attempted to use his feeble powers for the common good. When
then blow came he fell backward, and, making no effort to control
the situation, slid over the bank and into the water.
The other Crambrys, not realizing the danger, laughed, audibly,
but there was no jeering from the bridge.
Stephan had seen Alcestis slip, and in the fraction of a moment
had taken off his boots and was coasting down the slippery rocks
behind him in a twinkling he was in the water, almost as soon as
the boy himself.
"Doggoned idjut!" exclaimed Old Kennebec, tearfully. "Wuth the
hull fool family! If I hedn't 'a' be'n so old, I'd 'a' jumped
in myself, for you can't drownd a Wiley, not without you tie
nail-kegs to their head an' feet an' drop 'em in the falls."
Alcestis, who had neither brains, courage, nor experience, had,
better still, the luck that follows the witless. He was carried
swiftly down the current; but, only fifty feet away, a long,
slender, log, wedged between two low rocks on the shore, jutted
out over the water, almost touching its surface. The boy's
clothes were admirably adapted to the situation, being full of
enormous rents. In some way the end of the log caught in the
rags of Alcestis's coat and held him just seconds enough to
enable Stephen to swim to him, to seize him by the nape of the
neck, to lift him on the log, and thence to the shore. It was a
particularly bad place for a landing, and there was nothing to do
but to lower ropes and drag the drenched men to the high ground
Alcestis came to his senses in ten or fifteen minutes, and seemed
as bright as usual: with a kind of added swagger at being the
central figure in a dramatic situation.
"I wonder you hedn't stove your brains out, when you landed so
turrible suddent on that rock at the foot of the bank," said Mr.
Wiley to him. "I should, but I took good care to light on my
head," responded Alcestis; a cryptic remark which so puzzled Old
Kennebec that he mused over it for some hours.
HEARTS AND OTHER HEARTS
Stephen had brought a change of clothes, as he had a habit of
being ducked once at least during the day; and since there was a
halt in the proceedings and no need of his services for an hour
or two, he found Rose and walked with her to a secluded spot
where they could watch the logs and not be seen by the people.
"You frightened everybody almost to death, jumping into the
river," chided Rose.
Stephen laughed. "They thought I was a fool to save a fool, I
"Perhaps not as bad as that, but it did seem reckless."
"I know; and the boy, no doubt, would be better off dead; but so
should I be, if I could have let him die."
Rose regarded this strange point of view for a moment, and then
silently acquiesced in it. She was constantly doing this, and
she often felt that her mental horizon broadened in the act; butDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>