“Blood and sweat! Blood and sweat!” Colonel Trethaway exulted. “Talk about putting the vim into one! Why, I’m twenty years younger if I’m a day! Corliss, your hand. I congratulate you, I do, I heartily do. Candidly, I didn’t think it was in you. You’re a surprise, sir, a surprise!”
“And a surprise to myself,” Corliss answered. The reaction had set in, and he was feeling sick and faint. “And you, also, are a surprise. The way you handled that stool—”
“Yes, now! I flatter myself I did fairly well with it. Did you see—well, look at that!” He held up the weapon in question, still tightly clutched, and joined in the laugh against himself.
“Whom have I to thank, gentlemen?”
They had come to a pause at the corner, and the man they had rescued was holding out his hand.
“My name is St. Vincent,” he went on, “and—”
“What name?” Del Bishop queried with sudden interest.
“St. Vincent, Gregory St. Vincent—”
Bishop’s fist shot out, and Gregory St. Vincent pitched heavily into the snow. The colonel instinctively raised the stool, then helped Corliss to hold the pocket-miner back.
“Are you crazy, man?” Vance demanded.
“The skunk! I wish I’d hit ’m harder!” was the response. Then, “Oh, that’s all right. Let go o’ me. I won’t hit ‘m again. Let go o’ me, I’m goin’ home. Good-night.”
As they helped St. Vincent to his feet, Vance could have sworn he heard the colonel giggling. And he confessed to it later, as he explained, “It was so curious and unexpected.” But he made amends by taking it upon himself to see St. Vincent home.
“But why did you hit him?” Corliss asked, unavailingly, for the fourth time after he had got into his cabin.
“The mean, crawlin’ skunk!” the pocket-miner gritted in his blankets. “What’d you stop me for, anyway? I wish I’d hit ’m twice as hard!”
“Mr. Harney, pleased to meet you. Dave, I believe, Dave Harney?” Dave Harney nodded, and Gregory St. Vincent turned to Frona. “You see, Miss Welse, the world is none so large. Mr. Harney and I are not strangers after all.”
The Eldorado king studied the other’s face until a glimmering intelligence came to him. “Hold on!” he cried, as St. Vincent started to speak, “I got my finger on you. You were smooth-faced then. Let’s see,—’86, fall of ’87, summer of ’88,—yep, that’s when. Summer of ‘88 I come floatin’ a raft out of Stewart River, loaded down with quarters of moose an’ strainin’ to make the Lower Country ’fore they went bad. Yep, an’ down the Yukon you come, in a Linderman boat. An’ I was holdin’ strong, ez it was Wednesday, an’ my pardner ez it was Friday, an’ you put us straight—Sunday, I b’lieve it was. Yep, Sunday. I declare! Nine years ago! And we swapped moose-steaks fer flour an’ bakin’ soda, an’—an’—an’ sugar! By the Jimcracky! I’m glad to see you!”