“I am not afraid now,” was the low reply. “All that daddy can do or say will make little difference to me after what I have undergone to-day. I am going to him as soon as I can, and have this whole matter settled. I am sure he will not want me to marry Donaster now after the cowardly way he ran away and left us to our fate. But even if he does, it won’t matter to me. Perhaps I was foolish to run away as I did. It might have been better if I had stayed at home, and asserted my rights. No one, not even my parents could have forced me to marry such a thing as that against my will. There will be no running away after this, I can tell you that. The matter will be settled once and for all as soon as I see daddy.”
The decided tone of the girl’s voice, and the look of determination in her eyes pleased the young man who was watching her. He liked what she said about Donaster, knowing that her censure was just. He knew what he would do with the coward should he ever catch him prowling around. He just longed for some pretext to get his hands upon the fellow.
As they drew near the landing, they saw a car come down to the shore and stop. Several men stepped out, who waved encouragingly to the voyagers. John recognised them at once as the ones who had come to his aid on the plains. He was very glad to see them, and thankful when at last the raft grounded upon the shore. Without any questions the men lifted Eben from the boat, and laid him gently in the auto.
“The women and you, John, can come with me,” the driver announced. “There’s another car outside for the rest of the men. We had a hard time getting through, so thought it best not to risk two cars.”
In another minute they were on their way. Jess rode in the front seat, while Mrs. Hampton and John sat behind, and supported the still unconscious lad.
It was a beautiful afternoon as Henry Randall sat in a big easy chair under the shade of a large apple tree at the back of the Hampton house. He was very weak from the terrible experience through which he had passed almost two weeks before. He was slowly recovering, and his mind was now as clear as ever, for the cloud had lifted on the second day after the fire. His foot was still painful, and he could not yet bear to touch it to the ground. He liked this place at the rear of the house. It was quiet and hidden from all inquisitive eyes of passers-by on the main highway.
The fire around Island Lake, and the thrilling escape from death of Henry Randall and the two women had stirred the country for miles around. For days it was the principal topic of conversation in numerous homes, at the church door on Sunday, and other places where people were in the habit of congregating. Although John Hampton was accorded much commendation for saving the life of the lumber merchant on the