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A Busy Year at the Old Squire's by C. A. Stephens

It was some moments before Halstead could speak


For

three or four miles we were uncertain of our course. The forest then lightened ahead, and presently we came out on the shore of a small lake that looked yellow over its whole surface.

"Good!" Addison exclaimed. "This must be Lone Pond, and see, away over there is Birchboard Mountain. Boundary Camp is just this side of it. It can't be more than four or five miles."

Skirting the south shore of the pond, we pushed on through fir and cedar swamps. Worse traveling it would be impossible to imagine. Every hole and hollow was full of yellow slush. Finally, after another two hours or so of hard going, we came out on Lurvey's Stream about half a mile below the camp, which was on the other bank. A foot or more of water was running yellow over the ice; but the ice itself was still firm, and we were able to cross on it.

Even before we came in sight of the camp, we smelled wood smoke.

"Halse is there!" I exclaimed.

"It may be trappers from over the line," Addison said. "Be cautious."

I ran forward, however, and peeped in at the little window. Some one was crawling on the floor, partly behind the old camp stove, and I had to look twice before I could make out that it was really Halstead. Then we burst in upon him, and Addison said rather shortly, "Well, hunter, what are you doing here?"

style="text-align: justify;">Halstead raised himself slowly off the floor beside the stove, stared at us for a moment without saying a word, and then suddenly burst into tears!

It was some moments before Halstead could speak, he was so shaken with sobs. We then discovered that his left leg was virtually useless, and that in general he was in a bad plight. He had been there for eight days in that condition, crawling round on one knee and his hands to keep a fire and to cook his food.

"But how did you get hurt?" Addison asked.

"That Alf did it!" Halstead cried; and then, with tears still flowing, he went on to tell the story--his side of it.

While getting their breakfast on the third morning after they had reached the camp, they had had a dispute about making their coffee; hard names had followed, and at last, in high temper, Alfred had sprung up declaring that he would not camp with Halstead another hour. Grabbing the gun, he had started off.

"That's my gun! Leave it here! Drop it!" Halstead had shouted angrily and had run after him.

Down near the bank of the stream, Halstead had overtaken him and had tried to wrest the gun from him. Alfred had turned, struck him, and then given him so hard a push that he had fallen over sidewise with his foot down between two logs. Alfred had run on without even looking back.

The story did not astonish us. For the time being, however, we were chiefly concerned to find out how badly Halstead was injured, with a view to getting him home. His ankle was swollen, sore and painful; he could not touch the foot to the floor, and he howled when we tried to move it.

Evidently he had suffered a good deal, and pity prevented us from freeing our minds to him as fully as we should otherwise have done. The main thing now was to get him home, where a doctor could attend him.


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