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iie approached the stream, out of the I
shelter of the trees, he recoiled in as
tonishment and terror. Facing him,
across the stream, was Maisle.
Maisie in a torn dress, with grub--by
hands and tear-stained face.
Maisie, recognizing him with a glad
smile, a cry of delight, and running
through the water toward him.
Maisie, snuggling into Big Ben's
armsand holding up her face for a
Big Ben looked at her. "Where's
your daddy?" he asked.
"I don't know," said Maisie. "I got
' 'Last night I was picking flowers
and Hooked up and the trees were
all round me. And I couldn't go
The child must have wandered
miles during the night. So that was
what the guns had been firing for!
"But you'll take me home, won't
you, Big Ben?" continued Maisie,
looking up into his face.
Big Ben was staggered. He could
i not find any answer to make.
"You see, daddy will be awful glad
to see me again," said the little girl.
"And now I found you, I know you'll
take me back to daddy."
Big Ben swallowed an oath. He
still stared at the girl. "See here,
kiddy, ifvyou just walk and walk "
he began, and then he saw the star
tled look upon her face. And all his
dreams of the future faded, ihtp
"Sure I'll take you home, kiddy,"
he said, and picking up the baby in
his arms" he began to carry her
, through the trees.
Twelve miles it was and with
every step Big Ben's heart became
so much lead. He strode along, now
setting down the little girl to let her
pick some flower that had taken her
fancy, now carrying her again. Pres
ently, toward midday, he saw the lit
tle head nod in his arms. Maisie was
sleeping, worn out by the walk of the J
Big Ben was just reaching the"
edge of the wood. The trees were
becoming sparser. The hills dipped
into the- level valley. The peniten
tiary was only five miles away. And
through the trees Big Ben could see
the white and dusty highway that
wound over field and mead until it
passed under the grim brick walls,
already looming ominously in the
distance, the very incarnation of re
Big Ben cursed himself for a fooL
He lobked down at the little sleep
ing child and laid her softly upon the
grass. He took three steps backvjard
and looked at her again.
Maisie half opened her eyes and
smiled. "Big Ben!" she murmured.
Swallowing a curse, Big Ben
strode to her and raised her in his
arms again. After that he went doggedly-toward
the high rodd.
Presently he saw a horseman rid
ing toward him. Big Ben swallowed
hard. He hesitated, then with firm
steps he walked straight for the
beatr and its rider, who, as he ap
proached, resolved himself intp the
familiar form of the warden.
Big Ben was halting now in front
of the warden. Travis, who held a
pistol in his hand. But he did not
point it at Big Bed.' He let it fall
back into the holster.
There were tears In Travis' eyes as
he took the little, sleeping girl out
of Big Ben's arms and held her
across his saddle. He said not a.
word, but motioned to Big Ben to
walk in front of his horse.
Dogged, silent, but strangely hap
py, Big Ben led the procession back
toward the walls of the jail. Sud
denly he heard an exclamation be
"Big Ben!"houted the warden.
Big Ben looked around. Travis
had reined In his horse and was look
ing alternately from Big Ben to
"You darned fool!" said the war
den. "Big Ben!"