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Newspaper Page Text
"when I come back I may ask you
again the question of my life?"
"Perhaps," she fluttered, and left
him, and Ross went away as Ohe
walking on air.
Then a more somber vein came to
his spirit as he covered the first Btage
of his hurried journey, and struck off
( on the lonely trail leading Into the
heart of the great pine forests of the
There was one long, barren reach,
where naught but charred tree
stumps and ashes were to be viewed
from the clumsy paddle barge that
was conveying him and a Togging
crew down a broad, turbid stream.
Striking stories of the vast fires that
had devastated the district were cur
rent Whole logging camps had been
engulfed, refugees had been scattered
all over the section. When Ross spoke
of Camp Cedar, the captain of the
craft shook his head solemnly.
"A few of the old hands hung
around there when we passed there'
last," he said, "but most of them had
cut out The whole layout went up-
in the flames mill, cabins and all."
There was no sign of human occu
pation about the spot when Ross left
the boat alone at Cedar Camp. It was
fully an hour before he ascertained
that the place was not utterly de
serted. A thin veil of smoke guided
him to a makeshift shelter of tree
branches in a little valley, a mile away
from the river. Before it, seated on a
boulder, sat a young girl, mending
some garment worn and homespun
as her own coarse but cleanly attire.
Her sunbuafed face was Sad and
is4tlnrtf Vi nVi&trafa faotsa In tin. Amr
W i whefi she looked up. It thrilled Ross,
however, the sudden wild beauty of
that face as she observed him and
sprang .to her feet, a-quiver with de
light "Oh! you must be Mr. Morton's
friend!" she cried.
"And it was you who wrote the let
ter from him?" Bunnised Ross. "He
is "better? He"
"Is slowly recovering from a wast
ing fever," explained Mary Thorpe.
"You see, sir, he was ill when the fire
came. My father- and I had to carry
Mm here to escape the flames. Then
we made this shelter. All the others
have gone. Pqor father died a week
ago. He is buried over beyond that
"And you you have nursed my
friend alone?" exclaimed Ross,
moved mightily at the realization.
"You did not go away?"
"1 had no place to go to," said the
girl sadly. "Besides, Mr. Morton had
been kind to father. There were some
half-burned sjpres left from the fire
and we have got along very well"
"You are the noblest woman I have
ever met!" burst unrestrainedly from
the lips Of Ross, and he did not even
except Ruth Purcell. Then he passed
under the shelter, with sorrow and
tears regarding the wan, wasted face
of the friend he had come so far
It was several days before Wylie
was able to sit up. The boat was due
the following Monday. In a search
for clothing, Ross investigated the
satchel Wylie had brought away from
home. Ross selected a light coat way
down at the bottom of the satchel
As he shook it out a letter fell from
its pocket It was stamped, and ad
dressed "Miss Ruth Purcell," but had
never been mailed.
In a flash the truth came to Ross.
He hurried to Wylie and showed it to
him. The latter flushed, paled and
then sank overcome.
"I think I understand," said Ross
slowly. "Why, Ruth's actions are as
clear as day to me now. You never
mailed the letter, she supposed you
cared nothing for her and say, I'm,
going to keep that letter and straight
en out this tangle."
Which Ross did, sending all details
to Ruth and the letter itself, and tell
ing her that they would forget that
"perhaps" of his, and imploring an
answer. And that answer bade Wylie
come home and be a happy man.
As to Ross, it was not hard to cling