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A Hero of Ticonderoga by Rowland E. Robinson

Blue mottled hound sat close beside him


With

this determination he arose and went his way, too well skilled in woodcraft, for all his youth, to lose it while the sun shone. Pushing steadily on he saw at last the slanted sunbeams shining golden green through the woodside leaves, then saw them glimmering on the quiet channel of Job's creek, and following the shore upstream, presently emerged in the little clearing. It was as quiet as the woods around it, and seemed more untenanted, for through them the songs of the thrushes were ringing in flute-like cadences, while here nothing was astir.

Nathan made his way so silently to the open door that he stood looking in upon the occupants of the cabin before they became aware of his presence. Job was squatting before the fireplace engaged in frying meat, and a great, gaunt, blue-mottled hound sat close beside him, intently watching the progress of the cooking. Presently his keen nose caught a scent of the intruder, and he uttered a low, threatening growl that attracted his master's attention.

"Be quiet, Gabriel; what is't troubles you?" Then seeing his visitor hesitating at the threshold, "Why, Nathan, come in my boy, come in, the hound won't hurt you. Ain't he a pictur'? Did you ever see such ears? Did you ever see such a chest and such legs? And he's as good as he is harnsome. I went clean to Manchester arter him and gin three prime beaver skins for him. He's one o' Peleg Sunderland's breed and'll foller anything

that walks, if you tell him to, from a mushrat to a man. And as for his voice, good land! You hain't never heard no music till you hear it. That's what give him his name, Gabriel. But what's the matter with you, Nathan?" when, withdrawing his admiring gaze from his new acquisition, he noted the boy's wearied and troubled countenance. "You look clean beat out. There hain't nothin' the matter with your folks?"

Nathan told the story of his treatment since his mother's marriage to Toombs, and his unpremeditated flight, and all the particulars of his escape.

"I'd ha' gin a dozen mushrat skins to seen him when he got the tree down and didn't find you, and him like a fool dog a barkin' up a tree an hour arter the coon'd left it. You done right to come to me, for he won't come here to look for ye right off. And then when he's had time to cool off and git ashamed of himself, you can go home."

"No," said the boy quickly; "I'll never go back till I'm old enough to lick him and make him sorry I come."

"Oh, well, you think you will. But you won't never. The rough edge'll be wore off afore you git round to it. Once I swore I'd thrash a schoolmarster I hed, and when I went to do it we jes' sot down and talked over old times, like ol' friends. But what'll your mother and sis do without you?"

"They'll be better off without me. I can't help mother any, nor she me, yet awhile. Can't you let her know I'm safe some way?"

"Oh, yes, I'll happen round there some day to rights. How in tunket did she ever come to mate wi' that surly red-haired dog? You know I hain't seen her since they was married. Women is onaccountable critters, anyhow, an' I've been marcifully presarved from ever bein' tackled to one on 'em;" yet he sighed, as he looked about the littered room, that showed so plainly the lack of housewifely care.

After the supper of fried venison and johnny-cake was eaten, they sat in the twilight and firelight talking over the past and plans for the future, till the boy, worn out with the events of the day, was given a nest of furs in the loft, where he would be safe from detection by any chance visitor, and Job, after barring the door and carefully covering the fire, betook himself with the hound to their accustomed couch on the floor.


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