“Come you must!” wrote Roy. “We’ve promised to give a big spread, and invite all the crowd we train with to meet you. We’ll have a great old time, and bring out our best yarns. Don’t let me catch you refusing!”
[Illustration: GREENVILLE,—“FAREWELL TO THE WOODS.”]
“We won’t if we can help it,” commented Neal; “if only we can coax the Pater to give us another week in jolly America.”
The campers slept upon mattresses that night for the first time in many weeks.
The following morning saw them grouped in the main street of Greenville, with Doc and Herb on hand for a final farewell, waiting for the departure of the coach which was to bear them a little part of the way towards Boston civilization.
Dol was turning over in his jostled thoughts the delicate wording of the hint which he was to convey to Herb about the rifle, when he became aware that Doctor Phil was pinching his shoulder, and saying, while he drew Neal’s attention in the same way:—
“Well, you fellows! I’m glad to have known you. If you ever come to Maine again, remember that there’s one old forest fogy who’ll have a delightful welcome for you in his house or camp, not to speak of the thing he calls his heart. And I hope you’ll keep a pleasant corner in your memories for our Pine Tree State, and for American States generally, so far as you’ve seen them.”
Dol tried to answer; but recalling the evening when, wrecked at heart, with stinging feet, he had stumbled at last into the trail to Doc’s camp, he could only mutter, “Dash it all!” and rub his leaking eyes.
“Of course I’ll think in an hour from now of all the things I want to say,” began Neal helplessly, and stopped. “But I’ll tell you how I feel, Doc,” he added, with a sudden rush of breath: “I think I can never see your Stars and Stripes again without taking off my hat to them, and feeling that they’re about equal to my own flag.”
“Neatly put, Neal! I couldn’t have done it better,” laughed Cyrus.
“Shake!” and Doc offered his hand in a heart-grip, while the hairs on it bristled. “Boy! long life to that feeling. You men who are now being hatched will show us one day what Young England and Young America, as a grand brotherhood under comrade flags, can do to give this old earth a lift which she has never had yet towards peace and prosperity. We’re looking to you for it!”
“Hur-r-r-rup!” cheered Herb, subduing his shout to the requirements of a settlement, but sending his battered hat some ten feet into the air, and recovering it with a dexterous shoot of his long arm, by way of giving his friends an inspiring send-off.
“Tell you what it is!” he said suddenly, turning upon the Farrars, “I never guided Britishers till now; but, wherever you sprung from, you’re clean grit. If a man is that, it don’t matter a whistle to me what country riz him.”
A few minutes afterwards, with a jingle, jangle, lurch, and rattle, the stage-coach was swaying its way out of Greenville. Dol, stooping from his seat upon it, gripped the guide’s hand in a wringing good-by.