Almost instinctively now Eben guided the boat, and in a few minutes more it grated upon the beach and brought up with a jerk.
“Get out quick,” the lad ordered, as he threw aside the oars and leaped ashore.
Without a word the women immediately obeyed, and no sooner had their feet touched the ground than their rescuer caught each by the arm with a firm grip.
“Come,” he gasped. “Guess we’re in time.”
They hurried up the bank, which here was quite steep, and in another minute Eben halted, before an opening in the side of the hill.
“Gee! I struck it right,” he panted. “It’s the mine. Bend yer heads an’ come on. I’ll show ye the way.”
IN URGENT NEED
When Thomas Hampton laboured so hard in opening up his mine on the shore of Island Lake, he little thought in what manner it would one day be used. He had toiled through long weary months, working with pick and shovel, until he had drifted one hundred feet into the side of the hill. He had shored up the roof of the mine with poles he had cut and dragged from the forest, until everything was secure to his entire satisfaction. He had the coal unearthed and ready to be brought forth, but little interest was taken in his efforts, and he had no money to carry on the enterprise.
“We shall come into our own some day,” he had told his wife not long before his death. “The mine will be used, and success and fortune will be ours.”
Mrs. Hampton thought of these words as she and her companions sat huddled there in the darkness at the farther end of the mine. It had been hard groping their way thither, for the ground was rough, and they had no light to guide their steps. But they were thankful for this refuge, and it was good to sit there and rest.
“Guess the fire can’t reach us now,” Eben remarked. “Wish to goodness I had a match, so’s we could see what kind of a place this is. But I left my vest in the car, and the matches were in the pocket.”
“What car?” Mrs. Hampton asked.
“You mean Lord Donaster?”
“I guess that’s his name, but dad calls him ’Fiddlesticks’.”
“And you were with him? Where was he going?”
“Why, he was comin’ here, of course. Where’d ye think he was goin’?”
“What was he coming here for?” Jess sharply asked.
“To see you, I guess.”
“How did he know where I was?”
“H’m, he found out all right. Ye can’t hide from him fer long. He thinks a lot of you, he sure does.”
“Where is he now, then?”
“Oh, he skedaddled when he saw the fire. He was ‘most scared t’ death.”
“So he left you alone to save us?” Jess asked. “There was a note of tenderness in her voice.
“Oh, I didn’t mind. He’d only been in the way. He’s no good.”