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match for him. He twisted free of
his feeble clutch, gave the man a
push, and the latter fell to the ground.
"Oh, I've made a mistake," he said
quickly, regarding Alan more clearly.
"It seems so," replied Alan, with
curiosity and pity comingled, regard
ing his assailant The latter was a
hollow-cheeked, meanly-dressed per
son. Deprivation, poverty, even hun
ger, it seemed, showed in his drawn,
colorless features. "You spoke the
name of Ridgeway, though. Was you
looking for him and is it Burt Ridge
way you mean?"
"Yes, it was," sullenly retorted the
man. "I had a right to suppose you
were him, for I heard he was a reg
ular visitor at that house yonder.
I've been watching to come across
"Well, Ridgeway is away from the
town, has been for a week," explained
Alan. "You didn't have a very friend
ly " welcome waiting for him, it
seems," he intimated. "That's not my
business, though. See here, my man,"
added Alan, as the other arose, and
in trying to keep his feet staggered
somewhat as though from sheer
weakness, "you look and act as if
you needed help."
Alan was surprised, as the man, in
stead of replying in words, turned
away from him and leaning against a
tree, buried his face in his hands and
began weeping. He sobbed out in
coherently something about "a great
wrong" somebody had done to his
"disgrace," "ruin," a long tramp, the
need of food and shelter.
Through it all ran a secret, bjtter
strain connected vaguely with Ridge
way, but the man did not explain fur
ther. Alan was sympathetic. He
saw hat the man was in hard luck.
In a kindly, considerate way he made
a proffer of assistance. The result
was that the poor wretch was com
fortably housed at the little, hotel in
the'village that night. All Alan could
learn from him the next day was
that he was a wandering derelict, I
anxious to get work and away from I
the section which seemed to hold bitr
ter reminders only for him.
When Alan started out on his
unique painting trip, the stranger,
who was named Jim Prevoast. accom
panied him. The latter seemed to
breathe more freely and his spirits
rose considerably, the further fie got
away from civilization. He never re
ferred to his troubles or to Ridgeway
now, and Alan was glad that he .had
lifted the man from a forlorn refugee
position to a really harmonious com
panionship. During a month bright, cheering
letters followed Alan in his wilder
ness course. Then, although he
wrote regularly, there came no re
plies. He decided that theirfe were
lost or delayed, following" his erratic
route. He was anxious to hasten his
program and gfback to the girl he
Onafternoon Alan and his com
panionhSd been working since day
break on a particularly perilous un
dertaking the painting of a sign on
the facgql cliff looking sheer down
over 3,000 feet into a rock strewn ra
vine. Alan had left Prevoast to put
on the finishing touches, and had
gone to the near settlement to ar
range for the removal of their traps
to their next stop.
Returning, his heart stood still as
he neared the cliff. A man was hack
ing at the ropes sustaining the frail
platform a hundred feet 1owja. He
sawed them through; there was a
crash below, a blood-curdling 'shriek.
"Burt Ridgeway!" exclaimed Alan
in amazement and horror, and
rushed at the villain. The latter, un
nerved, as though he saw the wraith
of the man he had intended to plunge
to his doom, went down like a shot
as Alan hit him, his head sinking a
rock. There he lay, senseless.
Alan peered over the edge of 'the
cliff, 'way down below the platform
hung, suspended by one rope. Cling
ing to a trailing cable swinging to
and fro, was his helper. It was the
work of a moment to descend, to veai