemin'. The jam kind o' melted an' crumbled
up, an' in a second Pretty Quick was whirlin' in the white water.
He never riz,--at least where we could see him,--an' we
didn't find him for a week. That's the whole story, an' I guess
Steve takes it as a warnin'. Any way, he ain't no friend to rum
nor swearin', Steve ain't. He knows Pretty Quick's ways
shortened his mother's life, an' you notice what a sharp lookout
he keeps on Rufus."
"He needs it," Ike Billings commented tersely.
"Some men seem to lose their wits when they're workin' on logs,"
observed Mr. Wiley, who had deeply resented Long Dennett's
telling of a story which he knew fully as well and could have
told much better. "Now, nat'rally, I've seen things on the
"Three cheers for the Saco! Hats off, boys!" shouted Jed Towle,
and his directions were followed with a will.
"As I was sayin'," continued the old man, peacefully, "I've seen
things on the Kennebec that wouldn't happen on a small river,
an' I've be'n in turrible places an' taken turrible resks--
resks that would 'a' turned a Saco River man's hair white; but
them is the times when my wits work the quickest. I remember
once I was smokin' my pipe when a jam broke under me. 'T was a
small jam, or what we call a small jam on the Kennebec,--only
about three hundred thousand pine logs. The first thing I
knowed, I was shootin' back an' forth in the b'ilin' foam,
hangin' on t' the end of a log like a spider. My hands was
clasped round the log, and I never lost control o' my pipe. They
said I smoked right along, jest as cool an' placid as a
"Why'd you quit drivin'?" inquired Ivory.
"My strength wa'n't ekal to it," Mr. Wiley responded sadly. "I
was all skin, bones, an' nerve. The Comp'ny wouldn't part with
me altogether, so they give me a place in the office down on the
"That wa'n't so bad," said Jed Towle; "why didn't you hang on to
it, so's to keep in sight o' the Kennebec?"
"I found I couldn't be confined under cover. My liver give all
out, my appetite failed me, an' I wa'n't wuth a day's wages. I'd
learned engineerin' when I was a boy, an' I thought I'd try
runnin' on the road a spell, but it didn't suit my constitution.
My kidneys ain't turrible strong, an' the doctors said I'd have
Bright's disease if I didn't git some kind o' work where there
wa'n't no vibrations."
"Hard to find, Mr. Wiley; hard to find!" said Jed Towle.
"You're right," responded the old man feelingly. "I've tried all
kinds o' labor. Some of 'em don't suit my liver, some disagrees
with my stomach, and the rest of 'em has vibrations; so here I
set, high an' dry on the banks of life, you might say, like aDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>