So they put their chairs close together, and Rupert repeated his last question.
“Yes, a man must do something; but there’s nothing going on now—nothing in our line.”
Rupert looked in pity at his friend. Quite shabbily dressed he was, and a careworn expression on his face made him look ten years older. He wore glasses, which he pushed up on his forehead, and then took a good look at Rupert.
“Well, well, Rupe, and where have you been keeping yourself? An’ I’ve had luck, I tell you—you haven’t heard, perhaps?”
“No; I haven’t. What’s it been, Volmer?”
“Was getting fifty dollars a week leading the orchestra at the Grand in Chicago, when I got sick. Don’t know what it was, Rupe—the doctors didn’t know. Got into my ears, and that knocked me—couldn’t tell one note from another; so, of course, that let me out. Hard luck, Rupe, hard luck. Tough world this, Rupe. Why God Almighty crams a fellow’s head full of music, and then disables him so’s he can’t make use of it, I don’t know—I don’t know.”
Rupert sympathized with his friend, and then told him of his errand. A ray of sunshine seemed to enter the musician’s life. The property was for sale, yes, and cheap, dirt cheap; so the transaction was partly arranged, and Volmer Holm went home to his wife and four children with quite a happy heart that day.
“It’s too bad about Volmer Holm,” said Rupert to his sister. “I had not heard of his misfortune. Such a genius in music, too.”
“Well, I don’t know,” answered Nina, “it may be all for the best. Rumor had it that he was fast getting into bad ways in Chicago; and some men are better off by being poor, anyway.”
“Yes, that’s so,” was all he said.
* * * * *
Rupert Ames was again the owner of Dry Bench farm, and the next spring they moved into the old home. Mr. and Mrs. Janson came with them to visit, but their interests in Chamogo would not allow of a protracted stay. Signe was already in love with her new home. With her taste for the artistic, she soon had the place comfortable, and Rupert was never more satisfied than when he came in where his wife’s adept fingers had been at work to adorn. It was the dear old home to him with an added beauty, lacking only his mother’s presence to make it perfect.
Then they sent for Signe’s family. It was hard for the father to make ends meet in his native land, and Rupert needed just such help as Hr. Dahl could give. In due time they arrived, and were installed in a cottage near Rupert’s farm.
In peace and prosperity, the days, months, and years went by; and Rupert Ames became a light to the surrounding world, and a teacher of righteousness to his brethren.
* * * * *
It was the sixth year after Rupert’s return that the citizens of the Bench decided to enlarge the reservoir in Dry Hollow. Rupert was given the work to supervise, and he entered upon the task with his usual energy.