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Newspaper Page Text
wont marry Jim Bates. I won't. I
hate him. All my life I have wanted
to live in the mountains, away from
The stammered, foolish words were
almost inarticulate. Marvin under
stood the passion behind them, the
soul longing for freedom, groping for
refuge from the petty tyranny of life.
He placed his arm around her. She
looked up at him and their lips met
"I, too, love the mountains," he
said. "Would you come and live with
me I mean, if we were to be mar
ried?" She nodded. They strolled together
along the trail and at last both had
found happiness. Before she left it
was arranged that she was to meet
him and they would rice to the near
est town and find a minister.
BUt at the meeting place Marvin
found only a scrap of paper stuck
into a cleft in a tree.
"It ain't no use," ran the scrawled
words. "I've got to marry Jim. I
can't fight any more. Good-by. Your
The man had fought life so long
that there was not much more fight
left in him. He mounted his horse
again and rode back homeward. Once
he would have given his life, risked
it, at any rate, with gladness. Now,
neither hfe nor its rewards had much
meaning for him.
That night he dreamed he was pur
suing 'Laura through a vast smoky
land, a wilderness, with no other liv
ing being in sight; yet she was run
ning from him toward some unknown
danger, and he pursued, eager to save
He gasped and sat up. Through
the window of his cabin he saw a
lurid light that seemed to fill the sky.
The room was filled with smoke.
He hurried into his clothes and
He forced the frightened beast Into
the heart of the conflagration. At
last he was at the valley entrance.
Through the rifts in the smoky-pall
he saw that the flames werespread
ing in the opposite direction Unless
the wind changed his cabin was safe
and the forest that he loved. But the
fire had done its work in the valley.
He tethered his horse securely and
ran down the valley. He saw smoul
dering homesteads, fallen trees,
blackened rooftops of deserted hous
es. Then he was at the Cooper place.
The house was still blazing.
He ran through the little irrigated
patch and hammered furiously at the
door. It fell crashing beneath his
blows. The interior was empty
Thank God for that!
The girl must have joined the fugi
tives in the mountains at the other
end of the valley. There was no more
to be done. Marvin turned slowly
away and then he was aware of the
girl crouching beside the little trickle
of water, as she had crouched by the
Ubrook that day. She was crouching,
weeping, and in a moment he had her
in his arms. -
"You are not hurt?" he cried.
"Where is your father? Your "
"I don't know," she sobbed. "When
I awoke the house was beginning to
burn. I dressed and hurried out here.
I think I think they have gone with
the settlers toward the mountains."
"They left you to burn!" exclaimed
Marvin, in horror.
She laid her hand on his arm. "I
heard them calling for me," she said.
"But I hid here. Tomorrow I was to
have married Jim."
"And now?" asked Marvin, bending
"Now, I just can't I can't. Leave
me to die."
He caught her in his arms and car-
ran to the stable. The horse was ried her up the valley, over the smoul-
whinnying, fearful of the fire that i dering ruins of the little settlement
seemed to be creeping nearer. Marvin When they reached the unburned
saddled him and rode at a gallop into ground he set her down and walked,
the woods. At the edge of the crest beside her, holding her to him. Heri
he saw the whole valley was ablaze. , hair, unloosed, fell over him. Thejff