“So I brought Veronica down here this summer, and her playing worked a miracle every time. Whenever Clem grew despondent they would telephone for Veronica and she would go over and play for him. When she went out of the house in the daytime to go over, she went through the cellar passage that opens out into the spring house on the side of the hill, so you girls would not see her leaving with her violin.”
A light broke in Sahwah’s brain. That was why she had not heard Veronica going out of the front door that afternoon when she disappeared so mysteriously!
“But he usually had those spells at night,” continued Nyoda, “because he was always sleepless, but no matter what time it was she would always go and play for him, and the magic strains of her violin would put him to sleep and drive away the melancholy. Of course, I asked her to keep the matter a secret, and never breathe a word about Clem’s existence to anybody, and she promised. How little did I guess what it was going to cost her to keep that secret!”
The Winnebagos looked at each other in wonder and awe at the thought of this fiery little wisp of nobility who would not break her word of honor even to clear herself of unjust suspicion. Then with one voice they broke out in a wild cheer of admiration and acclaim that sent the echoes flying through the quiet old house:
“Oh, Veronica, here’s to you,
Our hearts will e’er be true,
We will never find your equal
Though we search the whole world through !”
“In consequence of distinguished service rendered your country, I hearby grant you a full and unconditional pardon!” Nyoda, as leader of the Court Martial, addressed these thrilling words to Kaiser Bill, who stood in the center of a solemn conclave, gathered on the lawn of Carver House to reverse the death sentence passed upon him two weeks before. Once more the Winnebagos had a heart for nonsense, for Veronica stood in their midst again, cleared from every breath of suspicion. She and Sahwah stood with their arms around each other, laughingly looking on at the process of unsentencing Kaiser Bill to death. Slim and the Captain were there, too, come to say good-bye to the girls before leaving their tent in the woods. They had finished their surveying job and were moving on that day. They arrived on the scene just as the Court Martial sat to act upon the Kaiser’s pardon. Kaiser Bill received the news of his pardon without emotion, hardly looking at his pardoners, and evincing a great show of interest in the process of paving the street in front of Carver House, which was going on at the time.
“He’s got his eye on those bricks out there, and the first thing you know he’ll be out there trying to eat them,” said Nyoda with a comical sigh, realizing how impossible it was to interest the Kaiser in anything, even a thing so momentous as his own pardon, when there was anything in sight that looked as if it might be good to eat.